76. Mr. HUTCHISON
asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been drawn to the cases of hardship which have arisen under the provision that only one payment of transitional benefit can be made pending the hearing of cases by the public assistance committees; and whether he will consider taking steps to enable two or more payments to be made during such periods?
§ 80. Lord BURGHLEY
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider, with a view of alleviating hardship in those cases where men are waiting examination of their cases by public assistance committees, extending the discretionary powers given to the Labour Exchanges to give two payments in advance instead of the one now authorised?
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir Henry Betterton)
If a public assistance committee cannot complete their inquiries within a week they may make an interim determination which would be effective for two weeks from the week in which it is received by the local office. This provision of the Regulations, together with that for one week's interim payment by the local office, enables payment to be made for three weeks, if necessary, while inquiries are proceeding. It is unlikely that a case will arise in which a public assistance committee's investiga- 831 tion cannot be completed within this period, but I shall be glad to make inquiry into any cases that may be brought to my notice.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
The Prime Minister, in his speech at Edinburgh, stated that if all the reports were true that were coming in regarding public assistance committees he would have this thing gone into. I want to ask the Minister of Labour if anything is being done, because he knows that all over the country there are complaints against the means test?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
As the hon. Member knows, I am endeavouring to ensure that this machinery works as well as it can be worked.
§ 79. Mr. SMEDLEY CROOKE
asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the lack of uniformity on the part of public assistance committees in dealing with the means test for transitional payments, so that whereas in Yorkshire the first 20s. of a disability pension is ignored in Birmingham the first 5s. only is ignored; and whether he will introduce legislation to secure uniformity in this matter?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 2nd February to the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn), of which I am sending him a copy.