89. Mr. WEDDERBURN
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to the letter sent last week by the Scottish Department of Health to the Greenock Public Assistance Authority, informing them that their action in disregarding War service disability pensions is illegal, and that individual members of the council authorising the expenditure are liable to surcharge; and what action does he propose to take in the matter?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. Skelton)
I have seen the letter referred to, which sets out the legal position in Scotland regarding the granting of relief to the able-bodied unemployed. The purpose of the letter was to put the local authority on their guard against unwittingly committing an illegal act which might have been challenged in the courts.
If, as the Under-Secretary of State has stated, it is within the discretion of the public assistance authorities to determine in each case the additional need consequent on the disability, will the hon. Gentleman say how it will ever be possible to calculate the amounts surchargeable on any recalcitrant authority?
§ Mr. SKELTON
The local authority in this case has not dealt with each case individually but has made a ruling on the topic generally.
Are we to take it that, if the public assistance authority goes through the process of taking pensions into account with each individual case exercising its discretion, it will not be liable to surcharge, but that if it is honest enough to declare its purpose, it will?