HC Deb 07 December 1933 vol 283 cc1814-5
29. Mr. T. SMITH

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that certain members of public assistance committees in South Yorkshire have been surcharged for various sums as a result of carrying out their duties; that no specific instructions were laid down as to the exact amount of relief that should be given in each case; and whether he will take steps to remit surcharges in these and all similar cases?


I am aware of surcharges made on members of certain guardians committees in the West Riding of Yorkshire. As the hon. Member is no doubt aware, the surcharges were in respect of relief which either was granted where there was no destitution or was excessive and unreasonable in amount. In the present instance I had no hesitation in confirming the surcharges made by the district auditor, but felt justified in remitting a portion of the sums surcharged. I could not properly make any statement as to my action in respect of future surcharges.


Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of the members who were surcharged were unemployed at the time and are unemployed now; and as there were no definite instructions as to how relief should be applied in specific cases, does he not think that in the case of unemployed men this surcharge ought not to be made?


The hon. Member can rest assured that all relevant considerations were taken into account by me in the discharge of my duty under the Statute.


But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of these local representatives are unemployed, and are quite unable to provide this surcharge, and will he not reconsider the whole question in that light?


Careful consideration was given to this matter before I arrived at a decision, and I do not see any reason for altering that decision.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE

Does not this Show that the high rates in distressed areas are due to incompetence and extravagance in those areas, and will the right hon. Gentleman remember this when he looks into the matter in future?