§ 8.9 p.m.
This Amendment must be considered in relation to the following Amendment : In page.5, line 34, at the end, to insert :
(2) If, in the case of any insured contributor, it is found that he has been treated in error as having begun his benefit year on any date by reason of his having been wrongly treated as having proved any of the matters aforesaid on that date, his benefit year shall nevertheless be deemed to have begun on that date, but he shall not be entitled to benefit during the remainder of that year until ho proves those matters.
§ It is not very easy to explain in simple language the very complicated position arising on the meaning of the words, "benefit year," but I will do my best to make it clear. At the present time, if 403 a man starts a new benefit year in error—an error arising from the fault of the exchange or perhaps some mistake of identity—and receives a benefit to which he is not entitled, owing to his not having fulfilled the conditions, chiefly in regard to the payment of 10 contributions after the expiry of the previous benefit year, there are no means of rectifying the mistake, and it goes on. What the Amendment does is to enable that mistake to be corrected and at the same time to put the man in no better position than the man who has, rightly, not started a new benefit year. A man, for example, starts incorrectly a new benefit year and receives six weeks' benefit. Without this Amendment he would be entitled, even if the mistake were corrected, not to pay any penalty for that six weeks' benefit—penalty is perhaps the wrong word to use—in this sense, that the six weeks would not be reckoned against him when they came to add up the number of weeks' benefit that he had drawn in the previous year, in order to assess his claim to additional benefit. That would be unfair to the man who correctly had not started a new benefit year. Therefore, we are taking power where a mistake has been made, to correct the mistake and to provide that the weeks of benefit that a man has wrongly drawn shall be computed as if they were weeks that he had rightly drawn when it comes to calculating how many additional weeks of benefit he is entitled to draw. It is all very complicated, and I have done my best to make it clear. If it is not clear, I will try to answer any questions that hon. Members may put.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I think it may be said that the hon. Member has made the point clear. We do not want anyone to gain because of any error. In these matters, when human beings are subject to difficult conditions, and those conditions are made rigid, they are sometimes difficult of application, and this sort of thing happens. Suppose a man questions the date when he began to get his benefit? His year dates from that time. Suppose there is disagreement between him and the officer, what will be the position? Will he have the right to go to the court of referees to have the position 404 defined? A man may begin his benefit year, and it may be that he has been working and a considerable time may elapse from the receipt of his first benefit to the next time he claims benefit. There would be in those circumstances a pardonable difference of opinion as to what the date was. There ought to be some arrangement for discussion of the matter.
In a case like that the matter would be referred to the court of referees, with the usual rights of appeal to the Umpire.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made : In page 5, line 34, at the end, insert :
(2) If, in the case of any insured contributor, it is found that he has been treated in error as having begun his benefit year on any date by reason of his having been wrongly treated as having proved any of the matters aforesaid on that date, his benefit year shall nevertheless be deemed to have begun on that date, but he shall not be entitled to benefit during the remainder of that year until he proves those matters."—[Mr. Hudson.]