HC Deb 19 November 1936 vol 317 cc1918-9

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will cause inquiry to be made into the death of an ex-service man, Arthur Gibb, Alexandra Terrace, Luthermuir, Laurencekirk, Scotland, who, although in ill-health for years, was ordered to take employment at potato-gathering under penalty of losing his public assistance relief, and who died after a week of it; and what steps it is proposed to take to ensure that men who claim to be physically unfit shall be informed of their right to appeal to a neutral medical referee before being deprived of their public assistance or health society benefits?


Inquiries which have been made have failed to trace the death of a man of the name mentioned in the right hon. Member's question. The case referred to is probably that of David Colville, who resided at Main Street, Luthermuir, Laurencekirk, and who died on 13th October, 1936. I am informed that it is not the case that he was ever ordered to take employment under penalty of losing his public assistance relief. With regard to the latter part of the question, an applicant for public assistance has a right of appeal to the Sheriff if all relief is refused, or to the Department of Health if dissatisfied with the amount or nature of the relief offered. It is the duty of the public assistance official who intimates the authority's decision to inform an applicant of his right of appeal. As for national health insurance, a member who is dissatisfied with any decision of his approved society has a right of appeal, firstly, to the arbitration tribunal provided by the society's rules, and, finally, to the Department of Health for Scotland. Approved societies have been requested to inform their members of their appeal rights, and I have no reason to think that they are remiss in this respect.


If I give the hon. Gentleman particulars of the case referred to in the question, will he undertake to make special inquiries?


I shall be very grateful if the right hon. Gentleman will give me the particulars on which his question is based, because the inquiries made in my Department have failed to trace the death of a man of the name of Arthur Gibb living in Laurencekirk.