HC Deb 06 June 1940 vol 361 cc984-5
13. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Minister of Health whether he will give instructions for accurate records to be kept of the amount of money deducted from the standard scale in the case of the total payment in respect of supplementary pensions; and also of the separate cost, as near as possible, of the administration of investigation and enforcement of the household means test, with a view to discovering whether the imposition of the means test is more or less costly than the economies effected.

Mr. M. MacDonald

The amount by which supplementary pensions actually in payment are less than the full rate gives no indication of the extra cost which the abolition of the household means test would involve, because it takes no account of cases in which, owing to the existence of household resources, no supplementary pension is payable or even applied for. As regards the cost of administration, I would point out that even if the resources of other members of the household were not taken into account it would still be necessary to investigate the case, in order to ascertain the applicant's needs and circumstances and it would not be possible to give any estimate of the extent to which the cost of investigation would be reduced if the inquiries were so limited.

Mr. Woodburn

Would the Minister go carefully into this question, as there is a danger, with the multiplication of investigations, that the country will be overburdened with on-cost charges for administration, which might be saved by a simpler method of investigation into the means test so long as it is in existence?

Mr. MacDonald

We are anxious to save as much cost of administration as we can, and I will go into the matter carefully.