HC Deb 06 March 1941 vol 369 cc1008-9
31. Mr. R. C. Morrison

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of long delays in dealing with correspondence and claims for old age pensions frequently amounting to from four to nine months' delay in paying straightforward claims which give rise to suffering amongst old people and cause considerable ill-feeling; and whether he will take steps to secure that claims and correspondence are handled without delay?

Mr. E. Brown

I am not aware of any delay in the settlement of straightforward claims for old age pensions. In cases where delay arises it is in general due to the inability of the applicants to furnish the evidence necessary for a decision. Persons who claim to be entitled to old age pensions are encouraged to submit their claims at any time within four months before attaining pensionable age; and if advantage is taken of this opportunity, there is in the ordinary case no period of waiting for the pension. If my hon. Friend has any particular cases in mind in which he considers there has been undue delay perhaps he would be good enough to let me have details.

Mr. Morrison

I shall be pleased to do so. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he is probably the only Member of the House who is not aware of these delays in plain straightforward claims, in some cases as long as nine months, which cause much distress to very poor people?

Mr. Brown

I am quite aware of the machinery and have looked closely into it. The hon. Member will realise that it is a formidable problem, but there ought not to be undue delay. If he will let me have cases, I will look into them.

Mr. G. Strauss

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it takes sometimes a month to get a reply to the simplest question?

Mr. Brown

I have heard the assertion, but, on examining the facts, I have often found that what a Member said was simple was really very complicated.