HC Deb 01 August 1946 vol 426 cc1185-6
1. Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth

asked the Minister of National Insurance what is the average time which elapses between the death of a man and the actual commencement of payment of widow's pension to his widow; and what number of cases have occurred during the first six months of this year in which payment did not begin to be made until three months after the husband's death.

3. Mr. George Brown

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he will indicate the average time that transpires between the date of receipt in his Department of an application for a widow's pension and the date upon which the pension award is made.

The Minister of National Insurance (Mr. James Griffiths)

The length of the period between the date of the husband's death and the issue of pension to the widow is in large measure dependent on the date on which the widow makes her application. The average time between receipt of a claim for a widow's pension and the issue of the pension has now been reduced to about five weeks as compared with seven weeks in the early part of this year. The information asked for in the second part of the Question by the hon. Members for Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) could not be obtained without a special scrutiny of claims which, for the reason indicated in the first part of my reply, I should not feel justified in undertaking.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are some cases where a very considerable period elapses, which causes great hardship, and will he take account of such cases and reduce the period as far as possible?

Mr. Griffiths

I am aware that this situation has not been satisfactory. We have been working on it with our staff at Blackpool but we are now in the process of moving that staff to Newcastle-011-Tyne. I am doing all I can to expedite the handling of these claims and when we are installed in our permanent home 1 am certain that we shall be able to reduce the period much further.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Is this not a result of trying to concentrate all activities under one Ministry, and do not the friendly societies give a much quicker and more efficient service?

Mr. Griffiths

In point of fact, the time taken has been considerably reduced since the concentration under one Ministry.