HC Deb 31 October 1946 vol 428 cc766-7
27. Mrs. Braddock

asked the Minister of National Insurance if he can yet make a statement whether Section 62 of the National Insurance Act can be brought into operation in advance of the appointed day; and whether he will give a date.

The Minister of National Insurance (Mr. James Griffiths)

Yes, Sir; the Government intend to make provision as soon as possible on the lines of Section 62 of the National Insurance Act, for extending the right to benefit under the present unemployment insurance scheme. The details of the necessary arrangements are now receiving my close attention, but I cannot yet give the date from which they will operate.

Mrs. Braddock

In view of the fact that acute hardship is put on men who exhaust their stamp benefit and are referred to the Assistance Board, where a means test takes place, will my right hon. Friend guarantee that the whole of the administration of his Department will be speeded up, in order that at the earliest possible moment this Section of the Act can be applied?

Mr. Griffiths

Yes, I am doing my very best to bring it into operation as soon as possible.

Mrs. Castle

Has my right hon. Friend appointed the National Advisory Council, to whom he promised that these regulations would be submitted before being submitted to this House?

Mr. Griffiths

The National Advisory Council's function will be to advise me on the operation of the National Insurance Scheme. If my hon. Friend studies the reply, she will see that this refers to extending Section 62 of the Act to existing unemployment insurance.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

In view of the fact that Section 62 cannot be operated without regulations, which are not yet in existence, and in view of the fact that all the controversial questions under the Section are to be dealt with by regulations, can my right hon. Friend say when the House will have an opportunity of knowing what the regulations are to contain?

Mr. Griffiths

I said that the preparation of the regulations is receiving my close attention. I cannot give a date; but it will be as soon as possible.