§ 9. Major Guy Lloyd
asked the Minister of National Insurance what has been the percentage increase in claims for sick benefits in the first year of the scheme as compared with the year earlier.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I regret that I cannot give the figure asked for as the total number of sickness benefit claims made in any year under the old scheme was not known. The comparison would in any case be misleading as many more people are covered by the new Act.
§ Major Lloyd
Does the Minister mean to suggest that there would be nothing scandalous in the comparison provided by the figures, if they were available? Is he not aware that the great majority of the people of the country are fully aware that if the figures were available they would be most scandalous and that that statement has been supported by several hon. Members opposite in debate? May I ask the Minister what steps the Government propose to take to stop a minority of the people from exploiting their fellow countrymen in this way?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I do not think the statement should go out unchallenged that the administration is scandalous. It is nothing of the kind. The Question asked whether comparisons could be given with the old scheme. I have stated the reasons why they cannot be given.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the whole purpose of the Government's policy for the past four years has been precisely to prevent a minority of the people from exploiting the rest?
§ 10. Major Lloyd
asked the Minister of National Insurance what was the number of doubtful claims for sickness benefit referred to the regional medical officers in the past 12 months as compared with the previous 12 months.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The number of cases in which claimants to sickness benefit were referred to regional medical officers for second medical opinions in the 12 months ended 30th September, 1949, was 202,188. The number for the previous 12 months was 75,189.