HC Deb 30 June 1952 vol 503 c9
14. Major Lloyd

asked the Minister of National Insurance for how long a period, under his regulations, a man may refuse work offered to him before the National Assistance Board refuses to support him.

The Minister of National Insurance (Mr. Osbert Peake)

Refusal of work does not itself relieve the Board of their duty to meet need, but a person who persistently refuses to maintain himself is liable to prosecution. There are no rules as to when proceedings should be taken in a particular case as the decision must depend on the facts.

Major Lloyd

Can my right hon. Friend, from his experience, say whether there are more than a very few people who can live on the State for an indefinite period without any action being taken?

Mr. Peake

This is a responsibility of the Board and they are taking proceedings in the way I have mentioned in a steadily increasing number of cases.

Mr. J. Paton

In such a case the man has an absolute right of appeal against any decision made against him?

Mr. Peake

I am not an expert on the proceedings of magistrates' courts. In cases of prosecution I imagine that where a point of law is involved there is a right of appeal.

Mr. Paton

I am talking about the tribunals.

Mr. Peake

There is no appeal, as far as I know, from the decision of the local appeal tribunal in these cases.

Dr. Stross

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the difficulty of assessing capacity for work and the differences of opinion expressed in almost all these cases, and will he bear in mind that in nearly all of them medical evidence can be put forward stating that the person is unfit for work?

Mr. Peake

I am sure that the Assistance Board take those considerations into account.