HC Deb 05 May 1952 vol 500 cc4-5
3. Mr. Reader Harris

asked the Minister of National Insurance why a trade union acting on behalf of one of its members has greater facilities for lodging appeals with commissioners than private individuals not so represented; and whether he will amend Statutory Instrument, 1948, No. 1144, to give equal facilities to claimants represented by trade unions and those not so represented.

Mr. Peake

The distinction to which my hon. Friend draws attention is that if the tribunal is unanimous, an appeal to the Commissioner can be made only with the consent of the Tribunal or of the Commissioner, unless it is raised by a trade union or other association which exists to promote the welfare of its members. This distinction, which was approved by the National Insurance Advisory Committee, was intended to prevent the Commissioner from being overwhelmed with frivolous or groundless appeals, and I am not aware that it is proving unsatisfactory in practice.

Mr. Harris

Can my right hon. Friend say why a trade union, apparently, is less likely to lodge a frivolous appeal than is a private individual, who is much more affected by it? Does he not realise that this is a form of discrimination against the non-trade unionist, which might have been expected from the previous Government but not from this one?

Mr. Peake

I can only say that this position has held good for the last 20 years and that, of course, it does not apply only to what my hon. Friend is thinking of as trade unions, but is taken advantage of by bodies such as the British Legion and the National Federation of Old Age Pensioners.