HC Deb 31 May 1954 vol 528 cc871-2
3. Mr. John Hall

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will consider changing the name of the National Assistance Board to the Supplementary Pensions Board.

5. Mr. Gower

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will consider the advantages of changing the name of the National Assistance Board and of substituting some new name which may appear more attractive to persons whose circumstances merit supplementation of their retirement pensions.

The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Osbert Peake)

I think the confusion arising from a change of name would be likely to outweigh any possible advantages. A name referring only to supplementary pensions would be particularly misleading in view of the large number of non-pensioners who receive the Board's help.

Mr. Hall

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are many needy old-age pensioners who are very reluctant to approach the National Assistance Board for the relief to which they would otherwise be entitled because of the association of that name with the old Poor Law board and charity, and cannot there be some alternative name which would help to encourage that section of the community who, by very reason of their sense of pride and independence, are often the most deserving of help?

Mr. Peake

This matter was discussed in Standing Committee in 1947, and the then Minister decided that it was best to call this body the National Assistance Board. I concur with that view. I should be extremely reluctant at the present time to forfeit all the good will which this institution has built up.

Mr. Gower

While it is true that in 1947 it was a new step, is it not a fact that since then certain very deserving people have been rather repelled by this particular name and cannot the Minister, without tying himself to any definite proposal, consider the possibility of some alternative name not so closely associated with the term "assistance."

Mr. Peake

No, Sir. I cannot agree with that. I think there is a great deal to be said for sometimes calling a spade a spade.

Dr. Summerskill

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the hon. Members who have put these Questions would do far more good if they sought to popularise the present name?