§ 11. Mr. Wade
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance by what authority a claimant who has appealed to the National Insurance Commissioner is not allowed to appear in person or to be represented at the hearing of his appeal; and whether he will amend his regulations so as to remedy this state of affairs.
§ Mr. Peake
The statutory regulations provide that the National Insurance Commissioner shall grant a request for an oral hearing unless, after considering the record of the case and the reasons put forward in the request for a hearing, he is satisfied that the appeal can properly be determined without a hearing. The claimant will always have had an opportunity of a hearing before the local appeal tribunal, and I think it is best to leave the Commissioner with his present discretion.
§ Mr. Wade
Is it not contrary to the generally accepted principles of British justice that the National Insurance Commissioner, from whom there is no appeal to a court of law, should have the right to decide, not merely to arrive at his decision in private, but also to refuse to allow the appellant to appear before him and plead his case?
§ Mr. Peake
The existing practice regarding the discretion left to the Commissioner whether there should be an oral hearing or not springs from a decision of the Liberal Government in 1911, when unemployment insurance was first introduced. I would also refer the hon. Gentleman to the findings of the Donoughmore Committee on Ministerial Powers in 1934, which said:There is no natural right to an oral hearing.