HC Deb 03 December 1963 vol 685 cc973-4
Q1. Mr. Wade

asked the Prime Minister what consideration he has given to the amalgamation of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance with the National Assistance Board to form a single Ministry of Social Security.

The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

I am aware that this proposition has some attraction, but the issues involved are not so simple as the Question suggests. However, I do not regard the present arrangements in this area of Government as necessarily right for all time.

Mr. Wade

I am not sure whether that means "Yes" or "No". Is the Prime Minister aware that there are still many people who are reluctant to go to the National Assistance Board, though that is no criticism of the staff of the Board? In any case, is it not high time that we had some radical reform of our social security system, and might not this be coupled with the creation of a single Ministry of Social Security?

The Prime Minister

Like the hon. Gentleman, I am very concerned to avoid any suggestion that stigma attaches to National Assistance, and I am very glad to note the tribute which he paid to the staff of the Board. This is a matter for the machinery of Government which we ought to keep under review.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there might well be opportunities for savings and for greater convenience if the local offices of these two organs of Government could be combined?

The Prime Minister

That is one of the considerations which we must take into account when reviewing the machinery of Government.

Mr. Lipton

May we take it nevertheless that the Prime Minister still intends to make the statement on pensions which we were promised by his predecessor on 1st October last?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, but that hardly arises on this Question.