§ 37. Mr. Oram
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what steps he takes to ensure that no hardship is suffered by recipients of National Insurance benefits as a result of the loss in the post of documents sent from offices of his Department.
§ The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Niall Macpherson)
I understand that the hon. Member is referring to lost postal drafts. Lost drafts may be replaced without delay if it appears that delay would cause hardship. Otherwise lengthier inquiries are made before replacement. If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind, perhaps he will let me have details and I will gladly look into it.
§ Mr. Oram
Since a week's delay in these payments can cause real hardship at times of sickness, is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that sufficient publicity is given of the steps a recipient can take if an order does not turn up in the post on time? I understand that as much as seven weeks is needed for a full investigation. Is he satisfied that such a long time is necessary to clear up the matter?
§ Mr. Macpherson
I will look into the question of publicity for steps which may be taken, although I would have thought it obvious that any person who has lost a postal draft should go along to his local National Insurance office. Considering the vast number of postal drafts sent out yearly—about 35 million—it is obvious that some considerable time is necessary in order to sort them out and make sure that a draft has not already been paid. The hon. Gentleman would be surprised by the number of times drafts are found after being reported lost. For instance, many are found to have been cashed by a member of the recipient's household.