§ 12. Mr. Shinwell
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what was the average weekly expenditure in the north-east region on National Assistance during the months of December, January and February, as compared with similar expenditure in the previous year.
§ Mr. N. Macpherson
I regret that this information cannot be provided for the north-east region. Assistance is paid partly through the Post Office, partly through the Ministry of Labour's employment exchanges and partly by the Board's own offices, and the geographical divisions of these departments do not coincide.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is it possible for the right hon. Gentleman to convey to the House the information at the disposal of these departments so that we can know whether there has been an increase in expenditure of this character? Would he not agree that the expenditure is far in excess of the previous year, and does this not denote that there is increased impoverishment in the area? What are the Government going to do about it? Will the right hon. Gentleman inform his colleagues, on the information in his possession, about the gravity of the situation in the north-east region, namely, that old people are more impoverished now than they have been for many years?
§ Mr. Macpherson
The right hon. Gentleman asks for particular information and I am afraid that I am unable to provide it for the reasons that I have given. The Post Office north-east region for which we have got figures includes parts of Lincolnshire, Notting- 946 hamshire and Derbyshire, and that is the form in which the Board gets these figures.