§ 4. Mr. Gourlay
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he is aware there are 71 school-leavers in Buckhaven looking for work, and that many of them have been unemployed for long periods; and what consideration he has given to making alterations in the National Assistance regulations to enable unemployed persons under 16 to secure National Assistance benefit with a view to removing hardship.
§ Mr. N. Macpherson
I am aware of the situation which the hon. Member describes, although I understand that the latest figure of unemployed school-leavers in Buckhaven is rather less than 71. The minimum age for making independent applications for National Assistance was fixed at 16 by Section 7(5) of the National Assistance Act, 1948, and I have no proposals to amend it.
§ Mr. Gourlay
Is the Minister aware that the Buckhaven Town Council is thoroughly dissatisfied with the Government's refusal to help these young persons in distress at this particular time, and will he not reconsider his answer to meet the urgent need of young persons still seeking work?
§ Mr. Macpherson
Where there is definite evidence of need, assistance can be obtained in respect of the child, although it cannot be given to the child. Successive Governments have taken the view that National Assistance should not be paid to somebody under 16 as of right. I have seen the correspondence which the hon. Gentleman was kind enough to send me.