HC Deb 25 November 1963 vol 685 cc29-31
40. Mr. John Hall

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if, in view of the high cost of fares on country bus services, he will find some way of remitting pension payments to pensioners living in rural areas who have to travel some distance to a post office.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

Arrangements already exist for a pen-

is any doubt about the correctness of the medical board's decision. I think that when the hon. Lady sees the figures she will see that a very high proportion of these references had results favourable to the claimant.

Following is the information:

sioner, in appropriate cases, to appoint a friend or relative to cash his pension orders for him, and these arrangements have, over the years, proved satisfactory for pensioners.

Mr. Hall

May I first, ask my hon. Friend whether she is aware that hon. Members on both sides of the House are delighted to see my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) back again in the House?

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Hall

May I ask my hon. Friend whether she is aware that many pensioners living in remote rural areas have to travel considerable distances to draw their pensions and that this takes too high a proportion of their pension? Could she not, through her right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General, ask that facilities may be made available so that on a given day and hour post offices shall be open in outlying hamlets for the payment of pensions?

Mrs. Thatcher

I will certainly make representations to the Postmaster-General, but I think that the supplementary question is more one for him than for me.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the hon. Lady not now consider whether post offices in some of these rural villages should be authorised to pay pensions?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am not responsible for post offices.

Mr. Cole

Is my hon. Friend aware that not only is there a question of financial hardship involved, but also a question of the physical difficulty of travelling long distances, especially in rural areas where many of these retirement pensioners are situated?

Mrs. Thatcher

There are many more post offices than there are pensions offices. We usually find in cases such as these that someone has to go and get the food and weekly requirements of these pensioners, and when doing so such people can also make arrangements to cash the pension forms.

Miss Herbison

Is the hon. Lady not aware that where an old person is in receipt not only of the basic pension, but also of a supplementary pension, very often such a person does not want anyone else to know about the supplementary pension? Therefore, the hon. Lady's suggestion would rule out anyone else collecting the pension for the pensioner?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have no information about such cases as the hon. Lady has mentioned.