HC Deb 20 April 1964 vol 693 cc864-5
35. Mr. Cole

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if, in order to make the benefits of National Assistance more attractive both to those who receive them and to others eligible to receive them, he will consider changing its description to National Welfare.

Mr. Wood

My hon. Friend's objective has my full support, but the officers of the National Assistance Board have built up a reputation for kindness and sympathy. I think it more important to preserve this than to change the name of the Board.

Mr. Cole

I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer, but is he aware that, above all things, the work of the staff matters far more than the name? Would he give this further consideration, because, although Shakespeare had a few words to say about the value of names, the name is of great importance in regard to public services.

Mr. Wood

As my hon. Friend knows, this question has been given consideration from time to time and there has never been agreement as to what name would be better. My own opinion is that a change might well lose as much as it gained.

Mr. W. Hamilton

Would not a much better solution be to increase National Insurance benefits and so get rid of the Board altogether?

Mr. Wood

National Insurance benefits are all immensely higher in real value now than they were in 1951.

Sir K. Thompson

With the same object in mind, would not my right hon. Friend think it highly desirable to find some way of managing National Assistance payments so that those who receive them permanently and regularly may receive them with their ordinary National insurance benefits?

Mr. Wood

As my hon. Friend knows, the words "National Assistance" do not appear on the order books through which grants are paid at the Post Office.