HC Deb 24 May 1965 vol 713 cc15-6
16. Mr. McGuire

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if she will seek to amend the regulations relating to the qualifications of the medical members of medical appeal tribunals so as to provide that, in every case before a medical appeal tribunal in which the subject matter of the appeal is a medical one, the medical members of the tribunal must include at least one who is of consultant status and who specialises in the particular disease or disability which is the subject of the appeal.

Miss Herbison

Members of medical appeal tribunals in the Industrial Injuries scheme are all of consultant status and are among the most eminent members of their profession. It would be impracticable to provide specialists for each medical condition, but tribunals have power to call for specialists' reports where necessary.

Mr. McGuire

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that, as these tribunals are a form of civil court, the main thing to do is to ensure that justice is seen to be done? I am thinking particularly of a specialist report from a psychiatrist, because, with the greatest respect to the consultants who sit on the tribunals, very often they seem to follow the dictum of Samuel Goldwyn when a psychiatrist's report is presented, namely, that anybody who goes to see a psychiatrist should have his head examined. Would not my right hon. Friend agree that in many cases the obtaining of a specialist would not create undue delay? We think that it is a little odd that it is possible to present a report and find that the people adjudicating on it are not qualified to decide on the matter.

Miss Herbison

My hon. Friend will be aware that with certain disabilities we wait until a number of cases have to be considered by the tribunal, and a specialist in that disability—say a skin disease, or orthopaedic trouble—is present as a member of the tribunal. In other cases there might be considerable delay if we had to ensure that a specialist in that subject was a member of the tribunal. The reports are called for. The man whose case is being considered can have a specialist's report presented to the tribunal. A psychiatrist's report is, however, a special matter, and I shall look into that.