HC Deb 04 December 1967 vol 755 cc940-1
33. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Minister of Social Security whether she is satisfied that all officers at the local branches of her Department can now deal with the full range of inquiries about both contributory benefits as well as supplementary benefits.

Mrs. Hart

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland) on 23rd October.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 751, c. 343–4.]

Mr. Montgomery

Is the right hon. Lady aware that New Society published an article earlier this year in which it cited the case of a lady who went to one of the Ministry's offices, a former Ministry of Pensions office, to inquire about supplementary benefits and said that nobody there could help her, but they sent her to another office, which was an old National Assistance Board office, some distance away? While appreciating that this is a difficult problem, may I ask what the Ministry is doing in the sphere of retraining to cope with this sort of situation?

Mrs. Hart

There has been a great deal of retraining going on during the year. The process of integrating these offices is moving forward, but it must, by its nature, be a slow process. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman recognises that we are moving forward in this respect, and I am sure that he will find today that it would be most unusual if a caller at any of these offices was unable to get help on any question.