HC Deb 17 December 1969 vol 793 cc1347-8
36. Mr. Onslow

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will move to set up a Select Committee to investigate recent allegations of fraudulent abuse of the supplementary benefit system.

Mr. Peart

No, Sir.

Mr. Onslow

Since one of the most serious features of these allegations was that abuses have been known within the Ministry but have been covered up, is it a satisfactory position that the Ministry should remain judge and jury in a case of this kind?

Mr. Peart

I think that my right hon. Friend and his Department have made their position quite clear. I do not wish to set up another Select Committee. I have set up so many Select Committees in the past—[Interruption.] The hon. Member must listen to my answer. If he wants to stand up and ask a supplementary question I do not mind. I have a long list of Select Committees here, and I am not going to set up another one.

Mr. Crawshaw

Does not my hon. Friend agree that, few as these abuses are, they tend to discredit the whole social security system in the eyes of the public? In seeking to deal with these abuses will he be careful not to return to such a close system of vigilance that people who ought to seek assistance refuse to do so?

Mr. Peart

That is an important point. But I am not setting up a Select Committee.