HC Deb 09 March 1970 vol 797 c887
6. Mr. Brooks

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will take steps to ensure that hon. Members who raise constituents' problems with the Supplementary Benefits Commission receive replies expeditiously.

Mr. Ennals

I have no evidence that in normal circumstances there is any avoidable delay in replying to hon. Members' letters. The Chairman of the Commission and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State have already expressed regret for the delay in replying to a letter from my hon. Friend, at a time when the load of work was more than double the normal rate and as a result of the 'flu epidemic, many of the staff were absent sick.

Mr. Brooks

I thank my hon. Friends for the very full and helpful letters which they have sent to me explaining this quite exceptional delay. Would not my hon. Friend agree that in a case like this, in which an ailing and elderly lady has been kept waiting for roughly three months, some system of priority treatment might be effected?

Mr. Ennals

I am sorry that my hon. Friend was kept waiting for a reply. In November and December, there were twice as many letters as usual sent to Ministers or to the Chairman. But perhaps I could say to my hon. Friend that there is no need to write to a Minister on these questions. Often very good and rapid service can come by writing direct to the social security office.