§ Mr. Wigley
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of cheques sent out with the Christmas bonus for pensioners he estimates were not received before Christmas; what was the target and actual final date of posting of these cheques; and why ex-Service men pensioners in Wales were particularly late in receiving these cheques.
§ Mr. Prentice
Almost 2 million of the 10 million beneficiaries entitled to Christmas bonus were paid by Girocheque or payable order. These payments were issued by first class post during the period 28 November to 13 December to ensure payment before Christmas, but about 1,000 payments to retirement pensioners were not issued until after Christmas due to an oversight. Payment to a further 9,000 beneficiaries was not made until after Christmas because the qualifying benefit was not awarded until then. I do not742W know whether any payments were delayed in the post and I am not aware that ex-Service men in Wales were particularly late in receiving payments.