§ Mr. Gardiner
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for what reasons reports by the Benefits Agency Medical Service are no longer available to individuals who are appealing against a decision of the Benefits Agency until tribunal stage. 
§ Mr. Keith Bradley
The administration of the Benefits Agency is a matter for Peter Mathison, its Chief Executive. He will write to my hon. Friend.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Barry Gardiner, dated 24 June 1998:The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking for what reasons reports by the Benefits Agency Medical Service (BAMS) are no longer available to individuals who are appealing against a decision of the Benefits Agency (BA) until tribunal stage.No changes have been made to the instructions covering the availability of medical reports to individuals who appeal to the Independent Tribunal Service (ITS) against a decision by an Adjudication Officer. Once an appeal is made the local BA Office will pass all the documents to the ITS. This will include a copy of the BAMS report where appropriate. An information package which includes a set of the appeal documents is sent to the individual by ITS, and any representative, at least seven days before the date of the hearing. This is the minimum period required by law.ITS advice is that appeal documents are on average issued three to four weeks before the appeal hearing date, but that in some areas the documentation is issued in accordance with minimum legal requirements. We are aware that some BA Offices provide additional copies of All Work Test medical records but this is not standard practice.In light of these inconsistencies we are undertaking a review of current procedures. This will aim to meet the requirements of "Open Government" and the emerging requirements of the Social Security Act 1998. The aim of making these changes is to make the information timeously available.I hope that this is helpful.