asked the Minister of Labour whether he will instruct his Independent Women's Panel to take into account the hardships imposed on old people in the larger country houses by calling up their key domestic servants, as in the case sent him by the hon. Member for Newbury; whether these women's panels are appointed by his Department; and in what way are they independent of his Department?
The Women's Advisory Panels are already aware that they should give special consideration to cases in which the household includes aged and infirm persons. These panels are appointed by the Department in consultation with the chairman of the local employment committees and women's sub-committees attached to the employment exchanges. They consist of non-official members, not less than two in number, and are not subject to the instructions of the Department; they discuss cases, generally in a personal interview with those concerned, and are expected to make common-place recommendations in accordance with general guidance given to them by the Department.
Is the Minister aware that these panels are subject to the instructions they get from local employment exchanges and that in many cases, I do not say all, they are not carrying out the purposes for which they were formed? What is the good of these useless committees?
I do not accept that. I think that the discussions which have taken place on doctors' certificates in this House make it very important that even the Women's Panels should look at them with care.