Sickness Benefit

Oral Answers to Questions — National Insurance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29 November 1949.

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Photo of Mr Philip Piratin Mr Philip Piratin , Stepney Mile End 12:00, 29 November 1949

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he has yet received the report of the National Insurance Advisory Committee concerning provisional regulations dealing with rates of benefit payable to persons in hospital; and what steps he is taking in the matter.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

Yes, Sir. The Advisory Committee's Report and the Joint Authority's statement thereon were presented to Parliament on 29th July last and substantive regulations were made and laid before Parliament on the same date.

Photo of Lord  Willoughby de Eresby Lord Willoughby de Eresby , Rutland and Stamford

asked the Minister of National Insurance if he will give the number of persons who have been refused sickness benefit on the ground that they have not applied within the prescribed period since the National Insurance Scheme came into operation.

Photo of Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks , Chichester

asked the Minister of National Insurance how many claims to sickness benefit were refused by the independent statutory authorities during the six months ended 29th September upon the ground that notice of disability had not been given within the prescribed time; and if he is satisfied that adequate publicity has been given concerning the time limit.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

I regret that this information is not available. Very wide publicity has been given to the time limits for claiming benefit, through the Family Guide, in the Press, in radio talks and leaflets. They have also been explained in booklets sent to trade unions, advice bureaux, hospitals and other organisations. I am now examining certain other possible methods of giving further publicity to this important matter.

Photo of Lord  Willoughby de Eresby Lord Willoughby de Eresby , Rutland and Stamford

If the right hon. Gentleman cannot give exact figures can he say whether the number is large or small, whether he is satisfied that people are fully aware of their personal responsibility to apply and whether he thinks the prescribed period is long enough in cases of serious illness or where there has been an operation?

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

The number is not large and it is being reduced every week as the facts become known. I am anxious to do all I can in these cases and in connection with certain other benefits I have recently extended the time limit; but the period must not be too elastic, otherwise it will not be possible to check up claims.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is difficult for a person to put in a claim within the prescribed time when he is seriously ill? People have been refused benefit on this ground in a number of cases.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

The claim is made on a certificate received from the doctor. I cannot imagine a serious illness being in progress for many days without a doctor knowing about it. If there is good cause for delay that can be accepted by the insurance officer.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the responsibility lies not on the doctor but on the sick person and that in cases where there has been an oversight, and a claim has not been put in, people have been refused benefit?

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

I would like particulars of such cases.

Photo of Mr Percy Daines Mr Percy Daines , East Ham North

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that this practice worked well among the wage-earning classes for many years, and that it is too bad if the professional classes cannot carry out the same rules?