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Has not something gone seriously wrong? Does the Home Secretary recollect that a couple of years ago he promised the hon. Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead) that the scheme would be pretty well in operation by the spring of 1963? Yet there are now these arrears, largely due to the shortage of staff. What is he doing about recruiting extra staff?
I was not Home Secretary a couple of years ago. Big arrears did mount up last year, partly due to the slowness of charity trustees to apply for registration at the proper time, so that we had a very heavy concentration of applications in 1963 which should have come in 1961 and 1962. We experienced difficulties in recruiting sufficient suitable staff during the early part of last year, but those difficulties have now been overcome and, as I said, we are overtaking arrears at the rate of 300 a week.
Yes, I can certainly give that assurance. I can go further and say that, if expeditious registration is required for some good reason in an individual case and the need for it is explained, the Commissioners will do their best to deal with that case quickly.