Mr Thomas Steele: I regret that these statistics are not available in the form asked for in the first part of the Question. I am, however, circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table giving figures of the numbers of persons at these exchanges receiving standard and extended benefit, and unemployment assistance, respectively, on 20th October, 1947. As regards the second part of the Question, the persons in...
Mr Thomas Steele: So far as that point is concerned, I think it ought to be made perfectly clear that when the Minister of National Insurance was responsible for raising the amount of pension to 26s. a week, he said that no person should be a penny worse off even if they had only 6d. extra, and that is why some persons are being paid the 6d.
Mr Thomas Steele: I am waiting for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to talk about the Bill.
Mr Thomas Steele: This short guide is not yet in final form for printing, and I cannot at present say precisely how much paper it will require or what it will cost. I estimate that at least 14 million copies will be needed, since the Guide will be one of the principal means of informing some 25 to 30 million persons of their rights and obligations under the new insurance scheme.
Mr Thomas Steele: I could not say offhand. However, my hon. Friend knows the nationality of the Minister of National Insurance, and I am sure that so far as Wales is concerned we ought not to have any complaints.
Mr Thomas Steele: In common with redundant Public Assistance employees of other local authorities, those of Birmingham will be given the opportunity of applying for Civil Service appointments in the Assist ance Board and the Ministry of National Insurance. Arrangements to this end are now being worked out in consultation with the various bodies concerned.
Mr Thomas Steele: Negotiations are now proceeding with the local authorities, and by this Question and answer I hope to impress upon them that the matter is now fully under consideration. They will be informed as quickly as possible.
Mr Thomas Steele: We estimate that there are 7,500 people employed by local authorities on public assistance. We feel that between 2,000 and 2,500 will remain with the local authorities; we hope that 1,500 will come to the new National Assistance Board; and the remainder will be offered positions with the Ministry of National Insurance.
Mr Thomas Steele: As far as those people are concerned, we carry no obligation, but it is understood that many people will be required, and if they register at their local employment exchanges they will be given an opportunity.
Mr Thomas Steele: Unemployment rates will be raised next summer, when the National Insurance Act is brought into operation.
Mr Thomas Steele: The whole matter of subsistence and assistance was fully dealt with during the Second Reading Debate on the National Insurance Act. It was found then that it was undesirable to have any automatic adjustments so far as statutory benefit was concerned. I do not think it is generally appreciated that people on standard benefit can make application for unemployment assistance.
Mr Thomas Steele: Unemployment benefit is paid at fixed rates, but it is open to unemployed persons who are in need to apply for supplementation of their insurance benefit by way of unemployment assistance. This is intended to provide for fuel, as well as other normal needs, except rent. Rent is specially provided for by an addition to the appropriate scale rate.
Mr Thomas Steele: As far as the National Assistance Bill is concerned, it should be understood that the National Assistance Board will be looking at these regulations which will be come up for discussion before the Act is put into operation.
Mr Thomas Steele: As explained in my right hon. Friend's letter of 21st November last to the hon. Member, Mr. McMath's insurance under the Contributory Pensions Acts ended nearly two years before he reached the age of 65, and accordingly it was decided that he did not satisfy the principal condition for the award of a pension. This decision was confirmed by the independent referee who considered his case on...
Mr Thomas Steele: Of course, we have to administer the Act as laid down in 1936. In this case, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that due investigation was made, that it went before the independent referee, and that he decided that the applicant was not entitled to a pension under the 1936 Act, and that, of course is the final decision.
Mr Thomas Steele: No such instructions have been issued other than the general Civil Service rule prohibiting attempts to bring political or other outside influence to support personal claims. This is included in paragraph 40 of the staff rules of this Department, of which I am sending a copy to the hon. Member.
Mr Thomas Steele: It depends entirely on the circumstances. For instance, a complaint against the grading by the Civil Service Commission is a matter for the applicant and the Civil Service Commission, and the applicant has the right of appeal to the Civil Service Commission.
Mr Thomas Steele: There are the ordinary channels by which this matter may be dealt with. The whole question was considered by my right hon. Friend. He knew that this would be a difficult problem; that is why he set up the advisory committee which advised him on this matter, and the machinery of the Civil Service Commission was brought into operation.
Mr Thomas Steele: There is an instruction, a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). The effect of the instruction is that no civil servant should write to his Member of Parliament with a view to getting advancement in the Civil Service. I am sure hon. Members opposite do not want any political patronage in this matter. On general questions, a civil servant...
Mr Thomas Steele: We are dealing with a hypothetical case. What I have said applies to a particular case. If a man from an approved society feels that his grading is not what it should be, he can appeal to the Civil Service Commission—the machinery which was set up for this purpose—to deal with the matter. As to other matters of general interest to all citizens, a civil servant has the same right as any...