Workmen's Compensation Payments
asked the Minister of National Insurance if he is yet in a position to make a statement about bringing persons who are entitled to payments under the original Workmen's Compensation Acts within the scope of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946.
I regret that I am not yet in a position to make any further statement on this matter.
Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that he wrote to me in January saying that he hoped to make a statement in the middle of 1949, and can he now indicate when he is likely to make that statement?
I indicated to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and indeed to the House, some time ago that it was very desirable to have some experience of the working of the new scheme before we made up our minds about this problem. We have now had about 10 months' experience and the whole position is being re-examined. I would not like to say when we can come to a decision.
Is the Minister aware that the liability for paying compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act rests upon the employers or the insurance companies, and if he is going to make any arrangement for transferring this liability will he make it on a commercial and financial basis rather than as a gift to the insurance companies?
Of course, it will have to be on what my hon. Friend calls a "commercial basis." We shall take over the liability for which the employers are responsible, and shall expect them to meet that liability if it is practicable for them to do so.
In considering this matter, will my right hon. Friend have regard, in particular, to the case of industrial diseases, and is he aware that there is now very real doubt whether a man who suffers a recurrence of a certifiable industrial disease after 5th July, 1948, can successfully claim under either scheme?
That is another question.
Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that if and when the time comes for these liabilities to be taken over, no recipient of workmen's compensation will be put in a worse position under the new scheme than he was under the old Act?
That is one of the problems to which we have to give attention. It will be within my hon. Friend's knowledge that men injured or disabled prior to 5th July are now entitled—and, indeed, many hundreds are receiving it—to supplementary benefit under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act.
Industrial Injuries (Benefit)
asked the Minister of National Insurance whether his attention has been drawn to the effect of the supplementary scheme applicable to miners under the Industrial Injuries Act whereby disparity in benefit arises between injured workmen who draw injury benefit for the full 156 days from the date of accident, and those whose period of incapacity is much shorter in the first place but have a further period of incapacity after the expiration of 156 days from date of accident; and whether he proposes to adjust this anomaly.
The conditions governing the payment of benefit under the Colliery Workers Supplementary Scheme are a matter in the first place for both sides of the industry. I have received no representations from them on the point raised by my hon. Friend.
Does my right hon. Friend mean by that reply that there are no means whereby this anomaly can be remedied other than by negotiation between the two parties?
The supplementary scheme is settled in the first instance by the two parties. It is then submitted to me, and I bring it to Parliament. I have no power to initiate changes in the scheme unless I receive recommendations from them.
asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he will make a statement as to the benefit position prescribed by his regulations for injured workmen under the Industrial Injuries Act whose second period of resulting incapacity occurs after a period of 156 days from the date of the accident and who have not drawn the full period of 156 days injury benefit.
The Industrial Injuries Act provides that injury benefit is only payable for a maximum period of 156 days from the date of the accident. After the 156 days, the claimant's position is governed by the provisions of the Act relating to disablement benefit. I have no power to modify this position by regulations.
Am I to understand that if an injured workman does not draw his 156th days pay within the period of 156 days from the date of the accident, he is not entitled to injury benefit, and must take some other benefit if subsequent incapacity occurs?
Yes, the period of 156 days dates from the actual date of the accident itself. That is provided for in the Act.
asked the Minister of National Insurance to state the considerations taken into account by the National Assistance Board in fixing the present rates of supplementary assistance.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary on 16th June last when submitting these regulations for the approval of the House. As my hon. Friend will remember, the rates were welcomed as a considerable improvement on the rates previously in force.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a considerable amount of dissatisfaction with the index, which many people feel is not a true measure of the actual cost of living?
Of course, the Board are not strictly tied down to the index, though the index is one of the important factors they have to take into account.
Is the Minister aware that while the allowances may be better than they used to be, they are still far from what they ought to be in view of the value of the pound and prices at the present time?
asked the Minister of National Insurance the reasons why three disabled ex-Service men, who had been employed by the British Legion Car Attendants Company, Limited, at Lancaster, on 10th May, were refused unemployed benefit by his local offices; and whether any further action has been taken.
Unemployment benefit could not be paid to these men because, on the facts before him, the insurance officer decided that they had left their employment voluntarily without just cause. This decision was reversed on appeal to the local tribunal and payment of arrears of benefit due has now been made.
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether these three disabled ex-Service men were refused a break for a meal during an eight-hour shift, refused consultation with the Preston manager 20 miles away and discharged with less than the week's notice stipulated under the terms of their agreement?
When persons make claims for unemployment benefit they have to state why they have left their previous employment. This form is sent to the employers and the employers then make a statement. These facts are before the insurance officer; he decides. In this case all the relevant facts were put before the tribunal, and the tribunal made a decision in favour of the men.