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Local Advisory Committees

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 19 July 1949

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asked the Minister of National Insurance if he is now in a position to state the number of local advisory committees he has decided to set up; the regions in which they will operate; the number of persons on each committee; and the names of the organisations or institutions which have been invited to submit the names of suitable persons for the newly-formed advisory committees.

My right hon. Friend is proposing to set up about 230 committees under the National Insurance Act—186 in England, 26 in Scotland and 18 in Wales. Membership will vary from area to area. It will generally be about 20, and will include persons appointed after consultation with organisations of employers and workers, local authorities, friendly societies and other bodies with special local knowledge and experience.

Why is it that this delay has taken place in setting up these advisory committees, upon whose decision depends the welfare of the old age pensioners, who, in the main, will be the people who will have to apply to the advisory committees? What has caused the delay?

I think my hon. Friend is confusing the committees to be set up under the National Insurance Act and the committees under the National Assistance Act. So far as the National Assistance Act is concerned, those committees are being reconstituted at the present time. As to the committees under the National Insurance Act, I am sure my hon. Friend will appreciate that we have had a tremendous job indeed in launching the new scheme. We are, of course, setting up the committees at the first opportunity.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that we were informed many months ago that there would be co-ordination between his Department and the National Assistance Board in speeding up the formation of these advisory committees? Will he tell us what has caused the delay?

So far as the National Insurance committees are concerned, we felt that it was necessary to have dual membership between them and the committees under the National Assistance Act, so that those committees would be acquainted with the work of the social services as a whole.