asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many local offices of his Department have been closed during the last three years; in how many cases he received representations against closure; and what are the conditions of location, size and volume of business which decide these closures.
In the three years ended 30th June, 1961, six local offices were closed and nineteen reduced to caller offices. Twenty-five caller offices were also closed. Representations against closure or reduction were received in most cases. These decisions are based on the facts of each case bearing in mind both the reasonable needs of the public and the need for economy in the costs of administration, and are generally made after consultation with the local advisory committee.
Would the right hon. Gentleman say that it is the number of callers at the local office which is the primary consideration in keeping an office open? Would he also say whether this is a continuous process and how much further it will go?
The number of callers is one of the factors that have to be taken into account, but there are many others—the accessibility of another office, means of transport to it, the general volume of work, suitability of premises, working conditions and so on. It is my policy to keep the system of local offices throughout the country under close review in the light of the considerations of principle which I mentioned at the end of my main answer.