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Benefit Claims And Refusals

Volume 928: debated on Wednesday 23 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) on how many occasions in the last 12 months persons have been prevented from returning temporarily to their country of origin and leaving their family dependent on social security benefits; and if he will make a statement;(2) under what circumstances his Department warns persons who temporarily leave the United Kingdom for their country of origin, leaving their family dependent on social security benefit; and under what circumstances his Department prevents someone from leaving, as in the case of Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed Marten, of Blackburn, who was warned the first time he acted in this way and prevented the second.

Neither my Department nor the Supplementary Benefits Commission has any powers to prevent anyone returning temporarily to his country of origin. Under the Supplementary Benefits Act a man is liable to maintain his wife and children, and if he fails or neglects to do so proceedings can be taken against him. If anyone wishing to return temporarily to his country of origin asks beforehand about the possible payment during his absence of supplementary benefit to his family in this country he is made aware of these statutory provisions. If he simply leaves his family without first making inquiries and supplementary benefit has therefore to be paid, he is interviewed on his return, when the question of repayment is raised.