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Mr A J Gardham

Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 26 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why Mr. A. J. Gardham, a constituent of the hon. Member for St. Helens. has been refused benefit by the local staff of his Department in spite of repeated and regular medical certificates indicating that his constituent is unfit for any kind of employment.

Claims to sickness benefit and invalidity benefit are decided by independent adjudicating authorities, which are not bound to accept the opinion of any doctor as conclusive. Neither the insurance officer nor the local tribunal was satisfied that Mr. Gardham was incapable of work, and invalidity benefit was therefore not payable.

The Supplementary Benefits Commission has decided that Mr. Gardham must register for work in order to obtain supplementary benefit.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Gardham suffers from a serious cardiac illness? Will he accept that to say that he is fit to sign on for light work is to offer him an opportunity that is not available? There are no light jobs to be had. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have hundreds of disabled people registered for work that they cannot obtain?

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that I could not recommend my constituent to appear before the local appeals tribunal because I have no faith in the chairman, who is receiving professional fees, to make a decision on behalf of the Department?

The decision that the adjudicating authority had to make was whether Mr. Gardham was capable of work. He may be ill but still be considered capable of work. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman followed his supplementary question with an attack on the chairman of the local appeals tribunal. He is doing a difficult job and deserves our support.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of that most unsatisfactory reply, I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.