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Social Security Appeals

Volume 130: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received on the case for guidance and direction to be given to preserve a separation of function and interest between social security appeal tribunals and departmental officers presenting cases before them in the last three years.

In 1986 a central management support team examined the procedures for handling appeals in DHSS offices. A copy of the final report has been placed in the Library. The report included a recommendation that adjudication officers needed to be made more aware of the exact function of the presenting officer at an appeal and that the recommendation should be brought to the attention of the training branches responsible for appeals courses. This recommendation has already been implemented.Moreover the adjudication officers' guide, Vol. 1 paras. 05289 et seq. also gives guidance as to the conduct of the adjudication officer when presenting an appeal. The adjudication officers' guide will be published on 30 March and copies will be placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the last three years (a) internal disciplinary action or (b) prosecutions have been taken relating to cases where social security appeals have been compromised by demonstrated collusion between departmental officers presenting cases and the appeal tribunals.

I am not aware of any such incidents, but if the hon. Member has a specific case in mind I will have the matter investigated.