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Mr Douglas Cowan

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the operation of the Appeals Service for Social Security. Child Support and Vaccine Damage, with particular reference to the case of Mr.Douglas Cowan, a constituent. [99117]

This is a matter for Norman Egan. Acting Chief Executive of the Appeals Service. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Norman Egan to Mr. Richard Bacon dated February 2003:

The Secretary of State has asked me to respond to your question regarding the administrative handling of an appeal from one of your constituents, Mr Douglas Gowan.
The administrative side of the Appeals Service supports the judicial functioning of appeal tribunals. Appeal Tribunals consist of one, two or three members drawn by the President of appeal tribunals from the panel constituted under section 6 of the Social Security Act 1998. Panel members are appointed by the Lord Chancellor.
The processing of the original appeal; handling of the application for set aside; listing of the case for a re-hearing; and, processing the request for a postponement were handled by the administrative side. The judicial functions were undertaken by the appeal tribunal or where appropriate, a legally qualified panel member, in accordance with the relevant legislation.
After the decision by a legally qualified panel member to set aside the original appeal tribunal's decision, and having notified all the parties to the proceedings regarding the re-hearing scheduled for 18 February 2003, unfortunately a further notification was issued to Mr Gowan incorrectly advising him that the date was 18 March 2003. As soon as this error was identified a further notification was issued confirming the original date and apologising for any inconvenience caused. A request for a postponement was received and passed to a legally qualified panel member. Thelegally qualified panel member decided that it was in Mr Gowan's best interest if the hearing was not postponed. At the rehearing on 18 February the appeal tribunal adjourned the hearing to a later date having issued directions regarding further evidence needed to enable it to reach a decision.
I hope this reply is helpful.