asked the Minister of National Insurance whether, in view of the delay which must inevitably occur before the passing into law of a comprehensive scheme of National Insurance, he will forthwith introduce measures to bring the exceptionally low rate of sickness benefit into conformity with unemployment and other benefits, and at the same time extend to all cases of sickness, provision for dependants as recently made available in the case of tubercular patients.
Partial legislation on this matter in advance of the main insurance Measure would be unsatisfactory, but it is the Government's intention so to frame the main legislation that the earliest practicable opportunity may be taken of bring into effect, as part of a general plan, the improvements in rates and conditions of health insurance benefit which it will propose.
:Can the Minister say when the comprehensive Measure is going to be introduced? Does he realise that the proposals now under consideration mean that accident benefits are, quite rightly, basically, 45s. a week, plus allowances to dependants and so forth, whereas the sickness benefits are 18s. a week for single men, 15s. for a spinster and 30s. for a married woman?
I fully appreciate that. It is proposed to introduce the major Bill early in the New Year, and to press forward to pass it into law during this Session.