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Social Security Benefits Bill

Volume 888: debated on Wednesday 12 March 1975

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Question again proposed, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

We feel very strongly that we want the scheme introduced in the way that the Lords have amended it. But there is a further reason for doing so. This was made clear by Baroness Seear in another place. She has quite clearly had a great deal of experience of these matters since she is Chairman of the National Association of Single Women and Dependent Relatives. The point she made is that often there is a good social reason why a person looking after a relative should not be doing so, why he or she should be going out to work and another person should be living-in and looking after the disabled person. I am sure that the Minister understands that.

If the Minister persists in seeking to disagree with the Lords amendment we shall have to press the matter to a Division. I hope that he will have second thoughts. There is not much that divides us on this issue, only, it seems, differences arising for administrative reasons. I hope that I have persuaded the Minister that for a very strong administrative reason it would be better to introduce the ICA without the distinction between relatives and non-relatives.

The Minister says that he is concerned about this issue, and I am inclined to believe him. He says that he will oppose the Lords amendment because of the time factor, because the uprating is causing great problems among his staff, and because of some of the reforms being brought in. The tremendous turmoil into which we are getting over the upratings is mainly a reflection of the terrible problem of inflation. The whole Bill is mainly about inflation. Great pride is taken in the fact that we are now spending about £1,100 million extra on benefits, but we shall have to devise some new terminology to cope with inflation, because much of this money is not real "purchasing" money, it is "Monopoly" money, and those who are receiving it know that.

We are asking that the invalid care allowance should be made available to persons other than strict blood relatives of the severely disabled. I do not know what the definition of "relative" is, because I have read somewhere that we are all related to each other by the 37th generation. We are told that if the daughter looks after the mother she will receive assistance, and that if one brother looks after another brother he will receive assistance. If there are two sisters looking after each other we shall give them assistance. In all the cases that I have mentioned there would be some responsibility, in a moral sense, to look after the relative.

The question is not whether we include the non-relative but whether we include relatives and non-relatives at the outset. It would be most unfortunate if anything said in this debate gave the impression outside the House that we were excluding non-relatives. That is not our intention.

I understand that. We wish to give the Government a little encouragement to bring forward these measures a little earlier than is intended. Where there is some sort of moral responsibility among relatives we shall give an invalidity care allowance. We are saying that two people who have no strict moral commitment—for example, one friend choosing to look after the other—should also receive the allowance. It was admitted in another place that the bulk of these cases is covered by the blood relative definition. The number of people involved in the category to which I am drawing attention is small. Therefore. I cannot understand the arguments, that are put forward.

The question of cost has been raised. In fact, our suggestion is one of the best ways of saving money. I know from my own experience that the poor person who is in need of an invalidity care allowance and who is not given it goes into an institution. What are the current costs of looking after a person in an institution? If we save one person from entering an institution we shall probably cover the cost of six people receiving the invalidity care allowance.

Division No. 146.]AYES10.8 p.m
Allaun, FrankGraham, TedOvenden, John
Anderson, DonaldGrant, George (Morpeth)Palmer, Arthur
Armstrong, ErnestGrocott, BrucePavltt, Laurie
Atkinson, NormanHamilton, James (Bothwell)Pendry, Tom
Bates, AlfHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Phlpps, Dr Colin
Bean, R. E.Hunter, AdamPrescott, John
Bishop, E. S.Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)Roderick, Caerwyn
Blenkinsop, ArthurJanner, GrevilleRodgers, George (Chorley)
Boardman, H.Jones, Alec (Rhondda)Rooker, J. W
Boothroyd, Miss BettyKerr, RussellRoper, John
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Lamond, JamesRose, Paul B.
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Leadbitter, TedSheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Loyden, EddieSilverman, Julius
Campbell, IanLyons, Edward (Bradford W)Skinner, Dennis
Canavan, DennisMcEIhone, FrankSmall, William
Clemitson IvorMackenzie, GregorSmith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C.)Snape, Peter
Coleman, DonaldMcNamara, KevinStewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Dalyell TarnMadden, MaxTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Deaklns, EricMagee, BryanThomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Dempsey, JamesMaguire, Frank (Fermanagh)Thorne, Stan (Preston south)
Dolg, PeterMahon, SimonTinn, James
Dorm'and, J. D.Marks, KennethUrwin, T. W.
Duffy, A. E. P.Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Dunn, James AMillan, BruceWalker, Terry (Kingswood)
Eadle, AlexMiller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)Weetch, Ken
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)White, Frank R. (Bury)
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)White, James (Pollok)
Evans, loan (Aberdare)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw!Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Evans, John (Newton)Moyle, RolandWise, Mrs Audrey
Ewlng, Harry (Stirling)Murray, Rt Hon Ronald KingWoodall, Alec
Faulds, AndrewNewens, StanleyYoung, David (Bolton E)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon ENoble, Mike
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)O'Halloran, MichaelTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
George, BruceO'Malley, Rt Hon BrianMr. Joseph Harper and
Gould, BryanOrme, Rt Hon StanleyMr. David Stoddart.
Gourlay, Harry

NOES
Arnold, TomBoscawen, Hon. RobertClark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Brittan, LeonClarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Bain, Mrs MargaretBrotherton, MichaelCope,John
Berry, Hon AnthonyBuchanan-Smith AlickDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Body, RichardBudgen, NickEwlng, Mrs Winifred (Mora))

We are saying that in the short term we are being cruel to people who would much prefer to stay at home as their health deteriorates quickly. In the long term the Government and my party have the same objective, but in the short term, why do we penalise a loyalty based on friendship? For example, two women may well have a loyalty based on friendship. Why penalise that loyalty? It is admitted by the Government that such people are a minority. Why should we exclude them from the invalidity care allowance. I ask the Government to consider this matter again. If the allowance is not extended in the way we suggest, I must warn the Government that the Liberal Party will be after them. We feel that we must vote with the Conservative Opposition.

Question put. That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment :—

The House divided :Ayes, 105. Noes 76.

Fairgrieve, RussellMacmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)Shepherd, Colin
Fisher, Sir NigelMarshall, Michael (Arundel)Silvester, Fred
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMates, MichaelSims, Roger
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)Mayhew, PatrickSpeed, Keith
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Gray, HamishMiscampbell, NormanStokes, John
Gryils, MichaelMoate, RogerStradling Thomas, J.
Hannam, JohnMolyneaux, JamesTaylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Hawkins, PaulMontgomery, FergusTebbit, Norman
Henderson, DouglasMorrison, Charles (Devizes)Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Hicks, RobertNeave, AireyThompson, George
Higgins, Terence L.Nelson, AnthonyViggers, Peter
Howell, David (Guildford)Neubert, MichaelWainwright, Richard (Coine V)
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)Newton, TonyWeatherlll, Bernard
Hutchison, Michael ClarkPage, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)Welsh, Andrew
James, DavidPaisley, Rev IanWinterton, Nicholas
Kilfedder, JamesPenhaligon, DavidYoung, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Knight, Mrs JillPowell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Knox, DavidReid, GeorgeTELLERS FOR THE NOES
Lane, DavidRenton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)Mr. W. Benyon and Mr. Richard Luce
Lawrence, IvanRoss, William (Londonderry)
Le Marchant, SpencerSainsbury, Tim

Question accordingly agreed to.—[ Special entry.]

Lords amendment : No. 6, in page 8, leave out lines 15 to 17.

Question proposed, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.—[ Mr. O'Malley.]

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of their amendments to the Bill : Mr. Boscawen, Mr. Kenneth Clarke, Mr. John Ellis, Mr. O'Malley and Mr. Alfred Morris ; three to be the quorum.—[ Mr. O'Malley.]

To withdraw immediately.

Reasons for disagreeing to certain of the Lords amendments reported, and agreed to ; to be communicated to the Lords.