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Volume 932: debated on Monday 16 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether he is aware that persons with four wives and 12 children are being admitted into Great Britain; and whether all social services are claimable and payable to such persons for their four wives and 12 children;(2) whether he is aware that men are being admitted for settlement into Great Britain with as many as four wives and 12 children; to what extent these are able to claim social security and supplementary benefits; what limits are placed upon one man claiming for more than one benefit; and whether he will make a statement;(3) whether he will give a detailed list of those men receiving social security benefits for their several wives and children: and what benefits are being claimed.

As regards entry to Great Britain in such cases, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office on 13th May. People who settle in this country are entitled to receive supplementary benefits and non-contributory benefits if they fulfil the conditions of the schemes; and to obtain the help of local authority social services where necessary. They can also receive any benefits to which their contributions entitle them. Those in full-time work are excluded from the supplementary benefits scheme, and all unemployed able-bodied men are required to register for such work as a condition of receiving supplementary benefit. A man living in this country can be paid supplementary benefits for all the wives and dependent children for whom he is responsible, but if he is in full-time work he must support all his dependents without supplementary benefits. He can receive national insurance benefits only in respect of one wife. Information is not available on the payment of supplementary benefits to men in respect of more than one wife, but inquiries suggest that very few such payments are made.