HC Deb 30 January 1930 vol 234 cc1170-2

asked the Minister of Health if he has received any representations with regard to the proposed grants to voluntary associations for the blind under the Local Government Act, 1929; whether he is aware of the difficulties in which voluntary associations will be placed if the balance of the grants due for the year 1929–30 are not paid; and if he will reconsider this part of the draft scheme?


I have received representations from various associations and have explained to them that they will receive a year's Exchequer grant from my Department during the present year, and that by the provisions of the scheme to be made under Section 102 of the Local Government Act they will receive a full year's contribution from the local authorities during next year, and so on. The continuity of the payments is thus preserved and the interests of the associations are safeguarded.

Viscountess ASTOR

Will that carry out the pledges of the Labour party with regard to the blind?


That does not arise out of this question.


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that under the draft scheme issued by him in connection with the Local Government Act, 1929, the grants payable by local authorities to voluntary associations for the welfare of the blind are based on the number of persons on their register on the 31st March, 1927; that the number on their registers on 31st. March, 1928, was higher; and whether, in view of the resultant diminution in income to these associations on this basis, he will consider the desirability of amending the draft scheme in this matter?


The basis of calculation referred to in the question has been adopted only in the case of the contributions payable to Counties Associations for the Blind, and these contributions form only a small part of the total contributions included in the draft scheme. As regards these contributions, the number of blind persons on the registers on the 31st March, 1927, was adopted as the basis of calculation because that was the basis on which Exchequer grants were made to these associations in respect of the standard year. As regards the last part of the question, I shall be prepared from time to time after consultation with the local authorities concerned to recon- sider the amounts of the contributions specified in the scheme if due cause is shown.


asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that certain workshops of the blind are introducing piece-work rates of wages; and whether, having regard to the fact that the speeding up of work in this way imposes great nerve and physical strain upon blind persons, this change in policy has his approval?


This method of remuneration is adopted in practically all the workshops for the blind in England and Wales, and I think it should be given a fair trial in those in which it has recently been introduced.


asked the Minister of Health whether he is able to state the number of local authorities that submitted schemes for the exercise of their powers under the Blind Persons Act, 1920, Section 2, within 12 months of the passing of the Act; the number of local authorities that submitted such schemes at subsequent dates; the number of such authorities that are providing or maintaining workshops, hostels, homes, or other places for the reception or training of blind persons; and the number of such authorities that are contributing towards the provision and maintenance of workshops, hostels, homes, or other places for the training and reception of blind persons?


Particulars as to the actual dates of submission of these schemes are not readily available, but the majority of the local authorities submitted their schemes within 12 months of the passing of the Act and practically all of them within two years. Four-local authorities have themselves provided, and are now maintaining, workshops, hostels or homes for the reception of blind persons, and 17 have contributed towards the provision of such workshops. The large majority of local authorities contribute towards the maintenance of workshops, hostels or homes which have been provided by voluntary bodies. Any question as to the training of blind persons should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education.