HC Deb 03 August 1939 vol 350 c2625
80. Mr. Leslie

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the number of persons in receipt of relief in the county of Durham last year was the highest in Britain, namely, 57,204, and the estimated cost of public assistance for 1940 is £1,687,508; and what action the Government contemplate taking to relieve this distressed area of this heavy burden?

Mr. Elliot

I am aware of the position generally in relation to public assistance in the County of Durham. As regards the last part of the question, I would remind the hon. Member that the block grant is distributed on a basis which provides substantial relief to the finances of the necessitous areas.

Mr. Leslie

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the block grant is not sufficient in a case like this, and that public assistance in Durham is costing 10s. 5d. in the £ while a rich borough like Bournemouth can escape with 10½d.;and is this not a case for the equalisation of rates?

Mr. Elliot

The relief afforded by the block grant in England and Wales as a whole is 3s. and the relief afforded in County Durham is 11s.