HC Deb 07 February 1939 vol 343 cc746-7
52. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the disparity amounting to approximately 5s. per week per child between the scale laid down by His Majesty's Government for the maintenance of children evacuated from dangerous areas during a time of national emergency and that allowed for children of recipients of public assistance, unemployment assistance, and unemployment benefit; and whether he will take steps to raise the latter scales to the level of that applicable to children who may be evacuated?

Sir J. Simon

I cannot accept the view that the two scales are really comparable Apart from other considerations, the billeting of other peoples' children may well involve the readjustment of house- hold arrangements, with added responsibilities and perhaps considerable inconvenience, and these justify a considerably higher allowance than that which is granted for the maintenance of children in their own homes. This fundamental difference has long been recognised by public assistance authorities who pay higher allowances for children billeted on strangers than for children who belong to a family in receipt of assistance.

Mr. Sorensen

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that by far the larger proportion of the higher amount paid in respect of evacuated children, would be devoted to supplying them with food; and if this higher amount is necessary to provide adequate food for children in those circumstances, surely the lower amount which is now paid by public authorities must be inadequate for that purpose; and will he not take some action to remove the very cynical impression which has been created by this disparity?

Sir John Haslam

Before answering that question, will the right hon. Gentleman state the amount which was allowed by the last Socialist Government and the amount which is being allowed by the present Government?

Sir J. Simon

I hope that the hon. Gentleman w ho put this question on the Paper will be good enough to consider the answer which I have given and then he will be able to help to remove that cynical impression to which he has referred.

Miss Wilkinson

Is it not a fact that in many cases these evacuated children would be sent to homes which are appreciably better off than the homes in which the children of the unemployed usually live; and is not this really a case of giving to people who are better off a higher amount than is being given to the poor people who have nothing else on which to live?