HC Deb 18 June 1941 vol 372 cc659-60
72. Mr. Mathers

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland which are the relatives considered liable to maintain a poor person under the Poor Law Acts; whether it is the practice for all local authorities to recover cost of maintenance from liable relatives able to meet that cost; and on what basis ability to meet the cost is determined?

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)

The liability of maintaining a poor person in Scotland under Common Law is briefly as follows: Husband for his wife and children; wife with separate estate for her indigent husband, children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents. With regard to the second part of the Question, my right hon. Friend is unable to say whether all the local authorities take steps to recover the cost of maintenance in such cases. With regard to the last part of the Question, relatives are liable only where their means are in excess of their needs. The final determination rests with the courts.

Mr. Mathers

Will the Scottish Office take into account the desirability of uniformity in respect of the amount of relief and uniformity of administration?

Mr. Westwood

The question of the amount of relief is left to the local authorities. The final determination, as to its justice, rests with the courts.

Mr. Buchanan

Is it not desirable that local authorities should bring themselves into line with what has been done by Parliament?

Mr. Westwood

Expressing my own personal view, I should say that is the right thing for local authorities to do.