HC Deb 09 June 1943 vol 390 cc811-2
Mr. Tom Brown

I beg to move, in page 6, line 14, at the end, to insert: being a date not later than the date fixed under paragraph (b) of this Section. I have no intention of detaining the Committee unduly. I move this Amendment in order to provide the Minister with an opportunity of making clear what is meant by the words at the end of paragraph (c). The words in the Bill read as follows: …it means such date as may be appointed by Order of the Minister of Health. I want to put one or two points very briefly. We have had experience of Orders issued by Government Departments. They are very difficult to understand. That has been admitted on all sides of the Committee but as a rule, Orders tell us the date from which they will operate. In this case, the issue of the Order depends upon the will of the Minister. I think the provisions of the Bill in this instance ought to be more definite. The benefits of this Bill in this paragraph relate to blind persons, and while these benefits will not be very important to blind people, they ought to have some assurance that they will not be forgotten in the vagueness of the paragraph. In some Clauses of the Bill benefit will accrue to the recipients on the appointed day, but within one month from the passing of this Act. I am referring to page 2, lines 16 and 17. The "appointed day" occurs on various pages of this Bill but in this paragraph with which I am dealing there is no mention of anything but such date as may be appointed by Order of the Minister of Health. I think it has been said that this Bill falls very far short of what we desire and to my mind never in the field of social reform have so many poor and needy people waited so long for so little. I appeal to the Minister to tell us that the benefits which have been conceded and will be conceded by the passing 'of this Bill, will begin from a specified date.

Miss Horsbrugh

I can give the answer quite shortly. They will begin as soon as possible. There will have to be, as the hon. Member will know, consultation with the local authorities, in respect of both the blind persons and the others, to see how quickly they can get arrangements made, and my right hon. Friend wants it done as soon as possible.

Mr. Silkin

I do not see why the hon. Lady cannot be a little more specific. Paragraphs (a) and (b) are fairly specific. They say it comes into operation as soon as the Regulations become effective. All that is being asked is that (c) and (d) should not be later than the date of the Regulations becoming effective. Could not my hon. Friend give that assurance that it may be earlier but will not be later than the date on which the Regulations become effective?

Miss Horsbrugh

We want if possible to have it at the same time but we do not want to put in that it must be the same date, in case the arrangements with the local authorities are not ready.

Mr. T. Brown

In view of what has been said I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. I hope, having voiced my opinion, there will be no undue procrastination.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 7 and 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.