HC Deb 05 March 1948 vol 448 cc677-9
Mr. J. Edwards

I beg to move, in page 21, line 5, at the end, to insert: Provided that in Section thirty of this Act the said expression means as respects England and Wales any such council as is specified in the definition of the said expression in Section sixty-two of this Act, and as respects Scotland a county, town or district council. The effect of this Amendment is to enable the councils of county districts, the Common Council of the City of London, and the councils of the Metropolitan Boroughs, and town or district councils in the case of Scotland, to make contributions under Clause 30 to the funds of voluntary organisations providing recreation or meals for old people. It will be recognised that the needs of these organisations can be better assessed by the smaller authorities in the area in which the organisations carry on their activities than by the county councils. This provision was not specifically asked for in Standing Committee, but Members have expressed the feeling on a number of occasions that smaller authorities could make a valuable contribution to the operations of Clause 30. We were asked by the National Old People's Welfare Committee if we could do something on these Fries, and I think that this Amendment will help to bring the minor authorities more into the picture.

Mr. Law

I would like to congratulate the Minister on this Amendment, which seems to be a definite improvement to the Bill on both the grounds he brought forward. It is a good thing that these voluntary organisations should receive practical encouragement of this kind, and it is also extremely important that local authorities should be brought into the picture as fully as possible.

Mr. Messer

The National Old People's Welfare Committee have discovered from their experience that minor local authorities, if I may so describe them, are closely in touch with this type of welfare work, but some of these authorities are of some considerable size. For instance, there is Harrow, which has a population of 211,000—more than the population of many counties. Under the Bill as it stands, they would not be able to make a grant, whereas a county with a population of 75,000 could make a grant. There is also Willesden, with a population of 171,000, Ealing, with a population of 179,000, and, most important of all, Tottenham, with a population of 125,000. Some of these local authorities are now doing welfare work of this description; old people's welfare committees are springing up in these localities, and I thank the Minister for making it easier for this type of work to continue. If the Amendment were not made, it would mean that a minor authority would have to recommend to the county that such work should be done.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.