30. Mr. Gresham Cooke
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the yearly value of the benefits provided by the State by way of medical and educational services and by way of a subsidy on a council house to an average head of a family supporting his wife and two children of secondary school age.
The average cost of educating two children at a maintained secondary school is at present about £154 a year, excluding the net cost of school meals and milk. It is not possible to estimate the average value of the other benefits mentioned in the question for families of a particular size or type, but the average cost to the Exchequer of the general medical, dental, pharmaceutical, ophthalmic and hospital services is about £12 a year per head of the population. The annual Exchequer grant to local authorities for permanent housing, if spread over the total number of permanent local authority houses, amounts to about £19 per house.
Mr. Gresham Cooke
If I understand that Answer aright, it means that the average head of a family with two children at secondary school is getting benefits worth about £150 for education, about £48 for National Health, and another £20 or so for council house subsidy, which means the receipt of over £200 a year. Would my right hon. Friend, therefore, point out in his next speech that anyone earning £10 or £11 a week is getting from the general body of taxpayers benefits amounting to about £4 a week?
I agree that it is desirable that everybody should be aware of the kind of figures I have given in reply to my hon. Friend's Question.
Does the Chancellor not agree that the object of his hon. Friend's Question was designed to show that the Welfare State is a bad thing and, indeed, is so regarded apparently, by hon. Members opposite?
Mr. Gresham Cooke
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If the object of my Question is being impugned by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, am I not in order to say that I put down the Question merely to bring out the figures my right hon. Friend has given?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary was a general accusation against those on the other side of the House. We are quite accustomed to these general accusations from both sides, and I do not think anyone need bother about them very much.