HC Deb 13 December 1960 vol 632 cc217-8

3.36 p.m.

Mr. Frank McLeavy (Bradford, East)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend section thirty-one of the National Assistance Act, 1948, and to empower local authorities to provide meals and recreation for old people; and for purposes connected therewith. Section 31 of the National Assistance Act, 1948, empowers local authorities to make contributions to voluntary organisations which provide meals and recreation facilities for old people. A variety of voluntary organisations in various parts of the country are providing these services for old people.

I think it is only fair to state that, within the limitations of available voluntary workers and finance, these bodies are doing splendid work, but there is nothing like a network of services operating throughout the country. The quality and scope varies, and is very limited indeed. The services apply to some areas but not to others, and there is a lack of co-ordination.

The main purpose of the Bill which I seek leave to introduce today is to bridge this gap in our social services by giving local authorities the power to bring in a scheme for the purpose of providing meals and recreation. This will enable voluntary organisations to be used to the full and their work supplemented by the local authorities. In other words, it will co-ordinate both voluntary and welfare services of the local authorities in such a way as to provide a nation-wide service.

The proposed Bill is identical to the one which I brought before the House in 1957, as amended in Committee. The Amendments in Committee were made at the request of the Government, so it is reasonable to assume that, having met all their requirements, the Bill will now receive Government support. The Bill has the support of hon. Members from the three political parties in the House, and I trust that it will commend itself to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Frank McLeavy, Miss Joan Vickers, Mr. Clement Davies, Dr. Barnett Stross, Major Sir Frank Markham, Miss Herbison, Mr. Tiley, Mr. Thomas Brown, Mr. Burden, and Mr. George Craddock.