HC Deb 17 February 1964 vol 689 cc836-7
20. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will refer to the National Advisory Committee the question of the payment of constant attendance allowance to the chronic sick.

Mr. Wood

Constant attendance allowance is one of a number of supplementary benefits attaching to a disablement pension in schemes of compensation for loss of faculty. It can be paid to a person who is working and earning. It is difficult to see how it could be fitted into a scheme which provides a basic benefit in replacement of lost earnings.

Mr. Hamilton

Since the right hon. Gentleman admits that there is a difficulty here, does not this make it obvious that the matter should be referred to the National Insurance Advisory Committee? Does he not recognise that we get a little tired on this side of the House when we are referred to the cost of a recommendation which we are making, in view of the fact that the Government this year, without blinking an eye, are increasing defence expenditure by £160 million?

Mr. Wood

I do not think that the hon. Member would expect me to answer about Government defence expenditure. The reason why I should not be willing to refer this matter to the Advisory Committee, although I am perfectly well aware of the objective which the hon. Member has in mind, is that this would be an alien benefit in a system which gives benefits in respect of loss of earnings.

Mr. Mitchison

Is there not common sense in giving something, whether we call it this allowance or the same allowance by another name, to the chronically sick?

Mr. Wood

If the hon. and learned Member reflects on this, he will realise that it would not only be a question of paying it to the chronically sick, but of paying a constant attendance allowance to a large number of other people such as retirement pensioners and widows who might also be in need of constant attendance.