HC Deb 17 February 1964 vol 689 cc838-9
23. Mr. Manuel

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what consideration he has given to the payment of a National Assistance allowance to unemployed boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 16 years.

Mrs. Thatcher

My right hon. Friend has no proposals for amending the minimum age for making independent application for National Assistance, which was fixed at 16 by Section 7(5) of the National Assistance Act, 1948.

Mr. Manuel

Is the hon. Lady aware that the non-payment of the allowance is causing distress in many homes in areas where there is high and persistent unemployment over a period of years? Would she ask her right hon. Friend to get the National Insurance Advisory Committee to look at this question of unemployed school leavers between the ages of 15 and 16 to see if they can he helped because of the undoubted hardship in those areas which I have mentioned where distress is being caused?

Mrs. Thatcher

If the father of a family is out of work or sick and applies for National Assistance, the needs of the 15-year old person are taken into account in assessing any amount that is given to the applicant.

Miss Herbison

Surely the hon. Lady must be aware that where the father is a low wage earner, which is often the case in an area of high unemployment, grave hardship is caused to the family when he cannot get anything for the boy because he has not the right to claim National Assistance?

Mrs. Thatcher

He will, of course, have been supporting the child while he was at school. It is only during the period between the boy's leaving school and attaining the age of 16 that the father cannot apply for National Assistance.

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