HC Deb 22 June 1964 vol 697 cc20-1
23. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance when the conditions on which the confinement grant is made were last reviewed; and to what extent he has taken into account, when considering these conditions, the fact that mothers who have confinements in hospital are spending much shorter periods away from home.

Mrs. Thatcher

The conditions for home confinement grant were last reviewed in 1955 and we are looking into this matter at the moment. The extent to which mothers are spending shorter periods in hospital after confinement is one of the factors to be taken into account.

Mr. Swingler

While thanking the hon. Lady for that reply, may I ask her to speed up the inquiry? I think it is agreed that the situation has changed completely since 1955. Is she aware that it is the widespread practice now for women to be discharged from hospital 48 or even 24 hours after confinement, Go that the conditions are quite anomalous?

Mrs. Thatcher

We are consulting the Health Departments, who would be considerably affected by any change. I explained this to the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) in an Adjournment debate which we had on the subject. But I pointed out to her that, whatever we do, the number of grievances will not be greatly reduced because on the second day after confinement about 20,000 women are discharged from hospital, on the third day about 15,000 are discharged and on the fourth day about 11,000 are discharged. I am afraid that wherever we fixed the limit a number of people would fall on the wrong side of it.

Mrs. Castle

Will the hon. Lady remember that when we discussed this matter in an Adjournment debate she agreed with me that the present situation was unsatisfactory? I am very glad that there is to be a review of the situation. Could she say when she hopes to be able to report on this situation to the House?

Mrs. Thatcher

It is unlikely that I shall be able to report before the House rises. I will do so in the next Parliament.