HC Deb 08 April 1965 vol 710 cc660-2
Q3. Sir W. Teeling

asked the Prime Minister if he will instruct British representatives in the Commonwealth and in foreign countries to inform him how many British subjects in their areas are destitute or nearly destitute and over 60 years of age; and if he will then examine the possibility and the cost of allowing these people the equivalent amount of money that they would receive in the United Kingdom under public assistance.

Mr. George Brown

No, Sir. Her Majesty's Government cannot contemplate an extension of social welfare services to persons who choose to live abroad. As my right hon. Friend said in reply to the hon. Member's Question on 25th February, the Government are ready to repatriate destitute citizens. When repatriation is not suitable, the Government are sometimes prepared to consider other forms of financial relief.

Sir W. Teeling

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that after the last war the Socialist Government were quite capable of providing food parcels for people who were in the same sort of condition abroad? Is he aware that, both in foreign countries and in the Commonwealth, there are many British people in their 70s and 80s whom it would be cruel to bring back to England, where they have no place to go and no relatives?

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that, as The People pointed out in an article the other day, the appalling conditions of some of these people on the Riviera and in Malta—[Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh but the people involved are old nurses and retired elderly people. Surely our consuls and High Commissioners would be quite capable of Ending out what these people need and giving them the same as they would get if they were on National Assistance in this country? Would not this be cheaper the long run?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Gentleman has been misled to some extent by the article in the People. I appreciate the situation, however. There are elderly ladies who have spent most of their life abroad. But the hon. Gentleman is on the wrong point. When repatriation is not suitable, as I have said, we do sometimes find other ways of giving relief. In this way, a very substantial amount is being paid by way of help and relief to people such as these. For obvious reasons, one does not want to spell it all out but I assure the hon. Gentleman that we do a good deal in that direction.

Mr. Tilney

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a considerable number of British citizens live in India who are either too old to come back or cannot face our climate? Is he aware that these people or their parents have served this country very well in the past?

Mr. Brown

I find this climate a bit hard, but I do not think that is a reason for paying me to go elsewhere.

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