HC Deb 26 July 1965 vol 717 cc29-30
35. Lord Balniel

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether, in the review of social security, he has yet reached the stage of inviting major organisations concerned in the various aspects of social security to submit evidence; and which organisations he has so far invited.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Douglas Houghton)

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Not yet" and to the second part "None, so far".

Lord Balniel

I find it rather difficult to understand the reason for this delay. Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would be of value to seek the advice of these voluntary bodies, which have a wealth of experience in social welfare, and that they should be invited to give their evidence at a formative stage of policy-making and not when the right hon. Gentleman has reached a cut-and-dried solution? Can he give an assurance that he will soon invite their views?

Mr. Houghton

The noble Lord uses the word "delay". He does not know what he is talking about. We have been at this job nine months, whereas the previous Administration had years and did not make a start. In the meantime, we have improved social benefits by the largest amount ever for nine million people and we have been carrying on our review of the social services. The noble Lord keeps asking the same question and getting the same answer.

Mr. Mendelson

Will my right hon. Friend make certain that the range of industrial diseases, particularly in the mining industry, will be covered by the comprehensive review to make certain that the developing diseases which are traced particularly to this industry are now taken into account in the compensation arrangements for people suffering from industrial diseases?

Mr. Houghton

To such a friendly question I can give a friendly reply. We are considering all aspects in this major review, but it takes a long time when having to start from the very beginning to look at social security in the Britain of tomorrow in a big way.

Mr. Gower

Would not the right hon. Gentleman concede that investigations into these matters might be better informed if at an early stage he took account of the views of all these major organisations?

Mr. Houghton

I am not aware that right hon. and hon. Gentleman opposite took counsel with other bodies when they were reviewing the scheme in 1959. Our first job is to formulate our own ideas and then consult the bodies concerned and work out an acceptable scheme.

Mr. Lubbock

Whether or not the right hon. Gentleman has made any official approaches to these organisations, can he not confirm that many approaches have been made to him on the instigation of these bodies themselves, even without his asking for representations to be made?

Mr. Houghton

A number of bodies have very kindly sent letters and representations of different kinds. I have not yet sought evidence or opinions, but we are taking into account all those which we receive. The offer has been open for months and months and those who wish to take advantage of it will be very welcome.