HC Deb 04 December 1967 vol 755 cc949-50
41. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the First Secretary of State whether he will introduce legislation to extend the priority principle of the Plowden Report on Primary Schools to all the social services.

Mr. Stewart

The possibility of concentrating effort from the appropriate social services upon selected deprived areas is one of the matters which the Government would wish to consider in the light of the recommendations of the committee now reviewing the organisation and responsibilities of the local authority personal social services.

Mr. Price

I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer. Is he aware that to apply selectivity to personal benefits is often a very difficult thing to do and that these benefits, as we have heard, are not taken up? But is he aware that to apply selectivity to whole areas is quite the best way of doing it? How much preparation is going into this process at the moment, before the Seebohm Report is published?

Mr. Stewart

One cannot generalise about all these social services. I believe that with those which take the form of, for example, cash benefits, it might be difficult to apply this principle. In regard to others, it might be much more practicable, but I think that before taking decisions we should await the report of the Committee. It is not clear at the moment whether this would necessarily need legislation; some things could possibly be done by administrative action.

Sir C. Osborne

How far will the social services generally be affected by the I.M.F.'s demand that public expenditure in this country should be cut by about £900 million a year? Does not that mean that these services will have to be reduced rather than increased?

Mr. Stewart

A Question similar to the third part of the hon. Member's supplementary question was answered earlier by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Social Security. The hon. Member should refer to the Answer already given.