HC Deb 27 November 1967 vol 755 cc32-4
48. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Social Security how many families were, at the most recent date, reduced in their supplementary benefits because of the wage-stop; how this compares with the corresponding date last year; how many of the heads of families wage-stopped are disabled, sick or unemployed: and how many children belong to the families concerned.

Mrs. Hart

Since a number of figures are involved I will, with permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Summarising, there were at the end of September some 26,000 claimants with very approximately 80,000 children.

Mr. Allaun

Will the Minister now publish the report which she received from her Commission seven days ago? Secondly, as unemployment is still worsening, will she end the wage-stop before Christmas?

Mrs. Hart

I ask my hon. Friend to have just a little patience. I intend to make the conclusions of the Supplementary Benefits Commission known to all hon. Members. The exact way in which we shall do this is not quite settled, but I can assure my hon. Friend that it will be as soon as possible, and I ask him to await that before he asks me to look further at his second supplementary question.

Mr. Worsley

Will the right hon. Lady take this opportunity to say what on earth is happening to her plans for the Family Allowances and National Insurance Bill for which we were promised Government Amendments last week?

Mrs. Hart

If the hon. Gentleman looks up HANSARD he will see that he was promised nothing of the sort. Consideration was being given to the implications of devaluation on the further progress of the Family Allowances Bill. He will get a full explanation when we discuss the Bill on Wednesday.

Mr. Lubbock

When does the right hon. Lady propose to honour the Prime Minister's undertaking, given on television on Sunday, 19th November, that people in a weak position would not be penalised by the effects of devaluation? Will she apply that to those who are wage-stopped?

Mrs. Hart

That does not arise on this Question. I ask the hon. Gentleman to wait until Wednesday.

Lord Balniel

Can the right hon. Lady publish the report on the wage stop before the Family Allowances Bill is debated next week? It is directly relevant to the Bill.

Mrs. Hart

The Bill is being debated on Wednesday of this week, and the hon. Gentleman will understand that, with the very greatest will in the world, the procedures of actually printing and publishing could not be accomplished by then.

The following is the information:

September, 1966 September, 1967
Number of temporarily sick 2,291 2,823
Number unemployed 12,817 23,543
Total number of Claimants* 15,108 26,366
Number of children involved 52,000† 80,000†
* The numbers of disabled heads of families included in these figures are not known.
†Very approximate.

49. Mr. Allaun

asked the Minister of Social Security if the increase from 29 to 123 in the number of unemployed families wage-stopped in Salford between September last year and September this year is due to a growth of unemployment, or to stricter application of the rule by his Department or to other causes; what is the number now affected in this way; and how many children belong to the families concerned.

Mrs. Hart

The new supplementary benefit rates, effective in November, 1966, automatically brought more unemployed people within the wage-stop field: and there has been an overall increase in the number of employed claimants. But there has certainly been no stricter application of the wage-stop rule. The present number of cases is 125. The number of children involved in the Salford area cannot be estimated.

Mr. Allaun

Can the Minister say why this very big increase is different, presumably, from that over the rest of the country? Secondly, can she state what is the assumed average earning capacity of the heads of families concerned?

Mrs. Hart

I cannot give my hon. Friend a clear answer to either of those supplementary questions. The answer to the first depends on the economic circumstances of the area. The second is one that can only be answered in terms of the actual number of children in the family, because this is what determines the rate of supplementary benefit received. I would ask my hon. Friend—and I am very well aware of the feelings that he and other of my hon. Friends hold about the wage-stop—just to wait a shade longer for the publication of the report.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. Godber, Private Notice Question.