HC Deb 08 April 1968 vol 762 c876
34. Mr. Fortescue

asked the Minister of Social Security what steps she intends to take to protect families with one child living at or below supplementary benefit level from the increases in prices following devaluation.

Mr. Loughlin

Where the family is receiving or entitled to receive supplementary benefit, it will, in general, be helped by the increases we propose to make in the autumn. Some of the others will stand to benefit from the changes in the rate rebate scheme which are also proposed for the autumn.

Mr. Fortescue

Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that one-child families living at or below the supplementary benefit level have at least as much right to assistance as have Income Tax payers with one child, and will he not move as fast as possible towards a negative income tax scheme?

Mr. Loughlin

In our recent debate my right hon. Friend expressed great sympathy for these one-child families who are living in poverty. The hon. Gentleman knows my attitude to the scheme to which he refers, as I have expressed it clearly on about three occasions.

Mr. McNamara

Will my hon. Friend look carefully at the position of the one-child family? There is quite a degree of poverty amongst such families with low incomes. In many cases, one child is far more expensive to bring into the world than a second or third child, or subsequent children.

Mr. Loughlin

We appreciate that it is a problem, but the family allowance scheme has always excluded the first child. Where there is more than one child, we can assist the family by increasing family allowances. About 3 million children would be brought into the family allowance scheme if we included the one-child family, which makes it pretty difficult.