HC Deb 21 February 1969 vol 778 cc943-1037

Order for Second Reading read.

11.5 a.m.

Mr. J. M. L. Prior (Lowestoft)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

May I say how deeply sorry we are that Mr. Stephen Swingler is not here today to answer the debate. On behalf of my colleagues on this side of the House, I would like to express sympathy to his wife and family. On a personal note, may I express to the right hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies), who has been a lifelong friend of Mr. Swingler's and who, as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, is someone of whom I see a great deal, my sympathy on Mr. Swingler's death.

I do not intend to make a highly-charged partisan speech, and I shall not try to impute base motives to my opponents. This is a subject for compassion and understanding, on which urgent action is needed. Disablement is a growing problem. Medical science has made it possible for more and more children to remain alive who otherwise would not have survived. The problems associated with disablement in adults used to lead to pneumonia and death, and that is now spared them.

The deeper one delves into this tragic problem, the more convinced one becomes of the need for urgency in putting right the terrible neglect of the past. As the living standards of other people have improved, so the position of the disabled has become steadily worse. Need often goes with disability. In 1964–65, 60 per cent. of persons on the disabled registers of local authorities in London, Middlesex and Essex had a total income of less than £10 a week, and 86 per cent. less than £20 a week.

Society's attitude to the disabled has not been helpful and, until recently, the Press and the mass communications media have shown little interest. This is changing fast, and I have been more than gratified by the support and response which has been given to my Bill by many organisations, by the Press and by T.V. Some of these organisations are fortunate in having leaders of vision, strength of character and great pertinacity; some of whom are themselves disabled.

What is disability? It can be defined as a mental or physical defect, medically ascertainable, which carries a considerable long-term reduction in working capacity or a significant increase in living expenses. For a person who is earning, it can mean a substantial or total loss of earning power. For a housewife working full-time in her home doing a job which is equally essential, her ability to do that job is either reduced or obliterated, and the expense mounts up accordingly. It can be very expensive to be disabled.

I have here a letter from a disabled person, from which I will read a short extract: But a person who has been born disabled is given just enough to get by on and considered lucky. As I have been told often. ' Well, you don't need much really when you can't walk '. That is the attitude of many people to disablement.

Most of us are married and with children. Wives and families reserve some jobs for the husband, but if a wife with a young family is unable to do her job, no husband could cope while still retaining his own job. A wife with a disabled husband must employ someone else to do the thousand and one tasks which we take for granted. The need for heating, clothing, a telephone, laundry and special food, and the inability to use public transport, all add very much to the cost.

But there is another side. The lives of disabled persons are restricted by their disability, and they very easily turn in upon themselves. Their position in society becomes completely changed, and their freedom of choice irrevocably curtailed. The position of a family where the mother is afflicted can become desperate. I quote from another letter which was written to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State a few days ago. It states: You will already know of the situation of such as myself from your own research and from material provided by such organisations as the Disablement Income Group. Perhaps this may seem more immediate to you, though, if I may quote my actual case. Having been drastically disabled by multiple sclerosis four years ago, at the age of 36, when my children were 11 and 8, I have wished to remain with my family but this, of course, requires paid help now to do the work that I once did for love alone. This help is becoming more expensive. I begin to feel that although I can still see my family's need of me, our mutual dependence, I am becoming a serious drain on family resources which are heavy enough as, being still quite young, we still have a large mortgage to repay and growing children to clothe. As I was a full-time housewife when I was disabled, I get no sickness benefit which I could contribute to expenses. The slight increase in personal allowance that my husband gets because of my incapacity does not even cover the cost of the insurance stamp for our necessary domestic help. Not until such a fate descends on oneself does one realise the abyss behind every full-time wife and mother. I would cost the country considerably more than the present shillings a week I do now if I had to go into hospital because I could no longer manage at home. A pension in my own right (have I not done the State some service by bringing up two children who will contribute to its good and keeping a home for a husband who does so now?) would restore something of self-respect, the sense of human dignity and a small degree of happiness. Someone else has said to me that when the twin stresses of poverty and sickness prove too great, a family may break up. The social consequences and human suffering do not need emphasising. This happens because, in this year of 1969, the housewife and mother is not considered as being gainfully employed. Surely something could be done to help, and help now, before it is too late.

For the purposes of the Bill, we define disability as a loss of physical or mental faculty which is likely to be permanent and substantial—that is, where the degree of disablement is assessed at not less than 50 per cent. Disability varies a great deal and can take many forms. The degree of disablement varies enormously. Swedish experience shows that 40 per cent. arises from mental disorders, 13 per cent. from rheumatic and arthritic causes and 8 per cent. from circulatory diseases. The degree of disablement is generally very high.

Whereas with war or industrial injuries the pyramid is broad at the base and harrow at the top, as a pyramid should be, with the 100 per cent. disabled at the top, with disablement from disease the pyramid is much more inverted. It has a much broader top and not such a big base.

Disability varies a great deal. It is easy enough to measure the degree of disability of a polio victim in an iron lung or the disseminated sclerosis case in an advanced form. It is not as easy to measure the disabilities of the mental case, or, for that matter, the polio victim in a wheelchair.

How, then, does one begin to make an assessment which is fair between different cases and reflects their needs? This is certainly not a medical problem alone. The criteria cannot be the straightforward ones which are used in assessing the war or industrially disabled. They must take into account the loss of earning power and the extra living costs of disablement.

If one takes the retirement pension as constituting the right sum for the 100 per cent. disabled, to this should be added the additional cost of disability and from it should be subtracted part of the earning power down to the 50 per cent. level which I have used. In other words, a person who earned a really good wage despite disability would not get a disability pension. I consider that the predominantly lay board, with expert medical advice available to it, particularly in mental cases, would best carry out the administration of the scheme.

Since 1st January, 1967, we have adopted a scheme called the overseas service pensioners' scheme. Although I do not think that it has got very far yet, it recognises that for certain cases where there is permanent impairment of someone's capacity to contribute to his own support, an additional pension should be paid. We are, therefore, gradually moving towards the feasibility of such a scheme. It would, of course, take a little time to establish a really sound basis for assessment, and it would take time also for case histories to build up on which to form a proper judgment. That, however, is no excuse for not making a start.

Of course, all this costs money. At the same time, it can save money, too, but in the figures which I shall give of what it would cost I cannot give any idea of what it could save. It could, however, enable a mother to live at home with her family when otherwise hospital is the only answer—and, of course, a hospital bed for a year certainly costs not Jess than £1,000. It could save the cost of children going into care. It could save the break-up of the family and all the economic and social problems which that brings. It enables some people to do a job, possibly part-time or lowly paid, who otherwise have to depend on supplementary benefit or sickness benefit, which is quickly withdrawn as soon as earnings reach a level of £2 16s. a week.

I have a case in my constituency of a mother who became disabled and whose daughter, aged about 25, had to give up work to look after her mother. She now draws the princely sum of 35s. a week supplementary benefit, out of which she has to purchase the National Insurance stamp. There is something there that should be put right straight away.

Having dealt with the needs and the problems of the disabled, I now come to the question of numbers. I would not for one moment accept that it is necessary to know the exact number, but it is important to reach an approximation. My latest information would suggest that the figures are not as high as was originally thought. I hope that this is true, because it strengthens my argument.

My Bill deals with all those who are not covered by disablement pensions, but are covered by sickness benefit at best or nothing at worst. There are at least 350,000 people who have been sick for more than six months. Two-thirds of them have been off work for more than two years. There are about 150,000 sick and disabled people who draw supplementary benefit, nearly all of whom have been disabled since childhood. Three in every five are women.

There are about 70,000 men who have been out of work for over a year, and most of them are disabled. Only one in every three women of working age is covered under the National Insurance scheme against sickness. No housewife can be covered, and only one out of every four employed married women chooses to pay insurance contributions. There are probably 200,000 housewives who are sufficiently disabled as to be incapable of employment. No benefit whatever is available for them or their husbands in respect of them.

If one adds up these figures, the total comes to about three-quarters of a million people. Between 2 and 2½ per cent. of the total working population are so disabled as to be incapable of employment. This, therefore, is the magnitude of the problem. Many of these people are, of course, receiving sickness benefit or supplementary benefit. It is only the housewife who receives nothing. If one includes retirement pensioners one finds that 9 per cent. of men and 15 per cent. of women are disabled, or about three-quarters of a million out of 6 million pensioners. Two and a half per cent. of each sex are unable to get around indoors without aid.

We might, therefore, have to deal with the 200,000 housewives who at present are not covered by any pension or benefit. Let us suppose that all of them qualified for 100 per cent. pension. That is extremely unlikely, but let us make that assumption. It could cost £4 10s. per week, which would be the basic pension—£45 million a year. To that would have to be added the cost of living allowance paid for the additional costs of disability. If we assume that not all will get a 100 per cent. pension, but some will require more than £4 10s., I think that we can take £45 million as a fairly reasonable figure of cost.

On top of that we have the additional cost of the constant attendance allowance. Here again, I do not know the figures, but I think the Government must know, because they introduced this scheme into the White Paper. Let us say that of the 750,000 disabled people 2½ per cent. are in need of constant attendance—that is, between 18,000 and 20,000. An additional £4 10s. a week which would have to be paid for them gives us another £4½ million. It is interesting to note that the constant attendance allowance for industrial injury is paid to 7,000 people. That costs £1¼ million a year, which represents 1 per cent. of the total cost of the Industrial Injuries Fund. So we are not dealing on the constant attendance side with a big figure.

Of course, anomalies would be thrown up which would have to be sorted out, but I do not believe that that is any excuse for not doing it. We know that there are still an enormous number of anomalies in the present scheme. But £50 million a year would represent an enormous step forward for the disabled. I realise that the cost is very heavy. It represents l0d. each side on the stamp.

My researches have shown, too, that we simply must amend the earnings rule relating to the wife of a disabled man. It is a fantastic state of affairs. If the wife of a disabled man earns more than £2 16s. a week, she loses the whole of it without any earnings rule, shilling for shilling, operating. The whole lot goes straight away. Not until she earns £5 12s. is the family better off than by merely earning the minimum of £2 16s. To discourage people in this way is a little short of criminal. The same thing applies, to a lesser extent, to those on supplementary benefit. For all the other categories of disablement that I have mentioned, it would be a question of changing the method of payment, whether sickness, unemployment or supplementary benefit, for the disability pension.

It is important that this should be done for the congenitally disabled. They must be brought within the insurance scheme. If they are franked into the scheme and, as a result of medical science, there is any chance of them going out to work if their condition improves, they have a definite incentive to go out to work. As I say, it is important that they should be brought in.

I now turn to some of the objections. I think that it will be said by the Government that until the social survey, which is now going on, has been completed, we do not know the exact number of people with whom we are dealing. But we do know, surely, the main category is that of disabled housewives, of whom there could be as many as 200,000. We know that and we know roughly what that would cost. We have never been able to assess accurately under the disablement schemes the number of people involved. We did not know to how many war pensioners we would have to pay disablement benefit, but we paid them just the same. We do not know how many industrial injury benefits we shall have to pay out, but we do so just the same.

I do not believe, 23 years after the end of the war, that it is any longer reasonable that we should try to differentiate between the different types of disability from which people can suffer. For the rest of the people that I have mentioned, it is largely a matter of substituting one benefit for another.

Another objection which will be raised is that we are getting away from the contributory principle. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Social Services used this as his argument a fortnight ago, in the debate on the National Insurance Bill. But, of course, he has breached the principle himself in the White Paper. He has breached it by paying to wives a new attendance allowance on their husbands' insurance. He has breached it in paragraph 86 by the death grant being extended on the insurance of close relatives to cover the deaths of handicapped people. So there is no reason why housewives or their close relatives, such as children, should not be brought into this scheme.

I do not believe that it is any longer acceptable to say that the country believes that it has to pay in for a thing so as to get something out of it. For example, tell any widow under 50 that, although her husband had paid contributions for a great many years, she is not entitled to a pension, and she does not understand. I do not believe that the fact that up till now contributions have had to be paid to receive benefit can any longer be substantiated.

It will be argued that the Bill is unnecessary because the White Paper will soon supersede it. I see the Under-Secretary smiling, so I know that that is one of the arguments that he will produce. This does not match up to the needs in any way. The only help that the housewife will get under the Government's scheme in the White Paper is in the category of those who are in need of constant attendance. The number of such people is tremendously small. All the figures support that this is hardly any help at all. It is a help to those who will get it, but it will not match up to the problem in any way. We know that it will not cost very much. Perhaps that is why the Government have gone for this first, but it does not match up to the problem.

In so far as it does match up to the problem, it is covered by Clause 2 of the Bill. So the Government are already committed to Clause 2. The difference is that the Bill can come into operation now, whereas the Government's scheme could not come into operation until April, 1972, at the earliest. Is it fair, when we have a chance to put something on the Statute Book now that we should wait another three years for it? I do not think so.

It will be argued that the country cannot afford the £40 or £50 million necessary to put into operation the scheme in the Bill. But what are our priorities in life? We subsidise maternity to the extent of about £30 million a year and we give family allowances. What is the economic sense in helping a mother to bring a family into the world, but, if she becomes disabled, making it impossible to bring up the family properly? I believe that there is a very strong case to be made for this scheme.

I have a feeling that the Government will argue that we have not sufficient doctors and experts to constitute the numerous medical boards which would be needed to examine the people who apply for this pension. That is why I suggest that the panels should be mostly lay panels, because they have to take into consideration other than just medical factors. It will be argued that this is a waste of natural resources. I do not believe that this argument can be substantiated. It would be disgraceful if it was.

The truth is that the objections do not really stand up. The insurance principle is the right one. I do not think that any insured person would grudge the payment of a few pence per week to know that if, through misfortune, his wife is struck down, or one of his children is afflicted, that this at least would not spell poverty and disaster to his family. The tragedy of disability is enough to bear without the additional costs which follow.

Some of my hon. Friends have asked me about the selectivity of the pension. We know that most of the people with whom we are dealing are from the poorest section of the community. In deciding the rate of pension we are to take into account the loss of earning capacity, and I believe that we should also take into account all the unearned income which the very few who apply for it may have. If we take account of earning capacity, we can take account of unearned capacity as well.

I am a firm believer in as much responsibility being assumed by the individual as is consistent with providing a basic safety net. This applies in pensions, in the housing, health, and other social fields. There is a real division between the parties on this, but in this case there is no basic provision, and this is what the Bill sets out to provide. It is the job of the State to make a basic provision. It is then the job of the individual to provide for himself on top of that, but I think that it is the State's job to provide the basic resources.

I turn, now, to what is really the second part of the Bill which deals with the barriers of physical handicap, with such matters as suitable housing, accessibility of the buildings, and other matters. Clause 3 deals with housing, and it would do two things. It would empower the Minister of Housing and Local Government to ensure that a proportion of new council houses were equipped with aids for the disabled. We all know that a number of local authorities do this already, but not by any means all local authorities do so. The Under-Secretary of State shakes his head. We know, too, that it is among the elderly that we find the major problem.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Security (Mr. Norman Pentland)

I was not shaking my head in dissent. I was acknowledging that all local authorities do not make that provision.

Mr. Prior

I recognise that. There is no misunderstanding between us.

This is a problem, particularly with the elderly, and we need some central direction which will lay down a number of flexible standards which local authorities must abide by, and which will insist that a proportion of new council house building is equipped with these standards. Problems connected with cleaning, consideration of floor space, flooring materials being non-slip, and many other things, can be included in a code of practice. Again, the siting of these houses is very important. They do not want to be tucked away. They have to be near a centre, near shops, near pubs, near telephones, near a doctor, and so on.

Subsection (3) of the Clause is an effort to get regional hospital boards to allow groups of housing for severely disabled people to be built within hospital grounds. This may be possible now, but it does not happen, and where efforts have been made to bring that about they have met one legal obstacle after another. The purpose of this subsection is to create family units where the disabled member of a family can be looked after by the rest of the family, but within easy range of a hospital. Apart from the obvious advantages to the family, this would save a lot of beds and money in hospitals.

Clause 4 deals with accessibility to public buildings. It is the intention that all new public buildings should conform to the four basic requirements laid down. Where the building is a Government, local, or public authority building the Minister can make the necessary orders and regulations. Where it is a private organisation, these should be laid down at the planning stage.

I wish to quote something from the speech of President Johnson when he signed a Bill to eliminate architectural barriers for the handicapped. Last August, he said: When an old and infirm citizen cannot use the post office in his community because he is unable to climb its steps, his Government has failed him.

I think that in some respects we have failed in this House, because we cannot, without great difficulty, get disabled people here. The effort required to get anyone in a wheel chair into this building is beyond belief.

There is one matter which I know my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) will raise later, and that is that the disabled want to hold a lobby rally, here in June. They have asked for the use of Westminster Hall, but I gather that so far the authorities have turned down that request. I regard this as disgraceful. Why should not they be allowed to come into Westminster Hall? It is the only building in the Palace that they can reach with any ease.

The Minister may argue that these Clauses are unnecessary. I hope that he will not, because they proved necessary in the United States, and they are needed here. We know from architects, from builders, and from local authorities, that many buildings are still being erected without proper consideration being given to accessibility. It is not good enough for us to rely on the work of Lady Hamilton, excellent though this has been, to write to Members and ask them to write to their local authorities. This does not work, or it does not work sufficiently well. What is required is firm direction from the Government.

Clause 5 deals with the establishment of advisory committees. I am not a great committee man. I have needed quite a bit of persuasion to put this into the Bill, but the more I have seen the problems of the disabled the more convinced I have become that a strong advisory committee is necessary. If we had had a strong advisory committee over the last few years we might not be requiring this Bill today. I do not think that there has been enough pressure or enough advice available to the Minister over recent years. The committee will not decide the priorities on which the Government spend their money. That is up to the Government, and it cannot be argued that any advisory committee in the past has been able to do that. Very little, indeed, has been done for the civilian disabled.

I do not believe that Questions by Members, or Adjournment debates, put sufficient pressure on Ministers. I should like to think that they did, but I always feel that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Social Services who answers Questions and Adjournment debates is too experienced a politician not to be able to find his way round pressure that is put on him.

For too long we have had a piecemeal approach to the disabled, and there is much that an advisory body could do. Disablement is very much a non-homogenous group, and having many members of different disabilities, it is a job to get information together, to gather up the various strands and bind them together in a coherent whole for the Minister to consider.

I am sorry that the Minister turned down, in rather peremptory fashion, the Bill which my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Gordon Campbell) wished to introduce on the same basis——

Mr. Gordon Campbell (Moray and Nairn)

It is coming on again.

Mr. Prior

—because it is a feeling of participation which is required, and which is not present at the moment. It is not good enough for the Minister to talk about "responsible Ministers being seen to be responsible for ensuring that the right things are done for the right people, at the right time, and in the right way". I do not think that that contributed anything except a good deal of arrogance to what we are considering today.

The dignity of man is something which the House and the country, to their everlasting credit, have always understood. I have tried to show how, despite the difficulties, we can help these people to live happier and fuller lives. All who have the good fortune to be fit and well must be willing to make that very small contribution to those less fortunate. I believe that the Bill could be a fresh charter for disabled people, and I ask the House to give it a Second Reading today.

Mr. Speaker

I would remind the House that many hon. Members wish to speak in what is to be a very human debate. I shall be able to call them all if speeches are reasonably brief.

11.40 a.m.

Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)

I am sure that the whole House will share the sorrow and sympathy expressed by the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) at the death of Mr. Stephen Swingler. The House has suffered a grievous loss, and so have the Government. So have we all. It is particularly melancholy to think that we should have seen him on the Front Bench this morning, dealing with this Bill. We remember his work for the House and the country.

The House will congratulate the hon. Member for Lowestoft on his good fortune in the Ballot and for bringing before the House a Bill which is bound to excite the deepest emotions of us all. He has done a good deal of work on the Bill. He has endeavoured to conduct the research which is lacking from elsewhere, and I am sure that he has made the very best of a complicated subject.

I want to concentrate on the first part of the Bill. I say straight away that I have a, strong bias in favour of its purpose. That probably goes for all hon. Members. The main issue of bringing help to disabled persons is no longer in question; it is generally accepted. Now it is a matter of ways and means, and probably of timing. We are not a discussion group; we are a legislature. We are asked to pass a Bill which will do things—which will be applied, in terms. That is why we have to be practical people this morning as well as human beings moved emotionally by the plight of disabled persons.

The first question is whether it is wise for the House to proceed with a Bill separately from the bigger advance which is foreshadowed by the White Paper. I agree that not everything should wait for the grand review of national superannuation. There are priorities in social welfare. Some changes which were needed for various purposes did not wait. Earnings-related unemployment benefit did not wait for the major review. The purpose behind that change, in 1966, was economic rather than social. But sickness benefit did not wait, either—largely because that was linked with unemployment. Improvements in widows' allowances did not wait. That was thought to be desirable on social grounds at the time.

So not everything had to wait. But it was my very strong hope that the subject covered by the Bill would not have to wait, either. We were all conscious of the fact that there was a complete gap in the 1948 scheme, related to the social and economic consequences of what we have come to call "civilian disablement"—neither war disability nor injury at work: congenital deformity; the mother who is stricken down by polio, followed by serious disablement; the person injured in the street with no chance of recovering damages from elsewhere—all the hazards of life outside the camp and the factory.

In the old days these were regarded as risks common to us all, so no special provision was made for them. Tribute should be paid to the Disablement Income Group—a body that has done more than any other to publicise the plight of severely disabled people, especially severely disabled women in the home. I am in favour of the pressure group. It provides the only means to get things done—to pinpoint specific problems or grievances and to bring them prominently to the attention of people. If a problem is included as part of a wider scheme it gets lost in the greater interest of the mass. That is why I believe that the D.I.G. has done a spendid job. I believe that its efforts will be crowned with success.

The question is: how soon will they be crowned with success? The question before us this morning is: What are we to do about it? It will be a pity if the Government proposals on this matter are hitched up to the bigger problem of national superannuation. I had hoped to see in paragraph 91 of the White Paper a declaration of intent to bring this matter forward and to get something done about it as early as possible. Nevertheless, I am sure that we all regret the fact that on this very day a Bill and the White Paper jostle with each other and get in each other's way, and make it difficult to proceed.

We all lack information. The hon. Member for Lowestoft has made a valiant attempt to supply the missing figures, but the House will agree that we still need to know more. Three years ago it was clear that we needed much more information on disablement to be able to reach any firm conclusions about the size of the problem and the cost of doing something about it—or what should be done about it. I had hoped that work which I believed had been set going would have been completed by now. I deplore the fact that paragraph 91 refers to the social survey "still in progress"; it should have been finished by now.

The records that we need—an estimate or a firm indication of the size of the problem—are indispensable to a proper judgment of the problem. We have records of war disabled and records of industrial injuries. We have records of people on sickness benefit and supplementary benefit, although we cannot accurately identify the degree of physical or mental disablement in all cases.

But many people in neither category are severely disabled. It is important to know the size of the problem, because we also have to gauge the medical aspects of assessment, which in some respects will be more baffling than is the determination of the degree of disablement amongst the war disabled and the industrially injured.

The Bill does many things that we would all like to see, but can we reasonably be asked to commit ourselves today to its proposals? We are still in the dark, although the hon. Member has done quite a lot to try to throw more light on the obscurities and the size of the problem. We may hear later from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary what he thinks of the hon. Member's figures, but it is not only the size of the problem that presents a difficulty; it is the vagueness of the provisions of the Bill in some very important respects.

Clause 1 commits us to paying a disablement pension for the loss of faculty of 50 per cent. or more. But in his speech the hon. Member went on to say that there must be compensation for loss of earning capacity. If so, this is a new principle. The principle of compensation for loss of faculty has been written into war disability pensions and the Industrial Injuries Scheme for the last 20 years.

The only compensation for loss of earning capacity is in the special hardship allowance. If we undertake the application of a new principle, that complicates matters enormously. Loss of faculty is difficult to determine, but loss of earning capacity even more so. If there is no loss of earning capacity will there be no compensation? Under the Industrial Injuries and War Disabilities Scheme, there is such compensation, even if there is no fall in earning capacity.

The problem in civilian disablement is age and its disabling tendencies. Usually old people are not injured in wars or in the factory, but they do get grievously disabled as they get older. Are we to assess a disability pension after a person has passed retirement age? Is a pension given before retirement age to be a life pension, notwithstanding other social provisions made for old people in retirement? These are difficult questions. We particularly want to know what is the incidence of disablement among older people if we are to grant a disablement pension to old people. This might be the biggest cost. The hon. Gentleman has left a lot of questions unanswered.

How would the medical examination be undertaken? What a load we should put on the medical profession. Would we have medical tribunals, and appeal tribunals, to make them equal with the war disabled and the industrially injured? We have to be careful not to set up a different kind of tribunal to deal with civilian disablement from that dealing with the other forms of disablement when the question is assessing the loss of faculty. How do we know what burdens we are to impose upon doctors?

What would be the charge on the National Insurance Fund? The proposal in Clause 2 for a constant attendance allowance is similar to that put forward in the White Paper. The cost and scope of that is likely to be so limited that it would be unreasonable to wait for all the figures before deciding to do something about it. That is probably why the Government, usually faltering on these matters, feel bold enough to say something about this in paragraph 91. It would not carry us very far.

On the National Insurance Fund generally, against which these pensions would be charged, the burden might be very heavy. The hon. Gentleman raised the interesting fundamental question in connection with the review of the social security arrangements. He asked whether we are to continue within the strict limits, the strait-jacket, the rigidities of the contributory system. We had this out a fortnight ago on the non-pensioners.

This White Paper still relies upon contributions as the sole title to benefit. I do not regard it as objectionable that additional benefits should be chargeable on the National Insurance Fund. I do not distinguish as completely as some might between the wife of an insured person, the dependent relative of an insured person and a non-insured person, especially when such a scheme is having thousands of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money poured into it over a couple of decades to bolster up its benefits. That changes its complexion altogether. This is a big question on which the Government may have strong views.

We cannot dispose of such an issue as the scope and limitations of the contributory principle on the rather narrow issue of disablement. We are confronted with serious difficulties. The Bill does not define its position clearly enough to enable us to go on. I am sorry to say that the time lost in producing the information upon which we might reasonably be asked to proceed cannot be retrieved. We have to accept that we have not yet got it, and hope that we will get it soon.

I hope that the Government will pull out of the White Paper the proposals on disablement, so that we can deal with them in advance of the major scheme. Much as it goes against the grain, and this probably applies to other hon. Members, to have to resist such a Bill, we could not, in fairness to ourselves, the House or the country, allow it to proceed when it has so many obscurities and uncertain aspects. The best policy is for us to discuss this question frankly and openly, and ask the hon. Gentleman not to proceed with his Bill, but, at the same time, to give the Government a clear indication that we want action from them sooner than appears to be contemplated in the White Paper.

11.57 a.m.

Mr. Gordon Campbell (Moray and Nairn)

I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) on introducing this Bill. It contains several proposals which will help the disabled in various ways. I am glad to follow the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), because earlier in his speech he recognised that the proposals in the Bill had the general agreement of the House, proposals to which he gave his blessing. I am sorry that at the end of his speech he felt it necessary to say that the Bill should not be accepted today. But his contribution on the subjects affecting the disabled was otherwise very helpful.

As a sponsor of the Bill I am happy to speak, because I have recently been translated to "shadow" Secretary of State for Scotland duties and I would not want anyone to think that my concentration on that meant that I was giving up my interest in the disabled. I have for some time been concerned about this subject. On 15th March, 1968, having been successful in the Ballot, I was able to introduce a day's debate on this subject in the House. Of course the Health Department of the Scottish Office should be very much concerned with this subject.

For a long time I have been pressing the Government to take action about the severely disabled, particularly those whom the right hon. Gentleman called the civilian disabled. I suggested what should be done and pressed the Government about the need for information to identify in the community the severely disabled, thus assessing the size of the problem. It was in reply to a Question of mine on 23rd October, 1967, that the Government announced that the study by the Government Social Survey would take place. That is nearly a year and a half ago, and it is, as the right hon. Gentleman said, a great pity that it was not started sooner. I was glad to be told then that at least the study was being started, and I would like to remind the House of the terms in which this announcement was made. The then Minister of Health said: The Government Social Survey will undertake next year a study of adults living at home who are substantially and permanently handicapped by limitations in their movements. The survey will show the extent to which they receive help from local authority services and will assist in the development of those services."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd October, 1967, Vol. 751, c. 1332.] I am not sure to what extent the information provided by this study will be complete for the purposes for which we need it, because the terms of reference which I read are vague.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft pointed out, what we really need is a register of the severely disabled in the country. At the moment the situation is haphazard, because local authorities are not required to keep a register. Some local authorities try to keep some form of register and others do not. I hope that in his reply today the Minister will tell us what is the position and whether the terms of reference for the Government Social Survey were improved before the study started, three or four months after that announcement, so that it would produce the more precise information which hon. Members and the Government need.

The White Paper which the Government recently produced on the social services points out, in dealing with the disabled, that the Government are awaiting information from that study. We do not want to be told later, when the results of the study are produced, that there is still not enough information.

I have no intention of repeating any of the speech which I made on 15th March in which I pointed out the particularly serious position of those who have been severely disabled from birth or early youth and who therefore have never entered the National Insurance scheme because they have never been employed. I also pointed to the position of the housewife who is suddenly struck by an incapacitating illness or other disability. She is not catered for in the National Insurance scheme either. These particular examples are often the worst cases which are not covered by the present system.

Clause 5 of the Bill proposes to set up two advisory committees, one for England and Wales and the other for Scotland. At least the Government could agree to that proposal today. I see no reason why they should refuse to agree to it. I was disappointed, as was my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft, when the Government rejected a similar proposal in my Private Member's Bill to set up a Disablement Commission, which would be an advisory body. A similar proposal was made in a Bill which was presented last summer by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) and it had all-party support. That Bill was presented under the Ten Minute Rule procedure. At the time the Government appeared to be supporting it. In a crowded House they gave every indication that they were in favour of the Bill. In fact, that Bill contained the very same proposal as is contained in my Private Member's Bill.

But when the proposal for a Commission reappeared as my Private Member's Bill, because I was fortunate in the Private Members' Ballot, the Government stated that they were against it. The Government knew that there was no possibility of making progress with a Bill under the Ten Minute Rule procedure, but once they were faced with a Bill which they knew could go through the House, the Government came out against it. Indeed, they announced before the Second Reading that they would not favour it, and objection was taken to it on Second Reading.

I ask the Government to think again about this matter, because they have caused considerable disillusion. The proposals which my hon. Friend makes in Clause 5 and which are also in my private Member's Bill are easier for the Government to accept than were the proposals in the Bill presented last summer by the lion. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South. The financial part of the Bill has been changed. Almost no public expenditure is involved. In various ways it has been made easier for the Government.

1 am glad that the right hon. Member for Sowerby mentioned the Disablement Income Group, because I want to pay tribute to the attention which they have drawn to these serious problems. I can tell the Government that D.I.G. are very concerned about this point. They strongly recommend that there should be a disablement commission, or advisory committee of the kind which my hon. Friend suggests if that has greater appeal to the Government, and they firmly believe, as I do, that this would be the one easy, inexpensive measure which the Government could take now which would immediately give great confidence to the disabled and to bodies such as D.I.G. which are working for the disabled.

I do not think that Ministers have available to them all the information, knowledge and technical advice about the disabled which they should have. Ministers and officials—and I have been both in the past—are busy with their day-to-day administration, which, after all, is their job. They do not have time to consider all the matters and problems which an advisory commission or committee would consider. In other fields, the same Ministry—the Department of Health and Social Security—have advisory committees. For example, in social security and health, I know of at least five advisory committees. Why not an advisory committee for the disabled, a field where there is a crying need for it? Surely the Government could accept at least this proposal. An advisory commission or committee would bring together all the relevant facts concerning the severely disabled. At present these people are being dealt with in a piecemeal and haphazard way or are not being dealt with at all. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on all sides of the House are in favour of the proposal, and I urge the Government to think again about it.

12.7 p.m.

Mr. Peter Archer (Rowley Regis and Tipton)

No one can doubt the deep sincerity of the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior), who introduced the Bill, and, when they know him, hon. Members cannot doubt the real concern which he has to benefit the disabled. The House will no doubt be grateful for the opportunity which he has given us today to debate these matters. But knowing, too, that he is a political realist, I confess that I am a little puzzled, because it would be difficult to conceive of tactics which would make it less likely that the Bill would be passed by the House, and would give effective help to the disabled whom he so desperately wants to help.

I must begin—and he will not be surprised if someone introduces this point into the debate—by pointing to the fact that the Conservative Government, when they had an opportunity to deal with these matters, showed less concern for the disabled than the hon. Member now shows. That may not be his fault, and I do not want to labour the point. We cannot rewrite the past. In fairness, we should add that they did not have the benefit of the work of the Disablement Income Group, but this must have been a factor in his mind when considering his tactics in introducing the Bill.

In the circumstances surely the best method of proceeding would have been to approach hon. Members on all sides of the House who are known to be concerned about these matters to see whether we could agree on the terms of a Bill which might be presented. We might have ironed out some of the difficulties mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), and if we could have done that, a concerted effort might have produced a vital pull in the perpetual tug-of-war between the Treasury and the spending Departments which might have been effective.

Mr. Prior

I approached hon. Members opposite and I was told, with great regret, that they did not feel able to support the intentions which I wished to put into my Bill. I left it there. I did not want to embarrass them further.

Mr. Archer

I do not know which hon. Members were approached by the hon. Member for Lowestoft. It is difficult to go through all the pages of HANSARD to see how many hon. Members have asked questions and made speeches—and have written—on various subjects.

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot have the names of those who were approached outside the Chamber.

Mr. Archer

I would not seek to have them, Mr. Speaker. I am content to leave the point there. But the fact remains that the list of sponsors is entirely from the Conservative Party.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

My Private Member's Bill, which deals with the point contained in Clause 5 of this Bill, is supported by hon. Members of all parties.

Mr. Archer

There are other considerations in respect of the Bill in the name of the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Gordon Campbell), but I appreciate that he has done what I would have recommended should be done in this case. But it is hardly surprising, in the circumstances, that The Guardian of 6th February characterised this Bill as a Tory pensions plan for the disabled. I would not seek them, Mr. Speaker. But perhaps it is not so surprising that the Government rather view this as an exercise in inviting guests to the table now that someone else has to pay the bill.

That brings me to the second rather surprising aspect of this. I thought that the hon. Member for Lowestoft skated somewhat lightly over the price tag entailed by the Bill. I am sure that the House is grateful—I certainly am—for the research which he has carried out into the numbers involved and the cost of his proposals. As I understand it, the proposals in Clause I would cost something like £45 million a year and those in Clause 2 about £4.5 million, in addition to which there is the cost to the hospital boards and councils of the remainder of the Bill's proposals. I hope that I may be forgiven if I direct my remarks to the two Clauses dealing specifically with financial provisions.

We are dealing, on the hon. Member's assessment, with a figure of about £50 million a year. Perhaps one should begin by saying that that is not a light sum. The heartache and the debate about prescription charges centred around a figure of £25 million a year. The long-drawn-out discussion about raising the school leaving age involved about £30 million a year. We are dealing here, on the hon. Member's figures, with £50 million a year.

I accept that there would be savings—this is a point which I am always making—in other directions, possibly on supplementary benefit or the cost to the hospitals, but on any showing these proposals will cost a fairly substantial amount of money.

We all know that politicians do not give money to the public. Financial provisions come out of the products which are produced by our constituents. They come out of the work of their hands, the product of their brains and the content of their wage packets. Extra provision for the disabled means that the equation must be balanced somewhere. It does not assist when demands for this extra expenditure come from hon. Members opposite, who are always talking about cutting public expenditure and reducing taxation. If the hon. Member for Lowestoft had been a little more forthcoming and expressed his appreciation that this was not a method of reducing public expenditure, and that somebody might have to foot the bill and not like it, many of us would have found his proposals a little more convincing.

The hon. Member made a number of suggestions although I am not sure how far he was prepared to carry them. He talked about priorities and the fact that the people who would benefit from the Bill had a much higher priority than family allowances. If the hon. Member is suggesting that the cost of the Bill should be met by a cut in family allowances, at least he should go on record as having said so, but to leave it floating around rather vaguely that probably no specific group is to get hurt is not facing the problem.

Another proposal by the hon. Member was to increase the cost of the National Insurance stamp, and at one stage he mentioned a figure of about l0d. a week. I am not wholly in favour of an increase in the cost of the National Insurance stamp, rather for the reason that I have always had reservations about the contributory principle generally. An increase in the cost of the National Insurance stamp would bear as hardly on the lowest income group, on the families who can barely make ends meet and to whom l0d. is still a large sum of money, as it would on the higher income groups.

My suggestion is that the proposed benefits should be paid for by an increase in Income Tax, because the whole point about Income Tax is that it is a tax upon people in the proportion in which they are best able to support it. I would have thought that the farmers in the hon. Member s constituency would be honest enough and would care enough about this problem to be prepared to foot the bill in that way. But certainly if that suggestion is being made, it should be stated clearly.

I would hate to be misunderstood about this. I want to see financial provision for the disabled. I imagine that every hon. Member who is taking part in this debate is doing so precisely because it is a matter about which he or she cares desperately. It is intolerable that the housewife and mother who is permanently disabled should receive less recognition than her daughter who is away from work for four days with a heavy cold. I am prepared to go to my constituents and tell them that this will cost money and where I propose that the money should come from. It is time that politicians treated the public like adults.

My constituents care for the disabled. Many of them spend a great deal of their time and money in clubs for the physically handicapped. The Black Country is famous for its care of the physically handicapped. If I asked them to support these proposals, I am sure that I would get their support, but they know that they would cost money and I believe that they would be prepared to pay.

Mr. David Lane (Cambridge)

I think that the hon. Member is being less than fair to my hon. Friend. Is he really saying that in all the hundreds of millions of £s of Government expenditure on, for example, aid to industry and housing subsidy, of which we have had details in our post only today, we could not find this £40 million or £50 million through economies?

Mr. Archer

This is always the difficulty. It is always possible to say what a small proportion of the national income we are dealing with and that we could surely find £50 million from some other bill. When we look at the statistics, however, every bill is broken down into sums of money considerably less than £50 million. If it is proposed to cut the housing subsidies bill by £50 million, someone should tell us from precisely what part of the bill that money is to come, and who has to suffer in consequence. This is a danger into which we all fall and I am as prone to the temptation as anyone.

When we make a proposal, it is tempting to find an easy solution to all the problems which it arouses and to say that if only we cut out some restrictions, spent a little less on defence or cut out Government waste, all our problems would be solved. We are all tempted to produce those panaceas, the sole condition of which is that they do not entail people working harder or foregoing anything which would otherwise be available to them. The passion for finding the philosopher stone has been with the human race for a long time. Provided simply that it solves our problems without pain and effort, we are all too ready to be convinced. I am as easily tempted as anyone.

My own favourite proposal—and I confess that it is a long way from solving our problems—was advanced by Mr. John McKenzie in a leaflet published by the British Council for Rehabilitation of the Disabled entitled "The Economics of Rehabilitation", in which he points out that if we spent a little more on rehabilitating the disabled, we should have the benefit to the economy of the work which they might do. He assesses the number of disabled of working age at about one million, of whom about 10 per cent. are for one reason or another not in employment although they might be. They are being retrained at a rate of about 10,000 a year.

Mr. McKenzie estimates that if 60 per cent. of those people could be placed in employment, there would be a saving of £130 million a year towards this provision—only part of it, and it might not wholly work out, but it would be a move in the right direction. It would entail more resources for retraining, persuading employers to find work for the disabled not merely on the basis of cheap labour, persuading employers not to encourage those already in employment to apply for a green card to count towards the quota of disabled people they employ, and making working conditions more attractive. That is my solution, but I recognise that it would be far short of the complete answer. The truth is that if we care enough about this, we should be prepared to pay for it.

I believe that the answer lies in an increase in taxation. I am sure that if there were such an increase, the first person who bought me a drink in one of the clubs in my constituency would complain about the amount of tax which is taken from his pay packet. My constituents would grumble, but they are fair and they recognise that the price is worth paying if they really care.

I want to see pensions of the kind that the hon. Member for Lowestoft has in mind but I shall not go into the Division Lobby with him if he divides the House, partly for the reasons given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby, as I do not think that the hon. Member's proposals are sufficiently well thought out, partly because I have an uneasy feeling that they would be equivalent to sending someone a rather spurious present with a c.o.d. label on the box and instructions to the carman to collect the price from someone else.

But I would not like my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary to be misled by what I have said. Many of us on this side will go into the Lobby today, if necessary, with the Government without hesitation and without apology, but we will be watching. We do not want to see the disabled brought into the arena of party politics but we are determined that at least they do not suffer by it. We recognise that we have to wait for the social survey, but we shall not wait much longer, because valuable years are passing from the lives of many of these people. We want my hon. Friend to go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to tell him that hon. Members on this side of the House wish this financial provision to be made, and that when he sends us the bill we shall be prepared to meet it.

12.20 p.m.

Mr. Timothy Kitson (Richmond, Yorks)

I hope that the hon. Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) will forgive me if I do not follow his line or argument. I felt that he was saying that he liked the Bill and would wish to see it implemented. I fail to understand why he then says that if the Government decide to vote against it he cannot support it.

I hope that the House does not feel that my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) or any of the sponsors of the Bill have introduced it as a political operation. We do not look at it in that light. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft on the way in which he introduced the Bill and thank him for all the figures which he gave. I hope that the Government feel that they can accept and implement the Bill.

I have considered for some time that not enough recognition has been given to this problem. I should like to add a few words to those expressed by hon. Members on both sides about the great work which the Disablement Income Group has done in drawing attention to this problem. If we accept the Bill, it will go a long way to assisting a section of the community with a genuine grievance which has been so forcefully put forward by the group.

Special provision should be made to help the housewife who, after living a perfectly normal life with a young family, finds herself confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life as a result of an accident or illness. I am sure that we all recognise that it is important that she should get back to living a normal life once more as quickly as possible. The Bill will go some way towards helping her to achieve this.

I know of a young housewife who is fortunate enough to have a husband who has been able to provide an ideal new home for her because of his financial position. He has provided a bungalow which, because of its design and layout, has made it possible for her to live a normal life and to bring up her two children.

It is not all that difficult for local authorities to incorporate certain standards into houses to overcome many of the difficulties which these people experience. We all know the difficulty which someone in a wheelchair has of trying to cope with an ordinary door, whereas it is quite simple to open a sliding door and the difference which is made when kitchen fitments are set at the right level and when housewives can get into any drawer and at the back of any cupboard. I welcome the provision in Clause 3 calling upon local authorities to provide such houses. Some local authorities do this very well. Such a provision would be of great help to many people who, unfortunately, suddenly find themselves in a new situation.

Clause 4, which provides for a code of practice for ensuring access to public buildings, is interesting and important. In my part of the country many serious accidents in sport have happened. Probably hon. Members will remember the tragic Grand National in which a jockey was disabled. He is in a wheelchair now for the rest of his life. On any Northern racecourse in England one will find a special park set aside at the front of the crowd for people in wheelchairs. It is not very difficult to do this and it makes a tremendous difference for people who are disabled. Similar provision is made at football and cricket grounds.

There is no worse example than the Palace of Westminster when it comes to making provision for people in wheelchairs. It would not be very difficult to take two seats out of the front of the Gallery to make room for a wheelchair. It is unfortunate that disabled people coming to listen to a debate in the House must be put right at the back of the Gallery. In view of their special circumstances, I am sure that we would all prefer to see provision made for them at the front. Such suggestions are not expensive, but if carried out they make a great difference to people who are not as fortunate as ourselves.

Nearly everybody in the country has a special charity. Five years ago, in my area, we started to raise money for people at Stoke Mandeville to go to the Olympic and Empire Games. I served on the committee. We ran a small horse show. The public response was quite astonishing. In five years we have raised £20,000 for a charity, run in a very amateur way, called the Northern Horse Show. This proves one thing, that nearly everybody recognises the necessity of implementing the proposals in the Bill. The reaction towards and support for this charity demonstrate how people will put their hand in their pocket and assist.

I agree with the hon. Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton that, if additional taxation or revenue must be raised to assist this section of the community, no one would feel that that was not necessary and long overdue.

12.27 p.m.

Mr. A. H. Macdonald (Chislehurst)

Like all other hon. Members who have spoken, I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) for his choice of subject and for the manner in which he commended his Bill to the House. I wished to say that because I may be a little critical of one or two points in the Bill, and I wanted to establish at the outset that I entirely endorse his action in setting this important matter before us.

In line 8 of Clause 1 I see the words loss of physical or mental faculty". I emphasise the words "or mental". I take it from the appearance of those words in the Clause that this is a Bill which refers to the mentally handicapped as well as the physically handicapped. I wish to devote a few moments to referring to those words, particularly as the rest of the Bill seems to forget that they appear in the Clause.

In what was otherwise a wholly admirable speech, the hon. Member for Lowestoft seemed to think that the only people who were disabled were the physically disabled. He remarked that we might find that the extent of disability was not as great as we might suppose. I doubt whether this is so, when we reflect that the Bill covers the mentally disabled as well as the physically disabled. Though I am not indifferent to physical disability, and though I do not pretend that it does not exist or that it is not grievous, none the less it is mental disability about which I wish to speak, to redress the balance of the debate.

We should ponder carefully about the concept of providing a pension for the mentally disabled. I am sure that the promoters of the Bill would not contend that the mentally handicapped should have a pension placed into their hands. No doubt there would need to be provision for trustees. I thought that there might have been reference to this point in the Bill, because it is an obvious anomaly. In the ordinary course, such trustees would be the parents or some other close relative.

I have noticed that some parents extend towards a mentally disabled person—he may be a juvenile; the Bill refers to people over the age of 15; or he may even be a grown person—the same tender love as they used to do when he was a little baby. This is a moving and impressive thing. Other parents of mentally handicapped children, whether infants or grown, take a different view and, when they discover that their child is mentally handicapped, do not want to know; the child is placed in a home and he lives and grows to adulthood, but the parents are not concerned. I know that this is an unpalatable thing to swallow, but it is true.

In view of the terrible strains and difficulties which these parents must face in caring for a mentally handicapped child throughout the whole of his life, it is not for me to condemn for the attitude they take. If the general attitude of the public were different, these parents might be encouraged to take a different view. But we must deal with the facts.

The concept of providing a pension to such parents could present difficulties, and we would need to reflect upon the consequences of supervision to ensure that the pension was expended upon the proper and intended recipient. These are difficulties which arise from the proposal in the Bill for mentally handicapped recipients.

I go on from there to wonder whether the concept of a pension to the mentally disabled is the entirely appropriate one. We must be conscious at all times that we should be careful about our sense of priorities in the allocation of public funds, especially after the statement yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer about control of public expenditure. As the amount of public funds available for social purposes is not unlimited, I wonder whether the first allocation of £45 million, or whatever sum it turned out to be, should be for pensions in this way, or whether the mentally handicapped might not be helped by some other form of expenditure so that the question of pensions would not necessarily have the first priority.

I hope and trust that the Seebohm Report will be implemented soon. I shall not stray out of order by discussing the contents of that Report. If it were implemented, it would be a dramatic step forward for many mentally handicapped. Consequences of expenditure would flow from the adoption of the Seebohm recommendations, and I should have preferred to see the £45 million spent on implementing them.

In my constituency there is a centre which cares for mentally handicapped children and juveniles. I am sure that there are such centres in the constituencies of many other hon. Members. These children receive some training, because in many cases they are capable of something: they are not entirely inert. The parents, especially the mothers, are like tigresses when I go there; they want to know why the facilities available for their children, of whatever age, are not equal—they do not want the same facilities, naturally; they want equal, though different, facilities—to those made available to children of more normal mental ability. I do not know the answer to that question.

If the Seebohm Report were implemented and these people were brought under the same aegis as children of normal mental ability, and if those who care for them were treated on the same level as schoolmasters and received an equivalent salary, not that that salary is conspicuously high, it would be a step forward. This is where I would like public funds to be expended on the mentally handicapped, rather than implementing the proposals in the Bill. Perhaps it is too much to hope for it today, but I hope that at an early date we shall hear from the Government Front Bench whether this is to be.

Having been critical of that aspect of the Bill, I come to one point which deserves hearty commendation, because it fills a gap which the recently published White Paper still leaves. I mean the case of a disability—I refer now to physical as well as mental disability—arising other than from injury at work or from old age.

I was profoundly impressed when a delegation called my attention to the case of a man who contracted a disability through falling off a horse. He had been riding the horse during the course of his work and was, therefore, covered by insurance. If he had been riding the horse for pleasure, his disability would have been exactly the same, but the amount of public funds he would have received would have been much less.

This is a gap which I have always felt has existed in our arrangements. I am not happy that the White Paper is entirely apt to deal with that situation, but the Bill would attempt to do; and this is a warm point to be made in its favour. However, I am a little surprised that it is proposed that the expenditure on such cases should be charged to the National Insurance Fund. I heartily agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) said. I am not entirely happy that these items should be charged to the fund. If we are to finance these things, we should say so boldly and pay for them out of taxation, out of the rates, or out of both. I think that this would be a more correct financial approach.

May I add one or two comments on the remarks that he made about the fact that there is no price tag attached to this Bill. I understand why. None the less, I think it is unfortunate for a Bill to be brought forward announcing, although in a rather ill-defined form, a certain number of benefits that it proposes to introduce without at the same time making it absolutely clear how much these benefits are likely to cost and who is going to pay for them. As I say, I appreciate the reasons why this cannot be done. Even if it could be done, I can understand the difficulties that would lie in the way of a private Member trying to find out these facts.

However, because these difficulties exist, it seems to me peculiarly unfortunate, with respect, that hon. Members allow themselves to come forward with this kind of Bill presenting the appearance of offering benefits to those who need them and leaving to the Government the odium of having to try to find the money. This is why I agree very much with what my hon. Friend said. Certainly, I agree that as a community we could and should do more for the physically and mentally disabled and handicapped than we apparently do. I would be glad to join with him in standing up at any time and saying that, because we could and should do more, then this may well involve an increase in taxation or in rates and, if that is the case, so be it. We should accept that necessary consequence.

I hope that it will not alarm my hon. Friend on the Front Bench if I say that I am half-inclined to think that we should call the bluff of the Bill by giving it a Second Reading and, in Committee, if possible, attaching a price tag to it. Then I would be very interested to see how many hon. Members opposite—I might even be encouraged—would come forward in support of a Bill that had a quantified price-tag saying, "This is what we are to spend. This is what it will cost the public, but we think that we are justified in doing it." I shall listen with interest to what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary says.

However, for the reason that I have just given, there is certainly something to be said for testing this out and seeing whether we can quantify it in Committee and put a price tag on it. This is the honourable approach that we ought to be prepared to consider.

12.43 p.m.

Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)

I am sure that hon. Members on this side of (he House, and, I suspect, all hon. Members opposite, if not right hon. Members, will accept the case made by the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Macdonald) at the end of his remarks for giving the Bill a Second Reading.

Before I address myself to the Bill, I must declare a personal interest because, as I think most hon. Members know, my family would benefit under the Bill. I ought to make that clear.

Like other hon. Members who have spoken, I heartily congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) on his initiative and humanity m deciding to benefit from his success in the Ballot to introduce a Bill of this nature. I can tell the House that for the last three years, whenever I have participated in the Ballot, it has always been my intention to introduce a Bill along these lines. But, although I have been here 14 years, I have never won any place in any ballot. That is why I do not gamble. I never win.

The hon. Member for Chislehurst was a little unfair, as was the hon. Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer), to my hon. Friend for not including any financial provisions. The hon. Member for Chislehurst has, I think, been here long enough to know that one cannot proceed beyond Second Reading with a Bill which is going to incur expenditure without a Money Resolution which can only be given by the Treasury Bench. He will, I think, admit that my hon. Friend has shown considerable ingenuity in his drafting so that it would be possible for this House to give the Bill a Second Reading and to proceed to Standing Committee.

If the Bill went on to the Statute Book, the Government would have to make appropriate financial provisions although let it be noted that whereas my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft suggested a figure for disability pensions under Clause 1, as I read the Bill it is open to the Government to say at what level these should be. All that we would be doing by passing the Bill would be to say that so urgent do we in Parliament regard this problem of disability pensions that we have passed an Act of Parliament instructing the Government to do something about it. Surely this ought to appeal to hon. Members in all quarters of the House, whatever may be their personal views as to how such a thing should be carried out.

I should like to dwell—and this will be my major contribution to the debate—on what we mean by disabled persons. The right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) said that we had got to be practical in any further legislation to assist the disabled. We have got to know precisely whom we are talking about.

I am sure the House will agree that there are many types and degrees of disability. One could say in one sense that the tragedy of disablement is only the tragedy of all sickness, all pain and all suffering. But I submit there is a threshold level of disability which, once crossed, takes the sufferer into a different order of sickness, pain and suffering than the run-of-the-mill sickness, pain and suffering which all of us have to endure at various times in our lives. Once that threshold is crossed, the disabled person becomes a member of a minority group and is in increasing danger of being detached from the mainstream of contemporary life.

The difficulty that faces us as legislators—all of us here today and, indeed, the whole House who, I am sure, are minded to give special relief to the severely disabled—is how to assess this threshold. That threshold is not a constant which can be applied to all people in all circumstances. Nor is it amendable to precise measurement. I will suggest one or two of the relevant factors in determining the threshold of disability.

First is the nature of the disability. This is both general and personal in its application. One form of disability can hurt the personality of one person a great deal more than it can hurt the personality of another person. Second is the permanence and stability of the disability. If there is any hope of recovery, however remote, it has an important psychological effect. Alternatively, a person's disability may be deteriorating. This is where in many ways people stricken down by the wasting diseases have an even more grievous cross to carry than many other severely disabled people whose disability is permanent but stable.

Then there is the question: when was the disability received? Was it from birth, or from childhood; was it an accident or a disease in the prime of life, or was it a geriatric disability? These all affect the reaction of the disabled person to his disability and, of course, his circumstances and his potential, if helped, to play a greater part in the normal course of life.

Then there are the skills and abilities of the disabled person in relation to his or her disability. A professional footballer who loses his legs is in a very different position from, say, an accountant or a solicitor in such circumstances. Conversely, if one has a mental disability—the hon. Member for Chislehurst was right to draw attention to this aspect of disability—and one is a farm labourer, one has, I suspect, a better opportunity, with rehabilitation and training, of doing a job than if one is, dare I say it, a Member of Parliament, who might well find it rather harder to be rehabilitated. No doubt, there are those critics who say that we Members of Parliament are all permanently mentally disabled, but that is by the way.

Next, there are the economic and social circumstances of the disabled person. My hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Kitson) has already drawn attention to one case within his own knowledge. Next, and extremely important, there is the personal home life and background of the disabled person, his or her family or absence of family, the home or absence of home, and friends. Finally, and, I suppose, most important of all, comes the personality of the disabled person himself.

Those factors make it difficult to determine precisely where the threshold level of disability should be drawn. In my view, my hon. Friend has made a good attempt at defining that threshold when in Clause 1 he refers to a loss of physical or mental faculty which is likely to be permanent and is substantial, that is to say, where the degree of disablement is asesssed at not less than 50 per cent.". There are those who would say that it is difficult to make an assessment at 50 per cent. rather than 40 or 60 per cent. Nevertheless, I believe that the record of our efforts in this country to assess degrees of disability both for the war disabled and the industrially disabled leads one to the conclusion that it is not an impossible task. In my view, that is the right way to approach the question, and I suggest that we think of it in terms of a threshold such as I have described.

If we can give special help to those whose disability puts them above the threshold, we shall by so doing help to raise the threshold level and also to blur it so that the threshold is less real than, I believe, it is at present. The aim must be to give support to the severely disabled so that they can have a better opportunity to take their place in normal life. All ray experience of disability tells me that the disabled person wants above all else to be treated and regarded as a completely normal person.

Of course, his disability means that in a purely physical sense he has to be treated in a different way from the so-called normal person. Although someone in a wheelchair cannot go and play football, he can go out with his friends for an evening to the club or the "pub". The disabled person appreciates the unspoken understanding of what his disability involves and the limitation which it places upon him. He comes to accept, however resentfully or however stoically, his physical limitations. But what he can never accept, and what he should never be expected to accept, is that he is no longer a total person, as complete a person as any of us here.

It is as a total person, a complete man, that the disabled person seeks to be treated and to be judged. Like all other people, he has a need to be needed. Unfortunately, all too often the disabled person is treated as somebody different, as somebody apart from the general stream of human activity, and certainly not as someone who is needed.

To me, the real importance of the Bill is that it represents a major step forward towards the aim of integrating the disabled into the mainstream of normal life. In support of my argument, I shall quote some words of Professor Peter Townsend, whose work in this field will be known to many of us, and who, in his introduction to a book entitled "Stigma", said: Disability, like intelligence, is more a matter of degree than of kind. It is more a relative than an absolute condition. If this is correct, then our conception of human diversity has merely to be extended beyond the customary limits. And the conclusion has to be drawn that fewer of the disabled should be sheltered from the mainstreams of life and more of them integrated with society. This would benefit not only the disabled. Many in the population would be encouraged to overcome their fear and shock of disability and would be helped thereby to come to terms with their own shortcomings and see more clearly their own relationshipus with the community. I believe that that statement should be our continuing aim as legislators in carrying on trying to improve the help which we give to the severely disabled.

Clause 1 is obviously the major provision, giving disability pensions to those who at the moment do not have them, those who are not covered either by the war pensions or the industrial injuries schemes. I detect from all the speeches so far that it is common ground among us that this major gap should be filled. Again, as the hon. Member for Chislehurst said, this is a good reason why the Bill should have a Second Reading. Let us get down to it in Committee. You have asked, Mr. Speaker, that we do rot detain the House too long, so I shall not develop alternative methods by which we could achieve that object. I very much hope that the Bill will go to a Standing Committee and that we shall there consider the matter in depth.

On Clause 2, the extension of the constant attendance allowance, I say only this. I welcome paragraph 91 of the Minister's White Paper, to extend the constant attendance allowance to disabled wives, but I remind the House that, welcome though that step is, it deals with only a small proportion of disabled housewives.

Now, Clause 3, the housing needs of the disabled. We have reached a point where some pressure must be put on local authorities. When we debated this subject on 15th March last year, I had occasion to congratulate the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) because, when he was Minister of Public Building and Works, he took this matter seriously and sent circulars to the local authorities drawing their attention in particular to that admirable work "Designing for the Disabled", by Selwyn Goldsmith. But I fear that little action has come from those local authorities which were not already doing something about housing for the disabled.

I have come to the conclusion that in those authorities which have taken the matter seriously one can nearly always give the credit to one or two councillors or officials who have over the years kept drawing their colleagues' attention to these problems. The point cannot be made too often that if one thinks about the problems of the disabled when a house is on the drawing board the necessary work need hardly cost a penny more, but if one does it after the house is built it costs a lot of money to convert and the result is always less than satisfactory.

This applies particularly to the many local authorities which are now taking seriously the problem of housing for the elderly. I have seen otherwise admirable flatlets built for the elderly which are quite useless for anyone in a wheelchair. Again, I shall not go into detail, but I hope that when the Bill goes to Committee we can examine the matter in depth.

I have a similar thought about Clause 4, the accessibility of public buildings to the disabled. As the quickest way of putting my argument, I make this offer to the Minister or any of his Ministerial colleagues. If they doubt the importance of this aspect of the matter, I invite them to stay with me at home for a day, or preferably a week. I shall lend them a wheelchair. They will live in it for a week as a disabled person does. They will come out shopping, they will go to the town hall, they will do all the normal jobs which a disabled person trying to live a normal life will do. If, at the end, they do not see the importance of this Clause—but, of course, they will—my offer is open to any Minister.

I have no doubt that every right hon. and hon. Member is in sympathy with the purposes of the Bill, but I fear, and I hope that I am wrong in this, that the Ministerial spokesman will reiterate that sympathy but will advise the House to reject the Bill, because the Government intend to reorganise comprehensively our system of national insurance, or because the Bill is improperly drafted, or because its consequences cannot be costed perfectly. If the Minister does not accept my advice, I hope that he will accept that of his hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst.

I also suggest that the House would do better to follow the advice of the hon. Member for Chislehurst rather than what I fear the Minister may say. I would, in conclusion, commend to the House even better advice, and that is the advice of St. Paul, when he said that there are three things that last for ever—faith, hope and love, and the greatest of them all is love. Today let us for once try to be great.

1.2 p.m.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright (Dearne Valley)

I enjoyed the tremendous zeal with which my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Macdonald) spoke, and I appreciate the tremendous amount of work he does for paraplegics. We know that on this important subject he will give us his wisdom, advice and knowledge.

The hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) was wise to select this subject for his Bill. People who are healthy and strong are inclined to be indifferent to the sick and the injured, and the hon. Member has earned the respect of the House in bringing forward the Bill.

Criticisms of what Tory Governments have failed to do are becoming a little outworn. On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that the proposals in the Bill will cost £50 million, which is no small sum. It may be small compared with the expenditure of the Government each year, but it does not represent a burden to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is a sum of money which we ought to afford, and afford quickly. Although the Bill may be imperfect and may create anomalies, it should not be pushed to one side when it would enable help to be given to so many people. It would be of no benefit if the House were to accept the proposals in principle and then do nothing, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will treat the Bill in all sincerity and seriousness.

The Bill may present insurmountable difficulties unless preparations are first made. Consideration must be given to what is meant by 50 per cent. disability. For disability caused by an accident there are well-established guidelines for assessing the loss of a limb and similar injuries, but with other types of injury great difficulty is found in making an assessment. Pain can be assessed only by the person who suffers it; a doctor may have great difficulty in assessing degrees of pain. The assessment of sickness will present great problems for the medical profession. Even if the Bill is not accepted, the Government should now make preparations for the setting up of medical tribunals to cope with the situation which will arise when action is eventually taken.

Medical assessments will often have to be made in a person's home, and the necessity of medical assessors visiting homes will place a heavy burden on the medical profession. The Government should ensure that there will be available a sufficient number of doctors who are experienced in making assessments.

The hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price) said that if the needs of the disabled were considered when the house was at the drawing board stage, it would be much cheaper to provide the necessary amenities than by altering a house already built. Local authorities in mining villages have built houses for paraplegics. In the first place, houses had to be adapted at great cost. The result is that the disabled person can move freely round the house, and can enter and leave the house easily. All steps are replaced by slopes, and articles of equipment are fixed so as to be handy for the disabled person. This has been a great boon and has enabled the disabled to live a much better life than would otherwise have been the case.

More pressure should be put on local authorities to provide similar assistance. It is no use saying that they may do it; we must say that they must do it. Local authorities must find out the number of people requiring such houses, the Government must give them instructions to get the houses built and any extra cost must be borne by the Government so that local authorities are not too heavily burdened. Public buildings, and sometimes private buildings, should also be dealt with in this way. Even a private building which is used by disabled persons should be built in such a way that it is easily accessible to them.

I pay tribute to the Disabled Income Group for the wonderful work its members are doing. However sympathetic politicians may be to these problems, pressure groups are needed to prod us into action. I hope that the Government have noted what this pressure group has done and appreciate the need to take urgent action to settle this problem.

The hon. Member for Lowestoft mentioned that disabled people had not obtained permission to enter Westminster Hall. I do not know who was responsible for refusing permission, but if I had a chance to speak to him I would make the position clear in no uncertain terms. The disabled have every right to put their case, particularly to hon. Members.

I had not intended to speak today, I have been persuaded to do so because of the sympathy I feel for the disabled, who are not only unfortunate in their lives but are often forgotten by society. I trust that we will not forget the mentally handicapped, for these unfortunate people are also frequently neglected. In my part of the country a group of people have turned a few old cottages into a bright hall and club for young handicapped people. Much of this work has been done by parents of disabled youngsters and I pay tribute to what they have achieved.

While a considerable amount of money would need to be found under the Bill, I trust that that will not stand in the way of the Measure being accepted. The money must be found. The hon. Member for Lowestoft thought that an addition to the National Insurance stamp might provide the necessary funds. My hon. Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) mentioned Income Tax being used for this purpose. I feel so strongly about this issue that I would be prepared to place a tax on the capital wealth of the nation to ensure that the money is found.

Being the branch secretary of a miners' union I often see disabled families in their homes. Sometimes the wife is also disabled. I have seen homes in which one of the parents is disabled as well as one or more children. This places a great strain on the parent who is not disabled. Injured and disabled miners are bound to feel that society is not being fair and just to them and is not treating them as human beings. Sometimes they become extremely bitter and when I tell them that the nation will come to their aid, they ask, "When? Will they help when we are dead?" We must act so that these people need net spend miserable years waiting for help.

I know what the Minister is likely to say about the Bill. I urge him not merely to talk in sympathetic tones about the disabled, but to do something on their behalf, even if it means taking this matter out of the social services.

1.17 p.m.

Dame Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I was pleased when my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) asked me to be a sponsor of the Bill. I was happy to accept and I congratulate him on the able way in which he put the case today. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price) on his moving speech. He has absolute knowledge and experience of this subject and he provided hon. Members with much food for thought.

The Disabled Income Group was formed only three-and-a-half years ago and what it has achieved in the meantime is a tribute to its members, who are mainly disabled and who, therefore, appreciate only too well the difficulties with which the Bill aims to deal. Not only am I a working patron of that organisation, but the Westminster group meets in my flat. Fortunately, the lift to my flat has wide doors, it being an old building, and so the members who are mainly disabled are able to use this accommodation. I am happy to make it available for them.

We in the Plymouth Disabled Association have a good motto which applies to the disabled. It is, "Help us to help ourselves". This is what my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft means by the Bill. In Plymouth, there is one of the largest organisations in the country for helping the disabled; it not only provides a home but also flats, where the disabled can live. Some of them are able to go out to work, but may not be able to do the domestic chores. The home for the disabled which is run by the disabled—the secretary of the organisation is a paraplegic—and there is a wonderfully happy atmosphere there. Furthermore, there is a holiday home on Dartmoor to which disabled from all over Britain come.

I support what the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Macdonald) said about the mentally handicapped. The Bill will provide great encouragement to parents of mentally handicapped children, which is vital since it is often harder to look after these children than it is other disabled. I hope that the Bill will receive a Second Reading, because I understand that the National Association for the Mentally Handicapped is now holding its annual meeting; and acceptance of the Bill now would give its members great encouragement.

I draw the attention of the House to the fact that Mrs. Armstrong, who is completely paralysed with polio, had an excellent article published in The Times today. This shows that while one may be physically handicapped, one can be perfectly able mentally.

Hon. Members must have been thrilled when they heard that some blind Africans had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. The blind invariably get preference over other handicapped people. For example, they receive assistance to pay their radio licences. In many respects the blind are able to lead a fuller life than many other disabled people, but because they are blind they attract more attention and sympathy.

Before I consider what has happened in other countries, I should like to draw attention to the tremendous rally that took place in Trafalgar Square. It was most moving. There were people who had to have their electrical apparatus working the whole time or they would have stopped breathing. It shows that they have great courage and feel very strongly about this matter, as they do in other countries where they have been successful in getting help.

New Zealand, which is much smaller than England. A single person can get up to £5 10s. a week and a couple, if they are both invalids, £10 10s. a week, after a means test. Supplementary or emergency assistance is also available on a needs test. This is nothing to do with injury sustained at work; this is purely for being an invalid.

Norway has a universal invalidity pension of 450 Crowns a month for the totally disabled and a supplement of 50 per cent. for the wife. The pension is adjusted automatically for changes in the general price level.

Spain also has invalidity pensions, which are dealt with in the same way as old age pensions. It also has a constant attendance allowance supplement of between 30 and 50 per cent. of the pension.

Sweden also has pension rights for the disabled. Sweden, much smaller than this country, makes provision for disabled people, though it has a population one-seventh the size of ours. Forty per cent. of Sweden's disabled have mental disorders. Of the rest, rheumatic and arthritic diseases were the largest group, followed by diseases of the senses and circulatory diseases. It has constant care allowances and a children's supplement; this is done after a means test. I should not think that it was too difficult for us to follow this example.

Disabled housewives and people disabled from childhood in the Swedish scheme are also included. They are entitled to a basic pension which is graded according to whether the disability is assessed at a half, two-thirds or complete loss of working capacity. In addition, allowances are paid to over 5,000 severely disabled children under 16, which even the Bill does not cater for. These are mostly mentally defective, blind, deaf and dumb, spastic or disabled through accident. Allowances are also paid to about 2,500 people severely handicapped but able to work, though depending on someone to help them. If Sweden can undertake this work it should not be too difficult for us to make some effort to follow that example.

The house-bound are dependent on the radio, the telephone and television. I cannot see why they should not be given some privileges in regard to the cost of these things. They are essential to these people. If we cannot give them a pension, it would be an enormous asset if they could have a telephone installed free of charge. Some help relating to licences for television and radio would also be appreciated. They are often more house-bound than other handicapped people, like the blind, who get this privilege.

What has not been mentioned are the extra expenses. Some of us have put down a Motion remarking that the cost of living has gone up. It has increased more quickly and is higher than for 17 years, and it affects this section of people particularly.

Fuel is expensive. Immobile people need extra heat. Some of these people are unable to use public transport. The Ministry of Employment and Productivity often gives them training, but, even with training, they still have difficulty using public transport. Last year I had the misfortune to break my wrist, and I realised that I could not drive my car. I discovered how much more expensive it was to use taxis or to employ someone to drive my car even for that short time.

There is also the question of the apparatus which these people have to wear: spinal braces and steel calipers. They have to sit about a great deal and this wears out their clothes quickly. It is interesting to note that during the last war extra coupons were given to help them with the clothing problem, yet we do not think about this extra expense today. Many have special diets.

The disabled who can use their upper limbs can work, for instance, with a tape recorder or an electronic device, but they are often unable, because their lower limbs are paralysed, to do housework. Therefore, the constant attendance allowance will be a benefit.

Clause I will be a great asset to the lower paid workers and the lower wage earning people of the so-called middle class, because it will enable them, if mentally handicapped, to keep their dependent children at home or, if physically handicapped, to get help in to look after them, because it is a wearing job to do it full time.

There is an additional difficulty. I can illustrate the case of a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis who has five small children. Her husband has to stay at home because he cannot get sufficient help. He cannot earn a big enough wage to employ a home help and he cannot get one other than through the local authority. This means that the husband—and this can be very bad for his morale—has to stay at home to do all the cooking and look after the five small children, because he does not want the children to go into the care of the local authority or his wife to go into a home. They also have a particular difficulty. They are living in a council house. I am trying to get them moved to a more convenient one, because the toilet facilities are on the upper floor and it is difficult for the wife to make use of them unless her husband is at home. All these matters could be remedied.

I suggest that the Under-Secretary should look at the plans of the Miles Mitchell Estates. Their bungalows are mostly for the elderly, but they put in special apparatus and wide doors to help them. They have such excellent plans that I think it would be worthwhile the Ministry studying them.

I hope that the Bill will get its Second Reading. Bills are always dated. If not every Clause can be fulfilled by the Government, they can date a particular Clause to a later date, so that at any rate some of the other Clauses in the Bill could be fulfilled.

I should be grateful if the Minister would consider the points that I have put forward, so that the debate today will help some of the disabled.

I should like to draw attention to the possibility of the admittance of the Disablement Income Group on 24th or 26th June to Westminster Hall. The object of that exercise is to bring about 700 people from all over Britain to lobby their Members of Parliament. It has been suggested that only 100 people can be allowed in the Lobby at the same time. Therefore, there will be long delays if they come in the normal way, and there are many steps.

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) on 27th January, wrote to the Serjeant at Arms, who wrote back giving reasons why it would be difficult to give this permission.

I have taken up the matter again on behalf of the Disablement Income Group. I hope that it will go before the Services Committee at its next meeting and that perhaps we will get a satisfactory decision. I am sure that this matter raised today in the House may have an influence on the final decision. I have been told that that action would create a precedent. I do not think that matters, because I understand that these are the only people who are ever likely to need this concession. A suggestion was made that they could go to a Committee Room by way of the lifts, but this could not be done for 700 people.

I have had great sympathy from the officials of the House when I have brought a party of disabled here. I have done this for the last ten years, and the disabled people from Plymouth who I bring—perhaps I am unwise in mentioning this—have been allowed to bring their coach into New Palace Yard. They have been allowed to go on to the Terrace for their tea and have been allowed to use the lifts, and I have been able to take them round the House in wheel chairs. They have been shown great consideration, and I hope that the lobbying part to which I have referred will receive equal sympathy. I think that it will be extremely beneficial—especially if the Bill does not go through—for the people in the disabled income group to realise that Members really care about their problems, even if they cannot grant them all that they wish.

I again congratulate my hon. Friend, and I hope that he will succeed in getting the Bill to Committee.

1.31 p.m.

Sir Clive Bossom (Leominster)

I am pleased to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers), who has drawn on a fund of experience, gained from countries all over the world. My hon. Friend has put forward constructive and worth-while suggestions which I hope the Government will consider.

I welcome the Bill, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior), who put forward a most reasoned case for its acceptance. Seldom have I received such a heavy mail imploring me to support a Bill. I have received letters from organisations such as the Women's Institute which want help to be given to the disabled housewife. They ask why she should be deprived of living a full life, merely because she is disabled.

I thought that The Times this morning made a sensible and touching plea for an improvement in the living conditions of 1½ million severely disabled people, many of whom are living in a state bordering on poverty. I have to declare an interest here, because for several years I have been a member of the Joint Committee of the Order of St. John and of the British Red Cross. I have a special interest as the Vice-Chairman of the Ex-Services War Disabled Help Committee, and over the years I have come across many serious cases of disablement. There are now 400,000 war disabled pensioners, and last year we provided help in cash or kind for 13,500 applications.

After financial security, the first priority for a disabled person, be he war disabled, industrial disabled, or civilian disabled, is mobility. Disabled people want to be able to go to places of employment, to go shopping, to go to public places, to go to pubs, and to enjoy recreational outings. If a disabled person is a house-bound citizen he gets very depressed. The last thing that he wants to do is to rot at home. If he is a wage-earning citizen, and he can live a fairly normal existence by being able to go shopping, and so on, he gets a tremendous boost to his morale, and he has a different outlook on life.

I agree that it would not be appropriate to include in the Bill the provision of vehicles for the disabled. To do so would make the Bill much too complicated, but I have always believed that there was a good case for speeding up the change over from tricycles to two-seater cars. My hon. Friend has not included this issue in the Bill, but I know that he has the mobility of these people very much in mind.

The second priority for a disabled person is to be comfortably housed, and to have mobility in the house so that, quite independently, he or she can go to the kitchen, to the bathroom, switch on television. Many more homes must be adapted, or, better still, built, so that the bedrooms are on the ground floor and there are ramps for wheelchairs to be able to get into the house. In addition, the doors must be of the correct width to enable wheelchairs to get through. It is better to specially build this type of house, but this is not always possible, and we must, therefore, adapt some of the existing ones.

The Bill has all the right objectives, and I have only one minor criticism to make. In my view, the Bill does not put enough emphasis on creating a policy of uniformity. The adaptation and allocation of houses for the disabled varies considerably in different parts of the country. Rich counties like Kent and Sussex are able to adapt houses or to build special flats for the disabled, but a rural county like Herefordshire finds it almost impossible to set aside enough money for such a worth-while project. My complaint is that there is still a tremendous lack of uniformity in this respect, and I think that we must tie this one up.

There is a great disparity in Clause 1 between the basic rates which different disabled people receive. It all depends on how a person becomes disabled. The ex-Service disabled pension starts at 152s. a week, and there are numerous small additional allowances. The industrial disabled pension also starts at 152s. a week, but the pension for a registered disabled person drops to 90s. if he is drawing sickness benefit. There is a tremendous disparity between the different pensions.

A registered disabled person usually has only a small earning capacity, and he therefore needs a little extra money to bridge the gap. I think that a person should be entitled to receive, as of right, the small additional income suggested in the Bill. Once a disabled person starts work, he usually automatically loses the benefits that he has been drawing. I think that our system is wrong. From experience I have found that even our ex-Service war disabled pensioners cannot make ends meet. As I said earlier, last year we managed to provide help in cash or in kind for 13,500 applicants.

Those pensioners are well looked after, so that the civilian disabled person is often really up against it, and he needs extra help. Usually, I would not advocate a blanket coverage, but I feel that there is this great need, and that if this help was provided it would give a disabled person a greater feeling of security if he was able to draw a pension in his own right.

Clause 3 is right and proper. A proportion of houses in each area should be designed or adapted for the disabled, and here again let us move towards uniformity throughout the country. If we succeed in doing that, it will make a tremendous difference to these people. The provision of such houses must be classified as a special programme, and must receive a Government subsidy. I do not think that we can leave the matter as it stands now, as it is dealt with differently by local authorities.

I turn, next, to consider Clause 4. I grant that in 1965 and 1968 the Minister of Housing and Local Government made timid noises to local authorities asking them to cater for the needs of the disabled when they were building new public amenities, but this is not enough. I was pleased to hear some hon. Gentlemen opposite talking about pressure groups. There must be an urgent national drive so that all local authorities not only take notice, but begin to act.

I think that we can make a start even before the Bill becomes law, and I hope that we will. Let us start by providing ramped kerbs for wheelchairs. Let us have clear signs outside all buildings which can be used for the disabled, so that they know that they can safely go into those buildings—that there will be a ramp, and that lifts will take them up and down so that they can get about the building.

I was greatly encouraged to hear the "Minister for the Arts" say that the National Theatre has set a good example to other people, in that it has made special provision for wheelchairs, and has a number of seats situated for easy access by the disabled. The new Thorndike Theatre, at Leatherhead, has included six places for wheelchairs, besides six seats for attendants. It has constructed special lavatories, and has built a lift. This is a beginning in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go. There are 40,000 theatre seats in the West End of London, but only a handful of theatres can deal with wheelchairs. We all talk about the needs, but little is being done.

All hon. Members have had to deal with grim and heartbreaking cases. I shall not read a long list of cases which have come to my hand, but I want to refer to a typical case which shows how vital are mobility and access to buildings for disabled persons, and how the provision of proper facilities can literally change their lives. I have here a case history which I received only 48 hours ago. It concerns a young girl who obtained seven "O" levels in 1953 and four "A" levels in 1955. In 1956, she had to leave school because she had an attack of polio, as a result of which she lost the use of her legs and her right arm. She has great trouble with her breathing, and has to use a respirator at night.

In spite of her disabilities she was determined to continue her studies, and went on two days a week for two years to college. Last year she obtained a second-class honours degree in psychology, and is now fully qualified at the age of 31. I should like to read two or three paragraphs from her own case history report, which she wrote. She says: Since 1 qualified in July I have been applying for jobs, but the greatest problem, if I am to work, live at home and be self-supporting instead of living in hospital at great cost, is transport. I was unable to attend several interviews as I was not able to get to them. I am a fully qualified psychologist and with a suitable job, of which there are many, I would be an independent, productive person instead of a totally financially-dependent hospital patient. This, however, seems to be only a pleasant daydream unless I can acquire some means of transport of my own.

Hon. Members will agree that the will and determination are there. Surely it is up to us to make a greater effort and to be more realistic in helping both with pensions and the provision of transport.

1.43 p.m.

Mr. John Astor (Newbury)

I very much welcome this opportunity of supporting the Bill. I also warmly congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) on having introduced it. I am pleased to follow the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Sir Clive Bossom), who has expert knowledge of the matter, especially in respect of the arrangements made for disabled war pensioners, and who drew attention to the difference between war pensioners and the civilan injured.

All hon. Members who have spoken, even if not able to support the whole Bill, have expressed sympathy with some of its provisions. I am sure that we would all agree that for far too long welfare arrangements have failed to make adequate provision for various categories of disabled people. The fact that justice for these people has been so long denied is no justification for delaying action now. I do not suggest that this problem began only in 1964; it has been with us for a long time. It has been the responsibility of successive Governments. But we now have an opportunity to make real progress in helping disabled people.

The hon. Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) pointed out that only in recent years have the problems of these people been widely recognised. Education, both of hon. Members and the public has been largely brought about by the activities of the Disablement Income Group, to which body many hon. Members have paid tribute. It has now established its case. We realise that there is a real need to help disabled people. The Government, with the introduction of their White Paper on the superannuation scheme, have made some advance in proposing that arrangements should be made for a constant attendance allowance.

Although the need has been increasingly recognised, and Ministers have received various deputations with great courtesy, the unfortunate fact remains that there has been no significant improvement for certain categories of disabled people. A limited advance has been made in some areas, but some categories are still excluded. This is a question of great urgency, especially to severely disabled people whose life is constantly at risk. The worrying thing is that the White Paper says that the constant attendance allowance will not be introduced immediately; it is likely to be introduced in 1972 at the earliest.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft referred to various reasons why the Government may resist the Second Reading of the Bill. I hope that they will accept the Bill, but the feeling is that they are likely to reject it. If they do, I hope that they will not then simply put the whole matter out of their minds. Even if they cannot accept the Bill in its entirety at this stage I urge them to make progress with some of its more urgent aspects.

The question of disabled housewives has also been mentioned. I am well aware that the Minister knows about their problems. Disabled housewives must constitute one of the comparatively few groups of citizens who are not entitled to any benefits as of right. Most hon. Members would agree that they are one of the most deserving groups. I therefore hope that the Government will press on with the introduction of some help for them.

Another anomalous situation arises in respect of the present earnings rule as it applies to the disabled person who marries and whose wife subsequently takes work. I hope that the Government will take steps to relax the present earnings rule in that case.

Then there is the wider question of the disparity in the rates of benefit for the civilian disabled as compared with those who are dealt with under the Industrial Injuries Scheme or through war pensions. The two latter categories are perhaps exposed to greater risks, but in the case of a disabled person it is the effect of the disablement and not the cause, which is important. As the rates of contribution are no higher for the other two groups I would have thought there was a strong argument in favour of providing equal benefits for all comparable forms of disablement, whatever the cause.

We are often reminded that now is not an appropriate time to advocate additional Government expenditure. I agree with this argument in general, and have refrained from signing certain Motions on the Order Paper for this reason, although I have sympathised with the sponsors of those Motions. But even in a time of economic difficulty—perhaps even more so then—we must have regard to priorities.

The disabled is a section of the community which should have had a high priority long ago. It has already been neglected for too long. I was encouraged by what the Secretary of State said a fortnight ago today when, although he could not accept the non-pensioners' Bill, he said that he rated the disabled as being in a high priority group, and that if he were able to expand the social services, this would be one of the groups to which he would look. I hope that we are right to draw some encouragement from that.

I am not convinced that the expenses involved in introducing part of these measures need be so high. If a disabled person is in hospital the cost may be anything from £30 to £80 a week. This is not just a short-term stay; he may be there for many years. I had a constituent write to me whose husband had been suffering from multiple sclerosis for 15 years. By struggling, that family was able to maintain him in the home, although his medical condition would have entitled him to be in hospital, when the cost would have been well over £25,000. There is also the fact that the hospital bed could be better occupied by someone else who would benefit from the facilities available.

That is the money side of the argument. The most important side is the human one, the desirability of a disabled person living at home with his family, surrounded by the love and care which only a family can give. It is most important to see how even severely disabled people can adapt themselves to a useful and constructive life within the family. It is good to see the joy which they get from knowing that they are part of a family unit, taking part in family life, and helping to bring up their children even though they may be bedridden.

As a modest measure could the Government make wider use of some of the existing provisions? I know that many disabled people are receiving the long-term benefit of 10s. a week. The Under-Secretary was kind enough to send me some figures the other day showing how widely this was done. It is not quite so widely known, certainly among the disabled, that the Ministry of Social Security officers have a discretion to give a benefit or allowance above and besides the 10s. long-term standard benefit to meet necessary additional expenditure.

This includes such things as higher electricity bills, because the disabled have to keep warmer, and special, more expensive food. Many Social Security officers interpret these rules quite generously. The standard of their interpretation varies through the country however.

I have been approached by people active in this sphere saying that they have come across cases where the manager of the local Social Security office appears to be unaware of these discretionery powers, or, if he is aware of them, is reluctant to use them. I would ask the Under-Secretary to undertake to give much wider publicity to these discretionary powers among managers of Social Security offices, and also among the disabled and the associations which try to help them, so that everyone will be aware of the facilities available to help them.

Naturally, I hope that the Government will accept the Bill, but if they reject it I trust that they will give serious attention to some of the points which could be acted on ahead of any general review, for which we have already been waiting too long.

1.55 p.m.

Mr. Marcus Kimball (Gainsborough)

The two points I want to raise concern the item in Clause 1 relating to the payment to anyone over the age of 15 born disabled, and the payment, as of right, for disabled housewives. The question of a pension as of right to a child from the age of 15 who has been disabled is tremendously important. We are all aware of the drug thalidomide. Judging by the incredible rate at which women of all generations continue to pour pills and chemicals down their throats, it seems inevitable that, whatever safeguards there are, we will face a similar tragedy in each succeeding generation.

The point about the children who are victims of thalidomide is that 99 per cent. have the most superb brains. Their disability exclusively affects their limbs. There are now quite a large number of children who have very good brains and an enormous contribution to make to the community, but who are handicapped because of deformities in their limbs. The tragedy of this is that although they may pass all their school examinations, they will be very restricted in making a choice of jobs. They will be at a serious disadvantage. In addition, they will face great difficulty and expense on public transport. Because of their disability and deformity they need a lot of expensive specialised equipment to enable them to get about.

It cannot be beyond the memory of some Members of this House that in the 1935 Parliament there was a wheelchair at the Bar of this House. Certainly, in another place, there are several Members who have to resort to wheelchairs. These people are at a great disadvantage, and the only way to help them over this, to help them lead a full and happy life, is to give them, as of right, a definite payment which does some little bit to put them on an equal footing with those of us fortunate enough to have all our faculties and our limbs.

I come now to the special help that should be given to disabled women in the home. Members of Parliament tend to be rather untruthful about their correspondence, or to exaggerate it. I do not think that there has been any exaggeration about the number of letters that we have all received on this subject, and the very strong feelings expressed by the National Federation of Women's Institutes. Every single branch in my constituency has taken the trouble to write to me on this subject. My hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) said it was incredible that in this age of social security we do everything possible to help a woman have a family, and absolutely nothing for her if she is disabled after she has had it, or if a member of that family starts life disabled.

There is great difficulty with the Supplementary Benefits Commission. It has no power to make regular payments to the disabled wives of husbands in regular employment, or to make payments to wives who are disabled but still want to go on working in a restricted sense. We must face the fact that in a time of economic chaos such as that which the Government have inflicted on the country, the hardship which disabled people are suffering becomes even greater. My hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Astor) made the point that the Bill would not cost as much as might be expected because, by helping these people to stay at home, we shall reduce the demands which they are already making on other facilities.

The urgency to pass the Bill is even greater in a time of rising prices, such as the present. We have also to consider rising unemployment. For example, in Gainsborough unemployment is running at just under 5 per cent. of the insured population, the highest rate which has ever been endured in Gainsborough since I have been its Member of Parliament. It has taken hon. Members opposite to make the employment exchange once again the centre of the town.

Hon. Members may wonder how that affects disabled people. It means that employers are even more reluctant to employ disabled people. Moreover, they have to pay Selective Employment Tax. At least the Minister might say that no Selective Employment Tax would be payable for the employment of disabled people.

We all know what happens when these disabled people come to see us. Most hon. Members probably shirk the issue. A disabled person says that he has lost his job and asks what can be done under the present Government to try to find him another job. Hon. Members write to the Ministry of Labour and suggest that he should be sent on a retraining course; because he cannot find a job in one walk of life, it is suggested that we train him in another walk of life.

But we are only dodging the issue, because even if he is retrained, in view of the Selective Employment Tax and the crippling economic situation, employers are still reluctant to employ disabled people. The Government have made it even harder for disabled people to find employment. I hope that the Under-Secretary who, as we all know, is a humane man, will say something encouraging to these people.

I regard all forms of Government help with suspicion and I should like to think that the Bill was not necessary. I wish that in some way we could handle the problem through the concept of private insurance. A wife can insure against giving birth to a deformed child, or against being disabled in the home. One can obtain an insurance policy which will give a supplementary weekly payment for the rest of one's life in the event of disablement. We read in the paper of large lump sums of money being awarded to people who have been deformed or crippled by accidents at work or by motor accidents.

But however attractive it may be—and certainly to one of my political persuasion it is very attractive—to think that we could get rid of Government help altogether and deal with the matter entirely by private insurance, we must be guided by the advice of the Disablement Income Group which states clearly that it is unrealistic to expect insurance facilities to be so widely available that no action at national level is necessary, not least because private insurance must often be dependent on the proposer in the first instance being in good health, but a firm foundation of State benefits in cash and kind would undoubtedly stimulate the growth of private insurance over and above the State benefit". However reluctant we may be to saddle the Conservative Party with a firm commitment to help these people, it is obvious that if they are to be helped, and if they are to receive additional help from private insurance, the Bill must be placed on the Statute Book.

2.5 p.m.

Mr. Jack Ashley (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

I apologise for having been unable to be present for the whole debate, but I should like to speak in support of the Bill. In doing so, however, I am aware of the temptation for the Conservatives to play at party politics. It would be very foolish of them to yield to that temptation.

When the Conservatives were in power, when they had the opportunity and the money, they did not want to know about the disabled; they could not even be bothered to find out how many of them existed. In my view, that was an irresponsible and reckless disregard of the disabled. This is the barren background against which the House must assess the implied claim that the Bill purports to represent what may become official Conservative policy.

I have no doubt that the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) and the four or five other hon. Members opposite who have devoted their time and efforts to the disabled will find their hon. Friends on the Conservative benches supporting the Bill in the Lobby today, but I hope that neither they nor anyone else will be misled into believing that the Conservatives' sacred cow of reduced public expenditure will be slaughtered m the cause of the disabled.

The Government, on the other hand, are opposing the Bill for a variety of reasons, the main reason being the economic difficulties which we face. The Government need reminding occasionally of the dictum that Socialism is the language of priority. If the disabled are not to be given priority, I should like to be asked who is to be given priority.

I realise that the allocation of scarce resources is a problem which confronts all Governments and I know that they are tempted to wait for an ideally convenient time to help various categories, but there never is an ideally convenient time. I hope that the Government will act despite the economic difficulties. I want to draw the attention of the House to the danger that the disabled may become a political football being kicked from one side to the other—being kicked by the Opposition to score against the Government and being kicked by the Government because of the economic difficulties which we face. If that happens, a direct consequence will be that the House will be brought into disrepute and the disabled will lose faith.

The disabled are not a powerful pressure group. They are neither dockers who can go on strike nor farmers with a powerful lobby. They are utterly dependent on the good will of the Government, and I hope that the Government will take the Bill very seriously into account.

I am aware of the arguments which the Government have used against the Bill. Nevertheless, I believe that they should accept it. Clause 1, for example, among other points, basically asks that the disabled housewife should be given some kind of insurance benefit. The economic case for that Clause can best be illustrated by a quotation from a letter which I have received from a man whose wife is almost totally paralysed and unable to walk and who should never be left alone.

The writer says: I cannot afford to employ anyone as I am only a clerical worker bringing home about £14 per week. I did have a more responsible position as an office manager, but I had to give this up to devote more time to my wife. So that the position as of now is that if anything should happen to my wife's 70-year old mother I would have to give up my work to look after her all the time, or, alternatively, she would have to go into a geriatric ward, although that would not happen whilst I had any breath in my body. Because there is no provision for the disabled housewife, the State either loses the services of a productive worker or pays £50 a week for hospital treatment. I am not suggesting that every worker in this position must give up his job. This matter should be argued on moral grounds.

The writer of the letter from which I quoted added: As I have thought about these things I have often wondered whether the people in charge of the purse strings are aware of the anguish which you feel as you go to work and leave someone that you know full well you should not be leaving alone. Given a modest disablity income, which Clause 1 requests, there would be no need for this housewife to be left alone. The Clause does not ask that the disabled housewife should be treated like a disabled industrial worker, but simply that some provision should be made for her.

I remind the Minister that the principle of this provision has already been accepted. The then Minister of Social Security said in April of last year: There are very good reasons why the industrial injury which is encountered during work should receive a special kind of approach. At the same time, I believe that the real gap at the moment is in provision to meet chronic sickness or chronic handicap arising not through work, and particularly among housewives or congenially handicapped children who grow up to be adults. Thus, in saying that I do rot necessarily agree with the noble Lord that they should be treated alike, I wholly agree that we need provision to meet the other contingencies which we are so far not meeting."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th April, 1968; Vol. 762, c. 875.] I assume that the Government will not repudiate that statement. I hope, too, that they will not go on finding administrative difficulties for not providing an income for the disabled housewife. Despite the timing and other difficulties which are sometimes mentioned, they should convert the principle into practice.

I hold the same view about Clause 2, which has also been accepted in principle. The idea of providing a constant attendance allowance was contained in the recent White Paper. It is easy to argue for delay, but the disabled echo Keyne's dictum—that in the long run we are all dead. The long run for some people is a lot shorter than for others.

Clauses 3 and 4 call for the implementation and enforcement of plans for adequate housing and access to public buildings. These are reasonable provisions. These plans exist, but are almost completely disregarded. I fail to see how a Government who recognise the need for racial equality, honest advertising and sober driving could reject the reasonable proposals in the Bill for ensuring that the disabled receive fair play. I appreciate that there are difficulties in introducing legislation of this kind, but similar difficulties had to be faced when legislating on drunken driving, racial discrimination and advertising. There is no reason why the Government should not face up to any difficulties that arise from the Bill. I do not know what is particularly difficult about making this sort of provision for the disabled.

I have already argued in the House the case for a disablement commission, as mentioned in Clause 5. There are differences between the hon. Member for Lowestoft and myself about the nature and functions of such a commission, but there is broad agreement between us. The essence is that it should provide contingency planning, and give authoritative advice afterwards.

The Bill is not perfect, but I have yet to see a Bill which is perfect when first presented to the House. It embodies proposals which I have previously advocated and I have no honest alternative but to vote for the Measure. I appreciate that the Whips are on, and that the Bill will probably be defeated, but I hope that the Government will recognise the urgency of this matter and will take positive action on behalf of the disabled.

2.18 p.m.

Mr. Bernard Braille (Essex, South-East)

Hon. Members will have been impressed by the speech of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley). At one point I thought it regrettable that the hon. Gentleman should have marred that speech by saying there was a danger that the fight for the disabled would become a party matter and that the disabled would become a political football. However, he went on to show why this is not likely to happen.

This has been a splendid debate so far, largely owing to the quiet and informed way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) explained the Bill and put his case. Indeed, the speeches made lead me to believe that there is no danger of this moving subject becoming a matter of party political warfare. It must not.

Nevertheless, it is regrettable that successive Governments should have moved rather slowly in this sphere. It is not true to say that under this and former Governments no improvements have been made in our social services or in the provision that we make for the disabled, but we have moved too slowly. In one sense it is astonishing that a country which pioneered social provisions for the blind should have neglected those cruelly disabled in other ways. In fact, until the passage of the National Assistance Act, 1948, the blind were the only handicapped adults for whose special care there was statutory provision, and it was not until 1951 that local authorities were empowered to draw up schemes to help other classes of handicapped people. I am glad to see that the Bill seeks in part to improve the performance of local authorities in this respect.

We cannot equate forms of disability. Loss of sight is a terrible thing but total deafness is perhaps even more isolating. The loss of a limb is a handicapping and very unpleasant experience but who among us can measure the slow and relentless advance of a crippling disease like multiple sclerosis? What matters to the individual who is afflicted is not the source of the disability but its extent.

Then again we make excellent provision, judged by world standards, for the war disabled. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Sir Clive Bossom), I have served for a number of years on the Joint Red Cross and St. John's Committee for the Welfare of the Ex-Service Disabled. We have 400,000 war disabled pensioners in this country. In 1968 the Joint Committee helped 13,500 applicants in cash or kind. Even with the war disabled there is a gap in the provision. Similarly with the industrially disabled. But there is no provision at all, as speaker after speaker has said, for the housewife who is permanently crippled and who may be so helpless that she needs constant attendance. This is not disputed. It is conceded by the Government, and we all welcome that concession in the White Paper.

Paradoxically, we make no provision for the handicapped housewife in her home, which is where she should be, particularly if she has children, but under our welfare provisions we are prepared to help her if she gives up her home and goes into hospital or an institution. This is quite crazy socially. It is crazy economically, because the cost of a reasonable invalidity benefit to enable her to stay in her home would in many cases be offset, several times, by the cost of maintaining her in a hospital bed and her children in institutions.

What matters to the individual is not what caused the disability or where it happened, but its total effect upon him or her or the family. All of us have encountered these problems in our constituencies. I will give only one example which came to my attention some time ago. It concerns a housewife who, I suppose, would be in her early fifties, who for 20 years suffered from multiple sclerosis, a permanent and crippling disease for which, unhappily, there is no cure at the moment. The progress of the disease is erratic. There are moments when the sufferer thinks that he or she is recovering. People with this disease suffer from one of the most cruel torments which it is possible for a human being to endure.

In the earlier years of the illness this woman's husband gave up work to look after her. They could not manage on this basis, and so she had to go into hospital. Separated from her family, it was clear that in hospital she was breaking her heart. Her condition was worsening. Her husband could not stand this and brought her home. But he could not afford £3 a week for a home help, and so, eventually, she went back to the geriatric ward of the local hospital. For all I know, that is where she is now, if she is still alive.

The economics of this situation are compelling. A £3 a week invalidity benefit would have kept that family together, yet the cost of keeping the woman in hospital—and my hon. Friend the Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean) could be more precise about the figure than I can—could not be far short of £15 a week; it might be as high as £25. It would pay the community to provide an invalidity benefit in such cases as this.

I have advanced that argument before. I cannot for the life of me see, therefore, why the recommendation in the White Paper for a new attendance allowance which we all welcome, must be delayed until 1972. If this part of the White Paper's recommendations were accepted—and it could be accepted in principle by the House giving the Bill a Second Reading—the cost to the community would not be all that great. No hon. or right hon. Member has greater experience in these matters than the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton). I was deeply impressed by his carefully reasoned arguments, but I cannot see why that particular provision cannot be made now.

I remember the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), who used to speak from the Government Front Bench as Minister of Pensions and National Insurance with such flair, distinction and humanity, saying repeatedly when we pressed her that, although the Government's social service review would take some time to complete, they were not waiting to implement those features of it which they felt should be put into operation without delay. I appeal to the Under-Secretary of State to think carefully about this matter and to consider whether the Government could make a concession. Nothing would be lost by giving the Bill a Second Reading. These matters could be discussed in detail in Committee.

Under the White Paper, the kind of case which I have quoted could be dealt with, but not until 100 per cent. disablement had been reached. There are thousands of cases—I have many of them in my constituency—in which we can be almost certain that 100 per cent. disablement will be eventually reached but where the strain of the present degree of disablement at the moment on the husband, relatives or wife is almost intolerable. The merit of the Bill is that it faces squarely the fact that there is no real justice in the distinction which we make between the war or industrially disabled and the civilian disabled. It recognises that disablement imposes handicaps and discomforts similar to and often more shattering than those of short-term illness.

This is the point about the case for the disabled. It is not that they are just handicapped, which is itself a disadvantage; it is that the handicap imposes, in the case of the congenitally disabled and those disabled from childhood, pain, discomfort and many other disadvantages throughout life, not only on them, but on the people with whom they live.

A crippled person moves, if at all, slowly. Those who work often have great difficulty in getting to work by public transport. I have often heard of people who could work but simply cannot manage to do so if they live in an awkward place and have to use public transport. It costs them more to travel. Their clothes wear out more quickly. In any event the congenitally disabled who have never worked impose a great strain upon their relatives. Why should there not be a disability pension—a supplement to income—as of right to enable such people to lead an easier existence? The White Paper does not accept the need for such an income. Clause 1 of the Bill would remedy the omission.

In principle, there is a considerable area of agreement between the Bill and the White Paper. What separates them are three years in time. There is agreement about the need for a new constant attendance allowance. I have said that the economic argument for this must be seen against the crippling burden that the hospital service must bear in looking after people who, in many cases, if there was an invalidity or constant attendance allowance, could be in their own homes. Why delay this until 1972? Then again, if there is agreement in principle on the necessity for an advisory body, why delay this? Such a body could be set up immediately.

There is then, a strong case for giving the Bill a Second Reading, despite all the criticisms and reservations which have been expressed. We have had very few concessions from this Government. I hope that the Under-Secretary is ready to make one now. I hope, too, that we shall hear that the Government are ready and willing to follow the lead and logical arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I repeat for the benefit of those who have joined the debate that I appealed at the beginning of the debate for reasonably brief speeches.

2.32 p.m.

Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)

I must apologise to the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) for not having been present when he opened the debate, but I have read an account of his speech on the tape. I am aware of the attitude of the Tory Party on these matters. Only a fortnight ago we had another instalment of the Conservative policy on social security—the National Insurance (Further Provisions) Bill.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman must debate this Bill.

Mr. Hamling

Yes, Sir, but it is fair to argue that we must also debate the principle of the Bill. That was what I was directing my attention to. The Bill is part and parcel of the principles of social security being advanced by the Tories. But the Bill would be only part of the social provisions which are made for the people.

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is only the part that is covered by the Bill that the hon. Gentleman will discuss.

Mr. Hamling

Mr. Speaker, I hope that you will not rule me out of order. The speech of the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine), though admirable in sentiment, contained little about the Bill. It dealt with the general principle of social welfare. It was not particularly related to any one provision in the Bill.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Now that the hon. Gentleman has reproved the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine), I hope that he himself will deal with the Bill.

Mr. Hamling

That is precisely what I intend to do, Sir, unlike the hon. Member for Essex, South-East.

I want to refer directly to Clause 1. The hon. Member for Essex, South-East talked about an invalidity benefit, but did not say how much it should be. He did not say what the Government should pay. [Interruption.] The Bill will be implemented by the Government, if it is carried by the House; so it is no good the Front Bench opposite making that point. The Bill does not say how much the invalidity benefit should be.

The hon. Gentleman quoted a very sad case—all such cases are sad—where there was a lack of £3 a week to pay for a home help. If the invalidity benefit is to be based on the basic pension paid under the social insurance scheme, that would not allow for £3 a week for a home help, bearing in mind rent and all the other expenses, that an ordinary family has.

We were not told all the facts of the case. Was an approach made to the Supplementary Benefits Commission? What help was the Commission prepared to offer? In such cases the Commission can and does help. It can help much more generously than the basic pension. It is no good talking about a basic pension in cases like this. The need in each case has to be considered. To talk airily about a flat invalidity benefit is to offer cold comfort to the families concerned.

Mr. Prior

The hon. Gentleman talks about our talking airily about benefits of this nature. If he had had the courtesy to be here all day, he would have heard much more about the figures than he has done. The figures were given in the debate and he should have taken the trouble to be here. Apart from that, does he realise that he is introducing a quite different tone into the debate from that which has been introduced by any other speaker?

Mr. Hamling

I do not want lectures on tone from the hon. Gentleman. I will deal with the Bill. I have been reminded by Mr. Speaker that I must speak to the Bill.

Lord Balniel (Hertford) rose——

Mr. Hamling

No, I will not give way.

Lord Balneil

May I ask——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) has the Floor. If he does not give way, he does not give way.

Mr. Hamling

I will deal with the interruptions one at a time. I know what the hon. Member for Lowestoft said; I have read it on the tape and I have had an account of it from my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton). The hon. Gentleman did not quote a figure. The Bill merely says: The Minister shall make such regulations and orders as may be necessary for providing for the payment of pensions out of the National Insurance Fund.… Where is the amount? There is no Schedule. Presumably—one must presume when a Bill says nothing to the contrary—the level of pension is to be left to be fixed under the normal social security provisions—that is, the basic pension. I shall be happy to give way now to anyone who cares to give me a precise figure.

Lord Balneil

I wanted to ask the hon. Gentleman, whose contribution to the debate has been a most unhappy one so far, a simple question. How does the woman who was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Brain), and who is severely disabled, and whose husband is in employment, receive supplementary benefit?

Mr. Handing

May I, first, get an answer to my question? Where is the amount in the Bill? It is obvious that I shall not get an answer.

I come to the third intervention from hon. Members opposite—what about the case of the wife whose husband is working? This is in strange contrast to the attitude of the Tories in other cases of social need, when they say, "Why should they get a benefit as of right when there is an income coming in?" So we come to one of the principles behind the Bill and enshrined in it. That is that there shall be a particular class, drawn from the whole field of social provisions, which shall be treated rather differently.

What about the widows? They are in a special category of need. They are not covered by the Bill. [Interruption.] They come up in three weeks' time—is that it? That is the third instalment. What about the single women with dependent relatives, many of whom have to give up their jobs to look after their elderly parents? They are not in receipt of income. They are not covered by the Bill. Yet their need is every bit as great as that of the people covered by the Bill.

If we pass Bills of this sort we are in grave danger of having at our gates thousands of people saying, "You do it for one. Why do not you do it for us? We are just as deserving". Many unemployed men, when they apply for unemployment benefit, are told that they cannot have it because their National Insurance contributions record is insufficient, even though perhaps they have been paying for 30 years. They are denied benefit. But the Bill will give benefit to people as of right when they have not paid even ½d.

Surely the unemployed man to whom I have just referred is entitled to come to his Member of Parliament and say, "You are doing it for one class today. What about me? I have been paying for 30 years. Admittedly, my contribution record is not very great, but at least I have paid something. Have I not got a wife and family to support? Am I not entitled to some sort of subsistence?"

I do not want to keep the House very long. I have been subjected to some interruptions. To some extent that may well be due to the tone of my speech.

The trouble with the Opposition is that if they had put forward a Private Members Motion drawing attention to this problem, I am sure that the reception on this side of the House would have been quite different. Instead, they are seeking to impose upon us a Bill. They are seeking to introduce a new Act of Parliament which is partial, inconclusive, and is not complete even within its terms. That is what I quarrel with.

The other thing that I quarrel with very much is that there are so many other very needy sections of the community. I am well aware of the needy in this connection. After all, I am a supporter of the Disablement Income Group. What I am very concerned with is that we should not seek to put partial and half-baked legislation on the Statute Book.

We cannot legislate piecemeal. We would create arbitrary and unfair anomalies, which the House would repent very much. There would be an instant outcry from other people. There are many categories. There are people in need of constant attendance allowance, other than those mentioned in the Bill. For all those reasons I am not prepared to accept the Bill.

2.44 p.m.

Mr. David Lane (Cambridge)

Even though the eventual vote, if there is to be a vote, may be disheartening, I feel heartened by the amount of common ground and harmony in the debate today, at least until the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) entered like a bull in a china shop and struck a discordant note. I apologise for mixing a metaphor.

My voice today is even more inadequate than usual, and so I am making only a short intervention. I wish to say a few words in support of the Bill, and congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) on introducing it, although to the excellent arguments in its favour which he and other hon. Members adduced I cannot add very much.

I do not claim any expert knowledge of the disabled and their problems, such as many hon. Members on both sides of the House can, but, as one gets to know more about the problems they face, one has a growing admiration and a rising hope that soon in this place we shall be able to give them some more tangible help than mere good intentions.

In the ranks of the disabled are many who are among the unsung heroes and heroines of our peacetime society, and many people, too, who have nothing to look forward to but a steady deterioration and narrowing horizons. They have shown immense patience over the years, and it is time for the Government and Parliament to act.

This Bill is particularly timely today for a number of reasons. One has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers). We have just seen the most recent 12-month period in which the rise in the cost of living has been as high as 7 per cent., and this is felt particularly acutely by many disabled people.

We are seeing, too, the increasing spread of the earnings-related principle in our social services, which puts more and more of the spotlight on the special needs of the disabled. Again, we have had the recent White Paper, which is a reason for doing something new in the way that this Bill proposes and not for putting things off. So far as they go, the suggestions in the White Paper that affect the disabled are welcome, but they do not go far enough.

Statistic have been mentioned. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West was not here to hear the frank financial assessment made at the opening of the debate by my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft. We are not in possession of all the facts about the numbers, categories or possible financial commitments that may arise. Of course, we want to have this survey which the Government have said should be available during the summer. Statistics are vitally important, but in this field of all field of all fields we are dealing not just with statistics but with people.

Many cases have been cited. I want to mention only one from my own constituency, that of a woman of about 40 suffering from rheumatoid arthritis since the age of 16. This illustrates the particular need for extra financial help. She requires extra heat in the house, extra milk and, during the bad weather, if she requires social visits and pleasure she has to order a taxi, incurring more expenditure. This is not a particularly remarkable or exceptional case, but it is typical of many.

I especially welcome two features of the Bill. The first is that help will be given to the disabled housewife; as has been explained several times, this will have considerable offset in the saving of expenditure which will not be necessary if my hon. Friend's proposals are accepted.

Also I welcome Clause 4 about accessibility to public buildings for the disabled. This illustrates a principle which my hon. Friend the Member for Devon-port mentioned in quoting the motto of her disabled group in the West Country—"Help us to help ourselves." We have on both sides of the House several shining examples of hon. Members who have carried on in spite of severe physical disability, some of whom have already spoken in the debate today.

In my constituency excellent work has already been done by the local authority, as many other local authorities have done, but side by side with that there are examples of the action taken in this direction by the disabled people themselves. One fortunately not very badly disabled housewife has spent about a year, with some help, in compiling the Disabled Persons' Guide to Cambridge, which she is bringing up to date year by year, containing full particulars not only of the public buildings, but of measurements of entrances to shops and cinemas, slopes, steps and the like. This is a wonderful example of the way in which these people are not waiting to be helped by the State or the local authorities but are doing all they can to help themselves. Even if some local authorities are doing excellent work, to which we pay tribute, let us go ahead with Clause 4 to make sure that those which are not yet up to the best standards are brought up to them as soon as possible.

No doubt, the Parliamentary Secretary will advance objections to the Bill. He may say that it is premature and that we ought to wait for the survey. But what we shall do by the Bill, if we pass it, is give the Government a directive from the House to start the system of new benefits as soon as possible. By the time the Bill is passed, we shall have the facts from the survey and the Government will be able to make a more precise assessment of what is necessary and what rates may be suitable.

It may be objected that, as the White Paper is now before us, it would be wrong to pass any legislation in advance of the major Bill next Session. I comment on that as others have done. The White Paper at best will give long-term help, and what is desperately needed for these people is some short-term benefit. That is not, therefore, an overriding objection.

It may be objected that the proposals in the Bill will be too costly. Here, there is a question of priorities. Examples have been cited of what many other countries have done, countries which, one might have thought, would not have been able to afford this sort of special help as well as we in this country can, even with our present financial difficulties. I cannot believe that even in the existing stream of public expenditure there are not less urgent matters on which we could economise for the sake of carrying through this urgent and highly desirable reform.

It has also been said, and the Parliamentary Secretary may object in the same sense, that the Bill is imperfect. Admittedly, it may be inadequately drafted or unclear in some respects, but that is a reason, if we are in sympathy with the principle, for giving it a Second Reading today and trying to put it right in Committee.

If the Government remain adamant in their resistance to the Bill, they must none the less heed what has been said from both sides in this debate. Let them at least give the vital psychological encouragement which the disabled so much want by going ahead with such virtually costless administrative arrangements as would be provided by the Bill and which the Government, surely, can carry forward, even if they have to advise the House to postpone the main financial provisions. However, I remain more optimistic about the outcome of the debate. The Bill represents an important step towards correcting what has emerged as the most glaring weakness in our present social security arrangements. I hope that the House will take that step by giving it a Second Reading this afternoon.

2.53 p.m.

Mr. Paul Dean (Somerset, North)

My hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) and other hon. Members on both sides have spoken of the late Stephen Swingler. From this Front Bench, I extend our sympathy to his wife and family and say how much we shall all, on both sides, feel the loss of his contributions in debates on this and other subjects.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft not only on his luck in the Ballot but on the Bill, and, if I may say so, the tone with which he introduced it, a tone which, with one exception, perhaps, has been maintained with striking consistency in the speeches from both sides.

It was clear right from the start that what is asked of the Government today is not only sympathy but action. As the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) said, we are virtually all agreed now on the principle behind the Bill, and the question is, "How, and when?" The hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) was the only exception. No one else dissented from the broad principle. The right hon. Gentleman, with his unrivalled knowledge, said at the outset that this is a highly desirable principle and that all we are now arguing about is the timing and details of the matter.

It has been an interesting debate also because it is the first we have had on this subject since the Government put forward their new proposals in the White Paper. We welcome what they propose regarding a constant attendance allowance for the severely disabled. We have advocated such an advance for some time as the first and simplest step towards helping the civilian disabled and, above all, the disabled housewife and those who are disabled from birth. Having announced their policy, the Government now have an opportunity under my hon. Friend's Bill to put that advance into operation straight away. I am encouraged to think that they will be prepared to do just that. Time will show whether I am being unduly optimistic.

There is another reason why I am encouraged to think that we shall have a favourable response to the Bill. I refer to what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Social Services said only a fortnight ago when replying to the debate on the National Insurance Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Maurice Macmillan) to provide pensions for non-pensioners. The right hon. Gentleman talked about the priorities, and he argued that there are many groups of people requiring our attention. He put two groups above the very old whose case my hon. Friend was advocating at that time. The first group was what he called—perhaps in not the happiest of phrases—the sex group. The second was the disabled. This is what the right hon. Gentleman said: The other group about which I am concerned is those who have disability. If I have to look for other areas of further development, I would go for disability, and that is why, for the first time, we have introduced the concept of a constant attendance allowance. I would look for help for disability as a group before I looked to the 70s and 80s."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th February, 1969, Vol. 777. c. 834.] That was an interesting and, in my view, acceptable allocation of priorities, and it encourages me to think that the next time—we are told that it may well be in the autumn—the Government make additional provision for the elderly to take account of the steep rise in the cost of living which we have had, they will at the same time make provision for the disabled. If they do not, the sentence which I have just quoted from the right hon. Gentleman's speech will not mean much. My hon. Friend's Bill gives the Government the chance to do just that, to put into operation the priorities which the Secretary of State for Social Services laid down only a fortnight ago.

I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will not say that we must wait for the Bill which will eventually come, following the White Paper. That argument will not convince the House unless he is able to say at the same time that, in whatever form he regards as more acceptable, he will do better and more quickly than my hon. Friend's Bill would do.

The Government's policy pronouncements in the White Paper are not convincing at their face value We welcome the reference to the constant attendance allowance, but there are no details as to its level, the rate of the allowance, who will qualify, or when it will be introduced.

Mr. Handing

Or in the present Bill, either.

Mr. Dean

If the intention is that those who might qualify for the constant attendance allowance must wait until 1972, three years hence, that is not good enough. In any event, when it is introduced, it will cover only a small proportion of those who are disabled and are not at present receiving benefit.

That leads naturally on to the proposal which he makes for a disability pension. From the White Paper proposals it appears that the Government have rejected the concept of a disability pension. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to tell us this afternoon that that is not the case. The reason why it appears to me to be so is that reference is made in paragraph 88 of the White Paper to proposals for long-term sickness benefit, and we are told that this will be "in effect an invalidity pension".

For some people, it will be, but the main exclusions from that benefit will be the disabled housewife and those who are disabled from birth. They will not be covered, and it is these two categories of people in particular which have been referred to time and time again in the debate. If the hon. Gentleman says that we must wait for the Bill which follows the White Paper proposals, I say to him emphatically that that will be too little and too late.

May I now turn to one or two more detailed aspects and the philosophy behind the Bill and what my hon. Friend is trying to do. There are people who say, quite fairly, that we do not yet know the facts, that we are still awaiting the social survey. The hon. Member for Sowerby regretted that we still did not have the social survey in our hands, but we know from information given by Ministers that the social survey will be in the hands of Ministers by the spring; in other words, in a very short time. There is still time while the Bill is in Committee for the Government, if they so choose, to draft and table Amendments to improve the Bill.

A point which has been missed in some speeches and which provides the answer to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West is that my hon. Friend has deliberately left a great deal of the detail, for example, the level of benefit, and whether there will be a sliding scale, to be dealt with later by orders and regulations to be discussed in the House. That is entirely sensible procedure for a private Member trying to legislate on this subject. There is ample room for the Bill to be amended in Committee. There is ample room for the details to be filled out later, when the the Bill is on the Statute Book, by which time we can be assured that the survey for which the Government are waiting will be available. I hope that we shall not hear those arguments, because they just will not stand up to examination.

Why is it that there are these differences in the help which is available to the disabled? Why is it that only in comparatively recent years have we begun to discuss the problem of the civilian disabled as opposed to the war disabled or the industrial injury disabled with which we have been familiar for many years?

Mr. Hamling

We have only just discovered them.

Mr. Dean

May I pay tribute to the work which the Department of Health and Social Security is doing for the war disabled and the industrial injury disabled. As a person who is in receipt of a war disability pension, I know from the contact which I have had with the Department since the war that the services it provides cannot be bettered. Equally, I pay tribute to the Disablement Income Group, the Committee on the Mobility of the Disabled and other such groups which have done much in recent years to draw our attention to this problem which we knew so little about until three or four years ago.

The reasons for this are easy to see. There are, first, historical reasons. We have always recognised in one form or another the special needs of the war disabled and those disabled at work. It is much easier in many respects to identify these groups. We have a great deal of experience in doing so. There is also, however, the fact that hitherto we have looked at the cause of disability rather than its extent. Hence the anomalies which we now see in the light of the new knowledge which has accumulated—for example, the relatively good cover of the war disabled and the industrially injured disabled; the lower level of cover on a different basis of assessment—namely, loss of earning power—in the National Insurance scheme, with sickness benefit, unemployment benefit and the like.

Then we come to the bottom end of the scale with people, in particular the housewife with a husband who is working, who get absolutely nothing. That answers another of the points made by the hon. Member for Woolwich, West. We have here an example of a category of person—the disabled housewife whose husband is working—who, under the present arrangements, is eligible for no benefit of any kind.

Mr. Hamling

What about the single woman who gives up her job to look after an elderly dependant and gets nothing? She is not covered by the Bill.

Mr. Dean

The hon. Member should read the Bill.

Mr. Hamling

I have read it.

Mr. Dean

The hon. Member should have been here to listen to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft, who dealt with this point. I hope that he will read it in HANSARD.

Mr. Hamling

Cannot the hon. Member answer the question?

Mr. Dean

A great many anomalies have grown up for the reasons I have described, but we have now got to the situation where, in our present state of knowledge, the existing arrangements do not seem to be just and are not just. That is what we are discussing this afternoon and the way in which we can deal with it.

I do not suggest any more than anyone who has spoken in the debate that there are not complicating factors. Of course there are. There are different criteria by which these things are judged. There is the National Insurance scheme, with sickness benefit and unemployment benefit, in which loss of earning power is taken into account. There are the war pensions and industrial injury schemes, in which account is taken of loss of faculty and degree of disablement. There is also the increased cost of living which is inevitable for any disabled person. Whichever of these criteria one takes, or whether one takes a mixture of them, in thinking of the civilian disabled, one thing that is absolutely clear, however, is that all these problems apply just as much to them as to any other disabled person who is covered by existing arrangements.

My hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price), in his impressive speech, talked about the threshold level. Is it not absolutely clear that we have here what might be called people who are just as badly hit as those who are at present covered by the double pangs of disablement? On the one hand, there is loss of faculty and, very often, loss of earning power, too, by the disabled, but in many cases another member of the family has given up his or her earning power to care for the disabled person in the home. There is then the increased cost on top of that. One therefore gets to the situation that there is indeed a double standard of poverty which radiates throughout the whole of the family.

I have mentioned the complications. The hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Macdonald) referred to the mentally ill and questioned whether a cash benefit was the right way to deal with them. Surely all these important points should be dealt with in Committee. I was glad that the hon. Gentleman made that point. Let us discuss these matters in Committee, but do not let us vote against the Bill on that account.

Despite the anomalies, I beg the House to remember that we are not here sailing in entirely uncharted seas. I believe that we have dealt successfully with most of these difficulties of definition of categories in the war pensions and industrial injuries scheme. I do not suggest that the problems are as easily identified, because far greater varieties of conditions arise in dealing with the civilian disabled, but we are not venturing on entirely uncharted seas. We cannot say that we have not got a substantial amount of information available about certain categories. Nor can we say that the Government's survey is not coming for a long time. We know that it is coming within a matter of weeks.

How much will this cost? Clearly this depends upon the rate of pension which is built in, which is a matter which will come after the Bill. It depends whether we have a sliding scale from 50 per cent. disablement. Many factors are involved. The point is that the Bill does not tie the Government down on these all-important details.

Whatever the cost, it could be that, through the lack of spending a little, we are spending a lot. Consider a disabled housewife who can no longer carry on at home and has to go into hospital. It costs up to £50 a week to keep her in hospital. Perhaps her children have to go into care. That will cost another £8 to £10 a week. Under present arrangements we can easily be spending far more overall on the care of the disabled than if we provide them with a cash benefit. That is only the economic cost. There is also the social cost involved in splitting up families when the disabled can no longer cope for want of that little extra income to provide the additional help which they require. Therefore, I do not attach a great deal of importance to the arguments on cost, because I believe that we can make out a strong case for saying that the net cost of the provisions in the Bill would be very small.

I will refer briefly, because I do not want to speak for much longer, to the other Clauses. When my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft refers to the housing needs of the disabled, to the need for accessibility to public buildings and the like, he is merely asking that we should write in statute what the best local authorities are doing. Not a great deal of cost is involved here. If these buildings are planned with the needs of the disabled in mind the extra cost will be negligible or nothing. The important point is that we should have this written in so that local authorities and others concerned are under an obligation to ensure that these things are done in future.

My hon. Friend mentioned the rally which the disabled are proposing to hold. If the disabled who intend, or want, to come to put their problems personally to us are told that they cannot use Westminster Hall, I hope that the Under-Secretary will use his influence with the authorities of the House to ensure that they can get somewhere equally convenient. I cannot think of anywhere else in this building which is as accessible, or indeed accessible at all, to a large number of people.

Mr. Pentland

The attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Public Building and Works has been drawn to this issue, and he will be considering it. I am not sure whether my right hon. Friend has been approached by any hon. Member to ask for authority to be granted for this rally to be held.

Mr. Dean

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I am glad that he has taken the point, which I felt certain he would.

Clause 5 relates to the setting up of an advisory committee. It seems to me that this is a good time to have a committee of this kind. We now have a new combined Ministry of Health and Social Security, which was set up only recently. We have a major White Paper on the future reform of social security. We have the Seebohm Report on local authority personal services. We have the Green Paper on the proposed reform of the National Health Service. Local government reform is coming up fairly soon. Surely it is vitally important for there to be some advisory body to consider all these things and to ensure that the needs of the disabled and the chronic sick are fully cared for? There is a case for a committee of this kind in any event, but there is a far stronger case for it in present: conditions than there would be at any other time.

From the speeches that we have heard today, from both sides of the House, it seems to me that one cannot argue against making a start with assistance for the civilian disabled on the ground of cost, on the ground of social justice, or on the ground of humanity. The only argument left is that it is too difficult. I cannot believe that we are so lacking in experience, in skill, and in information on this subject that we cannot find the answer today. I hope that when the Minister replies he will at least be prepared to accept the principle of the Bill, but if he pleases to improve it in Committee.

3.18 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Security (Mr. Norman Pentland)

I begin by saying how grateful I am to the hon. Member for Somerset (Mr. Dean), the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior), my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), and many others, who have referred to the sad death of my colleague Stephen Swingler. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby said, in other circumstances Stephen Swingler would have been at this Box this afternoon, and I am very conscious of that fact as I stand here today.

I need hardly tell the House that his untimely death was a dreadful shock to all of us, not only those who worked with him as a colleague in the Department, but every Member who knew Stephen so well. I know that his many friends in the Labour Movement are deeply shocked at his death. I assure the House that his widow and her family will be deeply grateful for the tribute which has been paid to his memory today by hon. Members on both sides.

As one would expect on a subject such as this, we have had an excellent debate. I add my congratulations to those already offered to the hon. Member for Lowestoft for bringing his Bill forward in the manner in which he has. I assure him that although he may be disappointed with my reply I acknowledge the sincere motives that have inspired him to bring forward the Bill.

I am reluctant to inject any measure of emotionalism into my speech, but it would be a sad day for the House of Commons if, when we are debating the problems and difficulties facing the disabled people in our community, some measure of emotionalism was not to be found in the speeches of hon. Members. I admit that because of my background and industrial experience I find myself immediately emotionally involved when debating the problems facing our disabled people. In common with many of my colleagues—my hon. Friend the Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Edwin Wainwright) is one—before I was elected to the House of Commons I worked in the coal-mining industry. My constituency lies at the heart of the Durham coalfield, and I have lived there all my life.

I have no intention of belabouring this point, but throughout my lifetime—and in this respect I am like my hon. Friend the Member for Dearne Valley—I have been a personal witness of the consequences of disablement after a person has had a serious injury or has contracted an industrial disease, such as pneumoconiosis or silicosis. My constituency has also had its fair share of civil disabled. I know only too well that it is not only a question of the money involved. As was said by the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price) and my hon. Friend the Member for Chisle-hurst (Mr. Macdonald), it is also a question of being fully aware of the social and other aspects involved, not only for the unfortunate individual but for his wife and every member of his household.

I leave that point there. All I want to indicate is that I fully appreciate the concern felt by any man or woman, or organisation, such as the Disablement Income Group—and I pay full tribute to its work. I give full credit to those individuals and organisations who seek to champion the cause of our disabled people. Having said that, however, I want to make it clear that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and every Member of the Government also shares this concern. What is more important,' after listening to the debate I can say that we intend to do something about it as soon as we can. I will deal with that point later.

I now turn to the provisions that we already make for the disabled. I do so because I come across two sorts of criticism of what the country already does for the disabled. One sort—we have had many instances of it during our debate today—is informed and fair; well aware of what is being done and arguing that there is a good case for taking a bigger share of our resources in order to do more for our disabled people. To this sort of criticism Ministers listen with respect, and its strength must inevitably influence a Government's decision on priorities.

The other sort of criticism that I come across involves very little interest in the facts, and it presents a totally misleading impression of what is being done. This distorted criticism helps no one and is unfair to the public. How then are the disabled helped? I think I can best answer that by pointing to their position under various schemes and saying how local authorities assist.

The National Insurance Scheme provides sickness benefit for disabled people incapable of working, and retirement pension for those disabled people beyond working age. Criticism that people who have grown up incapable of working, and therefore incapable of entering into insurance are not covered, ignores the fact that the National Insurance scheme is one in which benefits are provided in return for contributions. Many congenitally disabled people are able to work and able to gain the cover.

Criticism that non-paying married women are not covered at all under the Scheme ignores the fact that married women over 60 are covered by retirement pension through their husband's insurance, and when their husbands are sick, there is an increase in his sickness benefit on their behalf. It is misleading to argue that there is no provision for a wife in the present schemes. However, unless she is insured in her own right the schemes do not provide her with a maintenance benefit in her own right. Provision for her maintenance is through her husband's earnings or, when he is unable to work, through his insurance benefits.

What I have said so far relates mainly to National Insurance cover but this is not the whole story. Considerable help is available to the disabled by way of supplementary benefit. Any disabled married man or single person over the age of 16, who is not in full-time work, is entitled to claim a supplementary allowance to bring his weekly income up to the level of his requirements as laid down by the Ministry of Social Security Act. This level is currently £7 9s. for married couples, plus an addition to cover rent and rates. There are further additions for dependent children. The Supplementary Benefits Commission also recognises that the sick and disabled may need more than the ordinary rate of benefits. For those who have received benefits for two years, there is the long-term addition, increased last October, to 10s. a week.

If a disabled person has not yet qualified for a long-term addition, or if 10s. is not enough to meet his extra expenses, then the Commission makes full use of its power to award additional benefit to cover the cost of a special diet, domestic help, wear and tear on clothing, extra heating and other necessities. At the end of 1967 almost 200,000 sick and disabled people below pension age were receiving additional benefit in these two ways. The Commission also made, in a recent year, 80,000 single payments averaging over £6 to sick or disabled persons below pension age for the replacement of major items, such as bedding or, in certain circumstances, clothing. The supplementary benefits scheme can also help the disabled in other ways, for example by paying a supplementary allowance to a daughter who gives up work to look after a disabled parent who cannot support himself. That is one of the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling).

In November, 1968, there were about 170,000 sick and disabled people under pension age who were receiving supplementary benefit on top of National Insurance sickness benefit or industrial injury benefit and over 150,000 receiving supplementary benefit without National Insurance benefits, of whom a large proportion are people handicapped from birth or early childhood.

The hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Kimball) brought a political approach to his speech. I would remind him that the Government have not let matters stand still over the years, although he suggested that they had. The current rates of the main National Insurance benefits are worth over 11 per cent. more in real terms than when we took over in 1964, while the supplementary benefit provisions are worth over 19 per cent. more in real terms than the National Assistance rates which were applicable when we took office in 1964.

The National Insurance scheme is concerned with disabled people as members of the community who are insured or who are dependants. The Supplementary Benefits scheme is concerned with them as people whose resources fall short of their requirements. The disabled are, therefore, not an isolated group. They are to be found among the old, the sick and the unemployed and, of course, among people who are in full-time employment. That is a realistic approach to disablement in the population at large. The War Pensions and Industrial Injuries schemes approach disablement in a different way, as several hon. Members have explained. Perhaps I should point out at once that the distinction between war and industrial disablement, on the one hand, and general disablement, on the other hand, is not peculiarly British. We are not an isolated country in this respect. Indeed, it is almost universal. All Governments have accepted that there are sound arguments for the preference, and the comparative smallness of the preferential group makes possible a special structure which would not be possible for the population at large.

There are 412,000 war disabled pensioners and 219,000 industrially disabled pensioners. The insured population alone, taking no account of non-working wives, children or elderly people, is about 25 million. The application of a system of compensation on industrial injuries lines to the whole range of disability, major or minor, to which the population of all ages is subject, would cost a very great deal indeed in terms of medical manpower, staff and benefits—though, as I shall show later, we propose to do something to make special provision for the worst disabled of our people.

All in the House would agree that services are certainly not less important than cash benefits. We do a great deal to help those who have lost limbs, through a wide supply of artificial appliances, and to help with mobility—a matter of great importance—over 6,000 motor cars and not far short of 18,000 powered three-wheelers have been issued. All that represents real and significant support for the disabled and, of course, is alongside, where appropriate, the cash benefits which I have mentioned.

I should like to speak briefly about the health and welfare services provided by local authorities.

As hon. Members will be aware, local welfare authorities are empowered to make arrangements for promoting the welfare of persons ordinarily resident in their areas who are blind, deaf or dumb or who are substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity. The services provided by local welfare authorities cover a wide range and the authorities are also charged with the provision of residential accommodation.

Local health authorities have powers which complement those of local welfare authorities. Home help is provided, and here the main effort is directed to the elderly disabled, and there are arrangements for the prevention of illness, for the care of persons suffering from illness and for aftercare. These powers are also exercised in accordance with schemes approved by my right hon. Friend. It can be seen from this brief description that the help available to the disabled locally forms a sound partnership with that provided centrally. I pay tribute to the excellent work of voluntary organisations in supplementing for statutory services.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Dearne Valley said, Governments are expected to listen as well as to act. Listening is often a matter of being attentive to public opinion or to particular sectors of it, and this is particularly true on matters such as cash benefits. On other matters it is useful to have the advice of bodies with specialist knowledge, and there is no shortage of these.

The Secretary of State has an Advisory Committee on the Health and Welfare of Handicapped Persons. This link is important because it is considered that welfare and health should not be treated as separate matters. The Committee includes among its 20 members people with deep knowledge of the various forms of disability. There are, therefore, members connected with the welfare of the blind, the deaf, and the physically handicapped, together with professionally qualified persons, and they form a balanced group representative of a broad span of interests.

I thought that I would spend some time explaining exactly what is now being done for disabled people. As I said, the position is sometimes distorted, although I am not making a political point. We should be aware of the provision we are at present making, although that is not to say that the Government—and this must apply to future Governments—are satisfied with what has been done or with what is being done. Nevertheless, the facts should be known about the provision that now exists for the disabled.

The Government White Paper, to which many hon. Members have referred, proposes that there should be an addition to maintenance benefits for people who are not only unable to work but who are so severely disabled as to be in need of attendance. It is also the Government's intention to pay the attendance allowance in addition to the basic supplementary allowance to help, for example, congenially disabled people who are not insured, by means of the supplementary benefits scheme.

The allowance will also be paid for an uninsured married woman, through her husband's insurance, whether or not her husband is earning. Thus, it will recognise that whether he is earning or is on benefit a man who has a wife who is so severely disabled as to need constant attendance may be worse off financially than the man whose wife is fit and able to make the contribution which a fit wife would normally make to the household. Therefore, we recognise that he should be compensated.

The new constant attendance allowance is designed to fit in to the present National Insurance and Supplementary Benefit schemes as naturally as it will fit into the earnings-related and supplementary benefit schemes of the future. Top priority—and I wish to make this clear because of the frequent reference made to this point—is being given to the planning of a scheme to introduce the allowance and final decisions about the details of the allowance will be taken when facts are available as a result of the Government Social Survey's nationwide study of the chronic sick and disabled in the population. I cannot give a time-table today, but it will not be any longer than is absolutely necessary.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

Could the hon. Gentleman say something about the terms of reference—or do they remain the very vague terms of reference given in reply to a Question from me when it was announced that the Government Social Survey should do this study?

Mr. Pentland

The hon. Gentleman has anticipated what I proposed to say. I shall deal with that, although perhaps more briefly than he expects.

Mr. Dean

Can the hon. Gentleman give us a little more information about when the constant attendance allowance will be introduced? We understand that he will have the results of the study in the spring. Can he give an assurance that it will be introduced when the pension increases are due to operate—in other words, before next winter?

Mr. Pentland

I cannot give that assurance. All that I can say is that the Government are giving top priority to this matter and we shall not delay the introduction of the allowance any longer than is absolutely necessary. My right hon. Friend will be fully aware of the strength of feeling on both sides of the House.

The aim of the Survey is to provide the kind of information which we must have if services for the disabled are to be planned sensibly and in a way which makes the most of the available resources. We hope to learn a great deal about the degrees of handicap from which people suffer, the amount of help they need from others, their experience of the social services, their housing conditions, their financial position, and other things such as the relation of handicap to social background, education and employment. As soon as we have all this evidence gathered together, we can go ahead with making realistic provision for these people.

I come to the details of the Bill. It has a wide scope and pinpoints issues which very much concern us and certainly deserve full debate. I wish I could be as enthusiastic about the effects the Bill would actually achieve. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby said, the hon. Gentleman has left a number of questions about his Bill unanswered.

The purpose of the first Clause I take to be the introduction of a disability pension on an exclusively loss of faculty basis. I realise very well that disability means loss in a variety of ways, but I would ask hon. Members to consider what assessment of loss of faculty for the entire population would mean—in terms of men and money. The disability pension, as the Bill sets it out, would be an alternative to maintenance benefits and would accordingly not help many of the people who might very well need it the most, namely, the severely disabled who are entitled to National Insurance benefits. The beneficiaries under the Bill would be those such as the congenitally disabled, who may already be provided for by the Supplementary Benefits Commission, and uninsured married women of working age—emphasise "of working age". Uninsured married women entitled to retirement pension would be automatically excluded. The pension would also be paid to people with full earnings.

The Bill would also specifically exclude anyone who is already benefiting under the war pensions and industrial injuries special schemes. Thus someone with even the very smallest pension under these schemes would get nothing extra, however severely disabled as the result of some bodily or mental disablement which has nothing to do with his injury at work or war service.

To make matters worse—and surely this could not be intended by the sponsors of the Bill—disabled people who were able to work would qualify for a pension, but if they fell sick and became entitled to sickness benefit they would immediately lose their pension.

The Bill would also provide by Clause 2 for the constant attendance allowance which is payable under the Industrial Injuries Act. [Interruption.] I can hear a good deal of muttering. We have paid full regard to the facts.

Mr. Dean

Surely the Under-Secretary is now talking primarily about the regulations and orders which would be made under the Bill. Most of the arguments he is now putting forward can be taken care of by the Government when they bring forward the detailed regulations and orders.

Mr. Pentland

These are the proposals which are embodied in the Bill and which would automatically become law if the Bill were accepted.

Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)

Surely the proviso would prevent the Minister by regulation from doing the things suggested by the hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean).

Mr. Pentland

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I come back to the question of Clause 2, which would provide for the constant attendance allowance which is payable under the Industrial Injuries Act—one of a complex of benefits provided for those disabled as the result of injury at work—to be extended to people who are in receipt of sickness benefit under the National Insurance scheme and to people who would be entitled to the new disability pension provided by Clause 1. Thus all retirement and widow pensioners under the National Insurance Act who needed constant attendance allowance would be automatically excluded.

If the hon. Member's aim is to provide a benefit for the very severely disabled, whoever they may be and whatever the cause of their disablement, he really does not succeed. Any new benefit of this kind should in equity be available to all those with the same high degree of disablement.

Clause 3 requires local authorities to provide adequate housing for the disabled in their areas, either by designing new houses or by adapting existing ones, and would enable them to build housing for the disabled on hospital land.

But the housing needs which face local authorities are many and varied and there are many groups for whom a case for special treatment might be argued. The Housing Management Sub-Committee which, under the chairmanship of Professor J. B. Cullingworth, is now reviewing the allocation of council houses, has invited evidence on the housing claims of almost twenty special groups, including the disabled, such as ex-Servicemen, redeployed workers, problem families, unsupported mothers, old people and ex-prisoners. While understandably, as I have already indicated, everyone is naturally sympathetic to the housing needs of the disabled, it would clearly be premature until this review is completed to place a statutory obligation upon local authorities to deal especially with one particular facet of housing need.

Now with regard to subsection (3), the question of making hospital authority land available for housing purposes, I would stress that where land is surplus to National Health Service requirements and is available for disposal, it is offered first to other Government Departments and if they do not require it, it is then offered to the local authority which can then use it for housing or any other purposes for which it is responsible. In other words, it is up to the local authority. It has power to submit plans for any purpose it desires.

Clause 4 requires a code of practice to be drawn up and enforced to deal with access of the disabled to public buildings, and really this calls for the sympathy of us all. I have been convinced by, and have great sympathy with, all the people who have called our attention to this problem.

However, a code of practice broadly catering for all the basic requirements set out in subsection (2) of the Clause, save for the one relating to parking, has already been published by the British Standards Institution. Guidance on design matters, as the hon. Member for Eastleigh properly said, has been given to public authorities in a pamphlet published by the Ministry of Public Building and Works and in various Departmental circulars. I can assure the House that the whole subject is being kept under review and further guidance will be given as this becomes necessary.

In its final main proposal the Bill, in Clause 5, directs the setting up of advisory committees on the care and welfare of disabled persons.

The Secretary of State already has an Advisory Committee on the Health and Welfare of Handicapped Persons, and I can assure the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Gordon Campbell) that the Secretary of State for Scotland maintains close links with the work of this Committee; and there are other advisory committees which can advise on specific topics affecting the disabled.

In the Government's view, it would be unrealistic to expect a single advisory committee to give expert advice on all questions relating to care and welfare, that is on the subjects on which we already have a range of expert advice, and also on the very diverse matters dealt with in the Bill. Deciding the range and amounts of cash benefits is, of course—I think this is recognised—the responsibility of Ministers., and, while they must expect to be subject to pressure, they can hardly seek advice in any normal sense of the word.

The Government are unable to support this Bill because, in spite of all the care which has doubtless gone into its preparation—we readily recognise the motives—its provisions are arbitrary, and

would inevitably be very unsatisfactory in practice. The whole problem in the view of the Government, needs far more inquiry and discussion before we can be certain of the best courses of action and specific legislative provisions can be prepared. However, I am sure that the ideas which have come out of this debate will be of value to us in considering our plans for the future.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 76, Noes 112.

Division No. 86.] AYES [3.55 p.m.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Grieve, Percy Onslow, Cranley
Ashley, Jack Gurden, Harold Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Astor, John Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Harris, Reader (Heston) Percival, Ian
Balniel, Lord Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Pink, R. Bonner
Bell, Ronald Hawkins, Paul Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bennett, Or. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Prior, J. M. L.
Biggs-Davison, John Hirst, Geoffrey Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Bossom, Sir Clive Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir avid
Braine, Bernard Hooson, Emlyn Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Hordern, Peter Royle, Anthony
Bullus, Sir Eric Howell, David (Guildford) Russell, Sir Ronald
Campbell, B, (Oldham, w.) Lane, David Sharples, Richard
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Silvester, Frederick
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Sinclair, Sir George
Clegg, Walter Longden, Gilbert Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Costain, A. P. Lubbock, Eric Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) McAdden, Sir Stephen Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Dean, Paul Macdonald, A. H. Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Doughty, Charles Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Vickers, Dame Joan
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maddan, Martin Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Fisher, Nigel Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Gibson-Watt, David Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Glover, Sir Douglas Montgomery, Fergus Mr. Marcus Kimball and
Goodhart, Philip Neave, Airey Mr. Victor Goodhew.
Gresham Cooke, R. Nott, John
Archer, Peter Gardner, Tony Maclcnnan, Robert
Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw) Garrett, W. E. McNamara, J. Kevin
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Ginsburg, David MacPherson, Malcolm
Barnes, Michael Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mallalieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfield, E.)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Grey, Charles (Durham) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mendelson, J. J.
Boyden, James Griffiths, Wilt (Exchange) Mikardo, Ian
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hamling, William Miller, Dr. M. S.
Brooks, Edwin Harper, Joseph Molloy, William
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Hattersley, Roy Morris, John (Aberavon)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Heffer, Eric S. Moyle, Roland
Cattle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hilton, W. S. Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Chapman, Donald Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Murray, Albert
Coe, Denis Howie, W. O'Malley, Brian
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Hoy, James Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Dalyell, Tam Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Dell, Edmund Janner, Sir Barnett Panned, Rt. Hn. Charles
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Driberg, Tom Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Judd, Frank Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Ellis, John Kenyon, Clifford Pentland, Norman
English, Michael Ledger, Ron Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Ernnals, David Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Lestor, Miss Joan Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir Eric (Islington, E.) Luard, Evan Price, William (Rugby)
Fletcher, Raymond (llkeston) McCann, John Rees, Merlyn
Foley, Maurice Maccoll, James Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mackie, John Robertson, John (Paisley)
Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as) Taverne, Dick Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Rodger", William (Stockton) Thomas, Rt. Hn. George Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Roebuck, Roy Thomson, Rt. Hn. George William", Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.) Urwin, T. W. Wilson, WilIiam (Coventry, S.)
Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Wainwright, Edwin (Deame Valley) Winnick, David
Sillkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Wallace, George
Skeffington, Arthur Watkins, David (Consett) TELLERS FOR THE NOFS:
Snow, Julian Weitzman, David Mr. J. D Concannon and
Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Wellbetoved, James Mr. Neil McBride.
Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. White, Mrs. Eirene
Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

On a point of order. Is it in order, on a private Members' day, for the Government specially to bring in almost exactly the number on the payroll so as to defeat this Bill?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.