HC Deb 27 January 1969 vol 776 cc936-7
37. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has now completed his study of a social security scheme to aid those who are disabled from any cause whatsoever; and if he will make a statement.

50. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, in preparing the Government's plans for reshaping the system of social security, he will give special attention to the position of disabled people; and if he will now make a statement.

Mr. Crossman

We cannot complete our plans until we have the information which is lacking at present of the numbers, needs and financial circumstances of severely disabled people. This we shall be getting from the current Government survey. Meanwhile, I would ask hon. Members to await the Government's White Paper which is being published tomorrow and which will set out the kind of provision we have in mind.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Since the Government pledged themselves to produce a scheme as long ago as 1964 and rejected the very helpful Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Gordon Campbell), which the Minister himself opposed, are not the Government behaving with extraordinary callousness to the plight of 150,000 citizens who are not within this insurance scheme, who have no help of any kind and who are disabled?

Mr. Crossman

No, I would not say that. It was an unfair question with unfair imputations. What the Government are doing is to have the first adequate survey made of the problem of disablement. It is no good the hon. Member giving figures. No one knows the numbers, the degree of disablement or the extent of the problem. What we have said is that we cannot pass Bills to deal with a problem before we have studied it adequately.

Mr. Lane

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us, roughly, in what month of this year he hopes to publish the results of the survey?

Mr. Crossman

I am hopeful of having it published in the summer. I hope to get some access to it for use in the Department a month or two earlier. It is a major report, which will take a few weeks to publish.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Can the Minister say, since the Opposition are continually asking the Government to cut down on all forms of expenditure, including social security, whether, if any of these schemes they are pressing for are put into operation, the Opposition will not complain that the Government are again wasting money? Have they given him any assurance?

Mr. Crossman

It is not the kind of assurance we would expect from the opposite side of the House. I agree with my hon. Friend that any suggestion for a brand new insurance scheme covering all disabled people, grading them and giving them cash benefits would be an enormously expensive addition to our social security system.