HC Deb 27 January 1969 vol 776 cc928-9
22. Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will conduct a survey to ascertain to what extent, if any, the current levels of social security benefits exceed earnings from employment in lower wage occupations.

Mr. Crossman

We expect to get some information about this from the inquiry now being planned into the circumstances of families.

Mr. Biffen

While in no way questioning the present level of social security benefits, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware that, in many low-wage rural occupations, there is a widespread belief that it barely pays to work? In these circumstances, will he make representations to his Cabinet colleagues about the utter folly of referring farm workers' wages to the National Board for Prices and Incomes?

Mr. Crossman

The last point of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question seems to be somewhat remote from the first.

Mr. Barnes

Having carried out the original survey into the circumstances of families in 1966, is it not possible to carry out a limited piece of research annually to obtain a quick check on the current position? Could not this be done at a limited cost and so avoid the need for a major survey every few years?

Mr. Crossman

There is a great deal in what my hon. Friend says. In fact, I have been disappointed with how much things are now out of date compared with the 1966 survey. I am trying to make sure that what we are now doing lays the basis for a regular report, which is what we really need.