HC Deb 10 November 1970 vol 806 cc193-5
34. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the total cost to date to public funds of supplementary benefits paid to the families of men involved in the council workers' strike, and of administrative arrangements necessitated by such payments.

Sir K. Joseph

Supplementary benefit payments to the families of local authority manual workers engaged in the dispute totalled approximately £75,000 up to 3rd November. I regret that administrative costs cannot be calculated.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

That is a formidable sum. Does my right hon. Friend recall the Chancellor's appeal to the public to stand up to blackmail from inflationary wage demands? Would he not agree that one does not need to have the vested interests in inflation of a Jack Scamp—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—to feel that it is difficult to stand up to blackmail when one is being required to subsidise that blackmail?

Sir K. Joseph

My hon. Friend has already been told this afternoon that the Government are considering all the interrelated problems involved in this subject.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Could the right hon. Gentleman suggest to his hon. Friend that he should not make allegations of that kind in the Chamber against a well-known public servant? Would he also consider very carefully the fact that taxation has been paid by those involved for supplementary benefit and that they therefore have an entitlement to it?

Sir K. Joseph

The hon. Lady must recognise that there are large areas of public disquiet in this whole subject.

Mr. Rose

In view of the vindication of the council workers' claim, would it not be more appropriate for the hon. Gentleman to ask what amount of money was spent on engaging private contractors during this period? Would the right hon. Gentleman affirm that the Government do not intend to punish the families of those involved in trade disputes and so attach a stigma to a dispute which may have arisen for a variety of causes?

Sir K. Joseph

We are studying the whole of this subject. It is certainly no part of the Government's policy to cause any risk at all to children.

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