HC Deb 02 February 1971 vol 810 c1435
1. Sir B. Rhys Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now seek powers to introduce a positive allowance for blind people whose incomes are not sufficient to enable them to take full advantage of the tax allowance for the blind.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. Paul Dean)

There are already a number of schemes which provide benefits for blind people with low incomes, and we have no plans at present for a special scheme on the lines my hon. Friend suggests. As he knows, the Government have the problems of disabled people generally very much in mind.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

Whilst I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him to bear in mind that the benefit of tax allowance for the blind is available only to the better off and that it is not possible for those who are really destitute to take advantage of it? Would he think again about making it a positive payment?

Mr. Dean

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. I can assure him that the attendance allowance which is to begin shortly is only the first of a series of measures which the Government are planning to help the disabled.

Mr. Ashley

Would not the Minister agree that a very important principle is at stake because very poor blind people need more financial assistance than those who pay taxes? Would he not also agree that the same principle should apply to all disabled people?

Mr. Dean

I thank the hon. Gentleman for those points. I am sure that he will realise that most of them are matters for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.