HC Deb 25 May 1971 vol 818 cc209-10
7. Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now take steps to introduce a disability pension for the registered disabled, in the light of recent representations.

Mr. Dean

I would refer my hon. Friend to the National Insurance Bill now before the House which includes a substantial package of selective improvements for the chronic sick. I am writing to my hon. Friend on the individual case which I believe concerns him.

Mr. Hannam

I thank the Under-Secretary of State for that answer. Would he not accept that, in view of the reports showing that 1,250,000 disabled adults living in private households face disproportionate increases in costs of special diets, equipment and clothing, he should give careful attention to the recommendations of the Disablement Income Group for a national disability pension or income?

Mr. Dean

Yes, that is one of the reasons for the substantial increase in the cash benefits under the National Insurance Bill, and why my right hon. Friend has already assured the House that this is only the first step among other measures which will be taken, both in cash and care, to help this section of the community.

Dr. Summerskill

Could the hon. Gentleman say why the Government felt unable to accept the Amendment of the Opposition which sought to cover disabled married women who have opted out of the National Insurance scheme?

Mr. Dean

Because some of them will be covered already under the Bill. We have made a good start and cannot be expected to do everything at once, but other steps will be taken as soon as possible.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

Would my hon. Friend give particularly favourable consideration to the representations of the Disablement Income Group in regard to a disability income, which would not only bring this country into line with other countries but encourage the long- term unemployed among the disabled to re-enter work and make themselves independent?

Mr. Dean

I assure my hon. Friend and the House that we are urgently considering what other steps to take.