HC Deb 13 June 1972 vol 838 cc1247-50
18. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of States for Social Services what was the total amount spent by the West Riding County Council in applying the provisions of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act in 1971–72; how much this represents per person in the West Riding; and how this compares with average expenditure per head by other welfare authorities.

Mr. Alison

This information is not available.

Mr. Hardy

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the West Riding and a number of other authorities are not spending anywhere near sufficient on providing for the chronically sick and disabled? Would he consider issuing a circular urgently to the more niggardly authorities, to ensure that their stringent attitude is changed to one of much greater generosity?

Mr. Alison

The hon. Gentleman knows, I think, that my Department's responsibility lies only in respect of the provision of services under Section 2 of the Act. Financial returns on this limited basis are no indication of the extent of an authority's provision for the disabled. It may be, for example, that housing or health provision bears directly on the needs of the disabled but does not necessarily follow the figure of expenditure under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.

Mr. Evelyn King

Could my hon. Friend elaborate on the statement that this information is not available? I should have thought that it clearly is. I believe that what he means is that he has not got it from the local authority. Is there not here something of a point of principle—that, although we may on different sides of the House disagree on policy, we would all agree that we are entitled to information? In many social services there is an increasing tendency for Ministers to decline to give information which clearly is available if they ask the local authorities.

Mr. Alison

As it happens, the information is not available for 1971–72, but I will pursue my hon. Friend's point further in correspondence with him.

Mr. Alfred Morris

If the hon. Gentleman wants the information, will he consult the Institute of Municipal Treasurers? Is he aware that full comparative information on the implementation of the Act would be warmly welcomed by all the voluntary organisations in this field? Is it not utterly wrong that chronically sick and even severely disabled people should still be treated well or badly according to which side of a local authority boundary they live?

Mr. Alison

The hon. Gentleman must recognise that the Act, in which he played a substantial part in terms of authorship, along with many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House, deliberately left the disposition of expenditure in the matter of the Act to local authorities.

20. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he now intends to take to ensure that all local authorities in England and Wales follow up on a house-to-house basis comprehensive surveys into eligibility for assistance under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.

32. Mr. Alfred Morris

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what replies he has now received from local authorities on their implementation of Section 1 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, 1970; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Alison

I cannot yet add to my reply to the hon. Members for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) and Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) on 16th May, but I expect to be able to do so before the House rises for the Summer Recess.—[Vol. 837, c. 67–8].

Mr. Judd

Although many local authorities, often in collaboration with voluntary agencies, have arranged a most comprehensive distribution of information about the Act, would the Under-secretary agree that without a house-to-house follow-up of the kind I have suggested there is a serious danger that the most needy cases will fall through the net?

Mr. Alison

We shall want to judge what has been done in the light of returns from all the authorities concerned. The hon. Gentleman may know that my Department is producing centrally a booklet which will supplement even more widely the efforts which local authorities are making.

Mr. Morris

Has the Under-Secretary seen the excellent report produced by the social services department of the City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne? Will he arrange for this report to be seen by other authorities and inform the House of the outcome of his inquiries at the earliest possible date?

Mr. Alison

I shall certainly inform the House as soon as we have the fullest possible number of returns from local authorities. The widespread publicity given to the Newcastle project and the natural desire of local authorities to compare notes and to know what is happening in the field would make it unnecessary formally to draw the attention of local authorities to that particular project.