HC Deb 04 December 1973 vol 865 cc1070-1
9. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will seek powers to provide a grant towards the cost of organising a scheme under which families will be asked to provide company and food for pensioners and disabled people who would otherwise be on their own and without a meals service over the Christmas period.

Sir K. Joseph

No additional powers for such a purpose are required. I am sure that local authorities and voluntary organisations are well aware of the need to make suitable arrangements for meals to cover the Christmas period. But company for the elderly and the disabled living alone is a matter on which every citizen can make a contribution and I hope that as many people as possible will take suitable action on their own initiative.

Mr. Janner

Is the Secretary of State aware of the action which Age Concern has taken so very successfully in Leicester of encouraging voluntary help to elderly and disabled people, who are so often lonely and hungry at a time when they should be so happy? If I provide the right hon. Gentleman with full details of this scheme, will he consider encouraging other authorities in other areas to adopt it?

Sir K. Joseph

I am aware of the very many voluntary organisations, including Age Concern, which do continuously admirable work and try to reinforce that work over the Christmas period. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would explain more of what he has in mind by his reference to local authorities, I should be able to consider what he has suggested.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware—I am sure he is—that many severely disabled people will be left on their own well before Christmas if the present chaos in the distribution of petrol continues? What representations has he made to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to ensure adequate petrol supplies not only for disabled drivers but also for disabled passengers—that is, those who are too severely disabled to drive themselves?

Sir K. Joseph

There is very close contact between my Department and the Department of Trade and Industry about the needs of disabled groups for fuel.