HC Deb 06 February 1973 vol 850 cc212-3
12. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received from the Disablement Income Group and if he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

I have received a number of representations regarding the group's criticisms of certain aspects of the Social Security Bill. As amendments have now been tabled by hon. Members which deal with those points, there will be opportunities for a full discussion in Standing Committee.

Mr. Ashley

Why does not the Secretary of State admit that he is guilty of gross discrimination against 488,000 disabled housewives whom he regards as second-class members of a second-class sex, since he does not even offer a gallant excuse for neglecting them? Instead of waffling about the plight of these women, like a miser trying to explain his poverty, why does not the right hon. Gentleman say frankly whether disabled housewives will get a disability income from the present Government or whether they will have to wait for the next Administration to take office?

Sir K. Joseph

If I were to make a political speech, as the hon. Gentleman has just done, I would assert that the present Government have done far more for the disabled than any previous Government. But since I am not making a political speech, I repeat that there will be ample opportunity in Committee for these points to be debated.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the progress which has been made in helping the disabled. There is a strong body of opinion on both sides of the House in favour of doing more. Will he consider publishing a Green Paper setting out his views on the way in which DIG's principal objective, namely the introduction of a regular disablement income, might be implemented and showing the costs and technical problems involved?

Sir K. Joseph

I remember with some trepidation that I am due to address a meeting of DIG in May.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Is the Minister aware that many of its adherents feel that DIG has not been offered anything like meaningful consultation? Will he say what are his immediate proposals for giving a basic and assured income to the very large number of disabled housewives?

Sir K. Joseph

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I met two representatives of DIG towards the end of last year to discuss the difficult question of priorities for the disabled. The Government are intensely aware not only of how much has been done but of how much still remains to be done for the disabled.

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