HC Deb 22 January 1974 vol 867 cc1424-5
6. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the operation of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.

Mr. Alison

So far as the Act relates to matters within the responsibility of my Department, we are satisfied that local authorities are generally making good progress with its implementation, bearing in mind inevitable resource constraints.

Mr. Molloy

I acknowledge that the hon. Gentleman is doing his best to see that this first-class Act is implemented properly, but is he aware that some local authorities are laggards, with no sense of responsibility or compassion? Will the hon. Gentleman chase up those authorities and also consider holding a conference of voluntary organisations and local authorities to see what can be done to put pressure on local authorities which are not answering the call of the Act in the way they should?

Mr. Alison

The hon. Gentleman should furnish the House with specific details of individual authorities which are falling short. He will recall that Parliament placed the implementation of the Act squarely upon the shoulders of local government, and there are local electors who can visit upon those laggard authorities the proper judgment.

Dame Irene Ward

Is it not time that my hon. Friend's Department let the House of Commons know which local authorities are not implementing the Act in the way we should like it implemented? I am getting a bit tired of local authorities who, having been given a wonderful Act to help the chronically sick and disabled, do not take advantage of it. We ought to know the local authorities which are failing.

Mr. Alison

My right hon. Friend gave some information to the House on 25th July 1973 about four authorities that had at that time failed fully to implement Section 1 of the Act, but I am glad to say that those authorities have now taken steps to fulfil their obligations.

Mr. Carter-Jones

When an assessment centre run by a regional hospital board proves that a family needs to be rehoused or to be coped with and told how to live together, if the local authority fails to carry out the recommendations of the assessment centre will my hon. Friend publicly condemn that local authority?

Mr. Alison

The hon. Gentleman, with his extensive knowledge of the needs of the handicapped and of local government, will I think, on reflection, agree that local authorities have a vast number of pressing and extremely worthy calls for the assistance of the handicapped upon their limited resources, and that it would be invidious to select one particular case without going fully into the background.

Mr. Astor

Will my hon. Friend say what central Government funds have been allocated to local authorities to help them implement the Act and whether he is satisfied that the money is being used to the full in this way?

Mr. Alison

Not, I regret, without notice, but I will gladly do so if my hon. Friend will put down a Question. He will know that a great deal of the revenue money comes through the generalised rate support grant negotiations.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Is the Minister aware that the figures published by his right hon. Friend for 1972–73 reveal some shocking variations in local provision? In contrast to the backsliders, there have been many superb achievements by local authorities. Therefore, in the light of the Secretary of State's figures, what action is the Minister taking to lift the general standard to the level of the existing best?

Mr. Alison

We had a recent debate on this subject in which the comparative league table showed how dangerous it was to draw rapid and superficial conclusions from some of these statistics. I remind the hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) that in terms of the legislation he sponsored the House was clearly determined to place responsibility on local government, and hence on local electorates, for the discharge of the duty laid upon them by this Act.