HC Deb 18 June 1974 vol 875 cc191-2
11. Mr. George Rodgers

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will make a further statement on the progress made by local authorities in identifying the needs and numbers of disabled persons in their area under the requirements of Section 1 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970.

35. Mr. Weitzman

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will publish statistics of the progress made by each local authority in implementing Section 1 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. Alfred Morris)

Figures published by my predecessor showed the progress made by the former local authorities up to last summer. Effective measurement of progress since then is not a matter of simple statistics, although as soon as possible I shall be publishing figures showing the number of handicapped persons registered with the former local authorities on 31st March last. There has been delay in collating statistics generally this year, due to local goverment reorganisation. I am carrying out a careful study of how best to measure the progress being made, and the problems being faced, by the new local authorities, in the context of their services as a whole for physically handicapped people.

Mr. Rodgers

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree, however, that great tardiness has been shown in the past by many local authorities in compiling the register and even greater reluctance in implementing the terms of the Act? Would it not be wiser if the implementation of the provisions of the Act were less optional?

Mr. Morris

I accept that there have been wide variations in progress. My hon. Friend will accept that I am most anxious both to assist authorities in any way that I can and to monitor the progress being made. I shall make a further statement as soon as possible about my plans.

Mr. Marten

In addition to those two agreeable things, will the hon. Gentleman use the lash on dilatory authorities?

Mr. Morris

I am subjected to conflicting pressures. There are those who say that I should use the lash and those who say that I should point to good practice by local authorities. The fact is that local authorities in many widely differing parts of Britain are applying the Act fully and humanely. I shall be reporting to the House as soon as possible on further steps which we are now considering.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Will my hon. Friend please refute the argument advanced by dilatory authorities that the voluntary organisations work well in their areas and that the authorities therefore need do nothing? The contrary is true. Where there are good voluntary organisations and schemes the local authorities can be pushed into doing good work. Will my hon. Friend look into that matter?

Mr. Morris

I accept what my hon. Friend says. Furthermore, where the local authority is purposeful and progressive it excites a good response from the voluntary organisations. I shall certainly bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said.