HC Deb 27 June 1974 vol 875 cc1717-8
19. Mr. Ralph Howell

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the percentage of the population of Northern Ireland who are maintained by supplementary benefits; and how this compares with the percentage for the United Kingdom generally.

Mr. Orme

In April 1974, the latest date for which United Kingdom figures are available, about 101,000 people in Northern Ireland—6.5 per cent. of the population—were receiving supplementary benefits. It is estimated that those benefits took into account the requirements of about 184,000 persons, including the recipients themselves—11.9 per cent. of the population.

The corresponding figures for the United Kingdom were 2,855,000, or 5.1 per cent. and 4,427,000, or 7.9 per cent.

Mr. Howell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that under the present tax and social security system many people, particularly those with large families, cannot afford to get a job? Is he further aware that so long as this state of affairs continues it will be impossible to bring the troubles in Ireland to an end, because so many people have time on their hands and the State is just paying for them to do nothing?

Mr. Orme

I, and many Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies who have fought so long for full employment in industry in Northern Ireland, take that remark as an insult to both communities in the Province. The same conditions exist there as in the rest of the United Kingdom.

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