HC Deb 29 January 1975 vol 885 cc562-9

11.45 p.m.

Mr. Boscawen

I beg to move Amendment No. 9, in page 7, line 12, leave out from 'employed' to end of line 15.

The Opposition welcome the clause. It is a small innovation in terms of cash, but it does something that has long been needed for a very small group of people—namely, those devoted daughters and nieces, and friends we hope, who have looked after a parent or a disabled relative over many years at great cost and even hardship to themselves.

We have some reservations about the clause and the delay in bringing this in. As the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Carter-Jones) said so well in Committee, devoted daughters in their thousands are giving their services now. Now their needs should be recognised. They should get their benefit straight away.

The amendment seeks to ensure that the benefit does not go only to the blood relation. We want to see it go to those few cases where a person, living perhaps next door or in the same house, is looking after a friend who is most severely disabled. The Bill enables the Secretary of State to say who will receive the benefit. We understood in Committee that the Minister of State was prepared to take another look at the clause to see whether he could produce a more precise definition of those eligible. Will the benefit be restricted to blood relations or will it be extended to friends who care for severely disabled persons.

In some respects the act of the friend could be even more noble than that of the devoted daughter who has given up so much for so many years to look after a parent. That point was made in Committee by the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Rodgers). To leave out this smaller group of people would be most undesirable. We are sorry that since the Minister said in Committee he would look at the matter again he has not come up with an amendment to meet the point.

Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Price) offered the best description when he said that there had been a lack of generosity between the Front Benches today. I hope we can repair that omission now by having the amendment accepted.

Mr. Alfred Morris

I understand the importance that the hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Boscawen) attaches to his amendment. In Committee my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary said that we should look at this proposition again before the Report stage.

I think that there is very little difference between us on this. The important words are "at the outset". We say that those who are referred to as relatives are the first who will benefit. The hon. Gentleman referred to the "devoted daughters in their thousands" who give service to disabled parents. I recall being pressed in the House last year by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight), who has taken a great interest in this matter, to accept the case of the National Council for the Single Woman and Her Dependants. I said then that we would look at the possibility of introducing an allowance for these stay-at-home daughters. However, there are also stay-at-home sons who have to give up paid employment to look after a disabled relative.

When I said that there was very little difference between us on this matter I did so because we are not entirely excluding from the allowance the people to whom the hon. Member referred. We are saying that at the outset we shall be making the allowance payable to certain people who are close relatives.

I could go at some length into the reasons for the position we have adopted. We have carefully considered whether ICA should be extended to non-relatives from the very beginning. However well-meaning the intention behind the amendment, and however great our sympathy for the people involved, we must face the facts. ICA, like the non-contributory invalidity pension for disabled housewives, is a brand-new, untried benefit. It is without precedent. We do not have a settled pattern of administration to guide us. We do not know how it will work out in practice, or what our initial intake of claims for relatives will be, how many claims will entail detailed inquiries, or how many will give rise to continuing payment.

It is precisely because of those problems that we want to start on a proper administrative—

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

The hon. Gentleman's present arguments are good reasons for introducing the allowance at the same time as the other benefits. Then the Department would gain the experience on which to build. The Minister would be meeting the important point raised by the Council for the Single Woman and Her Dependants, which wants the allowance now, when the other benefit is coming in.

Mr. Morris

Does the hon. Lady mean the non-contributory invalidity pension for disabled housewives?

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman


Mr. Morris

There are different administrative problems in paying the two benefits. I said earlier that we want no avoidable delay in making the new benefits available.

I have read the comments made in Standing Committee by Conservative Members. I ask the hon. Member for Wells to accept that there is not much difference between us, and that we are starting in the way we propose simply to ensure that we give the new allowance a good send-off, without inviting unnecessary and avoidable administrative problems at the beginning.

Mr. Boscawen

I should have liked to say that we were pleased with the Minister's answer, but we are not. It is very disappointing. The hon. Gentleman is not making the new benefit payable for another two years. He has plenty of time to work out administrative methods of meeting the problems faced by both the near relatives and the friends. There

Division No. 79] AYES [11.55 p.m.
Arnold, Tom Hawkins, Paul Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Atkins, Rt Hon H.(Spelthorne) Hayhoe, Barney Paisley, Rev Ian
Awdry, Daniel Henderson, Douglas Pardoe, John
Baker, Kenneth Holland, Philip Parkinson, Cecil
Banks, Robert Hooson, Emlyn Pattie, Geoffrey
Benyon, W. Hordern, Peter Penhaligon, David
Berry, Hon Anthony Howell Ralph (North Norfolk) Percival, Ian
Biffen, John Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hurd, Douglas Price, David (Eastleigh)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Bradford, Rev Robert Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Raison, Timothy
Brotherton, Michael James, David Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Reid, George
Budgen, Nick Jopling, Michael Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Bulmer, Esmond Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Carson, John King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Kirk, Peter Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Kitson, Sir Timothy Rilklnd, Malcolm
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Knox, David Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Cockcroft, John Lamont, Norman Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Langford-Holt, Sir John Ross, William (Londonderry)
Cope, John Latham, Michael (Melton) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Corrie, John Lawrence, Ivan Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Crouch, David Lawson, Nigel Sainsbury, Tim
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Le Marchant, Spencer Scott, Nicholas
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Luce, Richard Scott-Hopkins, James
Dunlop, John McCrindle, Robert Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Dykes, Hugh McCusker, H. Shelton, William (Streatham)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Macfarlane, Neil Shepherd, Colin
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) MacGregor, John Shersby, Michael
Elliott, Sir William Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Silvester, Fred
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Sims, Roger
Eyre, Reginald McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Fairgrieve, Russell Mates, Michael Spicer, Michael (S. Worcester)
Fisher, Sir Nigel Mather, Carol Stanbrook, Ivor
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stanley, John
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Meyer, Sir Anthony Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Miscampbell, Norman Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Goodhart, Philip Moate, Roger Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Goodhew, Victor Molyneaux, James Tebbit, Norman
Goodlad, Alasiair Monro, Hector Temple-Morris, Peter
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) More, Jasper (Ludlow) Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Morgan, Geraint Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Gray, Hamish Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Thompson, George
Grist, Ian Mudd, David Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Grylls, Michael Neave, Airey Townsend, Cyril D.
Hall, Sir John Nelson, Anthony Tugendhat, Christopher
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Neubert, Michael Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Newton, Tony Viggers, Peter
Hannam, John Onslow, Cranley Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek

can be no difference in giving the benefit to a friend looking after a severely disabled person, whether that friend is a resident in the same house or in the very close neighbourhood. We do not see that there is any administrative difficulty.

The Minister's answer is unsatisfactory. I had hoped that the amendment would be accepted and that there would be no need to divide the House, but in the light of what the hon. Gentleman has said I ask my hon. Friends to support the amendment in the Lobbies.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 168, Noes 198.

Watt, Hamish Wigley, Dafydd
Weatherill, Bernard Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Wells, John Winterton, Nicholas Mr. John Stradling Thomas and
Welsh, Andrew Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton) Mr. Adam Butler.
Wiggin, Jerry
Allaun, Frank Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Anderson, Donald George, Bruce Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Armstrong, Ernest Gilbert, Dr John Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Ashley, Jack Golding, John Newens, Stanley
Ashton, Joe Gould, Bryan Noble, Mike
Atkinson, Norman Gourlay, Harry Oakes, Gordon
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Graham, Ted Ogden, Eric
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel Grant, George (Morpeth) O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian
Bates, Alf Grant, John (Islington C) Ovenden, John
Bean, R. E. Grocott, Bruce Owen, Dr David
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Hamling, William Palmer, Arthur
Bishop, E. S. Hardy, Peter Parry, Robert
Blenkinsop, Arthur Harper, Joseph Pavitt, Laurie
Boardman, H. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Phipps, Dr Colin
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Hatton, Frank Radice, Giles
Bradley, Tom Hayman, Mrs Helene Richardson, Miss Jo
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hooley, Frank Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Horam, John Roderick, Caerwyn
Buchan, Norman Hoyle, Douglas (Nelson) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Buchanan, Richard Huckfield, Les Rooker, J. W.
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Rowlands, Ted
Campbell, Ian Hughes, Roy (Newport) Sandelson, Neville
Canavan, Dennis Hunter, Adam Sedgemore, Brian
Carter-Jones, Lewis Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Cartwright, John Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcasle C)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Clemitson, Ivor Jackson, Miss M. (Lincoln) Sillars, James
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Janner, Greville Silverman, Julius
Coleman, Donald Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Skinner, Dennis
Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen Jeger, Mrs Lena Snape, Peter
Conlan, Bernard Johnson, James (Hull West) Spearing, Nigel
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Spriggs, Leslie
Corbett, Robin Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Stallard, A. W.
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Stewart, Rt Hn M. (Fulham)
Crawshaw, Richard Judd, Frank Stoddart, David
Cronin, John Kerr, Russell Stott, Roger
Cryer, Bob Kilroy-Silk, Robert Swain, Thomas
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Lambie, David Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Lamborn, Harry Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Dalyell, Tam Lamond, James Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Leadbitter, Ted Tinn, James
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Tomlinson, John
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Dempsey, James Loyden, Eddie Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Doig, Peter Luard, Evan Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Dormand, J. D. Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Ward, Michael
Douglas-Mann, Bruce McElhone, Frank Watkinson, John
Dunn, James A. MacFarquhar, Roderick Weetch, Ken
Dunnett, Jack McGuire, Michael (Ince) Wellbeloved, James
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Eadie, Alex Madden, Max White, James (Pollock)
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Magee, Bryan Whitehead, Phillip
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Maguire, Frank (Fermanagh) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Mahon, Simon Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
English, Michael Marks, Kenneth Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Marquand, David Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Evans, John (Newton) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Woodall, Alec
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mikardo, Ian Woof, Robert
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W) Millan, Bruce Wrigglesworth, Ian
Flannery, Martin Miller, Dr M. S. (E. Kilbrlde) Young, David (Bolton E)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ford, Ben Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Mr. James Hamilton and
Forrester, John Molloy, William Mr. Thomas Cox.

Question accordingly negatived.

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