HC Deb 05 February 1976 vol 904 cc1390-1
1. Mr. Peter Bottomley

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the TUC and CBI for increased family benefits.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Joel Barnett)

None in recent months, no doubt because there is general support for the new child benefit scheme, which is due to start in April 1977.

Mr. Bottomley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the child benefit scheme does nothing for one-parent families who are in receipt of supplementary benefit and that the introduction in October 1977 of an allowance for the first child will be far too late? Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that when the son of this incomes policy is put together during the next three or four months the interests of those 14 million parents and 14 million children, who amount to over half the population of this country, are taken into account just as much as the TUC's 10 million?

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is just as well that the hon. Gentleman is asking the first Question. It is not fair to the House if we have long supplementary questions.

Mr. Barnett

We shall take everything into account in coming to our views in the next round of the incomes policy.

Mrs. Hayman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that April 1977 will be too late to help those children who are cold and hungry this winter? Will he look at the supplementary benefit scale with a view to helping the poorest families as soon as possible?

Mr. Barnett

I appreciate my hon. Friend's long-standing interest in this matter. However,.it is a matter not for me but for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. I am sure that she will take careful note of my hon. Friend's view.

Mr. Beith

Does the right hon. Gentleman regard the reviewing of tax thresholds in relation to any increase in family benefits as at least as important? Does he recognise that those who are not in receipt of benefit and who are on low earnings compare unfavourably when most of any increase in their low earnings is taken in tax?

Mr. Barnett

We are certainly aware of the problem and we shall also look at tax thresholds.

Mr. David Howell

How much longer will the Minister tolerate a situation in which a man who has two children and who earns £45 a week can take home less money than if he had stayed out of work in the first place?

Mr. Barnett

The hon. Gentleman overstates the case. There is only a small number of such people.