HC Deb 29 June 1976 vol 914 cc178-9
6. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he next proposes to meet representatives of the TUC in connection with social benefits payable in respect of children.

Mr. Ennals

Provision of social benefits for children is one of the items included within the continuing discussions between the Government and the TUC on the social contract and on pay policy.

Mr. Marten

After yesterday's retreat by the Government over social benefits for children, will the Secretary of State make it clear to the TUC that support for families with children was better under the Conservatives?

Mr. Ennals

In the House last night I dealt not so much with the failure of the Government, but with the failure of the Opposition to put forward any constructive policy or to table a motion yesterday. I also said in the debate that we deeply regretted the fact that the promises on family allowances made by the previous Government in 1970 were absolutely ignored during their four years in office.

Mrs. Hayman

When discussing the child benefit scheme with the TUC in the future, will the Government, instead of looking at only the negative aspect of transfer, discuss the positive value of the scheme? Will they explain the value of the scheme to members of the TUC and other people whom the Government appear to think will be put off by the transfer?

Mr. Ennals

I agree with my hon. Friend's every word. One of the principal purposes of the working party consisting of the Government, the Labour Party and the TUC, will be to ensure that all who believe in child benefits and the social benefit that follows from it will become involved in seeking to see that people throughout the country understand the implications of it. That is a vital educational task, which must be fulfilled.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Will the Secretary of State even now, after he has published all the six Regulations for his own miserable scheme, look at the figures contained in the precise proposals that I put to him last night to see whether he can achieve the advantages for the really poor to which his hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn and Hatfield (Mrs. Hayman) just referred?

Mr. Ennals

As I said yesterday, apart from the errors of calculation made by the right hon. Gentleman in the ideas that he floated, he did not deal with the problem of take-home pay. When he refers to my "miserable scheme" he should know that, unlike his party when in government, this Government are fulfilling their commitment to bring benefits to the first child.