HC Deb 25 May 1976 vol 912 cc256-7
9. Mr. Moonman

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will seek to discover how many local authorities have suspended implementation of Section 1 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970; and if he will now make a statement.

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

I have no evidence that any local authority has suspended implementation of Section 1 of the Act. The annual returns show that all authorities in England have been increasing the numbers registered, and my officials are in constant touch with authorities in relation to all matters affecting the personal social services. I shall have my hon. Friend's suggestion in mind when I review the returns for 1975–76.

Mr. Moonman

Will my hon. Friend confirm that it applies to the mentally sick? Is it not something of a scandal that we have been waiting for the Doctor Brown report, which has prompted very little initiative from the Government and local authorities? Should not this have been taken up?

Mr. Morris

My hon. Friend has a distinguished record of service to the mentally handicapped. Where appropriate, the Act applies to the mentally handicapped and the mentally ill as much as it applies to the physically handicapped and the physically ill.

My Department is considering the first draft of the Dr. Malcolm Brown report which was received earlier this month. It deals with administrative action taken by local authorities in 1971–72 to inform themselves of the number of disabled people. I intend to lay a copy of the report in the Library at the earliest possible date.

Mrs. Chalker

Is the Minister aware of the Outset organisation's surveys of compliance with Part I of the Act? Is it not sensible to proceed with the services under Part I now, so that in better economic times we may put Part II into practice?

Mr. Morris

I am very much aware of the Outset surveys. I pay the warmest possible tribute to Nicholas Blake and his colleagues in that organisation. We must do all we can to identify all severely handicapped people. I could give the figures of severely disabled people who have already been identified. Enormous progress has been made recently.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Is my hon. Friend aware that in its 1976–77 budget the Knowsley Council, in my area, has made no provision for Section 2 of the Act for aids and adaptions for disabled and handicapped people? Does he take the same serious and shocked view that I do of this? Will he take default powers, to ensure that the local authority complies with the law?

Mr. Morris

There is another Question about Section 2 of the Act on the Order Paper. I am prepared to give urgent consideration to the point raised by my hon. Friend.

Mrs. Bain

Will the Minister bear in mind that even where people have already been identified by local authorities, many of them are affected by cutbacks in public expenditure, which have resulted in cut-backs in essential lifeline services, such as home helps?

Mr. Morris

The current economic situation is extremely difficult for local authorities. I am doing my best to emphasise that priority should be given to the claims of disabled people. I hope that all hon. Members will do what they can in their localities to emphasise the needs of the disabled.

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