HC Deb 19 July 1977 vol 935 cc1368-9
11. Mrs. Hayman

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many of the recommendations of the Finer Committee have been implemented by his Department since the publication of its report in July 1974.

Mr. Deakins

Nineteeen in full and one in part.

Mrs. Hayman

Is my hon. Friend aware that that is not a very good record, considering that there were 230 recommendations? Can he tell the House what the thinking of his Department is at the moment, particularly about long-term financial support for one-parent families? Is he aware that, welcome though the El supplement to child benefit is, it is not a long-term solution to the poverty of one-parent families? What thought is being given to a new scheme, a possible extension of the widowed mother's allowance?

Mr. Deakins

Many of the recommendations in the report related to the details concerning major concepts. In rejecting the idea of a guaranteed maintenance allowance, 54 recommendations—64 to 117—were rejected. All these related to one specific issue. Many of the other recommendations concern local authorities and social services. The speed with which they can be implemented depends on the availability of resources. A number of the remaining recommendations are for other Government Departments and some have been implemented. Help for one-parent families has to be considered in the context of financial help generally for poor people and families. We shall have to wait and see what resources will become available.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Can the hon. Gentleman try to find out whether he can get other Government Departments and his own to implement those proposals which require neither legislation nor extra finance?

Mr. Deakins

In my Department we have implemented the recommendations which do not require legislation. There are one or two more which we are still considering. There were fewer recommendations concerning other Departments, and a number of these recommendations have been implemented. A number of the major ones, concerning family courts and so on, have not been implemented and, I believe, are not likely to be implemented. They would require legislation.