HC Deb 12 June 1980 vol 986 cc820-82 4.17 pm
Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

I beg to move, That this House, aware of the desire of disabled people to live independent lives in their own homes and of the economic advantages for the nation of allowing them to do so, deplores the Government's planned reduction in personal social services ; rejects the Government's decision to reduce the living standards of large numbers of the poorest disabled people by cutting the value of invalidity benefit by at least 5 per cent. from November ; and calls upon the Government to reverse policies that conflict with their manifesto commitments to the disabled and which are both self-defeating and inhumane. The House is often said to be at its best when discussing the problems of the least fortunate in our society and, by common consent, this debate is about people who are among the poorest and most vulnerable in Britain today. It is a debate that we have provided for in Opposition time and, if anyone thinks the debate is long overdue, let me emphasise that it would not be taking place at all if it had been left to the Government to arrange.

We have three main purposes in the debate. First, we want to put it to the House and to the country that being mean to disabled people—many of this Government's policies are studiedly mean—is self-defeating as well as inhumane. Secondly, we want to make clear our contempt for a Government who give higher priority to tax cuts for the strong and fortunate—indeed to those at the very top of the income scales—than to protecting even the invalidity benefits of people who are below the tax threshold and whose working lives have been cut short by long-term sickness and disability.

Thirdly, we wish to challenge the Government to answer questions which so far they have either avoided or evaded. For example, are the cuts that hurt the disabled reluctantly imposed by the Government as a sad necessity, as the Secretary of State seems to say, or are they welcomed as a matter of important principle, as the Minister with responsibility for the disabled seems to insist? "Difficult, unpopular and unpalatable" was the Secretary of State's description of the cut in invalidity benefit for hundreds of thousands of disabled people. Yet the Minister with responsibility for the disabled seems not only to find it palatable but to delight in rebuking people who, although they may use stronger and more fitting language than the Secretary of State, agree with his right hon. Friend in criticising this very shabby cut. Will the Minister at least go as far as his right hon. Friend's criticism of the cut and describe it as "unpalatable"?

As the motion says, disabled people mostly wish to live in their own homes ; and there are economic advantages to the nation in helping them to do so. That is why it is so utterly wrong that spending on some of the most essential services for the disabled should be cut by proportionately more than other services. If the Minister questions the scale and severity of cuts in the personal social services as they affect disabled people, let him consult the reports of the very disturbing surveys undertaken by the Association of Directors of Social Services, the Personal Social Services Council, the Spastics Society and other widely respected organisations that have been studying what has been happening since this Government came to power. Even the CBI, in a report of a county survey, has talked of cuts that cause real hardship.

The findings of all these surveys form a devastating analysis of the effects of the cuts on chronically sick and disabled persons. In analysing what are the Government's unkindest cuts of all, they make the most damning indictment of Government policy. The surveys report cuts in spending on home adaptations, on home helps, on meals-on-wheels, on telephones for home-bound disabled people who are at risk, and on the provision of holidays that can relieve stress on families as well as enrich the lives of disabled people.

At the conference of the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR), which he and I addressed on 21 May, the Minister said that he wanted disabled persons to have an annual holiday under the provisions of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act. He nods his assent today. What action is he taking, then, against those who are placing disabled people and their families under increasing strain by cutting back on the provision of holidays under the Act?

A passage from the report of one of the surveys sticks in my mind particularly. It said that staff cuts at old people's homes in one locality meant that some elderly disabled people would be unable to get up at weekends, as there is no one to dress them. Does our economic survival really depend on causing humiliation and distress to elderly disabled people in this way? In another locality, the mayor's carol concert had to be cancelled because of the cuts. Even the unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge might have taken exception to that. Although Essex's rates are 5p below the national average, and it spends 12 per cent. less on its social services than the average shire county, disabled people in Essex are faced with the payment of 25p a day for attendance at day centres. Is that acceptable to the Minister?

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

As always, I have followed the right hon. Gentleman's remarks carefully and with the greatest sympathy and respect. But does he really help his case by over-stating it? If a mayor's carol concert was abandoned because of the cuts, there is something wrong with that mayor. He should have been able, by way of some other funds, a charity or good will, not to have deprived those people. The right hon. Gentleman should not exaggerate.

Mr. Morris

I am not exaggerating. I am quoting from the report of an important survey that was undertaken by the Association of Directors of Social Services. The directors reported faithfully what has been happening in localities throughout Britain. The case that I quoted was by no means an exception to the rule of vicious cuts as disclosed in the report. I agree with the hon. Member that many of these cuts beggar description. But the House of Commons should be fully aware of what is happening. If a charge of 25p a day in Essex is not acceptable to the right hon. Gentleman, what action did he take after Peter Large of RADAR drew it to his attention in his important letter of 3 June? Is the Minister aware that the proposed charge has been bitterly condemned in the county as being more akin to the morals of robbing the poor box than to any well-considered policy of a modern political party? Will he now say unequivocally in this debate that he regards the proposed charge by Essex county council as unacceptable and morally indefensible?

In a parliamentary reply on 2 May, the right hon. Gentleman said that he had already made it clear to local authorities that he expected— … priority to be given to the needs of the seriously disabled, even at a time of great financial stringency."—[Official Report, 2 May 1980 ; Vol. 983, c. 720.] Every study of cuts in personal social services has shown that many local councils looked for quick savings and, in the words of the Personal Social Services Council, there is … little evidence of any attempt to protect vulnerable groups including the seriously disabled. That may look like straight defiance of the Minister, but will not the offending local authorities reply that he is the very last person to ask for priority for the disabled in times of financial stringency? They may well ask what sort of priority he is giving to disabled people who live below the tax threshold on invalidity benefit? The answer is that, from November, he is cutting their living standards by at least 5 per cent. in a brutal act of discrimination against disabled people. So how can he possibly expect anyone to take him seriously?

The Minister's total lack of credibility is self-inflicted. Speaking in the House of Commons as a Labour Minister only a few years ago he said : …if sacrifices are to be borne, the broadest backs must bear the heaviest sacrifices."—[Official Report, 15 March 1974; Vol. 870, c. 622.] Now he says, as a Minister in the present Government : The disabled cannot expect to be exempted from the sacrifices necessary… Either he was wrong before or he is wrong now. If he was walking upright before, he is walking on his head now—and that can be a very compromising posture. What he must not try to claim is that he was right then and that he is still right now, first, because his two statements, imply deeply contradictory philosophies, and, secondly, because no one will believe him.

By saying that the disabled cannot expect to be exempted from sacrifices, the Minister implies that everyone, including the disabled, is carrying an equal burden under the present Government. Yet that is palpably untrue. While cutting the services and cash help available to the disabled, the Government have crammed £1,500 million into the pockets of the richest 7 per cent. of taxpayers. That is not equality of sacrifice. It is barefaced bias in favour of the strong and fortunate at the expense of many of the most unfortunate people in our society.

I referred earlier to the letter sent to the Minister on behalf of RADAR by Peter Targe on 3 June. In that letter Mr. Large strongly repudiated the Minister's claim that disabled people were being asked to bear … burdens equal to everyone else. He told the Minister that reductions in benefits for the disabled, allied to increases in VAT on essential aids, appliances and services—which non-disabled people do not need—and an inflation rate of more than 20 per cent., made a mockery of the Minister's claim about equal burdens. He went on to say that disabled people are, in fact, hit twice by the Government's policies : … once as ordinary citizens and a second time on account of their disabilities. RADAR is not the only major organisation to make that point. The report of the Spastics Society's recent survey says, and I quote from the June 1980 issue of "Spastics News" : … rising food prices, increased rent and rates, higher charges for gas, electricity, fares and petrol are hitting the handicapped harder than anyone else in the community. Some of the effects of this in individual cases are spelt out in the report. I invite the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) to listen to these examples. We are told, for example, of the case of the 76-year-old mother doing the washing by hand for her doubly incontinent 45-year-old son because she cannot afford a washing machine. Then there is the 50-year-old woman in a wheelchair, living alone, frightened of the central heating bills and having to borrow money from the home help to pay for the shopping.

The Minister must not, therefore, try to claim that he is only in dispute with the Labour movement. He has been criticised by one national organisation after another and with increasing stridency. The Royal Association, for example, has today issued a check list of no fewer than 17 Government attacks on the disabled. He has also been strongly criticised by individuals who have to live with the consequences of his policy. I ask him to listen, for example, to the view of the father of a spina bifida child. In the opinion column of the journal of the Association of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, the father said that the Minister … ought to be fighting for a more humane and caring society, not encouraging a selfish one. That is a very bitter comment. There is a similar comment from a hard-pressed woman who wrote recently to her Member of Parliament about the Minister's decision to cut the value of invalidity benefit. She wrote : My husband is 44 and disabled by multiple sclerosis. He is a very sick man and yet his invalidity benefit is to be cut by at least 5 per cent. I wonder if Mrs. Thatcher knows, or understands, the burden of an incurable illness on a poor family. If she does, why add to our punishment? That is not a letter in which the right hon. Gentleman or the Prime Minister can take any pride. Nor can they take any pride or pleasure in the Disablement Income Group's description of what they have done as not just "appalling" but "cruelly unfair".

This is a Government who kick people if they are down. What makes it even harder for the victims to take that treatment is that the Government's spokesman in this debate is a man who, for more than a generation, argued the Socialist case that, especially in times of economic difficulty, the broadest backs must bear the biggest burdens. He is now an apologist for a Government who pile extra burdens even on people with broken backs. That is why the disabled and their organisations speak so bitterly.

Voluntary organisations, so blandly assumed by the Secretary of State to be able to step into the breach, cannot possibly make good the cuts inflicted by the Government. They are being starved of funds locally as local authorities cut their grants and as more and more people tighten their belts because of rampant inflation.

At the election, the Secretary of State said : … charities would benefit as people found that they had more money to give to the charity of their choice after tax cuts. That comment looks pretty sick today, yet the voluntary sector is exhorted to play an ever-greater role with ever-decreasing funds.

In their election manifesto the Conservative Party promised to concentrate help on the sick and disabled and others in greatest need. In office, the Government have gone out of their way to cut the living standards of hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people who, as well as being poor, have little prospect of ever returning to work. They are mostly very worried people.

A further worry for many disabled people and their families is that the Government may be planning to abolish the 3 per cent. employment quota at a time when job prospects for the unemployed but employable disabled are becoming more and more daunting. May we have a plain assurance from the Minister that the quota will not be abolished?

One other very big worry is the statement made by the Secretary of State for Education and Science about his White Paper on the form that new legislation might take to deal with the recommendations of the Warnock committee. In his statement, the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave the impression that he thought that the majority of the Warnock proposals were addressed not to him but to local authorities.

I have been asked by many, including Professor Peter Mittler, to seek a clear assurance that the Government will not shuffle off their responsibilities. Effective implementation of the Warnock proposals will depend very heavily on Government encouragement. Unless the Government take a clear stand, matters will drift on and the level of provision will suffer drastically in many parts of the country. When he replies, I hope that the Minister will address himself to this deeply important matter for disabled children and their families.

Labour's manifesto commitments to the disabled were more than fully met by the previous Labour Government. Indeed, that Government went very much further than the terms of their commitments in improving both the well-being and the status of the disabled in contemporary society. As was made clear in a recent parliamentary reply, the Labour Government increased their spending on cash help specifically for the chronically sick and disabled from £474 million when they came to office in 1974 to £1,574 million in 1979. That was an increase of £1,100 million.

Again, spending on centrally financed services for the disabled almost trebled. In real terms, they were very substantial improvements and they were achieved in economic conditions of great dfficulty. If the right hon. Gentleman doubts that, he should read again some of his speeches as a Labour Minister in the previous Government.

It is because we did even more than we were pledged to do that we are now entitled to condemn the flat contradiction between the Government's manifesto commitments and the policy that they are now pursuing. We are also entitled to compare what they are doing with the continuing progress that there would have been if the previous Labour Govenment had stayed in office.

We were pledged in our manifesto last May to introduce a new and comprehensive benefit for the disabled that would vary according to the severity of their disabilities and that would specifically include the blind.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

Hear, hear.

Mr. Morris

A consultative document was being prepared on the new benefit even before the election. As Ministers have no access to the papers of their predecessors, I can assure Conservative Ministers and the House that a great deal of valuable work had been done on what would have been an important document for the disabled.

That work was immediately discontinued by the present Government, who claimed that no resources would be available in the foreseeable future for any new benefit for the disabled.

Since then the Government have cultivated two myths in their response to almost all the representations that they have received from or on behalf of the disabled. The first myth is that they inherited an economic mess from the Labour Government, whereas the fact is that the mess is very much of their own making. They know, as we do, that the Government inherited from Labour an economy that, even by their own criteria, was in much better shape than any economy that a Labour Government have taken over from a Conservative Administration.

The Government inherited an economy in which industrial output was high. Inflation was only half what it is now. It was 3 per cent. lower than when the Tories left office and only 1 per cent. above the average for the major industrial countries. Borrowing as a percentage of output was well below the average for other European countries. Unemployment had been falling for 18 months. Living standards had risen by nearly 8 per cent. over the previous year.

So let the Government stop trying to pass the buck. The buck is theirs. They are faced with their own economic mess, and it is a mess that will worsen if they adhere to the disastrous policies that they are now pursuing.

The second Tory myth is that the Government's purpose in trying to tackle inflation, which gets worse every day, is to protect the old, the sick and the disabled. On 22 May, when speaking on the Social Security (No. 1) Bill, the Minister had the temerity to say in this House : Therefore, when we put the fight against inflation as our top priority, we are doing it, above all, on behalf of the pensioners, the widows, the chronic sick and others in greatest need."—[Official Report, 22 May 1980 ; Vol. 985, c. 815.] That argument, as the Personal Social Services Council has said in a report to be published next month, but from which happily I may quote this afternoon, is at best a half-truth. Indeed, it is barely a quarter-truth. No one denies that the disabled are especially vulnerable to rising costs. But the implication that the options can be reduced to a straight choice between cutting social benefits or economic disaster is essentially false.

The PSSC's report goes on to stress that the Government have made provision for growth in services such as defence and law and order and for more modest cuts in other services, and that it is thus : … quite unreasonable that the personal social services should be given the lowest priority. If the Government's main concern had been to protect the old, the sick and the disabled, they would not have smashed the link forged by Labour's Social Security Act 1975 between social benefits and earnings. Nor would they be cutting invalidity benefit from November even for sick and disabled people who are well below the tax threshold. One does not prove one's concern for people by putting them at the top of one's hit list.

The truth is that, under this Government, the claims of the old, the sick and the disabled, come well below those of the top taxpayers. The right hon. Gentleman knows that there are facts galore to prove that proposition.

The Labour Party also pledged in its manifesto at the last election to work for the fuller implementation of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. It is now 10 years since my Bill received the Royal Assent. The Bill became law entirely without party animus. Indeed, it won the active support of both sides of both Houses of Parliament. It was a Bill designed to improve not only the well-being but also the status of long-term sick and disabled people in contemporary society. Millions have been helped by its provisions, directly or indirectly, since it was enacted in 1970.

To give just two brief details about services provided under section 2 of the Act, more than 100,000 telephones have been installed in the homes of disabled people and well over 300,000 home adaptations have been made, ranging from a ramp or a stair lift to a complete extra room. I do not, however, want to catalogue the Act's achievements today. My concern is rather to ensure that the battle for full implementation of all the Act's provisions is won.

In this regard, it is disturbing to note the comments of Mr. Peter Westland, who is responsible for social services at the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and who spoke immediately after the right hon. Gentleman at RADAR's meeting on 21 May. Mr. Westland said : We have heard this afternoon the usual Ministerial plea ' Don't blame central Government for local aberrations ; we have told local authorities to protect the most vulnerable.' The most vulnerable, of course, alter to fit the Minister's audience. At the same time, Ministers cut the estimates for the personal social services by 7 per cent. This is sheer double-talk. The facile advice to local government by Ministers, at a succession of meetings, is something which local government really ought not to tolerate for very much longer… To attribute to us the moral decisions which the government is backing out of is really not acceptable and ought to be rejected totally. I am now often asked about the advice that I received on the legal effect of the Act when I was Minister for the Disabled. It was quite unequivocal. Once a local authority has accepted that the need exists in respect of one of the services listed in section 2, it is incumbent upon the authority to make arrangements to meet that need. Furthermore I was advised, as I said in a public speech at Ebbw Vale in 1977, that services provided under section 2 may not be withdrawn if there is no reduction of need. Again, as the Ombudsman made plain in 1976, successive Ministers have been advised legally that a local authority cannot plead lack of money as a reason for not meeting need under the Act.

Some local authorities, no doubt because of this Government's deplorable attitude to the personal social services, now appear to be flouting the law. The Director of Social Services for the borough of Trafford wrote to Mr. Paul Walker, the executive director of the Muscular Dystrophy Group of Great Britain, to say : I am sorry to tell you that there is no money available for the provision of this lift during the current financial year…it became necessary to call a halt to all aids and adaptations to avoid overspending on the budget. Whilst I have every sympathy for this particular case, I very much regret that there is no further action that I can usefully take during this financial year". The case was that of a boy with muscular dystrophy whose father had already had a heart attack from carrying him up and down stairs. The case was publicised in the Manchester Evening News and the following day, the Trafford lottery awarded the local branch of the Muscular Dystrophy Group £1,100 for the provision of the lift.

When the case was referred to him, the Minister replied that the need had been met and so the local authority was not breaking the law, although presumably the general policy still stood leaving many others with unmet needs.

This Government have given several well-informed people the impression that they have decided to apply a self-denying ordinance never to use their default powers. If Ministers have so decided, I am advised that they themselves may be acting illegally.

What the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act is all about is enabling disabled people to be a part of and not apart from society. It is about helping them to live in their own homes. To frustrate the Act's central purpose is to face many disabled people with the biggest cut of all, that of being cut off from the families they love. For them Tory freedom, as practised by some local authorities, can mean having to sacrifice their independence because of so-called economies on the aids necessary to keep them in the community.

Giving disabled people the right help in the right place at the right time is as much in the interests of taxpayers and ratepayers as it is of the beneficiaries themselves. What so often happens if disabled people lack adequate financial support and services is that they are forced into hospitals or other kinds of institutional care. And it costs a great deal more to look after them there than it does to help them to look after themselves at home.

That was one important justification for the Labour Government's rapid and substantial increase in spending on disabled people. It also explains why the present Government's policies are so widely feared and resented among disabled people.

Mr. Jack Hanson, the Director of Social Services for Dorset, said in a letter to The Times earlier this year that, as cuts in public expenditure on the personal social services began to bite, there would be many instances of home adaptations for disabled people being delayed or refused. He went on : The risk of breakdown, leading to expensive health care not only for the disabled individual but also for other members of the family, is heightened. Is this what society wants? It seems far more constructive—and cost effective—for social policies to aim at strengthening families rather than tearing them apart. "Tearing families apart" is perhaps the gravest charge to have been made against the Government. Yet Mr. Hanson was not writing from any political viewpoint. His pen is that of a socially concerned public servant of wide experience in the field of helping disabled and other disadvantaged people.

He knows, as I do, and as the House as a whole should know, that some of the Government's actions are shortening the horizons, humbling the ambitions and demeaning the dignity of disabled people. That is morally wrong ; and it cannot be politically right. It is also extremely sad and disturbing—and an issue that warrants support for our motion from all parts of the House.

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weathe rill)

Order. Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

4.47 pm
The Minister for Social Security (Mr. Reg Prentice)

I beg to move, to leave out from "so" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof : recognises that, as two of the largest spending programmes, Social Security and Health and Personal Social Services must make some contribution to the inescapable reduction in public spending required by the economic situation inherited by the Government last year ; welcomes the valuable and increasing services for disabled people provided by the voluntary sector ; and looks forward to the Government giving a high priority to improving services and support for disabled people when additional resources become available.". The problems of disabled people have been discussed in the House on many occasions in recent years. A general feature of them is that the debates have been bipartisan, with right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House with concern and experience in these problems joining together in trying to find a joint answer to them. It is very sad that the Opposition have seen fit to put on the Order Paper a contentious motion, apparently leading to a Division, moved in the exaggerated language to which the House has just listened.

The bipartisan approach still prevails throughout the country. It prevails on dozens of social services committees of local authorities on which members of all parties work together without party division. It prevails—and I am glad that it does—on the all-party disablement group of this House, in which right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House work together in co-operation and without partisanship.

I put it to the Opposition that, whatever pressure they are under from militant elements outside the House to step up their attacks on the Government, if they make pawns of disabled people they are doing a disservice to them. It is a matter of very great regret that they have gone down this road.

Let us look at the two main points in the Opposition motion. The first is the reference to the 5 per cent. abatement in what otherwise would have been the uprating for invalidity benefit next November. I shall discuss it fairly briefly as hon. Members will not want to go over the debates that took place when the Social Security (No. 2) Bill was before the House recently.

I have described the proposal in language similar to that of my right hon. Friend and other hon. Members. My notes were prepared before I came into the Chamber, and they contain the word "unpalatable". It is a word that I have used many times. This proposal and others in that Bill were unpalatable to all of us but were a necessary part in reducing social security expenditure under the Government's economic strategy. As such they were accepted by the House by a large majority, and are now being debated in another place.

The specific proposals for a 5 per cent. abatement in the uprating of invalidity and other benefits were seen and described as temporary expedients until we can introduce a proper system of taxation for those benefits. My right hon. Friend has given assurances that we see the abatement as temporary, and it will be changed when circumstances alter.

Dr. M. S. Miller (East Kilbride)

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, even in a time of economic stringency, some services should not be cut? How can he justify cutting these services while supporting increased defence expenditure?

Mr. Prentice

I could make a long speech about why I support increases in defence expenditure, particularly in view of what has happened in Afghanistan. However, I shall not do so now. The choice of cuts in the social security budget was difficult. They were made with great sensitivity, avoiding unnecessary hardship to the poorest in the community.

The Opposition motion refers to the Government's decision to reduce the living standards of large numbers of the poorest disabled people". That is not true. The poorest disabled people are eligible for supplementary benefits, which will be uprated in November, without the 5 per cent. abatement, in line with the expected rise in prices. That safety net remains immune. In addition, disabled people in receipt of supplementary benefit will now be able to move from the short-term to the long-term in one year instead of two. They will also get the benefit of the much higher levels of assistance with fuel costs, announced in recent weeks. Making calculations based on the merging of the middle and upper rate of benefit and on the very much higher upper rate of £3.40 a week, many disabled people will benefit to the extent of £78 a year. The poorest disabled people are better off as a result of the measures taken by this Government than they would have been under the arrangements that we inherited.

Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)

Local authorities such as Essex, by increasing charges, for instance, for those attending day care centres, and spending that money on telephone charges, are hitting the very poorest, and that is a result of this Government's policies. If the hon. Gentleman does not want the poorest to be treated in that way, will he say that he disagrees with the policy of the Essex county council and other local authorities?

Mr. Prentice

No, Sir. The hon. Gentleman's intervention had nothing to do with what I was saying. I shall come to the role of local authorities and the implementation of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act. I was dealing with invalidity pensioners and state benefits.

The power to make charges has been part of the legal provision since 1948. Many local authorities have made charges. However, they also have the power to remit or reduce them for those with the lowest incomes. I hope that, if local authorities see fit to impose charges for, say, attendance at an occupational therapy centre, they will be sensitive to the position of those on the lowest incomes in order to make sure that people are not prevented from getting the services that they need. I believe that 99½ per cent. of councillors throughout the country would agree with that view.

Mr. Lewis Carter-Jones (Eccles)

I may have to re-write my speech in the light of the right hon. Gentleman's answer. The hon. Lady the Under-Secretary of State states clearly in a letter that the Supplementary Benefits Commission will not meet the extra cost of home helps. That is a real cut. Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that that decision no longer stands?

Mr. Prentice

There never can be a situation where automatically the Supplementary Benefits Commission is expected to pay for a service that local authorities do not pay for. There can never be total integration. We have made our view clear. Local authorities should not make charges for home helps for people on supplementary benefit. The hon. Gentleman's intervention gives me the chance to reiterate that.

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) concentrated most of his speech on the other element of the motion. The key words are the Government's planned reduction in personal social services". There has been no overall planned reduction by local authorities so far. It is unfair for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen, for party political reasons, to raise anxieties among vulnerable people. Nothing that the right hon. Gentleman said provided evidence that there was a planned reduction. I was waiting for evidence to support what he said in The Times yesterday, when he spoke of a 7 per cent. planned reduction in expenditure. He referred to that figure in his speech.

Let us put the matter in perspective. The Government have asked local authorities throughout Britain to rein back on their original spending plans and play their part in saving public expenditure. Within the social services budget there is often scope for savings that will not affect services to the vulnerable individual. For example, North-hamptonshire county council plans to make a reduction in its headquarters staff in order to administer services more economically. It plans a modest charge for attendance centres, similar to that suggested for Essex, but has decided to maintain in every particular the services available to the chronically sick and disabled.

It is typical of local authorities throughout Britain that the county council has reflected the repeated requests of my right hon. Friend, my colleagues in the Department and myself to avoid cuts that would affect the most vulnerable—not that I think that they needed to be asked, because councillors are just as committed and concerned as is any hon. Member.

Mr. Alfred Morris

When I used the figure of 7 per cent., I was quoting Mr. Peter Westland, who is an expert on social services with the AMA. That was the figure that he gave at the RADAR conference at which the Minister spoke. In the London borough of Redbridge, part of which is represented by the Secretary of State, there is a charge for home helps for those on supplementary benefit. The Minister has said that he is in total disagreement with such action. Will he advise his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to go to Redbridge and repudiate that authority's action?

Mr. Prentice

If what the right hon. Gentleman says is correct, I shall have a word with my right hon. Friend. If it is not correct, I shall have another word with the right hon. Gentleman. If we believe in local government, and I should have thought that every democrat does so, we must accept that there will be variations. It is easy, but unfair, to conduct such a debate by generalising from the worst examples.

I turn to the overall picture. The 7 per cent. figure was extracted from last year's public expenditure White Paper. Anyone who has studied the history of such White Papers will recognise the simple truth of what Treasury spokesmen have said under all Governments, namely, that figures written into such White Papers, particularly those relating to local government expenditure, do not reflect policy or even Estimates. They are working assumptions of what it is felt is likely to happen.

We can now look at what has happened. The real level of expenditure on personal social services in 1979–80 rose by about 3 per cent. compared with the previous year. If one wants to make a party point, that year was approximately the first 12 months during which the Government were in office.

The figures for local authority projects for 1980–81 show a further increase. I say that with caution, because we are still in the first quarter of that financial year and in a demand-led service one cannot tell what has been spent until the year is over.

However, at present, I can say with some confidence that there will be some increase—I do not want to put a figure on it—in 1980–81. In other words, what has happened in the recent past is happening now and is likely to happen in the near future is a modest increase—not as much as most of us would want to see in an ideal world—in the provision made by local authorities for those with whom the debate is concerned.

Mr. David Ennals (Norwich, North)

Is the right hon. Gentleman rewriting the White Paper published in November, or is he saying that there are some new figures, different from those in the White Paper, which are being studied by the Select Committee?

Mr. Prentice

Anyone who has studied public expenditure White Papers over the years, irrespective of which party has been in office, will realise that many figures turn out to have been wrong. That is even more likely when the Treasury writes in figures related to policies implemented by local government rather than by central Government. Obviously the Cabinet has a more direct control over the central Government expenditure. I am stating the present picture as accurately as I can. The facts contradict the Opposition motion.

The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act has been a success story. I have often paid tribute to the part that the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe played in the inception of the Act and I am glad to repeat the tribute, though he will agree that there were members of all political parties in the House on his original list of sponsors, that the proposal was accepted with universal support in both Houses and that the implementation of the Act over the past 10 years has been carried out under Governments and local authorities of both parties. It is a success story which reflects credit on, above all, local government.

If we have to play party games in these matters, and I wish that we did not, I can say that the fastest increase in the growth of provision under the Act took place during the period of office of the Conservative Government of the early 1970s. The increases in the three years following 1971 were 11 per cent. 17 per cent. and 15 per cent. In the five years of the succeeding Labour Government, when the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe was the Minister responsible for the disabled, the increase was 10.7 per cent.—less in five years than in any one of three successive years of the Conservative Government. Therefore, the Opposition are not entitled to put on their usual act of pretending to have a monopoly of compassion in these matters.

Of course, much more is needed. The Act proclaimed standards that it would take many years to realise in practice. Indeed, they have not yet been realised. There is a long way to go. I repeat the Government's total commitment to continue to make a progressive success of the implementation of the Act. We are as committed to it as have been any Government of either party in the past 10 years.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

If that is the case, can the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House why his party opposed the modest amendments to the Act that I proposed in a Private Member's Bill?

Mr. Prentice

I shall gladly do so if the right hon. Gentleman, who held office in the previous Government, will explain why that had to be done in a Private Member's Bill.

Amendments have been suggested from both sides of the argument. The Association of County Councils has suggested an amendment that would lessen the reserve powers of the central Government in relation to the activities of local government. The association has not pressed that suggestion in recent months and I assure the House that we have no proposal for an amendment along those lines in the forseeable future.

The intention of the right hon. Member for Salford. West (Mr. Orme) was to strengthen the power of the central Government over local government. I would vigorously resist such a move. The increase in the provision of services over the past 10 years—they have almost doubled in real terms—has been basically a triumph for local government. I do not believe that Ministers and civil servants in London are better able to deal with the detailed problems of Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool or Salisbury.

There would have to be local administration and a director of social services in every locality in any case. I do not believe that the service would be better if those officials were simply district officers of the DHSS. It is much better that they should be responsible to locally elected councils. If we accept local government, we must accept that there will be variations and that there will be bad examples as well as good examples. Generally, I think that the better local authorities have acted as pacemakers for the others, and that is a healthy situation.

If it were a uniform, national service there might be less variation, but I believe that the average provision would be worse and such a system would be a blow to the democratic principles in which we all believe.

Mr. Carter-Jones

I agree with much of what the right hon. Gentleman has said and I share the view that, as far as possible, local authorities ought to be allowed to run their own affairs. The best is the enemy of the good in this area. However, would he not consider intervening when an abysmally bad local authority completely ignored the needs of the disabled?

Mr. Prentice

If, to quote the hon. Gentleman, a local authority is completely ignoring the needs of the disabled, it is in breach of a statutory duty and there are default powers that can be used. I have had no need in recent years to make increased use of default powers. On the other hand, if one is in a grey area where local authorities are not thought to be doing well enough but are not necessarily in breach of a statutory duty, this is surely what local democracy is all about. Local councillors are responsible to local communities. People within those communities can make their views clear and, if necessary, elect different councillors. This relates to the subject we are discussing or any other responsibility of local government.

We are discussing a period of time in which provision, in real terms, has approximately doubled. The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe gave some examples. I should like to give more. In terms of personal aids for the disabled individual, at the beginning of the decade about 118,000 had been issued. The latest figure available is 237,000, twice as many. In terms of homes to which structural alterations have been made, the figures have moved from 28,000 a decade ago to 68,000. The number of occupational therapists employed by local authorities was almost nil 10 years ago. Today there are over 500. Many authorities are trying to make new appointments but find that not enough trained people are available. This progress is continuing because of the overall figures that I quoted to the House.

A debate on disablement could cover a great many other topics. I want to refer to some. The Opposition speak as though the Government have been working against the interests of the disabled. I should like to list a few of the achievements that we have made in spite of overall economic restraints. I have already mentioned two achievements—the large improvement in help with paying fuel bills, and the fact that people were moved from the short-term rate of supplementary benefit to the long-term rate in one year instead of two.

A third achievement has been the raising of the mobility allowance by a total of 45 per cent. in the two upratings announced by this Government. Fourthly, there was the phasing in of the mobility allowance for people aged between 60 and 65 in one tranche instead of two as proposed by the outgoing Government and more rapidly than they had proposed. Fifthly, there was the removal of value added tax from cars leased by Motability, and, sixthly, the exemption of war widows' pension from income tax.

Seventhly, there has been an improvement in war pensions appeal tribunal procedures. Eighthly, there has been an extension of war pension entitlement to amputees who developed cardio vascular disease. Ninthly, there are proposals, still in a consultative form but published, to alter and improve the industrial injuries scheme so that a greater part of the benefit goes to the most severely disabled. It will be carried out on a nil cost basis and reallocated in a fairer way for the severely disabled. Tenthly, changes were announced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Budget to help charities, many of whom do invaluable work in helping disabled people.

Five further achievements include maintenance of the real value of grants made by the Department to the voluntary bodies and an increase in the real value of joint funding schemes between the Health Service and local authorities. I have recently initiated work in discussions with British Airways and aircraft manufacturers to improve facilities for disabled people travelling with airlines. There has been continued progress on access to buildings in close consultations between the Department, the Department of the Environment and the committee on restrictions against disabled people. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has accepted proposals of the Warnock committee for handicapped children.

The "Fit for Work" campaign launched by the Manpower Services Commission is supported actively and personally by Ministers in the Department of Employment, the Department of Industry and the Department I represent. Thousands of employers have been reached with the message that they could do more to offer employment to disabled people who have a contribution to make to production in this country.

Those are 15 examples—I could give more—but none was mentioned by the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe. The right hon. Gentleman is totally oblivious of the real world in which he lives : Alfred goes on burning the cakes.

To those who ask whether this is good enough, my reply is that of course it is not good enough. We never have done enough for disabled people. We can and must do a great deal more. That is why the Government amendment, in its closing words, speaks of giving a high priority to improving services and support for disabled people when additional resources become available. That is a pledge in the clearest terms. It is probably the best among many good reasons for making sure that this country earns more resources so that we can carry it out.

Several hon. Members rose——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Before calling the next speaker, I remind the House that the debate is due to end at about 7 pm. Many right hon. and hon. Members wish to speak. I have no auth ority to limit speeches, but speeches of not more than 10 minutes will enable most people to be called.

5.17 pm
Mr. Jack Ashley (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

We have just heard a speech that will discourage, depress and dismay many disabled people all over Britain. It was one of the most remarkable speeches that I have ever heard. All those disabled people who see reports of the speech will find it incredible that the Minister contrived to make it appear as if the Government were acting like Santa Claus for the disabled—the man in the red cloak with the white beard handing out gifts to disabled people. It is remarkable how the Minister could distort the facts. Disabled people will be incredulous that he could make a case defending cuts in their living standards.

It does not matter what excuses are made. The fact is that the right hon. Gentleman is an instrument of a Government making a complete and far-reaching change in policy towards the disabled. When the right hon. Gentleman speaks of the all-party approach, I regret that such an approach cannot be maintained. The hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) has done as much for disabled people as any hon. Member on the Conservative side of the House and, indeed, in the whole House of Commons. We have worked together in the all-party group. The Minister is the man responsible for breaking the bi-partisan approach. The change in policy is not the fault, as he states, of militants who are seeking to stoke up the fires. Those people who walked with me yesterday did not really walk. They were pushed, they were carried, They were wheeled. They were not Trots. They were not Reds under the bed. They were simply disabled people expressing their concern about Government policy. That is quite different from what the Minister stated, that they were militants. Perhaps I was duped. Perhaps they had come from Russia and wiped the snow off demonstration. Perhaps I am not deaf, but blind, and could not see the snow on their boots. Possibly they were KGB agents—but I do not think so. The demonstrators spoke to me during and after the march.

The Minister said that the demonstration was phoney. I arrived at the demonstration at 10.45 am, before most people. At that time a man in a wheelchair had arrived from Wales. He had left home at 6.30 am and was driven to London with his young son. He had taken all that trouble to be present at the demonstration against the Government's policy towards the disabled. He planned to return home to Wales that night, and he would have arrived home exhausted after a day in London. There was nothing phoney about that.

I met a group of young spastics. Their bodies were shaking uncontrollably. Most of them could not speak. There was nothing phoney about them.

I told a group of blind men what the Minister had said in Westminster Hall. Most of the blind people were indignant, but one was not. He smiled rather sadly, handed me his white stick and said "Tell Reg Prentice that there is nothing phoney about that".

The charge that militants are stirring up trouble about the Government's policy on the disabled is totally unjustified. I repudiate the Minister's assertion that the demonstration was phoney. It was not a large demonstration, and I should have liked to see more there, but it was genuine and sincere. The Minister should be more careful before making wild allegations.

The Minister's speech revealed a striking failure to appreciate the appalling problems of severely disabled people. If he wants to argue about what disablement really means I am prepared to argue with him. However, I wonder whether he really understands the burden, the difficulties, the heartbreak, the humiliation, the frustration and, above all, the costs of disablement. Cuts in any service for disabled people are doubly damaging. They are far more damaging than similar cuts in services to able-bodied people. That is why disabled people are speaking out clearly and strongly.

How can one tell a paralysed man who is imprisoned in a wheelchair that he must accept his share of the nation's economic burden? How can one tell a badly crippled housewife that she must accept the philosophy of everybody standing on his own two feet? How can one indicate to a mentally handicapped child that if he is patient social services will be improved as the balance of payments improve?

Disabled people have been buffeted throughout the ages. They have been the victims of public neglect, indifference, disdain, scorn and even contempt. From time immemorial they have heard excuses about the inability to act now. There is always a reason why they cannot be helped now. Sometimes the excuse is that more research is necessary, or that more anomalies will be created. Sometimes it is that improvements to their lot will deprive other deserving cases. Sometimes the excuse is the state of the economy. Clichés roll of the tongues of Government spokesmen.

Under the Labour Government massive increases in benefits were given to the disabled. I do not want to bore the House with figures. Four major benefits were given and over £1,000 million was paid out in cash benefits. I am prepared to use the statistical argument, but I do not want to. The Minister went through a list of 15 benefits for the disabled which his Government had granted. I can beat that with 16 damaging actions by his Government. I did not intend to read the list because I wanted to make a short speech, but I must give tit for tat. One of the many failings in my character is that I cannot turn the other cheek when attacked. In exchange for the 15 examples of the beneficial effects of the Government's policies, I shall provide 16 aspects of policy which damage disabled people. I could give more.

The first damaging action is the breaking of the link between benefits and the rise in earnings. The second is the 5 per cent. cut in invalidity benefit. The third is the change in the linking period to make it more difficult to qualify for invalidity benefit. The fourth is the increase in VAT from 8 to 15 per cent., which hits disabled people with small incomes, in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

The fifth damaging action is the increase in prescription charges from 20p to £1. The sixth is the abolition of exceptional needs payment for disabled people who are not drawing supplementary benefit. The seventh is the failure to make good the shortfall in benefits arising from the miscalculation of the rise in earnings and prices. The eighth is the reduction in the long-term rates of supplementary benefit.

The ninth damaging action is the abolition of the additional supplementary benefit to pay for a local authority home help. The tenth is the abolition of earnings-related supplements to sickness benefit. The eleventh is the abolition of space standards for council housing—the Parker Morris standards—which will make houses even less accessible for wheelchairs. The twelfth is the removal of the duty on local authorities to report proposals for wheelchair and mobility housing.

The thirteenth damaging action is the reduction in the number of skillcentre places. The fourteenth is the abolition of occupational guidance units. The fifteenth is the failure to provide money for integrated education. The sixteenth is the reduction by 7 per cent. in planned expenditure on personal social services.

I am sorry to have rushed through that list, but we were challenged by the Minister. I am indebted to Mr. Peter Mitchell the splendid research officer of RADAR, for help with that list.

I do not like this tit-for-tat argument. We must try to get down to the nub of the problem, which is how we can best help disabled people. How can we, between us, somehow further the solution of their problem? It is a question of the attitude of the Government. I am fed up with the repetition of the phrase—the right hon. Gentleman repeated it today—that members of the Opposition do not have a monopoly of compassion. The House will know that I have a special interest in the safety of drugs. I have been pursuing that question for almost five years on the issue of reporting adverse reactions and on the work of the Committee on Safety of Medicines.

We had a debate on that subject a few weeks ago, and the Under-Secretary, who I hope will answer this debate, managed to drag in the same irrelevant phrase. He said that I must not believe that I had a monopoly of compassion. I have never claimed that. I raised the question with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury about six months ago, and he said that I must not pretend that I had a monopoly of compassion. Lo and behold, I had not even spoken this after noon when the Minister said that I must not assume that I had a monopoly of compassion.

I do not claim that. I am just trying to help disabled people. If we are to assess the basic philosophy of the Government, let us take—I hope that I shall be challenged if I misquote or take remarks out of context—the words of the present Minister with responsibility for the disabled, who said on 26 July 1979 to the Royal National Institute for the Blind : I would not insult disabled people by suggesting that they can contract out of Government problems. To judge from the right hon. Gentleman's performance so far, there is no danger of his insulting disabled people in that way. I believe, however, that he has insulted them by his failure to advance the provisions for the severely disabled.

The major problem is the shortfall in invalidity benefit. That is only in the short term. The more serious long-term problem is the severance of the link between retirement pensions and prices and earnings, whichever is the higher.

I believe that the harsh climate that has been engendered by the Government is damaging. The Association of Directors of Social Services has given evidence that directly contradicts what the right hon. Gentleman said today. They are the men who are working at the grass roots with the disabled and with local councils. I appreciate the Minister's argument about no long waiting lists, but those directors of social services have given voluminous and overwhelming evidence of the failure to provide adequate services for the disabled.

The greatest danger is that the harsh climate engendered by the Government means that we may emasculate the strength of and the help, little as it is, given to the severely disabled. There is a possibility that all disabled people, but especially the severely disabled, will succumb to pressures. They may become demoralised and give up.

I hope that they will not do that. I hope too, that they will not be deterred by Ministers calling them phoneys. I trust that they will make their voices heard and that they will express their anger and their indignation. I hope that they will demonstrate with the spirit with which they demonstrated yesterday, and I hope that they will not be satisfied until they have secured justice and independence.

5.35 pm
Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)

As I think the whole House knows, I am a member of a disabled family. We do not have many debates on disability and it is tempting, therefore, to try to make a major contribution in a discussion of the way we try to help our disabled fellow citizens.

As the House knows, disability comes in many shapes and sizes. However, I shall respond to your injunction, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to be brief. I take up the point made by the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) that we should attempt to find points upon which most of us can agree.

One of the points made by the right hon. Gentleman was that there is a great deal of unfulfilled need among the disabled. We cannot argue about that. I believe that it is also correct to put that fact into juxtaposition with points made by my right hon. Friend the Minister and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) which highlighted the progress that has been made. It is a curious thing that as we make progress we identify more and more need among the disabled. I believe that those needs are virtually unlimited.

That leads me to the substantial point on which I hope I can carry the House. Our object must be so to arrange matters in our society that more and more of our severely disabled fellow citizens can be accommodated as full and equal members of society. That would mean going a great deal further than the mere provision of physical facilities.

The shorthand for achieving that honourable objective is integration. It is reasonable to ask what we mean by integration in this context. The briefest and most succinct way of describing to the House what I mean by integration is to quote from the report of Lord Snowdon's working party. Lord Snowdon and his colleagues said that Integration for the disabled means a thousand things. It means the absence of segregation. It means social acceptance. It means being able to be treated like everybody else. It means the right to work, to go to cinemas, to enjoy outdoor sport, to have a family life and a social life and a love life, to contribute materially to the community, to have the usual choices of association, movement and activity, to go on holiday to the usual places, to be educated up to university level with one's unhandicapped peers, to travel without fuss on public transport. Whatever their different circumstances, all disabled people yearn for a society which palpably recognises their common humanity with the handicapped. It is my view that the key to all this lies in the words "common humanity."

To me this means that disabled people must be able to retain their integrity however restricted their physical or mental capabilities may be. They must be helped by society, but they must not be patronised by society. That is a subtle but important difference in our approach to these matters. I put it to my right hon. Friends that the ideal is contained in Disraeli's great vision of one, rather than two, nations.

The numbers we are speaking of are massive. Right and hon. Members will know that Amelia Harris in her report produced a figure of over I million disabled people. She was not, of course, including children. I think, therefore, that a fair figure is of the order of 1,250,000 disabled people. That is a massive proportion of a population of 58 million people.

It is also clear that, although the numbers are massive, the needs vary equally massively. The difference between the requirements of the blind, the requirements of the spinal paraplegic and the requirements of the serious schizophrenic are all different. I, therefore, suggest that what we require is not a single, but a comprehensive approach to disability. I do not make a party point when I say that if ever the word comprehensive was capable of being used as a description of public policy, it is in relation to the disabled.

I suggest therefore that this demands a continuing partnership between central Government, local Government, the voluntary societies, the families concerned and, above all, the individual disabled person. Therefore, by definition, there is no simple textbook answer to how we as a society should look after our disabled fellow citizens, especially at the level of central Government.

I agree very much with my right hon. Friend the Minister about the role of local authorities in this matter and about the many ways in which they could be more sensitive to immediate needs. However, there is one message that comes through loud and clear from every national report, from every personal study of disability and from all our personal cumulative experience. It concerns the financial needs of severely disabled people. It is to the central Government that they turn.

Put simply, disability means loss of earnings, extra cost and severe restrictions on the quality of life. The first two aspects of that statement are obvious. The third may need more explanation, however. There is much evidence to show that money widens the range of choice for the disabled person, because that person is then equipped to buy the services that may be needed to make life more tolerable and even enjoyable. The present arrangements for providing financial help for disabled people have no logical foundation. Two people with equal handicaps and equal needs can receive widely differing financial help to meet those needs. Thus, although some disabled people obtain reasonable financial help for their disabilities through, for instance, the war pension scheme, the industrial injuries scheme, or, if they are fortunate, through compensation through the courts, many do not.

I am sure that many hon. Members have read the comprehensive study of The Economist Intelligence Unit entitled "Whose Benefit?". It is an essential work for anyone who wishes to express views on how to improve public policy towards the disabled. Nobody who reads it can disagree with the conclusion reached in it that the present system is a rag-bag of provisions based on a variety of principles, some of them relating to a bygone social order. All of us who have studied these matters for any length of time and in any depth know that The Economist is profoundly right in that definition. I therefore invite the Government to implement one of the main proposals of the report of The Economist that a new Beveridge is needed. In short, we need a wide-ranging independent report upon how the whole system of financial help to the disabled, or the lack of it, should be restructured, and we need an understanding from the Government that the findings of such a report will be implemented.

I realise that this is not a particularly favourable moment at which to invite my right hon. Friends to consider spending more public money upon the disabled. Eventually, however, more money will have to be spent, both proportionately and absolutely. Anyone who studies this area of public policy is driven indisputably to that conclusion. I therefore invite my right hon. Friends to acknowledge this fact, however unpalatable it may be.

This is, however, a favourable moment at which to conduct a new Beveridge inquiry along the lines that I and The Economist would like. Inquiries take a bit of time to carry out ; and I would hope that by the time the report with its conclusions was in the hands of my right hon. Friends the economy would be in such a flourishing condition that they would have not the slightest difficulty in implementing it immediately.

Although on this occasion the Government have erred in the treatment of invalidity pensions, I reject the Opposition's charge that they have irretrievably put fiscal rectitude ahead of human compassion. There is nothing immoral in treating invalidity benefit the same as the old-age pension for tax purposes. It was an error, however, to jump the gun on the uprating figures for this autumn. That I regret.

Certainly we on the Conservative Benches will expect my right hon. Friends to rectify this error in the years to come, especially if that can be done in the context of a gradual move towards a new and properly structured disablement benefit scheme. We will naturally expect my right hon. Friends to honour their amendment on the Order Paper and to ensure that they give a high priority to improving services and support for disabled people. I invite the Government to be good Samaritans. The good Samaritan was a good neighbour, but I have no evidence that he was also an improvident spender. After all, he spent his own money. I can therefore accept the Government's qualification when additional resources become available. I invite the House to do the same.

5.45 pm
Dr. M. S. Miller (East Kilbride)

In a thoughtful and obviously well-studied speech, the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Price) raised a number of questions, which I am sure will occupy the minds of hon. Members on both sides of the House, and made a number of proposals, which both sides of the House would do well to consider. Of course, a Conservative Government are in office, and his views and recommendations should therefore be directed to that quarter.

In a time of difficulty it is all the more important that we should look after those in our society who are least able to cope with the problems of that society. We should support them even more than we would in normal circumstances. The hon. Member had a very caring attitude towards the disabled.

We all have constituents who are disabled. We have accepted, as we are entitled to accept, the responsibility to help them to lead lives as nearly normal as their circumstances permit. If I judge him correctly, the hon. Member for Eastleigh was moving towards a disablement income of some kind.

The Minister read a list of 15 ways in which assistance had been given in recent years. That list was topped by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley). However, the assistance given to disabled people, welcome as it is, is merely the beginning of the process. Even if it is handled perfectly it is only the start, and a start that we ought to be expanding, not contracting.

With the difficulties that the country is facing, we should establish priorities of some kind. The disabled, however they are disabled, should be given a high priority. Our constituencies contain disabled of all kinds—the blind, the deaf, the physically and mentally handicapped and the chronically ill. They all need more than our sympathetic consideration—they need all the help that they can get.

The hon. Member for Eastleigh was right in saying that they should not all be lumped together as one homogeneous group. They are not a homogeneous group. It is likely that they have only one common factor, namely, that they are disabled, but they are different in their physical and mental handicaps and in their psychological outlook. They therefore need assistance which is not put in a rag bag but which is to a great extent shaped to the individuality of those receiving it in terms of their physical, mental and psychological out look.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South referred to attitude. I am not claiming that the Labour Party has a monopoly of caring, but I wish to cite an example of attitude. Some years ago a constituent phoned me in a state of panic. She had been badly disabled as a result of polio in her youth, and wore two callipers. She was small in stature. She had retired from an arduous bookkeeping job which involved travelling from her home to Glasgow every day, despite her tremendous disability. She lived in a municipal house, and she asked me to look at the house because she had a problem. She had adapted the house at her own expense to meet the needs of her disability. All the facilities, such as the kitchen and the bathroom, were adapted to a level such that she could operate. It was a lovely house which had cost her a good deal of money to adapt.

The house was being renovated by the then local authority. It sent some mindless minor minion to see her, and she said "I hope that the house will be renovated to the specifications that I need ". He said "You know Mrs., we cannot do that because it is possible that, when you have gone, the house will be allocated to a normal person ". That is the sort of attitude to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South referred. Fortunately, a phone call to the chief executive of the council put the matter right. When I returned to see the lady some time after the work had been completed, the renovations had been carried out to her specifications.

I know of another case that illustrates quite clearly that assistance should be geared to specific needs. A constituent of mine suffers from a severe spastic disability, with cerebral palsy. He was a guinea pig for a new vehicle called a maximum contact chair, a number of which are being developed. In spite of the fact that he was responsible, to some extent, for the development of the chair, he has found it impossible to obtain one I hesitate to lay the blame firmly at the door of the Government, but I think that it is because of cuts in spending—which are essential in the Government's mind—that the development of the chair is not taking place as fast as it should. We need assistance tailored to the requirements of the individual. Sometimes we even need personal assistance on an individual basis. We should not regard the disabled as one group.

I know that other hon. Members wish to speak. I shall conclude with a philosophical, albeit a platitudinous, remark, which should be uttered. The hallmark of a caring society lies in the provision that it makes for those who are most in need. There is no doubt in the minds of those who are concerned that high among that category are the disabled. Regardless of what the Minister says, I consider it an act of callous neglect that the disabled should be included among the victims of the Government's axe.

5.55 pm
Mr. John Hannam (Exeter)

It is a short debate, and I shall be brief because I know that other hon. Members wish to take part. While I share the deep concern that has been expressed by other hon. Members about the effect of present economic conditions on the disabled and handicapped, I do not feel inclined to support the Opposition motion in the Lobby tonight. The disabled, like everyone else in our community, are prepared to make some sacrifices in the interests of achieving overall national stability in the economy. They know, as well as anyone, that, given the available resources, Conservative Governments have done more in the area of personal social services than the low-growth Labour Administrations. Our expenditure on personal social services rose more in the early part of the 1970s—when I first entered Parliament—than it did during the whole period of the previous Labour Government, because the Conservative Government achieved more growth in the economy than did the Labour Administration. That is why I cannot support the Opposition motion.

As usual, we are having a thoughtful and constructive debate on disablement. I should like to continue in that vein. However, I wish to apply some strictures and reservations on the method of achieving savings in public expenditure on which we have embarked. The Government amendment is right to refer to the need for some cuts. It is also right to refer to the need to allow the disabled to live independent lives.

In my short speech I wish to point out one or two areas where I believe the Government need to lay down some basic minimum standards for the protection of the disabled. I know that I shall diverge from the views of my right hon. Friend the Minister when I make my comments.

First, my right hon. Friend has repeatedly asked local authorities to protect personal social services under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 when making expenditure cuts. However, all the evidence from the various monitoring surveys shows that his words have not been heeded by a large number of local authorities. Services to the disabled are being seriously and disproportionately affected. If we were living in an ideal world where, for several decades, the provision of equipment, adaptations and alterations had been made in profusion, some temporary cutbacks could be borne by the disabled. But that is not the case. The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 has not been properly implemented since its inception. The problems of under-provision of services and of the wide discrepancies between different authorities in different areas were there from the start. They increased with the cuts in social service spending in 1976, and are now becoming worse.

That is not only a problem under this Government. For all his indignation in his opening speech, it happened just as badly under the auspices of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris). Then, as now, the all-party disablement group argued for greater protection of services to the disabled—first, by the Government setting basic minimum standards of provision, and secondly, by the allocation of specific amounts within the rate support grant for spending on those services.

All too many local authorities are using the cuts as an excuse, not to reduce their bureaucracy and manning levels but to hit at those on the receiving end by sharply increased charges or by withdrawal of services, accommodation and equipment. Many individual Members of Parliament have called attention to the ill-treatment of services in their areas. I implore the Government to accept a greater degree of responsibility for more direct control over those priority services. They are services that the disabled cannot do without if we intend them to maintain a degree of normal life.

I recall that during the early 1970s the then Secretary of State for Social Services issued circulars about care for the mentally handicapped. They were designed specifically to establish minimum levels of services. I see no reason why, during a period of crisis in Britain, the same degree of influence should not be exerted by the present Minister.

I turn to housing. After many years of appalling neglect, the housing authorities and associations have at last begun to make some progress with the inclusion of mobility housing standards in ordinary housing, and in the construction of mobility and wheelchair units. But there is now a 50 per cent. reduction in public spending on housing, and the 33.4 per cent. reduction in the HIP could mean that the only housing which is provided for disabled people will be in the form of segregated welfare housing which is separated from the rest of the community.

In this period of economic stringency, what is needed is a specific allocation within the HIP for housing for special needs. The poor record of many councils was highlighted in a reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Heddle) on 12 May. It showed that 20 local authorities have not completed any mobility or wheelchair housing in the last three years and have none under construction. As Members of Parliament, we should urge our own housing authorities to give priority to disabled people. For their part, the Government should encourage local authorities to include mobility housing in their house improvement and new homes for purchase schemes. The alternative is to push the handicapped back into institutions and hospitals, and we know the cost of that in social and financial terms.

I turn briefly to the 5 per cent. abatement in invalidity benefit, which forms a crucial part of the Opposition's motion. I made my views on this matter very clear in the debate on the Social Security (No. 2) Bill, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State admitted that this was a tough measure. I reiterate what I and my hon. Friends on the all-party group feel—that it is too tough, too arbitrary and cannot be accepted in the years to come. We welcome my right hon. Friend's commitment to restore the loss of the uprating and the link with the retirement pension. All that we ask today is that that should take place as soon as possible.

I should like to make one point concerning the role of our Select Committees. I have always supported the concept of those Select Committees as pre-legislative examining bodies which, together with Ministers and civil servants, look at proposed legislation before final drafting. That system, which I have seen operating in Sweden and elsewhere, allows for better scrutiny of legislation. Had the proposals on the abatement of invalidity benefit, and the reduction in the linkage period from 13 weeks to six weeks, been discussed in such a forum, with Ministers, civil servants and disabled organisations, I am sure that they would not have been pursued because of their counter-productive nature and the damage which they can cause.

I am grateful to the Government for accepting my amendment to raise the linkage period to eight weeks. I sensed an acceptance of the case for no further years of the 5 per cent. abatement. I hope that my instinctive feeling will subsequently be borne out.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Price), I should like to touch on the whole question of the future for the disabled. Until recently, we have all—Governments, Members of Parliament and disablement organisations—been gradually moving towards a more rational system of disablement benefits and away from the anomalous "rag bag", as the economic unit described it, of benefits which now exist.

The fact is that most disabled people have low incomes, if any at all, yet they face larger out of pocket expenses than the non-disabled—special clothing, foodstuffs, medicines, heating, transportation and so on. If they work, albeit earning very little, they lose all their benefits and can be financially worse off than if they stayed at home. If they get a mobility allowance, and try to use it to get a job, they are taxed. If they try to lease a car through Motability, they pay VAT on the adaptations. The list of the anomalies which exists is long, and I could weary the House with a description of them.

Mary Greaves, whom we all know through her work with the Disablement Income Group, reminded us most aptly about the problems in her recent article in the DIG magazine. She, a severely disabled person living alone, listed some of the extra costs which she faces, and about which we probably never even think. For example, she cannot go to the bank to get cash and must send a registered letter, at a cost of more than £12 a year. That is her £10 Christmas bonus gone. She has to send everything to the laundry, and each sheet costs in excess of 74p a time. She must shop from catalogues. She cannot go out and shop around or get any of the sales bargains. As she cannot go out, her heating must be on all the time. If she has callers—and she likes friends to come and visit her—she must provide tea or coffee or light refreshments. The bills and the costs mount. Special clothing and special foodstuffs for her diet also eat into her already very low income.

I shall not feel satisfied with provision for the disabled until we are back on course for the general disablement cost allowance. It must be free of tax and must cover the basic expenses which the handicapped face. My right hon. Friend the Minister has at this stage ruled out even a Green Paper, on the grounds that he does not want to raise the expectations of disabled people. The disabled have remained cheerful and uncomplaining through many years of neglect. They do not expect the earth, but at least let us, as soon as possible, give them something to look forward to, even if it takes years to achieve.

6.6 pm

Mr. David Ennals (Norwich, North)

I pay a tribute to the hon. Members for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) and for Eastleigh (Mr. Price) and to my right hon. Friends the Members for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) and for Manchester, Wy-thenshawe (Mr. Morris), because they have been the nucleus of what has been an all-party movement in this House. It spread over the years when Labour was in power and we were steadily moving forward. I appreciate the help given by the all-party group, because we often asked it how we should go forward.

The Minister said that he was sorry that there now seems to be no all-party support, but he has heard all-party support in the comments of his hon. Friends as well as those of my colleagues.

Yesterday many of us met the lobby of disabled people. I saw some of them in Westminster Hall. The first complaint made by my constituents, who had travelled from Norwich, was that the Minister for Social Security had refused to see them. They said that that added insult to injury. By "injury" they meant the various actions that have been taken by the Government, and by "insult" they meant the way in which the right hon. Gentleman had dismissed people who wished to demonstrate and plead with the Government to show a greater concern for the disabled.

During yesterday's lobby, which I agree could have been better organised, my mind went back to the first lobby of the House of Commons, led by the distinguished and lamented Megan du Boisson, of the disablement income group in 1968, at a time when there were no special benefits for the disabled, except for war pensions and industrial injuries. Their voice was a compelling one. Along with my late colleague, Dick Crossman, who was then Secretary of State for Social Services, we introduced the new attendance allowance and the invalidity benefit, which, to give them credit, the Conservative Government included in their legislation in 1971.

There is also the Act that was put on the statute book on an all-party basis, referred to as the "Alf Morris" Act. I honestly believe that no man in the country has done more to fight for the needs of the disabled than has my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe, together with my right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, who, with his own disability, has displayed such courage and has shown how disabled people can be integrated. He has become almost a standard bearer for disabled people. The Minister's speech makes me sad, because the comparison is so very different.

I agree with the hon. Member for Eastleigh that we developed our services in a rag-bag way. When we came back into power we introduced the mobility allowance, the non-contributory invalidity pension, the special benefit for disabled housewives and the invalidity care allowance, as well as the organisation Mutability. In a sense, all tried to fulfil different needs. As the House knows, we committed ourselves at the next stage—we did not know when it could be done, because we were faced with financial problems, just like the present Government—to the need for a disability income. That is what we should be working towards.

I believe that the Government should now introduce a Green Paper. I do not think that it will arouse the hopes of people that they will get bread tomorrow or jam next year, but we must discuss the matter with the people.

We were moving forward, but I fear that we are now moving backwards. Organisations representing the disabled take that view even more strongly. According to the Minister for Social Security, RADAR gave him a good reception when he addressed its annual meeting. The members of that organisation are very polite people, whom I have known over the years. The current edition of its bulletin, "Contact", says : It is indisputable that the achievements of the past ten years are under serious attack. RADAR is under serious attack from the policies of the present Government.

The disability alliance, which brings together many organisations dealing with disability, commented sharply : The Government's first year in office has seen a reduction in the real value of social security benefits, and a decline in the standard of social service provisions for people with disabilities. Disability alliance rejects the view that such sacrifices are necessary to economic survival. I agree entirely with those words. The alliance calculated that the £1,400 million that was given in tax cuts to the 5.5 per cent. of the better-off in this country was almost the same as the total sum that we pay to disabled people in invalidity benefits, invalidity pensions, industrial benefits and other allowances.

It now looks as if we are to go a stage further. The sick, disabled, elderly and unemployed are now being forced to pay for the Chancellor's dispensation of largesse in his 1979 budget. Those are despicable priorities. It is despicable that the sick and disabled must bear the burden. That is a mean, penny-pinching attitude, quite contrary to the position that the present Secretary of State adopted when he was in opposition. The White Paper that was published in November—I do not know whether the Prime Minister knows what the Secretary of State is now saying—indicated that personal social services would be 9 per cent. lower than had been planned by the Government of which I was Secretary of State. No wonder the Minister for Health, when giving evidence to the Select Committee, referred to this as a fundamental change in policy. The evidence from the directors of social services in local authorities——

The Secretary of State for Social Services (Mr. Patrick Jenkin)

That is not what my right hon. Friend said. The right hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) put those words to me when I appeared before the Select Committee, and I have the quotation here. It was not a "fundamental change in policy ". If the right hon. Gentleman has with him the words used by my hon. Friend, perhaps he would be good enough to read them.

Mr. Ennals

I shall send that quotation to the Secretary of State tomorrow. I have checked the words of the Minister for Health and they are absolutely clear. He said that this was the one "fundamental change". There were no changes in other aspects of health provision. We have heard from directors of social services that there have been cuts in home helps, meals on wheels and day centres, and that those cuts are affecting disabled people.

It is difficult to criticise the Government. The Personal Social Services Council criticised the Government and, as a result, it got the boot—curtains for the Personal Social Services Council. It was curtains also for the national development group for the mentally handicapped, which has done magnificent work on behalf of mentally handicapped people over the past four years. But the Government will not be able to silence the criticisms of those people who speak for the weakest pressure groups in the country—the disabled. They will not be able to refuse to hear their claims.

No one can close his eyes to present economic difficulties, but if a price must be paid for solving them it should be asked of those with the means to pay. The needs of countless sick and disabled people will not wait upon the return to prosperity.

I conclude with the words of the directors of social services, who know best about the provisions that are made at a local level. They say : To suggest to those in need of help that they must wait until the rest of society is rich enough not to notice the sacrifice needed to provide aid is insulting. Anyone can afford to be generous when they are wealthy. Surely the mark of a truly caring society is the willingness to give higher priority to the needs of the disadvantaged than to our own personal comfort and security. I echo those words from the bottom of my heart.

Several hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. There may be two Front Bench speakers again in this short debate, and unless speeches are limited to five minutes I shall be able to call only three more Back-Bench Members. I appeal to hon. Members to bear that in mind.

6.18 pm
Mr. Tom Benyon (Abingdon)

This is an important debate. Speeches have been both thoughtful and constructive. The debate is also important to 1½ million disabled people below retirement age. I realise the difficulty of the Government in trying to improve standards for disabled people at this time, and I do not wish to take the House on a guided tour around the economic problems that face us. They have been well rehearsed. It ill lies in my mouth to try to persuade my party to increase expenditure, and thus to improve standards anywhere in our society at present.

I know that there are siren and beguiling voices who tempt Back-Bench Members such as myself to vote for motions that would try to persuade the Government to do that. I am reminded of the boy with his finger in the dyke who held back some water—it could be the water of inflation—and behind, the siren voice saying "Please come and help the disabled person."

The history of the Conservative Party in social services matters has been excel lent for many years. The current Secretary of State for Industry—the previous Secretary of State for Social Services—was the most reforming Minister since the war in this area. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will wish to move along the road of creative reform at some stage. I am sure that he is as worried and depressed at the deterioration of standards of the disabled as is any hon. Member. Let us hope that he will be able to take the first steps along this road quite shortly.

As has been rehearsed already, the position is not all bleak. Indeed, there have been improvements in mobility allowance, a considerable uprating in joint funding, and an increase in help for voluntary organisations, which must come as a tremendous boost to many of them. Let us give credit to those voluntary organisations that we need now, when the State-provided services are creaking. However, I find considerable difficulty in squaring our commitments, as outlined in our manifesto and "The Right Approach", with the current situation. I quote from "The Right Approach" : Priority should continue to be given, where resources permit, to improving services to the disabled and the chronically sick. During the election campaign we made two commitments in this respect. One was implied and the other was stated. The first was that the disabled would not become worse off. I believe that the disabled in our society should be regarded—to use a cliché from another time—as a special case. I do not believe that they should have to carry a burden of economies. Also, it was promised that in time, when the nation could afford it, we would spend more money on the disabled.

Many speakers in the debate have said that we should introduce a disablement allowance, which would allow disabled people to draw, as a right, a pension for their disability. The current complicated, untidy tapestry of benefits, which is regarded as highly unsatisfactory on both sides of the House, casts recipients in the role of supplicants. I should like these benefits, in time, to be rolled together into a form of disablement pension. Further, they are patronising.

It is indisputable that at present the disabled are worse off. I am sure that the Conservative Party cannot be saying that the position can be rectified only when the nation is rich enough not to notice the sacrifice. Because of the lack of a complete uprating of the invalidity benefit a quarter of a million people will be worse off and are worse off now, and the only commitment that they have is that their position may be restored if the resources are available. Quite what value judgment will be applied to that statement I am not entirely sure. This must be clarified.

I have calculated that a married couple, albeit on the highest rates of invalidity pension, would be £2.10 a week worse off now. That is a lot of money when the total income is only £37 a week.

Secondly, such people have been hit badly by the rise in value added tax, including the five months of increased VAT before the uprating of invalidity benefit. VAT rose on 18 June. Invalidity benefit rose on 12 November.

Thirdly and most importantly, whether or not we like it, and whether we blame local authorities or take some responsibility ourselves, cuts are now falling on the shoulders of the disabled. Out of a great many authorities included in a recent piece of research, 32 have already cut benefits for the disabled and 27 are making cuts in facilities for the mentally handicapped, home helps, residential services and telephones—and special home buildings for disabled people are not progressing now. The cuts are falling on the services, not on waste.

The result—I think that there is consensus about this on both sides of the House—is great hardship. I am quite sure that that hardship is not intended by our Government.

The future looks as bleak, if not bleaker. In 1980–81 further cuts are being requested—cuts of 3 per cent. to 5 per cent. Therefore, whatever one might say about the current position the way forward looks very bleak for the disabled. I am sure that the motives for the cuts and economies that we are making are very good—nay, they are impeccable. However, I believe that in terms of the disabled they represent a false economy. I am convinced that many disabled people will find—as they are finding—not only that their cash is becoming shorter in their pockets but that the services on which they have come to rely are being cut back, and that they will be forced into institutional care. Therefore, not only will there be a great deal of hardship and suffering ; our community may be suffering extra costs.

I was asked by one of my colleagues whether I had had a lot of protesters complaining bitterly about their position. I do not have a big mailbag from protesters about this matter, but I do not believe that, traditionally the disabled form such vocal protesting lobbies as we have in many other areas of social concern. That is all the more reason for us to regard them as a special case and with great care. Many of them are unemployed, with little prospects of getting jobs. Many are despairing, crippled and poor, and they will get poorer.

I should like to make some suggestions. First, one of the ways of resolving the problems of local authorities which are cutting not the administration and staffing levels but services, is to develop the policy of joint funding, which is of great use in my area. In my area of Oxford, about £600,000 has been made available. There has been an increase of over 18 per cent. on last year's figure. The Government should be congratulated. That money is being spent most imaginatively, in my area on crossroads and other schemes of that sort.

Secondly, I should like to see the implementation, as soon as possible, of the manifesto commitment to institute a committee to look into the question of the rationalisation of benefits. I do not believe that this will merely raise the hopes of the disabled. They are intelligent enough to realise that we shall not be able to do this until we are rather better off. This must be done. Lastly, the uprating of invalidity benefits must take place without delay.

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I make one last appeal for five-minute speeches. I am now told that the winding-up speeches are not likely to take place until 6.40 pm, which will enable me to call three or four hon. Members.

6.26 pm
Mr. Clement Frend (Isle of Ely)

I shall be very brief. I agree with very much of what was said by the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon). However, I must tell him that my right hon. and hon. Friends and I will support the Opposition's motion, which calls upon the Government to reverse policies that conflict with their manifesto commitments". It would be very wrong and very hard to argue with that.

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) spoke substantially about constituency cases. I shall not do that, although as the husband of the president of the mentally handicapped society in my constituency I probably have as much day-to-day dealing with the handicapped as any-other hon. Member.

I remind the Government that they will be judged not only by what they do to enhance the prosperity of some of the people but, substantially, by the compassion that they show to those who, through no fault of their own, are unable to participate in a full life. I remind the Government—if they need reminding—that there are only two ways in which the disabled can be helped. The first is through finance. The second is through understanding.

I realise that in the first provision there is some limit, but I should like the Government to remember that there is no limit to compassion or understanding. Even if they are unable to support with the moneys that are available to quite the extent of funding they would want, there is no way in which they must any longer sanction the sort of local government behaviour that was pinpointed by the hon. Member for East Kilbride (Dr. Miller) and by others who have spoken—the failure to understand the problems of the handicapped.

I am against the provision of finite finance for the handicapped. If someone is unable to walk unaided I find it obscene that his crutches should come out of an annual budget, so that the handicapped get a reply such as "For this year we are unable to help." I realise that it is not as absolute as that, but there is still no effective charter. At the moment a percentage of the gross national product goes towards education, so much to defence and a specific percentage to the Department of Health and Social Security.

The term "disabled" is a generalisation that I would like to see steadily qualified. There are so many specific instances of disablement that need separate care and attention : I have argued before about the claims of those who suffer from Huntington's chorea. Those cases are not in the general mill : they need specific and careful consideration. I said that I would be brief, and I shall be.

I should like some criterion for cuts. It is undisputed that the disabled will do less well than formerly. Perhaps the criterion should be that no one should have to accept cuts if he is unable to understand what they involve. If the Government bore that in mind, many bewildered and disabled people would not have to worry so much about their future.

6.31 pm
Mr. D. A. Trippier (Rossendale)

For many years the Conservative Party has gone to great pains to convince the electorate that it is a caring party and that the Socialist Party does not have a monopoly on compassion. The Conservative Party has a superb record, of which it can be proud. Between 1970 tad 1974 a Conservative Government spent more money, in real terms, than any Administration before or since. There is clear evidence in our recent legislation that we still care.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services announced increases of over 21 per cent. in mobility allowances. Family income supplement for lower-paid workers has been increased by more than one-third. Not only have benefits been protected ; they have been substantially increased. Why should we be held responsible for creating a shortfall in the increase in benefits for a section of the community which has been stricken through no fault of its own? Since coming to office the Government have earned a reputation for keeping rigidly to the manifesto. Since the turn of the century, they are probably the only Government to have stuck to their manifesto. If the Conservative Party abandons any of its pledges it will be a disgrace. To desert our manifesto on this issue would be shabby and unworthy.

When the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the increases in benefit, he and the Secretary of State for Social Services said that the Government would bring short-term benefits into the tax range by 1982. Even the Opposition found it difficult to object to that. The remaining long-term benefit for the disabled—known as disability benefit—will also be brought into the tax net. We are told that there is no need to wait until 1982 if we wish to tackle that problem. It is implied that the 11½ per cent. is a net amount after tax. However, we all know that that is incorrect. What about the 400,000 people who are in receipt of that benefit and who do not pay any tax? Their standard of living will fall, but it will fall behind those benefits which have been maintained despite inflation. Inflation is now running at 21.8 per cent. The increase of 11½ per cent. is about 52 per cent. of the rate of inflation.

The Government have not given an assurance that the shortfall will be made up next year. Nor have we had an assurance that the increase in disability benefit will include the amount that has been lost. The Government amendment rightly stresses the importance of voluntary organisations. Many disabled people are aware of the good work done by such groups. It is my experience that while the disabled may be deprived of good health they have not lost their pride and independence. Perhaps that is why so many of the severely disabled help each other.

How does one legislate for such people? They do not want to live in a society in which the State does everything. Surely we have a responsibility to ensure that they enjoy a decent standard of living within the confines of their disablement.

This is not an exercise in trailing one's conscience across the Floor of the House. I seek to make a constructive attempt to warn my party that this is not the stuff of which the Conservative Party is made.

An interim award should be made to the disabled not in 1981 but as soon as possible. The Government can recapture respect only if the Conservative Party shows that it has the interest of the disabled at heart. There is no moral justification for this action. We would be more credible and worthy if we thought the unthinkable and admitted that we were wrong.

6.35 pm
Mr. Lewis Carter-Jones (Eccles)

I have had more letters about the needs of the disabled from Tories than from Trots. Let us leave out the money factor and consider home helps. I shall not pick out a local authority. That would be unfair. However, many local authorities have heeded the Government's advice and have cut back on home helps and personal services.

Many local authorities have tried to keep the service going, but they are faced by increased wages. They have tried to cover their costs. As a result of cutbacks in local government grants, local authorities have been compelled to charge people for the home help service or to increase the charges levied.

What does the home help service do? It does a very important job. It keeps people within the community. The home help is a contact for disabled persons with the outside world. She enables disabled and frail elderly persons to live in their own homes and their own environment. It was assumed that if charges rose, relief would be given to the poorest in our society by means of supplementary benefit. The chairman of the Supplementary Benefits Commission has said that, for the first time, local authorities are being compelled to impose charges that cannot be recovered from supplementary benefits. That has imposed severe burdens on the handicapped, who need the assistance of a home-help service.

Some handicapped people have had to do without such needs as food, heating and clothing. Disability incurs an extra cost. We speak about the compassionate society and about the need to keep people within the community. We then impose charges on the most vital service affecting the frail elderly and disabled. I urge the Government Front Bench to overturn their decision on supplementary benefit payments to those who pay for home help services because their local authority—as a result of Government cuts—has had to increase those charges. Another intolerable burden is being imposed.

Hazlitt said that man was the only animal who laughed and cried because he was the only animal who knew the difference between things as they were and things as they ought to be. We know how things should be. We know that we should assist the disabled. We know that we can have good rehabilitation services. For God's sake, let us not cut the things that help to keep people within their homes and within their communities.

Mr. Leslie Spriggs (St. Helens) rose——

6.40 pm
Mr. Speaker

Will the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Spriggs) be kind enough to resume his seat at 6.45 pm? The Front Benches have given him an extra five minutes.

Mr. Spriggs

Thank you Mr. Speaker. If I go over my time I hope that you will remind me.

I wish to raise two constituency cases, but before I do so may I say that I was sorry to hear the Minister say that the Opposition were being used by outside elements to attack the Government. No outside elements have ever tried to use me to attack the Government and I would not allow them to do so.

The first of my two cases is that of Wilfred Houghton, of 60 Claughton Street, St. Helens, who has been a Rain-hill mental hospital patient for a long time. He has not received a penny piece in benefits for the last nine to 12 months. He accepted his doctor's advice that he should not seek work, yet the local DHSS office in St. Helens has told him that unless he signs on for work, even against his doctor's advice, he will get no benefit. Because he accepts his doctor's advice and continues to attend Rainhill as an outpatient he receives no benefit at all.

The second case concerns Mr. Gardam, of 127 Forest Road, St. Helens, who is a serious cardiac case. In the week when he was told that if he did not sign the register for work he would not receive benefits, he had three minor heart attacks. Because the family had no money to buy groceries, his wife assisted him to the departmental office to sign the register, and then took him back home. What employer could employ such a sick man? What is the real human feeling of the departmental officers? Central government have done nothing about these cases, although they have received reports about them. Do they really believe that these people should sign on for work and overrule the advice of medical officers? If they do not do so they get no benefit at all. What kind of central Government is this? We should not allow local officers of the DHSS or the Supplementary Benefits Commission to treat people so badly.

I make an impassioned appeal to the Government not to think of the Opposition as hon. Members who only sit and wait for an opportunity to attack them. That is not so. If the Government's administration or maladministration—as is shown in these two cases—is so bad, hon. Members have a duty to attack the Government. Government Members will no doubt remember that I attacked my own Government in the past when I believed that they were guilty of any form of maladministration. That is why I make this appeal. Mr. Gardam continues to have heart attacks although, according to his medical officer, they are minor. I do not want to have to charge any Minister or local departmental officer with murder, because if this man drops dead in his footsteps while attempting to sign the register someone will have to answer for it from the Front Bench or from the local office of the DHSS.

I wonder what the other case—Mr. Houghton—is expected to do. He was taken by the social services to Rainhill Hospital as an outpatient, where he was told that he must not register for work, but if he does not do so he will not receive benefits. What is a mentally sick man to do? I appeal to the Minister tonight to look into these cases and see that justice is done.

6.45 pm
Mr. Alfred Morris

This has been an interesting and wide-ranging debate, which many will think could, with advantage, continue for many more hours. Many important questions were put to the Minister that went unanswered. I raised with him the fear of many disabled people that the 3 per cent. employment quota might be discontinued. There was no reply. Then I raised the question of the proposed White Paper on the recommendations of the Warnock report. Again, there was no reply. There were other questions that I raised and I hope that the Under-Secretary will answer what were questions of very considerable importance to many disabled people.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) referred to the statement of the Minister yesterday about the demonstration of disabled people against his policies. We have been told that the Minister referred to the demonstration as phoney——

Mr. Prentice

That is not true. I did nothing of the sort. In a broadcast that was quoted by the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) I said that many sincere and well-meaning people took part. But I also said that the contention of the demonstrators that the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act was under attack was phoney, and indeed it was.

Mr. Morris

That seems a convoluted reply. The implication is that it was a phoney demonstration. Yet it was supported by the National Federation of the Blind, the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, the Spastics Society, MIND, the British Polio Fellowship, the Campaign for Mentally Handicapped People, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, the National Society for Autistic Children, the Shaftesbury Society, the Association of Community Health Councils, the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus and many other very deeply respected organisations. If that adds up to a phoney demonstration, or a demonstration with a phoney objective, or whatever the Minister is attempting to say in his convoluted language, it had one of the most distinguished lists of organisations ever to support such a venture.

I referred earlier to home help charges. At least 18 London boroughs have made savings in the home help service, by cuts or increased charges, or both. I referred earlier to the constituency of the Secretary of State. He represents part of the borough of Redbridge. I quote from a very valuable article by John Wilson in the London Voluntary News for May 1980. He says : In Redbridge, the lowest rate of charge is now £1.50 which will have to be paid even by supplementary benefit recipients. This is particularly serious, for the Supplementary Benefits Commission has recently ceased to help claimants with the cost of local authority home helps. The right hon. Gentleman earlier was making very great play with the meaning of the word "poorest". He was saying that the poorest are those on supplementary benefits. In Redbridge it is the people on supplementary benefits who are now being charged for home helps in the Secretary of State's own constituency. I had the impression—I may be wrong—when I listened to the right hon. Gentleman that he would be making urgent representations to Redbridge about what is a deplorable act of policy. I hope that he will do so and make an early statement in the House.

The right hon. Gentleman heard the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Trippier). That was a courageous speech. It was informed by sincerity. He was asking the Government to think again about policies about which he is not particularly proud as a Conservative Member of Parliament.

Again, the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Price) made it very clear that he thought that the Government had "jumped the gun" in cutting the value of invalidity benefit from November. I argued earlier that it is not just the Opposition opposing the Government in this depate. I quoted from the Association of Directors of Social Service, from the Royal Association of Disability and Rehabilitation, from the Spastics Society, and from many other organisations that are in no way party-politically based.

With them, I ask the Government urgently to reconsider their policies in this deeply sensitive and important field. The right hon. Gentleman referred to my right hon. Friend's Private Member's Bill and talked about the attitude of the last Government. In the last Government his Bill, which was then advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainright), had a Second Reading with full support from the Government.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, I conclude by saying again that the House as a whole should know that the Government's actions are shortening the horizons and demeaning the dignity of disabled people. I hope that the hon. Gentleman, when he replies, will address himself to the very important questions that have been raised with the Government from both sides of the House and that he will do so in a way that indicates the Government's readiness to rethink policies that are so widely and so justifiably condemned.

6.52 pm
The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Sir George Young)

No one who has sat through the debate could fail to be impressed by the concern expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House for the disabled in our society. We have had some notable contributions from the old stalwarts with whom I used to attend the Back-Bench meetings of the all-party disablement group in the previous Session.

May I say without disrespect to the many hon. Members who have contributed to the debate that I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Price) made a most notable contribution that encompassed much of what was said in the earlier part of the debate. My hon. Friend's speech was complemented by that of my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon), whose interest in these matters is well known. He was the joint secretary of the Back-Bench committee. The strength and feeling of the commitment of my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Trippier) came through clearly in his speech.

In the time that is available I cannot respond to all the individual requests that have been made. However, I shall deal with the themes that ran through the speeches. Some of my hon. Friends have said that in times of difficulty extra effort should be made to shield the disabled from hardship. Labour Members have said that the record of the previous Labour Government was superior to that of the present Administration. That theme was developed by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), and in so doing he exhibited the symptoms of a distressing illness that attacks middle-aged politicians in opposition, namely, terminal amnesia.

The greatest cuts in the hospital building programme have not and will not take place under this Administration. They took place between 1973–74 and 1977–78 when capital resources available to the hospital and community health services in England were slashed from £672 million to £431 million. The biggest cuts in capital expenditure on personal social services have not and will not take place under the present Government. They took place between 1974 and 1978, when capital expenditure was slashed from £185 million, in the Conservative Government's last year in office, to £48 million in 1978–79. That was a cut of roughly three-quarters. Our plans are for a recovery to £60 million in 1983–84.

Current expenditure on personal social services increased during the previous Conservative Government's last year in office by 14 per cent. It fell to 1.7 per cent. in 1977–78. We plan to restore it to 2.2 per cent. Against that background, we can only marvel at the cheek and hypocrisy of the Opposition in deploring, in the words of the motion, the "planned reduction in personal social services."

The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe mentioned the problem that has faced the disabled over the past 13 months, and no one questions his sincerity. However, he forgot to mention the paralysis in the health and personal social services during the winter of discontent, when the problems facing many of the chronically sick and disabled were far greater than anything that he mentioned today. He forgot to mention the distress caused by the social workers' strike. I remind him of the words of his right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals), the then Secretary of State, who said : Who are the victims of their action? Firstly the clients…there will have been countless cases of irreparable damage done by the decision of social workers to leave their clients stranded, in the lurch, unaided. No hon. Member needs reminding of the countless cases of individual hardship caused by the industrial action of ancillary workers during that very winter when—[Interruption.] I realise that these are unpleasant memories, but I am dealing with the attacks that have been made by the right hon. Gentleman on my party.

In the right hon. Gentleman's trailer to the debate, which appeared yesterday in The Times, he set out a list of 100 initiatives. I especially resent the inclusion in his list of the extension of the attendance allowance to kidney patients dialysing at home. I introduced a Ten-Minute Bill in February 1978 which sought to restore that allowance——

Mr, Alfred Morris rose——

Sir G. Young

No, I shall not give way.

Mr. Morris

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister is making no attempt to reply to an important debate. He is grossly misleading——

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant God-man Irvine)

Order. That cannot be a point of order for the Chair.

Sir G. Young

The right hon. Gentleman said——

Mr. Morris

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythen-shawe (Mr. Morris) knows perfectly well that when the Minister does not give way he keeps the Floor.

Mr. Orme

Absolutely disgraceful.

Sir G. Young

The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe sought to advance the case that the record of the previous Labour Administration was better than that of the present Administration. I am seeking to rebut the argument. He is claiming 100 initiatives for his Administration. I was instancing one case concerning kidney patients when the right hon. Gentleman blocked a Ten-Minute Bill that I introduced to help those patients. He has the gall to include measures in his list of initiatives which I sought to introduce but which he carefully obstructed.

Mr. Orme

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Unless the Minister gives way, the right hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) knows that he cannot take the Floor.

Mr. Orme rose——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The Minister is giving a clear indication of what he intends to do.

Mr. Orme

He is not answering the debate.

Sur G. Young

I am seeking in the time available to rebut the case that was advanced by the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe. He referred in his list of achievements to the attendance allowance being payable to foster parents of handicapped children. That payment started life as a Ten-Minute Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam). It was put on the statute book by pressure in the House of Lords.

In producing a list of 100 initiatives the right hon. Gentleman has scraped his own barrel and helped himself very generously to ours. I spoke to members of the Lobby yesterday, with my hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mrs. Chalker), Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security. The disabled have a deeper understanding of the economic problems facing the nation than have many Labour Members. They recognise that further Government help must be related to the generation of wealth. What we can afford to spend on health and social services depends on the growth of the vital industrial base upon which every aspect of our standard of living depends. We must invest more in industry, produce more goods at competitive prices and sell them abroad. Those are not my words but those of the right hon. Member for Norwich, North when he was Secretary of State.

During the debate there has been a temptation to believe that the problems of the disabled will be solved merely by the injection of public money. To say that that is the solution is to misunderstand the complexity of the problems : it is to undermine individual intitiatives that can be taken to solve some of the problems and to demoralise the more informal agencies and voluntary organisations that have a key role to play.

The Government have an obligation to provide a framework of income support and social policy within which the disabled may lead dignified and independent lives. We are committed to that, but that is not and never can be the total answer to the difficulties of the disabled. We must increase the capacity of the community to generate more self-help and to mobilise the good will that exists within the community that has not been harnessed.

We are interested in developing a genuine partnership with the voluntary organisations. For that reason we have given increased Government support for organisations. In the last year of the previous Administration the total budget for section 64 grants to voluntary organisations was £5.3 million—and they managed to underspend it by £860,000. This year we shall spend £7.3 million, and, within the broad category, grants to organisations helping the disabled will increase from £850,000 to nearly £1 million.

The crossroads scheme was mentioned This scheme provides practical assistance to disabled people, and we are increasing substantially the grants to it as well as to other organisations. It is clear that within my Department's spending we have indicated our priority to the disabled by increasing the grants to the organisations that are active in this field, to generate more help and more resources with which to tackle their problems. We have continually exhorted the local authorities to protect, as far as they can, the services for the disabled. As my right hon. Friend said, the indications that we are getting from the local authorities are that they are respoding to our requests.

There is no group in our society that stands to gain more from the strengthening of the economy and the resumption of growth than the disabled. That is the only way that we can generate the resources to pay for the improved services that we all want to see. There is no group in our society that stands to lose more by a continuation of inflation. If those who work for the local authorities, and their leaders, insist on unrealistic wage demands, one consequence must be the reduction of services to this very category. Those who lend support to such irresponsible wage demands should be well aware of the consequences.

I ask my hon. Friends to remember that the real leaps in the growth of personal

Division No. 361] AYES [7.03 pm
Abse, Leo Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford)
Adams, Allen Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Deakins, Eric
Allaun, Frank Campbell, Ian Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Alton, David Campbell-Savours, Dale Dempsey, James
Anderson, Donald Cant, R. B. Dewar, Donald
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Carter-Jones, Lewis Dixon Donald
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Cartwright, John Dobson, Frank
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Clark, Dr. David (South Shields) Dormand, Jack
Ashton, Joe Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Douglas, Dick
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Cohen, Stanley Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Bagler, Gordon A. T Coleman, Donald Dubs, Alfred
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. DuIfy, A. E. P.
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Conlan, Bernard Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
Beith, A. J Cook, Robin F. Dunnett, Jack
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Cowans, Harry Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Bidwell, Sydney Cox, Tom (Wandsworth, Tooting) Eastham, Ken
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Crowther, J. S. Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Cryer, Bob English, Michael
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Cunliffe, Lawrence Ennals, Rt Hon David
Bradley, Tom Cunningham, George (Islington S) Evans, loan (Aberdare)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dalyell, Tarn Ewing, Harry
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Davidson, Arthur Field, Frank
Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S) Davles, Rt Hon Denzll (Llanelli) Fitch, Alan
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith) Davies, Ifor (Gower) Flannery, Martin
Buchan, Norman Davis, Clinton (Hackney Central) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)

social services were made under the last Conservative Government. The rate of growth was over 15 per cent. from 1972 to 1975, and it has been unmatched since. It was during that period that the basic framework for the provision of social care for disabled people was established. It now enjoys a good measure of stability.

Mr. Orme rose in his place and claimed to move. That the Question be now put.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am not inclined to accept the motion.

Sir G. Young

The provision of social care for the disabled now enjoys a good measure of stability, and that stands disabled people in good stead. Let there be no doubt that, as the economic climate brightens, we can do what we have done before. Our firm priority will be to increase services and benefits for disabled people. Our record of achievement in this area enables my hon. Friends to vote with pride and confidence for the amendment.

Mr. Spriggs

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I made certain charges on a constituency basis. The Minister has not answered them.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That cannot be a point of order for the Chair.

Question put. That the original words stand part of the Question :—

The House divided : Aves 222, Noes 281.

Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Ford, Ben Lofthouse, Geoffrey Ryman, John
Forrecter, John Lyon, Alexander (York) Sandelson, Neville
Foster, Derek Lyons, Edward (Bradford West) Sever, John
Foulkes, George Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J Dickson Sheerman, Barry
Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) McCartney, Hugh Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L)
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald McDonald, Dr Oonagh Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop)
Freud, Clement McKay, Allen (Penistone) Short, Mrs Renée
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Maclennan, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
George, Bruce McNamara, Kevin Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Magee, Bryan Silverman, Julius
Ginsburg, David Marks, Kenneth Skinner, Dennis
Gourlay, Harry Marshall, Jim (Leicester South) Smith, Rt Hon j. (North Lanarkshire)
Graham, Ted Mason, Rt Hon Roy Snape, Peter
Grant, George (Morpeth) Maxton. John Soley, Clive
Grant, John (Islington C) Mellish, Rt Hon Roben Spearing, Nigel
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Spriggs, Leslie
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Miller, Or M. S. (East Kilbride) Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)
Hardy, Peter Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Straw, Jack
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Hattarsley, Rt Hon Roy Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)
Haynes, Frank Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East)
Helfer, Eric S. Morton, George Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen)
Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire) Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Tilley, John
Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall) Newens, Stanley Trippier, David
Home Robertson, John Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Homewood, William Ogden, Eric Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Hooley, Frank O'Halloran, Michael Walker, Rt Hon Harold (Doncaster)
Horam, John O'Neill, Martin Watkins, David
Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Weetch, Ken
Howells, Geralnt Palmer, Arthur Wellbeloved, James
Huckfield, Les Park, George Welsh, Michael
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Parker, John White, Frank R. (Bury ft Radcllffe)
Janner, Hon Greville Parry, Robert Whitehead, Phillip
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Pavitt, Laurie Whillock. William
John, Brynmor Pendry, Tom Willey. Rt Hon Frederick
Johnson, James (Hull West) Penhaligon, David Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Johnson, Walter (Derby South) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Prescott, John Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Race, Reg Winnick, David
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Radice, Giles Woodall, Alec
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South) Woolmer. Kenneth
Kerr, Russell Richardson, Jo Wrigglesworth, Ian
Kilfedder, James A. Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wright, Sheila
Kilroy-Sllk, Robert Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Young, David (Bolton East)
Kinnock, Neil Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)
Lambie, David Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Lamborn, Harry Rodgers, Rt Hon William Mr. James Hamilton and Mr, James Finn.
Lamond, James Rooker, J. W.
Leadbitter, Ted
Adley, Robert Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Dorrell, Stephen
Aitken, Jonathan Brooke, Hon Peter Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Alison, Michael Brown, Michael (Brigg ft Sc'thorpe) Dover, Denshore
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Bruce-Gardyne, John du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Ancram, Michael Bryan, Sir Paul Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Arnold, Tom Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Durant, Tony
Aspinwall, Jack Buck, Antony Dykes, Hugh
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Budgen, Nick Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Atkins, Robert (Preston North) Bulmer, Esmond Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke)
Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East) Burden, F. A. Eggar, Timothy
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Butcher, John Emery, Peter
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Butler, Hon Adam Eyre, Reginald
Bell, Sir Ronald Cadbury, Jocelyn Fairbairn, Nicholas
Bendall, Vivian Carlisle, John (Luton West) Falrgrieve, Russell
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Faith, Mrs Sheila
Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn) Farr, John
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Chalker, Mrs Lynda Fell, Anthony
Best, Keith Channon, Paul Finsberg, Geoffrey
Bevan, David Gilroy Chapman, Sydney Fisher, Sir Nigel
Biffen, Rt Hon John Churchill, W. S. Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N)
Biggs-Davison, John Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Blackburn, John Clark, Sir William (Croydon South) Fookes, Miss Janet
Blaker, Peter Clegg, Sir Walter Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Cockeram, Eric Fox, Marcus
Boscawen, Hon Robert Colvin, Michael Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford ft St)
Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West) Cope, John Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Bowden, Andrew Cormack, Patrick Fry, Peter
Brains, Sir Bernard Costaln, A. P. Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Bright, Graham Critchley, Julian Gardner, Edward (South Fylde)
Brinton, Tim Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Brittan, Leon Dickens, Geoffrey Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Glyn, Dr Alan McQuarrie, Albert Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Goodhart, Philip Major, John Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Goodhew, Victor Marland, Paul Rossi, Hugh
Gow, Ian Marlow, Tony Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Gower, Sir Raymond Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Scott, Nicholas
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Marten, Neil (Banbury) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Gray, Hamish Mather, Carol Shelton, William (Streatham)
Greenway, Harry Maude, Rt Hon Angus Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Grieve, Percy Mawby, Ray Shepherd, Richard(Aldrldge-Br'hills)
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Mawhinney, Dr Brian Silvester, Fred
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Sims, Roger
Grist, Ian Mayhew, Patrick Skeet, T. H. H.
Grylls, Michael Mellor, David Speed, Keith
Gummer, John Selwyn Meyer, Sir Anthony Speller, Tony
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm&Ew II) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch) Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mills, lain (Meriden) Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)
Hampson, Dr Keith Mills, Peter (West Devon) Squire, Robin
Hannam, John Miscampbell, Norman Stanbrook, Ivor
Haselhurst, Alan Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stanley, John
Hastings, Stephen Moate, Roger Steen, Anthony
Hawksley, Warren Monro, Hector Slevens, Martin
Hayhoe, Barney Montgomery, Fergus Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Heddle, John Moore, John Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)
Henderson, Barry Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth) Stradling Thomas, J.
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes) Tapseil, Peter
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester) Taylor, Teddy (Southend East)
Hill, James Mudd, David Temple-Morris, Peter
Holland, Philip (Carlton) Murphy, Christopher Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Hendon S)
Hooson, Tom Myles, David Thompson, Donald
Hordern, Peter
Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford) Neale, Gerrard Needham, Richard Thorne, Neil (llford South) Thornton, Malcolm
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Nelson, Anthony Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)
Hunt, David (Wirral) Neubert, Michael Trotter, Neville
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Newton, Tony van Straubenzee, W. R.
Hurd, Hon Douglas Normanton, Tom Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Nott, Rt Hon John Viggers, Peter
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Jessel, Toby Onslow, Cranley Waddington, David
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Page, John (Harrow West) Wakeham, John
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Page, Rt Hon Sir R. Graham Waldegrave, Hon William
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire) Walker, Rt Hon Peter (Worcester)
Kaberry, Sir Donald Parkinson, Cecil Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)
Kershaw, Anthony Parris, Matthew Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
King, Rt Hon Tom Pattern, Christopher (Bath) Wall, Patrick
Kitson, Sir Timothy Patten, John (Oxford) Waller, Gary
Knox, David Pattie, Geoffrey Walters, Dennis
Lamont, Norman Pawsey, James Ward, John
Lang, Ian Percival, Sir Ian Warren, Kenneth
Langford-Holl, Sir John Pink, R. Bonner Wells, John (Maidstone)
Latham, Michael Pollock, Alexander Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)
Lawrence, Ivan Porter, George Wheeler, John
Lawson, Nigel Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Lee, John Price, David (Eastlelgh) Whitney, Raymond
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Prior, Rt Hon James Wickenden, Keith
Lester, Jim (Beston) Proctor, K. Harvey Wilkinson, John
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Raison, Timothy Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)
Lloyd, Peter (Farenam) Rathbone, Tim Winterton, Nicholas
Loverldge, John Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Wolfson, Mark
Lyell, Nicholas Rees-Davies, W. R. Young, Sir George (Acton)
McCrindle, Robert Rhodes James, Robert Younger, Rt Hon George
Macfarlane, Neil Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
MacGregor, John Ridley, Hon Nicholas TELLERS FOR THE NOES :
MacKay, John (Argyll) Ridsdale, Julian Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and Mr. Anthony Berry.
McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury) Rifkind, Malcolm
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 32 (Questions on amendments) and agreed to.


That this House, aware of the desire of disabled people to live independent lives in their own homes and of the economic advantages for the nation of allowing them to do so, recognises that, as two of the largest spending programmes, Social Security and Health and Personal Social Services must make some contribution to the inescapable reduction in public spending required by the economic situation inherited by the Government last year ; welcomes the valuable and increasing services for disabled people provided by the voluntary sector ; and looks forward to the Government giving a high priority to improving services and support for disabled people when additional resources become available.

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