HC Deb 11 November 1980 vol 992 cc182-3
14. Mr. McNamara

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he intends to introduce legislation to amend the principal Act so that patients receiving radiotherapy and renal dialysis do not lose their unemployment benefit.

Mrs. Chalker

The proposals which I announced in my reply to the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) on 29 October will enable anyone incapable of work through undergoing renal dialysis, or, possibly, other treatment for a serious condition, on two or three days in a week to receive sickness or invalidity benefit. This change will apply to people who are not in employment as well as those who are. Neither this change nor the new provision it is designed to modify affects unemployment benefit.

Mr. McNamara

Is the hon. Lady aware that we welcome her reply today and her reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall)? Will she state whether this proposal will need amending legislation? If so, how quickly shall we see it?

Mrs. Chalker

This proposal will need amending legislation, which will be brought in as soon as possible. In the meantime, however, as soon as it was discovered that this situation had occurred through the Social Security (No. 2) Act, extra-statutory steps were taken to make sure that there was no hesitation and that the benefit continued to those people undergoing renal dialysis on two or three days a week, through a statutory note from the Treasury.

Mr. Whitehead

In view of the hardship that has been caused in the interim in some circumstances, will the Department circularise the information to directors of dialysis units so that the information is available to their patients?

Mrs. Chalker

I am sorry to hear that there has been difficulty. Notices were sent to local offices before the date of change. I shall consider what the hon. Gentleman has said. If he will let me have a note of specific cases, I shall take them up myself.