HC Deb 03 March 1981 vol 1000 cc114-5
3. Mr. McNally

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services to what extent he monitors the application by local authorities of the provisions of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Social Security (Mr. Hugh Rossi)

Certain of the financial and statistical returns obtained by the Department relate to provisions made under this Act, such as meals services, aids to households and day centres; but implementation is primarily a matter for individual local authorities to determine.

Mr. McNally

Is the Minister aware that that is not good enough? An authority such as Stockport, which has not brought its register up to date for five or six years, cannot possibly be carrying out its duties and responsibilities under that Act. Is there not a responsibility, therefore, on the Minister to monitor authorities and bring into line those that are not fulfilling their duties?

Mr. Rossi

My right hon. Friend has certain reserve powers under the legislation. If anyone feels that a local authority is not fulfilling its duties under the Act, the matter can be referred to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Ashley

Those powers are never used by the right hon. Gentleman. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there have been cuts by local authorities, as a result of Government cuts in expenditure? Is he further aware that it would be easy to recoup these cuts by pursuing the many people who evade taxation in the black economy? Is he aware that £3,000 million could be used to help disabled people if the Government were to pursue tax evaders?

Mr. Rossi

I agree that it has not yet been necessary for my right hon. Friend to invoke the powers that Parliament has given him. With regard to the so-called cuts, I assure the right hon. Gentleman that since 1978–79 there has been an increase by 4 per cent. in real terms in money that is being spent by local authorities on the provision of personal social services.

Mr. Wigley

To what extent has the Minister monitored the powers under the Act for access for disabled people to buildings to which the public have the right to go? In particular, has he done any monitoring of the extent to which the planning authorities have used the powers of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 in England and Wales to make provision for disabled people to enter buildings, in the same way as the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 is being applied in Scotland?

Mr. Rossi

The matters that the hon. Gentleman mentions are the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, and not of my Department, but I have noted that he has a Bill before the House, with which I wish him every success.