HC Deb 13 May 1981 vol 4 cc822-45

'The Secretary of State shall request the Social Security Advisory Committee to report on the adequacy of current benefit provision for the long-term unemployed with special reference to the level and duration of unemployment benefit and the Level of supplementary benefit paid to the long-term unemployed, and this report shall be laid before Parliament.'.—[Mr. Buchan.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the clause be read a Second time.—[Mr. Buchan.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

With this it will be convenient to take new clause 4—"Long-term benefits".

7.30 pm
Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

I commend these two important new clauses to the House. Yesterday, in Committee, we debated provisions in the Finance Bill that will help some of the wealthiest and most fortunate people in Britain. Today's debate is about people who are among the poorest and least fortunate in our society. It is a debate about the poverty and unmerited hardship of people who have been thrown out of work through no fault of their own. It is about the claims of the chronically sick and disabled who find themselves in what has now rightly become known as the invalidity trap.

New clause 3 calls for a report from the Social Security Advisory Committee on the financial implications of the long-term unemployed. Last July, the Secretary of State for Employment was reported by The Sunday Times as saying that he would make unemployment his next great priority. Since then there has been a further sharp and disastrous rise in unemployment, with the certainty of even worse figures to come. That rise has rapidly increased the numbers of the long-term unemployed. Moreover, the poverty that unemployment so often brings is worst among the long-term unemployed with children.

Last November, the Government deliberately chose to cut the incomes of such families. The cut in unemployment benefits and the new and less generous basis for the uprating of the children's additions inflicted a pay cut of £2.80 a week—£145.60 in a full year—on an unemployed family with two children. That was a shabby and indefensible cut in living standards, imposed by a Government who have been consistently and extremely generous to the richest 5 per cent. of taxpayers.

As unemployment is forecast to rise to much higher levels, Ministers should recall the concern of the Supplementary Benefits Commission about the prospect of so many children being raised in the atmosphere of social and material deprivation which unemployment so often brings. Ministers should also recall the argument put forward in an editorial in The Times which said that the Government has an obligation to protect the hardest hit groups from the consequences of the recession. The long-term unemployed are incontrovertibly among the hardest hit groups. Hon. Members on both sides of the House believe that it is wrong that such people should continue to be discriminated against by the 5 per cent. abatement in benefits and by their exclusion from all the help that the long-term rate of supplementary benefit could confer.

As I said, new clause 3, the case for which my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) will be returning to if he is fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, calls only for a report to the House on the current financial difficulties of the long-term unemployed. In all conscience, that is a modest request which I hope some Conservative Members will support.

Among the long-term unemployed are large numbers of disabled people who passionately want to work. Many of them now feel that they are denied even the hope that they will ever work again. In the words of an ex-fitter, now registered blind, who is taking part in the people's march for jobs from Liverpool to London, he and many other disabled people feel that they will never again have the right to work, the right to dignity and the right to provide for ourselves". New clause 4 deals with another of the hardest hit groups, namely, those who because of long-term sickness or disability cannot work, and who must rely for their incomes on invalidity pensions. They find themselves painfully caught in the invalidity trap. The trap arises where invalidity pensioners have an income above that which would qualify them for supplementary benefit at the ordinary rate but which falls below what they would receive if they were eligible for supplementary benefit at the long-term rate. Since they do not qualify for the benefit at the ordinary rate, they can never qualify for it at the long-term rate. Their problem is unquestionably long-term and they have lower incomes than the Government themselves regard as necessary for people in their circumstances.

The Government keep changing their mind on the numbers of people now caught in the trap. To begin with, they said that there are 100,000 who are trapped. In Committee they said that the number was 70,000. In a written reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Carter-Jones) on 15 April the Minister of State reverted to the figure of 100,000. A substantial number of widows are also affected and I speak also for them tonight. We are thus talking of deprivation on a very considerable scale.

It is also important to understand that the invalidity trap has worsened in recent years for three reasons. First, the gap between the ordinary and the long-term rates of supplementary benefit has widened. More people are, therefore, caught in between. In October 1973, when the long-term rate was introduced, it was worth 10.3 per cent. more than the ordinary rate for a married couple. It is now worth 25.6 per cent. more. In money terms, the gap has widened from £1.20 to £8.85.

The second reason why the trap has worsened is that the 5 per cent. abatement of invalidity benefit last November reduced its value relative to the long-term rate of supplementary benefit and has in consequence increased the number of people caught in the trap. In fact, the Government first gave their estimate of 100,000 even before the 5 per cent. abatement.

Thirdly, the trap has worsened because before last November invalidity pensioners whose incomes were slightly above the supplementary benefit level were eligible for occasional lump sum payments under the supplementary benefits scheme to meet exceptional needs. Now such payments are confined to people restricted to weekly supplementary benefit. This restriction has increased the financial penalties of being caught in the trap. Again, it must be emphasised that the loss to an invalidity pensioner who is caught in the invalidity trap is much greater than the difference between the two rates of supplementary benefit. There is also the loss of weekly additions for heating and diet, free prescriptions and many other entitlements.

Many examples could be given of the effect of the invalidity trap on some of the most hard-pressed families in Britain today. I shall give just one example, that of the family of a man who is long-term sick. He and his wife, who live in Newham, get £54.35 invalidity benefit and £4.75 child benefit a week making £59.10 in all. Their rent is high but £9.20 of it is not covered by supplementary benefit as they have a working child and another child who is disabled and not in receipt of supplementary benefit living with them. Their supplementary benefit entitlement, including an additional requirement for central heating, is £57.60. They are £1.70 a week over the short-term supplementary benefit limit but will always be £7.15 a week worse off when compared with the long-term supplementary benefit rate. The difference, therefore, is a very punishing one for that family.

The Government will say that this is unfortunate—I think that "unpalatable" was the Secretary of State's word to describe the effect on such families of his cut in invalidity benefit—but that the cost of releasing them from the invalidity trap at £15 million a year is too high.

There are two answers that the Government must be given. The first is that the cost is a mere 7½ per cent. of the £200 million which the Government are saving by the provisions of clause 1 of this shoddy little Bill. Indeed, it is £1 million more than the amount saved in a full year on invalidity benefit alone in consequence of the 1 per cent. clawback. My hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) was totally justified in calling that "peanuts" in Committee.

The second answer to the Government deserves to be put even more pointedly. How can Ministers who, on a single day, crammed £.1,400 million into the pockets of the richest 5 per cent. of taxpayers, many of whom never have to lift a finger to "earn" their incomes, even begin to justify the denial of supplementary benefit on the long-term rate to the families of men who are long-term sick and disabled?

Or again, how can they possibly justify the quite brutal pay cut of 5 per cent. imposed on Britain's 650,000 invalidity pensioners? For the poor they cut social benefits; for the rich they cut taxes. That is their kind of equity. To govern is to choose and this Government have chosen to help the richest taxpayers at the cost of hurting some of the poorest of those who, because of sickness and disability, can no longer work.

New clause 4 is very much like the new clause that was moved in Committee by the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon). It has the same effect. I am pleased to see the hon. Gentleman in his place tonight. He takes a close interest in these subjects and the hon. Gentleman's speech in Committee is one well worth reading by every Conservative Member. I honour him both for the boldness of his advocacy and the obvious sincerity of his feelings on this important matter.

The hon. Gentleman recalled that in the manifesto on which he stood for election to this House in May 1979, and on which every Minister in this Government was elected, it was pledged that the worst-off would be protected from the problems facing the country. He said: Yet it appears that we are doing precisely the reverse of what we said in respect of the disabled." —[Official Report, Standing Committee G;24 March 1981, c. 232.] That was his charge against the Government. It was a grave one. I hope that he will have the opportunity of documenting it further tonight. The hon. Gentleman was right in saying that, instead of protecting the chronically sick and disabled, the Government have been doing precisely the reverse to large numbers of the most vulnerable of them.

The hon. Gentleman was much informed in his submission by the excellent brief prepared by Mr. John Wilson of Disability Alliance. John Wilson has won the respect of all of us who are concerned and have been concerned over the years, on both sides of the House, about the problems and needs of the disabled. I shall quote just three sentences from his brief: The Conservative Government came to power pledged to improve benefits and services for disabled people. Instead it has cut them. Of all the measures which have affected the standard of living of disabled people, the 5 per cent. abatement has had the sharpest effect on the greatest number. John Wilson and his colleagues, the Disablement Income Group and the all-party disablement group in this House, like many other organisations and groups, will be delighted if tonight we can win approval for the very modest requirements that are imposed by the new clauses. I most warmly commend them to the House.

Mr. Ennals

I warmly support my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) in his condemnation of the Government's performance in relation to the disabled during this International Year of Disabled People.

I shall concentrate particularly on new clause 3, which I warmly welcome. When I was Secretary of State for Social Services, the Supplementary Benefits Commission, which was the predecessor of the Social Security Advisory Committee, considered the matter and strongly recommended to me and to the Government that the long-term unemployed should receive long-term supplementary benefit. I warmly agreed. However, that was one of those battles with the Treasury which one inevitably lost at the time, when we succeeded in getting a higher level of child benefit than the Conservative Party was prepared to concede. We win some battles and lose others.

The issue today is far more important than it was two years ago when I was Secretary of State. There are two reasons. The first is the Government's decision to cut back the level of benefit for the unemployed and to tax the increases in benefit, whatever those benefits might be. Those issues were discussed earlier this week on the Finance Bill. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I opposed the proposals and we were defeated on each one.

The unemployed are not only much greater in number today, but they are poorer than they have been for several decades. As a result of the action taken by the Government, the unemployed, especially the long-term unemployed on supplementary benefit, are suffering much more than they were before.

I wish to develop the second argument. It concerns the massive increase in the number of long-term unemployed. In January 1979 in the United Kingdom 334,000 people had been unemployed for more than 52 weeks, or a year. There were 246,000 people who had been unemployed for between 26 weeks and 52 weeks—between six months and a year. They were moving towards long-term unemployment if one assumes that the long-term unemployed had been out of work for more than a year.

That was bad enough two years ago. However, today the situation is dramatically worse. In January 1981 an extra 100,000 people had been unemployed for over 52 weeks. The actual figure was 430,000. The number of those unemployed for between 26 and 52 weeks had leapt by more than 200,000 in that two-year period. The total number in that category was 460,000. Therefore, if one takes the two figures together, in January 1979 480,000 people had been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. The situation has become substantially worse since January 1981, which is the latest time for which I have figures. The figure was not 480,000, but 890,000. Therefore, it has nearly doubled.

Therefore, if we are concerned with the long-term unemployed, the House must recognise that we are now dealing with a dramatically different problem from the one with which we dealt before. In our unemployment figures we were often dealing with people who were moving from one job to another. Sometimes it took them a considerable time to do so because they wanted to find the right job. Now the right jobs do not exist. The people who now become unemployed to a large extent become permanently unemployed. It will be found from the statistics that that happens in almost every age group, especially in two age groups—the young, that is, those up to the age of 30, particularly young parents, and older people over the age of 50 whose expectations of getting a job are small.

The longer the unemployment figures remain at the present level, the higher will be the proportion of people who are long-term unemployed. My fear and sad expectation is that those figures will continue to rise substantially above the present figure of 2½ million. It may be more than a year before we see any improvement in the unemployment figures. Whatever the increase in the present number of unemployed, even if it were to stay at the present figure, we must expect that the number of people who will be long-term unemployed will be rising month by month. Those are the people we are discussing in the new clause.

Many people who have become unemployed are seeking jobs and failing to get them, even at a much reduced level of income. I was horrified to see that the Department of Employment circulates a form to the unemployed which contains the following question: What is the lowest income you are prepared to accept? It is appalling that people are being asked what is the smallest figure they would accept in order to take a job, regardless of their experience and background.

That is a problem in my constituency in Norwich. We have seen an increase of 85 per cent. in unemployment in the past two years. That has shown a great increase in the number of long-term unemployed. The city is not used to unemployment, and it now has unemployment at a level which is not only unacceptable but far higher than it has ever had in its history.

The plight of the unemployed is much worse. Any savings which they may have made over their years of employment are likely to have been used up purely for survival, particularly because the level of benefit has been reduced by the Government. The Government have cut benefit increases to below the level of inflation. Now the benefits are to be taxed and, furthermore, those people are to suffer a delay in their tax rebates, which is another disgraceful action which has been taken this week.

There is now real hardship among the long-term unemployed such as we have not known for the past 50 years. The least the Government could do is to show some awareness of the massive human problem which has largely been created by Government policies. At least it would be something if they were to accept the new clause of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe.

The Social Security Advisory Committee should be asked sympathetically to consider the problem and to report to the House. We would then be better informed. I would be staggered to hear any serious arguments from Conservative Members on why that newly established committee, which is to succeed the independent, forward-looking and often critical Supplementary Benefits Commission, should not be given that vital task.

8 pm

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

I endorse the views and sentiments of my right hon. Friends the Members for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) and for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals). We are concerned about the unemployed and disabled, who are the most vulnerable in our society. Neither new clause asks for the moon. They ask for information that may lead to additional cash being given to those in greatest need.

Both my right hon. Friends referred to the plight and the poverty of the long-term unemployed. Last Monday in Stoke-on-Trent I joined the people's march for jobs. There has been much talk of what the people on the march are like, what they feel, what they do and who they are. I talked to them. They are men and women of great dignity, who feel deep anger at what they see as the Government's maltreatment. We all argue about who or what is responsible for unemployment. But an interesting comment was made when the march stopped in my constituency. Among the many speeches, the best was by the rector of Stoke-on-Trent. He delivered a devastating indictment of Government policy, and one comment stuck in my mind. He said that the Prime Minister said that she had no magic wand, which she has not, but she does have a Cabinet, and it is the Cabinet that should take action about unemployment. How true that is. The Government must accept responsibility for the consequences of unemployment.

Dealing first with the new clause 3, the long-term unemployed are in greatest need, and it is illogical and unfair to deny them the long-term rate of benefit. The number of long-term unemployed is growing. It is estimated at nearly 900,000, and if the trend continues it will soon be 1 million. The Government have a responsibility to do something for these people. My constituency has always had high unemployment, but in the last year unemployment has doubled. In constituencies not used to unemployment there is a deep feeling that the growing army of long-term unemployed should receive long-term supplementary benefit.

Turning to new clause 4, invalidity pensioners are in a Catch-22 situation. They cannot qualify for the normal rate of supplementary benefit and they cannot qualify for the long-term rate. That position is untenable. The anomaly was brought home vividly by David Donnison when he was running the Supplementary Benefits Commission. The argument goes on ad infinitum. The number involved may be 90,000 or 100,000—I see it as a full Wembley stadium, watching, say, a poor Welsh or Scottish side, say 90,000 of disabled people who are being denied the long-term supplementary benefit, or a full stadium watching an English side could be as many as 100,000. It is inexcusable that so many people are denied the benefit.

If people are suffering because they are disabled or unemployed for a long time it is indefensible and anomalous to refuse them the benefit. It is a plain and simple point. In Committee, the Government produced a disingenuous and preposterous argument about taxes that would be later introduced. Their argument cannot be sustained.

We are not asking for an immediate payment. The new clauses ask only for a report. There could not be a more modest proposal before the House. The Government should be condemned if they reject it.

I thought that I might be speaking after the admirable hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon). I shall not embarrass him with too many compliments. I hope that he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I always admire his views. I shall not speak for him, but hon. Members on both sides of the House sympathise with the aims of the new clauses. I hope that the Minister will respond favourably.

Mr. Race

I shall try to be as brief as my right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley).

I wish to deal primarily with new clause 3, which concerns the long-term unemployed. The Government can and should take action. Our request is modest. We should like a report. My right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) made it clear that the number of long-term unemployed is rapidly increasing. In January 1981, 10 per cent. of the under-25s had been unemployed for over 52 weeks. In the 25-to-54 age group it was 20 per cent. and for the over-55s it was 37 per cent. Young men and women just out of school suffer unemployment, but it gets worse as people get older.

All my right hon. and hon. Friends want the long-term unemployed to get the long-term rate of supplementary benefit. The request should command respect and support from the House, and I hope that the Minister will tell us that he will implement it. The Supplementary Benefits Commission's recent report said in paragraph 3.20: We regard this discrimination against the unemployed and their families as wrong, and its removal is our highest priority for the improvement of the supplementary benefits scheme. That is what the Supplementary Benefits Commission said before it was disbanded. I hope that that is also the Government's principal objective in improving the supplementary benefits scheme. Perhaps the Minister will tell us whether it is, and when the Government will introduce the long-term rate of supplementary benefit for the long-term unemployed.

Many of the unemployed do not receive any benefit. At the last count, 291,000 people did not receive supplementary benefit or national insurance unemployment benefit. That is 15.4 per cent. of the total number of unemployed at that time. Those people are in desperate straits. Some of them are among the long-term unemployed, but others are not. However, we must ensure that all the unemployed, particularly the long-term unemployed, receive a State benefit in order to support themselves. There is nothing worse than a shoddy income, or no income at all, if a person is desperately looking for a job.

The long-term unemployed seem to do worse than others in terms of receiving additions to their benefits. For example, offical Government statistics show that only 6 per cent. of the unemployed receive exceptional circumstances additions to their benefits, compared to 20 per cent. of widows and 33 per cent. of the sick and disabled. Those are the most recent figures that I could find. They come from the Government's 1972 social security statistics. I should be interested to know whether the Minister has more up-to-date information. It would seem that their ability to claim additional benefits is more restricted. Why is it that DHSS offices do not seem to give the same proportion of exceptional circumstances additions to the unemployed?

The problem of the long-term unemployed cannot be separated from the climate in which the Government operate. In 12 months, the Government have increased unemployment by 65 per cent. During the same period unemployment in OECD countries has increased by only 15 per cent. The Government have created mass unemployment. Hundreds and thousands of people will not be able to find jobs in the forseeable future. The Government's policy on social security means that they are attacking the benefits of the unemployed.

Last year there was a cut of 5 per cent. in unemployment benefit as a result of the Social Security (No. 2) Act 1980. The phased abolition of earnings-related supplement has also been announced. It is to be abolished in January 1982. On average, that provides £8.80 per week additional supplement to the national insurance standard rate of unemployment benefit. From some Government quarters we have heard the exraordinary suggestion that unemployment registration should become voluntary. I hope that the Minister will make a statement tonight on the relation between that and the accrual and payment of benefit.

8.15 pm

The climate is also being influenced by the activities of some officers in some DHSS offices and by activities in other parts of the social security system. For example, some of the long-term unemployed attend a DHSS reception centre in Camberwell. Recently a "Nationwide" reporter went to that reception centre and tried to obtain admission. When a long-term unemployed person who is down and out goes to the reception centre, he is deloused. All a man's clothes are taken from him. The "Nationwide" reporter had all his clothes taken from him and was put through the delousing treatment. While he was naked, he was interviewed by a DHSS official about his entitlement to benefit.

If that is the way in which people are treated, hon. Members should ensure that immediate remedial action is taken. I am sure that such practices are abhorrent to hon. Members. We should get rid of them as quickly as possible. I hope that the Minister will tell us what action has been taken as a result of that "Nationwide" report to improve and humanise the degrading policies and practices of that reception centre.

The problem of the long-term unemployed will not go away. Because of the Government's policies, it will get worse. We must ensure that we pay the long-term unemployed the benefits to which they are entitled. Eventually, we must find them jobs through the recreation of full employment.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Like other hon. Members, I shall try to be brief. I hope that the Minister will brush aside the new clauses and announce that he intends to do as we have asked. After all, we do not need a review, because we know that an overwhelming case can be made for allowing such people to move quickly on to the long-term rates. However, if the Minister cannot concede that, perhaps he will tell the House why there is a long-term rate and a short-term rate of benefit. Perhaps he will carefully' explain the principle behind those rates and whether I have misunderstood it.

The two rates are supposed to be the minimum levels necessary in order for a person to keep himself and his family at a reasonable standard. I understand that if someone is on such rates for a short period he will have to meet certain items of expenditure, such as food, rent, mortgage payments and heating and lighting bills. However, it is possible to put off the payment of many other items for the time being. For example, for a while they can put off replacing their clothing, bedding and most household necessities. I understand that that is why the short-term rate is less than the long-term rate. It is accepted that, after a while, people can no longer put off the replacement of clothes and essential household items. Therefore, there are short-term and long-term rates.

Under the old system a person had to wait two years before moving on to the long-term rate. Many people felt that that was unreasonable. I welcome the fact that the time has been shortened to 12 months, but if that is the principle behind the short-term and long-term rates, why is it that some people cannot move on to the long-term rate regardless of how long they have been on the short-term rate? It is impossible for the unemployed to defer for ever expenditure on certain items. Perhaps the Minister assumes that such people have other sources of income, or perhaps he believes that they should live below the minimum standard.

New clause 4 refers to the people who are fortunate enough to receive a little more than the short-term supplementary rate. However, because they are never deemed to be on the short-term rate, they never move to the long-term rate. Can they defer for ever items of expenditure which are taken into account for people on the long-term rate? Of course they cannot. That type of invalidity benefit means that the recipients lose benefit for ever. Will they never be able to replace clothing and major household equipment?

To wait six months before transferring from the short-term to the long-term rate is unreasonable but to have to wait for ever is impossible. I hope that the Government will do something about that quickly and not wait for a review.

Mr. Tom Benyon (Abingdon)

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on this subject. I referred to the subject on 24 March in Standing Committee. I shall not recycle what I said then. People who are interested in what I said can read the Official Report.

I thank John Wilson of Disability Alliance for the information that he supplied to hon. Members on both sides of the House. I also thank the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) for his kind remarks. Being the honest chap and quivering flower that I am in the face of praise, I cannot accept that I have a monopoly of concern on this subject. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House, including my hon. Friends the Members for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) and Eastleigh (Sir D. Price), have excellent and long histories of working for the disabled.

This is the International Year of Disabled People and it would be wrong for pressure groups outside, and constituents who write to us and ask us what we are doing this year, to look solely to the Government to discharge obligations to the disabled. Before people ask anybody what they are doing this year they should ensure that they are doing something. It is far too easy for Governments to accept responsibilities for all elements in society. All citizens should take responsibility, not just in the International Year of Disabled People, but next year when another fashionable subject will take over. The problems of disabled people will not have disappeared next year. If the recession lasts much longer their position will become steadily worse.

The definition of the invalidity trap has already been given. Between 70,000 and 100,000 people are caught in that trap. The disabled unemployed are the worst-off in our society. The invalidity trap has existed for a long time. I do not wish to make a party political point. I concede that the invalidity trap has become much worse in the last two years. The financial circumstances of the disabled have fallen behind other sectors because other sectors have used pressure groups to win more of our resources. The unemployed disabled who fall into the invalidity trap are several pounds a week worse off.

Supplementary benefit acts as a passport for many handicapped people and many people on supplementary benefit are, as far as transport, heating, rent, rates and prescriptions are concerned, to name but a few, not only worse off in financial terms but in indirect terms. What has recently made the people in the invalidity trap worse off has been the 1 per cent. and 5 per cent. derating in the invalidity benefit. It is hoped that the position of the disabled, who fall into this invidious category, will be regarded by the Government as having the highest possible priority when resources permit.

I concede that we are operating in a very difficult climate. Not only are we working against a backcloth of the world recession, but there are the much-vaunted cuts which our Government are said to have undertaken. When one analyses the figures across the board one sees that we are spending more in every area. We should not look at one area where the Government have not come up to scratch but at their whole performance as far as the National Health Service is concerned. We have spent considerably more since May 1979 and honoured our electoral pledge that the National Health Service as a whole would not fall behind but that standards would be maintained.

Before we criticise the Government too harshly in this area we should remember that we have 1,000 more doctors, and 8,000 more nurses and that we have cut hospital waiting lists by 100,000. It would be wrong to home in on the Government and criticise them on one aspect.

I repeat that the record of the Government as far as the disabled are concerned leaves a lot to be desired. I have been reassured by my hon. Friend that when resources permit he will regard this as having the highest priority.

To Labour Members I say that we just cannot spend our way out of problems. They have suggested occasionally that we might do that, but we cannot spend our way out of recession and the options, if they were ever open to us, are certainly open to us no longer. We have heard quotations from one of the then Prime Minister's speeches to the Labour Party conference in 1976, which we must all take to heart.

Mr. Race

It was wrong then and it is wrong now.

Mr. Benyon

I am grateful for that comment, made by the hon. Member from a sedentary position. Nevertheless I am sure that our Government echo those sentiments. We said in our manifesto that we would protect the worse-off from the worst of the problems facing the country. With regard to the invalidity trap, we have not done that and that trap is getting worse. I used the amendment I tabled in Committee to ventilate the problem. That has been done both in Committee and in this debate this afternoon. We listen with expectation to what my hon. Friend has to say on the subject. I am sure that he will reassure us that the priority with which he regards this is getting higher by the hour.

Mr. Jim Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)

The hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon) says that we are in a difficult climate. The truth is that the Government are making that climate much more difficult as each day passes. They have no policy as far as the long-term unemployed are concerned other than to increase the number who happen to find themselves out of a job for more than 12 months. I am not going to repeat the statistics which have been mentioned, other than to say that the United Kingdom is now in the unenviable position within the European Community, with the exception of the Irish Republic, of having more people out of a job for longer than 12 months. Belgium is trying to catch up quickly with us, but that is not the way in which the Government should be pursuing employment policies. From what has emerged from the Manpower Services Commission in recent years, it is clear that no meaningful measures are being taken on the scale that is required to deal with the growing problem of long-term unemployment.

8.30 pm

I notice the presence of the hard man from Bridlington, who served as a member of the Select Committee on Employment until taking over as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister. I remind the Minister—in case the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) does not tell him about this daily—that the problem of the longterm unemployed is becoming so serious that I doubt very much whether any Government will be able to eradicate it within the next decade.

One of the problems about recruitment is that employers are getting so many applicants that they can afford to accept people who are either in a job and want to change or have recently left or lost a job. Once a person has been out of a job for more than six or nine months, and certainly more than 12 months, it becomes exceedingly difficult to get accepted. I have had some experience not only in the trade union movement but in personnel management. That was in a much better employment climate than we are operating in today. Most recruiting officers would tend to play safe and would therefore take the person who has a recent employment record to go by.

Mr. Race

Is my hon. Friend aware that the professional and executive register sends a newspaper to those who are on the register? The most recent edition stated that the average number of interviews gone through by people before they get a job is now 21.

Mr. Craigen

Yes, I would accept that. The brunt of the problem in my constituency has been borne by the unskilled and the semi-skilled, although there is growing evidence that many professional groups within the community will now be faced with the prospect of serious long-term unemployment.

I listened with great interest to my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals). I did not interrupt him to ask what his constituency's unemployment percentage was, but I suspect that it is a lot less than that of mine. His contribution reminded me of a Conservative Back Bencher who said recently, "I have 8 per cent. unemployment in my constituency." I thought, "Those were halcyon days in many parts of the country when the rate was only 8 per cent.".

Perhaps the chickens are coming home to roost. Perhaps the Home Counties are beginning to experience some of the problems that we have had in Wales, Merseyside, Tyneside and the West of Scotland and other parts of the country. Perhaps political pressure will be exerted to do something to reduce long-term unemployment.

I hope that the Minister will accept these two modest proposals. He will be a very mean-minded man if he does not do so, because they are not asking him to do very much. However, being a politician, he will probably wonder, "What happens if the report is not to my liking?". I suspect that it will be a very unpalatable report. None the less, I trust that he will accept it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. Race) referred to the moves that are afoot to introduce voluntary registration for unemployment. The recent report on the payment of unemployment benefit, published jointly by the DHSS and the Department of Employment, makes frightening reading on how the present Government will handle people who find themselves out of a job. There has also been a review of statistical services in the Department of Employment and the Manpower Services Commission, from which it appears that we shall now be excluding severely disabled people from the unemployment statistics, along with various other groups of people. The Minister will be able to say, "We do not know what the precise figures are". He will plead ignorance as an excuse for inaction.

I hope that these two new clauses will be accepted by the Government.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

I have heard from time to time statements from Conservative Members of Parliament to the effect that the monopoly of compassion is not on the Opposition side of the House. They say that they also deeply care. If they do, this is their opportunity to demonstrate that care and conviction by approving the two clauses, which have been described as modest proposals—as an effort to assist and protect the unemployed and, of course, the sick. In areas of the West of Scotland where we have unemployment, we do not talk in terms of people being unemployed for six months, but for one year, two years, three years, four years and five years. In the Monklands area I have an engineering training association which has 65 membership companies and not one company took on a single apprentice at the beginning of the session. That is how grave the unemployment situation is in the part of the country where I come from. We are appealing on behalf of these unemployed tonight.

My hon. Friends have talked about short-term and long-term benefits. I would like to talk about some who do not have either, simply because a ruling was introduced by the social security authorities that meant that a standard charge was levied against all adults in the home, working or not. That has meant that thousands of families are now ineligible to receive supplementary benefits, and, as a consequence, ineligible to receive fringe benefits. I would have developed this argument extensively if my new clause dealing with aids for the partially sighted had been selected. I shall not do so now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I know that to do so would incur your displeasure. I have no intention of doing that this evening but I feel that I must mention that this is one of the most important considerations.

Where are the resources to be found by unemployed people to provide the essentials of ordinary living? It simply cannot be done on standard rate unemployment benefit. That is why the case has been argued for short term benefits for many who have now been declared ineligible and for long term benefits for most, because of the length of time that they are registering for employment, especially in parts of the West of Scotland.

Quite apart from the unemployment problem, and the tragedy of the lack of work in these areas, I am always deeply concerned about those who are also in receipt of invalidity benefits. I should like to draw the Minister's attention to some of the serious problems that arise. If unemployment and other benefits are cut by 5 per cent. it means a loss of £145 per annum for a husband and wife and two children. I should like the Minister to meet the housewives and to hear from them how they will find the resources to meet the rise in prices.

One of my saddest experiences arises from a recipient of invalidity benefit. The person I have in mind has had two major operations for malignancy. Although he receives invalidity benefit he has to pay for his medical prescriptions. A person in receipt of invalidity benefit will be told that his income exceeds the supplementary benefit scale and therefore he has to pay a proportion of the cost of spectacles, teeth and other aids that may be required and, most shameful of all, prescription charges. The gentleman I am talking about, having had two major operations, has to pay £5 out of his invalidity benefit for five items that have been prescribed by his doctor.

Mr. Race

Does my hon. Friend recall that last year the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon) moved a new clause to the Health Services Bill which sought to exempt invalidity beneficiaries from prescription charges, and that Conservative Members of Parliament went through the Lobby to defeat that proposal? Does not that show that they have no compassion for invalids?

Mr. Dempsey

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that welcome and helpful intervention. It demonstrates unquestionably that on that issue Conservative Members of Parliament have no caring convictions and no sympathy for these people. They are the very individuals with whom I am concerned. Imagine the erosion in the benefit received by that sick and injured person who has to pay £5 from his invalidity benefit to obtain the medicines that the medical profession regards as indispensable to give him comfort.

I am not impressed by the argument that when the Government have the resources they will do something about it. We have the resources; we do not have to wait for them. Budgets have shown convincingly that the nation's resources are being unfairly distributed in the interests of the well-off and to the detriment of the needy. On Monday I listened to the debate on the Finance Bill concerning capital transfer tax. Millions of pounds in tax concessions were handed to the well-off landlords and landowners.

When I was pleading for an increase in the earnings of blind workers in the proceedings on a previous Budget I was told that the country could not afford it. Yet the Government have reduced the taxes of wealthy people from 83p to 60p in the pound. They are handing that money to those wealthy people on a plate. I understand that the total cost in one year is £1,500 million. Why not take back some of that money and give it to the unemployed, the invalidity pensioners, the sick and the needy? They are being discriminated against. I hope that we shall record our opposition to a fiscal policy that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

8.45 pm
Mr. Rossi

All the speeches in this debate have been commendably brief, and I shall try to emulate those hon. Members who have preceded me. However, I have been taken a little off balance because I thought that the main thrust of the Opposition speeches would have concentrated on these two sensitive areas of unemployment benefit and the invalidity trap. That is not the case.

I shall try to deal with the questions that have been put to me. As is their right, the Opposition chose to concentrate most of their fire on whether or not we should chase up people who are defrauding the social security system, and we spent most of the afternoon discussing matters of that kind. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is not true."] Well, the record is there for all to see. I have been here all afternoon and I have heard every speech.

These two new clauses do not call upon the Government to take any positive action at all in respect of these two areas of real concern. All they require is that, in one case, we ask for a report and, in the other, that we bring forward a report within a particular time limit.

New clause 3 asks the Secretary of State to request the Social Security Advisory Committee to report on the adequacy of current benefit provision for the long-term unemployed and so on. We discussed this matter in Committee. Those hon. Members who served on the Committee will recall that I replied to that aspect by saying that it would be undesirable if my right hon. Friend started to tell an advisory committee what it should or should not do. It must be independent, survey the whole social security scene, come to its own conclusion and lay down a programme of work for itself. It would be wrong for us to suggest a programme of piecemeal, ad hoc reports.

Unfortunately,the hon. member for Refrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) did not serve on the Committee at the time because he was unwell, and we missed him. Had he done so, he would have heard me say that of its own violition the advisory committee has embarked upon a study of this matter and would be reporting in due course. Therefore, there is no need for the clause at all. The work is already in hand, and the report will become available. That is well known to those hon. Members who served on the Committee.

Labour Members expressed some anxiety about the length of time that it would take before the advisory committee's first annual report saw the light of day. They will recall that I undertook to draw the attention of Sir Arthur Armitage to what was said in Committee. I did so. As a result, an item about the timing of the advisory committee's annual reports appeared on the committee's April agenda, and members of the committee had copies of our remarks before them.

I am glad to tell the House that the advisory committee hopes to produce its first and subsequent annual reports in time for the Budget debates and succeeding discussions. I hope that those remarks are reassuring.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

The House will welcome that statement. What opinion have the Government given the advisory committee so that it may be aware of the Government's view when considering this matter?

Mr. Rossi

Ministers and officials are in constant touch with the advisory committee and Sir Arthur has regular meetings with us. If the committee wants to know what Government thinking is, that is immediately conveyed to it during the discussions among members of the committee, Sir Arthur Armitage, Ministers and officials. The committee in due course will make known its views, which will be its views and not the Government's views.

I hope that on that basis the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) will accept that new clause 3 is no longer necessary, as the work is already well in hand. The Secretary of State does not have to call for the report because it will be prepared. It would establish an undesirable precedent for my right hon. Friend to suggest to an independent committee what his views are on work that the committee should or should not undertake or the areas that it should or should not investigate. I hope that the House will not press the new clause.

The new clause is not concerned simply with a report but with the problems of the long-term unemployed. The Government are aware of the importance of benefit provision for those who are long-term unemployed at a time when, regrettably—as the right hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) said—numbers are increasing in that group. Supplementary benefit has been exempted from the savings that have had to be made in the contributory unemployment benefit. Therefore, the position of the long-term unemployed has been correspondingly safeguarded.

I know that that answer does not entirely satisfy the hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) because he questioned the difference between the long-term and the short-term rates. He explained to me what he thought was the underlying philosophy of the distinction between the two rates. His logic is impeccable. He is correct in his analysis of the reason for the difference.

The long-term rate is a recognition that, after being on supplementary benefit for some time, claimants can be expected to have extra expenses over and above their normal day-to-day living expenses provided by the short-term scale rates. As pensioners are invariably long-term claimants, they receive the long-term rate from the beginning of their claim. However, all other claimants, except the unemployed, become entitled to the long-term rate after one year. That includes the long-term sick and single parents.

The House will recall that last November the Government improved the supplementary benefits scheme, especially for families with children. The number of children's scale rates were reduced from five to three and in merging the rates the higher rate in each case became the new rate. Families with children under five years or aged 11 and 12 gained from that change. Householders with under-fives are now entitled automatically to the heating addition of £1.40 a week.

The qualifying period for the higher rate was reduced from two years to one. Although that did not affect the children's rates directly, many families benefited by up to £5.85 a week as a result. Among those particularly helped by this measure were lone parents, who also benefited from the introduction of a tapered earnings disregard which left them up to £6 a week better off. We estimate that the majority of the half million who gained up to several pounds a week as a result of the November 1980 changes were families with children.

Therefore, I say to the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) that the Tories have concern for those who are badly off and, within the resources available, do their best to make provision where it is most needed.

I accept that there is an argument for extending the long-term rates to the unemployed, but the change would cost more than £100 million at current benefit rates. We cannot contemplate that until we get the economy right.

Our predecessors were aware of this problem. The hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) put a question on this matter to the then Minister for Social Security, the right hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), to which the answer was: National insurance unemployment benefit extends for 12 months. A person unemployed for longer than 12 months must rely on supplementary benefit, but this is never paid to the unemployed at the higher long-term rate. It is a high priority to improve benefits for the long-term unemployed, but such improvements are costly. It would cost £35 million a year at constant prices to extend the long-term rate of supplemetary benefit to those on supplementary benefit for two years. Giving all people under pension age the long-term rate after one year would cost £85 million a year at constant prices."—[Official Report, 6 March 1979; Vol. 963, c. 603.]

Mr. Ashley

The Minister is right to criticise the Labour Government for doing nothing about this issue. We are guilty of having done nothing. However, that is no argument for doing nothing now. Both the Labour and Conservative Governments are wrong. There can be no justification. Why can we not have a change now?

Mr. Rossi

I am not criticising the Labour Government for having done nothing in this area.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

We are.

Mr. Rossi

The problem that has been presented to me on the Floor of the House relating to the long-term rate benefit for the unemployed is not new. Both Labour and Conservative Governments have looked at it and wanted to deal with it, but there has been a financial obstacle. In March 1979 the cost was £85 million a year. Today, the cost at constant prices is over £100 million a year. The problem has increased; it has not gone away. Larger numbers are involved. We are not arguing about that. That is the situation in which the Government find themselves, as did the Labour Government. We accept that the problem needs to be corrected as soon as resources become available. They were not available to the Labour Administration, and they are not yet available to us.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Will the Minister at least admit that the Government have made the position infinitely worse by the 5 per cent. abatement? Indeed, his hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon) emphasised that the problem had been compounded by the Government's actions.

Mr. Rossi

I do not know to what extent I am in order in going into the 5 per cent. abatement, because it was discussed in great depth on Monday in Committee on the Finance Bill. It was pointed out that all parties agreed that these were taxable benefits and that they should be brought into tax.

At that time the economic difficulties had to be recognised and savings made. Those benefits that ought to be taxed were subject to the 5 per cent. abatement. The whole matter was gone into.

9 pm

One realises why this happened, and it is not because anyone takes pleasure in doing it. One wants the matter to be put right as quickly as possible, but we have to get the economy right first. The money has to be there before we can spend it. That is all that I am saying. That is the problem that faced the last Government with this long-term rate, and the same problem faces this Government.

As things improve—the Prime Minister says that they are beginning to improve—we shall be able to deal 'with these problems, which have perplexed and bedevilled both Administrations. They are not to be laid simply at the door of this Administration because we are convenient Aunt Sallies for Opposition Members. We must maintain a sense of fairness and proportion, and recognise the real difficulties that now face the country.

The hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Race) asked me several questions. He asked about the registration and benefit entitlement. The Rayner unemployment study proposes that the registration should no longer be a condition of benefit entitlement for adults. It is a proposal only, but if it were adopted in due course by the Government, after having considered the administrative requirements that would be needed to put it into effect, it would not in any way diminish benefit entitlement. Entitlement will depend on being capable and available for work. The registration condition is, as Rayner argued, more symbolic than significant.

On the question of reception treatment, I did not have the opportunity that the hon. Gentleman had to see the Nationwide programme, so I do not know the details. I shall look into the matter. I do not like answering such questions off the cuff, so I shall write to the hon. Gentleman. If what he said is true, I would say that there is a prima facie case for disciplinary action to be taken against the official concerned. However, I do not know the whole story. I only know what the hon. Gentleman has said. Therefore, it would be wrong for me to prejudge the matter.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned also the numbers of unemployed people who are registered as such but who, apparently, are not in receipt of a benefit. That is because fluctuating groups of people come on the register and begin to get benefits. Some claims have been made but not settled. There is a transitional period while they are registered but not yet in benefit. There are people who are disqualified for a period of six weeks. There are the people who were formerly self-employed and with resources above the supplementary benefit level. There are those in receipt of payments, which means that benefit is not immediately payable—for example, compensation for loss of wages. If all those groups are added together, there is an apparent gap in the figures, to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

On that basis, therefore, I hope that the House will recognise that new clause 3 is both unnecessary and inappropriate in the circumstances.

New clause 4 concerns the anomaly of the so-called invalidity trap. My hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon) has championed thatcause for some time. He has raised the matter in Committee and also on the Floor of the House. He has been supported by Opposition Members. It concerns him deeply and he is never slow to bring it to the attention of Ministers. I agree that it is an anomaly that needs correction. Figures have been bandied about the Chamber. Our best estimate is that about 100,000 would become entitled to the long-term rate after one year on incapacity benefit. On current levels of take-up, about 70,000 might be expected to claim. At November 1980 benefit rates the annual cost would be £15 million a year. The additional administrative costs to my Department are estimated at 250 additional staff in the first year, with about 150 additional staff in subsequent years.

The Government are well aware of the problem. Only last November the qualifying period for long-term rates was reduced from two years to one year. At the same time we relaxed the rules to enable 16- and 17-year-old recipients of non-contributory invalidity pension to count periods in receipt of that benefit towards the qualifying period for long-term rates. That was a modest, but nevertheless indicative step, which showed our attitude towards the problem, and an earnest of our good intention to deal with the matter when resources become available.

We need no prompting from Opposition Members to examine the problem. However, our resources are limited and before we can decide upon such a change, with the sum of money that would be involved, we must first generate the wealth to pay for it. When the economy is on a sound footing once more we can deal with matters that we regard as of priority.

Mr. Buchan

I shall be brief because we have made pledges to the House about the brevity of the debate, and we shall have another piece of the action tomorrow. I want to make one or two points about the Minister's speech. I do not know whether I should, in all honour, be expected to be brief following the Minister's opening remarks that he had expected us to concentrate on new clauses 3 and 4 and that we had, by inference, wasted our time in dealing with aspects of fraud and other matters.

That was not true. It was an extremely important debate which covered a wide range of matters. It managed to elicit the attitudes and the differences on both sides of the House. It was a revealing debate. We had to vote because we received little change from the Government. The debate was both necessary and timely. We apologise only for having spent less time on this debate, not that we spent more time on the previous debate.

There was little recognition in the Minister's speech that we were dealing with 2½ million unemployed—and, in real terms, we have reached the 3 million mark by any count. That did not seem to enter the Minister's consciousness. One reason for the anger on the Labour Benches is the speed with which the unemployment figure has been reached—an additional 1 million in one year. That is largely because of their own actions. Despite that, the Minister wishes me to accept blame along with the Labour Administration. I resigned from that Administration but their actions were not causing the then unemployment. That is the great difference.

In November 1980 there were 825,000 unemployed who were relying on supplementary benefit. There are probably nearly 1 million in that position now. They are either receiving unemployment benefit plus supplementary benefit or supplementary benefit only. We have now put nearly 1 million directly on to means testing. That is the gravamen of the charge.

I was in a mood to accept the Minister's suggestion on new clause 3. I welcome some of his comments. I think that some of his remarks stemmed from the pressure to which he was subjected in Committee. I am sorry that I missed the proceedings in Committee. I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks; I am now a good deal fitter. I suggest to everyone that they undergo an arterial operation as it cheers one up enormously. I have read the reports of the proceedings in Committee, and I sympathise with the Minister. It seemed that he was not making very good weather of piloting the Bill through the Committee. I understand that he had a bad case to present. I was tempted to say that we would accept what he had to say on new clause 3. However, we shall be voting on the new clause not merely because we seek the report but because he has made it clear that no matter what report comes forward from the Social Security Advisory Committee he is in a mind to reject it.

Mr. Rossi


Mr. Buchan

The hon. Gentleman has already said—

Mr. Rossi

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Buchan

Let me finish. The hon. Gentleman has already said that it will cost too much. He tells us that it will cost £100 million to bring short-term benefit on to the long-term rate. What is that but rejecting in advance anything that might flow from the report?

Mr. Rossi

The hon. Gentleman must not put words into my mouth. I did not say that we would reject the report—far from it. We shall study it in the greatest depth and give it the greatest consideration. We shall do what we can to implement it, whatever recommendations it may contain. I said that at this stage we are not in a position to do what we have been asked to do—this is what I was saying about the £100 million—any more than the Labour Government were able to act when it would have cost £85 million in 1979. That is not to say that we shall not be in a position to implement the report's recommendations when we receive it. We shall have to consider the issue when we read the report. We have not prejudged it as the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Mr. Buchan

We usually say "I am glad that the hon. Gentleman gave way". On this occasion I am glad that I gave way. The answer has completely justified and three-line Whip underlined what I had to say. The hon. Gentleman is saying that the Government will not pay the £100 million today no matter what the report contains. He does not mean that it will be paid tomorrow either. He made a bad opening, he has made a bad defence and I regret to say that he made a bad intervention. We shall vote against new clause 3.

Mr. Rossi

Against it?

Mr. Buchan

We shall vote for it. The hon. Gentleman is getting me in the same state as he has been in himself. We shall vote in favour of it despite our earlier inclination to use it as a trial. New clause 4 is associated with it, but I shall not be calling for a Division on that.

I hope that the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon) will put his feet where his mouth has been. In effect, we have been discussing the amendment that he introduced in Committee, which led to one of the famous tied votes. It was tied not because the hon. Gentleman voted for the Opposition, despite the fact that it was his amendment, but because he voted against his amendment. Let us have a little honour tonight. The hon. Member for Abingdon can support us on new clause 3 because he is neither bound to it nor ashamed by his vote. He can now start with a clean sheet and vote for the right thing.

9.15 pm
Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)

I sympathise with the Minister's argument that it probably would not be advisable for the Secretary of State to issue a stream of directions to the advisory committee on what it should do. However, it is a proper duty of Parliament, if it regards a matter as of great urgency and importance, to say to the advisory committee that it regards such a matter as of the highest priority and one to which the committee should give urgent and serious attention.

Parliament cannot give such directives except by means of this sort of resolution or clause. Therefore, I suggest to the Minister that it would be reasonable for the Government, because they regard the matter as important, to accept the clause, because all it does is to say to the advisory committee that we are glad that it has undertaken the study, that we regard the matter as of the greatest urgency and importance and that therefore we should be grateful if the Committee would expedite its considerations and get on with the report. By passing the clause, Parliament will have shown its deep and vast concern at the problem of long-term unemployment.

Most serious commentators are now emphatically saying that unemployment will rise to 3 million by the end of the year or early next year. I discount the arguments about how much hidden unemployment there is. If that is correct, the matter of the long-term unemployed will become much more serious.

I cannot see what the Government have to lose in any way. They are not committed to a single penny of expenditure by the clause. If the House of Commons passes the clause, as I hope it will, it will clearly show our profound concern about the long-term unemployment problem. We welcome the fact that the advisory committee has put something in hand, but we wish to get on with the job and have an urgent report in the shortest possible time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 221, Noes 277.

Division No. 184] [9.18 pm
Abse, Leo Dempsey, James
Adams, Allen Dewar, Donald
Allaun, Frank Dobson, Frank
Alton, David Dormand, Jack
Anderson, Donald Douglas, Dick
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dubs, Alfred
Ashton, Joe Dunn, James A.
Atkinson, N.(H'gey,) Dunnett, Jack
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Eadie, Alex
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Eastham, Ken
Beith, A. J. Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Benn, Rt Hon A. Wedgwood Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp't N) English, Michael
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Ennals, Rt Hon David
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Evans, loan (Aberdare)
Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro) Evans, John (Newton)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Faulds, Andrew
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Field, Frank
Brown, R. C. (N' castle W) Fitch, Alan
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Flannery, Martin
Buchan, Norman Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Ford, Ben
Campbell, Ian Forrester, John
Campbell-Savours, Dale Foster, Derek
Canavan, Dennis Foulkes, George
Carmichael, Neil Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Cartwright, John Freud, Clement
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) George, Bruce
Coleman, Donald Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Graham, Ted
Conlan, Bernard Grant, John (Islington C)
Cook, Robin F. Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Cowans, Harry Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)
Craigen, J. M. Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Crowther, J. S. Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Cryer, Bob Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cunliffe, Lawrence Haynes, Frank
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Heffer, Eric S.
Dalyell, Tam Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Homewood, William
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Hooley, Frank
Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd) Horam, John
Deakins, Eric Howell, Rt Hon D.
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Howells, Geraint
Hudson Davies, Gwilym E. Radice, Giles
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Richardson, Jo
Janner, Hon Greville Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
John, Brynmor Robertson, George
Johnson, James (Hull West) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Rooker, J. W.
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Roper, John
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Sandelson, Neville
Kerr, Russell Sever, John
Kilfedder, James A. Sheerman, Barry
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Lambie, David Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Lamborn, Harry Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Lamond, James Silverman, Julius
Leadbitter, Ted Skinner, Dennis
Leighton, Ronald Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
Lestor, Miss Joan Snape, Peter
Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW) Soley, Clive
Litherland, Robert Spearing, Nigel
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Spriggs, Leslie
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Stallard, A. W.
McCartney, Hugh Steel, Rt Hon David
McElhone, Frank Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Stoddart, David
McKelvey, William Stott, Roger
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Strang, Gavin
Maclennan, Robert Straw, Jack
McNally, Thomas Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
McNamara, Kevin Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
McTaggart, Robert Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
McWilliam, John Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Magee, Bryan Thomas, Dr R.(Carmarthen)
Marks, Kenneth Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Marshall, D(G'gow S'ton) Tilley, John
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Tinn, James
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Torney, Tom
Martin, M(G'gow S'burn) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Maxton, John Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)
Maynard, Miss Joan Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
Meacher, Michael Watkins, David
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Weetch, Ken
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Wellbeloved, James
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Welsh, Michael
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen) White, Frank R.
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw) Whitlock, William
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)
Newens, Stanley Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Ogden, Eric Winnick, David
O'Neill, Martin Woodall, Alec
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Woolmer, Kenneth
Palmer, Arthur Young, David (Bolton E)
Parry, Robert
Penhaligon, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Prescott, John Mr. James Hamilton and Mr. George Morton.
Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Race, Reg
Adley, Robert Best, Keith
Aitken, Jonathan Bevan, David Gilroy
Alexander, Richard Biggs-Davison, John
Alison, Michael Blackburn, John
Ancram, Michael Blaker, Peter
Arnold, Tom Body, Richard
Aspinwall, Jack Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne) Boscawen, Hon Robert
Atkins, Robert(Preston N) Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Boyson, Dr Rhodes
Banks, Robert Braine, Sir Bernard
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Bright, Graham
Bell, Sir Ronald Brinton, Tim
Bendall, Vivian Brittan, Leon
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Brotherton, Michael
Berry, Hon Anthony Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Bryan, Sir Paul Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Hooson, Tom
Buck, Antony Hordern, Peter
Bulmer, Esmond Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Burden, Sir Frederick Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Butcher, John Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Cadbury, Jocelyn Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Chapman, Sydney Kaberry, Sir Donald
Churchill, W. S. Kimball, Marcus
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) King, Rt Hon Tom
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Knox, David
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Lang, Ian
Clegg, Sir Walter Langford-Holt, Sir John
Cockeram, Eric Latham, Michael
Colvin, Michael Lawrence, Ivan
Cope, John Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Cormack, Patrick Lee, John
Corrie, John Le Marchant, Spencer
Cranborne, Viscount Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Critchley, Julian Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Crouch, David Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Dickens, Geoffrey Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Dorrell, Stephen Loveridge, John
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Luce, Richard
Dover, Denshore McCrindle, Robert
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Macfarlane, Neil
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) MacGregor, John
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John MacKay, John (Argyll)
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Macmillan, Rt Hon M.
Eggar, Tim McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Elliott, Sir William McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Emery, Peter McQuarrie, Albert
Fairbairn, Nicholas Madel, David
Fairgrieve, Russell Major, John
Faith, Mrs Sheila Marland, Paul
Farr, John Marlow, Tony
Fell, Anthony Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Fisher, Sir Nigel Mawby, Ray
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Fookes, Miss Janet Mayhew, Patrick
Forman, Nigel Mellor, David
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Meyer, Sir Anthony
Fox, Marcus Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Fry, Peter Mills, Peter (West Devon)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Miscampbell, Norman
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Moate, Roger
Glyn, Dr Alan Molyneaux, James
Goodhew, Victor Monro, Hector
Goodlad, Alastair Montgomery, Fergus
Gow, Ian Moore, John
Gower, Sir Raymond Morgan, Geraint
Gray, Hamish Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Greenway, Harry Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Griffiths, E.(B'ySt. Edm'ds) Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N) Mudd, David
Grist, Ian Murphy, Christopher
Grylls, Michael Myles, David
Gummer, John Selwyn Neale, Gerrard
Hamilton, Hon A. Needham, Richard
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Nelson, Anthony
Hampson, Dr Keith Neubert, Michael
Hannam, John Newton, Tony
Haselhurst, Alan Onslow, Cranley
Hastings, Stephen Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby)
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Hawksley, Warren Parkinson, Cecil
Hayhoe, Barney Parris, Matthew
Heddle, John Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Henderson, Barry Patten, John (Oxford)
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Pattie, Geoffrey
Hicks, Robert Pawsey, James
Pink, R. Bonner Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)
Porter, Barry Stokes, John
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Stradling Thomas, J.
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)
Prior, Rt Hon James Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Proctor, K. Harvey Tebbit, Norman
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Temple-Morris, Peter
Raison, Timothy Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Rathbone, Tim Thompson, Donald
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Thornton, Malcolm
Renton, Tim Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rhodes James, Robert Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Trippier, David
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Trotter, Neville
Ridsdale, Sir Julian van Straubenzee, W. R.
Rifkind, Malcolm Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW) Viggers, Peter
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Waddington, David
Ross, Wm. (Londonderry) Wakeham, John
Rossi, Hugh Waldegrave, Hon William
Rost, Peter Walker, Rt Hon P.(W'cester)
Royle, Sir Anthony Walker, B. (Perth)
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Wall, Patrick
Scott, Nicholas Waller, Gary
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Walters, Dennis
Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Ward, John
Shelton, William (Streatham) Warren, Kenneth
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Watson, John
Shepherd, Richard Wells, John (Maidstone)
Shersby, Michael Wells, Bowen
Silvester, Fred Wheeler, John
Sims, Roger Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Skeet, T. H. H. Whitney, Raymond
Speller, Tony Wickenden, Keith
Spence, John Wiggin, Jerry
Spicer, Jim (West Dorset) Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wolfson, Mark
Sproat, Iain Young, Sir George (Acton)
Squire, Robin Younger, Rt Hon George
Stanbrook, Ivor
Stanley, John Tellers for the Noes:
Steen, Anthony Mr. Carol Mather and Mr. Peter Brooke.
Stevens, Martin
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)

Question accordingly negatived.

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