HC Deb 09 February 1982 vol 17 cc852-3
16. Mr. Ron Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what circulars he has issued to local authorities about their obligations under section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.

Mr. Rossi

The only circular on the subject was issued jointly by the Departments concerned in August 1970.

Mr. Lewis

Can the Minister tell the House how many local authorities are operating unlawful waiting lists under section 2? Will he ensure that all persons whose need has been accepted are given the necessary treatment quickly? Will he stop dithering?

Mr. Rossi

I am not aware of any local authorities operating unlawful waiting lists. However, if the hon. Gentleman knows of a case, I shall ensure that it is investigated.

Mr. Ashley

Is the Minister aware that some local authorities have cut their social services by so much that people must wait for up to two years before they can receive treatment? As a result, because many of those people are old, they will die before they can be treated. Will the Minister take some action?

Mr. Rossi

It is true that the provision varies from local authority to local authority, but overall local authorities have increased their expenditure on personal social services in the past two years by about 7 per cent.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Is the Minister aware that large numbers of severely disabled people are being herded on to waiting lists for services for which they have been assessed, and are being made to wait, not just week by week or month by month, but year by year now, for services that they desperately need? Is the Minister further aware of Mr. Peter Westland's statement on behalf of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities that, because of the Government's cuts in local authority spending, some councils can no longer meet their legal duties under the Act? Is that why he is not using his default powers in appropriate cases, as the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation and 14 other major organisations of and for the disabled wish him to do?

Mr. Rossi

RADAR has referred 12 cases to my right hon. Friend. Inquiries were completed in nine cases, and no reason has been found for implementing the default procedure. Three cases are still being investigated.