HC Deb 15 June 1982 vol 25 cc716-7
8. Mr. John Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services for what reasons spending on aids for the disabled went down from £6.3 million in 1978–79 to £5.1 million in 1980–81.

Mr. Rossi

The hon. Gentleman is referring to expenditure on aids by local authorities where the number of cases assisted increased over the period in question from 237,372 to 262,109, namely by 10 per cent.

Over the same period expenditure on aids provided direct by the DHSS increased from £42,226,000 to £51,998,000, namely, by 23 per cent.

Mr. Evans

Are not the figures a disgrace, and do they not contradict the promise by the Tory Party at the general election that it would concentrate aid on those most in need? Is it not time that the hon. Gentleman resigned from his office in protest at such appalling figures?

Mr. Rossi

I am not quite sure how the hon. Gentleman terms it a disgrace for more cases at a far larger expense overall to be assisted now than were assisted two years ago.

Mr. McQuarrie

Will my hon. Friend confirm that in the International Year of Disabled People last year the Government were widely congratulated the efforts that they made on behalf of the disabled—

Mr. Stallard


Mr. McQuarrie

—and that the aid has been continued beyond that year?

Mr. Rossi

The International Year of Disabled People was an outstanding success and exceeded all expectations. Indeed, it was a matter for congratulation not merely from within Great Britain but internationally.

Mr. Ashley

Will the hon. Gentleman explain why Ministers go on and on about this awful word "compassion", when many disabled people are being deprived of aid, despite the figures that he has quoted? Many are deprived of aid as a direct consequence of Government policy. What will the Minister do about that?

Mr. Rossi

Not all the people who require help have yet received it, but it is our endeavour to try to fulfil the need as quickly as resources enable us to do so.

Mr. Heddle

Does my hon. Friend agree that one way to aid the disabled without further expenditure from his Department would be for his Department to encourage the owners of public buildings to improve access for the disabled? Will my hon. Friend undertake to do that?

Mr. Rossi

We are encouraging that all the time. A recent Private Member's Bill places obligations on developers and also on planning authorities.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Is it not true that in terms of cost effectiveness it would be far better to spend more money on aid?

Mr. Rossi

I should like to spend all the money that could possibly be made available to me.