HC Deb 11 May 1982 vol 23 cc595-6
15. Mr. Cockeram

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services by how much the supplementary benefit rate for children under five years rose in real terms (a) between 1974 and 1979 and (b) between 1979 and the present date.

Mr. Newton

Between July 1974 and November 1979, the real value of the scale rate fell by 3p. In November 1980 the under-five scale rate was replaced by an under-11 scale rate. This led to a real value increase in the scale rate provision for a child under five between November 1979 and March 1982 of £1.22.

Mr. Cockerham

Will my hon. Friend note that even the Socialist-inspired Child Poverty Action Group felt compelled to congratulate the Conservative Government on this real increase, which is in such contrast to the poor performance of the Labour Government?

Mr. Newton

Yes, I had noted that and I am pleased that we were able to make that improvement.

Mr. Race

Will the Minister tell the House how many planted questions he has answered today?

Mr. Newton

I am not aware of having planted any questions. All I can say is that they are growing very well.

Mr. Rooker

Can the Minister tell us the full effect of the change in the scale rates from five rates to three? Is he aware that the selectivity of the question brought about my hon. Friend's riposte? Can the Minister give the same figures for 11-year-olds?

Mr. Newton

The position will be very nearly as good for the 11 to 12-year-olds. I can give the figures but I do not intend to spend too much time leafing through my papers. The hon. Gentleman will recall that the main changes were to remove the under-five scale rate and replace it with the under-11 scale rate, which led to that effect. At the same time we abolished the 11–12 scale rate and included it in a higher figure. That is why the 11 to 12-year-olds have also done very well.