HC Deb 22 November 1982 vol 32 cc602-41 4.43 pm
Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

I beg to move, That this House deplores the cut in the value of invalidity pensions and other cuts in public spending that hamper both the rehabilitation of disabled people and the prevention of disability; and calls upon Ministers to act consistently with the 'Charter for the 1980s' for disabled people worldwide, which the Prime Minister received and welcomed on behalf of Her Majesty's Government on 11th November 1981.

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Morris

The debate concerns needful people who, at the general election, were promised by the Prime Minister and her colleagues that they would be "singled out" for special help but who, instead, are the victims of the Government's unkindest cuts of all. The debate is overdue, yet it would never have been held if it had been left to the Government to arrange it. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has again given disabled people priority over many other pressing claims on the very limited parliamentary time available to him. He has an entirely genuine concern to advance the aspirations of disabled people, and it is he who should be thanked by everyone who takes part in this debate for having enabled them to do so.

Our motion gives the House an opportunity to condemn a cut in the standard of living of some 620,000 invalidity pensioners and their families. It deplores what, by common consent outside the House, is a deplorable act of betrayal that has singled out chronically sick and disabled people, not for the special help that they were promised, but for special hardship. The motion also draws attention to other cuts in public spending that put obstacles in the way both of rehabilitating the disabled and preventing disability. They are equally deplorable cuts and the motion, very reasonably, calls upon Ministers to act consistently with the 'Charter for the 1980s' for disabled people worldwide, which the Prime Minister received and welcomed on behalf of Her Majesty's Government on 11th November 1981.

The Secretary of State's immediate predecessor, now Secretary of State for Industry, the right hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Jenkin), who carried the cut in the value of invalidity pensions through the House, said that it was an unpalatable measure. That was an understatment par excellence from a master of the art. In fact, it was a measure that made ours the only Government in the world to have marked the International Year of Disabled People by a gratuitous cut in the standard of living of disabled people.

For a childless couple, the loss in invalidity pension is £117 and, for a single person, £72,80 a year. To some people those amounts may not seem very great, but, as Disability Alliance and the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, with seven other national organisations have pointed out in a pamphlet published today: For people who are already on the breadline, every crumb counts. That is not exaggerated language. Nor is the Disablement Income Group exaggerating in its message today to hon. Members about this debate, when it describes the abatement of invalidity pensions as a "cruel cut" and as a tax on disability to which it demands an immediate end.

Over the weekend, I had delivered to me by hand a dossier of cases from DIG about the extreme hardship caused by the cut in invalidity pensions. It is a dossier of distress that shows just how poor, needful and badly hurt are the victims of the cut. There is no time for me to detail individual cases, but the document is deeply moving and I am making it immediately available to the Minister for his comments. It shows that, under a Government who in a single day gave £1,400 million in tax cuts to the richest 5 per cent. of taxpayers, Britain now has severely disabled people who have to choose between eating and heating.

The Government's excuse for imposing the cut was that they intended to make invalidity pensions taxable, that they would be taxed as soon as the necessary legislation could be prepared and that, meanwhile, the Secretary of State already needed the savings that would accrue from making them taxable. When the legislation was enacted, it was said, the cut in invalidity pensions would be restored. Nevertheless, there is still no sign of any legislation to tax invalidity pensions. I was told again only last week in a parliamentary reply that no date has yet been given for taxing them and, as hundreds of thousands of the poorest invalidity pensioners will still fall below the tax threshold even if their pensions become taxable, they are undeniably the victims of a blatant injustice.

Which hon. Member can possibly describe that as anything less than deplorable? Far from being singled out for special help. invalidity pensioners below the tax threshold must feel that they count for less than the "a" in "etcetera" among the Government's priorities.

What other cuts are causing the disabled hardship? Let me quote just three in relation to cash benefits. First, changes in the way that child dependency additions are now uprated have cut the incomes of invalidity pensioners with children by £1.85 a week per child. Secondly, the abolition this year of earnings-related supplement has cut the living standards of many people living on sickness and injury benefits. The average loss to the recipients of sickness benefit is £13 a week and the loss is even higher for disabled people living on injury benefit. Thirdly, as DIG's statement entitled "Disastrous Years for Disabled People" said: … disabled people were already among the worst off on supplementary benefit and are now even worse off following the Government's 'simplification' of the scheme. The very title of the statement, which contrasts the Government's promises with their performance, underlines the modesty of our motion today.

The statement dealt not only with cuts in invalidity pensions, supplementary and other cash benefits, but with local social services for disabled people. The latest figures for services provided under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 show that there have been swingeing cuts in community care since this Government came to power. To give just one figure, the number of telephones installed under the Act fell by a shocking 30.8 per cent. between 1979–80 and 1980–81.

In the debate on the "Charter for the 1980s" in another place on 17 November, Lord Trefgarne, speaking for the Government, referred to the importance of door-to-door transport for many severely disabled people and the value of dial-a-ride services for those who are otherwise isolated in their homes. He said: A number of these community-based mini-bus schemes have already sprung up and we are keen to encourage more."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 17 November 1982; Vol. 436, c. 593.]

Yet if severely disabled people are denied telephones, how can they possibly dial a ride? A valuable recent survey by OUTSET of disabled people in North Tyneside showed that two of the most essential needs of disabled people living at home are a telephone and transport facilities. I agree with Lord Trefgarne that dial-a-ride services are important, but more and more potential users are excluded by lack of a telephone. In this way disadvantage is piled on disadvantage for some disabled people, while those with one service can have others made available to them. I ask the Minister to comment on that in his reply.

Telephones and transport facilities are not, however, the only essential services. Home helps are deeply important and there is growing concern that some of the charges now being imposed are making it impossible for many disabled people to pay for the help they need if they are not to become hospitalised. There is concern also that, because of inadequate staffing levels, some local authorities are no longer complying with the law. In a letter I received only today from RADAR, it is stated: In Trafford, for example, clients' home help hours have been cut although there has been no change in their circumstances.

As I know the Minister will appreciate, that is a very serious matter indeed. His advice about the effect of section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, as he has told me by letter, is identical to the advice given to me as a Minister between 1974 and 1979—that a local authority is plainly breaking the law if it reduces or withdraws a service without diminution of need in the particular case. If in Trafford home help hours have been reduced without any change in the circumstances of the disabled people receiving the service, there is a clear onus on the Minister to act quickly and decisively to ensure that the law is upheld. I shall await his comments.

RADAR has also raised with me Liverpool's waiting list of some 400 disabled people for help with telephone installation and rental costs under the Act. Earlier this year the Secretary of State agreed to investigate, even although none of the people on the waiting list had been named. Since then, however, he has maintained that his powers can be used only when individuals have been identified and named. This is a matter that the Minister must now clarify and I ask him to do so as the debate proceeds.

I ask him to comment also on the extremely worrying returns of some of the local authorities whose cuts in services have been even more severe than those by councils generally. Hertfordshire's cut in the number of telephone installations, for example, was 40.6 per cent. between 1979–80 and 1980–81. In the same two years, it cut the number of home adaptations for disabled people in council tenancies by 55.7 per cent., while it has provided no holidays under the Act for several years. Here, surely, is a case for inquiry.

Again, we ought to be told why Cambridgeshire, which is now reported to be planning to raise charitable funding to run its social services, has only 0.5 per cent. of its population registered as disabled, while surrounding counties have at least four times that percentage. Norfolk has 2.5 per cent. registered, Suffolk 2 per cent., Bedfordshire 3.4 per cent. and Leicestershire 2.2 per cent.

There are a number of other specific issues I must raise with the Minister. The first concerns the now wholly scandalous level of unemployment among disabled people, which is roughly twice that of the work force generally. In some parts of Britain, as the all-party disablement group were told by representatives from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, unemployment among registered disabled people is now as high as 80 per cent. What is the Minister's comment on that?

In special housing, too, there have been major cuts in provision. Wheelchair and mobility housing starts plummeted from 8,000 in 1979 to around 2,400 in 1981. That was another sharp blow at the rehabilitation, indeed the very independence, of thousands of disabled people. In finding somewhere to live, as in seeking jobs, the disabled are pushed to the back of the longest queues in Britain.

With regard to access to the built environment, as the Minister knows, there has been strong feeling among representatives of disabled people about what they see as dilatoriness in moving towards a satisfactory implementation of section 6 of the Disabled Persons Act 1981. The Government said that implementation must be quick, cheap and non-bureaucratic. Yet they proposed that a sub-committee of the British regulations advisory committee, based in Marsham Street, should adjudicate on each and every case in which the requirements of the British Standard are not met. As Peter Mitchell for RADAR has written to me: If under these conditions section 6 were to fulfil any of our hopes, there would inevitably be delays, increased costs and additional administrative procedures.

There will certainly be others wanting to intervene in the debate on this important issue, including the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley), and I trust the Minister will be able to end all the uncertainty and frustration there has been in a helpful and definitive statement to the House today.

The Minister is also aware of the very keen anxiety on both sides of the House to improve the prevention of disability. Breast cancer is the major cause of death in women aged over 35. It kills more than 12,000 women in the United Kingdom every year. The early diagnostic unit at the Royal Marsden hospital screens 10,000 women every year for less than a quarter of the cost in the screening units of other hospitals. The Royal Marsden unit has a detection rate of breast cancer double that of comparable units and the Government's decision to allow its closure is rightly and widely condemned. If the Government are serious about prevention, how can they possibly defend that decision?

The Minister for Health (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)

Perhaps I can save the right hon. Gentleman a few words. The Government have taken no such decision. The governors have decided that they wish to close the screening unit. The Government have stepped in to keep the unit open. They have asked for a report on the proposal and have come to no decision. The right hon. Gentleman is completely beside the point. The Government have kept the unit open so far while we review the proposal.

Mr. Morris

The Minister knows of the deep anxiety on both sides of the House about the future of the unit. He will have an opportunity, if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to intervene later in the debate. I hope that he will be able to make a definitive statement on the future of a unit which is extremely important to tens of thousands of women in this country.

How can the Government refuse to give more than the £100,000 that they recently announced to delay the closure of beds at Great Ormond Street? They have been told very clearly by medical staff at the hospital that some children will die and others will become permanently disabled if the bed closures take place. They are also aware of the concern, both here and outside the House, about the future of Tadworth Court hospital for sick children.

In a message Tim Yeo, the director of the Spastics Society, has told me that his society's concern to see that Tadworth Court stays open is because, by offering short-term respite to them and their families, it makes it possible even for some of the most severely disabled children to remain in the community. I am sure that the Minister shares that concern and that the whole House will be grateful for his comments on the future of both Great Ormond Street and Tadworth Court.

The Government often talk as if all the damage that they have done to the Welfare State can be made good by a voluntary sector that has unlimited funds. Yet at least DHSS Ministers must know of the daunting problems caused for charities by the heavy new burden imposed on them by this Government's doubling of VAT and of their very keen sense of grievance. The Spastics Society lost nearly £350,000 in unrecoverable VAT last year alone and, as I have been told in a letter from the society since this debate was announced: Every penny of this money was given by the public to provide services for disabled people and not to swell the coffers of the Treasury.

Brian Rix, speaking for MENCAP, has talked of being "clobbered" for trying to run a service for charity. Other leaders of voluntary organisations have spoken as strongly to the same effect. Their verdict is that, much apart from assisting charities to do more, present Treasury Ministers would have mugged the Good Samaritan himself. Does the Minister accept the justice of the case that the charities have made against VAT, and, if he does, what representations has he made, or will he be making, to the Treasury in their support?

The motion that I moved in the House on 3 July 1981, which was unanimously approved, urged the Government to initiate discussions with all the organisations of and for disabled people before the end of 1981, on a programme of action to maintain the impetus of IYDP in the years ahead.

That was not done and the House must now be told why the Government failed to act on its resolution. The Minister may reply that the Government produced the document "IYDP and After—The UK Response", and that it sets out not only what happened during the IYDP but the Government's plans for the future. In the view of many of the relevant organisations, however, the document does nothing of the kind. While it rightly pays tribute to the voluntary sector, the document skates over cuts in benefit and fails even to mention the resolution approved by the House, or that most disabled people in Britain were worse off at the end of the International Year of Disabled People than they were at the beginning, due directly to the Government's policies. As to the future, the document talks glibly about rationalising and improving the present structure of benefits "as resources become available." That is from a Government who by next year will have cut the social security budget by £2 billion at the expense, among other vulnerable groups, of large numbers of chronically sick and disabled people.

Most organisations of and for disabled people want a discussion document from the Government on a disablement costs allowance. They want, as the "Charter for the 1980s" envisages, a 10-year development plan to deal in order of priority with the long unfinished agenda of measures that are still needed further to improve the well-being and status of disabled people.

They want it to include an end to the invalidity trap that ensnares and impoverishes so many long term sick and disabled people, the abolition of the "household duties test", the award of non-contributory invalidity pension to married women on the same terms as to other disabled people, improvements in the invalid care allowance, steps towards a partial incapacity benefit and all the other measures which, as the Minister knows from his and my meetings with the all-party disablement group, are given high priority.

A letter that I have received from Peter Large, the Disablement Income Group's parliamentary spokesman, states: As Chairman of the World Planning Group that drafted the 'Charter for the 1980s' you must be as disappointed as we are that there has been little or no action on it here in the year since it was presented to the Prime Minister on 11 November, 1981. We are worried that there is no sign of a comprehensive national plan for achieving any of the main proposals of the Charter. Without a coherent plan, we risk the introduction of changes which are mere reactions to emotional or fashionable appeals or are politically opportunist measures that will not stand the test of time and may make further progress more difficult.

That is a perceptive comment. The charter very strongly emphasises the fact that planning is crucial to making life better for disabled people.

Its whole purpose is to ensure that IYDP was not just last year's good cause, but the start of a new era for the world's 500 million disabled people and their families.

The figure of 500 million may come as a surprise to some people, just as it is not widely enough known that we in Britain have 5½ million disabled people. Even that figure does not, however, tell the whole story, for the problems of disability affect vast numbers of people who are not themselves disabled. The parents of a disabled child and the woman with a disabled husband are deeply involved, as are the children of a disabled parent and the man with a disabled wife. Their lives, like those of countless millions more, are profoundly affected by disability in the family.

That is why the "Charter for the 1980s" put so much emphasis on the need to think in terms of the disabled family. It also explains the United Nation's estimate that no less than 25 per cent. of the world's population is involved in the problems of disability, either directly as disabled people or through family.

That seemed to me to be an exaggeration when I went to open the United Nations debate in New York in March 1979, on what would be the goals of the International Year of Disabled People. But in fact a Gallup survey, commissioned by the BBC and New Society to mark the IYDP, found that in the United Kingdom no less than 29 per cent. of people have a disabled person in their families. Much apart from being an exaggeration, the United Nations figure was thus shown to be an understatement in the case of this country. In this debate we are not, therefore, dealing with the problems of a tiny minority but with matters of deep concern to almost one in three of the British people.

It was as Britain's then Minister for the disabled that I opened the United Nations debate on the goals of IYDP and was invited by Rehabilitation International to chair the world planning group that drafted the "Charter for the 1980s" for presentation to all heads of Government. Its text was reviewed over a two-year period at national and international conferences in every region of the world and, in the words of Norman Acton, the secretary-general of Rehabilitation International, it is based on the most extensive international consultation ever undertaken in the fields of the prevention of disability and the rehabilitation of disabled people. The charter makes over 40 recommendations for action at the community, the national and the international levels. They derive from four main aims, each of equal importance:

  1. "1. To save as many people as possible from becoming disabled by maximising the prevention of disability.
  2. 2. To reduce the handicapping effects of disability by the provision of adequate rehabilitation services.
  3. 3. To ensure that disabled people are a part of and not apart from society and that they can participate fully in the life of their communities.
  4. 4. To promote full public awareness of the problems of disabled people and of their right to social equality."

To match precept with practice, the charter calls upon every Government to work out a comprehensive 10-year plan for the achievement of these aims. Unfortunately, that has not been done in Britain. Nor is there any sign that the Government intend to implement this centrally important recommendation of a document which, as Lord Trefgarne said in another place last week, the Prime Minister so "warmly welcomed" when it was presented to her in Downing Streeet a year ago.

In fact, the British Government are acting not in fulfilment, but in flat contradiction of most of the aims of the charter. For example, how can the closure—if it is to be closed—of the early diagnostic unit at the Royal Marsden, or the Government's failure to respond more positively to the Select Committee's report on perinatal and neonatal care even conceivably be consistent with the charter's aim of maximising the prevention of disability? More generally, how can the Government's reaction to and inaction over the Black report be said to meet the charter's first aim?

On the second aim, how does the Government's cut of one-third in the number of disablement resettlement officers help in rehabilitating disabled people? Does it not strongly conflict with the second of the charter's aims for there to be parts of the United Kingdom where today four-fifths of employable disabled people are on the dole? Disabled people do not want to depend on the dole, but they do want the dignity of becoming taxpayers.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

One of the reasons why the Government have closed hospitals and are refusing to assist many groups of disabled people is that they want the money for other purposes. Today's press featured an example. The Government are to pay up to 15 per cent. more to certain board chairmen earning about £35,000 a year. That is scandalous and shows where the Government's priorities lie.

Mr. Morris

My hon. Friend is on an important point. I shall deal with it later. It is very much a matter of political will and priorities.

The charter's third aim is flatly contradicted by the drastic cut in special housing provision for disabled people during the present Government's term of office and by the cuts in services provided under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. As of now, only 9 per cent. of local authorities can meet the Government's recommended number of 12 home helps per 1,000 of the population over 65.

With regard to the charter's fourth aim, was it not a major setback to their hopes of more social equality for disabled people to see the principal recommendations of the report of the committee on restrictions against disabled people so brusquely rejected? The recommendation called for legislation to end discrimination in education, employment, transport, property rights, insurance and the provision of goods, facilities and services, civic duties and membership of associations and clubs. But it was rejected by the Minister even before many who are active in the organisations of and for disabled people knew that CORAD's report had been published.

Had it not been for a decision some weeks later by the officers of the all-party disablement group, my right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) and the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam), to hold a press conference to breathe new life into that valuable report, it would have been ministerially smothered at birth. If that was not the Minister's intention, he certainly fooled the media. Therapy, a specialist journal that enjoys the respect of both sides of the House, headlined its report of the Minister's statement: Call for 'Fair Deal' Law for Disabled Thrown Out. The Minister constantly says that the resources—this is the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) raised—have not been available for the Government to achieve all they wanted to do for disabled people. But that is just not acceptable from a Government, one of whose very first acts was to give huge tax cuts to the richest taxpayers. Furthermore, only the week before last, the Chancellor told the House clearly where his preferences lay for releasing considerable resources from the Treasury.

As the charter shows, the problem is basically one not of resources but of political will and priorities. In almost every country, even, sadly, in the developing world, too much is spent on weapons that can destroy and disable and too little is spent on disabled people. If only 1 per cent. of what is now spent on armaments were to be spent instead on prevention and rehabilitation, the lot of disabled people would dramatically improve. That is why we must insist that the Government's retreat from their pledges to disabled people, and from the aims of the world charter they so readily espoused, is due not to any lack of resources but to choices they have consciously made in favour of other preferences.

I take pride in the fact that the Labour Government's spending on cash help alone for chronically sick and disabled people rose from £474 million in 1974 to £1,574 million in 1979. It was an unprecendented increase that more than trebled our expenditure on cash benefits. Again, our spending on centrally provided services for disabled people almost trebled. In real terms, they were substantial improvements and they were achieved in economic conditions of great difficulty.

The Labour Government quite genuinely singled out the disabled for special help. That is our credential in this debate. Even when public spending in almost every other area had to be cut back, there was rapidly increasing expenditure on new help for disabled people. The increase of £1,100 million in cash benefits made many important advances possible, but it was not nearly enough. Much more needed to be done and even the introduction of the new and comprehensive income scheme to which we pledged ourselves in 1979 would by no means have brought the millenium for disabled people.

The extra help that is sought by disabled people is not for the provision of luxuries but for the achievement of more equality and social justice for people for whom disability often also involves poverty and humiliation. There is ultimately no gain in depriving disabled people of the help that they need to enable them to live independent lives. The costs of driving them into hospitals and other instititions are much higher than those of community support services. That is fully recognised by the "Charter for the 1980s" which urges every Government to accept that the priority of the claims of disabled people must rank among the highest.

The type of society that the charter wants to create is not one where there is pity but one where there is genuine respect for disabled people and where they can enjoy the same rights as all humanity—to grow and to learn, to work and to create, to love and to be loved. That is the eloquent message of a document that is also intensely practical. It is a message that neither this nor any other Government must be allowed to forget. I commend the motion to the House.

5.15 pm
The Minister for Social Security (Mr. Hugh Rossi)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: welcomes the efforts made by Her Majesty's Government, despite prevailing economic difficulties, to protect and develop services and benefits available for disabled people and welcomes the United Kingdom's commitment to carrying forward the aims of the International Year of Disabled People.

I welcome the opportunity that the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) has given the House to debate disability. It will come as no surprise to him that I am unable to support the terms of the motion as it has been tabled. As a result, an amendment that more adequately reflects the truth of the Government's attitude towards the disabled has been tabled.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the International Year of Disabled People. It started in an atmosphere of great scepticism but it is now generally agreed that it was probably the most successful of all international years. Several Governments' Departments were involved, the media gave it great prominence and voluntary organisations set to with a will. The Government are determined to maintain the momentum of IYDP. They are determined to keep its goals alive in our minds, not only in Britain but world-wide. That is the message of our publication "IYDP and After: the UK Response" which appeared in July and which the right hon. Gentleman saw fit to disparage. Besides outlining many of the activities of the year, the document sets out some of the Government's wider plans for the future development of services.

I also welcome the initiative of the "world Charter for the 1980s", in which the right hon. Gentleman played an important part, which is directed to the same ends.

I shall now deal with the criticisms that have been made. It has been said that it is all very well talking about a follow-up to the IYDP, but are the Government putting their money where their mouth is? That is to paraphrase the Opposition motion. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware of the realities. When he occupied my office I know that he was frustrated time and again in seeking to promote objectives that he believed were necessary. He was unable to introduce a comprehensive disability benefit. Nor did the Government of which he was a member make any financial proposals for advancing such a benefit. Nor did he find it possible to extend the non-contributory invalidity pension to married women on the same terms as to men and single women. Nor was he able to include elderly people in the mobility allowance scheme.

I do not disparage the right hon. Gentleman because he was unable to see those objectives through. He, like us today, realised that the country faces a world recession. Moreover, none of us can do as much we would like. I have never made any bones about that. Until the economy is back on its feet, we will not be able to make the improvements for disabled people that we would like to make.

Nevertheless, I see no reason to be ashamed of the progress that has been made. Despite the right hon. Gentleman's criticism, the fact is that—and I take pride in it—the Government have increased spending on cash benefits for long-term sick and disabled people. Expenditure on those benefits in 1981–82 was 5 per cent. higher in real terms than it was in 1978–79. I shall not predict the outcome in real terms for the present financial year but I estimate cash expenditure of £3.1 billion as compared with £2.7 billion in 1981–82 and £1.7 billion when the right hon. Gentleman left office. That is not a discreditable record by the Government.

We take pride in the fact that we have increased these benefits in real terms. Everyone has to remember that it is not Government money that we are spending. It is money provided by taxpayers and national insurance contributors. We have to live within their means. We are ensuring that people who depend on social security benefits, and especially the disabled with whom we are concerned in this debate, continue to receive a generous share of the nation's resources.

In his criticism, the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe made great play of cuts in social service expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman trotted out a number of examples relating to particular services. Although personal social services expenditure has grown by 7 per cent. or so over the past three years, authorities are budgeting for a further 2 per cent. of real growth. It is for the local authorities to determine their priorities for expenditure in this sphere. The Government have always encouraged them to protect the needs of the most vulnerable people in our society.

It is worth saying that expenditure on residential care for younger disabled people rose by nearly 7 per cent. in 1980–81, on day and training centres by over 1 per cent. and on residential care for the mentally handicapped by nearly 9 per cent. I do not pretend that there were increases across the board. For example, spending on aids and adaptations fell over the three years to 1980–81, although the number of cases assisted rose by 10 per cent.

Those who accuse the Government of presiding over a gross decline in service provision for disabled people paint a picture that does not reflect the facts. We should like to do still more as and when the economy permits. But the record is a good one.

The right hon. Gentleman has made much of the abatement of invalidity benefit. I should like first to repeat the unequivocal commitment given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on a number of occasions. When invalidity benefit is brought into tax, the rates of the pension will be realigned with those of the retirement pension. That is a firm commitment. When the benefit can be brought into tax is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Nevertheless, the Government have demonstrated the reality of that commitment by restoring, at a cost of £6 million, the abatement on the invalidity allowance.

The effect of the abatement on individuals has to be seen in perspective. Although it will vary according to the personal circumstances of each individual, our best estimate is that, were the abatement to be restored now and the benefit brought into tax, almost all invalidity pensioners would be liable for tax. From the end of this month, an invalidity pensioner with a wife and two children could be receiving a total income of £94.39 a week. If the abatement were restored that would rise by just £2 a week. The cost of restoring the abatement would be in excess of £50 million a year. Hon. Members must remember that invalidity benefit as a whole is not abated. The child dependency allowance, a sizeable £7.95 a week per child, and the additional component of up to £9.59 a week have never been affected by the Social Security (No. 2) Act 1980.

I have already stated that the abatement of the invalidity allowance has been restored. Other benefits to disabled people are not affected by abatement. A number of invalidity pensioners will benefit from attendance allowance and mobility allowance. The mobility allowance has been taken out of tax by the Government.

The Opposition motion refers to prevention. My hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Health intends to speak about some aspects of prevention later in the debate. I shall only say now that it is a major priority in the Government's health policy. Far from there being a case for deploring what has been done, we can point to encouraging progress. The past three years have seen an increase in the uptake of vaccination against diseases such as rubella and polio. The number of perinatal deaths has, for the past two years, fallen faster than at any time since statistics were first collected. On the roads, the latest figures show a further decline in deaths and injuries, despite an increase in the number of vehicles. The new seat belt legislation should help to reduce the number still further.

Many hon. Members will know of the Government's initiatives towards the end of IYDP in convening an international seminar at Leeds Castle on the prevention of disablement. This was in recognition of the great importance that we attach to the subject. It called for a world-wide programme of immunisation, improved nutrition and primary health care. I am pleased to say that this was very well received internationally. The declaration issued by members of the seminar was incorporated into the world programme of action approved by the United Nations General Assembly last week. Even if Opposition Members do not appreciate what is being done by the Government, it is certainly appreciated by other countries.

Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rossi

There is little time for this debate and I must progress. A great deal of ground has to be covered.

The Opposition motion accuses the Government of hampering the rehabilitation of disabled people. I deny this outright. Ever since their establishment by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) Conservative Governments have encouraged the demonstration centres, which have been set up around the country. There are now 27 such centres—the most recent was designated last month—and two further applications for designation are being actively pursued.

We have also recognised the key contribution made by the remedial professions. I take one example. In order to boost the numbers undergoing training in occupational therapy, I decided this academic year to increase the number of new students we were supporting from 551 to 581. Health authorities followed our example by sponsoring a further 54 new students.

A particularly encouraging venture, and an example of how initiatives started in IYDP are being followed up, is the joint DHSS-RADAR project to set up a number of communication aids centres around the country. These will display, evaluate and provide aids for speech-impaired people—a section of the disabled community which has, up to now, suffered more than its fair share of neglect. This project demonstrates both how fruitful the partnership between the voluntary and public sector can be, and also the contribution that high technology can make towards improving the lives of disabled people.

I hope that I have answered the points contained in the Opposition motion. I wish now to discuss how the various Government Departments are playing their full part in carrying forward the aims of IYDP. This is Information Technology Year. One area in which the Government are keen to encourage investment in, and growth of, new technology is the provision of equipment for the disabled. The Department of Industry has set aside £2½ million during this year to be used on the "information technology and the disabled" initiative. It has recently announced that its contribution in 1983 will be larger.

A number of special projects have been launched as part of that initiative, a major project being work units for the disabled. Those work units enable disabled people who cannot leave their homes to work from home for a company or organisation. Six of the work units have already been commissioned. The scheme has recently been extended to provide a further 50 units.

The Department of Industry has also been engaged in providing funds to speed the introduction and acceptence of new aids for the disabled. Many aids are now in use that otherwise would have languished through lack of funds. Data bases are being evolved, which will help to rationalise the mounds of information collected by the many charities and organisations representing the disabled.

The Department of Transport has been working alongside British Rail and the National Bus Company to further initiatives commenced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Health when they were in that Department. Those initiatives not only make it easier for disabled people to use public transport but encourage more flexible possibilities for door-to-door transport and help disabled people to overcome some of the obstacles that they face in learning to drive their own cars.

Sir Paul Hawkins (Norfolk, South-West)

Disabled people have great difficulty getting into taxis. Has that matter been considered? I am not disabled, but sometimes I have difficulties getting into a taxi. I hit my head on the roof or step up too high.

Mr. Rossi

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention. Research has been carried out by the Department of Transport into vehicle design, especially on access to vehicles. A protoype new taxi is on the road, which eases the difficulties that my hon. Friend mentioned. It provides access for people in wheelchairs.

The Department of Transport has given a grant to Community Transport for three years to advise anyone who wishes to provide transport for the disabled. An audio-visual presentation on "Dial-a-Ride" schemes for disabled people has been launched and seminars have been run, mostly with voluntary groups.

A disabled people's motor show is being arranged for May 1983. It includes assessment facilities for disabled people who want to learn to drive. There is research into development of electronic aids for disabled people for mobility purposes. For example, a talking bus stop will be on trial in the Bristol area in January. I have already mentioned research into vehicle design. There is also development of textured surfaces of pavements for wheelchair users and the visually handicapped. Therefore, the Department of Transport is responsible for a range of initiatives to help the disabled. It is looking to the future.

The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe referred specifically to employment. Both the Government and the Manpower Services Commission are committed to maintaining the level of assistance that is provided for people. The MSC offers a wide range of services and schemes to help disabled people to get jobs. About 16,000 people attend rehabilitation courses each year. More than 4,000 complete training courses for open employment. Last year more than 35,000 disabled people found work through their local jobcentre. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman's censures were not justified.

The MSC provides other financial and practical assistance, for example help with aids, travel costs and adaption of business premises, to enable disabled people to carry out their jobs. The "Fit for Work" campaign continues to make employers aware of the value of what the disabled have to offer as employees and to give them equality of opportunity.

Mr. A. W. Stallard (St. Pancras, North)

Will the Minister confirm that there will be no further attacks on the 3 per cent. quota for disabled people in industry. Do the Government intend to maintain it or even to improve it?

Mr. Rossi

The hon. Gentleman knows that that matter was dealt with recently by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment. He said that he was shelving the MSC report on the quota scheme. I cannot add anything to what my right hon. Friend has said on the matter.

Mr. Robert C. Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, West)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rossi

Not for the moment.

In housing, disabled people have been making increasing use of improvement grants, which are available to them on more generous terms than hitherto, to help them to adapt their homes. It is notable that when overall activities on local authority improvement fell slightly, the number of dwellings that authorities have adapted for disabled tenants rose.

Mr. Reginald Freeson (Brent, East)

Will the Minister give the statistics for the adaptation of people's homes in the local authority and housing association sectors? What action has been taken by both the Minister and his hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction to make sure that section 3 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 is operated in practice? Will the Minister give us figures for the provision of new houses for disabled people—either mobility or wheelchair housing?

Mr. Rossi

No figures are available from the Department of the Environment. They can be produced by the end of the debate if the right hon. Gentleman wishes. If not, I shall ensure that he receives a letter containing the statistics that he seeks.

The Education Act 1981 will come into effect on 1 April 1983. It will continue the move towards the integration of disabled and other children so far as is compatible with the aim of enabling all disabled children to be educated to their full potential.

Mr. Clement Freud (Isle of Ely)

What is the financial provision for the implementation of the 1981 Act?

Mr. Rossi

The hon. Gentleman must refer to the Department of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science, which will give him the figures. He will know that it is a long-term project, because schools cannot be adapted and changed overnight.

Mr. Dobson

Will the Minister confirm that Mrs. Mary Warnock, the prime author of the report that led to the 1981 Act, has said that the £3.7 million spent on the Government's assisted places scheme would go a long way towards helping schools to adapt to meet their obligations under the 1981 Act?

Mr. Rossi

I am sure that any money that can be made available will be of great assitance towards that project.

The message of IYDP was not directed at the Government alone. The Government alone cannot achieve its goals. That is a task for the whole community. There are things that the Government and the statutory sector as a whole cannot do as effectively as the voluntary sector. Our aim is to encourage the work of voluntary organisations wherever we can. Last year my Department alone gave £2¼ million in grants to disability organisations.

One of the most outstanding developments in community care for disabled people is the crossroads care attendant schemes. The Government have taken every opportunity to encourage that development. This year the Department's grant was increased by 20 per cent. from £25,000 to £30,000. Such schemes are now being extended to care for mentally handicapped people. The Department has awarded crossroads a further £30,000 to match funds that are being provided in three areas to set up schemes. The number of local crossroads schemes has increased dramatically since the start of IYDP and that rapid growth has continued, with 44 schemes in existence and many more in the pipeline. About 2,000 disabled people benefit from crossroads schemes.

The Government are placing more emphasis on preventing the admission of disabled people to residential care and encouraging schemes that provide support for people caring for disabled people in the community. The Association of Carers has been given a grant of £5,000 for 1982–83 to help it establish a network of counselling and self-help groups for people caring for dependants who are physically disabled or elderly.

As we recently announced, we are also continuing the "Opportunities for Volunteering" scheme throughout the whole of next year. It is not restricted to disability work, but some projects in that field benefit directly and the scheme as a whole gives disabled people a chance to participate in other areas of service provision. That, too, is extremely important.

Our close links with the voluntary sector—I have discussions with a great many organisations of and for disabled people in my work—are also an invaluable channel for hearing the views of disabled people on planned developments. I regard that process as an important part of policy formulation.

I could recite many more details of the way in which we have assisted voluntary organisations.

Mr. Freeson

How much money?

Mr. Rossi

As I have told the House, it is a total of £2¼ million. Although the Opposition disparage such sums, they are more than welcome by the voluntary organisations to help them carry out their work. The Opposition wish to pour money down the drain through the bureaucracy. Our methods are far more effective in helping.

I hope that I have shown that the motion cannot be accepted. I freely concede that we cannot do as much as we would wish. Our first priority must be to get the economy on a firmer footing.

Against that background, I have no reason to be ashamed of the progress that we have made towards improving the quality of life of disabled people. I have demonstrated how that aim is being actively pursued across the breadth of government. No one can pretend that the great goals of IYDP—prevention, participation, integration—will be achieved overnight. That would not happen even if we had all the money in the world. But they are writ large in all our policies for disabled people. I am determined to continue moving towards them and nearer to the day when the idea that there is a group of people in our society whose interests need to be taken up in parliamentary debates will be an anachronism.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

An important debate is to follow and unless speeches are brief some right hon. and hon. Members who wish to participate in that debate may be disappointed.

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

The Government's failure to deal with the problems of disabled people cannot be glossed over. The Minister tried to gloss over the Government's dismal record.

We are debating the fact that millions of disabled people in Britain are getting a raw deal and are suffering unnecessarily. They do not want glib words; they want cash, services, jobs and rights, and they are not getting them. They need a bold and imaginative new approach to their problems.

The Government tinker with trifles. The Minister said that he could go on to recite more detail, but he only dealt with details. He mentioned the increase in the mobility allowance. We often hear about the increase and about taking the allowance out of tax. He has also said that an important feature of the Government's policy was doubling the blind person's allowance, and he also mentioned extending the invalidity care allowance to non-relatives.

First, we should consider what has not been done by the Government. They are guilty of a sleight of hand in their approach to the problems of disabled people—"Now you see it, now you don't." The Government have abolished many benefits. They have abolished the invalidity pensioner's link with earnings, which deprives them of the possibility of real increases in their living standards; they have abolished the exceptional needs payment for disabled people who are not drawing supplementary benefit; they have abolished the earnings-related supplementary benefit for recipients of sickness benefit; and, incredibly, they have abolished easy access to medical prescriptions by increasing the charge from 20p to £1.30. Against that background, the Minister's claims lose their sparkle, if they ever had any.

Secondly, we should scrutinise the actual measures that the Minister mentions. The Minister chooses the increase in the mobility allowance as a glittering symbol of what the Government have done for disabled people. When the Prime Minister is asked what the Government have done for disabled people, her reply is always that the allowance has been increased and extended to more people. Of the 4 million, or 5 million, disabled people—my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) gave the figure as 5 million—fewer than 220,000 receive mobility allowance. The Minister is boasting about a marginal improvement affecting only one in 18 of the disabled. If the massive rise in petrol costs is taken into account, the increase is minimal.

The Minister also claims that the blind allowance is being doubled. Only 128,000 blind people are registered—one in 31 of the disabled. In fact only 30,000 of them benefit from the increase in the tax allowance, so only one in 40 is being helped in that way.

The extension of the invalid care allowance to non-relatives simply accentuates the indefensible injustice of failing to give the allowance to housewives and cohabitees. It is no excuse to say that my right hon. Friend did not do that. He did an awful lot, and he quoted the figures. Married women and cohabitees should now be paid for looking after severely disabled people.They do the same job as those who get the allowance. The argument that the income of married women is not important is quite bogus. Fifty per cent. of those women are in the labour force, so the loss of their income and pay packet is a major cause of family poverty.

Despite the gloss applied by the Minister in a speech which concentrated on minute details, the three and a half years of the Government's labour for the disabled has produced nothing significant to be proud of. Their labour has produced a mouse, or really a series of emaciated mice. There is no sign that the Secretary of State intends to honour the promise made in the Conservative manifesto in 1979: Our aim is to provide a coherent system of cash benefits to meet the costs of disability, so that more disabled people can support themselves and live normal lives. I discussed that quotation with various disablement groups. They were very impressed by it at the time, but they are not impressed now—they are depressed about the Government's failure.

The Minister referred to economic difficulties. We should try to understand those difficulties, but the Government should remember those same economic difficulties when they hand out gifts to their wealthy friends. They should also bear in mind the words of the Association of Directors of Social Services: To suggest to those in need of help that they must wait until the rest of society is rich enough not to notice the sacrifice needed to provide aid is insulting … Anyone can afford to be generous when they are wealthy.

The Government ought to accept the association's message, and with it the need for a number of constructive steps. First, disabled people in Britain need a rational, comprehensive income provision. That is the responsibility of the Government. The Government should abolish the infamous poverty trap for invalidity pensioners and give the invalid care allowance to married women. It would be unreasonable to ask the Minister to provide a comprehensive disability income now, but he should start planning it now, because this is a major project and unless he starts planning now there will be delay after delay.

Mr. Rossi

We have started planning already. Such a system remains our long-term commitment and pledge, as was stated in our manifesto. The problem is that since Amelia Harris first sought to define and identify the number of disabled people in our community, no work has been done on this. I have set in hand preparations for a project to ascertain the degree of disability and the number of disabled people in our community.

Mr. Ashley

I am delighted to hear that a start has been made and that the pledge will be kept. In referring to the Amelia Harris survey, the Minister should bear in mind the need for identification immediately at local level so that the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, especially sections 1 and 2, can be fully implemented. Nevertheless, I welcome the Minister's assurance. I shall question him on another occasion, when there is more time, about exactly what steps are being taken.

The hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) has made a great—and persistent but unpublicised—contribution to improving the lives of disabled people. With him, I have discussed with local authorities the need for specific grants. I am convinced that local authorities do not want to provide specific grants for disabled people, but I hope that the Minister will urge them to do so, because unless and until that is done we shall get nowhere with comprehensive provision.

I hope that the Government will also enforce the 3 per cent. quota scheme and impose a levy on all employers who evade it.

Finally, on disabled people's rights, I hope that the Government will legislate to outlaw discrimination. That was the main recommendation of the splendid report of the Committee on Restrictions against Disabled People, with its distinguished chairman, Mr. Peter Large. I have drafted a Bill based on the recommendations of that committee. That is no credit to me. All the credit goes to the committee. One day, those proposals will be enacted. That will be a memorable day for disabled people and I hope that they will not have to wait too long for it.

These are reasonable and reasoned proposals and I hope that the Government will take them on board. I hope that the Government will change their attitude, change course and give the necessary help to disabled people.

5.57 pm
Mr. Tom Benyon (Abingdon)

In this important debate we are dealing with people who find it difficult to communicate, to lobby or to make a fuss about their position. Often they are silent and often they feel very oppressed. A major proportion of their time and energy must be devoted to coping with the acute problems of just living—living difficult lives and living with disability, which in the main they bear with the utmost fortitude.

As we all know, the work of the House depends upon pressure and lobbying. I am sure that all hon. Members present today recognise that we have an important role to play in bringing the plight of the disabled to the forefront of our deliberations and of our economic considerations when we discuss public expenditure priorities.

I should like to outline the advantages that the disabled have achieved in addition to those eloquently described by the Minister. First, like all those on low incomes, the disabled are the major beneficiaries of the present falling rate of inflation. Secondly, I know of various charities dealing with housing associations to provide accommodation, for example, for people discharged from psychiatric hospitals. In the recent past—I hope that this will continue throughout the life of this Administration—the housing associations have been full of cash for their building projects. The Government should be congratulated on that achievement.

However, the Government's action on the derating of invalidity benefit in 1980–81 was an error. I hope that the Government will take it upon themselves at the earliest possible opportunity to put right that derating. If one believes in the law of diminishing returns for those on high incomes, as I do, one should reverse that law for those who are on minimum incomes. The sum of £2 a week for a person on £35 a week or less is a great deal of money.

I hope that the Chancellor will feel able, at the earliest possible moment, to put right his promise, which was unequivocal. He promised that the 5 per cent. derating in invalidity benefit was in lieu of taxation. It appeared from his Budget speech not to be brought into taxation because of the shortfall in civil servants. If, in the new Budget, he raises the threshold and takes most of those on invalidity benefit out of tax, it would he too much for him to say now that in that case he would call it a day and not put the derating right. Many hon. Members in all parts of the House, and on this side of the House, will take that conclusion ill.

We have inveighed for some time against the invalidity trap, which penalises those on invalidity benefit who receive income slightly higher than the lower rate of supplementary benefit. That means that they never qualify for the higher rate of supplementary benefit. That may sound to the uninitiated, as it does to me, gobbledegook. It is another enormously complex pitfall with which those who are worse off and at the bottom of the pit have to contend.

As supplementary benefit is a passport benefit it includes many other benefits such as concessionary transport, to name but one. It means that those who are unemployed and disabled are worse off than those who are simply unemployed. This is a bitter irony that our Government should not tolerate for one moment longer. It is intolerable.

I can give an example of how this works adversely for people with whom I am connected. I am sure that many other hon. Members have seen it operate. In Aylesbury, pshychiatric patients are often brought out of hospital to make lives in the community again. One of the ways in which this is done is to ask a housing association or a charity to act as landlord for the local authority. The rent is collected from all the inmates in the house. If there are five inmates and one leaves, there is clearly a shortfall in rent. Therefore, a notional additional rent is attached which the charity collects against the possibility of someone leaving. It means that if nobody leaves, all the inmates have been paying more than they needed to pay to live in the house. Also, the charity does not know what to do with the money if nobody leaves.

If the people in the house are on supplementary benefit, the social services tell me that in that case they are happy to pay the shortfall. However, if the inmates are on invalidity benefit, the social security services cannot pay. This is one of the anomalies that I hope we should busy ourselves to put right.

I hope that at the earliest possible opportunity the Government will introduce partial invalidity benefit. I can give an example to show the House what happens when such a benefit is not available. A friend of mine, who I shall call Charlie Dunbar, was discharged from a psychiatric hospital in Aylesbury about six months ago. He was convinced that he could find work. He wanted to start a new life and hoped that he could earn an income and his living. However, I regret to inform the House that this has not been possible, and he has had a breakdown. I believe that our social security system was one of the factors contributing to the breakdown.

My friend faced a daunting task. To start with, he was the tail end of 3.3 unemployed. It was difficult for Charlie, with psychiatric problems, in any event to find work and convince an employer that he was better, or at least as good as those without his special problems. However, he found a part-time painting job for four days a week. He told the benefits people about the job and they said that he could earn only £4 a week or he would lose his invalidity benefit.

Charlie knew that he was not up to full-time work because he suffered from physical fatigue, caused by his having been institutionalised for many years, and mental stress. He had a difficult choice of either telling the authorities about his job or not telling them and going on the fiddle. He did not do the latter—he acted honestly, told the authorities about the job, lost his benefit and tried to make a go of it.

Charlie worked well, although he had to work very hard to make up for the benefit that he had lost. Because of the stress and fatigue, he had a mental breakdown and had to return to hospital. While in hospital, it took a further month for him to be put back on invalidity benefit again because of the problems of the system. He is now once again suffering from acute depression. The social security system makes it impossible for Charlie to work at his job part-time as there is no flexibility in the system. He is regarded as either in work, in which case he has to rely on his wages, or unemployed and entitled to draw benefit.

The need to make provision for people such as Charlie has been well known to the House and to the Government since the early 1970s. A motion to implement this change was approved by the Lords in 1975 and the Snowdon working party report, published in 1976, recommended that provision for this should be made. An exhausitve survey was done in 1980, which was published by the Multiple Sclerosis Society, whom I should like to congratulate on its work. It has helped to bring the issue to the attention of the Government.

The case has received support from the Disablement Income Group, the all-party disablement group, my colleagues who work so hard on this, voluntary organisations, and so on. By the end of the year, Ministers had recognised the strong case for it. That the seriousness of the matter was recognised by the Government was evident in the Budget of 1982, when a therapeutic earnings limit was raised by 20 per cent. This alteration was announced at the same time as other changes in the social security system.

In 1982 the Economist intelligence unit report on structure and cost was published. The study recommended that changes within the law of invalidity benefit would be the easiest and cheapest method of achieving this provision. It showed that at the most conservative estimate, savings to the national economy would be about £5 million, the departure point being that all those involved would already be in receipt of benefit of one kind or another.

The Government welcomed the report, with certain reservations. While accepting the fact that some savings might accrue from those in receipt of benefit, the Government believe that further groups might qualify for part-time benefit who were now in full-time employment. Provision might have to be made for about 100,000 people in part-time employment at the enormous cost of £100 million.

This point has apparently delayed this vital reform. However, there is no sign that the Government's fears are founded on fact. The 100,000 people estimated as being in part-time employment are mostly women, and there is no evidence to suggest that they are working part-time for health reasons. They are merely reflecting a national pattern.

It is possible that some disabled people in full-time employment will filter through to a system of part-time work and part-time benefit. Therefore, preventive measures will have to be devised to ensure that this does not happen. Isolation of certain illnesses that are known to have fatigue as a characteristic would be one of them.

Another problem that has been identified is that GPs might be reluctant to carry out the assessment for the DHSS of who should qualify for the benefit. The British Medical Association has no objection to GPs carrying out assessment of partially incapacitated people, provided that the doctors are authorised on a fee basis by the DHSS. It further states that these doctors' examinations for sickness incapacity already include category C—those incapable of previous employment, but capable of alternative work.

I hope that the DHSS takes this on board and introduces as quickly as possible this important course of action. The report had been prepared by the Open University for the European Commission. A draft has been submitted, and comments on it are expected soon. It is likely that the European Commission will make the provision of partial incapacity benefit mandatory on our Government, as disabled people are currently penalised because of their disability. They are trapped by their handicap, locked into a system of benefit which does not allow part-time work, and enjoy a type of benefit which is less than they would receive if they were not disabled.

It would be right for this Government, with the excellent record which they traditionally have for innovative social services and welfare work, to promise to act now before the European Commission does the job for them. My constituent, Charlie Dunbar, has enough problems in competing with the 3.3 million unemployed people who are not disabled, without finding that he is trapped in an unyielding system, seemingly designed to thwart his brave attempts to make a new life.

6.12 pm
Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarvon)

I shall be brief, because I know that many right hon. and hon. Members wish to speak.

I thank the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) for introducing this debate, which in my opinion is useful and timely. I listened with interest to the Minister's speech, and I hope that he will be more forthcoming before too long. However, he said one thing that worried me. In contrasting the demand for funds for public activities with the funds used for voluntary activities, he spoke of pouring money down the drain. I hope that that is not a reflection on the need for full-time professional services for disabled people.

Mr. Rossi

I am sure that the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) does not want to misquote me. I never said that money for that purpose was pouring money down the drain. I said that when the Opposition party of which he is not a member was in Government it had the habit of pouring money down the drain. We are much more concerned to see that the money is well and properly spent.

Mr. Wigley

I note what the Minister says. None the less, I stress that without fully professional social services and health services for disabled people we shall never achieve the necessary standards. No doubt there is room for the voluntary sector, but it can be only a support on the fringes. It cannot be the basis of the system, if we are to ensure that all the people in need receive the services that they require. That should be our guiding principle.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the ideal situation is for the professional social workers to have the opportunity of organising the voluntary workers, as happened in the London county council care committees and is already being done in many councils and voluntary organisations throughout the country?

Mr. Wigley

There is nothing wrong in social workers helping the voluntary people, but the system should not depend on voluntary workers. The framework of the system has to be the professional full-time workers, otherwise the system will break. In my opinion, that is fundamental.

The main argument of the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe concerned the right increase that is needed to meet the effects of inflation, and so on, on the benefits for disabled people. The argument can be a little spurious, because it depends on what basis one considers the percentage increases. One can argue that the present Government are keeping up the 1979 level of certain benefits. That may or may not be true. The question is whether the 1979 rate was the right rate. I argue that it was inadequate for many disabled people. In any case, since 1979 many of the cost elements—transport, petrol, and heating—have increased disproportionately for disabled people, compared with the inflation rate across the board. It is unfortunate if now, when people can benefit from the reduction in mortgage rates arising from decreasing interest rates, another group in society, the disabled—the people who are most in need—cannot benefit from similar reduction in inflation.

The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe spoke about section 6, relating to access. The Disabled Persons Act 1981 provided for the Government to introduce orders to implement section 6. It involves the method by which we can ensure that disabled people have access to new buildings which come under sections 4 to 8 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, and ensure that they have mobility in the buildings. The Government have provided for appeals from those who want to avoid such requirements to go to a centralised body. The overwhelming evidence that has come to me and to those who are involved in this matter shows that there should be local scrutiny. The best way to do that is for British Standard 5810 to be built into the building regulations.

I know from what the Minister for Housing and Construction said to the all-party disablement group last week that the Government are looking at the matter again, in the context of their review of the building regulations. I am aware that it may cost £4 million or £5 million to do that, although I find it hard to believe that it would add so much to the cost. However, I accept that. If the Minister wants to put the issue of access properly to rest in a way that would be satisfactory to everyone, it should be done by using the building regulations. If that happened, there would automatically be local reviews by building inspectors, as for any other requirements of the building regulations. If the Minister wants the centralised body to be an appeals court, I am sure that that would be a good way to ensure standardisation. That is the way out of the difficulty.

Mr. John Home Robertson (Berwick and East Lothian)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. May I draw his attention to the fact that the parallel legislation in Scotland—the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act—dealing with access for disabled people to public buildings gave rise to a consultation document from the Scottish Office, which was issued in May this year, suggesting precisely what he has just described? It said that the adjudicating body should be the local building control authoritiy. That was seven months ago. As far as we know, the representations that have been received from interested bodies in Scotland support it, but as yet there has been no final reaction from the Government. Many of us fear that the Department of the Environment in England and Wales has caused the delay. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would care to comment on that.

Mr. Wigley

I very much hope that Scotland is not being held back by the Department of the Environment in England. I hope that the Department of the Environment will look again at the matter and the the Minister will put pressure on the Department of the Environment to follow the Scottish lead in this respect.

If we turn BS 5810 into building regulations, we could have a formalised structure with little additional bureaucracy, because it is already an existing system. I appeal to the Minister to consider my suggestion.

I want to say a brief word on Tadworth. I suppose I am one of the few hon. Members whose children have stayed there. We needed to use it for a short stay during the summer holidays when we were going abroad. Tadworth had the great advantage of being combined with Great Ormond Street. The Great Ormond Street specialists could assess the children while they were there. We used it once, but I know that there are many families, particularly in South-East England, who have greatly benefited from the facility. If, as I understand it, the Government are considering the future of Tadworth, I hope that they will ask the questions "For what reasons is the possible closure of Tadworth being put forward?" and "Are they the right reasons, and are they in the interests of the consumers?" I have been a consumer, and I feel that it is possible that the advice that the Government have received may not be the best. Perhaps it is possible for the Minister to set up an informal independent review which could take effect as quickly as possible to settle the future of Tadworth.

Perhaps I can consider this debate in the international arena. I spent last week in Sweden, studying the provisions for disabled people there. I make no apology for examining Sweden. I have been accused of looking to where the grass is greener but having recently returned from Sweden I can say that the grass there is greener. From what I saw last week, there is much that must be done in Britain.

The integration of the mentally handicapped into the community in Sweden is far ahead of what we are doing. We have seen so many films on television of the terrible. circumstances of adult mentally handicapped in long-stay hospitals in Britain. Housing schemes in Sweden are designed to remove such adults from long-stay hospitals. In Stockholm, more than 600 people have been brought out of institutions to live in group houses or flats. I saw one of the flats in which the four occupants were cared for by six full-time workers. Sweden was willing to commit the resources necessary to ensure that integration in the community was a success. The flat was part of a normal housing development, so that the handicapped could lead a full life in the community.

One of the disabled girls spoke a little English. When I asked her whether she preferred her new home or where she was before, the way that her face lit up told me the whole story. The message is truly brought home when one contrasts the success of the Swedish integration scheme with the film "Walter" on Channel 4 a few weeks ago.

Mr. Tom Benyon

I, too, have been to Sweden and have seen what the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) described. One reason why the Swedish can spend more on integration facilities and other services is that their health service has saved enormous sums by the privatisation of catering and laundry services.

Mr. Wigley

I enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon), but I did not enjoy his intervention so much. Any such saving would be trivial in relation to the commitment of resources by the Swedish health service to the integration of the mentally handicapped into the community. They have an overwhelming commitment to provide social services for the disabled.

As to handicapped children, the Swedes now have no blind, deaf or mobility-handicapped children in institutions, and in the whole of Sweden there are only 57 children with mental difficulties in institutions. Soon those children will also be taken out of institutions.

I make no apology for examining Sweden. If that country can achieve such success, so should Britain. We should give priority to such matters as integration of the handicapped into the community. In Sweden, disabled children are being integrated into the school community and new schools are being built of a design to allow children—even those aged between 16 and 21—to work in adjoining classrooms with those without handicaps.

There are 95 job assessment centres in Sweden that have a ratio of one member of staff to every two handicapped people to assess. One assessment centre that I visited had 60 staff to assess 130 people. The Swedes have the people, the commitment and the resources necessary to achieve such a staff ratio.

I saw the operation of a flexible door-to-door transport system whereby a car can take a handicapped person to any part of the county on demand. For the price of a second-class railway ticket, a person can be taken to any part of the country. There are no age limitations on transport schemes. When I described the British mobility allowance system and said that it ended at the age of 65, the Swedes asked why. They said that 65 and above was the time when the need was greatest. They asked whether our scheme was not in response to need, and I found that a difficult question to answer because the need is greater after 65.

In Sweden, home helps are available to the handicapped for up to eight hours a day to ensure that the handicapped can live at home instead of in long-term hospitals.

The support that must be given to parents, as outlined by the Warnock report, is provided in Sweden. Some counties have as many as 16 teams for parents of handicapped children. Such teams comprise psychologists, rehabilitation paediatricians, speech therapists, nurses and special teachers. Such active teams support parents locally. Sweden provides all those services because it has civilised priorities. Everything hinges on priorities.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

The hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) said that he fully endorses the special initiative of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales on the mentally handicapped. In 10 years, the scheme will devote about £23 million on a recurrent basis to the initiative in Wales.

Mr. Wigley

Although I am critical of the Government in many areas, the Welsh Office has shown a greater lead on this matter than many other Departments. I have said that before and I am willing to acknowledge it now. However, we need even more funds than have been earmarked. I realise the difficulties, but the funds being used by the Welsh Office will, unfortunately, be chopped from other parts of the Health Service. Trade unions and many other bodies commented on that. It has caused an enormous reaction and may cause difficulties in the implementation of the scheme. I hope not. I wish only that we could have had more funds and thus avoided the difficulty.

This year the Swedish Government are giving 1 million honer to Disabled Peoples International in order to help work towards the internationalisation of disabled matters. In the context of "Charter for the 1980s" and the work done by the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and others, might it not be appropriate for the British Government to support the international bodies involved in disability works?

In Sweden last week I saw the future and it works. However, the question that remains with me is, when will it be part of our future?

6.26 pm
Mr. John Hannam (Exeter)

This is a truncated debate and many hon. Members wish to speak, so I shall be brief.

One would imagine from listening to the speeches of Opposition Members that there was a complete lack of activity and progress in schemes for the disabled. I rushed back to the House today from Devon, where I took part in a ceremony at Devon county council's county hall. It was a post-International Year of Disabled People event, at which Devon county council expressed its thanks to the voluntary organisations and statutory bodies that were involved in all the developments of that year. There are still developments on a day-to-day basis. At the meeting, the council launched a new transport guide for the disabled in Devon, which showed the facilities available at each bus station, railway station and hospital. There was a demonstration of adapted vehicles and buses. It was obvious from that one event that many developments are continuing to help the disabled.

A few weeks ago I attended a special needs housing meeting together with representatives from the local authorities, social services departments and special needs housing groups. They talked of the progress that has been made and the problems that they face. Additional resources have already been announced by my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction and more resources became available for that area, especially through the joint funding scheme.

Last week I went to a conference set up to discuss the Education Act 1981, to which the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) referred. Representatives from the local education authorities confirmed that resources were now being diverted into special education because of falling rolls and the Government's commitment to maintain the education budget. At that conference it was announced that the Minister had decided to increase the money available for the education of teachers in special education, a matter that concerned us all in Committee.

Mrs. Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

Will my hon. Friend welcome the increased involvement of parents in the education of their handicapped children?

Mr. Hannam

That was the main thrust of the Bill and all hon. Members who were involved with it were relieved that they could incorporate many provisions in the Bill to bring in parents and medical authorities from birth onwards. That is an important development.

As someone who is deeply involved in the matter, I, like many hon. Members, wish to do more. We wish to achieve a greater diversion of resources and to see more improvement. However, the position has never changed. One need only go back to 1976–77, when the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), who was then Minister with responsibility for the disabled, was in deep anguish about the effects of the severe cuts applied following the International Monetary Fund financial crisis. However, I acknowledge that after a full period of Government, sustained progress was achieved under the right hon. Gentleman, as is also being achieved now under this Government. I reject the Opposition motion and have no hesitation in supporting my right hon. Friend's amendment.

The House may recall that a year ago I led a campaign, supported by 270 hon. Members, to try to persuade the Chancellor to remove the unfair VAT levy on charitable organisations. We are about to restart that campaign. Ministers and hon. Members will be invited to a meeting on 1 December to be attended by representatives from 100 charities which are now supporting the campaign to have this anomaly removed. It makes absolutely no sense to talk about encouraging the voluntary organisations—we Conservatives want to do that—and at the same time to claw back for the Treasury 15 per cent. of the revenue raised by their efforts.

I hope that this year the Government will recognise the need to relieve these worthy charities of that VAT burden. If we get the same support as last year, I am convinced that, despite the difficulties—one understands that there are complications in working out a method by which such relief can be given—a way out of the problem can be found.

In 1980, the disabled in receipt of invalidity pension lost about £2 a week because of the introduction of the 5 per cent. abatement. I and a number of my hon. Friends strongly protested that that should not continue in the ensuing years and that it should be restored as soon as possible. The Government agreed not to continue the abatement, as originally planned, during the ensuing two years. We were assured that as soon as that pension was brought into taxation the abatement would be restored.

However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that, because of all sorts of complications, the inclusion of the invalidity pension in taxation is a long way off. In fact, it seems to be going further into the distance. The Government should make this a number one priority—even higher than the restoration of the 5 per cent. unemployment abatement.

We all know that invalidity pensioners must face extra costs because of their disability and special needs. Those not on supplementary benefits face high fuel bills in the winter, but no extra help is forthcoming from the extensive measures provided by the Government. I therefore press my right hon. Friend to restore that abatement as quickly as possible.

The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe painted a totally dismal picture of the disablement scene. He is fundamentally wrong in thinking that everything is gloom and disaster. As my right hon. Friend pointed out, overall spending on social security for the disabled has risen in real terms by 5 per cent.—from £2,050 million in 1978–79 to £2,770 million last year. I particularly welcome the increase in both mobility and attendance allowance and also the extension of the invalid care allowance to non-relatives. I hope that married women will soon become eligible for that allowance, because they often give up their jobs and outside activities to look after their sick husbands.

I again refute the Opposition's attempt to imply that in some way under this Government the disabled are slipping backwards. More home helps and meals on wheels are now being provided—[HON. MEMBERS: "No".] They certainly are. The last count in the Devon county council area showed a substantial increase in the number of home helps and meals on wheels.

Great progress has been made on preventive care, and progress has also been achieved in community care for the mentally handicapped. That progress is not as fast as we would like, but it is difficult to achieve these results during the present economic situation. Much more can be done, and I and other hon. Members will continue to press for more resources. I believe that the IYDP was a great success, and the support given to the aims set out in the United Nations charter can give the disabled great hope for the future. The examples that I see on my visits around the country convince me that, despite the recession, care for the disabled and the handicapped is improving arid increasing constantly. I therefore support my right hon. Friend's amendment.

6.35 pm
Mr. David Ennals (Norwich, North)

For the sake of brevity, I shall comment on three issues that have not yet been raised. I can sum up my feelings on the first in about three sentences. It concerns the 770 people who were disabled in the Falkland Islands battle. Why have they not received benefit as a result of the money generously raised through the South Atlantic fund, and why are many of them on reduced pay facing real hardship? Those people should each be given a lump sum of between £2,000 and £3,000 before Christmas. They are now suffering, and we must ensure that they do not continue to suffer.

Secondly, one of the most fruitful initiatives that I took during my time as Secretary of State was to lay the foundations for Motability. That was based on the mobility allowance introduced by the Labour Government, which is now payed to 220,000 disabled people. Motability enables them to lease or hire purchase a vehicle which they would not otherwise have. Lord Goodman and Mr. Jeffrey Sterling have done a magnificent job, and I was proud to attend the annual general meeting of Motability just a few days ago.

I am concerned about one effect of the mobility allowance on Motability. An increasing number of people are now awarded mobility allowance for a short time—for example, two years. However, no one who is granted mobility allowance for two or three years can enter into a contract for a vehicle which is dependent on payment of at least four years' mobility allowance. By the end of this year Motability will have provided 20,000 people, sometimes families, with vehicles. I am therefore concerned about this increase in the number of short-term awards. How many short-term mobility allowance awards have been made? For how long are they made? What proportion of the total secures extension? For reasons of financial misery, I believe that we are now seeing a tightening up of the mobility allowance, which is essential if disabled people are to move about.

My third point relates to vaccine damage payments. Most of my points are contained in early-day motion No. 32, which has been signed by more than 100 hon. Members. When I introduced the Vaccine Damage Payments Bill in 1979, it was warmly welcomed by the Conservative Opposition, who made considerable mileage out of their support for the demand that there should be some compensation for this relatively small group. We all recognise that nothing should be done to harm the overall vaccination programme. In my view, there has been a cynical betrayal of a relatively small group of people for what can only be mean-minded motives.

I give three examples. First, we were told by the hon. Member for Reading, South (Dr. Vaughan), before he became the Minister for Health, that there would be a proper compensation scheme. That was stated in a letter to Mrs. Rosemary Fox of the Association of Vaccine Damaged Children. The Conservatives were in favour of proper compensation when in opposition, but nothing has happened since they have been in government.

In 1978 £10,000 was awarded to the vaccine damaged children. My right hon. Friends the Members for Stoke on Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) and Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) and I called upon the Secretary of State to increase that figure on the grounds that £10,000 in 1978 was only about £6,000 today and was grossly unfair to the individuals and their families.

Mrs. Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)


Mr. Ennals

I regret that time is short and I cannot give way.

The Government have insisted on taking the £10,000 capital sum into consideration in assessing entitlement to supplementary benefit. That means that if a claimant is over 16 he has either to spend the money all at once or it becomes an advance payment on his supplementary benefits. The Secretary of State at that time, the right hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Jenkin), gave an absolute written undertaking in a letter dated 24 July 1980. He said: I am glad to say that the Regulations to be made under the Social Security Act will make it possible for such sums to be disregarded in assessing payments of supplementary benefit. That was not carried out, either by the Secretary of State or by his Department. That is grossly unfair to that small minority who have suffered as a result of vaccination.

In conclusion, I wish to bring together those last two points. When I was Secretary of State and my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe was Minister with responsibilities for the disabled, it was our policy to give the benefit of doubt to the claimant. I regret that I am convinced by much evidence that the opposite is now the case. The Government's mean-minded attitude now extends to disabled people, including children.

I can give many examples, but I shall give only one. Mark Gordon is a 7-year-old child from Norwich in my constituency. When he was born on 1 January 1975 he had all the signs of being fit and healthy until shortly after his vaccination. He is now severely brain damaged—one of that minute proportion who have suffered rather than gained from vaccination. A vaccine damage payment was applied for but the application was rejected. I do not know why. I accompanied him to the tribunal to assist in putting his case. His appeal was rejected.

Let the Secretary of State take up the story. In a letter dated 16 November he said: Mark's father first claimed mobility allowance on his behalf on 1 September 1980 but the claim was disallowed by the insurance officer on the grounds that Mark was not unable or virtually unable to walk. Mr. Gordon appealed against this decision to a medical board which subsequently awarded the allowance for two years from 1 September 1980 to 31 August 1982. Mr. Gordon made a renewal claim for Mark in May this year. A medical examination was carried out on 28 July, but the claim was again disallowed by the insurance officer on the grounds that Mark was not unable or virtually unable to walk. Mr. Gordon has appealed to a medical board against this decision and the relevant documents are being prepared.

There has been appeal after appeal for that small, 7-year-old boy whose physical and mental condition has not improved.

It is extraordinary and intolerable that parents have to deal with such bureaucracy and suffer such misery for small sums of money on matters of deep principle. As I said, the principle now seems to be when in doubt, refuse. Compassion has gone out of the window.

If the Minister says that I am being unfair, let me say that any Government who hit at the elderly, at invalids and at the unemployed are capable of anything.

Mr. Rossi

I shall say that the right hon. Gentleman is being unfair. He should know better. He has been Secretary of State for Social Services and he knows very well that all the matters to which he has referred are for the independent adjudicating authorities. They are medical judgments with which neither I nor any other Minister can interfere.

Mr. Alfred Morris


Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. All hon. Members acknowledge the difficulty in which the Chair finds itself when there are two debates rather than one, particularly with the present make-up of the House. However, I must put to you that it cannot be right that a debate of this kind takes place when no representative of the Liberal or Social Democratic parties is called to participate. It cannot be right that that should occur in view of the number of contributions from the Labour Party.

Every speech has been of enormous value. However, on Supply Days the Labour Party is accorded a privilege by the House.

Mr. Dobson

Labour Members were elected.

Mr. Cunningham

If I wished, I could discuss the changes of party, but that is not the issue before us at the moment.

Labour Members must bear in mind that Supply Days are not infrequent and there is nothing automatic about the vote at 7 o'clock. Therefore, if hon. Members wished—speaking for myself I do not—the matter could be pressed after 7 o'clock. In the light of that, I hope that the Chairman will endeavour to avoid such a position arising again.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-West)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I also ask you to bear in mind that the elected representatives of the Scottish Nationalist Party and of the several Northern Ireland parties also have such a claim? Therefore, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if you are to give consideration to the small group which was not elected, you should give consideration to those groups which were,.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Paul Dean)

I understand the point that was made by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis) for explaining the difficult choice that the Chair must make on such occasions. This is a short debate. The Chair will always do its best to hold the balance. I should point out that a representative of one of the minority parties in the House was called to speak in the debate.

6.47 pm
Mr. Alfred Morris

We are in very considerable difficulty as a result of the shortening of a debate that many right hon. and hon. Members expected to last for three and a half hours. They were unable to speak and yet they are people whose voices are entitled to be heard on what is an extremely important subject for 5½ million of the most needy of our fellow citizens. I must, however, again emphasise that there would have been no debate at all had it not been for my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) giving priority to the claims of disabled people over those of many other groups of people for the very limited parliamentary time available to him.

In the time available to me now, I cannot possibly reply to the debate on behalf of Labour Members, but there are a few points that I must make quickly. The Minister talked about personal social services and gave the impression that there had been no reduction in services for disabled people. If he looks at the report of the Select Committee on Social Services, he will find that, between 1979–80 and 1980–81, there was a cut in expenditure from £196.6 million to £194.6 million. Again, if he looks at expenditure on aids for the disabled, he will find that there is a cut from £20.9 million to £19.7 million.

The Minister makes a great issue of statistics and has often said that mobility allowance had increased by 83 per cent. under this Government. The reply is that, during Labour's period of office, the allowance increased by 150 per cent. from the £4 per week figure we announced when it was first proposed. Reference was made to the Education Act 1981. As the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) said in an intervention, however, no resources are available for implementing that important legislation. The hon. Gentleman has asked me to say, since he was not called to speak, that he believes that the Government are doing a disservice to disabled people by trying to give the impression that things are much better than they really are for disabled people and their families.

No hon. Member who has spoken has been uncritical of the Government, except the Minister for Social Security. That is the distinction that he has among those of us who have taken part in the debate. The Minister for Health may want to share that distinction with him. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will note the comments made by the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Benyon). He said that it was a major error to cut invalidity pensions. When that measure was debated in Committee, the hon. Member for Abingdon said: 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.] He is entitled to great respect from hon. Members on both sides of the House.

I urge the Minister to take seriously the points made on both sides of the House in criticism of the Government's performance. I know that he will find it difficult to reply, because of the time limit, but I hope that he will accept that there is cause for major concern in the speeches he has heard in this debate.

6.51 pm
The Minister for Health (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) for acknowledging the limit on time. I hope that the House will appreciate that I shall probably find it difficult—contrary to my usual practice—to give way to interventions. I shall attempt to deal with all the points raised, but some may have to be left to correspondence. However, we are all in difficulty, because many hon. Members would have liked to speak on the disabled. But the House has another important subject to debate and I understand that it is the wish of all Opposition parties as well as of the Government that debates should not be intruded on.

I have not taken part in debates on the disabled for some years, because I have been speaking on other subjects. Therefore, I am glad to be back discussing this subject. Although I have been speaking on other subjects and although until recently I was in another Department, it has not stopped me understanding the concern that many feel about the disabled. Before I became a Minister at the Department of Health and Social Security, I had experience of the way in which the Government threw themselves into the IYDP. Under the leadership of the Minister for Social Security, Ministers in every Department involved themselves deeply in the problems of the disabled and gave them a fresh priority in many aspects of the Government's work.

The Secretary of State for Social Services was then Secretary of State for Transport and I worked with him as his Parliamentary Secretary. During the IYDP, we produced a guide to transport for the disabled. I launched the new guidance on the design of taxis for the disabled, which my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Sir P. Hawkins) referred to. The Minister for Housing and Construction has been referred to and I hope that he will deal by correspondence with some of the requests for figures and so on. He is holding meetings now about the possibility of building regulations being adapted to incorporate access for the disabled. Indeed, the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) raised that point. My hon. Friend the Minister has announced improvement grants which assist disabled people. I shall ensure that he replies to the points made by the right hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Freeson) and that he gives him the figures that he wants.

Reference has been made to the Education Act 1981, following the Warnock report, which the Government introduced. My hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) has only today returned from activities in Devon that flow directly from the IYDP and that reflect the fact that the Government have, throughout their period of office, paid considerable attention in every sphere of their activities to the problems of disabled people.

Mr. Freeson


Mr. Clarke

The right hon. Gentleman is one of several hon. Members to be disappointed by the lack of opportunity to speak. However, if I give way time will be lost from the next debate.

Although we have been giving priority to the disabled we must face up to the criticisms that have been made. However, this is not a wholly appropriate subject for an extremely partisan motion or for the absurdly partisan speeches that have been made by several hon. Members, whose concern for the disabled I do not doubt. I am not sure why the right hon. Members for Wythenshawe, for Norwich, North Mr. Enna1s) and for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) thought it necessary to indulge in party political knockabout on this subject. They do not need to do that.

We can all find ways in which to improve our performance, but the Government's record does not justify the censure contained in the motion. My hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security dealt in detail with many of the issues raised about cash provision and I have not left myself enough time to do so. However, the background to the criticisms of the various types of cash provision is—as my hon. Friend the Minister made clear—that the Government's budget for cash provision and income for the disabled is 5 per cent. higher in real terms in 1981–82 than it was in 1978–79. Detailed criticisms can be made but, during the recession, income support for the disabled has risen under the Government over and above the increase in prices.

Today, the uprating of benefits for this year has come into effect and benefits for all the disabled, as well as for other beneficiaries, have been raised by 11 per cent. That is well ahead of the current rate of inflation and of the forecast of inflation on which the uprating was based. All the disabled who are in receipt of any benefit are amongst those benefiting today from the Government's success in reducing inflation below the forecasts upon which their benefit increases were based.

My hon. Friends the Members for Abingdon and for Exeter referred to the abatement of invalidity pension. My hon. Friend the Minister repeated the Government's undertaking that, when that benefit is brought into tax, the abatement will be made good. I shall consider the points raised. However, as my two hon. Friends who are particularly concerned for the disabled press the case for a restoration of the abatement for invalidity pension as the Government's highest priority when Budget decisions are taken, I should point out to them that their words may echo in the next debate, when hon. Members will urge a different priority in those Budget judgments for a completely different group of people.

My hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon raised the subject of partial incapacity benefit. I am sorry that there is a difference between us about the cost of such a change to public funds, but as there is a difficulty and disagreement about costs a joint study has been set up between the Government and a group called the economist intelligence unit, which has been pressing that idea, to see whether agreement on the cost of the proposals can be reached.

I shall give some illustrations of the provision that we are making for the disabled out of the increased provision to Health Service funds. There may be censure in some areas, but it must be recalled that since coming to power we have increased spending on the hospital services by 16 per cent. above the movement of the retail price index. The disabled have benefited from that. The hon. Member for Caernarvon, who has taken a close interest in such subjects, drew heavily on his experience in Sweden. I was interested in what he said about the priority given in Sweden to moving long-stay patients such as the elderly and the disabled out of hospital care and into residential and day care in the community. The Government recognise that that is a high priority. Indeed, that priority has been acknowledged in policy statements for some years and we are determined to do something about it. One of the problems of the hospital service is that long-stay residence is sometimes undertaken by the elderly or mentally handicapped not because they need to receive hospital treatment, but because there is no proper means of caring for them in the community.

We published a consult[...]tive document called "Care in the Community" in July 1981. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced our reactions and decisions on it to the House on 28 July this year.

As a result of our decisions, district health authorities will in future be able to guarantee continuing annual payments to local authorities and voluntary organisations for people moving out of hospital into community care. We have also eased the rules which in the past were getting in the way of the so-called joint finance arrangements and making them unattractive to local authorities. In future, joint finance from the National Health Service will be available for extended periods for projects for moving people out of hospital. A maximum period for joint financing will be increased from seven to 13 years with 100 per cent. joint financing for up to 10 years.

In addition, we have a programme of pilot projects to promote new ideas for removing people from hospitals into community care. We have reserved up to £15 million for those pilot projects. We are legislating—indeed, the Second Reading of the Bill is today in another place—to make improvements to rules on joint finance which will help the disabled. We are ensuring that it will be possible to enable payments made under joint finance arrangements to be made by district health authorities in relation to education facilities and housing facilities for handicapped people.

At the moment, as the law stands, one is somewhat inhibitied in using Health Service funds because it is not legally possible to use them in anything that has a housing or education element. Often, with mentally handicapped children, it is the educational element that needs some support if children are to be moved.

We are still consulting local government and one of the first reactions from local government was that there was no additional money going into the joint finance arrangements. That point was answered by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor in the statement last week. As part of our new central policy initiatives, £6 million out of £22 million will be going to our new joint finance initiative. That must be examined against a background whereby joint finance provision is now £85 million, which is a £35 million increase since we came to office.

The hon. Member for Caernarvon also mentioned removing mentally handicapped children in particular from hospital. That is a particular concern of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and myself. The hon. Gentleman said that Sweden had removed the last of its mentally handicapped children from hospital. We hope to be able to say the same. We realise that some health authorities have special problems in making suitable provision for children in their care. I am glad to say that £3 million has been allocated for this purpose in 1983–84 and we expect to make a similar sum available in each of the following two years, in the hope that after that we shall be able to make the same claim as the Swedes were able to make to the hon. Gentleman when he went there.

Tadworth Court hospital was referred to several times. I am sure that someone will have an Adjournment debate on the issue soon and that we shall have a full debate. A large number of Members are coming to see me in a deputation.

The problem came to a head and came to Ministers only last week when the governors decided to recommend the closure of Tadworth Court and the transfer of the children to Queen Mary's hospital, Carshalton. It is not true to say that the problem arises from a lack of money. Hon. Members have spoken about the wards at Great Ormond Street. We are, in fact, putting more money into the Great Ormond Street group of hospitals but the fact is—it is a good fact—that Great Ormond Street—

Mr. Dobson

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Clarke

I cannot give way. I have explained why—

Mr. Dobson

Windy again.

Mr. Clarke

Some things do not conjure up much fear—only lack of time prevents me from taking on the hon. Gentleman.

We have given more money to the Great Ormond Street group of hospitals but it is taking on more and more difficult cases from all over the country, and greatly increasing its intensive care activity. We are having difficulty in expanding its budget fast enough to keep up with the provision. It is against that background that we stepped in to stop the recent threatened closure of intensive care units at Great Ormond Street and gave it the extra money to stop that closure. Great Ormond Street has had to examine its provision for Tadworth Court out of its budget.

I wish to make it clear that there is no question of the children being turned out of that hospital in the immediate future. No one is suggesting that the service that the children and patients receive should be stopped. The problem that has come to Ministers to be resolved is where and how best to provide that service and, specifically, whether it should continue to be provided at Tadworth Court or whether it should be provided at St. Mary's hospital, Carshalton, which is about four miles away.

One hon. Member asked why I do not answer today and declare that we shall keep the hospital open. The Great Ormond Street governors are not heartless and insensitive people who came to the recommendation quickly, and it is not heartless and insensitive to say that one requires a month or two to meet those involved, to visit the hospitals and to examine the issues. The issues are not so straightforward.

One of the things that does not emerge from much of the discussion is the proposal that the children should be moved about four miles to another hospital. It is also not often appreciated that Tadworth Court is half empty and that a number of the beds are not in use. It is also not appreciated that the hospital stands in 60 acres of grounds and that the high cost of provision is mainly for maintaining all the buildings in the grounds, and that a large part of the grounds is occupied by grazing horses.

There are difficult practical problems that must be examined. It is all very well for people to say, as they did say, that only £1.4 million is needed. That £1.4 million could be spent over and over again in children's hospitals in Britain. That sum cannot lightly be committed to a project. We shall be looking sensitively and with care at the problems of Tadworth Court.

I have no time to deal with the allegations about cuts in personal social services spending in local government. Again, random examples from random authorities were chosen by the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe. The background is that local authorities are spending 7 per cent. more in real terms on social services now than they were when we came to office. If they follow our guidelines, they should be able to make further real growth next year.

I was also asked about the prevention of disability, which is an equally important matter. I have no time to do that justice now but I shall deal with two of the more persistent points. First, the closure of the breast cancer diagnostic unit at the Royal Marsden hospital was raised by the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe. I intervened in his speech only because he took me by surprise by denouncing a Government decision to close that unit. The only action that the Government have so far taken has been to step in to ensure that it was not closed when the governors of the Royal Marsden decided that they wanted to close it. Again, that matter has come to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and myself for consideration. One hon. Member asked why we did not say that we would keep it open. We will be able to come to a decision shortly.

Before making glib claims and before supporting each and every one of the lobbies which flow into the newspapers, week in, week out, for understandable and good reasons, one must realise that the issue is not straightforward. The governors of the Royal Marsden recommended closure not because they were heartless and insensitive to the problems of cancer. They have had no cuts in their budgeting. There is a serious controversy within the medical profession about the effectiveness and the cost-effectiveness of this method of screening for breast cancer. There is a genuine doubt about whether it is the right choice of priorities to spend money on this type of screening method. The real answer is to have some research and to evaluate the effectiveness of these breast screening methods compared with others.

I am glad to say that the Government are funding just such research at a cost of £600,000 each year into similar breast cancer screening units at Edinburgh and Guildford. We are examining the practicality of such screening methods. We are also seeing what more can be done—this is equally important—to teach women to do more self-examination, which is probably the most effective means of screening.

Although plenty of people in the medical world are prepared to say that the expenditure at the Royal Marsden is not justified and that £100,000 could be spent better elsewhere, my right hon. Friend and I have to decide whether we ought not to keep the unit going pending the outcome of the research. We shall examine that again sympathetically and sensitively; it is not true to say that we are ignoring the problems.

I have no time to go on to the other preventive measures which I intended to mention such as the important uptake in the vaccine programme which has been achieved. I hope that we shall have much-improved figures, in particular for whooping cough and measles, in order to catch up with the great achievements in the protecting of the population against diphtheria, polio and tetanus.

The vaccine damage payment scheme was inevitably raised. I hope that those who campaign for a compensation scheme realise that if they go over the top in campaigning they will risk seriously damaging the vaccine campaign itself. That risk has been taken in the past. People are entitled to say what they want about compensation, but we must bring home to the public the fact that the diseases are more dangerous than the vaccines. More lasting brain damage and more fatalities occur through catching whooping cough or measles than are risked by having the vaccine. No parent should be deterred by the political controversy surrounding the compensation scheme. They should go ahead and have their children vaccinated.

Hon. Members have mentioned what has and has not been said in the past. I suffered an absurd experience when appearing on "World in Action". I was asked about a letter that I was supposed to have written in 1975. I was not shown the letter then, but I have seen a photocopy since. Meanings were alleged that the letter did not have.

I listened to what the right hon. Member for Norwich, North said about what we did and did not say in opposition. In 1975 everybody said that there was a problem and in 1978 the right hon. Gentleman was privileged to introduce the scheme to provide £10,000 in payment. Today we have to consider how far it is justifiable to give further preferential treatment to vaccine-damaged children and how far the resources should be used to improve facilities for disabled people as a whole. The right hon. Member who introduced the compensation scheme fell below his normal standards when he suggested that the rules of eligibility had been changed. They have not.

I apologise for making such a short tour of the issues. The theme to which I have been able to refer throughout is that the Government have increased their spending on cash benefits for the disabled, have increased their spending on care for the disabled, have policy initiatives for the disabled and gave excellent leadership to IYDP. Against that background, it is absurd that the motion should be pressed to a vote. I commend the amendment to my right hon. and hon. Friends.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 234, Noes 295.

Division No. 12] [7.11pm
Abse, Leo Booth, Rt Hon Albert
Allaun, Frank Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Alton, David Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro)
Anderson, Donald Bradley, Tom
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bray, Dr Jeremy
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Ashton, Joe Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)
Atkinson, N.(H'gey,) Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Buchan, Norman
Beith, A. J. Callaghan, Rt Hon J.
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp't N) Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P)
Bidwell, Sydney Campbell, Ian
Campbell-Savours, Dale Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Canavan, Dennis Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Cant, R. B. John, Brynmor
Carmichael, Neil Johnson, James (Hull West)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)
Cartwright, John Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Clarke, Thomas (C'b'dge, A'rie) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Kerr, Russell
Cohen, Stanley Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Lambie, David
Cook, Robin F. Lamond, James
Cowans, Harry Leadbitter, Ted
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Leighton, Ronald
Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill) Lester, Miss Joan
Crawshaw, Richard Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW)
Cryer, Bob Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Litherland, Robert
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Dalyell, Tam Lyon, Alexander (York)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd) McCartney, Hugh
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Dewar, Donald McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Dixon, Donald McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Dobson, Frank McKelvey, William
Dormand, Jack MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Douglas, Dick Maclennan, Robert
Dubs, Alfred McNamara, Kevin
Duffy, A. E. P. McTaggart, Robert
Dunnett, Jack McWilliam, John
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Marks, Kenneth
Eadie, Alex Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton)
Eastham, Ken Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're) Martin, M(G'gow S'burn)
English, Michael Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Ennals, Rt Hon David Maxton, John
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Meacher, Michael
Evans, John (Newton) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Faulds, Andrew Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Field, Frank Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Fitch, Alan Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Flannery, Martin Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Foulkes, George Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) Newens, Stanley
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Freud, Clement Ogden, Eric
Garrett, John (Norwich S) O'Halloran, Michael
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) O'Neill, Martin
George, Bruce Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Palmer, Arthur
Golding, John Park, George
Gourlay, Harry Parker, John
Graham, Ted Pavitt, Laurie
Grant, George (Morpeth) Pendry, Tom
Grant, John (Islington C) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Prescott, John
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Race, Reg
Hardy, Peter Radice, Giles
Harman, Harriet (Peckham) Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Richardson, Jo
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Haynes, Frank Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Heffer, Eric S. Robertson, George
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Home Robertson, John Rooker, J. W.
Homewood, William Roper, John
Hooley, Frank Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Howell, Rt Hon D. Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Howells, Geraint Rowlands, Ted
Hoyle, Douglas Ryman, John
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Sever, John
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Sheerman, Barry
Janner, Hon Greville Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Short, Mrs Renée Urwin, Rt Hon Tom
Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
Silverman, Julius Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
Skinner, Dennis Wardell, Gareth
Snape, Peter Wellbeloved, James
Soley, Clive Welsh, Michael
Spearing, Nigel White, Frank R.
Speller, John Francis (B'ham) White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Spriggs, Leslie Whitehead, Phillip
Stallard, A. W. Wigley, Dafydd
Steel, Rt Hon David Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Stoddart, David Willey, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)
Stott, Roger Williams, Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby)
Strang, Gavin Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Straw, Jack Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Winnick, David
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Woodall, Alec
Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth) Woolmer, Kenneth
Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) Wright, Sheila
Thomas, Dr R.(Carmarthen) Young, David (Bolton E)
Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Tilley, John Tellers for the Ayes:
Tinn, James Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe and
Torney, Tom Mr. George Morton
Adley, Robert Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Aitken, Jonathan Clegg, Sir Walter
Alexander, Richard Colvin, Michael
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Cope, John
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Cormack, Patrick
Ancram, Michael Corrie, John
Arnold, Tom Costain, Sir Albert
Aspinwall, Jack Critchley, Julian
Atkins, Robert(Preston N) Crouch, David
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Dickens, Geoffrey
Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone) Dorrell, Stephen
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Dover, Denshore
Banks, Robert du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Bendall, Vivian Durant, Tony
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Dykes, Hugh
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Best, Keith Eggar, Tim
Biffen, Rt Hon John Elliott, Sir William
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Eyre, Reginald
Blackburn, John Fairbairn, Nicholas
Blaker, Peter Fairgrieve, Sir Russell
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Faith, Mrs Sheila
Boscawen, Hon Robert Farr, John
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Fell, Sir Anthony
Bowden, Andrew Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Finsberg, Geoffrey
Braine, Sir Bernard Fisher, Sir Nigel
Bright, Graham Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Brinton, Tim Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon Fookes, Miss Janet
Brooke, Hon Peter Forman, Nigel
Brotherton, Michael Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n) Fox, Marcus
Bruce-Gardyne, John Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Bryan, Sir Paul Fry, Peter
Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A. Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Buck, Antony Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Budgen, Nick Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bulmer, Esmond Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Burden, Sir Frederick Glyn, Dr Alan
Butcher, John Goodhart, Sir Philip
Butler, Hon Adam Goodhew, Sir Victor
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Goodlad, Alastair
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Gorst, John
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Gow, Ian
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Gower, Sir Raymond
Chapman, Sydney Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Churchill, W. S. Gray, Rt Hon Hamish
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Greenway, Harry
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Grieve, Percy
Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds) Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N) Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Grist, Ian Mudd, David
Grylls, Michael Murphy, Christopher
Gummer, John Selwyn Myles, David
Hamilton, Hon A. Neale, Gerrard
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Needham, Richard
Hampson, Dr Keith Nelson, Anthony
Hannam, John Neubert, Michael
Haselhurst, Alan Newton, Tony
Hawkins, Sir Paul Normanton, Tom
Hawksley, Warren Nott, Rt Hon John
Hayhoe, Barney Onslow, Cranley
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Heddle, John Osborn, John
Henderson, Barry Page, John (Harrow, West)
Hicks, Robert Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Holland, Philip (Carlton) Parris, Matthew
Hooson, Tom Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Hordern, Peter Patten, John (Oxford)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Pattie, Geoffrey
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd) Pawsey, James
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Percival, Sir Ian
Hunt, David (Wirral) Peyton, Rt Hon John
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Pink, R. Bonner
Irvine, Rt Hon Bryant Godman Pollock, Alexander
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Porter, Barry
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Prior, Rt Hon James
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Proctor, K. Harvey
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
King, Rt Hon Tom Rathbone, Tim
Knight, Mrs Jill Renton, Tim
Knox, David Rhodes James, Robert
Lamont, Norman Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lang, Ian Rifkind, Malcolm
Langford-Holt, Sir John Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Latham, Michael Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Lawrence, Ivan Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Rossi, Hugh
Lee, John Rost, Peter
Le Marchant, Spencer Royle, Sir Anthony
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Loveridge, John Shelton, William (Streatham)
Luce, Richard Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lyell, Nicholas Shersby, Michael
McCrindle, Robert Silvester, Fred
Macfarlane, Neil Sims, Roger
MacGregor, John Skeet, T. H. H.
MacKay, John (Argyll) Smith, Dudley
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Speller, Tony
McQuarrie, Albert Spence, John
Madel, David Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Major, John Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Marland, Paul Sproat, Iain
Marlow, Antony Squire, Robin
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stainton, Keith
Marten, Rt Hon Neil Stanbrook, Ivor
Mates, Michael Stanley, John
Mawby, Ray Steen, Anthony
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stevens, Martin
Mayhew, Patrick Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
Mellor, David Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Stokes, John
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Stradling, Thomas, J.
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Tapsell, Peter
Miscampbell, Norman Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Moate, Roger Temple-Morris, Peter
Montgomery, Fergus Thompson, Donald
Moore, John Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Thornton, Malcolm
Townend, John (Bridlington) Wells, Bowen
Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Trippier, David Wheeler, John
Trotter, Neville Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
van Straubenzee, Sir W. Whitney, Raymond
Vaughan, Dr Gerard Wickenden, Keith
Viggers, Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Waddington, David Wilkinson, John
Wakeham, John Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Waldegrave, Hon William Winterton, Nicholas
Walker, B. (Perth) Wolfson, Mark
Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D. Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wall, Sir Patrick Younger, Rt Hon George
Waller, Gary
Walters, Dennis Tellers for the Noes:
Ward, John Mr. Anthony Berry and
Warren, Kenneth Mr. Carol Mather.
Watson, John

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 32 (Questions on amendments) and agreed to.

MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER forthwith declared the Main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House welcomes the efforts made by Her Majesty's Government, despite prevailing economic difficulties, to protect and develop services and benefits available for disabled people and welcomes the United Kingdom's commitment to carrying forward the aims of the International Year of Disabled People.