HC Deb 05 December 1983 vol 50 cc113-32 10.13 pm
Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Supplementary Benefit (Single Payments) Amendment Regulations 1983 (S.I., 1983, No. 1630), dated 3rd November 1983, a copy of which was laid before this House on 4th November, be annulled. As the Minister of State must know, the regulations to which the motion refers are widely considered to be as nasty and brutish as they are short. They were made following a decision by a tribunal of social security commissioners in a case where the Child Poverty Action Grou—CPAG—represented one of the claimants.

The tribunal's decision was dated 2 November. The amending regulations, which reverse the decision, were made by the Secretary of State for Social Services on 3 November. They were laid before the House on 4 November and came into force on 5 November.

For a Government who can take over two months to answer a letter, this shows with what lightning speed they can act when their political priorities are threatened. Even the energy they put into defeating the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons (Amendent) Bill on Friday 18 November was no more demoniac than that invested in the making of these regulations.

The effect of the regulations is to add medical, surgical, optical, aural or dental items to the list of needs for which a single payment of supplement benefit can now in no circumstance be made.

The case taken by the Child Poverty Action Group to the social security commissioners was that of a woman who had a skin graft to her back after she was severely burned in a fire. Her husband, who made the claim for a single payment to buy her a springless mattress, wrote in his letter of appeal to the Supplementary Benefit Appeal Tribunal: The skin is very tender and very easily hurt. She finds that the springs on her present mattress put severe pressure on her back. My wife has been sleeping very badly because of the pain. … In January 1981 her GP…diagnosed fibrositis and a pulled muscle in the back. Pain-killing tablets were prescribed. This complication now makes it especially urgent that my wife should have a suitable springless mattress to avoid the risk of further deterioration in her back. The tribunal refused the appeal because: If the need for a foam mattress arises on medical grounds it is not for the Department to meet the needs within the terms of the Supplementary Benefit Act 1976. The solicitor for the DHSS's benefit officer argued before the social security commissioners that the Department had no discretion to make a payment because the wording of the Act prevented such a payment by stating in section 1(3) that: The requirements of any person to be taken into account for the purposes of this Act do not include any medical, surgical, optical, aural or dental requirements. The tribunal of social security commissioners found in favour of the claimant, however, on the grounds that the prohibition in section 1(3) related only to the weekly—I underline the work "weekly" — requirements of a claimant and not to single payments.

It was Roger Smith of the Child Poverty Action Group who first saw that this was the correct interpretation of the law; and it is to him that the credit should go for the successful outcome of the appeal to the social security commissioners.

Had the Secretary of State, when informed of the success of the appeal, argued that there were no resources available to him to meet the cost of single payments for medical and similar requirements—in fact, that he was under firm instruction from the Treasury to thwart the social security commissioners if they found in favour of the CPAG's client — there would have been far less resentment against him for the decision he took. There would have been less resentment also if the Social Security Advisory Committee had been given an opportunity to consider the regulations. After all, what is the committee for if it is not to be allowed to consider a change in social security law which affects the well-being of some of the poorest and most needful people in this country? Moreover, why did the Secretary of State not make it clear that anyone whose claim for a single payment for medical or similar requirements was rejected before 5 November, when he changed the law, would now have his or her case immediatelly reviewed?

I was told in a recent parliamentary answer that the decision of the social security commissioners had overturned not just the present Government's interpretation of the law but that of successive Governments. Yet, whatever the view taken by this or any previous Government, the fact is that, until these regulations were laid, the law very definitely did allow single payments of supplementary benefit for medical or similar requirements.

By laying the regulations, the Minister has changed the law. He must not now try to dodge the issue by reference to incorrect interpretations of the law by previous Governments. The law allowed, as the social security commissioners found in their decision of 2 November, that single payments could be made for medical or similar requirements. Now they cannot be made because of these regulations.

This prompts a very important question, namely, how many people were wrongly refused single payments for medical or similar requirements under the 1976 Act before the law was changed on 5 November? Is the Secretary of State prepared, in the cause of elementary justice to people who live in poverty, now to arrange urgently for all his local offices to review every claim for a single payment that was wrongly and, as we now know, illegally refused on or before 4 November?

The Minister of State must not pretend that the money is not available to trawl for cases where claims for single payments are now seen to have been wrongly rejected on or before 4 November. Let him consult the Secretary of State for Employment, whose Department allocated £39,000 for a national press campaign to publicise the compensation available to people who break their contract of employment by refusing to join a trade union. If cash is available for union-busting, why can it not also be found to trace people living in poverty who were denied a legal right to help on or before 4 November?

I come briefly to the content of the regulations. Supplementary benefit, as the benefit of last resort, should meet urgent individual needs when there is no alternative source of assistance. The Secretary of State knows full well that needs such as those of the CPAG's client could not be met from elsewhere. The NHS could not help. Yet a woman was in preventable pain and had a need which., in any humane and caring society, should undoubtedly have been met, and with urgency.

A Government who can earmark £1 million for the promotion of "more positive" attitudes to nuclear rearmament must not be allowed to pretend that they cannot afford to save a woman who has been severely burned from further and preventable pain.

The CPAG has other examples of the unfortunate effect of the wording of these regulations. An 80-year-old woman living in Cleveland, who is seriously ill with a terminal form of cancer, asked for a single payment to buy a high-backed chair, as she found that she could no longer sit in her own chairs without pain. She was refused a payment. In the end, the local authority's social services department gave her a chair from an old people's home. Will that case now be reviewed? And what is the Minister's advice to people on supplementary benefit who have medical or similar requirements of the kind identified by the CPAG?

The CPAG is not the only organisation to have protested about these regulations. Peter Mitchell of the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation has put to me the difficulties that arise for severely disabled people when a local authority and a health authority disagree about who should provide ripple mattresses for them. He went on: Some services which people believe essential to them such as osteopathy, chiropractice or acupuncture, are not provided by the National Health Service; others, such as chiropody, are grossly underprovided. The wording of the regulations will undoubtedly give rise to difficulties of construction. Their purpose is to deny payments for medical requirements. Yet other regulations refer to health requirements. Thus, regulation 30 of the single payments regulations allows single payments for needs which, if unmet, would constitute "serious risk to health". There will be serious uncertainty as to what is a health requirement but not a medical one. There are bound to be cases taken to the social security commissioners, and perhaps to the courts, on the unsatisfactory nature of the distinction that the Department is now seeking to draw.

It is pikestaff plain that the regulations are about cost-cutting. They state disingenuously that, by reason of urgency, it is inexpedient for them to be referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee. What that means is that there is no intention of allowing in future single payments in cases such as that of the CPAG's client, whatever the committee may think of its propriety or morality.

Unfortunately, more and more people now face preventable suffering as underspending on the National Health Service grows more serious and as cuts in local government spending leave more and more disabled people without the help to which they are entitled under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act. Never was a resource of last resort for unmet medical and similar requirements more necessary than it is today. Yet the Government have changed the law in order to prevent such payments.

In summary, those are our reasons for opposing the regulations. We hope that there will be Conservative hon. Members ready to demonstrate that they share our concern for the poor and disabled people whom the CPAG drew to public attention by voting with us in the Lobby tonight.

10.25 pm
The Minister for Social Security (Dr. Rhodes Boyson)

I welcome the opportunity provided by the Opposition to explain why we laid the Supplementary Benefit (Single Payments) Amendment Regulations and why our action was consistent with the policy of every Government since world war two, irrespective of political colour. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh.") Opposition Members must listen. I know that they will be worried. The policy has been that single payments of supplementary benefit — [Interruption.] If Opposition Members will listen, they will hear what happened when the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) was the Minister. In a similar way, he did almost exactly what we have done.

The policy has been that no single payment of supplementary benefit should be made to meet medical, surgical, optical, aural or dental needs. It has been made clear in successive editions of the Supplementary Benefits Handbook and it has been held by all recent Governments that such expenditure should be met by the National Health Service funds and not through social security. I share the concern of the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe, but the question is purely and simply from which Vote the money should be taken and who should make that decision. That is what this is about.

Before 1980, when the right hon. Gentleman was a distinguished Minister responsible for the disabled—we know how much he did for them—the position was that no payments for medical needs could be made. that was upheld in Divisional Court hearings in 1977. I asked for a check to be made of whether, under the Labour Government, any such medical provision was made. The answer was "No". Therefore, we are simply moving back—

Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, Central and Royston)

Did the Government change the law?

Dr. Boyson

In 1980 there were variations in the law and there have been appeals since then.

Mr Lamond

But did the Government change the law?

Dr. Boyson

Let me make this clear. No such payments for medical hardware were made under the previous Labour Government, according to the information that I received. I should be delighted if Opposition Members could provide more information. Then I could find out who is wrong.

Mr Lewis Carter-Jones (Eccles)

The hon. Gentleman said in his preamble that the money will not come from social services primarily because it comes from the NHS. I can follow that argument. Is the hon. Gentleman now saying that where, in the clinical judgment of a doctor or a consultant, such equipment is needed, it will be provided automatically under the NHS? That is the nub of the issue.

Dr. Boyson

The position with regard to the NHS is exactly the same as it was under the previous Labour Government, despite cries of alarm by Opposition Members. Similarly, as the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe rightly said, the social services departments of local government also have the right to provide the items to which he referred. Two cases came to a tribunal. One was about the repair of a private hearing aid. The sum of money involved was not vast—it was £18.40. The main thing was the principle involved. The other case was about the provision of a bed. It was against the understanding that health provision was provided by the social services department or the Department of Health and Social Security that the tribunal ruled that section 1(3) of the Supplementary Benefits Act 1976 does not prohibit the provision of medical and similar requirements to be made to people on supplementary' benefit. This decision was contrary to the view of every Government since 1945. Public money for health care should be channelled through the National Health Service and not through the social security system.

The NHS must fix its priorities, and allocate its resources to different areas of health provision. The senior members of the medical profession must assess patients' medical needs and not the individual supplementary benefit officers in local offices who issue chits for the provision of medical hardware. Decisions in the Health Service should be made by trained people. If decisions were made by supplementary benefit officers—they are not doctors or nurses—and they issued chits, that would be an odd way of carrying out medical practice in the country.

There would be three consequences if we did not have proper regulations. First, the assessment of medical needs would be made by supplementary benefit officers in local offices. Although they are qualified to do their job, they are not medically qualified as are doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. I do not consider that that is the correct way to proceed, and I do not believe that Opposition Members would consider it to be right.

Secondly. the claimants of supplementary benefit would be placed in a privileged position as compared with those on low income or in low-paid employment —[Interruption.] Those on supplementary benefit could get all the medical hardware they wished even if the doctors did not consider that to be the right course. It means that those in work could not have the privilege, if it is considered necessary, of an independent health service — [Interruption.] If Opposition Members want everybody to have the opportunity to be admitted to a private health service, that is an interesting development. If the privilege will be to those on supplementary benefit and not to those with incomes above that level, I do not think that that would assist feeling in the country.

Thirdly, the supplementary benefit scheme will be used as a specific subsidy to private health care —[Interruption.] I do not wish to worry Opposition Members, so I shall repeat what I said. The supplementary benefit scheme will be used as a specific subsidy to private health care—[Interruption.] I did not realise that the idea of privatisation was sweeping the Opposition Benches more rapidly than the Conservative Benches. I appreciate that the Labour party is reassessing its policy on council house sales with the result of a property owning democracy. I would regard a decision by the Opposition to use the supplementary benefits system as a means to subsidise private health care as amazing. My hon. Friends would agree with me.

The Leader of the Labour party last week stated his views on a private health service. On 29 November, The Daily Telegraph—[Interruption.] I shall refer to The Guardian—[Interruption.] I have not read the Morning Star.

The Daily Telegraph stated: We shall proceed with the removal of private practice in the name of efficiency, effective use of resources, social justice and the proper operation of the NHS. The Guardian stated: He repeated his pledge…to erode and eventual]) abolish private medicine. The Leader of the Opposition said that —[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)


Dr. Boyson

Opposition Members are undermining the Labour party leadership.

I was privileged to serve on three Committees in the previous Parliament with the new Leader of the Opposition. I must say that dissension is in the ranks.

I shall define our position on the private health service so that it is not misunderstood. We believe that the private health sector is complementary to the National Health Service. We also believe that the private medical treatment should be financed privately. We agree that there should be co-operation between the two sectors. The House might be interested to know that there are always twice as many NHS patients in private hospitals as private patients in NHS pay beds—[Interruption.] The previous Labour Government laid similar regulations when the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe was Minister. In September 1978, when the Labour Government were in power, the social security commissioners made a decision about entitlement to housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension. The right hon. Gentleman has given the figures. It would have cost the Labour Government between £46 million and £69 million. Within days, regulations were laid, just as we have laid regulations. They were laid before the matter went to the advisory committee. We learnt how to proceed from the Labour Government's actions in 1978.

Mr Alfred Morris

The hon. Gentleman is trying to throw dust in the eyes of the uninformed. He referred to the social security commissioners in 1978. There were then no such people. We referred the action that we took to the National Insurance Advisory Committee, the predecessor of the Social Security Advisory Committee. Anyone who believes that a Labour Government would not have accepted the viewpoint of the NIAC can know nothing of the facts. Between 1974 and 1979 we trebled expenditure on cash benefits for disabled people and more than trebled our spending on services for them. How could the woman whose back was burnt, and who was suffering preventable pain, have been helped without a single payment, when neither the NHS nor the local authority could help? That is the question tonight.

Dr. Boyson

That has nothing to do with what I was talking about. However, in September 1978, while the House was in recess, the tribunal decided that the cost of invalidity pension for housewives would amount to between £60 million and £70 million. Immediately, the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and his Labour Government laid regulations and referred the matter to the advisory committee. We have done exactly the same as them, but we have done it two days sooner. That is to our credit. It has been referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee. That is exactly the same practice as the right hon. Gentleman followed in 1978. The Labour Government laid regulations restoring the practice to that intended and accepted by both parties. My information is that the previous Labour Government never made such payments.

If the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe had not laid those regulations, it would have cost the Labour Government between £46 million and £69 million. On 21 November, the right hon. Gentleman said: But that would have led to a huge increase in expenditure on HNCIP—perhaps doubling or trebling the current cost of £23 million a year. My Department cannot spend that money which it does not have."—[0fficial Report, 21 November 1978; Vol. 958, c. 1216.] The Labour party then laid the regulations. —[Interruption.] A principle was involved. Once that had been accepted, anyone could go into a local office and ask for whatever he wanted in medical hardware.

Mr Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

The Minister referred to what happened under the Labour Government. My right hon. Friend gave the cost—the Minister has just read it out— and said that it might have involved the doubling of £23 million. Will the Minister do what my right hon. Friend did and tell us what would have been the cost to the Government of the aids were it not for the order?

Dr. Boyson

I cannot give a figure, because nobody knows. We gave the figures for housewives' noncontributory invalidity pension last week. Nobody knows how many people would draw such a benefit. There might be 3 million or 4 million people on supplementary benefit who no longer draw it a day later. I can only say that it would have cost hundreds of millions of pounds.

Mr Rooker

How does the Minister know that?

Dr. Boyson

It is extremely likely to have cost hundreds of millions of pounds. [Hox. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Opposition Members say that they want to deal with principle, then they want to deal with money and then they want to deal with principle again. They must decide on which they are to make an arguement.

Mr Brynmor John (Pontypridd)

Is the Minister seriously saying that if the commissioners' decision were upheld, it would cost the Government hundreds of millions of pounds each year?

Dr. Boyson

I listened to the Minister carefully and he said that it was likely to cost hundreds of millions of pounds. I could not put a figure on it. The cost could be tens of millions of pounds; I do not know. It is a hypothetical question, because nobody knows what the demand is.

The Labour Government intended that medical hardware should come out of NHS and not social security expenditure. We are doing exactly the same.

The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe made a statement on 12 September, only four days after the tribunal's decision. I shall base my case on two sentences of that statement. He said: The effect of the decision is to change materially the way in which the household duties test is applied to married women claiming HNCIP … The broad interpretation which the tribunal now hold to be the correct one thus runs counter to the purposes of the existing provisions. That is exactly where the Government stand tonight. We laid the regulations on 4 November, and they took effect the following day. There was a delay of four days the previous time. As the Social Security Act 1980 provides, we referred the regulations to the Social Security Advisory Committee which will in due course report to the Secretary of State. That is exactly the procedure followed by the Labour Government. I commend the regulations to the House for their consistency. They will stop confusion and are in line with what every Government, including the previous Labour Government, have done since 1945.

If the Opposition laid their prayer to obtain clarification, I hope that I have provided it. If, however, they laid the prayer desiring that supplementary benefit should be used on the judgment of hard worked but medically unqualified social security officers to give private medical equipment to recipients of supplementary benefit, I must confess to utter astonishment at the number of signatures that are completely at variance with the speech that the Leader of the Opposition made on 28 November.

I find it astonishing that a party that breathes dire threats—

Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)

Is this the last page?

Dr. Boyson

Yes. That was very clever of the hon. Gentleman. Perhaps he would like a copy afterwards. It will do him good. I must not say "No" to the hon. Gentleman as he was trying to distract me and I might be misled.

I find it astonishing that a party that breathes dire threats about the continued existence of the private health sector should oppose regulations that would put beyond doubt the long-standing and, we had imagined, bi-partisan policy of preventing the supplementary benefit system from being used to finance private medical treatment but channelling public expenditure for treatment through the NHS where it should be done.

Mr Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)

If the Minister believes that the supplementary benefit arrangements should not be used to assist those who receive private health care, why has he, in the past few months, changed the regulations in such a way as to provide considerably increased supplementary benefits for people who are resident in private nursing homes?

Dr. Boyson

The patients in private nursing homes existed in similar circumstances under the previous Government. The regulations have been eased because of the shortage of accommodation within the state sector. Does the hon. Gentleman want those people to be on the streets? People can go to the facilities of the National Health Service for medical decisions about treatment. There are local authorities which can give treatment similar to the medical treatment provided by the NHS. If there is no place for aged people to go, and they are left on the streets, the hon. Gentleman would be the first to complain about our actions.

I quote two lines from Milton, an old schoolmaster: With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout, Confusion worse confounded. That is undoubtedly the policy that has been shown by the Labour party.

10.45 pm
Mr. Lewis Carter-Jones (Eccles)

I am horrified that I must speak on this issue. I have great respect for the Minister, but these regulations smack of panic, if not vindictiveness. The tribunal of social security commissioners states that under the regulations there must be shown to have been a serious damage or a serious risk to the claimant's health or safety and that a single payment is the only means of avoiding the risk or damage". The Minister is my old friend from earlier days.

Mr Terry Lewis (Worsley)

Yes, when my hon. Friend beat him.

Mr Carter-Jones

I beat him then, and perhaps people will forget their morality tonight and support him.

The regulations are dreadful. I have a question which I shall ask the Government Front Bench repeatedly. If a clinical judgment has been given by a general practitioner or a consultant, why is what is prescribed often refused? The refusal comes not from the medical authority, but from an administrator who is not medically qualified. If I could be assured that when a clinical judgment is exercised, it would be the judgment of a fully qualified medical practitioner, I would vote in the Lobby with the Government. Unfortunately, many people's requirements are denied them because the prescription is not given effect because the powers that be say that the drugs cannot be prescribed.

The definitions under the regulations are clear. The idea that these regulations open a flood-gate is absurd and obscene. The regulations are tightly drawn. Somebody said that the draftsman had got it wrong. However, he got it right. He used straightforward simple terms that we can all understand. Under the regulation there must be shown to have been a serious damage"— A person cannot just nip up and say that he would like an orthopaedic bed. He has to prove the serious damage— or a serious risk to the claimant's health or safety and that a single payment is the only means of avoiding the risk or damage. Those are the words that the Government are trying to delete. The regulations are tight, and ringed around with protection for the national fund. It is not a giveaway. It is clearly tied down to serious damage or risk—and amen to the man who drafted the regulations, because he got them right.

I did not think that I would ever live to see the day when the Minister would panic. He could not even state the number of times that he thought the regulations had been breached—

Dr. Boyson


Mr Carter-Jones

Is the Minister saying that that will put the Government at risk? I have heard so much nonsense in my life. A decision has been made—it has been signed, sealed and delivered, and we are supposed to put the rubber stamp on it tonight. The Minister will not get my rubber stamp willingly.

The House and especially Conservative Members should realise what they are voting for—something that is being done in their names without them having a say in the matter. The regulations have been laid for a month, yet we have not even discussed them. We have not been consulted, yet the deed has been done with the stroke of a pen.

I must tell the Minister that there are sufficient emergencies to require the old regulations to remain in force. The costs are limited. I plead with him to allow enough discretion for some compassionate decision to be made for the elderly in need of orthopaedic beds, for the urgent need of a mother caring for her child and for the disabled in need of instant succour through a certain piece of equipment. The local authorities cannot do it all. The old regulations were a long stop; a weapon of last resort to protect our people. They are being whipped away without the House being given an opportunity to discuss that. We have been turned into a rubber-stamping machine. I did not think that the Minister would ever have been a party to that.

10.51 pm
Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)

I am glad to speak in this debate, which raises a number of important issues about supplementary benefits and the National Health Service. In a written parliamentary answer last week, my hon. Friend the Minister estimated that in 1981 unclaimed supplementary benefits amounted to £760 million. That figure equals the total capital spending programme of the NHS, so it could be said that new hospitals are paid for by benefits not taken up.

In its report last month, the Social Security Advisory Committee discussed the take-up of benefits. It was worried that eight out of nine pensioners did not want to claim their full entitlement, even when told exactly what to do, for reasons of pride, apathy and a feeling that they did not really need the money. Opposition Members may deplore the fact that some people do not want to live off the state, but they should recognise that capital investment can be made only out of savings. In their clamour for more spending, Opposition Members tend to forget that truth and, in consequence, capital spending on hospitals fell by 35 per cent. under the Labour Government, while it has increased under the Conservatives.

The autumn statement shows that next year's capital spending on hospitals will rise a further £50 million—7 per cent. more than this year. A good proportion of that should come to the north-west. The chairman of the northwest regional health authority states that there is a firm commitment to spend £14 million on phase one of Bolton general hospital, but he cannot tell me the date when work will start. A firm commitment without a date sounds like one of those committee decisions which, I hope, the Griffiths report will turn into something more meaningful.

The system of revenue allocation is admitted to be in need of improvement. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Sackville) said, that is a gross understatement because Bolton's shortfall is £7 million per annum—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. The hon. Gentleman must resume his seat when I am on my feet. I find it difficult to relate his remarks to the regulations before the House. I hope that he will direct his comments to them.

Mr Thurnham

My point is that we should seek savings in expenditure to fund the capital development that is urgently required. I am satisfied that my hon. Friend the Minister has answered the points already raised.

Labour Members have said that only they care for the sick and disabled. Last week, my wife and I started to take custody of an eight-year-old foster son, who might otherwise have been in a community care home. The figures show that there is a saving of £150 a week for each child living in a foster home rather than in a community care home. For 30,000 children, that gives savings of £200 million a year.

There are other questions which relate to claims for supplementary benefits in the Bolton area. I have been approached to ask why claimants for urgent needs payments are automatically advised by the Bolton DHSS liable relatives section staff to apply for a bank loan, when the S manual specifically states that that should be done only when such facilities already exist.

Mr Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that he is a long way from the terms of the regulations. If he looks at the explanatory memorandum on the back of the draft regulations he will see that it is difficult to find a link between what he is saying and what is printed there.

Mr Thurnham

I conclude by urging Opposition Members to support the Government's decision and seek all possible savings to fund spending on new hospitals. Let each of us ask, not what the National Health Service can do for us, but what we can do for the National Health Service.

10.56 pm
Mr. Brynmor John (Pontypridd)

It would be a kindness if I did not attempt to follow the hon. Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) into the fascinating debates that we shall have on other occasions, but came back to this debate.

We all enjoyed the Minister for Social Security's quick patter, the outragious Lancashire lad act, for the first six or seven months of his tenure of office, but it is wearing very thin—almost as thin as the material with which he was provided to conduct this debate. When there are 6 million to 7 million people affected by supplementary benefit—those are the figures—it is outrageous for the Minister to indulge in petty knockabout.

The Minister said that those who receive supplementary benefit would be privileged compared with other beneficiaries if they were allowed to benefit from regulation 30. However, those people are privileged, and the hon. Gentleman's Government have aided that privilege by passporting all supplementary beneficiaries to a number of other benefits to which other beneficiaries do not have passports. Does the hon. Gentleman want to abolish all of those to make the capital saving to which the hon. Member for Bolton, North-East appeared to be speaking, or does he not? Does he regard himself as contradicting what his Government and every Government have tried to do?

These regulations have been hastily cobbled together, but that is nothing new. Even on housing benefit, the Social Security Advisory Committee was given only a 10-day consultation period in which the public could make representations. I fear that what is happening to the SSAC on this occasion is part of the systematic undermining of the consultative process in dealing with supplementary benefit.

In so far as I understood the Minister's financial rationale, he said that the floodgates would be opened. In fact, he said that the cost of not introducing the regulations could be anything between nothing and hundreds of millions of pounds a year. I suspect that that is on a par with my arithmetic, but not with my logic. I should not have given any figure if I could not have made it more specific than that. The general tenor of the hon. Gentleman's remarks was that if we do not go back to what was the mistaken view of the law by all parties it might cost the Government hundreds of millions of pounds. The Minister must justify that.

How can it cost hundreds of millions of pounds? The commissioners say in the last paragraph of their judgment: Those tribunals should, however, carefully consider the other stringent requirements of the single payments regulations —namely, that there must be serious damage or serious risk…Single payment is the only means. The commissioners pointed to the restrictive nature of the arrangement and said that only a few emergency cases should be met.

The Minister says that a supplementary benefit recipient qualifies on the two limbs of the regulations—that there is risk of serious damage or serious risk to health and that no other source of benefit exists. If a person is entitled to aid either from the local authority or from the National Health Service he will not be entitled to benefit under regulation 30. We are talking of cases which cannot be helped by the local authority or the NHS, or of the grey area between when each denies responsibility.

The supplementary benefit scheme is supposed to be the safety net to catch the poorest in the land and prevent them from coming to unnecessary harm. Regulation 30 should apply to cases not covered by local authorities or the NHS or when they argue about which is responsible.

The Minister said that if the NHS or local authority does not provide what is necessary that is bad luck, whatever the medical justification, and even when a serious risk to health or serious risk of damage to health is involved. The Minister said that the person concerned should just grin and bear it. That is absurd, uncaring and disgraceful. The hon. Gentleman has put himself in that position because he knows that the NHS is likely to become even worse. His use of the words "hundreds of millions of pounds" is justifiable only if he knows that the flood of claims will be greater than they have been.

The Minister talked about the need to amend primary legislation. Tonight we are amending secondary legislation. What primary legislation will be amended? I assume that it will be section 1(3) of the primary Act. What are the reasons for doing that? Will the Government snuff out any glimmer of an entitlement of this kind so that no one will look to the supplementary benefit system for alleviation of medical conditions?

Can the Minister interpret the word "medical", because the voluntary bodies are worried about it? They are worried about the Minister's cavalier attitude and fear that "medical" will be regarded by benefit officers in a restrictive way and that benefits to which people have been entitled will be cut out. Will the hon. Gentleman, for example, ask the chief supplementary benefit officer to issue guidance on that point so that single payments will continue to be payable for things for which they were paid in the past?

The Minister was not trying to close a floodgate tonight. It was yet another obeisance in the general direction of the monetarist nonsense which the Government have inflicted on the people over the last years.

11.4 pm

Mr. Robert McCrindle (Brentwood and Ongar)

seek to detain the House for a few moments only, and to turn its attention, in a rather calmer way than has been the case in some speeches, to the impact of the regulations.

There have been one or two suggestions that the regulations have been introduced by the Government in a state of panic. I listened carefully as the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) put his case, which in large part seemed to be that the Government had moved too speedily. Far from criticising the speed with which the Government have moved, there is every reason to welcome the fact that a situation which may have become obscure if it had been allowed to continue uncorrected has now been clarified.

Opposition Members and others may not welcome the content of the regulations, but it is in their interests as much as the interests of everyone else that we should be clear about the situation and welcome the fact that the regulations have been brought forward speedily.

When my hon. Friend the Minister described the decision to introduce the regulations as a means of making it clear that the law meant what it had always been believed to mean and what had always been said in published documents such as the supplementary benefit handbook, he was on firm ground. To that extent, far from criticising the regulations, the House should welcome the clarification which is implicit in placing them before the House in the first instance.

I am not sure that I can go the whole way with the Government in saying that, as it has always been the case that single payments of supplementary benefit cannot be made to meet medical, surgical, optical, aural or dental needs, that that all-embracing formula should necessarily continue. I suggest to the Minister that the decision which it is sought to correct through the regulations may be an opportunity for not saying — although the Minister is perfectly entitled to do so—that the position which it is sought to confirm this evening is no more than has applied under successive Governments of whatever political complexion, which is undoubtedly true.

One must look at a separation within that broad definition of medical, surgical, optical, aural or dental needs. If I may single out optical and dental needs, there continues to be a strong case for saying in regard to those requirements not just that National Health Service should continue to be the source of provision, but that if one looks at the number of dental treatments, sight tests and pairs of glasses dispensed over the past three or four years, so dramatic is the increase that it can be presumed that there is not quite the necessity to cater for that type of assistance by the supplementary benefit single payment. That may be different from saying that there is no reason to consider a change in the broad definition, just because it is the definition that has always applied. I was struck by the fact that the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe, no doubt deliberately because it helped to underline his case, singled out orthopaedic beds. I have some sympathy with the suggestion that it is difficult, to put it no higher, to obtain an orthopaedic bed on the National Health Service. Many qualifications could be introduced as a reason why the bed could not be provided.

I suggest to my hon. Friend the Minister that we should be losing an opportunity if we did no more this evening than to engage in a knock-about across the Floor of the House. Instead, we should try to take advantage of this debate, arising as it does out of a decision which the Government could not have expected, to see whether we are right to go into 1984 with the assumption that what has undoubtedly been the case until now should continue to be the case. Perhaps the best idea might be to recommend to the House, while accepting that it will not please the Opposition or meet their case completely, that, since we must clarify the Government's stance, we should approve the regulations—in effect, defeat the prayer—but then suggest that the Social Security Advisory Committee, to which the regulations must go in any case, should, with the blessing of the House, reassess the definition to make sure that the one that has applied until now is still appropriate.

The rigidity with which we have discussed the matter this evening may be at variance with the true needs of the position in 1983, and we may say that, for dental and optical assistance, a position should pertain such as that which pertained under successive Governments. However, perhaps that, far from being the end of the story, should be the beginning of the opening of minds to see whether there is an argument for considering surgical and similar assistance under a single payment supplementary benefit scheme.

I suggest that in a spirit of understanding of the need of the people concerned, and in a spirit of compromise, because I doubt whether there is much advantage in continuing to exchange party brickbats, which is what the debate has amounted to so far.

Mr John

The hon. Gentleman, whose speech is much more constructive than others that we have heard from Conservative Members this evening, should recognise that the optical and dental qualifications do not allow for a single payment, because another source can provide such services. The single payment system would obtain where no other body could provide the service, and orthopaedic beds is a good example. All that the hon. Gentleman needs do is to ask the Government to maintain the Social Security Commissioners' decision, as that would give him everything for which he asks and would ensure that there is no extraneous expenditure.

Mr McCrindle

I agreed with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's intervention, but he failed to persuade me towards the end. However, again in the spirit of compromise in which I am trying to address this matter, I must tell the hon. Gentleman that he makes my point, perhaps better than I did, when he separates the optical and dental parts of this broad definition from the remainder of it. If my hon. Friend the Minister could assure me that, in supporting the regulations. he would ask the Social Services Advisory Committee to consider the entire concept, irrespective of how long it will be with us, this short debate will have been worth while.

11.15 pm
Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle) for raising these points. As the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John) said, it was a constructive speech, and I am sure that the Minister will study it with interest.

I join the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) in saying that the Minister has acted with undue haste — indecent haste is a more appropriate description. There was no reason for the Minister to move as quickly as he did and bypass, to all intents and purposes, the Social Security Advisory Committee. I regret the fact that he did that, and I hope that we shall not see anything like it again. The hon. Member for Pontypridd quoted the tribunal of commissioners, and I shall refer to paragraph 17, which says that the commission remitted the case for rehearing, which was quite a significant thing to say. It was giving directions to the lower tribunal to reconsider the case, and making specific recommendations about the stringent requirements in regulations 3 and 30 in relation to the way in which the discretion is constrained.

The hon. Member for Pontypridd showed how the discretion in regulation 30 is constrained, but it is constrained further than that because the provisions of regulation 30 look forward and not back. Therefore, where the claim is on a past need, there can be no possibility of a single payment averting serious damage or risk under the discretionary provisions of regulation 30. No mention has yet been made of that.

The Minister was defending himself by making charges against changes made by Labour ministers in 1978, but he will know, because it was his Government who introduced it, that the system changed in 1980. The Government screwed all the discretion out of the system, and major amendments such as this cannot be made sensible by supplementary benefit officers using their discretion. It is a mandatory system that is too rigid, and if we go about in this way, creating amendments willy nilly, we shall heap misfortune not only on ourselves and the social security system but on those who are supposed to benefit from it.

This is the fifth speech that I have made in the Chamber, and the fifth in which I have advocated a system of tax credits that would abolish this nonsense. I look forward to making many more speeches advocating the same thing.

11.17 pm
Mr. Frank Field (Birkenhead)

It is a pity that the debate went on after the Minister had spoken. I have rarely seen a Minister more unhappy in presenting his brief than the hon. Gentleman tonight. As he struggled through it I was reminded of the passage in Roper's "Sir Thomas More", in which More is fighting for his life. More goes up to Rich, who had perjured himself, picks up the chain of office that he is wearing and asks what it is, and Rich proudly says that he has been made Chancellor of Wales. More replies: "Not to lose one's soul for the world, Rich, but for Wales." The Minister goes home with his seals of office intact, after advocating the reform.

We can understand, in some ways, why the Government are bringing forward this vindictive little measure. They were sold two reforms by the late Supplementary Benefits Commission. One was to simplify housing benefit, and we all know what has happened to that. In its false pride, it went on to advocate simplifying the supplementary benefit system to do away with all the extra needs, such as the ones with which we are dealing tonight. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the needs of the poor do not fit into the neat little boxes made by reformers — they keep bursting through. Whereas in the year following the Government's report on the supplementary benefit scheme the number of payments fell, it has risen every year since. Therefore, I understood what the Minister said about his fear of the floodgates being opened. He sees the number of payments continuing to rise as more people try to meet their needs.

The main case — if it can be called that — that the Government put to us tonight in defence of their measure came when the Minister told us that this action was consistent with what every Government had done since 1945. The Government are right in claiming that, but it is not relevant to do so. It is relevant to consider what the Government promised when we discussed the regulations in Committee. In Committee on 12 February my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme) talked about the supplying of a special bed. The Minister replied: I give the Committee this assurance. If the rules are found not to be right…or if the rules are seen to need some extension"— I emphasise "extension"— Ministers and Parliament can amend those regulations. The hon. Lady concluded: That is the way to get the right results." — [Official Report, Standing Committee E, 12 February 1980, c. 590.] When the regulations were being considered in detail in Committee, we were told that if a claimant asked for a special mattress which was not covered by the regulations the Government would introduce amendments to extend the right within the regulations and not to limit it. There is a reason to vote against the Government and it is one which should cause Conservative Members to support the Opposition. The Government have let them down by failing to honour the promise which they gave so clearly in Committee.

I wish to ask the Minister three questions on single payments. My first question is designed to seek clarification, not to trap the Minister. It relates to questions that claimants are asking today and will continue to ask tomorrow. They are questions which officers in supplementary benefit offices have to answer and which presenting officers will be putting before tribunals.

Let us consider an area which does not fit neatly into an ordinary need or medical need. Let us suppose that there is an area of need which a specialist, a member of the medical profession so loved by the Minister tonight, says should be covered but which is not covered by the NHS.

I shall give three examples which are currently arising in Birkenhead. One of my young constituents suffers badly from asthma. Her doctor and specialist say that she needs constant heating day and night. If that wish is to be fulfilled, it means that the family must buy a heater to put in the girl's bedroom. The heater will not be covered by NHS provision, but will it be covered by the regulations as amended by the Government? Secondly, one of my constituents is allergic to nylon sheets. His medic says that he needs to sleep between cotton sheets, which will not be covered by the ordinary payments which are made available by the Supplementary Benefits Commission. Will that need be met if it is laid down by a doctor? Thirdly, one of my constituents, a young girl, is allergic to household dust. Her doctor and specialist say that she should not sleep between blankets, but should use instead a quilt filled with manmade fibres. Again, it is a need which has been defined clearly by the medical profession. Will that need be met by the commission? The three needs to which I have referred wil not be covered by the NHS.

The Minister said that the proper operation of the scheme is wanted at all cost. I ask him to inform the House what he intends to do about the following two circumstances. We heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) how quick the Government were in this instance. The decision was made on 2 November. the amending regulations were produced on 3 November and they were laid before Parliament on 4 November.

I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to another decision of the chief commissioner when sitting with two other commissioners on 4 August. In that decision the chief commissioner and his colleagues said: There are special needs which are not at the present time covered by the existing regulations. There are needs, for example, when a pensioner's tank bursts. The only way you can get that tank repaired is to pay the plumber when he comes. Because the bill has been paid, it cannot be met under the existing regulations. In August the commissioners said that the regulations should be amended to cover those needs. If, as the Government have said tonight, they want to ensure the proper operation of the scheme. Will they bring forward regulations shortly to implement the chief commissioner's recommendations?

To the Government's credit, they have sprung and are springing people from the invalidity trap. In the experiment that was carried out in the Strathclyde region, 35 claimants on invalidity benefit were taken in to supplementary benefit for one week, and then went back on to invalidity benefit. Those 35 claimants had single payment needs totalling £5,000. If the Minister is really intent on ensuring the proper operation of the scheme, now that he has brought most of those on invalidity benefit on to the long-term rate of supplementary benefit, will he issue instructions to his officers to look at their single payment needs?

We heard from the Minister that compassion was not confined to one side of the House. Indeed, the Conservative party sometimes gets on to its legs like an ass and brays that it is as full of compassion as the Labour party. We heard tonight about a woman dying of cancer who will be refused a chair that she needs in which to spend her last days and of a woman in Birkenhead who suffers from curvature of the spine and who, under these regulations, will be denied a chair which, while it would not end her pain, would lessen it for her last days. Will we get amending regulations to cover those needs? As we await the Minister's reply, we wonder whether many Conservative Members will join us in the Lobby. If they do not, God help the poor people who will be affected by these amending regulations, because it is clear that the Minister and his colleagues will not.

11.27 pm
Dr. Boyson

With the leave of the House, I will speak again and reply, in particular, to three questions raised by hon. Members. First, my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle) asked about the reply from the Social Security Advisory Committee. We have put the regulations to that committee and, when it returns to us, we shall discuss the matter; I appreciate the points that my hon. Friend made. They will be published —they will be public property at that stage, from my point of view—and we can then see what the situation is.

Secondly, the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John) spoke about the cost. I said that at the time we had no idea of the cost because we did not know to how many people it would apply. We must bear in mind that we are dealing here not with the number on supplementary benefit but with the number of people in the families of those on supplernentay benefit, and I understand that they total between 6 million and 7 million people. If one in 10, or one in 100, of those come forward with a request for some form of equipment that they need and would help them medically, there could be a considerable bill. Our argument is not that they should not be provided with it —we believe that they should—but whether they should be provided with it by the social security system as against the social services of the local authorities or the NHS—

Several Hon. Members


Dr. Boyson

I cannot give way because I must reply to the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field), for whom I have great respect and who has served the social services for a long time with distinction. He raised three points. As for the specialist services that were wanted, I am informed that the space heating appliances could be provided.

Mr Alfred Morris

Could or would?

Dr. Boyson

I said "could be provided". The need would have to be checked. By "could" I mean that it would be if the need was right.

The answer to the question asked by the hon. Member for Birkenhead about cotton sheets is Yes, but about quilts the answer at the present time is No, but I will check on that and have a word with the hon. Gentleman about it. We are considering the decision of 4 August of the chief commissioner. We are inquiring into the matter and considering the possibility of amendments. I cannot give a commitment on that, but I shall look into it and let the hon. Gentleman know.

I do not know about the third case that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, about the 35 claimants from Strathclyde and the single payments worth £5,000. However, I shall look into it, and contact the hon. Gentleman.

Mr Field

All invalidity claimants will now be eligible for single payments. Will the Minister instruct his officers to give them?

Dr. Boyson

I hope that all the officers employed by the DHSS are aware of what the instructions are. If they are not aware of that, the instructions will be sent out to make it clear that that is the case. Finally,—

It being half-past Eleven o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 4 (Prayers against Statutory Instruments, &c. (negative procedure))—

The House divided: Ayes 98, Noes 201.

Division No. 86] [11.30 pm
Alton, David Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Anderson, Donald Clay, Robert
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Cohen, Harry
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Cowans, Harry
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Craigen, J. M.
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Crowther, Stan
Beith, A. J. Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Blair, Anthony Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Boyes, Roland Deakins, Eric
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Dewar, Donald
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Dixon, Donald
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Dobson, Frank
Bruce, Malcolm Dormand, Jack
Caborn, Richard Duffy, A. E. P.
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Eastham, Ken
Canavan, Dennis Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Fatchett, Derek
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Nellist. David
Fisher, Mark O'Neill, Martin
Garrett, Ted Parry, Robert
Godman, Dr Norman Patchett, Terry
Golding, John Penhaligon, David
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Pike, Peter
Hardy, Peter Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Prescott, John
Haynes, Frank Robertson, George
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Rogers, Allan
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Rooker, J. W.
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
John, Brynmor Rowlands, Ted
Kennedy, Charles Sedgemore, Brian
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Sheerman, Barry
Kirkwood, Archibald Skinner, Dennis
Lamond, James Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Snape, Peter
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Soley, Clive
McCartney, Hugh Spearing, Nigel
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Steel, Rt Hon David
McGuire, Michael Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
McKelvey, William Wallace, James
Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
McWilliam, John Wareing, Robert
Madden, Max Wigley, Dafydd
Marek, Dr John Wilson, Gordon
Meacher, Michael
Michie, William Tellers for the Ayes:
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Mr. Allen McKay and Mr. John Home Robertson.
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Alexander, Richard Dunn, Robert
Amess, David Durant, Tony
Arnold, Tom Dykes, Hugh
Ashby, David Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Aspinwall, Jack Eggar, Tim
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Evennett, David
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Eyre, Reginald
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Fallon, Michael
Baldry, Anthony Farr, John
Batiste, Spencer Favell, Anthony
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Bendall, Vivian Fookes, Miss Janet
Benyon, William Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Berry, Sir Anthony Forth, Eric
Best, Keith Fox, Marcus
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Freeman, Roger
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gale, Roger
Boscawen, Hon Robert Galley, Roy
Bottomley, Peter Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Goodlad, Alastair
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Gow, Ian
Braine, Sir Bernard Gower, Sir Raymond
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gregory, Conal
Bright, Graham Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Brinton, Tim Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Brooke, Hon Peter Ground, Patrick
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Gummer, John Selwyn
Budgen, Nick Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Bulmer, Esmond Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burt, Alistair Hampson, Dr Keith
Butterfill, John Hanley, Jeremy
Carttiss, Michael Hannam,John
Chope, Christopher Hargreaves, Kenneth
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Harris, David
Clarke Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Harvey, Robert
Cockeram, Eric Haselhurst, Alan
Colvin, Michael Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Conway, Derek Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Coombs, Simon Hawksley, Warren
Cope, John Hayes, J.
Couchman, James Hayward, Robert
Currie, Mrs Edwina Heathcoat-Amory, David
Dicks, T. Hickmet, Richard
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Hill, James
Dover, Denshore Hind, Kenneth
Hirst, Michael Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Shersby, Michael
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Sims, Roger
Holt, Richard Skeet, T. H. H.
Hooson, Tom Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Howard, Michael Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Speed, Keith
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Speller, Tony
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Spence, John
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Spencer, D.
Jackson, Robert Squire, Robin
Jessel, Toby Stanbrook, Ivor
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Stern, Michael
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Stradling Thomas, J.
Knowles, Michael Sumberg, David
Knox, David Taylor, John (Solihull)
Lang, Ian Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Latham, Michael Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Lawler, Geoffrey Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Lawrence, Ivan Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Thornton, Malcolm
Lester, Jim Thurnham, Peter
McCrindle, Robert Townend, John (Bridlington)
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Tracey, Richard
Major, John Trotter, Neville
Mather, Carol Twinn, Dr Ian
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Mellor, David Viggers, Peter
Meyer, Sir Anthony Waddington, David
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Murphy, Christopher Walden, George
Newton, Tony Waller, Gary
Nicholls, Patrick Ward, John
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Parris, Matthew Warren, Kenneth
Pawsey, James Watts, John
Pollock, Alexander Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Powley, John Wheeler, John
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Whitney, Raymond
Raffan, Keith Wilkinson, John
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Winterton, Mrs Ann
Renton, Tim Winterton, Nicholas
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Wolfson, Mark
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Wood, Timothy
Roe, Mrs Marion Woodcock, Michael
Rowe, Andrew Yeo, Tim
Ryder, Richard Young, Sir George (Acton)
Sackville, Hon Thomas
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Tellers for the Noes:
Sayeed, Jonathan Mr. David Hunt and Mr. Michael Neubert.
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Shelton, William (Streatham)

Question accordingly negatived.