HC Deb 28 June 1983 vol 44 cc449-50
7. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make additional resources available to MENCAP for the current financial year.

Mr. John Patten

My right hon. Friend announced last week a grant to MENCAP of £600,000 spread over three years, as against £175,000 in 1982–83, towards central administrative expenses. I hope that the increased grant of £200,000 a year for three years will help MENCAP to plan its finances on a sounder basis. This basic grant is in addition to MENCAP's other 1983–84 grants: £59,000 for particular projects and £105,000 for local projects under the scheme "Opportunities for Volunteering".

Mr. Wigley

I thank the Minister for that reply. Will he confirm that money was not included in the other schemes to which he referred for the profoundly retarded and multiple handicapped unit which MENCAP proposed, which would be of particular benefit to profoundly handicapped children under the age of five and be a real step forward in preventing their going into long-stay institutions? Will the Government please look again at that proposal?

Mr. Patten

We appreciate the hon. Gentleman's close interest in these matters. The sums of money that have been made available to MENCAP for the next three years will allow it a certain amount of leeway in its planning so that it will be able to develop further services in close co-operation with other voluntary groups and with private and voluntary fund raising.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

Does my hon. Friend agree that this excellent charity needs as much help as possible? In particular, is he aware that some branches of MENCAP do not have adequate premises, without which they cannot begin their work properly? Will he look with sympathy at branches that apply for funds to provide better premises? There is such a branch in Lincoln.

Mr. Patten

We shall, of course, do everything possible to help MENCAP. On the other hand, my hon. Friend would not wish to see voluntary organisations "nationalised", but would wish to see them remain truly voluntary, receiving help from statutory authorities and at the same time raising money themselves to help to make premises available. I hope my hon. Friend agrees that the substantial sums by way of grant which the Secretary of State announced last week for MENCAP will be widely welcomed.

Mr. Carter-Jones

In view of the labour-intensive nature of taking care of the mentally handicapped, is the Minister aware that his donation is rather paltry? In view of the cutbacks in other parts of mental health care, will he now seriously reconsider his decision?

Mr. Patten

I am sorry the hon. Gentleman thinks that £200,000 a year for the next three years is paltry. I have heard about looking a gift horse in the mouth—

Mr. Carter-Jones

It is peanuts.

Mr. Patten

—but kicking a gift horse in the mouth is an extremely unfortunate habit. In co-operation with MENCAP and all the other organisations in that area, which is one of deep concern to hon. Members, we are doing all that we can to help them fulfil the obligations which they set upon themselves as voluntary organisations.