§ Dr. Oonagh McDonald (Thurrock)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, to discuss a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
the alarming increase in the number of pensioners dying from cold—415 in the first six months of this year compared with 329 in the whole of 1984—and the Government's failure to ensure that new guidelines for exceptionally severe weather payments are issued.That failure could mean that needy pensioners will be refused payments by the staff of the Department of Health and Social Security. Hon. Members will know that the scheme in operation last winter had to be abandoned because it was quite unworkable. Indeed, since then it has been declared invalid by the social security commissioner. The Government should ensure that new guidelines are issued at once. The weather is getting colder and more pensioners are at risk of hypothermia. Further deaths can be avoided if the Government act.
Yet the Government's complacency is shown not only by the Prime Minister's disgraceful response at the Dispatch Box yesterday to the hypothermia figures which have just been issued, but by the Government's failure to change the system for exceptionally severe weather payments which was promised as far back as last April. Nothing has been done. Pensioners could die if the Government fail to act.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter which she believes should have urgent consideration, namely,
the alarming increase in the number of deaths from hypothermia and the Government's failure to bring forward new regulations for payment for heating in exceptional weather conditions.I have listened with care to what the hon. Lady has said, but I regret that I do not consider that the matter that she has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 10 and, therefore, I cannot submit her application to the House.