HC Deb 23 July 1986 vol 102 cc396-410

Lords amendment: No. 35, in page 24, line 8, at end insert— (1A) The scheme prescribed in subsection (1)(a) above shall provide for weekly payments of a community care addition to a chronically sick or disabled or elderly person, or in respect of a chronically sick or disabled child or other chronically sick or disabled elderly dependant. (1B) Regulations shall provide that payments of community care addition made under subsection (1A) above shall be payable at a rate that shall be determined by reference to—

  1. (a) the needs of the claimant or dependant in relation to his proper welfare and need for care and attention in a dwelling which he occupies or is to occupy as his home or in which he resides or is to reside as a member of a family, and
  2. (b) the extent to which other benefits or payments that are payable under Part II of this Act fail to meet those needs.
(1C) Payments of community care addition under subsection (IA) above shall be payable in addition to any other income support payment, including any premium, and in addition to any attendance allowance or mobility allowance to which the claimant or dependant may be entitled.

The Minister for Social Security (Mr. Tony Newton)

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be appropriate to take the following Government amendment (a) in lieu of the Lords amendment, in page 27, line 37, at end insert— '(2A) In relation to income support and housing benefit the applicable amount for a severely disabled person shall include an amount in respect of his being a severely disabled person. (2B) Regulations may specify circumstances in which persons are to be treated as being or as not being severely disabled.'. Amendment (i) to Government amendment (a), in line 4, at end insert— 'and that amount shall be determined in accordance with the severity of his disability.'. Amendment (ii) to Government amendment (a), in line 6, at end add— 'and how the severity of the disability of such persons is to be assessed.' Amendment (iii) to Government amendment (a), in line 6, at end add— '(2C) The amount or amounts referred to in subsection (2A) above shall be calculated with regard to the cost incurred by severely disabled persons in living as householders or as members of a household and to the income support payments available to such persons in residential care homes.'.

Mr. Newton

I think that the House understands that the background to this important debate on the needs and interests of disabled people, especially severely disabled people, is one in which we have actively and consciously sought, through the new income support scheme and as shown by the illustrative figures we have published, to improve the support made available to less well off disabled people generally.

Under our proposals, we shall be paying the disability premium automatically, without a qualifying period, to people receiving one of the disability or continuing incapacity benefits. It will be paid without a time limit for blind claimants and claimants will qualify for the premium on grounds of incapacity for work after 28 weeks, compared with the present one-year qualifying rule for the long-term rate. The premium will be payable where either the claimant or a partner is receiving one of the qualifying benefits, unlike the position for the long-term rate, and our proposals on equal treatment should also make it easier for a disabled partner to qualify the whole family for extra help. There will also be considerable improvements in the amount of part-time earnings. Disabled claimants who are in a position to have some part-time earnings can retain them without it affecting their benefit to the extent that it would at present.

I sum up those points by saying that on the illustrative figures—they are avowedly illustrative—published in the technical annex, our proposals for disability premium would imply an increase of about £50 million a year for those in receipt of it, by comparison with the present system. That is something we will be proud of when we have had the opportunity to implement it. I think that the House will accept that it shows our good intentions in this area.

Alongside that, we have made it clear that there will be transitional protection arrangements, where they would be necessary, to ensure that income support payments will make up weekly cash income to at least the same level as supplementary benefit did before the change in the system.

Having made those points about general improvement in support for the less well off disabled people, which is reflected in the policies we have put forward in the Bill and the figures in the illustrative tables, I want to acknowledge that throughout discussions on the Bill there has been concern about the position of what is acknowledged to be a small group of very severely disabled people, especially those who are in receipt, under the present system, of very high weekly additional payments in respect of domestic assistance. The position that we adopted during some of the earlier discussions was that that was very much the kind of problem, relating as it did to the individual needs of a relatively small number of people, that we would expect to find an appropriate way of dealing with through the social fund.

However, it was clear from discussions in Committee and on Report and from quarters outside the House that the general statement of intent about our aim to find a new solution to the problem of those severely disabled people had fallen short of satisfying those who rightly and properly represent the interests of that group. Concern was expressed about both the possible change from regulated entitlement to the provisions represented by the social fund, and about the actual position, especially at the point of change and despite what had been said about transitional protection, of those who were receiving large amounts of weekly help with domestic assistance.

When the matter was debated in the other place, my noble Friend Baroness Trumpington gave two commitments on behalf of the Government. The first was to improve transitional protection for severely disabled people receiving extensive support by way of the domestic assistance provision addition. It was made clear that the amount would continue to be paid separately to, and on top of, any other transitional protection needed. It was further made clear that it would be increased at future upratings, if the need continued, to maintain its value. That goes well beyond the normal arrangements for transitional protection, but it was intended to offer assurance to those receiving these relatively high weekly payments.

6.30 pm

The second assurance given was that we would be seeking new arrangements to continue support for similar new cases after the changes in 1988, and that that would be the subject of consultation with interested groups.

Those undertakings were welcomed in the other place, as I am sure that they will be welcomed here, especially that about transitional protection in these cases, which I am happy to repeat tonight. Nevertheless, the other place felt that the Government had not gone far enough to overcome the anxieties that had been expressed. Clearly, it felt that there should continue to be some regulated entitlement, so it passed what is now Lords amendment No. 35.

The amendment that I am moving alongside the motion to disagree with Lords amendment No. 35 represents our clear acceptance of the basic proposition that there should continue to be a regulated system of weekly benefit directed to the kind of needs that have been the cause of concern. The fact that I am moving the motion makes it clear that we do not feel able to accept the Lords amendment in the terms in which it was passed. The amendment includes payments to groups such as the "chronically sick and disabled" and "elderly people", neither of which terms is further defined. I accept that it would be possible to find some way to define "chronically sick and disabled" people, but the fact that elderly people are included in such a way would inescapably mean that the provisions would cover up to 1.75 million supplementary pensioners. In other words, the amendment goes massively beyond any possible definition of the group that has given rise to the concern that has led to the amendment.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

Is the Minister prepared to say what the weekly payment will be? Will he estimate what will be the cost of the amendment?

Mr. Newton

I am and I will, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to make my speech in the order in which I wish to make it, which I hope is reasonably rational and logical.

The other principal point that I shall make, apart from what might be called technical nit-picking, is that the adjudication officer would be expected to deal with the payments by reference to a person's proper welfare and need for care and attention". Those are wide and imprecise phrases, and the latter in particular raises questions of overlap with local authority service responsibilities, particularly those under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act to provide assistance in the home.

The enormous potential coverage of the amendment and the wider scope of the phrases that are used and would have to be assessed by social security adjudication officers means that, in the terms in which it has been passed, the amendment is simply unworkable with the current arrangements of the social security system. Potentially, it would involve us in taking over a wide part of the work of local authority social services departments in a way that the social security system is simply not qualified to carry out.

Mr. Frank Field (Birkenhead)

The Minister says that the amendment would be unworkable. If the Government amendment is accepted, will more or fewer people be eligible compared to what would be the position if the Lords amendment were passed?

Mr. Newton

I shall again come to that point. By definition, it is clear that since I have resisted the amendment partly on the ground that potentially it covers the entire supplementary pensioner population, I am unlikely to be moving a Government amendment that would run wider than that.

Mr. Field

That is a cut.

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman is now being merely mischievous. I shall come to that point.

We are seeking to accept the spirit of the way in which the amendment was spoken to and passed in the other place. We are seeking an additional disablement premium —one might call it a severe disablement premium. I am happy to see the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) in her place. That premium also has the advantage of responding to the recommendation of the Select Committee on Social Services, that we should consider the introduction of a two-tier disablement premium. That is what the Government's amendment is designed to bring about.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)

Government amendment (a) says: the applicable amount for a severely disabled person shall include an amount in respect of his being a severely disabled person. Is that amount a variable sum or is it a fixed amount that will be appropriate to disabled people, however severe the disability? Is there scope in the way that this measure will be used to vary that in line with the degree of disability?

Mr. Newton

I am tempted to say that I will be grateful if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to set out my points in logical order. However, the direct answer is that the intention is that this shall be a fixed sum, a point to which I shall return.

As an additional sign of our good intentions, I point out that there is no need to amend the Bill to provide for a severe disablement premium. There are ample powers within the Bill as it stands for us to have as many premiums as we wish. We have thought it right to make clear our intentions and to respond to the feelings both in this place and the other place. Nevertheless, we wished to table an amendment that specifically provides for a severe disablement premium.

We are proposing a higher and additional premium for a particular group of disabled people. It will be paid on top of the other structural improvements for disabled people in the Bill, and in particular the disablement premium. As I have said, in effect it provides the two-tier disablement premium that many commentators, including the Select Committee, have urged upon us. It will be paid as an extra amount to severely disabled people who are living on their own, and who are most likely to need extra support and care. It will be paid to them direct and as of right within the income support scheme. It will also form part of the assessment of need in the housing benefit rules.

In considering the issue, we have sought criteria that are consistent with other social security arrangements. Our intention is that receipt of the higher rate of attendance allowance should be the first qualifying condition. The present domestic assistance addition already has a condition that there must be no one in the household capable of carrying out normal domestic duties. The purpose behind that rule, on the need for extra support to maintain independence that cannot otherwise be provided, is a sensible one.

We have recently announced a major extension of the invalid care allowance as the benefit that is paid to those caring for disabled people. Consistent with that, we intend that the extra disablement premium will be paid direct to a severely disabled person where there is no one receiving or eligible for the invalid care allowance in respect of that person's care needs. We envisage setting the rate at the same level as for invalid care allowance, currently, although shortly to rise, £23 a week. This will be paid on top of the disablement premium in relevant cases. It is nearly double the rate of the basic disablement premium for a single person that is illustrated in the technical annex.

Our estimate is that up to 10,000 severely disabled people could qualify for this additional premium, at a cost of up to £12 million. It will go to a far wider range of people than those who currently receive the domestic assistance addition. Our latest information, for December 1984, shows that only 3,150 people then received the domestic assistance addition, of whom 3,000 received £10 or less, compared with the figure of £23 that I have mentioned.

On the basis of those figures, total expenditure on the current domestic assistance addition was well below £1 million. We expect that this measure will lead to a twelvefold increase in expenditure on severely disabled people and to at least a trebling of the number of people who are helped by the current domestic assistance addition. It is a very substantial move towards meeting the points that were made in another place. No less important is the fact that it represents a substantial move towards—

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

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Newton

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish this point.

It represents a very substantial move towards extending the help that is available. It will help a much larger number of severely disabled people than are helped by the existing arrangements. Thus, it will further the objectives that unite all right hon. and hon. Members.

Mr. Ashley

Does the Minister—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am not sure whether the Minister is giving way.

Mr. Newton

I had finished, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I am happy to allow the right hon. Gentleman to appear to intervene during my speech, if he so wishes.

Mr. Ashley

The Minister says that this is a substantial increase, but he also said that the amounts are to be fixed. How can fixed amounts provide for people with different disabilities who require separate amounts? Is the Minister able to give a categoric assurance that no fewer people will be living in the community and that these proposals will not force them to live in institutions?

Mr. Newton

The right hon. Gentleman will be very well aware that it would be very unwise of me to give a categorical assurance of the breadth that he seeks. It is clear, from the figures that I have just given, that substantially more severely disabled people who are living in the community will receive significant additional help, compared with what they receive under the present income support scheme. That must help to serve the objective that all of us have in mind of extending the effectiveness and the real meaning of care in the community.

Mr. Alfred Morris

It will excite no surprise in the House when I say that I very much agree with Lords amendment No. 35. The amendment is, of course, virtually identical to the one I moved at the Bill's Report stage in this House on 19 May. Except for the Minister, everyone who took part in the debate on my amendment, from both sides of the House, spoke in support of what I was proposing. Yet the Government defeated the amendment on a three-line Whip.

In another place, their Lordships were clearly much more impressed by the speeches in favour of my amendment than they were by the fiercely whipped vote by which it was defeated. Maurice Jackson, in Therapy's widely read parliamentary column, wrote after the Lords debate: What happens now? The Government, of course, with its big Commons majority, could try to reverse the Lords amendment when the Bill returns for final examination by MPs. My prediction is that they will do nothing of the sort, but retire from the field—battered and bloody and not a little bowed—yielding victory with as much grace as they can muster. In fact, however, the Government are still opposing the amendment. Their own alternative amendment is grossly unsatisfactory and I hope very much that the Lords, when the Bill returns to them, will stand their ground and insist that the protection we are seeking for severely disabled people stays in the Bill. At the same time, I hope they will appreciate that the outrageously strict guillotine on the time available to us today makes it impossible for there to be more than one vote at the conclusion of this debate.

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This is a deeply important debate for severely disabled people. It is a debate not about compassion but about rights and, in particular, about the right of every disabled person to live, wherever that can be made possible, both independently and with dignity in his or her own home.

The outcome of the debate will quite literally, as Lord Henderson of Brompton said in another place, mean the difference between life at home and life in an institution for many of the most severely disabled people in this country. On 19 May and again in the Lords, numerous cases were quoted of the kind of people who will lose out. They were the cases of very severely disabled people who now live independently at home by virtue of the domestic care allowance which, if the Government have their way, will disappear.

Let me remind the Minister of just two cases that were drawn to my attention by the organisations of disabled people. One is that of a woman who is paralysed from the neck down after a road accident. She requires help with virtually all aspects of personal care and was looked after by an elderly mother until increasing frailty left her unable to cope. She then had to spend weekends in bed until she received the domestic care allowance. Until the Bill was amended in the Lords, a person like her would have lost much more than the Minister is now proposing in his amendment.

Mr. Frank Field

Has my right hon. Friend not reached a most important point? Although the Government, for once, have carefully costed this amendment, the one crucial piece of information that they have not given us is whether some disabled people, even if the amendment is passed, will still be worse off.

Mr. Morris

I agree with my hon. Friend. It is incontrovertibly the fact that some of the most severely disabled people will be very much worse off if the domestic care allowance disappears without an adequate replacement.

Another case drawn to my attention was that of a young man who recently graduated from university. He not only needs help with washing, dressing and using the toilet, but also has to be turned in bed frequently during the night. Before the Lords amendment, the loss in a case like his would have been £48.55 a week and there is no doubt whatever that admission to an institution would have resulted at a cost to the taxpayer of at least £180 a week.

Everyone who knows the facts sees that residential care would cost the taxpayer more than the benefits that the Government want to scrap. That is why the Spastics Society condemned the Government's attitude as "self-defeating" and why Eric Ward-Rowe, a war-blinded campaigner for the disabled and a life-long Conservative, described the Bill as a "wicked attack" on severely disabled people.

The Government's amendment has not removed the fear of their organisations that many severely disabled people will lose their independence and they are very angry about the Government's treatment of their representations. When the Bill went into Committee in this House, six organisations wrote to the Secretary of State and the Minister for the Disabled about their concern. They were the Disablement Income Group, the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People, Disability Alliance, the Spastics Society, the Royal National Institute for the Blind and the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation.

On 21 February, they requested a meeting with Ministers. The meeting took place on 17 March and the six organisations wrote again, on 20 March, for clarification of the Government's position. No reply was received. Then on 14 May—in advance of the Report stage in this House—the organisations wrote asking for some comment about the community care addition I was proposing. No reply was received. Yet again, on 9 July, they wrote to Ministers for their views about the provision of a community care addition. No reply has been received. As Peter Large of the Disablement Income Group has commented: The absence of any reply since the meeting of 17 March makes it difficult to be constructive. In my opinion, the absence of a reply to three letters from six reputable charities, all of them expert in the field of disability, is a sign either of an arrogant disregard for the needs of disabled people or of inefficiency". At this last hour of our proceedings on the Bill the Minister produces what he claims to be a solution. Even disregarding the spelling on yesterday's Order Paper, it looked more like a Back-Bench amendment on the back of an envelope than the fruit of two years' deliberations by a Department of State. All it does is to allow a higher rate of payment to severely disabled people, yet the Minister has known of the problem ever since he took the chair of the DHSS review of supplementary benefits over two years ago.

The House now needs cast-iron assurances that the Minister will pay extra amounts of the order of £50 to £60 a week—or perhaps even more—to people who require such sums to pay for the support that they need to live in the community. This is why right hon. and hon. Members have tabled amendments to the Government amendment.

The Opposition would prefer Lords amendment No. 35 to be retained because it would ensure that the precise needs of severely disabled people are met. However, it may be possible to describe in regulations the people about whom the House is so concerned in a way that they can be easily and accurately identified by adjudication officers and paid a fixed-rate benefit that is high enough to enable them to live or to continue to live in their own homes. The danger is that the defects of a basic disablement premium will simply be repeated in the proposed new premium.

If the Minister just thinks of a number and picks some convenient passport off the shelf, he will fail to meet the needs of some of the most disabled people. If he has in mind, as seems to be the case, something of the order of an extra £23 a week for people on income support who are in receipt of the higher rate of attendance allowance, then I must emphasise to him that he will be sentencing many disabled people to indefinite institutional care.

Ministers refused to speak to organisations of and for disabled people before tabling their amendments. In the next 48 hours a solution must be found that will satisfy their legitimate claims. The amendments tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) and colleagues from the all-party disablement group would give the Minister discretion to pay more than one rate of the new premium. That would make it much easier for him to target resources on those identified as being in the greatest need. The amendments also relate the amounts to the costs incurred by severely disabled people on a general rather than on an individual basis and to the level of support available in residential care. In the tiny amount of time available, the all-party disablement group has been doing the Minister's work for him and has been bending over backwards to meet his administrative complaints about Lords amendment No. 35, which I am sure the membership of the all-party group still hope will be accepted by the House.

The House owes a great debt to the Select Committee on Social Services under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) for the way in which it has exposed in its recent report the illogicality of providing substantial sums to people in residential care and practically nothing to disabled people living in the community. The Opposition seek the introduction of non-means-tested payments to disabled people which would allow them to make their own choices. The whole structure of the Bill is inimical to the interests of disabled people and all the amendments we have tabled are exercises in damage limitation. Without Lords amendment No. 35 or an acceptable alternative, the damage to severely disabled people after April 1988 will be appalling.

As their former Minister, I know that disabled people crave nothing more than to live independently at home. The Government's stance on this issue is thus egregiously cruel. It makes total nonsense of the claim that their Bill helps those most in need. Since the Government were routed in the local government elections, we have heard much of their claim about a "caring" new image, but it is totally uncaring to drive into institutions disabled people who, with adequate help, could live at home.

One of the Bill's probable victims has summed it all up.. She said: "If that's caring, the word has lost its meaning." I strongly urge all hon. Members in all parts of the House to respond to her anguish, in the way that she would wish. by supporting the Lords amendment.

Mr. John Hannam (Exeter)

I cannot follow the line taken by the right hon. Member for Manchester. Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), because it was one of extreme criticism of the attempts by my hon. Friend the Minister to find a solution to what has proved to be a difficult problem. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the way in which he has kept in close contact with the all-party disablement group to try to find a solution to this problem, which is to find a satisfactory method of replacing the accumulation of additional allowances which the severely disabled are able to obtain under the present system. We need to find a replacement for that accumulation, and the amount will vary from one person to another but will be sufficient to allow disabled people to live in the community rather than in institutions.

Over the last two years my hon. Friend has assured us that he is aware of the need to secure for this small but important group of severely handicapped people a method by which they would not suffer as a result of the change over to income support. I welcome the fact that my hon. Friend has been able to find an additional disability premium which will allow those people nearly to reach that final objective, but I am worried that in a couple of years a new group of severely disabled, blind and handicapped people will be outside the continuity assurances that have been given to those who are presently severely disabled and who will continue to receive amounts equivalent to the present allowance.

In a couple of years, disabled people in the 16-plus group will miss out on the level of allowances. They will require just as much help as similarly disabled people who will continue to receive the full guaranteed benefits. They will require just as much help for special diets, heating, blindness allowance and domestic assistance and all the other benefits that build up and allow disabled people to live in the community rather than have to return to institutional or residential home care.

The Lords amendment is rather like the one tabled on Report by the all-party disablement group and like the amendments that we have tabled. The benefit of those amendments was that they provided flexibility and were attractive because of that. They took account of individual needs, because we all know that disability is unique to each person and that the financial needs vary from one person to another. The single objective is to give each disabled person the means to live in the community, and my worry about the Government amendment is that it could mean everything or nothing. I was relieved to hear further details from my hon. Friend about the amounts that will be made available, because they come close to securing the final objective.

My hon. Friend talked about a second tier disability premium of some £23 on top of the £12 basic disability premium. That takes in many disabled people who might have found themselves with nothing but the basic disability premium. I appreciate the problem that has faced my hon. Friend in trying to find a system that would provide for a clearly defined flat rate addition. That is the nub of the problem that the Government face.

My hon. Friend's proposal will provide about 12 times as much financial help as the domestic assistance allowance that it replaces, and about three times as many disabled people will receive it. However, that does not address the main point that we have raised again and again about the small but vital group of severely disabled people. It is upon them that the full focus of attention will be directed. They could normally have expected to receive amounts in excess of the combined second tier and the basic disability premium.

Mr. Wigley

Will the hon. Gentleman address himself to the fact that the Spastics Society estimates that to keep a severely disabled person in institutional care costs between £230 and £280 a week, of which the DHSS may be paying £180?

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Mr. Hannam

The hon. Gentleman has just pre-empted exactly the point that I was about to make. To find the extra few pounds a week to ensure that disabled people remain in the community rather than being in institutional care would save hundreds of pounds of taxpayers' money and prevent the return of disabled people to a point from which we have tried to move away.

Therefore, I am not happy to accept the Government amendment and the Bill as it stands without a further assurance from my hon. Friend that he will find a way to meet the needs of the group of people about whom we are talking in the next few days with a more flexible use of the new system.

Will my hon. Friend consider a suggestion made to me by the manager of my local DHSS office, which happens to have the largest number of claimants in the country? I cannot praise the manager highly enough for the interest that she takes in the needs of her clients and the disabled in particular. She said that, looking at the proposed workings of the social fund, it would be eminently possible for her and her staff to enable the small group of severely disabled people in the community, about whom they all know, to have the necessary topping up amount on a weekly basis if necessary. If that flexibility were built into the system, she said that she and her staff would have no problem.

I hope that my hon. Friend will consider whether he can, through the regulations that he will be applying, look at that suggestion closely and introduce a method to ensure that this small but vital group of disabled people do not find themselves deprived of that essential £5, £10 or £15 a week that enables them to live in the community rather than having to return to institutional care.

Mr. Ashley

The hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) plays a prominent role in the all-party disablement group and I share many of his views. However, I do not think that the Minister was quite as magnanimous as the hon. Gentleman made out. This is obviously a party-political difference, despite the attempts that we make in the group to find some kind of consensus. The hon. Gentleman knows that the Minister is failing to meet the requirements of the other place. The Lords amendment made necessary provisions for severely disabled people, but the Minister has refused to accept it. He is offering us a substitute which he claims is just as good as the Lords amendment but, of course, it is not. It is inadequate and it fails on a number of counts to help severely disabled people in the way that the all-party disablement group would have wanted. However, I shall not press the hon. Member for Exeter on that point.

Will the Minister clarify one point that he made? He did not answer my question about different premiums to help different people with different disabilities, and I hope that he will be able to do so when he replies. The Minister said that the premium would be paid only to people living on their own and receiving the high rate of attendance allowance. That is an unusual provision. Many people need extra money for someone living with them. Some good friends of ours are severely disabled and help those of us who play a prominent role in helping those with disability. They must have people living with them. If such people were excluded, it would be a scandal. I hope that I have misunderstood the Minister, but if I have not, there will be hell to pay. Those people must not be deprived of the special premium that the Minister has promised.

The Opposition's amendment seeks to introduce different amounts for different people. That is the crux of the matter. A general allowance is of no use at all, because disabled people cannot simply be lumped together and given X amount of money. That cannot be done; it is most unrealistic. Our intention is to focus particular additional resources on those who specifically need them.

The basis point of the Opposition's amendment is to recognise the individuality of disability. We recognise that individual disabled people require individual payments for specific individual needs. Any alternative in the form of a general payment to all severely disabled people—I put this seriously to the Minister—is inadequate, demeaning and insulting. It is offensive to lump all disabled people together in one homogeneous group.

In all my years in the House I have never spoken of "the disabled". There is no such thing. Each disabled person has an individual problem. I know the Minister recognises that because he meets many disabled people. However, these provisions do not meet that fundamental point and the Minister should have a battle with his own Department, and the Secretary of State should take the point on board. Disabled people need individual payments. We do not want a lump sum for everyone. A few disabled people may receive a bit more than they need, but many will not.

What does it mean to disabled people not to get what they need? We are not speaking of a few people going without a few luxuries. If severely disabled people do not get what they need, they will not be able to get the basic resources and necessities of life. They cannot obtain the care that is vital to their wellbeing. They cannot go to the toilet, have a bath, use the telephone, feed, wash or dress themselves without help. If they cannot use their legs and arms, they must be provided with adequate resources to enable them to cope.

I make no party-political point when I say that we all know that many local authorities simply do not provide the wherewithal for disabled people. There are some fine authorities, but there are some lousy ones. Some appalling authorities leave severely disabled people without basic necessities. We could say that that is not our business but local authority business the Minister hinted at this in his speech—but we must find some means in this House of Commons of providing the essential specific disability payment for the individual. There is no alternative. That is the only answer, and I hope that the Minister will bear that in mind.

I have a lot more to say, but 1 shall not go on. I want to drive that point home to the Minister. If he takes that point on board, he will go much further towards helping severely disabled people than he could by any other single thing that he could do.

Mr. Newton

I want to make three points in reply. First, in the sense in which the word has been used, there are no victims of this proposal in view of the arrangements that we have made for transitional protection.

Secondly, I want to make it clear that, in contradiction to what has been suggested, the noble Lord Henderson who moved the amendment in the other place made it clear that he was aiming for an amendment which would be related to the needs of 2,000 or 3,000 people. There can be no doubt that the amendment goes much wider than that, but that was his explicit intention in moving the amendment.

The third point is that. of the 3,000 people at whom the Lords amendment was aimed. the vast majority receive far less than we propose to make available under the new premium. Only 50 persons receive more than £20 a week, according to the latest information available.

I take up the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam), that part of our purpose has always been to treat disabled people's needs individually and flexibly. Resistance to doing that through the social fund has led to the amendment. We have sought to respond to it, but we do not rule out the possibility of also meeting the special needs of disabled people through the social fund, which is one of the purposes for which it was designed and intended. We hope that the social fund will work closely with local authorities, because none of us would wish them to cease caring for disabled people. One of our objectives is to bring about a better working relationship between the Department, in its social security role and in its wider caring role, and local authorities in their responsibilities for sick and disabled people.

I hope that the House will recognise that a change from a benefit which costs £1 million and helps 3,000 people to a benefit that we expect to cost £12 million and to help 10,000 people represents a substantial, significant and important move.

Mr. Wigley

I hope that the House of Lords will realise when it considers the matter— It being two hours after the commencement of the proceedings on the motion relating to the Social Security Bill (Allocation of Time), MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order this day, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 251, Noes 183.

Division No. 275] [7.11 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Alexander, Richard Forth, Eric
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Amess, David Fox, Sir Marcus
Ancram, Michael Franks, Cecil
Arnold, Tom Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Ashby, David Freeman, Roger
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Fry, Peter
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Gale, Roger
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Galley, Roy
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Baldry, Tony Garel-Jones, Tristan
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Glyn, Dr Alan
Batiste, Spencer Goodlad, Alastair
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gow, Ian
Bellingham, Henry Gower, Sir Raymond
Bendall, Vivian Grant, Sir Anthony
Benyon, William Greenway, Harry
Bevan, David Gilroy Gregory, Conal
Biffen, Rt Hon John Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Grist, Ian
Blackburn, John Ground, Patrick
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Grylls, Michael
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gummer, Rt Hon John S
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Hampson, Dr Keith
Bright, Graham Hanley, Jeremy
Brinton, Tim Hargreaves, Kenneth
Brooke, Hon Peter Harris, David
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Haselhurst, Alan
Browne, John Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Bryan, Sir Paul Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)
Buck, Sir Antony Hawksley, Warren
Budgen, Nick Hayes, J.
Burt, Alistair Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Butcher, John Hayward, Robert
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Heathcoat-Amory, David
Butterfill, John Heddle, John
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Hickmet, Richard
Cash, William Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hill, James
Chapman, Sydney Hind, Kenneth
Chope, Christopher Hirst, Michael
Churchill, W. S. Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hordern, Sir Peter
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Howard, Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Clegg, Sir Walter Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Colvin, Michael Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)
Coombs, Simon Hunter, Andrew
Cope, John Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Corrie, John Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Couchman, James Jessel, Toby
Critchley, Julian Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Crouch, David Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Jones, Robert (Herts W)
Dickens, Geoffrey Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Dover, Den Key, Robert
Dunn, Robert King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Durant, Tony King, Rt Hon Tom
Dykes, Hugh Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Evennett, David Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Eyre, Sir Reginald Knowles, Michael
Fairbairn, Nicholas Knox, David
Farr, Sir John Lang, Ian
Favell, Anthony Latham, Michael
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lawler, Geoffrey
Fletcher, Alexander Lawrence, Ivan
Fookes, Miss Janet Lee, John (Pendle)
Forman, Nigel Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Lester, Jim Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Lightbown, David Pollock, Alexander
Lilley, Peter Porter, Barry
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Portillo, Michael
Lord, Michael Powley, John
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Lyell, Nicholas Price, Sir David
McCurley, Mrs Anna Proctor, K. Harvey
Macfarlane, Neil Raffan, Keith
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Rhodes James, Robert
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Maclean, David John Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
McLoughlin, Patrick Roe, Mrs Marion
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Rossi, Sir Hugh
McQuarrie, Albert Rost, Peter
Madel, David Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Major, John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Malins, Humfrey Sims, Roger
Malone, Gerald Skeet, Sir Trevor
Maples, John Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Marland, Paul Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stanbrook, Ivor
Mates, Michael Steen, Anthony
Mather, Carol Stern, Michael
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Merchant, Piers Taylor, John (Solihull)
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Miscampbell, Norman Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Moate, Roger Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Monro, Sir Hector Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Thurnham, Peter
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Moynihan, Hon C. Viggers, Peter
Murphy, Christopher Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Neale, Gerrard Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Neubert, Michael Wall, Sir Patrick
Newton, Tony Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Norris, Steven Warren, Kenneth
Onslow, Cranley Watson, John
Oppenheim, Phillip Watts, John
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Osborn, Sir John Wheeler, John
Ottaway, Richard Wiggin, Jerry
Page, Sir John (Harrow W) Wood, Timothy
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Tellers for the Ayes:
Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn) Mr. Francis Maude and
Pattie, Geoffrey Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd.
Pawsey, James
Alton, David Carter-Jones, Lewis
Anderson, Donald Cartwright, John
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Ashdown, Paddy Clarke, Thomas
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Clay, Robert
Ashton, Joe Clelland, David Gordon
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cohen, Harry
Barnett, Guy Coleman, Donald
Barron, Kevin Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Corbyn, Jeremy
Beith, A. J. Craigen, J. M.
Bell, Stuart Crowther, Stan
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Dalyell, Tarn
Bermingham, Gerald Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Blair, Anthony Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Deakins, Eric
Boyes, Roland Dewar, Donald
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Dixon, Donald
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Dobson, Frank
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Dormand, Jack
Caborn, Richard Douglas, Dick
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Dubs, Alfred
Campbell, Ian Duffy, A. E. P.
Campbell-Savours, Dale Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Eadie, Alex Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Eastham, Ken Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpfn SE) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Ewing, Harry Nellist, David
Fatchett, Derek Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) O'Brien, William
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) O'Neill, Martin
Fisher, Mark Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Flannery, Martin Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Park, George
Forrester, John Parry, Robert
Foster, Derek Patchett, Terry
Foulkes, George Pavitt, Laurie
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Pendry, Tom
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Pike, Peter
Garrett, W. E. Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
George, Bruce Radice, Giles
Godman, Dr Norman Randall, Stuart
Golding, Mrs Llin Raynsford, Nick
Gould, Bryan Redmond, Martin
Gourlay, Harry Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central) Richardson, Ms Jo
Hancock, Michael Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hardy, Peter Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Harman, Ms Harriet Rogers, Allan
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Rooker, J. W.
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Heffer, Eric S. Rowlands, Ted
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Sedgemore, Brian
Home Robertson, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hoyle, Douglas Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham) Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Snape, Peter
Janner, Hon Greville Soley, Clive
John, Brynmor Spearing, Nigel
Johnston, Sir Russell Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Stott, Roger
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Strang, Gavin
Kirkwood, Archy Straw, Jack
Lambie, David Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Leadbitter, Ted Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Leighton, Ronald Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Livsey, Richard Tinn, James
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Torney, Tom
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Wainwright, R.
Loyden, Edward Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Wareing, Robert
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Weetch, Ken
McKelvey, William Welsh, Michael
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor White, James
Maclennan, Robert Wigley, Dafydd
McTaggart, Robert Williams, Rt Hon A.
McWilliam, John Wilson, Gordon
Madden, Max Winnick, David
Marek, Dr John Woodall, Alec
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Martin, Michael Young, David (Bolton SE)
Maynard, Miss Joan
Meacher, Michael Tellers for the Noes:
Meadowcroft, Michael Mr. James Hamilton and
Michie, William Mr. Ron Davies.
Mikardo, Ian

Question accordingly agreed to.

Government amendment in lieu of the Lords amendment agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to, some with Special Entry.

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