HC Deb 13 January 1988 vol 125 cc362-82
Mr. Robin Cook

I beg to move amendment No. 23, in page 17, line 15, after 'meet', insert 'the cost of community care, exceptional needs or'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 24, in page 17, line 17, at end insert 'and to meet such other expenses as appear to the Secretary of State should be paid as of right to all persons of the prescribed descriptions in such circumstances.'. No. 28, in page 17, line 20, after 'allocate', insert 'prescribed'.

Mr. Cook

During the Conservative party conference, I was greatly encouraged to read reports in the press that, when the current Secretary of State for Health and Social Security took office, he did his best to rid himself of the albatross of the social fund. Unfortunately, he could not persuade other Cabinet Ministers to let him off the hook. That demonstrates that anyone who comes to this issue with a fresh mind is bound rapidly to come to the conclusion—as the Secretary of State did — that the social fund is a lunatic inheritance from his predecessor and that, in the interests of social security claimants, it should be ditched.

Unfortunately, the Secretary of State was unsuccessful in his attempts to rid himself of the social fund, and we find ourselves debating another batch of Government amendments to the social fund, which remains the most objectionable feature — among many — of the Social Security Act 1986. The main result of the social fund is to replace the present system of single payments to claimants with a system of loans that will be repaid by deductions from benefits. Those benefits are calculated and approved by Parliament to provide for a subsistence level of income. However, after such deductions, claimants will be left to survive on income that, by definition, will be below subsistence level.

The previous Secretary of State—granted the present Secretary of State has not made an attempt yet — described the new arrangement as a banking facility for social security claimants. It will certainly resemble some banks because I understand that, in those social security offices where special rooms will be set aside for social fund interviews, floor to ceiling security screens are being installed to protect the staff from the claimants' frustrations as they try to wrestle with the ins and outs of the social fund.

In the next fortnight the House will have the opportunity to debate the social fund as a result of the three orders that will be before the House. In the meantime, we wish to propose two amendments to the Bill that would remove two of the gravest defects of the proposed social fund. Amendment No. 23 would curb some of the limitless discretion available to the Secretary of State under present legislation. The amendment achieves that by subjecting the grants for community care and the loans for exceptional needs to the same regime of prescription that the schedule provides for cold weather payments.

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It is worth pausing to note that, although we refer to the structure as a single social fund, it is rapidly splitting into two separate funds. On the one hand, there will be a fund out of which payments will be made for maternity grants, funeral grants and severe weather payments. Those payments will be made as of legal right and as an entitlement to the claimant. On the other hand, the payments for the community care grant and exceptional needs loans will be paid at the discretion of the social fund officer.

There are other contrasts that should concern Parliament. The former fund will be regulated by parliamentary instrument, whereas the latter will be controlled simply by guidance issued by the Secretary of State. There will be no parliamentary scrutiny of that guidance. As yet, we have had no opportunity to debate the social fund guidance manual.

From the claimant's point of view, there are even more stark contrasts. Payments out of the first fund for maternity grant, funeral grant and severe weather payments are subject to appeal. They are paid as a legal right, so there are grounds for appeal. The claimant may pursue that appeal through the DHSS, through the tribunals, through the commissioners and through the Court of Appeal if he feels aggrieved. However, the claimant who is refused the exceptional needs loan has no right of appeal. The decision made in the room on the other side of the security screen is final and there is no opportunity for redress. No wonder it is felt that it would be safer to announce that final decision from behind the safety of a metal grille. Our amendment would put both funds on the same footing so that we would have one genuine, integrated social fund.

I wish to deal with another area of sharp contrast that leads me to the other amendment. Perhaps the greatest contrast of all between the two funds is that the claimant seeking a maternity grant, funeral grant or severe weather payment must be paid if he or she can establish a legal right. However, the claimant who turns up looking for a community grant or an exceptional needs loan need not be paid. Indeed, that claimant can be paid only if the money has not run out. He or she is applying for a payment from a cash-limited fund and the limits on that fund may well have run out by the time of application.

We understand that the DHSS, with prudence and perhaps forethought, has prepared a computer programme for distribution to DHSS officers to control their allocations from the fund. Unfortunately, when I last heard, the software was not up and running. Understandably, DHSS officers are worried about what they will do with their computers on 1 April without the software. Perhaps the Under-Secretary will consider that problem.

Assuming that the process of monthly budgeting works, it will mean that, in week one or week two, those who claim in those weeks might succeed in getting a payment if they manage to get on the right side of the social fund officer on the other side of the grille. However, if they turn up in week three they are liable to be told that the month's budget is getting dangerously low and that they are being refused. It will not be that they are not entitled or that they do not come within the scope of the guidance manual, but that the money just is not there.

We know how things work regarding public expenditure, and it may be that when the same claimant: goes back in week four he may encounter a different attitude. The social fund officer may be anxious to meet his month norm and to dispose of his monthly budget, so it is possible that he would be more generous than he was a week before. I predict that, rapidly, all round Britain, welfare officers and social work departments will learn what is the best day of the month on which to send a claimant along to apply for a loan from a social fund.

This is bizarre. But what makes that rather outrageous procedure not entertaining, but deeply tragic, is that we now have the figures for what the cash limits will be. The most dramatic development since Second Reading in terms of the social fund is that we now have deposited in the Library what the allocation will be to every local DHSS office. We now know the figures, and they are horrendous. As many hon. Members will know, I have done some work on allocating to constituencies not just the allocation for the social fund expenditure next year, but the actual expenditure on single payments by the same office in 1986–87. Therefore, we can compare what was available to claimants on an outturn basis for last year with', what will be available for the same purpose through the social fund next year. The results are alarming.

When we first saw the figures, the biggest cut was allocated to Glasgow, Provan, which was to receive only 22 per cent. of its total expenditure in 1986–87. I understand that that cut was so enormous that the Government have withdrawn those figures and announced that there was an error in the calculation, which they will amend. For the sake of Provan I am glad that that step has been taken, but it leaves me in a particularly invidious position because the DHSS office which now enjoys the unfortunate distinction of having the biggest cut is Bathgate in West Lothian, which serves my constituency. In 1986–87 it spent £2,250,000 on single payments; for 1988–89 its allocation under the social fund is £750,000 —one third of last year's expenditure.

I shall pursue the constituency point to which this gives rise elsewhere and content myself on this occasion by noting only that West Lothian is one of the half dozen travel-to-work areas in central Scotland with the highest rate of male unemployment and that my constituency, including as it does a young new town, is one of the half dozen constituencies in Scotland with the largest number of single parents. There is no conceivable index of poverty, deprivation and social need by which one could single out Bathgate and Livingston for the largest cut in payment to social security claimants anywhere in Britain. Why us?

We are comforted, in so far as it is possible to find consolation in these circumstances, by the fact that we are almost not alone. We have ranked all the local offices by the size of cut and we find that there are just over 20 local offices facing a cut in expenditure which brings them down to half the level of spending of 1986–87. Those 20 local offices read like a roll-call of the areas of greatest deprivation and poverty in Britain. Let me share with the House the names of some those local offices.

First comes Bathgate and then Bloomsbury — the local office in central London which deals with most of the bed-and-breakfast cases of the homeless who are camped in Camden and one of the areas of most intense pressure on the DHSS system. The third area, for some curious reason, is the New Forest. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and I cannot explain why it has found its way on to the list of multiple deprivation. My only possible explanation is that it may be well known in the DHSS that the spokesman for the official Opposition spends every summer on holiday in the New Forest, and I am sorry if I have visited my blight on the local residents.

Fourth is Cowdenbeath, which covers central Fife—an area with one of the highest unemployment levels in Scotland, and that is saying something. Then comes Leeds, north, Leven—which covers the rest of central Fife—Glasgow, Cranstonhill, Dundee east, Kilmarnock, the Oval—the other central London office with the largest pressure on it — Thames south, Glasgow Anniesland, Glasgow Maryhill, Leeds south, Chester-le-Street, Abertillery, Edinburgh east, Sunderland south and Middlesbrough. All those offices are having their expenditure cut by half.

One can compare and contrast that list of the areas of multiple deprivation with the 20-odd local offices which do best out of the allocation. There are just over 20 which manage to receive over 80 per cent. of last year's expenditure. These are the local offices that face the smallest cuts and in half a dozen cases an actual increase over last year's expenditure. Where are they? They are Eastbourne, Folkestone, Lewes—Lewes receives 80 percent. of last year's expenditure, whereas all the others receive more—Worthing, Guildford— that well-known black spot of unemployment — Bournemouth, Weymouth, Ipswich, Hove, Skegness and Epsom. I cannot conceive of what index of social deprivation would qualify Epsom as being one of the areas for the highest allocation for any social security budget.

The list continues with the Isle of Wight, Thanet, Exeter and—now we come to it—the local office in the whole of Britain which receives the best allocation of all from the social fund and which is singled out for the most favourable treatment and the most generous allocation —Bognor Regis. Next year Bognor Regis will get two thirds more for expenditure than it spent last year, while Bathgate will receive two thirds less. Bognor Regis is in the Arundel division. I do not know what level of multiple deprivation may be found in Arundel, but it has a 19,000 Conservative majority. I checked it in the list ranking constituencies by unemployment and discovered that it was almost 500th. Why Bognor Regis?

I observe that the Under-Secretary of State has released two pages which explain how the calculation was done to enable the allocation to be carried out. I note from the calculations that six sevenths of the formula relate to the historic spending pattern, but one seventh relates to what the Department expects to happen over the coming year. Whether that means that the Department expects major factory closures in Bognor Regis, I do not know. We should be told. I find it impossible to reconcile these figures with either the previous spending pattern of those local offices or any objective measure of social need in Bognor Regis and Bathgate.

So far I have dealt gently with the Government. I have compared the expenditure on single payments last year with the total allocation of the social fund to those offices for next year. But it would be possible to make a more accurate and restricted comparison. The single payments that were paid out in 1986.87 were grants and were not repayable. Most payments out of the social fund will be loans. Indeed, of the £200 million budget, £140 million will be loans and only £60 million will be grants. That £140 million of loans is not new money; it will come out of the pockets of the claimants who will have to repay it.

It is therefore possible to sharpen the contrast and say that it is really between the expenditure on single payments last year and the allocation for grants from the social fund for next year. Let us take some of our major cities and examine what happens if we make that comparison.

Birmingham contains the constituency with the highest unemployment in Britain—that of the deputy leader of the Labour party, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). Last year, it received £12.5 million for expenditure on single payments. Next year, it will receive barely £2 million in grants through the social fund—a reduction to 17 per cent. of the previous level of expenditure. That is a fair comparison. It means that £10 million is being taken out of Birmingham's local economy, which is a loss of

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I notice that my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Ms. Primarolo) is present. She will be interested to know that last year Bristol received £2.75 million in single payments. Next year, it will be allocated barely £500,000 in expenditure grants—a reduction to 19 per cent. of the previous year's expenditure. I notice that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Rutherglen (Mr. McAvoy) is in his place. Last year, Glasgow spent £26 million in single payments; next year it will get not quite £4 million for expenditure on grants under the social fund — a reduction to 15 per cent. Knowing, as he does, the appalling need and poverty of Glasgow, I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen, or any other hon. Member, could stand up and say that Glasgow was a suitable candidate for that sharp loss of purchasing power of more than £20 million in the local economy.

Liverpool faces a reduction from more than £8 million to £1.5 million — a reduction to 18 per cent. Manchester's allocation will fall from £6.5 million to barely £1 million — again, a reduction to 18 per cent. How is it possible to justify these figures? I must admit that all the scepticism that we expressed about the social fund has been not only vindicated, but outdone by events. In retrospect, my hon. Friends and I were trusting and naive in being reluctant to believe that the position could be quite as bad as the figures show it to be.

There is a good reason why Parliament challenged the absolute right of the Crown in the 17th century. It is the same reason why, ever since, Parliament has been reluctant to give any Government absolute discretion that is not tempered by regulation. It is that absolute discretion quickly leads to arbitrary power. I choose my words with care. There is no objective arithmetical way in which one can explain the distribution and allocation that I have outlined to the House. The only possible reason for the ludicrously lopsided allocation is deliberate political bias. It represents the Government's use of unfettered power to reward their own and to penalise ours. The way in which that unfettered power had been manipulated is a scandal and an outrage, and shows that the Government are not to he trusted. Therefore, we shall vote for the amendments, which will provide some restrictions on that unfettered power.

Mr. Ronnie Fearn (Southport)

The intention behind my amendment is to give the Secretary of State power to provide extra expenses to enable people at risk from severe weather to protect themselves.

I was glad to see that cold, weather payments are now to have a proper budget. However, I am extremely concerned that the abolition of single payments and their replacement with discretionary loans will cause considerable hardship to people who are already in grave danger at times when we experience exceptionally cold weather like last year's. This particularly affects elderly people, the chronically sick and disabled and very young children, who are accepted as being at risk from severe weather. Such people are already eligible for severe weather payments if they are in receipt of income supplement, but without single payments to provide essential equipment to fight the cold, many people's lives will be put at risk.

The Child Poverty Action Group has told me of a case that provides an excellent example of how the changes could put life at risk and of how my amendment could prevent that. It is that of a single parent, living on supplementary benefit and supporting a child under two years of age. She was moved from partly furnished to unfurnished accommodation because her previous flat was too small. The flat-rate grant was not enough to provide carpets and curtains for the flat. As a result, the health of her small child was at considerable risk from the cold. My amendment would give the Secretary of State the power to intervene and provide extra payments so that that single parent could live without the dangers caused by severe weather.

As well as payments for essential articles for fighting the cold, such as carpets and curtains—many of us do not consider them in that light — payments could also cover grants for blankets and mattresses. More important, grants could provide long-term protection from the cold for those at risk such as the very young, the elderly and the chronically sick. Payments could be utilised to insulate their homes, especially if they are in hard-to-heat homes in areas where they do not qualify for an energy grant. Payments could be made for draughtproofing, hot water cylinder jackets and repairs to defective appliances. Grants could also be provided to help those in need with reconnection charges in an emergency. Many such emergencies occurred last year.

The abolition of single payments will cause considerable problems and put at special risk the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society during exceptionally cold weather.

Mr. Burns

In the light of the fairly dramatic new policies that are coming from whatever name the hon. Gentleman's party now calls itself, can he give the House a categorical assurance that, in addition to wanting to put VAT on food, children's clothes and newspapers, for the next 24 hours his party will not want to put VAT on fuel bills?

Mr. Fearn

If the hon. Gentleman has read some of the statements that appeared in the press—some of them erroneous — and has watched television, he will have found that the statements made were not party statements, but a leader's statements.

Mr. Robin Cook

In that case, one should clarify to the House that the apostrophe comes after the "s" of leaders' and not before it, and that there are two leaders to choose from. The document is signed by both of them. The areas to which they propose to extend VAT include food, children's clothing, newspapers and domestic fuel. The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) is therefore correct in asking for an assurance.

Mr. Fearn

I shall continue with my speech. My amendment would enable the Secretary of State to relieve hardship and to protect lives. However, as the point is covered by another amendment and I see that it is also within amendment Nos. 23 and 28, I shall not press my amendment.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

I compliment my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) on his remarks about the social fund. It is with some sadness that I speak in support of the amendment because Conservative Members should know and Opposition Members certainly know that we should be talking about a huge increase in benefits. My hon. Friend the Member for Livingston was a little too kind to the Minister, to the Secretary of State and indeed to Conservative Members. For weeks I listened to debates in Committee about these benefits and about the horrendous cuts that will be implemented in April. I was shocked yesterday to hear Conservative Members accuse my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mrs. Wise) of being emotional. I thought that I was shockproof until I heard what was said in Committee.

I made many notes of the things that the Secretary of State said in answer to vital questions about how people will live from April in the light of some of these cuts and started to consider some of the people who devised this dreadful piece of legislation. One can see where they come from by looking at the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834. Then, as now, some people thought that others should not get sufficient to live on because the principle in that Act was that if they were given as little as possible they would be forced into low-paid jobs. That is part of the Government's strategy.

When I asked the Minister how children live when they leave care and asked for solutions for this or that group of claimants, he gave benign answers of sympathy, such as, "We have listened to the hon. Lady, but"— we always had a "but" at the end. Tht is why my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston has been too kind to Government Members. I have looked into the hearts of those Conservative Members on the Committee and what I saw filled me with a cold chill, because they do not care. That is the crux of the matter. The social fund epitomises everything that went on in Committee. This is the removal of the safety net of the welfare state. Let nobody be in any doubt about that. The consensus has gone.

Over Christmas I went to various groups to meet the claimants—nursery groups and family centres. I met the men and women who use those centres, who are struggling to bring up families on benefits or on very low incomes. I have the dubious honour of representing the constituency with the lowest pay in the country, so I know what I am talking about when I talk about poverty.

I wish to quote some of the comments of those people. One person said: The Prime Minister can come round to my house any time. I defy her to show me how I can economise more than I am doing already. Can you tell me how to feed, clothe and care for two children and myself on £25 a week? I have a pound left in my purse. I don't know what we are going to eat for tea. The women I spoke to, and occasionally a man, are bringing up children on benefits. One or two are on very low incomes, which is what I believe the Government want to force people into. The people feel forgotten. They told me that they are struggling to keep a decent life for themselves and their families. They hate having to live on the means-tested benefit; they do not want it.

I am glad I was not in the House when a Conservative Member referred to youngsters as being idle and not wanting to get out of bed. That is the most gross insult I can think of. During my fact-finding mission I talked to youngsters, and many of them are living on peanuts. Conservative Members could not feed themselves for even half a day on some of the incomes I am talking about.

The people I spoke to were particularly concerned about what will happen to young people when the social fund comes in. My local press ran the most heartbreaking story the week before Christmas. There was a very poignant picture of a 17-year-old woman who wrote a letter to the paper saying: Can anybody help me? I live in a maisonette, I have been in it since 6th December. People have helped, but I have no bed, cooker or carpet. I have borrowed a bed. I have a baby due in February and as yet social security has not been able to help me. We all know that the payment of single benefits was removed, and she was caught in the trap.

Until now I have been living on £18.75 a week. When the baby comes, how will I boil milk? I live on chips or anything that I can get. I come from a one-parent family and will soon be one myself. Do you think Bob Geldof can help me? I felt like writing back and saying, "Yes, because the Government will not." That young woman got help because she publicised her plight. My local press are not supporters of the Labour party. I suffer, as do many Labour Members, because often their values are not my values, and sometimes they come out in support of the new breed of 19th-century liberals who are governing us. Yet the paper said: What happened to Nicola Sykes? The pregnant teenager who spent Christmas alone without money or comfort in an empty council flat is not an isolated case. For every Nicola there are doubtless many, many others. While Nicola's needs are being met temporarily, this is going to get much worse in April 1988. It went on: We have no confidence that things will get better for this group of people or that the voluntary sector can cope. In fact, the voluntary sector is now being swamped and is going under.

9.15 pm

I want to return to the point that I made earlier and consider the thinking the Government and the Conservative Members who served on the Committee. The simple fact is—I emphasise this to my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston, who let the Government off the hook a little at first—thatthe Government do not care. When I asked the Prime Minister during Question Time why we have the highest infant mortality rate and why we are going in the opposite direction to our European colleagues, she replied that she did not know. The Government do not know and Conservative Members do not know. I could forgive that, but I have listened to the Government for weeks and the simple truth is that they do not care.

Tonight's little demonstration may have alarmed and offended the sensitivities of Conservative Members because there was noise. The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) is shaking his head and no doubt he will have a chance to speak later. Indeed, it will be a welcome relief to hear from him because he sat in silence earlier and many times during those weeks in Committee I wondered whether we had the deaf and dumb brigade from the Government with us because Conservative Members were not willing to speak. If Conservative Members were impressed by that anger tonight, they must be aware that they are storing up even more anger. I have spoken to the young people and I can tell the Government that they will pay for that anger.

We have a divided Britain, and the social fund will divide it even further. Conservative Members will be just as swamped in their constituencies with people coming to them as I will be in mine. Conservative Members will not get away with this. The anger will manifest itself in forms which Conservative Members will dislike.

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin), who has just come into the Chamber, finds this highly amusing. There is nothing amusing about poverty. We noticed that attitude in Committee. While we spoke about people trying to maintain decent levels of benefit, Conservative Members sat in Committee smiling, writing Christmas cards and passing each other little notes. That was disgraceful behaviour and it reflects what the Government have done by introducing the social fund. The whole country will pay for the devastation that this rotten legislation will produce.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

Government amendments Nos. 43 and 44, dealt with debts being collected from people in Northern Ireland. I want to share the concerns of my colleagues and others in Northern Ireland about the implications of the social fund.

The hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) propounded the theory that the social fund would help Conservative constituencies. If that is so, it is amazing that in Northern Ireland, if my memory is correct, the percentage social fund allocation to the office in Ballymena is the largest of all. Very few people would contend that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. I. Paisley) is a noted supporter of the Government. However, this point highlights the real problem. There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason behind the allocation of the fund.

I want to speak for a few moments on behalf of an area that is recognised by most people to be remarkably deprived in terms of basic wages. Indeed, the region has the highest rates for housekeeping, fuel and grocery expenses. Some people wonder where the funds will come from in the future. We are still waiting for details about the social fund, although a Northern Ireland Minister gave us some information a short time ago. In most areas at least £1 million will be taken out of the purchasing economy. It is a matter not just of the recipients suffering, but of the ongoing impact on a community. Before the fund is implemented, I ask that deeper consideration be given to it. I support the concept of the amendment, which should be obligatory on the Secretary of State rather than permissive.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

I apologise to the House for not being here for the start of the debate on these amendments, but I assure the House that I was present throughout the Committee stage of the Bill, and, that of its predecessor, which was just as awful. I find it interesting to note the number of Tory Members who have gained a tongue since they came down from the Committee Corridor. Perhaps the air up there is too rarefied for them to be able to speak, and perhaps the Services Committee could attend to that. It is incredible that a major piece of social vandalism is to be visited upon the people of this country, yet not one Tory Member has a word to say about it, other than to parrot what the Minister tells him to parrot in Committee.

The people in my community will face many problems because of the introduction of the social fund. The hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. M. Smyth) mentioned the loss of £1 million in his community. I deplore that—it is appalling— but I wish that we were losing only £1 million from our community. There is something deeply offensive, unpleasant and unfair about the social fund. It is unfair because it takes away the right of people to gain a benefit, a single payment, and hands it over to the discretionary power of the Minister.

The Minister can hide. He will not be sitting at a counter in the Archway Tower, with a piece of plate glass between himself and applicants for social fund benefit, telling them no and watching their anger as they suddenly discover that what they could get as a right is now a discretionary matter. The Minister will be hiding away in his plush office at the Elephant and Castle. A poor, low-paid civil servant will have to face the ire of those who have lost their benefits because of the social fund.

What is even more evil about this measure is that there is no appeal against these arbitrary decisions. Applicants will go to the DHSS, desperate to get help which, at the moment, is available, and will be told, "No, the money has run out this month. Come back next month." The money will have run out again and they will be told to come back the following month. They will be at the end of a vicious queue, or they will be offered something through the loan fund. We are not even certain how the loan fund will operate, because the Minister was remarkably coy about that.

If the amendments are carried this evening — I sincerely hope that they will be, although I have my doubts —they will serve to put some semblance of fairness and order into this part of the Bill. The Minister may grin and say, "Oh, well, here the Labour party goes again, moaning about social security. Soon it will all be over and I can forget about it." I am happy to tell the Minister and the House that that is not the case because the anger and chaos are only just beginning. Pent-up frustrations will boil over on 1 April, or some time during April, when the first office runs out of its social fund grant money or when loans are refused and people suffer because the social fund is cut for the succeeding year when others cannot afford to pay back the money.

All sorts of action will be taken, but what makes me angry is the complacency and arrogance with which the Government have introduced these measures and the way in which Ministers will sit back and leave it to a dispute' between local civil servants, who do not want to implement this horrible system, and local people in poor communities who do not want the system. They merely want to live with some decency and self-respect. The poverty in which they live has been visited upon them by the economic policies of a Government who do not care about these people.

It is not those people's fault. Like my hon. Friends, I want to see a social security system which will not allow a Minister to have discretion over the amount of money that he does not give to a poor inner-city area and a system which will not put low-level civil servants in the awful position of having to decide who gets that money. We want a guarantee of basic living standards and incomes for everyone in this country, which, as the seventh richest country in the world, could easily afford it.

The Government do not want to spend money on that. They do not care about poor people. They would rather give away the money in tax relief so that the very rich can build their swimming pools and buy their BMWs and their homes abroad. They would rather spend it on nuclear weapons than on the poorest people, who are desperately crying out for help.

Mr. Portillo

The hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Fearn) is worried about payments during exceptionally cold weather. He will be pleased to see that, next winter, the social fund will continue to make exceptionally cold weather payments. Although the supplementary benefits system will end, and with it the single payments system, there will continue to be exceptionally cold weather payments.

I remind the hon. Gentleman of a couple of points about the social fund which may go some way towards meeting his anxieties. He mentioned the problem of meeting the expenses of reconnection. The fuel direct scheme exists for consumers of electricity and gas. If they are in the vulnerable groups, they will be covered by the code of practice on winter disconnections. Budgeting loans will be available under the social fund to help people with their bills for the fuels that cannot be covered by the fuel direct scheme, including coal, oil and bottled gas. In some cases, community care grants — not loans — will be available for reconnection, depending upon the status of the applicant. In other cases, budgeting loans will be available for that purpose. Crisis loans may be available too, to avoid danger or damage to the health and safety of someone in the family.

I do not suggest that we accept the hon. Gentleman's amendment. I simply remind him that something like the exceptionally cold weather scheme will exist next winter, in the light of our experience this winter, and that those payments will not be made from the budgeted part of the social fund. I hope that that will be of interest and comfort to him.

We are speaking against the background of the total reform of the income-related social security benefits system. As part of that reform, an extra £200 million will be put into the money that is available for families. An important part of the reform is the fact that, in future, claimants will not be dependent upon bits and pieces of additional money which they can build up. Their needs will be addressed through premiums which are relevant to their circumstances. There will be premiums for families, for the disabled and for the elderly. We must look for the best way of enabling people to meet unusual and sometimes fairly large needs, and we believe that the social fund will fill the gap.

The hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) said that there were two social funds. There is only one social fund, but it is useful to think of it as being in two parts — budgeted and non-budgeted. But I did not understand the hon. Gentleman's point. He should have welcomed the fact that maternity, funeral and exceptionally cold weather payments will not be limited by the budget, but will be determined by the demand for them.

The hon. Gentleman and several other hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), made great play of the fact that there would be no redress under the new system. I wearied the Committee by explaining the system of review that would be instituted. First, the social fund officer could review the case. It could be reviewed by his line manager in the local office, or by the social fund inspector. Sitting above all that will be the social fund commissioner responsible for ensuring the quality of the decisions of social fund inspectors.

Although I mentioned this several times in Committee, I do not think that I have reminded the House that, during the passage of the Social Security Bill in July 1986, Lord Denning said in another place that his experience of appeals that had come to his court was that the machinery was far too long, elaborate and costly, with too many insurance commissioners and the like. He added: It is all very well to have that elaborate structure in the pursuit of justice, but if it is too elaborate, it ought to be replaced by simpler machinery … I see this new proposal coming from the Commons as being simple, fair and just machinery." — [Official Report. House of Lords 24 July 1986; Vol. 479, c. 426.] The hon. Member for Livingston also raised a point about computers. The software programme is on target for helping the social fund officers to run the social fund budget, and computer training will be given next week. I wearied the Committee by explaining that the money would not run out, and I seem to have half succeeded with the hon. Member for Livingston. He now understands that it will not run out halfway through the year, and thinks that it will run out halfway through each month. That will not happen. We have a programme so that social fund officers can be aware of the priorities placed on the budget, establish their system of priorities and deal with the budget accordingly. That is not a very unusual procedure. Most people in this world have to operate within budgets.

9.30 pm
Mr. Corbyn

Will the Minister tell us how he can ensure that the system of priorities will be consistent from one office to another, and that different decisions will not be made in different offices to fit within the cash limits of the social fund?

Mr. Portillo

The hon. Gentleman, who was an assiduous member of the Committee, will have observed that there is a thick social fund manual, which gives guidance. The social fund officer therefore has at his disposal both directions from the Secretary of State and considerable guidance to help him to make his decisions.

In certain circumstances, the officer will be able to hold a claim for up to 28 days, so that he can compare it with other claims coming in over the same period which he thinks may have similar priorities.

Mrs. Mahon

Will the Minister explain what will happen in one of the cases that I mentioned tonight? What will happen to a woman with two or three children if her cooker blows up and the officer holds the claim for 28 days? What if it is in the middle of winter and she cannot produce any warm food?

Mr. Portillo

I am disappointed in the hon. Lady, who was also a member of the Committee. She will know that cookers, and mothers with children, are at the top of the list of the social fund officer's priorities.

Mrs. Mahon

I spent some time talking to my welfare rights benefit campaign organiser in Halifax, who assured me—as did the citizens advice bureau organiser—that the first pay claimants on the community grant would be people without homes and people coming out of care, and that the whole grant would be taken up by those high-priority groups. They suspected that nothing would be left for the other cases that the Minister has mentioned.

Mr. Portillo

I can only reiterate that an applicant for a social fund loan who is in the position that the hon. Lady describes will be given high priority.

Mr. Robin Cook

Some time ago the Minister committed himself to an important proposition. He said that the social fund would not run out. He will realise that it is a cash-limited fund. Is he willing to give the House an assurance that he is confident that all priority cases popping up on the computer programme will be met, and that no applicant will be turned away because the funds are not there to meet his case?

Mr. Portillo

Of course I am not saying that. I am saying that the highest priority cases will be met. What I have been trying to get across to the hon. Gentleman is that there is no magic day of the month—the 11th, the 15th or the 28th—when the money will run out, because the social fund officers will manage the fund in such a way as to meet the priorities across every month of the year. They will be able to do that because they have experience of single payments. Some £118 million was spent on single payments to 17 November 1987. That puts us on course for spending about £190 million on single payments in the year. That figure compares with the £203 million being made available under the social fund. Perhaps another valid point is the fact that the £203 million is in addition to about £8 billion being spent on supplementary benefit.

Mr. Corbyn

I realise that the Minister is trying hard to put a thick coat of gloss paint over this nasty piece of the Bill, but he has not answered the question. The manual advises social fund officers what priority they should accord to cases that appear at their offices. He has not said how he can ensure that an applicant in Halifax is likely to get the same payment as one in Bognor Regis in any month of the year. It seems clear to many of us who have sat through the Committee stage and looked through the social fund manual that there is no mechanism 4— and that none is intended — to ensure equity of decisions throughout the country.

Mr. Portillo

I shall return to what the hon. Gentleman said about allocations, but he will know how we have striven to achieve balance and fairness between offices. He is trying to achieve something that is unobtainable. It is impossible to ensure that the chances of securing a council house in Islington are the same as in Hackney. Even under the single payment system one cannot ensure that outgoings are always the same, because there will always be grey cases which are treated differently. We have produced a thick social fund manual which gives clear guidance to social fund officers, which will go a long way to ensure that like cases are treated alike.

Rev. Martin Smyth

The Minister gave the figures to November. I am not sure what happens in Great Britain, but it is alleged, and the figures that I have seen confirm it, that in Northern Ireland — there is no Northern Ireland Minister here to answer my question—between April and November 1987 a different pattern was introduced for single payments, which has reduced the amount given to bring it into line with the new figures. Can the Minister give us the total of payments for the previous full year so that we may compare that figure with the social fund provisions?

Mr. Portillo

I think that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the changes in the single payment regime made in August 1986. The cost in 1985–86 was £335 million.

The allocation that is being made is such as to be broadly in line with the amount spent on single payments in the current year. I shall take the example that the hon. Member for Livingston gave—Glasgow, Provan—where the allocation for the social fund is £1.5 million, compared with expenditure on single payments from April to December 1987 of £1 million. There is little difference between the amount being made available and what was paid out in the last period for which figures are available. I regret that I do not have the figures for Bathgate, but I imagine that the picture is similar.

Mrs. Wise

Is the Minister saying that money for grants is the same as money for loans?

Mr. Portillo

I think that the hon. Lady heard me. The amount of money being made available for the budgeted element of the social fund, which is loans and grants together, is higher than the amount being paid at the moment in single payments.

The allocation between the offices was mathematically determined. It was based on the 32 weeks to April 1987. We then made some adjustment to that. The reason for what is only a limited adjustment was that we could not see any reason why single payments varied so much from one office to another. We felt that it would not be right to base the allocation of the social fund entirely on the history of single payments, and that we should also take some account of the measure of underlying need. Because we did not want to force the pace of any change, the extent to which we allowed for that underlying need was very limited. The formula was made up of one seventh on the basis of need and six sevenths on the basis of the single payments made by an office over a recent period.

I stress to the hon. Member for Livingston that there is no estimate of what will happen in the future. I am not very clear where he picked that up. We put a note in the Library explaining the one seventh-six sevenths split; that is, between need—one seventh—and single payments—six sevenths. There is no guess what will happen in the future. We wanted to know the best possible indication of need and we took advice from the Social Policy Research Unit. We were told that the best possible measure was the supplementary benefit case load.

If the hon. Member for Livingston is saying that we should have regard only to what single payments have been in the past and pay no regard to the underlying need, that we should have no regard to how many in an area receive supplementary benefit, or the make-up of those people, as between elderly, disabled and so forth, I am very surprised at what he says. I want to say very firmly that it is absolutely untrue that there has been any connivance or manipulation of these figures. We have gone to the trouble of placing in the Library the exact method by which the calculation was made. The hon. Gentleman — I am sorry to say this to him—does not seem to have gone to the trouble of reading it carefully, because he seems to have misunderstood one crucial point.

I am pleased that the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. M. Smyth) recognised that there was no political bias in this, and he gave an example of the way in which the matter has been worked out. The hon. Member for Livingston can take the piece of paper placed in the Library, do the figures himself and apply the formula, and he will find that it is exactly as I have said. If he is saying that just because in one area the level of single payments has run at a particular level, for no reason which he or I can explain, and is not related to any recognised measure of underlying need, and that we should have no regard to the supplementary benefit case load, I am very surprised.

I hope that in the course of my remarks I have covered the points that were made in the debate. The social fund has now been debated extensively in Committee and, before that, during the passage of the Bill which is now the Social Security Act 1986. It is now time to get on with implementing the social fund and, in view of what I have said about the relative budgets of the single payment system and the social fund, we have every reason to believe that this will be a very successful scheme.

Mr. Robin Cook

The Minister said that the purpose of the reform of social security introduced in 1986, which will be fully in place by this April, was to do away with the extra additions to pay to those claiming welfare benefits. In the context of this debate, of course, never was a truer word spoken. Under the social fund, not only will there be no additions; for the first time there will be compulsory deductions of benefit when people repay those loans. I am aware of a certain ambivalence on my part in this debate in that I am pressing the Minister for a larger ceiling to the social fund, pressing him for a more generous budget so that more claimants can obtain money from the fund, but at the same time I am gravely concerned about what will happen to even those claimants who succeed in obtaining money from the social fund, because there will be a very serious problem of success in their case in that, in three cases out of four, they will have to repay it. Those who succeed will in many cases be those who end up in worst hardship.

9.45 pm

We come to the biggest irony of all in the new structure — that those who are trapped in greatest hardship, because they are losing £6 a week in automatic deductions, will find when they apply for additional help that they are automatically disqualified because they will be held under the social fund manual not to have sufficient benefit to repay a further loan. Therefore, they will be disqualified from getting a further advance from the social fund. So the very people who will then be in the greatest need will be disqualified from the one available form of assistance that the Government have allowed.

I listened with great care to what the Minister said about the cash-limited fund not running out and in that respect being unique among such funds. As I understood what he told the House, the fund will not run out, because it will be rationed on a day-to-day basis. That is effectively what the Minister said. If the money seems to be inadequate to cope with the numbers coming in, the computer programme will automatically adjust the qualification by shifting the cut-off point further up the list of priorities, with the result that in some offices priority cases will succeed which down the road in a different local office, where there is tighter pressure on the budget, would not succeed.

It is not good enough for the Minister to defend that anomaly by saying that in some areas it has always been possible to get a council house more easily than in other areas. Until the invention of the social fund, there was never any area in Britain in which it was not possible to get one's legal rights to social security because that area did not have the money. Until April 1988, every claimant anywhere in Britain would have been entitled to the same payments under the same regulations without limits on the cash.

The other area where the Minister showed a breathtaking sleight of hand, although I understand that my colleagues became familiar with it in Committee, was in comparing the allocation under the social fund with the single payments expenditure after the cuts of 1986. He discovered that there was no cut and indeed prided himself on having discovered a modest increase. It is ludicrously unreasonable and unmathematical to compare the position after the cuts with the position next year rather than with the position before the Government got to work with the scissors. In 1986–87, expenditure on single payments was well over £300 million. It is that figure that has to be compared with the allocation for social fund payments of £201 million next year.

The cuts were severe. The Minister referred to a mother with children and no cooker being a priority candidate. In my constituency I have a family without a cooker who cannot get a single payment to replace that cooker because under his new rules, announced in 1986, that family will not qualify for another payment for another 18 months because it got an inadequate payment to purchase a cooker 18 months ago. That cooker has broken down, but no grant will be offered to replace or repair it.

In another case, where there is a seven-year-old who wets the bed, the washing machine has broken down. That mother will not be given a single payment to repair the washing machine because she got a grant 18 months ago to buy it. Therefore, she will have to wait 18 months before she can repair the machine.

Another constituent, an invalid, no longer has a reclining chair because the reclining chair for which she got a single payment last year collapsed. She will not get a grant to repair it for another two years until the three-year period is up. That illustrates the real hardship caused by the cuts of 1986. It is wrong for the Minister to invite us to compare and contrast only what happened after those cuts with the allocation for next year.

Even if we accept that as the base point, I cannot accept that the allocation of that inadequate sum of money has been fairly and evenly done. I cannot conceive that any formula that allows only one seventh for redistributive purposes should have such a ludicrously distorting effect that expenditure in my area will go down by two thirds and that in Bognor Regis will go up by two thirds. That is a massive difference. In fact, if we subtract one from the other we are talking about a difference of 133 per cent. That cannot be explained by a one-seventh element in the formula. It has to be explained by some factor. It may well be that a political bias was not applied after the figures were spewed out from the computer. The political bias may well have been applied when the formula was drawn up.

In no way can the social security system be used as a counter-agency of regional policy to redistribute money from the north and from inner-city areas of deprivation to the south coast of England, giving money to those areas when the Minister is not prepared to give money to local offices in areas of the greatest multiple deprivation.

On any objective analysis, the effect of that allocation is ludicrously unfair and does not match real need. For that reason, Opposition Members will be delighted to vote for the amendment, and in so doing express our disgust and distaste for the social fund. It would be for the convenience of the House to have a reasonable debate on Third Reading, so I shall divide the House on only one amendment. I shall withdraw amendment No. 23, but divide the House on amendment No. 28 which relates to budget allocation, to give myself and my hon. Friends the opportunity to register our contempt, anger and outrage at the scandalous way in which the Government have manipulated matters to penalise our constituents. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Portillo

I beg to move amendment No. 25, in page 17, line 17, at end insert— '2A. Subsection (3) shall cease to have effect.'

Mr. Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 29, 31 to 34 and 39 to 42.

Mr. Portillo

The amendments clarify certain provisions which were questioned in Committee. The Committee was concerned about the division between payments from the social fund which were part of the budgeted allocation and those which were not. I commend the amendments to the House.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed: No. 28, in page 17, line 20, after `allocate', insert 'prescribed'.—[Mr. Robin Cook.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 218, Noes 252.

Division No. 135] [9.55 pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Allen, Graham Foster, Derek
Anderson, Donald Fraser, John
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Fyfe, Mrs Maria
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Galbraith, Samuel
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Galloway, George
Ashton, Joe Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) George, Bruce
Barron, Kevin Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Battle, John Godman, Dr Norman A.
Beckett, Margaret Golding, Mrs Llin
Beggs, Roy Gordon, Ms Mildred
Bell, Stuart Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Bermingham, Gerald Grocott, Bruce
Bidwell, Sydney Harman, Ms Harriet
Blair, Tony Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Blunkett, David Heffer, Eric S.
Boateng, Paul Hinchliffe, David
Boyes, Roland Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Bradley, Keith Holland, Stuart
Bray, Dr Jeremy Home Robertson, John
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Hood, James
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Buchan, Norman Howells, Geraint
Buckley, George Hoyle, Doug
Caborn, Richard Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Callaghan, Jim Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Illsley, Eric
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Ingram, Adam
Canavan, Dennis Janner, Greville
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) John, Brynmor
Clay, Bob Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)
Clelland, David Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Kilfedder, James
Cohen, Harry Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Coleman, Donald Kirkwood, Archy
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Lambie, David
Corbett, Robin Lamond, James
Corbyn, Jeremy Leadbitter, Ted
Cousins, Jim Leighton, Ron
Cox, Tom Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Crowther, Stan Lewis, Terry
Cryer, Bob Litherland, Robert
Cummings, J. Livingstone, Ken
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dalyell, Tarn Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Darling, Alistair Loyden, Eddie
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) McAllion, John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) McAvoy, Tom
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) McCartney, Ian
Dewar, Donald Macdonald, Calum
Dixon, Don McFall, John
Dobson, Frank McGrady, E. K.
Doran, Frank McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Douglas, Dick McKelvey, William
Dunnachie, James McLeish, Henry
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth McNamara, Kevin
Eastham, Ken McTaggart, Bob
Evans, John (St Helens N) McWilliam, John
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Madden, Max
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Fearn, Ronald Marek, Dr John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Flannery, Martin Martin, Michael (Springburn)
Flynn, Paul Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John Ruddock, Ms Joan
Meacher, Michael Salmond, Alex
Meale, Alan Sheerman, Barry
Michael, Alun Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Short, Clare
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Skinner, Dennis
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Morgan, Rhodri Snape, Peter
Morley, Elliott Soley, Clive
Morris, Rt Hon A (W'shawe) Spearing, Nigel
Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon) Steinberg, Gerald
Mowlam, Marjorie Stott, Roger
Mullin, Chris Strang, Gavin
Murphy, Paul Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Nellist, Dave Thomas, Dafydd Elis
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
O'Brien, William Turner, Dennis
O'Neill, Martin Vaz, Keith
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wall, Pat
Patchett, Terry Walley, Ms Joan
Pendry, Tom Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Pike, Peter Wareing, Robert N.
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Prescott, John Wigley, Dafydd
Primarolo, Ms Dawn Williams, Rt Hon A. J.
Quin, Ms Joyce Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Randall, Stuart Wilson, Brian
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Winnick, David
Reid, John Wise, Mrs Audrey
Richardson, Ms Jo Worthington, Anthony
Robertson, George Wray, James
Robinson, Geoffrey Young, David (Bolton SE)
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Jeff Tellers for the Ayes:
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Mr. Frank Haynes and
Ross, William (Londonderry E) Mr. Frank Cook.
Rowlands, Ted
Allason, Rupert Burns, Simon
Amess, David Burt, Alistair
Amos, Alan Butler, Chris
Ar buthnot, James Butterfill, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Carrington, Matthew
Atkins, Robert Carttiss, Michael
Atkinson, David Cash, William
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Baldry, Tony Cope, John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Couchman, James
Batiste, Spencer Cran, James
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bellingham, Henry Curry, David
Bendall, Vivian Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Day, Stephen
Benyon, W. Dorrell, Stephen
Bevan, David Gilroy Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Biffen, Rt Hon John Dykes, Hugh
Blackburn, Dr John G. Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Fallon, Michael
Body, Sir Richard Forman, Nigel
Boscawen, Hon Robert Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bottomley, Peter Fox, Sir Marcus
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gale, Roger
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bowis, John Gill, Christopher
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Glyn, Dr Alan
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Brazier, Julian Gow, Ian
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Gower, Sir Raymond
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Browne, John (Winchester) Greenway, John (Rydale)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Gregory, Conal
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Buck, Sir Antony Grist, Ian
Ground, Patrick Moore, Rt Hon John
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Morrison, Sir Charles (Devizes)
Hampson, Dr Keith Morrison, Hon P (Chester)
Hannam, John Moss, Malcolm
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Moynihan, Hon C.
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Mudd, David
Harris, David Neale, Gerrard
Hawkins, Christopher Nelson, Anthony
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Neubert, Michael
Heathcoat-Amory, David Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Heddle, John Nicholls, Patrick
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Oppenheim, Phillip
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Page, Richard
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Paice, James
Holt, Richard Patnick, Irvine
Hordern, Sir Peter Patten, John (Oxford W)
Howard, Michael Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Portillo, Michael
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Powell, William (Corby)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Raffan, Keith
Irvine, Michael Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Jack, Michael Redwood, John
Jackson, Robert Renton, Tim
Janman, Timothy Rhodes James, Robert
Jessel, Toby Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Riddick, Graham
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Key, Robert Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Roe, Mrs Marion
Kirkhope, Timothy Rost, Peter
Knapman, Roger Rowe, Andrew
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Knowles, Michael Ryder, Richard
Knox, David Sackville, Hon Tom
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Sayeed, Jonathan
Lang, Ian Scott, Nicholas
Latham, Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
Lawrence, Ivan Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lee, John (Pendle) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Sims, Roger
Lightbown, David Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lilley, Peter Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Speed, Keith
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Lord, Michael Squire, Robin
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Stanbrook, Ivor
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Steen, Anthony
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Stern, Michael
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Stevens, Lewis
McLoughlin, Patrick Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Sumberg, David
Major, Rt Hon John Summerson, Hugo
Malins, Humfrey Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Maples, John Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Marland, Paul Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Thornton, Malcolm
Maude, Hon Francis Thurnham, Peter
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Tracey, Richard
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Tredinnick, David
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Trippier, David
Mellor, David Trotter, Neville
Meyer, Sir Anthony Twinn, Dr Ian
Miller, Hal Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Mills, Iain Viggers, Peter
Miscampbell, Norman Waddington, Rt Hon David
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Waldegrave, Hon William
Moate, Roger Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Monro, Sir Hector Waller, Gary
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Ward, John
Wardle, C. (Bexhill) Winterton, Nicholas
Watts, John Wolfson, Mark
Wells, Bowen Wood, Timothy
Wheeler, John Woodcock, Mike
Whitney, Ray Yeo, Tim
Widdecombe, Miss Ann Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wiggin, Jerry
Wilkinson, John Tellers for the Noes:
Wilshire, David Mr. Tony Durant and
Winterton, Mrs Ann Mr. David Maclean.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.