HC Deb 24 January 1990 vol 165 cc948-89
Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister. Once again, I appeal for brief speeches from both the Front Benches and the Back Benches, as a great many right hon. and hon. Members wish to take part in the debate.

7.16 pm
Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

I beg to move, That this House notes the disturbing findings of the surveys of disability in Great Britain by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, which reveal that 6.5 million people are significantly disabled and that there exists a totally unacceptable gap in income levels, employment and other opportunities between them and non-disabled people; endorses the Disability Benefits Consortium's description of the Ministerial statement of 10th January as a disgraceful response to the poverty uncovered by the Government's own surveys of the needs of disabled people; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government urgently to respond to the Consortium's call for an open, comprehensive and independent review of benefits.

This House is often at its best in debating the problems and needs of people with disabilities. I have no doubt that, as in so many previous such debates, we shall hear concerned and constructive speeches from all parts of the House. There is now, however, a divide in this policy area that goes much deeper than any in our previous debates. Simply to act in good faith to Britain's 6.5 million disabled people and their organizations, with which we consult often and in detail, we for our part must reflect tonight not just their anguish but also the anger and despair with which they view the Government's proposals in the White Paper "The Way Ahead—Benefits for Disabled People".

Our motion supports the justified criticisms of the Government's proposals from the Disability Benefits Consortium, which speaks for more than 250 organizations of and for disabled people, including all their main national organizations. The Dab's objectives enjoy huge public backing and, if the Government's Whips were taken off, the motion would most certainly be carried tonight.

This debate, like all other debates specifically about disability in the lifetime of this Government, takes place in Opposition time. We shall no doubt hear from the Minister with responsibility for the disabled, as from his Conservative predecessors in the post, how wonderfully well disabled people fare under this Government. That is what the amendment seems to say. Its wording gives the impression that disabled people should be holding street parties in celebration of the Government's beneficence.

Yet so confident are the Government of the truth of the claims they make about their record that they have never once, in 10 years of power, offered parliamentary time for any wide-ranging debate on the problems and needs of disabled people. That this debate is taking place this evening is due to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. It is to him that disabled people owe this opportunity for the presentation of their case against a Government whose serene self-satisfaction is almost as hurtful as some of the cuts they have inflicted.

While the Government pat themselves on the back about extra spending, the organizations of and for disabled people are bitterly critical of the hacking away at entitlements hard won from Governments of both parties between 1945 and 1979. The Disability Alliance has shown that there were over 1 million disabled losers from the social security changes in 1988 alone. Worst hit were those most in need, even people for whom incontinence imposes both added stress and higher living costs.

The Government's self-satisfaction also contrasts with The Lancet report of a survey over Christmas which shows that people with mental disabilities … are living like feral children in the forest of the city, scavenging for garbage and subsisting from charitable hand-outs. As a trustee of Crisis at Christmas, I have been a first-hand witness of this growing army of victims of the collapse of the Government's so-called policies for community care.

The death of Beverley Lewis, whose young life ended in malnutrition and hideous neglect, amid unspeakable squalor, also bears testimony to the huge and growing gap between need and provision. The Minister will know that expert opinion has pointed to the relevance of section 1 (3)(d) of the Disabled Persons Act 1986 to preventing such tragedies.

Is it not scandalous that sections 1 to 3, and other crucially important parts of that legislation, so ably promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), still await implementation nearly four years after their enactment? As Mary Holland of MENCAP says: Good quality community care is about consultation, representation, assessment, service provision, monitoring and accountability. The 1986 Act embodies these. When will it be implemented in full? Ministers plead lack of resources for non-implementation. Yet there have been £23 billion worth of tax cuts since 1979, mostly aimed at the fit and fortunate in society. It is thus neither acceptable nor even true for Ministers to say that the money has not been available to implement the Act. The problem has not been, and is not now, one of resources, but of political will and priorities.

Nor is it good enough for Ministers to go on trying to give the impression that they have already won substantial extra resources for improving cash benefits for disabled people. The plain truth is that at least 90 per cent. of the extra spending for which they take credit is due not to any improvement in benefits, but to the increased number of people now claiming the attendance allowance, the mobility allowance, the invalid care allowance and other benefits that were introduced before they came to power. Thus in effect they are claiming credit for not having repealed the mobility allowance and other benefits they inherited from previous Governments.

Ministers should tell the House what the total current cost without loss of value would be had statutory benefits for disabled people remained as they were in 1979. I invite them to do so tonight. Let them state, for example, the total loss to disabled people who do not work of scrapping the link between wages and prices in updating their benefits.

Let the Government also admit that the Conservatives have cut the value of the attendance allowance and the invalid care allowance, among many other benefits of importance to disabled people and their families, since they came to power 10 years ago with a promise to "single out" disabled people for special help. Ten years on, most of Britain's 6.5 million disabled people say they have been "singled out" for special hardship.

They are angered by the Government's parrot-like claims that increased benefits for disabled people have almost doubled expenditure in real terms since 1978–79, when in fact the additional spending is almost all brought about by the increased number of beneficiaries of allowances that were introduced by previous Governments.

Organizations of and for disabled people argue that the Government's claims are made to mislead the general public into believing that life for their members is getting easier and easier when they know that it is not. Their organizations rightly complain that disabled people—as individuals—are no better off. Indeed, compared with what they received on supplementary benefits, many are poorer in real terms and will become even worse off as their transitional protection loses its value.

The organizations of disabled people were encouraged by ministerial statements to hope that financial hardship among their members would be temporary. They looked forward to the results of the surveys of the OPCS and the review of benefits which they were promised would follow their publication. They felt assured that the Government would consult them before responding to the Opus's reports, and the total lack of consultation with disabled people about "The Way Ahead" adds insult to the injury of its glaring inadequacies. They have been not just ignored but humiliated by the Government's total indifference to their views.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)


Mr. Morris

I am in some difficulty in that I must refer to a number of policy areas as quickly as possible. I shall help other hon. Members if I proceed quickly. I hope that the hon. Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) will understand my difficulty and will be called to speak in the debate.

The OPCS's surveys, while they have been criticized for understating the extra costs of disability and were undertaken before the 1988 benefit changes took effect, are much the best picture we have ever had of disability in Great Britain. The six reports show that most disabled people are locked in a financial vice of reduced earnings and increased living costs. They demonstrate that no new policy can succeed unless it tackles the link between disability and poverty, a link which the Government's policies have reinforced.

About 4.3 million disabled people rely on state benefits as their main source of income with an average total income of £65.20 per week; 4.5 million live in households where there are no earners. When the minimal extra costs of disability are taken into account, the gap between the average incomes of disabled and non-disabled people was over £39 per week at 1988 prices.

Unemployment among disabled job seekers is more than twice as high as the current rate among able-bodied people. They are pushed to the back of the dole queue, which is still the longest queue in Britain, and many are made to sit up and beg from the social fund.

Only 31 per cent. of all disabled adults of working age are actually working. That compares with 69 per cent. of the population as a whole. The ratio for men is even worse—33 per cent. compared with 78 per cent. Those findings shout of discrimination against disabled workers. The Government's own record, in terms of job offered to disabled people, is among the worst of all employers. The earnings of disabled people who find work are substantially lower than those of non-disabled employees, and the same is true of parents of disabled children.

Referring to the Opus's reports, the Social Security Advisory Committee said: The Government will not have a better opportunity to reform benefits. The SSAC went on to say that benefits for disabled people could now be matched closely to their needs, as revealed by the reports, and that: This opportunity will almost certainly not be repeated for many years to come and must be grasped. The Government's reaction to the reports was given on 10 January in "The Way Ahead" which Ian Bruce, director-general of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, who co-chairs the Disability Benefits Consortium, has called a … disgraceful response to the poverty uncovered by the Government's own surveys of the needs of disabled people. In a fuller statement from the DBC, timed for this debate, the reaction of disabled people to the Government's response is summarised as one of "anger and disbelief".

"The Way Ahead" is the final outcome of a review of benefits from which all but Ministers and civil servants were excluded. The mocking title and gross defects of this backward-looking document have led organizations of and for disabled people to describe it as … the biggest insult disabled people have been subjected to in the past decade". No new help at all is offered to people over 65 on the basis that pensioners have experienced a 23 per cent. growth in net incomes in real terms since 1979". But those are mostly younger pensioners in occupational schemes, not the millions of older and disabled pensioners who have to eke out an existence on state benefits alone. They were fobbed off last October with a tiny increase in means-tested income support.

No extra financial help goes to the severely disabled people, young and old alike, who need assistance to live independently in their own homes. Yet anyone with knowledge of their lives knows that the attendance allowance makes only a modest contribution to actual care costs. The Disablement Income Group—DIG—in an authoritative report, has shown that care costs were understated by the OPCS, but the Government took no notice of its report. Nor have they taken any account of the amounts paid for care costs by the independent living fund which, as the Minister must know, are very much higher than current rates of the attendance allowance.

The Government apparently now accept that some help should go to disabled people who can do only part-time or low-paid jobs. But the proposed disablement employment credit is likened to family credit, which bolsters low pay and has a very low take-up rate. It is not the partial incapacity benefit for which disabled people and their organizations have long been pressing and indeed is a nil-cost measure. In fact, as the Minister revealed to me in a parliamentary written answer last Friday, the Government actually expect to save £10 million on their new benefit by 1992–93.

The choice that Ministers have made in proposing the new credit, when combined with proposals from the National Audit Office to persuade doctors to stop providing sick notes, looks very much like an attempt to ensure that disabled people earn their poverty. Without action to introduce a minimum income, to enforce a proper employment quota scheme, to outlaw discrimination against disabled people, and radically to improve employment services and training, job opportunities for disabled people will remain the scandal they are today.

Another "generous" new benefit in "The Way Ahead" is an age-related addition to the severe disablement allowance. But the older the disabled person, the less he or she receives. People under 40 will get £10 week, those over 40 an extra £6.20; but the over-50s will receive only £3.10 and the over-60s nothing at all.

Ministers claim that the net cost of "The Way Ahead"—billed in advance as a major new deal for the disabled that looks forward to the 21st century —is £300 million. That compares with tax cuts of £1.9 billion, in a single Budget, for the richest 1 per cent. of taxpayers. Virtually seven out of eight disabled people will get nothing from the Government's proposals. Many will lose and, as we have seen, even severely disabled pensioners are ignored.

To help pay for this "new deal" other benefits will disappear. Savings from benefits that the Government intend to scrap will eventually far outweigh the cost of the pathetically modest new benefits in "The Way Ahead". In fact, the Disability Alliance estimates that the Government will more than break even on their proposals even in the short term. I have never known organizations of and for disabled people to be more united in their criticisms of Government policy. Those organizations include the Royal National Institute for the Blind, the Spastics Society, Mencap, the British Council of Organizations of Disabled People, DIG and Age Concern among hundreds of others.

I know the Minister shares my deep respect, and that of others on both sides of the House, for the judgment, knowledge and fairness of Peter Large of DIG. Very few people are more qualified than him to judge any Government's record or rhetoric on disability. His view of "The Way Ahead" is that it is nothing but a narrowing stony ledge and he adds that: The future promises to be a worrying mess. As for Ministers' claims about bringing some coherence into cash provision for disabled people, Peter Large's study of the proposals leads him to conclude that ministerial talk about a more coherent system of benefits is a sign of delirium. Those withering criticisms, from one so well qualified to judge the Government's document, should surely now make social security Ministers see the urgency of a total re-think of their proposals. The Government must also recognise the importance of an urgent response from Ministers other than those from the Department of Social Security to the OPCS reports.

Apart from the perfunctory references in the "The Way Ahead" to some other policy areas, the Government's response to the reports from the OPCS has so far come only from social security Ministers. However, important issues are raised by the reports that affect other Departments. Those issues have not been addressed and that points to a disturbing lack of co-ordination in Whitehall.

When will the Department of Employment respond in detail to the reports? With less than a quarter of firms satisyfing their 3 per cent. quota obligations and the employment service stating that work with disabled people is of very low priority, will the Department now be enforcing the quota system and expanding the sheltered placement scheme to provide integrated work opportunities at all levels for disabled workers?

As suitable housing is the key to independence for large numbers of disabled people, and especially in view of the repeated cuts in provision of specially designed housing for them since 1979, will there be any response to the OPCS reports from the Department of the Environment? The Minister will know of my involvement in the making of the Rating (Disabled Persons) Act 1978, giving rate relief on essential adaptations such as an additional ground-floor bathroom. This relief is now to disappear and Stephen Bradshaw, the director of the Spinal Injuries Association, has sent two examples of the effect. The first is that of Mr. and Mrs. D. Baron, a couple with a severely disabled son who live in St. Austell. After April they will be paying £900 in poll tax, an increase of £756 on their current rates. The second example is that of Mr. and Mrs. J. Sullivan of Thames Ditton, whose son is a paraplegic. They will have to pay £686.89 more after April.

Stephen Bradshaw's letter to me says: We are concerned that the new tax, which does not apply to people living in residential homes, runs counter to the Government's proposals for care in the community. With one hand it purports to encourage disabled people to move into the community and with the other it imposes a disincentive. Are not the cases that he sent me—and countless more could be cited—proof positive of the need for a full and urgent response from the Secretary of State for the Environment to the OPCS reports?

Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport, East)

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that there is considerable confusion among disabled people in Newport with regard to the poll tax and the rebate system? He will be aware that the Government have engaged in a £4 million television and newspaper campaign advertising the rebate scheme. However, that has caused much confusion in Newport because the scheme applies only to England and the fact that separate arrangements apply for Wales appears only in tiny print. In Newport people read the national newspapers and they also watch English television and they become confused by what they see and read about the scheme. Surely they have enough to put up with with their disabilities.

Mr. Morris

I am familiar with the effects of the problems that I have been detailing in his constituency as in all parts of Britain. My hon. Friend the Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) is aware of my special link with Newport as patron of Action Aid in his area, which does such excellent work for disabled people. I am assured that organisations of disabled people are trying their best to emphasise to the Secretary of State for the Environment that he should respond—having regard in particular to the findings of the OPCS—to the effect of his policies in increasing poverty among disabled people.

What consideration has been given to the reports by the Scottish Office and the Welsh Office? Will they be making any response? Again, will there be a considered response to the reports from the Secretary of State for Education and Science? Is he aware of the mounting concern among disability groups that provisions of the Education Reform Act 1988 will halt further progress towards the integration of disabled pupils into mainstream schooling as envisaged by the Education Act 1981? Will self-governing schools be required to make adequate provision for disabled pupils?

The special health needs of disabled people are also important. We now have conclusive facts about the extra calls they, compared with other people, have to make on the National Health Service. A response from the Department of Health to the OPCS reports is made all the more urgent by its legislation on the future of the Health Service and of community care. The Association of Crossroads Care Attendant Schemes argues that, unless adequate funding is made available, carers will remain a low priority for hard-pressed local authorities faced with a growing demand from the increasing numbers of elderly and highly dependent people living in the community. How is the Minister responding? The Government must also know that many local authorities, owing to lack of resources, now have to choose not only which of their discretionary powers to use under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, but even which of their legal duties to fulfil. Is that not cause for deep concern?

In regard to the Department of Health's responsibilities, I take this opportunity also briefly to raise the plight of people who have become infected with AIDS as a result of routine blood transfusions. The House knows that people with haemophilia who contracted the virus in the course of NHS treatment are receiving ex-gratia payments of £20,000 each. It is not enough, but even that inadequate sum is denied to people who become infected by blood transfusions. They have exactly the same claim to compensation and should not be told to seek justice through the courts. Thirteen of them have already died, and others will die before there is any prospect of a court settlement. For them justice, if any, will be posthumous, and that is not justice at all. My calculation of the cost of giving equal treatment to these other victims of a killer disease is £2 million. Is that too much for the Treasury to find in the cause of elementary justice?

In sharp contrast to the Government's indifference to the views of disabled people about their policies, we have held a number of consultative conferences with them. We have made it clear that their claims are among our highest priorities. We are pledged to introduce a comprehensive disability income to meet the extra costs of disabled people of all ages whose disability is assessed at 40 per cent. or more. By that and other measures we shall build on the achievements of the last Labour Government who, by the introduction of four new cash benefits for disabled people, gave unprecedented new help.

We shall increase the severe disablement allowance to the full basic invalidity benefit rate for all recipients. We also intend to introduce a carer's benefit, payable at the full basic pension rate, for people who, owing to the care they provide, cannot take paid employment. All that present Ministers plan to do is to reverse the appalling effects of their Social Security Act 1986, which actually cut benefits for carers on income support.

Among our other commitments is one to make discrimination against disabled people illegal. It is a commitment that their organisations see as essential to the achievement of full and equal citizenship for some 14 per cent. of the British people. We could have led the world in outlawing discrimination, as we did in 1970 by legislating on access to buildings, if this Government had acted on the report in 1982 of the Committee on Restrictions Against Disabled People which I, as Minister for the Disabled, appointed in 1979. Now we trail behind other countries, not least the United States.

The message from this Government is unmistakable: only an alternative Government will address the poverty and other problems of disabled people so starkly portrayed by the surveys commissioned by Conservative Ministers. They have the resources to do what the findings of their surveys now demand. I say again that the problem is one not of resources, but of political will and priorities. Our priorities are clear: the present Government's lie elsewhere.

7.44 pm
The Minister for Social Security (Mr. Nicholas Scott)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: congratulates Her Majesty's Government on the fact that social security expenditure for long-term sick and disabled people has virtually doubled in real terms since 1979, to a total of over £8 billion a year; notes with approval the greatly improved coverage of disability benefits associated with this achievement, which has increased the number of Mobility Allowance recipients from 95,000 to 615,000, the number of Attendance Allowance recipients from 265,000 to 795,000, and the number of Invalid Care Allowance recipients from 5,000 to 110,000; and welcomes the Government's proposals for further improvements, involving net additional expenditure rising to some £300 million in 1993–94, to help some 850,000 long-term sick and disabled people by measures which include increased premiums in income-related benefits for both disabled adults and disabled children, a new premium for carers, the extension of Attendance Allowance to disabled babies and to people who are terminally ill, the extension of Mobility Allowance to those who are both deaf and blind, increases in Severe Disablement Allowance focused especially on those disabled from birth or early in life, improved coverage of help with the extra costs of disability through a new Disability Allowance, and the introduction of a new Disability Employment Credit to assist and encourage those disabled people who can and wish to work.

I am delighted that we are having this debate today. I approach it with no feeling of backwardness; rather, it is with relish that I take on the other side of the House in a debate about disability. That is not to say that I do not hope that at the end of the day there will be a feeling within the House as a whole about the needs of disabled people and about the necessity to make all society more aware of those needs, as well as of the ability of disabled people to make a greater contribution in the future to society as a whole and to achieve greater independence and control over their own lives.

Despite what we heard from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), we on this side of the House have no reason at all to be ashamed of our record in meeting the needs of disabled people. The last 10 years have seen major advances in provision for disabled people in this country, and I am confident that, so long as we keep a Conservative Government, the same will apply to the next 10 years.

The right hon. Gentleman seems to forget that the mobility allowance, which was being introduced at snail's pace by the Labour Government, was enhanced by the Conservatives when we got back into office; that we introduced attendance allowance; that we improved the coverage of invalid care allowance; and that we replaced the old non-contributory invalidity pension with severe disablement allowance, which is a much more generous benefit. These advances have made a real impact on the lives of disabled people over the last 10 years.

Today I do not want to talk just about benefits. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman properly made the point that disabled people need services, that they need the work of other Departments and of voluntary organisations to enhance the quality of their lives. But it would be wrong of me as a Minister in the Department of Social Security not to begin by talking about benefits and not to get some balance into the argument.

When the Labour party left office it was spending £1.8 billion on the needs of the long-term sick and disabled. This year, the figure will be £8.3 billion—an increase of £4 billion in real terms. The right hon. Gentleman fairly makes the point that, of that £4 billion, £3.5 billion is due to increased take-up of benefits and £0.5 billion is due to the increased value of benefits. I have no shame about the increased take-up. When Labour was in office, there were just as many disabled people around, but more and more of them are now getting the benefits to which they are entitled. That is something of which we can be proud.

Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Scott

Hon. Members know that on such occasions I normally give way, but Mr. Speaker has imposed a tight timetable.

Let me state the comparison in another way. As I said in winding up on Monday night, over its period of government—talking in constant money terms—the Labour party increased expenditure on the long-term sick and disabled by £220 million a year. During our period of office, it has been increased by £370 million a year. Invalidity benefit, which went to 600,000 people, now goes to virtually 1.2 million. Severe disability allowance, or its predecessor, went to 150,000; now it goes to 265,000. Attendance allowance was going to 265,000; now it goes to virtually 800,000. The number of people in receipt of mobility allowance has gone up from 95,000 to 615,000. So we have made tremendous advances in take-up. In other words, we are getting through to the people who really need help. This record is substantial. It represents a sustained provision of extra resources for the long-term sick and disabled under this Government.

But I am conscious that, despite this, and indeed perhaps sometimes because of the changes that we have made year by year, the balance and structure of disability benefits was less than satisfactory. That is why we commissioned the surveys of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys. The OPCS carried out four surveys, leading to six reports. It really was the most comprehensive survey exercise ever carried out. Unlike the Amelia Harris survey, which was commissioned by the Labour Government, it covered the whole spectrum of disability.

It included sensory and mental impairment, as well as the physically handicapped; it included people in their own homes, as well as those in institutions; and it included children as well as adults. We have considered carefully the findings of the OPCS reports. Unlike the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe, who made allegations, we have listened to the representations and submissions of a considerable number of disability organisations. My right hon. Friend and I have met the Disability Benefits consortium to listen to its ideas and concerns, and we have now brought forward our proposals.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Scott

As I have said, Mr. Speaker has imposed a very tight timetable, and I should like to get on.

We brought forward our responses. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said, we envisage a three-stage progress. In October, he made an announcement about annual uprating. He also announced the increase in real terms in the disability premium for adults; the doubling of the premiums for disabled children, thereby giving extra help to about 20,000 families; extending attendance allowance to disabled people and to babies under two; making attendance allowance available without the normal six-month waiting period for the terminally ill; extending mobility allowance to deaf and blind people; improving incentives for rehabilitation for employment by increasing the earnings disregards; and introducing the carer's premium into the system, thus helping about 30,000 carers in society.

Those important changes were widely welcomed. I remember watching Opposition Members' faces as my right hon. Friend announced the proposals and the gloom and doom with which they regarded those considerable advances in meeting the needs of disabled people.

Looking ahead into the longer term, we set ourselves three strategic aims in formulating our proposals. They were to improve the coverage of help available for the extra costs that disability can bring to those of working age and below, to improve the balance of benefits available to disabled people who are unable to work, in particular to do more for those who are disabled at birth or early in life, and to help disabled people who are capable of and wish to work, and to make it easier for them to get and to keep jobs.

The steps that we are taking to provide extra help by the autumn of this year for about 500,000 disabled people and their carers through the existing benefit system will come into effect soon. The Social Security Bill which received a Second Reading on Monday will carry forward the change to make attendance allowance available without any waiting period for the terminally ill.

On Second Reading, the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Ms. Primarolo) raised several issues. I make it absolutely clear that the terminally ill will get attendance allowance for the rest of their lives. The qualification will be a prognosis that life is unlikely to last longer than six months, hut, if people live beyond six months, they will continue to get attendance allowance for the rest of teir lives.

It will be possible for a third party to apply on behalf of a terminally ill person. I understand the hon. Lady's worry that it might not be sensitive or sensible to tell a person, or even his or her close family, that he or she is terminally ill. In those circumstances, it will be possible for an application to be made on behalf of a disabled person.

This is a sensitive matter. We consulted widely and carefully among the organisations most directly concerned with the terminally ill. I believe that they are satisfied with the arrangements that we are making.

This important measure honours a commitment that we made to the House last summer, and it will be much more than just the extra payment of £37.55 in attendance allowance. Extra payments of invalid care allowance will also be payable, as will extra payments of income support or housing benefit via disability premium and the carer's premium. The Bill will also introduce an age-related addition to the non-contributory severe disablement allowance at the same rates as the present additions paid with contributory invalidity benefit.

The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe understands the position, but did not quite state it correctly. It is not the age of a person at the time which governs the amount of benefit or enhancement that he gets under the age-related additions: it is the age at which that person is disabled. It is part of the strategy to try to shift the balance of extra help to those who are disabled earlier in life and do not have the ability to build up contributory benefits or occupational benefits and savings in their working lives. We are doing that in precisely the right way.

The current Bill contains two other measures that arise directly from our determination to improve the structure and balance of benefits for the disabled. I refer to the reduced earnings allowance provision and the additional pensions provision. I do not want to go into them in detail today. We will be locked in conflict in Committee in the not-too-distant future. and there will be ample time for discussion.

I now refer to the third phase of the programme that we set out in "The Way Ahead". We intend to legislate at the earliest practicable opportunity to introduce the disability employment credit and the disability allowance. I told the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) that I would refer to this matter.

The hon. Gentleman wrote an article in The Sunday Times suggesting that, by extending the entitlement to mobility allowance and attendance allowance, the Government were somehow to pay all those in receipt of those benefits at a lower level. That is quite untrue. We will introduce a new lower level of benefit for mobility allowance and for attendance allowance. Those at the top two levels of attendance allowance and mobility allowance will continue to qualify and will be uprated in the normal way. We are taking the threshold further down the scale of disability, so that more people will be able to qualify at the lower level. It is important that that is clearly understood.

The allowance was explained on Monday. I do not want to go into it in detail, except to say that it is important that, when we come to the allowance, which will effectively combine and extend the mobility and care elements of support for disabled people, we aim to improve the assessment—

Mr. Graham

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Scott

No, I will not give way, for the reasons that I explained earlier.

The assessment and adjudication procedures should also be simplified and speeded up. The other new benefit of disablement employment credit will make it easier for disabled people to take and keep work.

As I said, I speak first as the Minister for Social Security with responsibility for the disabled, but it is absolutely clear that the Government as a whole are committed to improving the lives of disabled people. I do not want to weary the House by stating the work of every single Department, but, in my role as Minister, I keep in close touch with other Departments and occasionally snap at their heels to make sure that they respond to the pressures in society. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe did the same when he was in office. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman about the importance of employment and action to get people into work and enable them to carry out their employment in a satisfactory manner.

Last year, the Department of Employment spent about £350 million helping people with disabilities to obtain and to keep work. Jobcentres and disablement resettlement offices are increasingly successful in their job of finding work for disabled people. Over the past five years, the figure has increased from 62,000 to 77,000 last year. The Disablement Advisory Service tells employers about the facilities that need to be provided for disabled people. The code of good practice and the sheltered employment placement schemes are all increasingly successful.

Special schemes, too, are run by the Department of Employment and its agencies. They provide special aids and equipment for disabled people to work in employers' premises or at home, help to adapt to an employers' premises if necessary, personal readers, and assistance with fares if people find it difficult to get to work. The job introduction scheme enables employers to give trial employment to people with disabilities. All that is important work and aids disabled people in acquiring the independence that many of them want.

I have time to mention only a few other things done by other Departments. All hon. Members recognise that, in recent years, the Department of Transport has made important advances in bus, coach, air and taxi travel. The Motability scheme has been a tremendous success. Last year, 31,000 disabled people had access to vehicles under that scheme.

Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)

They did not have access to rail services.

Mr. Scott

British Rail is gradually extending its stations and platforms on main-line routes to make them more accessible to disabled people.

Mr. Robert Hayward (Kingswood)

And its carriages.

Mr. Scott

And its carriages, too. There has been a tremendous improvement on the primitive facilities that existed 10 years ago. Towards the end of last year, I re-established the Access Committee for England. We know about the still unsatisfactory access to many public buildings and facilities. I want to make more rapid progress in that matter.

The Department of the Environment will publish a consultation paper soon on building regulations as they affect access for the disabled. Last September, my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Arts launched ADAPT in co-operation with the Carnegie foundation, to improve access to entertainment and artistic facilities. Also, I announced £500,000 for the British Paralympic Association, to encourage sport among the disabled, and I know that my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport is keen on developments in that area. Other Departments are playing their part in enhancing the quality of life for the disabled.

I am delighted that it was possible in the Children Act 1989 to make it clear beyond peradventure that local authorities can pay for young people to receive the benefits of conductive education in Budapest. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced that we are making a contribution to the new national institute in Budapest, so that, in the long term, British children can be educated there and British adults can be trained as conductors. In due course, we shall have a facility for conductive education operating effectively in this country.

I am anxious, as are my colleagues in the Department of Health, that we do not simply cope with the disabled but try to prevent disability. Increasing resources are being made available for that purpose.

In the few minutes remaining to me, I shall respond to some of the worries that have been expressed in respect of our response to the OPCS surveys and to the situation as it currently affects the disabled.

The independent living fund was perhaps not as well received as it should have been, but it now has widespread acceptance. It has helped some 3,000 severely disabled since it was launched. Its budget was doubled for the current year and will be doubled again for the forthcoming year. With the introduction of new arrangements for community care in 1991, there may be some overlap between the provisions of the independent living fund and the work of local authorities in producing community care packages. I shall shortly be considering with the fund's trustees the role that they envisage for it in the new circumstances, and I shall make an announcement in due course. I pay the warmest tribute to the fund's trustees and to its staff, who respond flexibly and helpfully to the needs of a wide range of disabled people.

One of the criticisms of our proposals is that they do nothing to help disabled pensioners, but that is far from true. We certainly have not ignored them. The removal of the mobility allowance upper age limit will benefit many disabled pensioners, as will attendance allowance for the terminally ill. Our October package of about £200 million will provide extra help for 2.6 million more pensioners. Our social security expenditure on the elderly as a whole has increased by 25 per cent.—a real increase of £5 billion.

I acknowledge that there was anxiety among organisations representing the blind, but the new disability allowance should prove of considerable help to many blind people. The severe disablement age additions will assist those who were blind at birth or who became blind in their early life. The employment credit should allow more blind people to work, and the mobility allowance for the deaf-blind was widely welcomed, as were the increases in the adult and child disability premiums.

The hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) has asked particularly about what I call the Clarke Act. I think that everyone understands what I mean when I use that phrase, rather than refer to the legislation's full and rather cumbersome title.

Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West)

As long as we are not talking about Mr. Kenneth Clarke's acts.

Mr. Scott

I think that the House knows which Mr. Clarke is meant.

Sections I , 2 and 3 of that Act are the most complex and expensive, and represent the main outstanding business to be implemented. Within a matter of weeks, we shall start consultations with local authorities on implementing those three sections, which I hope the House will widely welcome.

Mr. Clarke

The Mr. Clarke to whom the Minister refers is certainly not the same man who is currently mentioned in BMA advertisements. However, although the Minister's intentions are not in doubt, history supports the view that there remains doubt about whether the Treasury will allow the Minister to go as far as the House would wish. On 11 April 1989, the Minister said that section 11 of the 1986 Act, dealing with reports to the House, would be introduced shortly, but that has not happened. When will that section be enacted?

Mr. Scott

We are going out to consultation on that important issue. Obviously we shall discuss the level of resources that is necessary. We shall also have to examine—as did my Health Department colleagues in relation to section 7, which they decided was overtaken by other arrangements—the interaction of sections 1, 2 and 3 of the 1986 Act with the new arrangements for community care. At least the process has begun, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman is pleased with that.

It has been alleged that there is no new money in the package. There is new money available, amounting to £88 million in 1990–91, £141 million in 1991–92, £214 million in 1992–93, and £300 million in 1993–94. That is real new money. Two of the present occupants of Labour's Front Bench have served in government and know perfectly well that the first things that confront Ministers when they return from their summer holidays are the public expenditure estimates and the Autumn Statement. When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security was able to persuade our Treasury colleagues to produce that new money, it was genuinely new money and quite properly included in the Autumn Statement. I give the firm and clear undertaking that it is new money.

The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe concluded by describing Labour's plans. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) once said, one can promise the earth, and then one delivers the IMF. The cost of the programmes to which Labour has committed itself must be at least £3 billion. Frankly, Labour would never be able to afford that sum even if it got into office. The Opposition are arousing expectations among the disabled that they will never be able to fulfil if re-elected.

Whatever right hon. and hon. Members can do in their own constituency, the House has an important role to play in increasing awareness of disability and promoting a greater understanding of the needs and abilities of the disabled.

A cause was recently launched that some may feel is on the verge of disability, but which relates to a condition that causes tremendous frustration and bitterness among those who suffer from it. I refer to the new dyslexia awareness campaign. I hope that greater awareness of that condition and of the need for diagnosis, assessment and treatment as early as possible in life will remove a great deal of the frustration from those who suffer from that distressing condition. I commend that campaign, as I commend all the campaigns run by the large number of voluntary organisations—many of them generously supported by Government money—to increase awareness of the needs, abilities and potential of the disabled.

Society as a whole must also play a part. I freely acknowledge that this debate in Opposition time will serve to create greater awareness of the matters about which I have spoken. I commend the amendment to the House.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

It should be clear to the House that, unless remaining speeches are brief, a number of right hon. and hon. Members wishing to participate will be very disappointed.

8.8 pm

Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse (Pontefract and Castleford)

I shall be brief, as I realise that many hon. Members wish to speak. I do not want to generalise, but I wish to draw the House's attention to a certain section of disabled people, as I have done on many previous occasions.

Since 1982, I have presented five Bills on behalf of mineworkers suffering from the dreaded disease emphysema. On each occasion, they went the way that I expected them to go, like most ten-minute Bills. That has not helped the miners in my constituency.

The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council reported recently, after in-depth investigations. It was unable to recommend that the disease should be prescribed, saying that there was insufficient evidence. I have always refuted that, because the evidence is there in the mining communities, where miners spend their lives in agony and their families suffer. I rely not only on that information, but on in-depth, learned research from the past 20 years. I have presented 20 learned papers to the House. On two occasions I drew the attention of the House to reports in The Lancet that stated that miners are 10 times more likely to get emphysema than other members of the public.

Unfortunately, the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council seems to think' that there should be absolutely implicit evidence—which it will never get in a miner's lifetime. The evidence that I have presented, after in-depth, learned research, is as much as we shall get. Miners are suffering and anyone can see that—if they wish to.

In the Pontefract area, between 1982 and 1986, when I first started this campaign, there were 634 deaths from chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is realistic to think that, four years on, the figure will now have doubled. From hospital records, we know that 80 per cent. of the 1,200 people who died from the disease were mineworkers.

I was interested to hear the Minister's reference to terminal illness. I should like him to define, as far as possible, what he meant by that. In my view, mineworkers who are suffering from this terrible disease are terminally ill. Evidence shows, beyond a shadow of doubt, that mineworkers are suffering. There have been recent campaigns by local newspapers to draw the House's attention to the state that miners are in—for example, in the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Pontefract and Castleford Express. Men have to live a lifetime in oxygen masks as a direct result of their work in the mining industry.

The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council has followed a practice of taking evidence every 10 years, but that has not applied since 1973. Before the 1988 report, the last time that it took evidence was in 1974—a gap of 15 years. In the latest report it says that it will continue to monitor the situation. It said the same in the 1973 report, and since that time thousands of men have died in agony, their families watching in agony, without compensation or financial assistance.

It is worth drawing the attention of the House to the fact that, in recent times, doctors sometimes recommend that these men—used-up men in some cases—should move to accommodation where solid fuel is not burned because it can affect their chest. However, if their families apply to move to a new tenancy, they are in danger of losing their concessionary allowance because of present British Coal policy. They have to decide whether to move to more suitable accommodation, on the recommendation of the doctor, and lose the allowance. Some of the old lads cannot afford to do it. Some of those people cannot lift a cup of tea to their lips. Once, they were strong and able miners. I could get emotional in the House tonight, because I have seen the condition of some men deteriorate.

The evidence is irrefutable. I hope that the Minister will consider two points. First, will he request the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council not to wait another 10 years while 1,200 more people die? If it does that, the problem will be solved—they will all be dead and it would be bordering on criminal to allow that to happen.

Secondly, will the Minister define "terminally ill"? I suggest that men such as Bert Lee and George Hartnell, who are obliged to live in oxygen masks, and others like them, are terminally ill. I hope that the Minister will be able to identify whether such cases will be covered in the National Health Service and Community Care Bill, which may increase benefits.

8.16 pm
Sir David Price (Eastleigh)

Severe disability is a condition so profound and so complete in its consequences that it amounts to a different way of life, albeit an enforced way of life. Nobody chooses to be disabled.

My only reason for speaking this evening is that I have had some personal experience of sharing that way of life, and that may assist the House to advance public policies that may ameliorate the hurt and the frustrations of disability.

I need not remind the House that disability comes in many different forms, both of mind and body. It is even more important to remember that every disabled person is different and requires different remedies and understanding, not only because his disabilities are different but because, by virtue of being a human being, each disabled person is unique.

One does not cease to be a human being when one becomes disabled. Yet I detect that some people approach the disabled as if they were members of a different species. The disabled become objects of their good works, but are not treated as real partners in the human adventure.

The biggest hurt that can be done to the disabled is to patronise them. At times, I am tempted to adopt the famous outburst of Shylock on the condition of the disabled. I shall forbear tonight because you asked us to be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I commend that famous passage to hon. Members.

Disability has been with us since the beginning of time. It is part of the human condition, and there is nothing new about it. What is relatively new is society's recognition of disability, and its determination to do something about it.

In the 36 years in which I have been a Member of the House, considerable progress has been made in the development of public policies towards the disabled, but a great deal still needs to be done. It is only fair to recognise that progress has been made. I am reminded of the words of Arthur Clough: For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,

Seem here no painful inch to gain,

Far back through creeks and inlets making

Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

When I first came to the House there was no attendance allowance, no mobility allowance, no severe disablement allowance and no orange badge. The tide is coming in, and it is in favour of the disabled. If we are to develop more effective policies, however, we must be able to assess better both the scale and the degree of disability in our nation. We must therefore be grateful to the OPCS for the massive survey that it completed last year. Those reports provide ample statistical raw material on which to work, but we must interpret that material carefully and correctly.

The OPCS identified at least 6.5 million disabled people. That is a daunting figure, but we should remember that the OPCS used a relatively low threshold of disability. If we exclude the adults on the lowest two points of the severity scale, the number becomes 4 million—although that is a daunting enough statistic. My particular concern is with the 1.5 million who fall into the four most severe categories. Their disabilities are so severe that their ways of life are very separate and distinct from those of the generality of their fellow citizens. In our desire to help all disabled people, we must not lose sight of the needs of the most severely disabled, and especially those of the quarter of a million or so in the top category. Our priorities must be related to the severity of the disability.

Most disabled people live in the community, as they always have. That applies even to the OPCS's category 10, the most severely disabled, of whom over half live in the community. It therefore follows that we should consider the Government's two recent documents, "Caring for People" and "The Way Ahead: Benefits for Disabled People", together. An hour or two ago, my right hon. Friend the Minister and I made a start on that in the Select Committee on Social Services.

The idea of care in the community, which is very much the flavour of the moment, means different things to different people. The Select Committee considered the matter in depth in 1984 and 1985, with reference to mentally ill and mentally handicapped adults, and came up with some firm guidelines. In my view, those guidelines apply to all disabled people—indeed, to all clients of care in the community. The Committee concluded: Appropriate care should be provided for individuals in such a way as to enable them to lead as normal an existence as possible, given their particular disabilities, and to minimise disruption of life within their community".

The House will observe that that definition, although imperfect, has certain immediate policy consequences. First, it must mean providing for the basic needs of those affected by physical or mental disabilities—as far as possible—in ordinary domestic housing, in ordinary occupational settings and through the use of ordinary recreational amenities.

Secondly, the fact that clients are affected by physical or mental disabilities means that they have special needs of different kinds, caused by a wide variety of illnesses and disabilities, which must lead to individual and highly personalised solutions rather than general ones.

Thirdly, care must be provided in many different locations: there is no reason to exclude hospitals or institutions, especially when asylum is needed.

Fourthly, the assessment of those special needs, the provision of skilled treatment and care and, where necessary, the allocation of appropriate special environments is the statutory responsibility of both the local health and the social services authorities. Although my right hon. Friends intend to place the main responsibility with the social services departments, the role of the primary health care team should not be diminished or bypassed. I still regret the fact that family practitioner committees have not been merged with district health authorities in England; in Scotland things are managed better. We must also have an "open door" policy, especially for the mentally ill and the psychogeriatrics.

It is clear that a common feature of all disabled people is the financial disadvantage from which they suffer. They cannot earn what they could be earning if they were not disabled; furthermore, additional costs are imposed on them as a result of their particular disabilities. The OPCS has made a brave attempt to identify that gap in income. It has demonstrated that, at 1988 prices, the average disabled person—although we know, of course, that no one is average—was nearly £40 a week worse off than an able-bodied person. Its research also shows that that gap in income was much greater for those under pension age than for those who were retired.

I welcome the efforts that the Government are making to bridge the gap: in themselves those efforts are inadequate, but the Government are moving in the right direction. I must tell my right hon. Friends, however, that I shall continue to press them to do more to improve financial benefits for disabled people. Like Oliver Twist, I shall always be there with my bowl asking for "second helpings" for the disabled.

There is also the problem of private carers, who are essential to a severely disabled person's way of life. As I have spoken about them and their needs at length in previous debates, I shall not repeat tonight what I consider to be telling arguments. I am delighted that the Government have acknowledged the importance of the private carer; I am simply disappointed that they have proposed so few new measures to assist them. Let me remind my right hon. Friends of a chilling fact identified by the OPCS: two thirds of the 1.75 million live-in carers receive no help from any of the statutory services. We really must do better than that.

When tonight's debate is over, the vast majority of us will go home and, for tonight, leave all the problems of disability behind us. If we were disabled, however, we should not be able to take off our disability like an overcoat when we arrived home. There is no rest or holiday from disability; disabled people cannot even take a sabbatical. That is what I mean when I say that disability is a way of life, and the understanding that it is a way of life—a disabled way of life—is the key to better and more effective public policies for the disabled.

8.26 pm
Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

Although the debate focuses principally on benefits, I feel that chapter 8 of "The Way Ahead"—relating as it does to other services for the disabled and those with similar difficulties—is, in its way, as important as questions relating directly to benefits. I hope that the Minister will not allow matters to rest as they are, but will redouble his efforts to ensure that the disabled have access to public buildings, the job market and transport systems. The work done in Scotland—especially by the Scottish Council on Disability—is commendable, but the Government, working in concert with local authorities, could do much more to ensure that both private homes and public buildings are adapted to meet the needs of disabled people. I hope that the Minister will ensure that that happens in future.

In Kelso, in my constituency, disabled people must travel for long distances to use the specially-adapted toilets. A regional councillor told me that they are charged £5 for a key to give them access to a national system of public toilets for the disabled. I consider it entirely unnecessary to charge disabled people such sums for the use of facilities that they are bound to need when they are out and about, and I hope that such matters will not be far from the Minister's agenda.

The benefits for which "The Way Ahead" provides fall considerably short of what is needed. I do not underestimate the difficulties. I welcome the OPCS reports. We shall be able to draw on them in the weeks and months to come. They will inform our debates, which will be better for the information that the OPCS reports provide.

The Government's response has been niggardly in a number of respects. I hope that the Minister for Social Security will say at the earliest possible opportunity that "The Way Ahead" is not the last word. I agree that there is a difference between the machinery that is devised to deliver financial assistance to disabled people and the levels at which benefits are set. I accept that the framework must be right before we can deal with the levels of benefit, about which we might argue. However, we must devise a more comprehensive disability income scheme. "The Way Ahead" is a move in the right direction, with the new credit system and the new disability allowance, but the opportunity that the publication of the OPCS reports provides will not come again for a long time. We must seize it. We must consult the disability pressure groups and those who understand, from their direct personal experience, what the problems are and ensure that the machinery is right. Even if we cannot agree on the money that should be devoted immediately to the problem, the machinery must be right.

The publication of "The Way Ahead" must lead to real consultation. That does not mean that the Minister for Social Security just sits with his door open all the time, as he keeps saying. I am sure that his door is always open and that the central heating system in Richmond house ensures that he does not sit in a draught, but when people come through his door he must listen to them and take account of what is said to him so that the machinery is right and comprehensive and able to deal with the problems.

The existing system is complex. We must try to do away with the many anomalies. The amount of benefit varies, depending on the type of disability, the age at which the disability occurred and the national insurance contributions that have been paid. That leads to vast differences in the amount of benefit received, even though the problems that people have to overcome in their daily lives are much the same. The amount can vary by as much as £200. We must seize this opportunity to get rid of those anomalies. Opposition spokesmen will always argue that the amount of money that is devoted by the Government in the short term to the needs of the disabled is inadequate. A comprehensive system is needed. It will be a crying shame if we do not seize the opportunity that the OPCS reports provide to tackle the problem.

The Government have dealt only with the cost of attendance and mobility allowances. Apart from those costs, the need to have a carer and the need to obtain assistance in order to be mobile are urgent and must be provided for. If the Government intend to be fair to the disabled and to allow them to contribute to the life of their local communities, the additional costs that would allow them to do so must be met. They cannot run away from the fact that the disabled suffer from considerable disadvantages if they wish to participate in the life of their local communities.

As for the Government's plans for the elderly, we must not get into the habit of thinking that disability is a normal part of the aging process. It is not. Old age is not a disease. All too easily we slip into the way of thinking that because people are old it is natural that they should be disabled. That is an absurd assumption.

The three steps that the Government have announced for dealing with disability in the immediate future erect age hurdles in the case of some disabilities in a way that is unjustified and completely unfair. The severe disablement allowance levels are far too low. They should be increased at least to the level of the state retirement pension. That would help significantly the elderly who are also disabled.

As for carers, I have spoken to a number of pressure groups that represent the interests of carers. They believe that they have been left completely out of the proposals. The Minister could reasonably point to the £10 premium and to the other ways in which he intends to help them. He acknowledges that there is a problem. However, the carers feel that they have been let down. They were promised that the consultations that would follow publication of the OPCS reports would involve them closely. They are bitterly disappointed that little attention has been paid to their needs. I share their disappointment. The Government will have to return soon to the problem. Other hon. Members have referred to the difficulties that are experienced by carers. I am sure that the point will be returned to again later in the debate.

The carers' organisation has put forward a perfectly reasonable plan. It would lead to carers being recompensed. They are not looking for a real income. However, they do not want to be financially disadvantaged. I hope that the Minister will consider commissioning research that is similar to one of the six OPCS studies. I should like him to examine the financial implications of the cost of caring. The information that is available to me does not enable me to judge how much it would cost to extend a flat rate, non-means-tested allowance to carers. It might amount to a considerable sum of money.

We may be unable immediately to remove age hurdles and to deliver financial assistance to carers. It is dangerous to refer to such changes unless we know how much money is involved. At the moment we do not know how much money is involved, nor does the Department. The OPCS reports have highlighted that problem. I hope that the Government will find an opportunity to remedy that omission.

We need to move as quickly as possible to a three-way financial package for the disabled. It will embrace, first, a pension for those who cannot work; secondly, an adequate partial capacity benefit for those who can work, but only a little; and, thirdly, a full-costs allowance to recognise the additional costs incurred by disabled people because of their disability. If these benefits were set at adequate levels they would guarantee that the disabled would not be denied participation in the communities in which they live.

8.40 pm
Mr. David Nicholson (Taunton)

I listened with interest to what the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) said about carers. The recognition of their role and the increased help that we are giving them featured in the Secretary of State's statement last autumn. Both sides of the House admire the Minister of State's effective concern for the disabled and particularly the position of carers, and I hope that he will be able to respond to the hon. Gentleman at the end of the debate.

I was moved by the speech made by the hon. Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse), and I share his interest in the matter. My maternal grandfather, who died before I was born, suffered from similar problems because he was gassed in the first world war. I remember my mother telling me about the treatment and handling that he needed in the foggy, nasty autumn and winter weather that can occur near Manchester, where they lived. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will be able to respond effectively to the hon. Gentleman.

So far, the debate has been reasonably bipartisan, but allegations about success, or the lack of it, under different Administrations have been made. Over the past 10 years, the Government have greatly improved care for the long-term sick and disabled. Total expenditure on cash benefits increased by almost 100 per cent. in real terms between 1979 and 1989. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said, the average annual real increase in spending on the long-term sick and disabled was £220 million under the Labour Government and has been £370 million during the 10 years of this Government.

These are important contrasts to bear in mind, although the money is being spent on more disabled people. We need to investigate why this Government have been so successful at drawing out people to claim these benefits.

We should not allow ourselves to be too gloomy, although I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) said in his final words. Seventy per cent. of disabled people told the second OPCS survey, published in November 1988, that they were satisfied with their standard of living. Only 8 per cent. of disabled householders said that they were getting into financial difficulties. However, most disabled adults do incur extra costs as a result of their disability, and we are grateful to OPCS for pointing that out.

The second report also stated that almost 70 per cent. of disabled adults were aged 60 or more, but that disabled pensioners enjoyed roughly the same level of income as other pensioners. It is important to remember that.

The Government have successfully increased provision for the social services, which is a local authority function. Funding for community care services has risen by 68 per cent. since 1979; capital expenditure on social services has risen by 40 per cent. in real terms in the same period.

Community services have been vastly increased. Since 1980, the number of meals on wheels delivered has risen by 11 per cent. and the number of home helps by 28 per cent. The number of field social workers has increased by 22 per cent. and the number of those treated by district nurses by 14 per cent. Between 1978 and 1988, the number of places in residential homes for the mentally handicapped doubled from 14,000 to 28,500. Those are significant successes.

I am glad that the Government are continuing to give strong support to the voluntary sector. Grants to charities, as a result of tax incentives in various Budgets, have increased by 75 per cent. more than inflation since 1979.

Twenty or so years ago, I worked as a civil servant in the Department of Employment and I want to mention the success of the Department in assisting disabled people, particularly through employment training. Between 1984 and 1989 the number of people with disabilities who participated in the Department's training programmes rose from 10,500 to more than 44,000.

My right hon. Friend mentioned that certain transport facilities are helping disabled people. Certainly, British Rail has introduced facilities for the disabled at InterCity stations and on main line services, but at many stations, including at Taunton, there are still gruesome steps for disabled people to negotiate. I must pay tribute to British Rail. More than a year ago I took up a constituency case of a disabled person being brought down from London with helpers. On the previous journey there had been a mess-up and the person's disability had not been recognised, but as a result of my intervention excellent help was offered on subsequent journeys.

I must also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe), who cannot be here today, but who is interested in this subject. He is beginning a campaign to ensure that new homes take account of the needs of various minorities with disabilities. For example, many new homes are built with ridiculously narrow doorways that are extremely difficult for wheelchairs to negotiate.

Finally, I wish to refer to how the community charge will affect disabled people, a number of whom enjoyed some relief under the previous, property-related rateable system. Conservative Members must recognise that some will lose their relief and not have it replaced under the new individual, service-related system. I have corresponded about such cases in my constituency. We must, however recognise that disabled people on low incomes who qualify will receive generous rebates and favourable terms under the transitional arrangements, and for that we are grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities.

I want to repeat a point about pensions that I have raised with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State before, but this time in the context of the disabled. It concerns the capital threshold, which has caused problems with rebates for community charge-paying pensioners. This applies particularly to disabled people who own sums of money. Some, for example, may have been badly injured in motor accidents and will thus have been paid—not necessarily large sums of compensation. We all agree that if someone has more than, say, £12,000, he should not qualify for assistance from other taxpayers; but many people hovering around the £8,000 limit do not qualify for housing benefit rebates under the present rules and will not qualify for community charge rebates. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be able to do more about that.

We must remember that disabled people often cannot take part in community activities for which the community charge will pay. We must, however, point out to them that the charge will substantially fund education, social services, the police and fire services which all members of the community enjoy whether or not they are disabled. I hope that we shall be able to persuade more local authorities to improve access to libraries, swimming pools and other facilities so that disabled people can enjoy them.

I began by pointing out the Government's spending achievements over the past 10 years. Those successes were achieved on the back of major economic success. Only if we retain a Government who can continue this economic success will we be able to meet the high objectives that my hon. Friend the Minister has set himself.

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

We had a good debate on disablement on Monday. I do not propose to repeat my condemnation of the Social Security Bill, but I should like to consider some of the basic problems faced by disabled people. Their main difficulties are poverty, lack of rights, discrimination and unemployment. The Government have failed to tackle those problems effectively.

We all know that most disabled people are poor. The main source of income for 75 per cent. of them is state benefits. The income of the few who are employed is significantly less than that of able-bodied workers. The Government are at fault for not doing enough for disabled people. The average real value of benefits that disabled people receive has risen by less than 1 per cent. in the past decade, while the value of average male earnings has risen 36.5 per cent. That is a cause for shame and shows the Government's neglect of disabled people.

We need—and this has been spelt out time and again—a comprehensive disablement income, payable to all disabled people according to the severity of their disablement and not according to means.

As important as incomes are rights. The Minister for Social Security assured us that he is in the process of implementing the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986—the Tom Clarke Act, as we call it, which is a major measure on disabled people's rights which should have been implemented fully long ago.

With low incomes and few rights, it is not surprising that disabled people suffer discrimination. Judging from the discussions that I have had with many disabled people and their organisations, they are discriminated against every day of their lives. Discrimination severely affects disabled people. Government statements that there is insufficient evidence of discrimination are pure gobbledegook; I can testify to the damage that it causes. Disabled people are not allowed access to public buildings; they are not allowed to take holidays in the places where they want; they are sometimes not allowed into pubs and clubs; and they are not allowed jobs for which they are fitted.

Such discrimination against disabled people in the 1990s is appalling. How do we deal with it? We do so not by begging, pleading or urging but by demanding that they be given new rights under legislation. Such rights are given by most member states of the European Community. Last year, the United States' Senate passed a marvellous Bill giving disabled people entirely new rights. The United States is leading the world and is not allowing disabled people to be treated as second-class citizens. Those rights are tremendous advances on measures in other countries. The Bill has outlawed discrimination against disabled people and protected them from discrimination in transport, employment, public accommodation, hotels, restaurants, shops, telecommunications and services provided by state and local government.

Why cannot Britain give such a lead instead of falling behind European Community countries and the United States? We have so often led the world in the past, but now we are not even following those countries. Whenever Bills have been introduced to outlaw not only general discrimination but unjustified discrimination, the Government have rejected them. I am sorry that the Government chose to do that, but I hope that the Minister for Social Security and his colleagues will change their minds.

Discrimination is most visible in the realm of employment. No fewer than 70 per cent. of Britain's disabled people of working age have no job. Evidence shows that many of them are unemployed because of discrimination.

The Minister will know—my political opponent but good friend the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) joins me in this—that the all-party disablement group has been anxious to preserve the quota system. For the past 15 years, we have opposed attempts by successive Governments to dismantle it. It is not a perfect system and we do not stick rigidly to it, but we insist that that legislative safeguard should remain in force and should be properly enforced and implemented. That is not being done at present, and we believe that the Government should pay far more attention to it. They should stop throwing permits around like confetti; the Labour Government also showered permits around like confetti. We should like to see the quota system enforced and a few prosecutions of bad employers. We should like Britain to follow the example of Germany, where a levy is imposed on employers who do not fulfil their quota. Those are reasonable demands to make. We are after jobs for disabled people.

My final point—I shall not keep saying that this is my final point—is that in seeking rights and opportunities for disabled people we must include those for whom care and support are vital. We should remember the case of Beverley Lewis, the deaf-blind woman who starved to death in appalling conditions. We must find out how and why that happened and how we can avoid such tragedies in the future. The only way of doing so is to hold a public inquiry. I hope that the Minister will agree to that. I hope that whoever replies to the debate will answer that point.

This is a package of constructive proposals and I offer it to the House with all good will. The proposals are designed to further the wellbeing of disabled people. If they are adopted, we will have gone a long way towards a better deal for the disabled. I hope that the Minister and his colleagues will act on them.

8.58 pm
Mr. John Hannam (Exeter)

I am very pleased to follow the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) in the debate. I would like to have a fiver for every time I have followed him in similar disablement debates in the past 15 years. He has made some valid points with which I agree. I welcome the opportunity to debate the needs of disabled people and I only wish that we had more time available to go into many more of the relevant issues.

I do not, however, welcome the terms of the Opposition motion, which fails to reflect the tremendous improvements that have taken place under this Government: nor does it reflect the opportunities that still lie ahead. When I first became involved in working with disabled people in the late 1960s, very few disability organisations existed and only a handful of benefits were available for people with handicaps. As my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) pointed out, what a change has taken place in the intervening years.

The all-party disablement group recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. It is worth remembering that the group was established to help promote the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, which was piloted through Parliament by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris). Since then we have seen disabled people brought out of the shadows and given their right to play a full role in our community. The Opposition have tried tonight—and I believe have failed—to make a case that under the present Government the disabled have suffered setbacks. As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security pointed out in his excellent speech, that is plainly not the case, and the evidence speaks for itself in the huge increase in both the numbers of, and the cash benefits for, the long-term sick and disabled—somewhere near a 100 per cent. increase in real terms since 1979.

It is not just the increased benefits which are important, however—this is a thread running through a number of speeches this evening. The past 10 years have also seen welcome changes in attitudes towards disabled people. The accelerated moves towards independent living and community care have focused people's attention on the less fortunate who suffer from physical and mental handicaps. The historical myths associating inability with disability are gradually disappearing, especially when we think about historical figures who have suffered from such disabilities: people like Beethoven with his advancing deafness who nevertheless produced the Choral symphony, and Van Gogh who, while becoming increasingly mentally ill, painted masterpieces that are now worth a fortune. Last week I helped to launch the National Dyslexia Awareness Campaign in the company of a number of famous people who suffer from that learning handicap—Susan Hampshire, Duncan Goodhew, Beryl Reid and the architect, Richard Rodgers.

With all our involvement with various disabilities, it was therefore no surprise to me that the OPCS surveys showed that some 6.5 million people in this country suffer various degrees of handicap; but the fact that all this activity is taking place is surely a welcome sign that we are making constant progress towards the day when disabled people are not prevented from fulfilling their maximum potential by educational, financial, employment or access barriers.

Welcome changes have been achieved recently. I instance the launch of the accessible taxi, something that we are now taking for granted but which took many years of campaigning and design work to achieve. We have the extension of the mobility allowance to deaf-blind people, and many of us were involved in that campaign for some eight years. We have additional money for cochlear implants under the National Health Service, the carers' addition in income support, and, the major landmark—and I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke)—the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986, not yet fully implemented.

The current Session is extremely important for disabled people. The Government are legislating on community care and launching their proposals for community benefits; they will shortly publish the conclusions of the review of employment services for disabled people; and the House will soon have an opportunity to debate the recommendations of the Warnock report in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and the contributions that such research can make to the prevention of genetically-inherited disabling diseases. We also have the issue of student loans which gives us the opportunity to consider the amount of support currently given to disabled students in higher education.

It is important that these Bills should improve and facilitate the full integration of disabled people and continue to break down the barriers which still abound.

I would like to touch on some current issues and put forward what I hope will be constructive pointers for the future.

On disability benefits, although I accept that there has been some criticism of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for not going far enough towards the goal of a disablement cost allowance, I believe that he has made substantial progress, given the financial constraints on the economy. He personally exerted maximum pressure on the Treasury and gained enough resources to establish the basis for further progress over the coming years. There is now a political consensus across parties and the disablement lobby that independent living is good and should be welcomed and encouraged. However, it is vital that this move is accompanied by adequate income for disabled people, or we could face the same problems that we face with the discharged mentally handicapped in the community.

There is some concern that the White Paper's proposals fall short of the disablement cost allowance which has long been advocated, especially as they do not cover costs for such things as extra heating, laundry, diet and unprescribed medication and do not meet the needs of the severely disabled people, whose costs can be substantially greater than the OPCS reports showed. I am pleased that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has partially recognised that point in the White Paper by stating that supplementary arrangements may be necessary for a small group of disabled people. I hope that there will now be full consultation with the various organisations involved to make this work effectively and become reality.

I welcome also the introduction of a partial incapacity benefit through employment credit. I hope that it will be followed by full consultation with disability organisations to ensure that we get the system right. I welcome the increases to the severe disablement allowance, although they are not yet enough to achieve the level of the equivalent contributory benefit—invalidity benefit. We promised that in our 1979 manifesto, and I hope that it remains the Government's eventual aim. It would be helpful if this and other aims were spelt out, resources identified and target dates set for their achievement, otherwise there is a danger of piecemeal, ad hoc reform of the system. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State does not intend or want that.

I mentioned the student loans legislation. I welcome the Government's commitment to wider access to higher education. Recently, the all-party group had a meeting with various bodies involved in education for the handicapped and with the education Minister. We pointed out that the current arrangements for disabled students were in desperate need of review and that there was a danger that the student loans proposals would inhibit access for disabled students. They face extra costs during their time at university or college and, of course, after graduation. That must be taken into account when judging the level of disabled students allowance and of loan repayments. I am grateful to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science for the consultations that he has set up with disability organisations and for his commitment to review the disabled students allowance. It is vital that more consideration is also given to the proposals for a fourth access fund for disabled students.

We see evidence of the progress being made when we look at community care. The Government rightly recognise that community care services must be consumer-led and must, as they say in the White Paper, respond flexibly and sensitively to individual needs…and allow a range of options for consumers". Disabled people do not want to be passive recipients of services that are determined by local authorities. They want genuine consumer choice, like the rest of society. The Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 would help to ensure that that choice of service exists and that services are sensitive to the needs of disabled people, more appropriate and more effective. Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Act give disabled people the right to consultation and to appeal against decisions taken by the local authority as well as the right to have an advocate acting on their behalf—for example, a member of the family or a friend who can truly represent their interests in all their dealings with the local authority. That surely must be the best method of securing help that is appropriate, effective and efficient for the disabled person.

We have all had constituency examples of the wrong aids and adaptations being imposed upon people. A typical example that I came across recently was of an elderly woman who needed help to get around the house. A social worker insisted that she had rails put on most of the walls. Of course, that involved a great deal of expenditure and labour. The woman did not want that and, even with the rails, had great difficulty in getting around the house. Two months later, after much fuss, she was reassessed and given a simple zimmer walking frame, which was precisely what she wanted. All is well, but think of the waste of resources.

Another example of the sense of good advocacy involved a person who was caring for a disabled person. The carer asked for respite care to be provided. After a joint assessment meeting took place, it was found that all that was needed was a volunteer sitter on Saturday evenings. That was provided. Again there was a great saving of resources.

When I asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health at Question Time yesterday whether he accepted the need for the implementation of the important sections 1, 2 and 3 of the 1986 Act, he promised. as has been reiterated today by my hon. Friend, a speedy review of those sections. I welcome that commitment. I am sure that it pleased the hon. Member for Monklands, West, who must be frustrated at having given birth to a baby which is allowed only half the time.

The shortness of the debate prevents my mentioning many other disability issues such as the need for ring fencing of community care grants to local authorities. We have already heard on BBC "Panorama" one social services director stating that he was cutting services to the elderly disabled in order to provide social workers for child abuse cases. If we do not have ring fencing of resources for disabled people, the problem will get worse. The recent tragic case of the 23-year-old deaf-blind girl, Beverley Lewis, highlights the problem. I share the view of the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South that there should be a public inquiry into that appalling case and its implications.

On the preventive side of disability, the embryology issue will be controversial and emotional. I am convinced that properly controlled and monitored research will help in future to detect specific disorders such as muscular dystrophy, Down's syndrome, cystic fibrosis, Huntington's chorea and some 50 types of severe congenital disease which one day may be detectable by pre-embryo screening. We shall be debating that in detail in a few weeks' time. I hope that hon. Members will study all the medical evidence carefully before casting their vote.

As someone who in my disablement work with Rehabilitation International has the opportunity to travel to many countries and talk to disabled people all over the world, I know how advanced we are in our provision for handicapped people. There is still a great deal to be done. I know that my right hon. Friends will continue to push the frontiers outwards, and I give them my full support this evening.

9.12 pm
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

I appreciated very much some of the comments of the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price). When, just over six years ago, I introduced the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons (Amendment) Bill to outlaw discrimination against disabled people, I did not have a relative who was disabled. Since then, unfortunately, as many hon. Members know, I have lost my wife. She was disabled and worked in the House of Commons. If the Minister with responsibility for the disabled intends to co-ordinate his activities with those of other Ministers, he might start by approaching the Leader of the House to point out how difficult it is for disabled people who work in the Houses of Parliament to get from the office where they are working even for a bite of food or drink of coffee. There is much to be done for disabled people in the mother of Parliaments.

I have vivid memories of the way in which the Government deliberately thwarted the will of many people, probably a majority in the country, when I tried in November 1983 to outlaw discrimination against disabled people. I was told by the present Secretary of State, who at that time was in a more junior capacity in the Department, that all we needed was education and persuasion. All we needed was to persuade people to adopt a better attitude towards the disabled. All the evidence of the past six years proves that that is not the way to deal with the problem. The problem has not gone away. How much have the Government spent on education and persuasion since November 1983 to convince people that they should have a proper attitude to disabled people?

The Spastics Society has produced two surveys that show that there is massive discrimination in employment against disabled people. The British Deaf Association published a similar report. We know from the evidence of many individual cases that people are discriminated against, either consciously or unconsciously, simply because they have a disability. We know from the labour force survey in the spring of 1988 that, whereas there was 7.9 per cent. unemployment among able-bodied people, 19 per cent. of disabled people of working age were jobless; 360,000 disabled people of working age were, at that time, unemployed, yet some 22 per cent. of them had either academic or vocational qualifications of at least GCE A-level standard, and many had university degrees.

Since 1986, employment for the disabled should have become easier, because there has been an increase in the use of microtechnology and, although we know that the Government have fiddled the statistics, we accept that there has been a reduction in the number of jobless in the country.

There are also demographic changes. We were told by the former Secretary of State for Employment that by the year 1995 there would be 500,000 fewer young people under 25 in the labour force, so there should be plenty of scope to provide employment for the disabled.

We know also that the Government have a campaign to promote a code of practice among employers to ensure that they do their job in taking on disabled people. However, only 120,000 copies of that code have ever been distributed, if the answer given on 13 November by the Secretary of State is correct.

The OPCS surveys have shown that, because of the experience of being discriminated against, many disabled people regard themselves as unemployable. They define themselves as unable to find work. That is because of their experiences of being constantly turned down in their search for a job. Has the Minister read the evidence in the Spastics Society's recent report? If he has, he must come to only one conclusion—that the Government have a responsibility, beyond any code of practice, to legislate against such discrimination.

The National Economic Development Office—a Government agency—published a document last year called "Defusing the demographic time bomb". It said that people with disabilities in employment are not being used to their full capabilities and that employers are doing relatively little to attract people with disabilities. Has the Minister taken cognisance of that evidence? Disabled people realise that the quota system is not being used properly. There have been only 10 prosecutions since the passing of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 and few convictions. The total of fines for all the convictions in that time has been about £4,000.

The message has got across to disabled people. That is why whereas in 1978, the year before the Government came to power, 494,877 people registered under the 1944 Act, last year only 366,768 registered. Every single year since the Government came to office, fewer and fewer people have registered as disabled under the legislation. Yet discrimination continues, and the quota system is not enforced. That is not a reason for abolishing the quota system; it is a reason for enforcing and invigorating the system.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) referred to the Federal Republic of Germany, which has a quota of 6 per cent. If employers do not abide by that system, they are charged a levy which provides revenue for training disabled people so that they can find employment. I should like to persuade my own party of the need for co-ordination such as the French have. In France, there is a Ministry to deal with all the problems of disabled people. I have certainly advocated that the Labour party should make such a system part of its policy. In France, the Government are to introduce an employment Bill that will include a 6 per cent. quota and a levy system, which will be in force by the time the single market is attained in 1992. As a matter of interest, the French Minister for the disabled, Michel Gillibert, was injured in a helicopter accident and is himself disabled, so he can bring his own experience to his post.

We undoubtedly need legislation. It is wrong when a paraplegic is refused access to a theatre. It is wrong when a mentally handicapped person is refused access to a hotel in a tourist resort. It is wrong when a student is refused access to a full course in a polytechnic because certain rooms are inaccessible to him. It is wrong when a deaf person is turned out of a public house because he is deaf and because someone he is with is using sign language. It is wrong when someone in a wheelchair is refused access to Wembley stadium to see the FA cup final even though he has a ticket. Such discrimination is wrong in every case, but unlike discrimination on grounds of sex or race, all those samples of discrimination are still legal. It shames our country that that should still be so.

What we need is an Act of Parliament to give legislative teeth to what is morally right, and to give disabled people real rights. Opposition Members will fight for their policy to outlaw discrimination against disabled people and to give disabled people the same liberties as those enjoyed by able-bodied people. But to disabled people I say that liberty must he fought for. We have liberty, but we were not born with it; we had to fight for it. I believe that disabled people must fight, and fight hard, to ensure that legislation is introduced. For our part, Labour Members can say that such legislation will be forthcoming after the next general election.

9.23 pm
Mr. John Bowls (Battersea)

The debate is about rights and opportunities for disabled people, and I welcome the constructive suggestions that have been made by hon. Members on both sides of the House. My experience of dealing with disabled people tells me that sometimes there is pain and sometimes there are tears, and that sometimes the tears and pain are shared by those who look after the disabled, but that the overwhelming impression that disabled people give is of courage, determination, cheerfulness and generosity of spirit.

I hope that, in battling for the disabled—rightly so—the Opposition will echo those qualities in their speeches. I sometimes think that, while the courage and determination may be there, the cheerfulness and generosity of spirit are not always evident.

As I have listened to the details of the Government's new benefits programme, which is bringing more help to the terminally ill, to the deaf-blind, to disabled babies and carers, and, coming soon, the additional support for the disabled at work, I have felt that I must tell the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) that a little more generosity of spirit would be welcome. By all means let him criticise us for not going fast enough, but he should not say that we have not got anywhere, because the Government's record is there to be seen—for example, in the doubling in real terms of long-term sick and disablement benefits. The fact that three times as many people get attendance allowance and six times as many get mobility allowance is not so much a record to be proud of as a launching pad for further effort. That is the way I judge it, and I hope that Opposition Members will look at it in the same light.

Our commitment as we debate this issue, particularly hon. Members who are present tonight, is without doubt. In fighting for the disabled, we are trying to get across the message that to be disabled is not to be unable. Our task is to enable the disabled to participate in life to the full. When the Secretary of State for Employment talks, for example, about his ambition for a skills decade, I hope that he, and we, include the disabled in that. The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) was spot on when he spoke about the need to enable the disabled to participate in job opportunities.

In enabling the disabled, we must consider the physical needs to help people to be independent; the caring needs so that people have folk to care for them when necessary; the mobility needs so that they can get around and make their way to work and leisure activities and so on; and the employment needs.

The physical needs involve all the housing adaptations to which hon. Members have referred, and I particularly support the campaign of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe), to which my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Nicholson) referred. Housing must be suitable for the disabled.

We must pay particular attention to the aids that are provided. I have previously referred to visiting the home of an old lady who was deaf. I found her watching television without the sound on. I asked her if she had a hearing aid and she replied that she had a hearing aid, but she also had arthritic fingers and could not turn up the volume on the set.

We must make sure that the aid is not just the cheapest but is appropriate to the case. It is a matter of horses for courses when giving support to disabled people, and I support everything that has been said about access to buildings and so on.

I support all the measures that are being taken for carers, but I ask the Minister to go even further, because the problems of many carers are not yet being met by society. I think of the young carer, for example, at school who is called from school to look after the mother who has collapsed at home. Such a carer cares without complaint, but that action can interrupt school and a natural youthful life. Such people should receive special attention. We need more respite schemes to enable people to have a break and to go back refreshed and dedicated to the task before them.

I welcome the mobility allowances and improved facilities for access, including access to stations. I think of the many steps leading to the platforms at a station such as Clapham junction in my constituency.

On the issue of mobility, we could do more for the dial-a-ride system. The Minister should talk to his colleagues in the Government who are responsible for the allocation of resources to dial-a-ride so as not simply to give more money to that scheme but to encourage the application of that money to schemes where the users have a bigger say in the sort of service that they wish to receive.

In the dial-a-ride scheme in Wandsworth, for example, 1,000 members make 15,000 journeys a year. One third of the people who use that service are wheelchair-bound and the others are disabled, frail or elderly. They choose to use one third of their journeys for shopping expeditions, one third to visit friends and one third for general outings—for example, to visit the hairdressers or the theatre. Seventy per cent. of their chosen journeys should be local and 30 per cent. should be more than five miles.

London Regional Transport stepped in and said, "That does not fit our pattern. Why should we allow Wandsworth to let its users have so many journeys over five miles? That is not the mould that we want, so they cannot have the extra bus that we are going to offer to all the other dial-a-ride users unless they meet our criteria." It should not be "our" criteria. It should not be criteria determined by the House or by the bosses of LRT—although I welcome what LRT does to support the service. The criteria should be determined by the users of the service. If they choose to have more longer journeys, so be it.

I have referred recently to training for employment. Disabled people have many opportunities to participate in the job world. Reference has been made to the shortage of people with skills. Many disabled people are unable to take up skilled positions because they need to acquire the skills—sometimes basic and sometimes advanced. Organisations such as Shared Community in my constituency have a tremendous record in helping people whose cases appeared hopeless to find and keep jobs. Training establishments need to be able to plan for the number of trainee places and that certainty has not always existed. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends can ensure that such a possibility exists.

With regard to job placing, many more employers should be told to have patience. Many disabled people will hold down a job in the long run, but they need a little more time to adapt. All too often, an employer will run out of patience and get rid of the disabled person, and bang goes yet another job opportunity.

I have outlined several areas in which the Government can offer more support. I believe that we are in a new world of public awareness about disability. There is more awareness of care, access, travel and employment opportunities. There are many opportunities for the disabled and also opportunities for the Government to build on their great success to ensure that the disabled have a full role to play in society and come as near as possible to the rest of us in enjoying life to the full.

9.32 pm
Mr. David Hinchliffe (Wakefield)

In the short time available to me, I want to refer to two specific constituency cases about which I have written to separate Government Departments. The cases illustrate the way in which the Government's policy fails to go far enough in offering practical support to disabled people to remain in their own homes while at the same time it actively encourages them to give up their independence and enter institutional care. My constituents and I are very worried about that trend which has been evident over the past 10 years.

I want first to refer to the case of Mrs. Pauline Shaw. She is in her mid-40s and substantially handicapped by multiple sclerosis. Her husband Jim gave up work some considerable time ago to care for her full-time in their own home. Mrs. Shaw received occasional respite care at Pinderfields hospital—and recently that care was jeopardised by the threat of closure. She received visits from a district nurse to assist her bathing and toilet needs and also social work support. I emphasise that Mr. and Mrs. Shaw are fulsome in their praise for the staff who gave their support. However, that support was insufficient. It could not prevent Mr. Shaw's health being affected; ultimately, in the interests of his own health, he was advised to allow his wife to enter residential care.

That was the start of their problems. When she entered private residential care about 20 miles from Wakefield, where they had lived for some considerable time, she developed bed sores. Mr. Shaw, who had given his wife such good care for such a long period, moved her to a different home in a place called Barkston Ash, also some 20 miles from my constituency. Then they faced the financial problems arising from the fact that the benefits available to them were insufficient to meet the cost of the residential care that was required in her circumstances.

I wrote to the Under-Secretary of State for Health asking for some top-up payments to enable this lady to be supported in residential care, on the basis that she required full-time nursing. The Minister replied saying that that simply was not possible.

My constituent Jim Shaw, out of his invalidity benefit and state pension of around £40 a week, is supplementing the fees involved in keeping his wife in residential care. He is now trying to move to the area where she is living. At present, he travels 40 miles each day, and that is costly for somebody on state benefits. He cannot get a council house in that area, because the Tory-controlled council has, of course, sold off all the council accommodation. That is the reality of the problems facing many disabled people.

Mr. Michael Frobisher is another constituent of mine. I raised this case during the debate on Second Reading of the National Health Service and Community Care Bill because I am particularly concerned about it. This gentleman has suffered from multiple sclerosis since about 1970. He is in his early 60s. His wife Pat was a health visitor, but she gave up her employment four years ago to care for him. She has had support from a nurse and has had other domiciliary help. She had respite care for one week in six in the younger disabled unit at Pinderfields hospital, which was threatened not long ago with closure as a result of Government cuts.

Unfortunately, this was insufficient. It was not the level of care required by Mr. Frobisher, despite all the efforts that his wife put in. She says that, in 1988, she begged for more help from the health authority, but to no avail. Indeed, she collapsed in July 1989. Mr. Frobisher was then admitted to a private nursing home some 20 miles outside my constituency. This was the start of their problems. There was insufficient finance to pay £245 weekly, and the Frobishers have now had to sell the house to meet the fees. Once the fees have been paid, Mr. Frobisher has 5p a week left.

At Question Time on, I think, 27 November last, I raised cases such as that of Mr. Frobisher. The answer of the Minister for Social Security was that he found nothing offensive in relatives helping with care costs. I do not think that I am alone in this place in finding it deeply offensive that somebody who has given care as extensive as that which has been given by this lady over so many years should have to sell her house in order to be able to meet the cost of her husband's care. I think that that is wrong, and I look forward to the Minister's reply to my direct communication to his Department about this case.

In my opinion, neither of the two constituents to whom I have referred should be in institutional care. That is the importance of this kind of case to tonight's debate. There are many thousands of similar cases throughout the country—people who are in institutional care simply because the necessary domiciliary support is not available to enable them to remain in their own homes with their families and communities, where I and they believe they ought to be. It is criminal that people who have cared for their spouses as Mrs. Frobisher and Mr. Shaw have done should be treated in this way, that because their needs are not being catered for at the local level they are suffering separation.

I stress that I am not criticising the local authority or the district health authority. The staff concerned, with the facilities available to them, have done their utmost to assist these individuals. What I am criticising is the lack of resources, both for the local authority and for the Health Service, to provide the kind of service that would enable those people to remain in their own homes.

The ultimate irony is that well over £200 of state funds is required to keep these people in institutional care. It is a fact, as the Audit Commission pointed out, that less than that amount, properly allocated for domiciliary services, would keep them in the community and in their own homes. All hon. Members believe that people such as Mrs. Shaw and Mr. Frobisher should be in their own homes and with their families. It is an appalling indictment of 10 years of Government policy on community care and the disabled that those people find themselves in institutional care 20 or 30 miles from where they have lived all their lives.

9.39 pm
Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West)

For the most part, this has been a constructive debate. I was pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) referred to the speech by the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price), who described the rights of people with disabilities as unique. He was absolutely right. I am sure that hon. Members would wish to highlight the individual needs, rights and demands of people with disabilities and their carers. That is a big priority.

The hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) gave a fine outline of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986. So convincing was he that the Chancellor of the Exchequer rushed to the Chamber. Opposition Members welcome the Chancellor's presence. He is a former Minister with responsibilities in these matters. If the necessary political will exists in the Treasury, we can do a great deal for disabled people. In particular, we can implement the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 because the good will that the Minister for Social Security introduced into the debate might be shared by the Chancellor, and, if that good will is matched by political will in the Treasury, we can make real progress.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, in addition to good will and political will, he should clearly spell out that the sum involved is equivalent to one-fifth of a penny in income tax and that it pales into insignificance compared with the giveaway Budgets that we have had in the past?

Mr. Clarke

I agree with the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing). The Chancellor does not need to be reminded that, in one of the many opinion polls that were held before the 1987 general election, an overwhelming majority said that the Treasury should have found the necessary funds for the implementation of this important measure.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) referred to the Beverley Lewis case. He was right to ask for a public inquiry. There are many lessons to be learnt. The debate has been dominated by the 1986 Act, and I intend to make further references to it. Many organisations, including the Spastics Society and the 40 voluntary bodies in the Act Now Group, support the implementation of the 1986 Act. They take the view that, in at least two respects, the Beverley Lewis case demonstrates that had the Act been fully implemented, some of that tragedy might have been avoided.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) outlined the Labour party's alternatives to the Government's policy. I was sorry that the Minister was somewhat abusive. Hon. Members will recall that, when in office, my right hon. Friend actually exceeded the Labour party manifesto commitments on disability. I look forward to the time when he will repeat that performance.

The motion could not be more appropriate because the House has been considering—at the moment Standing Committee E is actively considering—the Government's proposals on health and community care. There can be no effective policy unless there is a structure involving the consumer. The Government speak of consumer rights, but if consumer rights in terms of the disabled, carers and advocates are truly embraced by the Government, they should accept their responsibilities under the 1986 Act.

The Minister said that the Government will soon be meeting again with local authorities. I hate to sound ungracious, but we have heard that before. It has been said since April 1986. Time after time, we have been told by the Prime Minister and by other Ministers that the 1986 Act will be implemented when resources are available. My hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) reminded the House that the Government have no difficulty in finding resources for other purposes. Their priorities are clearly not those that my right hon. and hon. Friends and I would endorse. I suspect from the tenor of tonight's debate that our priorities would be endorsed by most right hon. and hon. Members in a free vote.

The hon. Member for Eastleigh, in referring to the uniqueness of the disabled, was conscious of the fact—as are all right hon. and hon. Members—that the OPCS reports reveal that 6.5 million of our fellow citizens experience some form of disability. Many, many carers are trying to cope with the most difficult situations but they receive little support. Their difficulties ought to be recognised. Instead of a strategy for community care of the kind that we are told is Government policy, there is a great deal of fragmentation. Certainly joint planning is very much missing in Scotland. Its absence is almost as evident as the absence of a Scottish Minister on the Government Front Bench tonight.

The Government say that, in the absence of joint planning, they are making arrangements to discharge long-stay patients from psychiatric hospitals and to place them in the community. On 12 July 1989, the Secretary of State for Health told the House: I will ensure that discharges of seriously mentally ill people from hospital will take place only when adequate medical and social care is available for them outside hospital."—[Official Report, 12 July 1989; Vol. 156, c. 978.] Where are those arrangements?

If section 7 of the 1986 Act has suddenly been dropped, despite previous assurances that its provisions were being actively discussed with local authorities to ensure their implementation, what arrangements are the Government making in their place? During Question Time yesterday, the Government were seriously criticised on both sides for discharging psychiatric patients into community care that does not exist. Apart from the problems that that creates for families and communities, it places a tremendous strain on social services departments.

We are told that local authorities will have to defend themselves in terms of the poll tax, and I hope that the obligations that have been placed upon them will be remembered. I hope that we will hear not about extavagant overspending councils, but about under-servicing councils. If the 1986 Act means anything, it is that we should dispense with the accidents of geography, where assessment and services may be provided in one area but not another. There should be national standards that genuinely respond to the needs of physically disabled and mentally handicapped or ill persons, their carers and their advocates. We believe that the 1986 Act offers that opportunity for individuals' rights.

The Minister referred briefly to education in his opening speech, and I hope that hon. Members will remember the importance of that to young people who live in special schools. It is a traumatic time for them and for their families. We must ensure that proper arrangements are made so that they feel part of the community.

The Minister referred to the Peto institute. The Government were right to ensure that whatever opportunities existed in eastern Europe were available to benefit our people. Many parents, including those who were delighted that their children benefited from going to the institute, asked why that opportunity is not available in this country. Why do they have to go to eastern Europe? Why are those facilities and services not resourced here?

There have been many splendid speeches tonight, but few hon. Members would disagree that my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse) made a telling impression on the House when he described disability in a mining community. We should recognise that we are talking about people with rights, including the right to dignity.

In my constituency, in a little village called Crowood which is also a mining community, lives Mary, a lady whose husband was injured in the Auchengeach disaster of 1959. He now has a heart condition and her son, Gerry, is a spastic, in his early thirties. In 1986 she visited the House when the Act was going through. Her sister helped her come to London, and it was her only visit from Scotland since Gerry was born. She told me that her arm was black from top to bottom through coping with her son and because of her commitment and love for her child. She asked—and I conclude by putting it to the House and to the Minister—"What happens to Gerry after I have gone?" That is a reasonable question that many thousands of people ask.

I want a policy for disability and community care that will respond to that question and to the needs of disabled people, their parents—people like Mary and Albert—and others who care so much for them.

9.53 pm
Mr. Scott

I cannot do a traditional wind-up speech in the time available, and the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) was not able to do that in his speech. However, I want to deal with several issues raised in the debate.

I shall begin with the Peto institute, and what I intend to do in relation to that. For the time being, Budapest is the centre for conductive education. We have a modest facility in Birmingham, but if we are to build up a facility which will deliver conductive education properly to the young children in these islands who require it, the conductors will need a period of training. I am trying to achieve that, but in the meantime we expect British children and trainee British conductors to go to Budapest, and to draw on the experience and the expertise there.

In a sense, I share the view of the hon. Member for Monklands, West. This has been a good debate, and a quiet debate. Of course, the Opposition have said that we are not doing enough, and of course I have said that we are doing better than they could imagine. I suspect, however, that the debate has been so good because those who have taken part are a kind of fellowship: we all care about disabled people and want to do as much as we can, as quickly as we can, to enhance the quality of their lives.

I had hoped for a better attendance on the part of hon. Members who are less directly involved in such issues; I expected word to spread around the Palace of Westminster rather more quickly. Nevertheless, let me pay the warmest possible tribute to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley), to my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) and to all the members of the all-party disablement group. They work hard to maintain contact with groups of and for disabled people, and to make hon. Members aware of their needs.

There is, I believe, recognition—mostly among Conservative Members, although it occasionally ebbs from Opposition speeches—of the real progress that is being made, not just through benefits and a more coherent delivery of services, but in a range of ways, some of which I outlined in my opening remarks. I take the point made by the hon. Member for Monklands, West that we must pay increasing attention to the issue of carers: in the coming weeks we shall discuss that with various organisations and campaigners, and we shall listen carefully to what they say.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) mentioned workplace facilities. When, in the summer, I involuntarily rendered myself disabled for two months, I was relieved that Parliament was in recess and that I did not have to hobble around the House on crutches. I shall mention the matter to my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord President, but I suspect that the possibility of amending the geography of this building may be somewhat limited.

Let me say to the hon. Members for Monklands, West and for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) that I accept the need for a better delivery of services to enable people to live in their own home. The thrust of our present policy on community care is to dispense with the perverse incentive to put people into residential care—at vast public expenditure cost—which is often not what the individual concerned would have chosen. Instead we aim to provide packages of individually tailored care in the community to enable such people to live their lives as they wish. As my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) will recall, I spent this afternoon discussing that with the Select Committee.

The hon. Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse)—whose speech demonstrated his passion and commitment to the cause as well as his expertise—talked about the sufferers, especially miners, whose needs are not being met on the advice of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council. According to the definition of terminal illness in the new arrangements for attendance allowance, it will be necessary to show that someone is suffering from a progressive disease and that his lifespan is unlikely to exceed six months. We are taking the advisory council's advice on the matter referred to by the hon. Member, but I shall take an early opportunity to draw its chairman's attention to his speech and to ask for it to be given careful consideration.

Several hon. Members mentioned the Beverley Lewis case. A local inquiry has been carried out, and the social services inspectorate is considering the lessons to be learnt from it. Although there are no plans for a public inquiry, I can give an absolute undertaking that my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health is also considering the lessons to be learnt, as well as the recommendation by the coroner's inquiry that the law relating to mentally disordered people and mandatory care be re-examined.

Some important points have been made about the problems and needs of disabled people. We have listened to them all. I cannot reply to them now, but I shall read carefully the report of the debate.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 221, Noes 273.

Division No. 46] [10 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Blunkett, David
Allen, Graham Boateng, Paul
Alton, David Boyes, Roland
Anderson, Donald Bradley, Keith
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bray, Dr Jeremy
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)
Ashton, Joe Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Buchan, Norman
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Buckley, George J.
Barron, Kevin Caborn, Richard
Beckett, Margaret Callaghan, Jim
Beith, A. J. Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Bell, Stuart Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Bermingham, Gerald Cartwright, John
Bidwell, Sydney Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Blair, Tony Clay, Bob
Aitken, Jonathan Franks, Cecil
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Freeman, Roger
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) French, Douglas
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Fry, Peter
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gardiner, George
Bellingham, Henry Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Gill, Christopher
Bevan, David Gilroy Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Boswell, Tim Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bottomley, Peter Goodlad, Alastair
Bowis, John Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Brazier, Julian Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Gow, Ian
Browne, John (Winchester) Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Buck, Sir Antony Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Budgen, Nicholas Gregory, Conal
Burns, Simon Grist, Ian
Burt, Alistair Ground, Patrick
Butler, Chris Grylls, Michael
Butterfill, John Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hague, William
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carrington, Matthew Hampson, Dr Keith
Carttiss, Michael Hannam, John
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Chapman, Sydney Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Chope, Christopher Harris, David
Churchill, Mr Haselhurst, Alan
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hawkins, Christopher
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hayes, Jerry
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Colvin, Michael Hayward, Robert
Conway, Derek Heathcoat-Amory, David
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Couchman, James Hill, James
Cran, James Hind, Kenneth
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Day, Stephen Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Devlin, Tim Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Dicks, Terry Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Dorrell, Stephen Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hunt. David (Wirral W)
Dover, Den Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Durant, Tony Hunter, Andrew
Dykes, Hugh Irvine, Michael
Eggar, Tim Jack, Michael
Emery, Sir Peter Jackson, Robert
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Janman, Tim
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Jessel, Toby
Fallon, Michael Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Favell, Tony Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Key, Robert
Fishburn, John Dudley Kilfedder, James
Fookes, Dame Janet King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Forman, Nigel King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Knapman, Roger
Forth, Eric Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Fox, Sir Marcus Knowles, Michael
Clelland, David Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Kirkwood, Archy
Cohen, Harry Lambie, David
Coleman, Donald Lamond, James
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Leadbitter, Ted
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Leighton, Ron
Corbett, Robin Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Corbyn, Jeremy Lewis, Terry
Cousins, Jim Litherland, Robert
Cox, Tom Livingstone, Ken
Cryer, Bob Livsey, Richard
Cummings, John Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Cunningham, Dr John Loyden, Eddie
Dalyell, Tam McAllion, John
Darling, Alistair McAvoy, Thomas
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) McCartney, Ian
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Macdonald, Calum A.
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dewar, Donald McKelvey, William
Dixon, Don McLeish, Henry
Dobson, Frank McNamara, Kevin
Doran, Frank McWilliam, John
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Madden, Max
Eadie, Alexander Mahon, Mrs Alice
Eastham, Ken Marek, Dr John
Evans, John (St Helens N) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Martlew, Eric
Fatchett, Derek Maxton, John
Faulds, Andrew Meacher, Michael
Fearn, Ronald Meale, Alan
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Michael, Alun
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Fisher, Mark Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Flannery, Martin Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Moonie, Dr Lewis
Foster, Derek Morgan, Rhodri
Fraser, John Morley, Elliot
Fyfe, Maria Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Galloway, George Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Mowlam, Marjorie
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Mullin, Chris
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Murphy, Paul
Godman, Dr Norman A. Nellist, Dave
Golding, Mrs Llin Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Gordon, Mildred O'Brien, William
Gould, Bryan O'Neill, Martin
Graham, Thomas Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Parry, Robert
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Pike, Peter L.
Grocott, Bruce Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hardy, Peter Prescott, John
Harman, Ms Harriet Primarolo, Dawn
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Quin, Ms Joyce
Haynes, Frank Radice, Giles
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Randall, Stuart
Henderson, Doug Redmond, Martin
Hinchliffe, David Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Reid, Dr John
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Richardson, Jo
Home Robertson, John Robertson, George
Hood, Jimmy Rogers, Allan
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Rooker, Jeff
Howells, Geraint Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd). Ruddock, Joan
Hoyle, Doug Sedgemore, Brian
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Sheerman, Barry
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Short, Clare
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Illsley, Eric Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Ingram, Adam Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Janner, Greville Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Soley, Clive
Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn) Spearing, Nigel
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Steinberg, Gerry
Stott, Roger Wigley, Dafydd
Strang, Gavin Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Straw, Jack Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Wilson, Brian
Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis Winnick, David
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Turner, Dennis Worthington, Tony
Vaz, Keith Wray, Jimmy
Wallace, James Young, David (Bolton SE)
Walley, Joan
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Tellers for the Ayes:
Wareing, Robert N. Mr. John McFall and
Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C) Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie.
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Knox, David Roe, Mrs Marion
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lang, Ian Rost, Peter
Latham, Michael Rowe, Andrew
Lee, John (Pendle) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Ryder, Richard
Lilley, Peter Sackville, Hon Tom
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lord, Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Shelton, Sir William
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Maclean, David Sims, Roger
McLoughlin, Patrick Skeet, Sir Trevor
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Speed, Keith
Madel, David Speller, Tony
Major, Rt Hon John Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Malins, Humfrey Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mans, Keith Squire, Robin
Maples, John Stanbrook, Ivor
Marlow, Tony Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Steen, Anthony
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stern, Michael
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Stevens, Lewis
Mates, Michael Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Maude, Hon Francis Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stokes, Sir John
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Sumberg, David
Miller, Sir Hal Summerson, Hugo
Mills, Iain Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Miscampbell, Norman Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mitchell, Sir David Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Monro, Sir Hector Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Moore, Rt Hon John Thorne, Neil
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Thornton, Malcolm
Morrison, Sir Charles Thurnham, Peter
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Moss, Malcolm Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Tracey, Richard
Mudd, David Tredinnick, David
Neale, Gerrard Trippier, David
Needham, Richard Twinn, Dr Ian
Nelson, Anthony Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Neubert, Michael Waddington, Rt Hon David
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Walden, George
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Norris, Steve Waller, Gary
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Ward, John
Oppenheim, Phillip Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Page, Richard Watts, John
Paice, James Wheeler, Sir John
Patten, Rt Hon John Whitney, Ray
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Widdecombe, Ann
Pawsey, James Wilkinson, John
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Wilshire, David
Porter, David (Waveney) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Portillo, Michael Wolfson, Mark
Powell, William (Corby) Wood, Timothy
Price, Sir David Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Yeo, Tim
Redwood, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Rhodes James, Robert Tellers for the Noes:
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Mr. David Lightbown and
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Mr. Irvine Patnick.
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 30 (Questions on amendments) and agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to he agreed to.

Resolved, That this House congratulates Her Majesty's Government on the fact that social security expenditure for long-term sick and disabled people has virtually doubled in real terms since 1979, to a total of over £8 billion a year; notes with approval the greatly improved coverage of disability benefits associated with this achievement, which has increased the number of Mobility Allowance recipients from 95,000 to 615,000, the number of Attendance Allowance recipients from 265,000 to 795,000, and the number of Invalid Care Allowance recipients from 5,000 to 110,000; and welcomes the Government's proposals for further improvements, involving net additional expenditure rising to some £300 million in 1993–94, to help some 850,000 long-term sick and disabled people by measures which include increased premiums in income-related benefits for both disabled adults and disabled children, a new premium for carers, the extension of Attendance Allowance to disabled babies and to people who are terminally ill, the extension of Mobility Allowance to those who are both deaf and blind, increases in Severe Disablement Allowance focused especially on those disabled from birth or early in life, improved coverage of help with the extra costs of disability through a new Disability Allowance, and the introduction of a new Disability Employment Credit to assist and encourage those disabled people who can and wish to work.

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