HC Deb 05 July 1993 vol 228 cc10-1
9. Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much was spent on uprating benefits in April.

Mr. Lilley

The uprating of all the main benefits by 3.6 per cent. in April this year cost an additional £2.5 billion.

Mr. Coombs

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is essential that the Government, like other Governments, should live within their means when it comes to the social security budget? Is not it significant that the French Government have just announced that there will be no pension uprating in July this year and that they propose to claw back £3.8 million in health charges? Has my right hon. Friend also noted that the German Government propose a 3 per cent. cut in benefit across the board? Is there an example to be followed in all that, and will he follow it?

Mr. Lilley

My hon. Friend puts his point extremely clearly. He will recall that, before the announcement of last year's public expenditure round, we heard scaremongering throughout the summer to the effect that we would have to make such a draconian cut. None of the scares that were run by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) turned out to be true. We fulfilled the uprating that was then necessary. We believe that it is sensible to carry out sensible structural reforms. We have begun that process with the long-term review. We have commitments and we have kept to them, unlike the Labour party, which singularly failed to do so when it was in power.

Dr. Godman

In the light of the decision of the Secretary of State to accept the judgment of the European Court of Justice—case number C328/CF91—will he ensure that all the women concerned, who will benefit directly from that judgment and his belated acceptance of it, will not only receive the benefits to which they are entitled under European Community law but will be paid all arrears dating back to this April? Will he give an assurance that he will not now proceed with his appeal at the Court of Appeal against Commissioner Skinner's decision, CS27/91?

Mr. Lilley

He is no relation, I trust, of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner).

As I do not keep in mind a catalogue of all European Court cases by number, I shall write to the hon. Gentleman when I have traced that case number. We have no option but to accept the rulings of the European Court of Justice since it overrides the authority of the House.