HC Deb 19 March 1996 vol 274 cc161-2
7. Mr. Barry Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to use the Isle of Wight for one of the pilot studies of new methods being considered by his Department. [19705]

Mr. Lilley

I believe that it is desirable, where possible, to try out changes to the benefit system on a pilot basis before introducing them nationally and I have obtained increased powers to do so in the social security system. I am grateful for my hon. Friend's interest in this approach. The Isle of Wight is currently being used as a control area in the earnings top-up pilot. I shall certainly consider whether it would be suitable for piloting other schemes.

Mr. Field

Because of its clear boundaries, surely the Isle of Wight is an ideal community for all pilot studies. I feel certain that all my constituents would welcome the Isle of Wight being at the forefront of modernisation of the welfare state, for which the Government have done so much.

Mr. Lilley

I agree with my hon. Friend that the Isle of Wight, because of its island status, might well be a suitable area for future studies. If I were to select places for pilot schemes on the basis of the diligence of the Member of Parliament in pursuing his constituents' interests in social security matters, I would place the Isle of Wight top of the list.