HL Deb 23 June 1986 vol 477 cc12-26


Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Hooper.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Clause 19 [Income-related benefits]:

Lord Henderson of Brompton moved Amendment No. 63:

Page 24, line 8, at end insert— ("(1A) The scheme prescribed in subsection (l)(a) above shall provide for weekly payments of a community care addition to a chronically sick or disabled or elderly person, or in respect of a chronically sick or disabled child or other chronically sick or disabled elderly dependant. (1B) Regulations shall provide that payments of community care addition made under subsection (1A) above shall be payable at a rate that shall be determined by reference to—

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

The noble Lord said: We now come to Part II of this Bill, concerned with income-related benefits. Before dealing with my amendment I should like to congratu-late the usual channels on having so arranged things that we have the best part of the day on this part of the Bill, to which a number of important amendments have been tabled, not least the one which I now have the honour to move, No. 63.

The Committee will know that there are to be three schemes under this part of the Bill. The first of them is called income support. I know the noble Lord, Lord Banks, wishes to change income support to basic income guarantee, and he will talk about that later. However, I do not myself think that this amendment, No. 63, is at all altered by the nomenclature—whether it is to be income support or basic income guarantee.

The purpose of the amendment is that income support schemes shall provide for weekly payments of a community care addition to—I stress this—and only to a very small number of very severely disabled people. That is shown quite clearly in subsection (1A) of the amendment. Even so, and even to this very small number of people, the weekly payment will be made only according to the needs of the claimant's special circumstances and the extent to which other payments or benefits under this part of the Bill fail to meet those needs. So this is a heavily circumscribed amendment for a very small number—

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

Can the noble Lord possibly speak a little louder because the position he is in makes it difficult for us to hear; or perhaps he can move nearer to a microphone? I am afraid we are having quite a lot of difficulty in hearing him.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

I am so sorry. I shall move my position and see whether I can get nearer to a microphone. I apologise for being inaudible. However, I shall not inflict upon the Committee again what I have already said, in the hope that the shorthand writer has been able to take it down.

This is a heavily circumscribed amendment. It is only for a very small number of severely disabled people who are now in receipt of necessarily large amounts of supplementary benefit in the form of the present additional requirements like the domestic addition. The number of these people is of the order of 2,000 or 3,000. It may be more—I do not think it is less—but it will not be significantly more. We shall know the number more precisely when the new survey is completed; I think it is the OPCS survey. But we cannot wait for that survey. All we can be sure of is that the number is small, and so this amendment cannot cost much.

However, the difference it will make to that small number of severely disabled people will be enormous. It will literally mean the difference between life at home and life in an institution. I could give many examples, but I will not do so because I wish to be brief, and also very telling examples were introduced in another place both in Committee and on Report. I do not think it is really right to reiterate those unless your Lordships' Committee considers it to be necessary. I would say merely that it is the declared policy of the Government that, wherever possible, chronically sick or disabled or elderly people should be cared for at home. It is certain that the proposal in this amendment—that is, weekly payments of a community care addition—will be less costly to public funds than the cost of keeping those same people in institutions.

Therefore, by accepting this amendment the Government would at the same time be giving effect to their declared policy and be saving money. I find it hard, therefore, to see any effective argument against this amendment on grounds of either humanity or cost, and I must say that after examining ministerial statements in this Chamber and in another place I cannot find one. A similar amendment was moved in another place with all-party support and the Minister's reply was unfortunately cut off by the guillotine. Before the blade fell the Minister said—and here I quote from the Official Report at col. 128 on 19th May, 1986— I would not want to minimise or dismiss the genuine concern that has been expressed about [these people]", and, the Government are concerned to find a solution". I very much hope that if this amendment is not the right solution, an accepted solution will be found before we have finished with this Bill in this Chamber. The Minister went on to say that he could not accept that amendment, which was very 'similar to Amendment No. 63—again I quote from col. 128— because… it would entail going away from the basic structure of the Government's income support proposals, and, The amendment would lead us straight back to the present tangle of weekly additional requirements". I do not accept that. What this amendment proposes is not a tangle, and nor would it lead to tangles. There is no other proposal, so far as I know, to provide for weekly payments of this sort except possibly the amendment to be moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, Amendment No. 67, in case of urgent need. But that is a separate amendment and a separate argument, and one which I would support.

I can appreciate that the purists in Whitehall want to retain the immaculate state of their conception, but I would hope that the Ministers in both Houses would be rather more flexible. Surely the Minister, Mr Tony Newton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, must be able to depart from the purity of the Bill, as drafted, sufficiently to make a small exception of this nature in order to help this very small category of very severely disabled.

I was encouraged by what the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, said on Second Reading. This is what she said in column 602: On housing benefit subsidy and administration costs, we have demonstrated our willingness to be flexible without compromising the principles of our reforms". Well done! I wonder whether the noble Baroness would demonstrate the Government's willingness to be as flexible on income support as they have been on housing benefit. They can do so simply by accepting this amendment. It can always be altered when the implications have been assessed following the OPCS survey. Meanwhile, these very severely disabled cannot wait. I beg to move.

Baroness Faithfull

I rise to support the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, on this amendment. What concerns me is that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has said that it cannot cost much. That is true. But if this amendment is not accepted it is going to cost a lot to some other authorities; namely, the local authority social services and the local health service. The social services are simply going to have to accept into care the elderly, the handicapped or the children—and that is very costly; it is costly in forms of finance, but it is also costly in terms of happiness. Therefore, by not accepting this amendment one is going to shift the financial responsibility from the ministry to the local authority; and most local authorities have been rate-capped. Also, I think that I am right in saying that at least 90 per cent. of the social service departments in the country have had their estimates cut.

Therefore, where do we stand? The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has said that there are particular cases. I do not think that we have time to go through all these cases, but I would mention, for instance, the kidney cases. I would mention children in hospital and the problems which the National Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospitals experience with regard to children. I have received letters from doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital concerning children and the extra help that they need to keep them at home. Therefore, I support this amendment.

Lord Seebohm

I wish to intervene with a very few words. I cannot believe that the Government, in their new plans, really meant for these few people to slip through the net of care. To me, it is quite astonishing if that were so, particularly if it were for purely administrative reasons. It seems to go right against the whole policy of community care. I strongly support this amendment.

Lord Renton

I, too, support the amendment. I think that it is very necessary and, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, has pointed out, it cannot apply to large numbers of people. I am a little concerned as to the application of it. I want to make sure—and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, can help me—that it would apply to people who are living in a very small, established home of, say, half a dozen severely disabled people, some of them or all of them perhaps mentally handicapped. As parents die, the ordinary family home breaks up but the severely disabled people remain in that condition for the rest of their lives and will therefore have to live somewhere perhaps different from their original homes. Or their home maybe used—as we in the Royal Society for the Mentally Handicapped are hoping to use them, with suitable financial provision made—to enable others to come in.

I should like to be quite sure that, although the total numbers will not be increased, the community care addition which the noble Lord has in mind would apply in those circumstances—it is a home, in a sense, for it is a new kind of family—and that it would not be confined to the original family.

Lord Ennals

I should like to give total support to the amendment that has been proposed. I-think that the Government, when they introduced the Bill, probably had not reckoned that there would be this, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has said, small number of severely disabled people—disabled in one way or the other; mentally handicapped, mentally ill, physically handicapped—who would be worse off. In fact, it was said during the course of our Second Reading debate that the Bill would, in general, be greatly to the advantage of disabled people. I am not going to argue that at the moment.

I think that we are concerned about those who will suffer. The Government's proposals for income support will leave some claimants who now get supplementary benefit definitely worse off than they are at the present time. Some disabled, the ill and elderly people, rely on the range of additional payments paid with weekly supplementary benefit to maintain their independence in the community. I think an important point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, was that if they are not able to maintain their independence in the community that means a very much larger payment as well as very much less happiness, if they are admitted to a home of some sort. One sometimes forgets how many additional payments there are. There is the heating addition, the domestic needs addition, the laundry addition, the blindness addition, the bath addition, the dietary addition and additions for clothing needs. If you add all these together they can come to a significant sum.

I have one case, if I may give it, which shows just what can be the consequence. This person, a young lady, due to her disabilities, is confined to an electric wheelchair; she has very little strength or length of reach in her arms; she needs help with washing, dressing and using the toilet. She receives attendance allowance. Her present supplementary benefit weekly payment is as follows. If you add up the long-term rate, domestic care allowance and the diet, heating and bathing, minus the available scale margin, she is now receiving £89.90 a week. Under the income support proposals, unless this amendment is carried, she would receive a personal allowance of £24 and the disabled person's premium of £12.25, which is £36.25. That is considerably less than half.

I do not believe that your Lordships' Committee or the country as a whole would want to see severely disabled people put into such a situation where they really have no other alternative but to go into a home of some sort or another. As I have said, I believe that the Government had not quite recognised that this would be so. I think it is worth recalling that this amendment has been supported by the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People, by the Disablement Income Group, by the Disability Alliance, which brings together very many organisations like Mencap and MIND, the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, the Royal National Institute for the Blind and the Spastics Society. All those who actually know the needs of disabled people have indicated their support for this amendment.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Renton

Would the noble Lord care to add to his important list the Greater London Association for the Disabled?

Lord Ennals

I am very glad that the noble Lord intervened. That is quite right. If one listed the number of organisations dealing with particular disabilities, one would find an enormous spectrum of organisations who are absolutely united on this matter. It would be very sad if the Government did not recognise that for this small group of disabled people they should accept this amendment.

Lord Kilmarnock

We on these Benches should also like to support this amendment. Our name is not attached to it, simply because there is a convention of a limit of four names for the proposers of amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Ennals, has already mentioned the severe loss that will occur in one case, under the Government's proposals, from £89.90 down to £36.25 and there are a great many other cases which could be advanced. In one case, the loss could be from £74.70 down to £36.25; in another from £68.05 to £65.45—of course, they vary according to circumstances—and in another from £109.55 down to £81.10; in another from £44.47 to £36.25, and so on.

We want to see this very important amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in the human context, and I should like to read out very briefly a letter that I have had from a disabled lady, Mrs. Reardon, from Peckham. She writes as follows: Life is very expensive when you are disabled. Heating costs become much higher when you feel the cold. I believe that heating is one of the biggest worries for a disabled person. Many of us experience weight gain or loss; for instance, losing weight through illness, putting on weight through loss of mobility or taking steroids, or fluid gain … Clothes no longer fit and need complete replacement. Diet—if you are disabled you often need to follow a special diet of fresh fish, vegetables etc. which are more expensive than the normal diet. You need smaller quantities which cost much more. I believe that mobility allowance should be extended to include people over the age of 65"— that is a separate point. She goes on to say, If additional requirements are abolished, then many of us will lose a vital source of our weekly income for the above expenses and we will be discouraged from applying"— I imagine she means discouraged from applying for the new social fund. She continues: Many of us have a lot of pride and will go without to try and keep out of debt". That is the direct experience of a disabled person who is likely to be affected under the Bill as written.

One must agree also with the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, that if these gallant people are forced into residential accommodation the eventual cost to the state—that is to say, to all the rest of us—will be far greater. On all those grounds, I hope very much that the Government will see fit to accept the amendment.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I too should like to support this amendment most warmly. I find it very worrying that, as the Bill stands, it is those in greatest need who will be worse off under the new arrangements. I shall not give examples, but I should like to underline what the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, and other noble Lords and Baronesses, have said, that we are not talking about large numbers so this should make it easier, because it is cheaper, to find an acceptable solution.

As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has already remarked, the Government have said that they are concerned to find a solution. However, the trouble is that at the moment, as this Bill stands, there is none written into the Bill and this amendment is a possible way of resolving the problem. People are undoubtedly very worried. I was going to quote the remarks from the lady in Peckham, whose letter the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, has just read, so the Minister will be extremely glad that I can shorten my speech considerably.

I should like to add that it is acknowledged that, as the Bill stands, new beneficiaries who would have qualified for additional allowances will be worse off. But it is important to realise that those now receiving the highest additional payments will also very rapidly become worse off as the real value of their existing benefit declines. It is important to remember that the major additional payment is for domestic allowances—that is, wages—and the cost of wages is rising quicker than the cost of living, so that the decline will be particularly sharp. This is an important point.

Unless a solution is found, not only will some severely disabled people at present living in the community be forced into institutions, but it will be well nigh impossible for those trying to emerge from institutions, and to make their way in the community and live independent lives, ever to escape. I know that the Minister cares very much about the difficulties of those in greatest need, and I very much hope that she can accept this amendment, which would ensure that those problems are not exacerbated.

Baroness Lane-Fox

Because I know too much about the real need concerned in the situation referred to in this amendment, the easiest line for me to take would be to say, "Give us the money and go along with this amendment". Certainly, that is the way the many pages of propaganda that I have received urge me to vote. A high blanket payment looks very attractive in this matter, provided it is the best that the Government can do to meet the need. But 1 believe that there are matters which require more careful consideration, in order to sustain our policy to ensure that the most help goes to those in greatest need.

I see that if this amendment were adopted everyone who is severely disabled would receive this valuable extra payment, regardless of his or her own financial situation. As noble Lords know, severe disablement knows no barriers, and even the multi-millionaire is quite liable to be the victim of accident or virus that makes him very severely disabled. Under this amendment, he would be eligible to this extra payment regardless of his bank balance.

Maybe this is thought to smack of the dreaded words, "means test"; but my belief is that we want to find everyone in this category of severe disability who is trying to live on a small income and to make sure that he or she receives maximum help. Noble Lords can be sure that those who are dependent for regular physical assistance simply cannot afford to put more of a strain on personal relationships, by having to be subsidised by the members of their family or by running them into debt. Whatever resources there are for those fields should be channelled here.

As I understand it, the changes in these payments will not take place until next April. I hope that by that time more will have been learned about the actual circumstances of these most severe cases and decisions taken as to their entitlement. My hope is that if the better-off are excluded, the least affluent and the really hard-up will get very considerable help according to their circumstances. This is a method that requires close attention, and I consider that the overall payment for which the Committee is being asked to vote is not flexible enough to get the best deal which is needed, and which I believe all noble Lords wish to see going to the very severely disabled.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Baroness Trumpington)

I hope that I can put all noble Lords out of their misery. I can appreciate the concern which has been expressed by noble Lords in discussing this amendment. It is a concern which centres on the way in which the Government's proposals might affect disabled people. The Government too are conscious of the needs of chronically sick and disabled people, and it is no intention of ours to make difficulties for them. That is why we are confident that our proposals will help disabled people overall.

My honourable friend the Minister of State, when replying in another place to a debate on a similar amendment, described the important improvements that we are making in the provision for disabled people. I certainly do not want to bore the Committee by repeating what he said; but I feel that I should touch briefly on the matters about which he spoke so that we can consider this matter in the full context.

We propose that receipt of the qualifying benefit for the disablement premium will automatically passport the claimant to that premium. At present, someone who is chronically sick or disabled would have to demonstrate incapacity for work for a year before receiving the higher long-term rate of benefit. Even where we have retained a rule on the length of time that someone should demonstrate incapacity for work, this period is 28 weeks rather than one year. These improvements have managed to enable us to have an effect which, on the figures in the technical annex published with the White Paper, means that the great majority of disabled people would gain or would face no change as a result of these proposals.

However, before I turn, in particular, to the position of those now receiving the domestic assistance addition, I should like to make three general points. First, the Committee must remember that we have made clear that no one will suffer a reduction in income when we introduce income support as a result of that change. Our transitional arrangements will ensure that. Secondly, we have never made any secret of the fact that this particular aspect of the scheme might need reconsidering when the findings of the current survey of disabled people become available. We have launched the first major survey of this kind for nearly 20 years. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has already touched on this. Its results will feed through within a couple of years and if the survey suggests we should look again at the treatment of disabled people under income support, we shall certainly examine the matter.

Finally, we should not overlook the major issue implicit in the amendment; that is, the balance between the responsibility of the social security system and that of other statutory authorities in providing care and attention for disabled people. Community care policies are of course very much bound up with services to help maintain people in the community. Clearly we want to ensure that our social security policies are not seen as undermining wider community care objectives.

I appreciate that the substantial improvements for the great majority of people who receive a disability premium have not met the concern that has been expressed about the position of those who, with the help of the special additional payment for domestic assistance in the supplementary benefits scheme, are able to maintain themselves independently in the community. Before I come to comments which I hope will provide reassurance to the Committee, I should like to explain the present rules.

Under the present scheme payments can be made for assistance with domestic tasks. Essentially it is a payment to enable a care service to be provided, and as such is rather different in nature from other additional payments for claimants' direct expense needs. There are two important preconditions for payment. First, payments are made only if all the adult members of the family are unable—for example, because of disability—to carry out such domestic tasks. Secondly, payments can be made only for private domestic assistance. It cannot be given for a service provided by a local authority. Domestic assistance is of course provided also by local authorities in a range of different circumstances through the home help service or otherwise. As I have said, in considering the issue it is important to avoid solutions which could be seen as undermining or prejudicing local authority service responsibilities.

The supplementary benefit payments that can be made vary from relatively modest amounts—enough to pay for one or two hours of home help—to rather more extensive help for those who need continuing support where, exceptionally, someone needs to live in with the claimant, and the regulations provide for payments up to £47.20. As has been mentioned, the total number of people helped in this way is relatively small. Provisional data for the end of 1984—the latest available—shows just over 3,000 people receiving help. Generally, the amounts of help were modest. The average for all payments under this provision was less than £4.

However—and now we come to the group referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and other noble Lords—a small group is receiving extensive help. They are the very severely disabled people who after living in residental accommodation or being cared for by their parents are trying to live an indepen- dent life; or they may be people with similar severe disabilities who are already living independently but are able to do so only with the help of extensive support. Such people will often be getting a range of support through the social security system in the form of attendance allowance, the normal weekly scale rate and the domestic assistance addition from local authorities, and often also from a voluntary organisation which may have arranged for the care which the domestic assistance addition helps to fund.

We have all along made it clear that such people would not face a cash loss at the time of the change to income support, but I appreciate the concerns that have been expressed—first, that cash transitional protection could still mean people having difficulty in paying for the care; and, secondly, that in the longer term there should continue to be some special arrangements for helping very severely disabled people to live independently. With regard to the first concern, the Government have decided to improve transitional protection arrangements for the group of very severely disabled people receiving extensive help by way of the domestic assistance addition. For these people we will continue to pay the amount for the domestic assistance addition separately from, and on top of, any other transitional protection that is required. This will, I hope, provide sufficient recognition of the different nature of this addition. It will guarantee at the time of change that they will be able to pay for the considerable assistance they now get.

In addition, while the need continues we would be prepared to increase the amount at future up-ratings so that its value is maintained. This will apply subject only to reassessment if the wider consideration I shall come on to suggests a different and better way of carrying on support for this group of people. I believe that this statement will give the reassurance that they are seeking to those now receiving large payments for domestic assistance. With regard to future arrangements, our clear intention is to seek arrangements that will continue to play a part in supporting the independent life style of the type of severely disabled people who now get extensive domestic assistance additions.

The noble Lord, Lord Renton, asked the mover of the amendment about group money. The present help would be available to people living independently, including on group money, but only if there was no one fit and able in the household to do the domestic duties or the care was not provided by local authorities. Therefore it would not apply if local authorities did the providing. It is really a matter of independent living status.

I return to what I was saying before. I am sure the Committee will understand that if we are to continue to provide specific support, it makes sense to consider the subject afresh. It is not something we can pursue solely as a social security issue. There is a range of interests and agencies involved. We shall need to take that into account in considering how the group we are concerned with—those who need extensive support for independence—should be defined and assessed.

So far as social services are concerned, the Committee will recall that we have recently discussed the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Bill. The assessment of need that is proposed in the Bill for certain categories of disabled people is clearly relevant to considering the needs of the people we are discussing in this amendment. It may be that special arrangements will be needed for channelling the help. It is something we will wish to discuss with those involved—the service providers, both statutory and voluntary, as well as representatives of disabled people—before taking final decisions. This is not something we have to get in place immediately. Clearly, though, if we found a better way of providing help that could be implemented before 1988, that would not preclude earlier introduction. Similarly that may overtake the need for specific transitional protection for existing recipients. It is worth taking time to consider to ensure a secure solution for this exceptional issue.

We are committed to responding to the concern, and we will pursue the matter actively. It is not something that requires an amendment to this Bill. I trust that what I have said about protecting the position of present claimants and our future intentions will provide a positive reassurance to the Committee. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, not to press his amendment.

Baroness Jeger

Before the noble Baroness sits down, may I ask her to make one point clear? We were glad to hear her sympathetic words about transitional payments for people who are at present disabled, but it is not clear to some of us what is to happen to the newly disabled. Will the people at present getting benefits, who are to be protected by transitional benefits, receive more than a person who suddenly becomes disabled after the passage of this Bill?

Baroness Trumpington

No; the new claimants will also receive protection if they come into the category of those who are receiving protection now.

Baroness Faithfull

Before my noble friend sits down, may I ask whether the Association of Directors of Social Services have been consulted and their members feel that their departments are not going to have extra financial pressures put on them? May I also ask whether the local regional hospital boards equally support this amendment?

Baroness Trumpington

My noble friend clearly did not hear me when I said that if we found a better way of providing help that could be implemented we would not preclude earlier introduction. We are going to take our time discussing this, and I will certainly bring to the attention of my right honourable friend the point my noble friend mentioned.

Lord Renton

May I ask one more question arising from what my noble friend said on my query? She said that a small group home, or a person in a small group home, would not be eligible if the home was receiving help from a local authority. If it were a small group home run under the aegis of a charity, but without help from the local authority, would the provisions my noble friend has in mind enable anyone in that small group home to be eligible, or would they still be ruled out?

Baroness Trumpington

As I said, it is a matter of independent living status. If the person living in a small group home is looked after by people already under the local authority, as I said, they would not receive the—I think I had better write to my noble friend. However, to come back to new claimants, consideration of new arrangements will cover the new claimants but obviously not the transitional protection because they are not receiving transitional protection. We will be consulting on this whole matter.

Lord Ennals

May I ask one more question before the noble Baroness sits down? The noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, asked whether there had been consultation with local authorities. May I ask whether there has been consultation with the charitable organisations, on whom many of these people would have to fall back?

I had a meeting on Monday with 28 of the charitable organisations, some of which have a record going back over 100 years. They expressed great concern about this and also another part of the Bill, which I shall not mention now. They said that they simply did not have the funds to face any more demands upon them. Therefore, has the noble Baroness consulted such bodies as the Family Welfare Association, those bodies concerned with the elderly and those concerned with the disabled such as the Royal Institute for the Blind? All these organisations spoke in one voice and presented a petition to the Prime Minister. They are quiet charities but cannot see how they will cope with the problems that will be left.

Baroness Trumpington

At that time the charities were not aware of the statement I have made to your Lordships today. As many organisations as possible will shortly be consulted. I reiterate that transitional payments will make sure that nobody now in this situation will suffer any loss.

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

Can the noble Baroness tell us whether she is referring to the Statement that is to be made a little later or the statement she has just made?

Baroness Trumpington

I am sorry if I used words wrongly. I should have said the statement of our intentions when replying to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and others, concerning our intentions for this small group of people. I thought I made that quite clear.

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

Does the noble Baroness mean her brief in answer to the amendment and not the Statement we are to hear later?

Baroness Trumpington

That is so.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

I have great sympathy with the principle behind the amendment as I have always taken an active interest in disabled groups. We have had a most encouraging reply from my noble friend the Minister and I am sure that many who wish to support the amendment would encourage the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, not to press it on this occasion. I hope that something good comes out of the consultation.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I welcome the statement by the noble Baroness about domestic assistance allowance being granted separately for existing beneficiaries. I may be stupid about the new beneficiaries, but can the noble Baroness explain again? The noble Baroness said that something was going to be done, but is it to be done soon? I thought she said that the result of the survey was going to be known in two years.

Baroness Trumpington

This is quite different from the survey. I said that consideration of new arrange-ments will cover new claimants but not the transitional protection because they are new and are not losers under anything as the position stands; but new claimants will have consideration.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

But can the noble Baroness confirm that the new arrangements will start soon?

Baroness Trumpington

The new arrangements are for 1988, when the change to the income support begins.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

When the noble Baroness said that she would put us out of our misery I felt rather like a rabbit that had been shot and was about to be given a knock on the head. Indeed, having listened to her reply I feel that I have been put out of my misery in that sense. I am extremely grateful to the noble Baroness for what she said about the transitional provisions, and that is certainly an improvement: for that relief, much thanks. However, it does not go far enough because it does not apply to those who are newly disabled. I think it would concentrate the minds of the Government and enable them to come up with an amendment to the Bill if my amendment were carried. Therefore, I shall press my amendment.

3.58 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 63) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 116; No -Contents, 87.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

4.7 p.m.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I think that this may be a convenient moment to take the Statement. I therefore beg to move that the House do now resume.

House resumed.