HC Deb 11 May 1971 vol 817 cc74-5W
Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) to what extent he estimates that expenditure will have to be increased in a calendar or financial year to increase all social welfare benefits to those now operating in each of the countries of the European Economic Community;

(2) whether he is aware that in each of the Common Market countries more is spent per person on social welfare than in Great Britain, and that family allowances and pensions are higher; whether he will give details as to how much increase would have to be made to harmonise these benefits between the countries of the Six after allowing for the differences in the cost of living; and whether he will consider doing this to assist Great Britain's entry into the European Economic Community.

Sir K. Joseph

Because of differences of scope and definition it is impossible to make valid comparisons of benefit levels, or to estimate the financial consequences of bringing our schemes into line with those of any of the Common Market countries. Changes in our social security benefit rates would not affect the negotiations for entry.