§ Mr. Carter-Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has any proposals for replacing the present maternity grant by the backdating of the child benefit order book for each new-born child by an agreed number of weeks that would provide an equivalent benefit which is not dependent on a satisfactory national insurance contribution record; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Orme
No. For those who are entitled to maternity grant on the present contributory basis, what my hon. Friend suggests would be less flexible than the present system, which allows payment in advance of the birth. It would also mean that stillbirths, for which maternity grant can at present be paid, would not qualify. The gross cost of extending maternity grant, by whatever means, to all mothers is estimated, on the basis of figures for births and grants in recent years, to be of the order of £1 to £1.5 million a year.