HC Deb 18 July 1979 vol 970 cc735-6W
Mr. Robert Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions since the passing of the Supplementary Benefits Act 1976 his Department has applied for a contribution order against a person not paying adequate maintenance for his dependants.

Mrs. Chalker

Section 17 of the Supplementary Benefits Act 1976 provides that for the purposes of that Act a man shall be liable to maintain his wife and his children, and a woman her husband and her children. The Supplementary Benefits Commission can apply for an order against a liable person, under section 18 in respect of a husband/wife or legitimate child in respect of whom bene- fit is paid, and under section 19 for an affiliation order in respect of an illegitimate child. The Act came into operation on 15 November 1976. Statistics about legal proceedings against liable relatives are obtained on an annual basis. In 1977, 235 proceedings were taken under section 18–222 orders being obtained—and 266 under section 19–239 orders made. In 1978, there were 285 proceedings under section 18–264 orders being obtained—and 406 under section 19382 orders made.

In addition, criminal proceedings may be taken under section 25 of the Act against a person who persistently refuses or neglects to maintain his dependants for whom he is liable under section 17. A total 378 such proceedings were taken against liable relatives in 1977, and 409 in 1978.