§ Mr. Wigley
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish a table comparing the level of child allowance payable to families with one to five children, respectively, in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, in equivalent £ sterling terms.
§ Mrs. Chalker
The monthly rates of child benefit or similar family benefits payable in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom as at 1 January 1980 are shown in the following table. The sterling equivalents have been obtained by applying the exchange rates current on 7 January.
Child allowances comprise only part of the varying provision made by each country for the support of families with children. Moreover, a meaningful comparison of allowances cannot be made taking into account the local cost of living—especially that affecting the maintenance of children—and other factors which vary from country to country, such as general wage levels, taxation and the extent to which other provision is made through free education, housing subsidies, medical care and ante- and post-natal welfare and advice services. Fluctuating exchange rates also distort comparisons.