HC Deb 22 July 1980 vol 989 cc206-7W
Mr. Jim Callaghan

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how the present rate of maternity grant in the United Kingdom compares with maternity grants in the other member countries of the EEC.

Mrs. Chalker

Not all members of the European Community provide a maternity grant. In those that do, the rates as at 1 January 1980 were as follows:

Belgium £
1st child 309.27
2nd child 213.31
each subsequent child 114.74
Germany 25.87
Ireland 7.63
United Kingdom 25.00

A series of pre-natal and post-natal lump-sum payments, subject to attendance at medical examinations, are payable in France and Luxembourg as follows: France—pre-natal—£46.06 + £92.13 + £69.09 post-natal—£136.09 + £68.05 + (only for second and each subsequent child) £207.28 Luxembourg—three payments each of £17305 (The sterling equivalents have all been obtained by applying the exchange rates current on 7 January 1980.)

For fuller details of the grants and the conditions on which they are awarded, the hon. Member may wish to refer to the Department's publication "Comparative Social Security Tables for Member States of the European Communities: position at 1 January 1979", a copy of which is in the Library of the House. The Department is in the course of preparing the January 1980 information for publication in a similar way.

Maternity grants comprise only part of the varying provision made by each country for the support of families with children. Moreover, a meaningful comparison of grants cannot be made without 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.