§ Mr. Brotherton
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether any of 677W the countries listed in his written answer, Official Report, 25:February, c. 476, pays automatic benefits to strikers and their dependants at a rate comparable to that in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Prentice
I am unable to give an authoritative reply, but I understand that in the countries listed, with the exception of Ireland and the United States of America, public assistance is not paid automatically to a striker or his family; it is paid only in exceptional circumstances where particular hardship is involved. In the Irish Republic, a striker cannot receive assistance for himself, but may claim for his wife and dependants. Entitlement is calculated on the basis of resources and requirements, with additions for each child and for any exceptional needs; assistance in kind may also be given. In the USA, public aid is provided for the children of strikers and may take the form of food stamps, medical assistance or general assistance. It is subject to a means test and a waiting period.
As my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Howell) on 25 February indicated—[Vol. 979, c. 476.]—restricted categories of striker may qualify for unemployment insurance benefit in Belgium and the USA. In Belgium, the rate is 60 per cent. of earnings (subject to a maximum); in the USA, the rate varies between states but is roughly 50 per cent. of earnings (subject to maxima and minima) and may be supplemented if there are dependants.