HC Deb 10 June 1985 vol 80 cc357-8W
Mr. Merchant

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give details of any special arrangements between his Department and Northern Gas for the supply of cookers at discount rates to recipients of supplementary benefit, indicating when such arrangements were made and why.

Mr. Whitney

In determining the level of payment to be awarded when a new cooker is to be provided, local offices of the Department normally contact suppliers in their area to obtain the range of prices at which suitable cookers are available locally. In seeking this information it is made clear that claimants will not be referred to one sole trader, and that within the price range determined by the local office, claimants will be free to locate the item for themselves.

It is for the commercial judgement of suppliers, including Northern Gas, to determine the price at which they are prepared to sell cookers: if any supplier chooses to sell cookers to supplementary benefit claimants at a discount that is for them to decide, and I understand that this is the case with Northern Gas.