§ Mr. Ashley
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received from voluntary organisations concerning implementation of the Social Security Act of 1986; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Major
The Social Security Act 1986 was passed by Parliament on 25 July 1986 after 230 hours of debate. The Act was the culmination of two and a half years of intense review and discussion.
Four thousand five hundred organisations and individuals accepted an invitation to comment. Nineteen public sessions were held by Ministers with 62 organisations and individuals contributing.
The Green Paper "Reform of Social Security" (Cmnd. 9518) received over 7,000 responses. Before and after publication of the subsequent White Paper (Cmnd. 9691) in December 1985 proposals were discussed with many welfare and voluntary organisations and representatives of industry (this included the Child Poverty Action Group, Age Concern, the Disablement Income Group, the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Confederation of British Industry and the Trade Union Council).
More recently Ministers have met representatives of the Child Poverty Action Group, National Council for One Parent Families, Age Concern, Youthaid, Cleveland Welfare Rights and the Union Coalition for Social Security to discuss specific issues. Discussions are currently under way with the local authority associations on draft housing benefit regulations; with the Association of County Councils on the Social fund and with major pension interests on changes relating to pensions.
Since the autumn of last year, Ministers have attended outside engagements or held meetings with many interested organisations. Examples of these are the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Child Poverty Action Group, the Spastic Society, Age Concern, the Personal Finance Editors Association, the Confederation of British Industry, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmens and Families Association and the National Association of Pension Funds.
We have received substantial, and diverse representations on the implementation of the legislation. The consultations we have fully entered into reflect the importance of the subject.