HC Deb 26 June 1991 vol 193 cc469-70W
Mrs. Gorman

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will commission a study into the impact on incentives to work of providing demand–led cash benefits for families, where extra income is received with the addition of each new child.

Mr. Jack

The importance of work incentives was taken into account during the development of the 1988 social security reforms. The introduction of family credit—the income–related benefit for working families with children—and aligned benefits assessed on net rather than gross earnings improved incentives for low–income working families. These benefits take the number of children into consideration so there is no loss of incentive if the family increases in size. Now only a very small proportion of working families would be better off not working, and claiming income support.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

[holding answer 23 May 1991]: The figures, from 1974, are shown in the following table.

For more than 20 years it has been a policy of both Labour and Conservative Governments to rationalise the provision of beds in the NHS to take account of changes in medical practice. These changes have led to patients having shorter stays in hospital, for instance in maternity confinements. Furthermore, elective surgery is increasing being undertaken on a day case basis.

Bed numbers are no indication of the level of health care; rather, the crucial factor is the number of patients treated. Between 1979–90, the number of in–patients treated has risen by 36 per cent., compared with 6 per cent. between 1974–79, the number of out–patients rose by 28 per cent. compared with a fall of 3 per cent. between 1974–79 and the number of day cases has risen by 246 per cent. since 1979.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this question and I am sure that he will agree that it would be nonsense to base success in the NHS on a bed number rather than on quality of service promised to patients.