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I beg to move Amendment No. 4, in page 21, line 4, to leave out paragraph 2.
This is a very mean provision. I was interested to hear the Minister say that she wants everyone to benefit as much as possible and that justice must clearly be seen to be done. With the cost of living always rising—we have heard today that there has been another increase recently—it is essential that any money due should be paid.
On Second Reading the right hon. Lady said this:
There are some modifications to the basic rule. First, should the deficiency of resources below requirements be less than 2s., no benefit is due. Most of us have had experience
of an old person making application to the National Assistance Board and getting a book of orders for 1s. a week. Most of us know the resentment, and sometimes the bitterness, which has been caused because of that. This will no longer obtain under the new rules."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May. 1966: Vol. 729 c. 341.]
I suggest that there was not any bitterness. I know a number of people who have received Is. a week. This amount is an enormous benefit to people in a very low income category. It can mean more gas. It can mean another bottle of milk. It can mean a loaf of bread. It can mean some soup. An old person can get to the butcher's and get some bones to make soup. It can mean potatoes. If 1s. is put in the gas meter an old person can be warm for an extra period during the day. It can give an old person sufficient hot water to fill up a hot water bottle.
Any money due to old people should be paid to them. If it is too difficult admistratively for small sums to be paid weekly under the new system, why should not old people have either a monthly or a quarterly voucher? This would give them a nice little nest egg. It is particularly mean that the Government should envisage depriving anybody of money to which he is entitled.
Persons who make application and who are granted only a small amount become known to the Board. We are told that the Board will visit these people. Circumstances change. It may be found on visiting them that their circumstances have changed and that they are entitled to an extra amount. This would be a double advantage of following my suggestion. By the very fact that officers were in contact with these people protection and security would be ensured. I hope that the Minister will agree to delete this paragraph and ensure that these individuals are given the money to which they are obviously entitled. If they are entitled to have it, however small the amount may be, they should have it. They should not be deprived of anything which is theirs by right.