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Schedule 2. — (Provisions for Determining Right to and Amount of Benefit.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Ministry of Social Security Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1966.

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Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth 12:00 am, 17th June 1966

I was a little distressed when the right hon. Lady the Minister said earlier that she wanted to get on with the Third Reading of the Bill. That means that whatever we say and whatever the subject of the Amendment which we may be discussing, whether we feel we have got a good case or not, the right hon. Lady has made up her mind that she is not going to accept any Amendments. Presumably if any Amendments were accepted we could not go on to the Third Reading of the Bill.

We may not move Amendments which are acceptable to the Government, but I think it is a little distressing from the point of view of the people whose cases we are arguing with such sincerity and knowledge, if we are told that the whole object of the exercise is to get on to the Third Reading of the Bill. I am certain that the right hon. Lady, for whom I have a great affection and admiration, did not intend to speak in that sense, but it is not a good thing in Committee suddenly to be told that we must get on with the Committee stage so that we can have the Third Reading today.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary's comments on the Amendment were, I thought, a little muddled. As I understood, one of the reasons why he did not want to accept the Amendment had something to do with computers. He added that if the present arrangements did not work out, perhaps an Amendment could be moved in another place. I should like to know what is going to happen about the computers in the time before the Bill reaches another place. Are we going to get the computers? Perhaps I was not being very intelligent, but I did not understand these remarks of the hon. Gentleman.

In any event, I wish to reinforce what my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) has said. Small amounts are tremendously important, but I am not at all pleased with the idea of half a crown a week for coal. This is a ridiculous arrangement. If we do not like small amounts, why give them?