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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 Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton 12:00 am, 17th June 1966

I do not wish to delay the House. We promised that we would let the Government get the Bill, and although the proceedings have been a little hurried at the end, this is a promise that we wish to honour.

We have had very useful and good debates. The proceedings on Monday and today showed that there was a great deal of substance in the debate. I only wish, as I am sure do hon. Members on both sides of the House, that we had had longer on the Bill, because although we have welcomed the Bill, it has fallen far short in many respects of many of our hopes. It has missed a great many opportunities. I do not blame the right hon. Lady for that. I know that she would have wished to go further but that in many respects she has been blocked by the Treasury. In many cases she would have probably have gone further had she had the money. I hope that this is the case, because although we have put forward many constructive suggestions, we have had to accept the assurance of her good intentions as to what would happen in the future. We are not blinded by her good intentions. I am sure that she will try to honour them. But we would have preferred them written into the Bill and made a definite responsibility upon future Governments and Parliaments.

Nevertheless, the Bill marks an important step forward. It is an important act of justice for those people who find that their resources are being constantly eroded in one way or another. It is an important act of justice for those to whom society as a whole bears a great deal of responsibility. It has also been an important step forward because it has marked a very responsible attitude on both sides of the House to a test of need. We all accept, whether we like it or not, that if we are to discharge our responsibilities in society in future we must have our priorities and we must ensure that we have a realistic test of need if we are to use our scarce resources to our best possible judgment.

There is much more that I should like to say, but I want the right hon. Lady to have the opportunity of a few words before we conclude the proceedings. Disappointed though we are, in that opportunities have been missed, we are glad that we have taken the Bill on to the Statute Book.