Disabled Persons

Oral Answers to Questions — Pensions and National Insurance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st August 1966.

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Photo of Hon. John Astor Hon. John Astor , Newbury 12:00 am, 1st August 1966

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance when she anticipates being able to introduce constant attendance allowance or other financial provision for severely disabled people living at home; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Paddington South

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether she will introduce legislation to secure a disablement pension for housewives and mothers working full-time in the home suffering from chronic sickness or disability.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

I have nothing to add to the replies which I gave to the hon. Members for Newbury (Mr. Astor) and for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) on 27th June.

Photo of Hon. John Astor Hon. John Astor , Newbury

Would the right hon. Lady give an assurance that, when the review is completed, she will give urgent priority to this group of disabled people, in spite of the present economic difficulties?

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we have not so far waited until the review was completed before bringing forward measures which have come from the review. As to priorities, there are many problems in this country at present, and priorities between one and another will have to be decided at the proper time.

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

Will the right hon. Lady admit that recent financial measures which have been taken, and the economic situation, have overtaken the situation and that the position of these people will be very difficult? Will she make certain that she acts as quickly as possible?

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

Certainly, as we have acted quickly on other things, we will act as quickly as possible on this. It is not the case at all that these people will be very seriously hit by the economic situation, since the Government are doing everything possible to protect them.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gray Mr Hugh Gray , Yarmouth

Is my right hon. Friend aware that National Assistance Board often allows only £3 to those looking after totally disabled and the mentally ill, whereas the cost in a public institution is at least £10 a week? Will she look into this?

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

The National Assistance Board has to take into account whatever income the person has. I know that they try to deal with these people as generously as possible, particularly with those single women who give up their work to look after ailing parents.

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (1) how many disabled persons in need of constant attention because of their disability receive no benefit from her Department apart from help from the National Assistance Board;

(2) how many disabled persons in need of constant attention because of their disability are receiving regular payments from the National Assistance Board.

Photo of Bernard Braine Bernard Braine , Essex South East

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (1) how many disabled persons in need of constant attention because of their disability receive no benefit from her Department, apart from help from the National Assistance Board;

(2) how many disabled persons in need of constant attention because of their disability are receiving regular payments from the National Assistance Board.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

I regret that this information is not available.

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

Will the right hon. Lady please ensure that we get a survey to find out these numbers and accept that when we are talking about the burden of work on her Department we are not making a political point, because we know that the staff in her Department are dedicated and work very hard? Is she aware, however, that this job needs doing and that she should make certain that this survey is carried out so that we know the numbers involved?

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

The hon. Lady will be aware that we have done the field work of the survey on larger families and that at present that is being analysed. I am very much aware of the problems these people have, and I assure her that much thought will be given to how best we can help them.

Photo of Bernard Braine Bernard Braine , Essex South East

Even if the numbers are not known, is it not an established fact that one in three of the permanently disabled and chronic sick in our hospitals could be sent home tomorrow if a realistic attendance allowance were paid? In view of this, and in view of the great savings that would result all round—and bearing in mind the humanitarian considerations as well—would not the right hon. Lady put a special review in hand to ascertain the true facts and the economies involved in this matter?

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

For some of the reasons I have given, it would at present be impossible to start any such review. However, I and the Government are just as concerned as anybody else to find out these facts. Indeed, we will want to know them before we can decide what we can do for these people.

Photo of Hon. John Astor Hon. John Astor , Newbury

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many severely disabled people requiring constant nursing or domestic care, other than war disabled service pensioners or persons in receipt of industrial injury benefits, are living in their own homes.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

I regret that this information is not available.

Photo of Hon. John Astor Hon. John Astor , Newbury

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that the number must be limited? Does she not agree that it must be a farily small number that if these people are enabled to live at home, and if those who are in hospitals are also enabled to live at home, it will result in a net reduction in cost to the nation?

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

It is possible that there might be a net reduction, but if we take into account what might be termed constant attendance allowance and the other help which local authorities would have to supply in such cases, it is not all that certain that there would be the great saving which many of us once thought. But certainly these are matters which we are taking into consideration.