asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to insist that local authorities implement the provisions of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, 1970; and what financial provision has been made for this purpose in the White Paper on Public Expenditure 1969–70 to 1974–75, Command Paper No. 4578.
Mr. Edward Taylor:
The Act does not give my right hon. Friend the power to instruct local authorities how its provisions should be implemented. He has, however, sent out several circulars to bring the requirements of the Act to the notice of local authorities, and offered guidance on them. He is also arranging to obtain from the authorities the information which they are required to supply under the provisions of the Act.
No specific additional provision needs to be made for local authorities' expenditure in implementing the Act, but I can give an assurance that, in approving building proposals, my right hon. Friend will take full account of expenditure required to meet the needs of the disabled.
Does not the hon. Gentleman recognise that when the Act was passed the previous Government in their Money Resolution undertook to underwrite all the financial burdens laid on the local authorities? Do the present Government stand by that undertaking, and will they engage in a publicity campaign on television and radio to make the estimated 250,000 seriously disabled people in Scotland aware of the provisions of the Act, about which the local authorities are doing very little?
The Government take the Act very seriously. In fairness, some of the provisions have been in force for less than three months. The fact that local authority expenditure on social services over the period concerned, as I have said previouly today, will increase by about 25 per cent., shows that local authorities have the money to expand their social services in this and other ways.
The Minister has rightly pointed out that Sections 1 and 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, 190 do not apply to Scotland. He will know that Section 1 lays upon local authorities the duty to have a register of disabled persons. Will he instruct Scottish local authorities to keep such a register?
The Social Work (Scotland) Act covers many of the provisions dealt with in these Sections. It is my intention that the services which we shall provide in Scotland will be no worse than in England.