Family Poverty

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th August 1972.

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Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher , Oldham West 12:00 am, 8th August 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the achievements to date of his policies to alleviate family poverty; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I am not satisfied, but our measures have certainly provided substantial additional help to poor families and we shall not relax our efforts for further improvement.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher , Oldham West

Is the Secretary of State aware that last year stockbrokers took £300 million in profits and that shareholders with large unearned incomes got a £300 million tax gift from the Inland Revenue while poor families got precisely £7 million in family income supplement? When will the right hon. Gentleman have the courage and realism to admit that family income supplement is nothing but a means-tested con trick to salve weak Tory consciences?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

The two successive increases in the tax threshold which my right hon. Friend has introduced—first in 1971 and then in 1972—have put hundreds of millions of pounds back into the pockets of the lower wage earners and must be taken into account as the main contribution to help hard-pressed families. What the hon. Gentleman does not seem to realise is that the levels of tax today on the higher incomes are higher than in nearly any other country and that the confiscatory levels of tax on higher incomes which the Labour Government operated did not enable them to help the poor nearly as much as we are helping the poor.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

Is my right hon. Friend aware that where the family income supplement scheme is operating with a certain amount of success there have been a number of cases in which a very long delay has cropped up before an application is attended to? Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that applications for family income supplement are receiving and will receive more rapid attention?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

This is not a complaint that I have had often, and I hope my hon. Friend will send me details, because the centralisation of this service should provide a rapid response.