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Industrial Injuries and Diseases

Part of Orders of the Day — Social Security Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 20th May 1986.

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Photo of Charles Kennedy Charles Kennedy , Ross and Cromarty and Skye 5:45 pm, 20th May 1986

I support the amendment. I shall be brief in the hope that we shall reach amendment No. 210, on the abolition of reduced rate benefits.

The omens for Government flexibility are not high, judging by yesterday afternoon and evening, despite the high-mindedness displayed by the Secretary of State at the close of play last night, who said that he would look again at one item that concerned many hon. Members on both sides of the House. The Minister, perhaps uncharacteristically, was rather more hard-faced. To be fair to the Minister, he usually is fairly reasonable, but yesterday there was a certain smack of Tebbitry in the way in which he would not countenance the introduction of a special allowance for the severely disabled, who will lose as a result of the Bill, nor look at specific community care additions for them. I hope that a night's sleep has made him feel more reasonable.

We have heard that the savings to be made by this measure are in the region of £40 million to £50 million. Set in the context of the social security budget and of the scale of undertaking that will remain as long as we have any system of social security, and as long as the Government's policies persist, it is not a significant sum of money. However, the Government's arguments will no doubt be similar to those that they made against the case for the severely disabled last night—that even if the sums are not significant, the money goes to significant numbers of people. The categories who will lose as a result of this provision should be exempted, and that should be done by the Government thinking again. I hope that the Minister will show a little more compassion than he was able to show yesterday and will heed the pleas from both sides of the House. I hope that he will say that, even if he will not accept this amendment, he will give an undertaking to redress the injustices that are likely to result.