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Industrial Injuries and Diseases

Part of Orders of the Day — Social Security Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 20th May 1986.

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Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree 6:30 pm, 20th May 1986

My hon. Friend is right. That is one of the factors that the Government have in mind. Many of the claims that we suggest should no longer be met in the way that they were met in the past cost more to decide than the amount of benefit that is paid. That can best be illustrated by saying that compensation for disablement that is found to be less than 14 per cent., much of which is temporary rather than permanent, is about £400. I accept that that is an average and that, as with all averages, it disguises variations. However, it helps to put the matter in perspective.

It is important that the House should understand that we are trying to ensure that compensation continues to be paid for loss of earnings as distinct from disablement at every level of disablement. I accept that there is a net saving, along the lines mentioned by the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett), but for the severely disabled the proposals contain a significant improvement that can best be illustrated by saying that 3,700 severely disabled people in this scheme will gain up to £25 a week extra, provided that they have lost earnings.

The present rules mean that the severely disabled receive compensation for disability but that they are debarred from receiving compensation for loss of earnings. By making it possible for them to receive compensation for loss of earnings on top of the maximum amount of disablement pension, the most hard hit will receive an extra sum of up to £25 a week.

Another group of people who are more severely disabled than those to whom I have referred will also be assisted to a significant extent. About 3,500 people whose disablement is between 14 and 19 per cent. will have their disablement pensions rounded up to the 20 per cent. rate. They, too, will gain from the proposals. In both cases, they are more significanly disabled than those for whom we propose to cease paying compensation for disablement, but I emphasise that we shall continue to pay compensation for loss of earnings.