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Supplementary Benefit

– in the House of Commons at 10:14 pm on 23rd July 1986.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth 10:14 pm, 23rd July 1986

When the welfare state system was introduced following Beveridge, it was considered to be a wonderful thing for the country and was the envy of the world. However, it has become a monster, because it has become universal and not selective, and it is not always targeted on the low-income families. The Conservative party wants the money to reach those who are in genuine need.

In one hand I hold a letter from the social services department at Sheffield, and in the other—I can see the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) flinching — I have a leaflet published by the social services department at Oldham, part of which I represent.

Photo of Mr Terry Fields Mr Terry Fields , Liverpool Broadgreen

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order, When so many hon. Members have been sitting in the Chamber for hours waiting to participate in the debate, for the Government Front Bench, through Parliamentary Private Secretaries, to feed a Back Bencher with a brief when he has been here for only five minutes and others have waited for the past hour?

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that that is not a matter for the Chair. Besides, the debate only started at 9.26 pm.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth

How could it ever be alleged that I need feeding?

The leaflet from Oldham is paid for by ratepayers' money, to cream off taxpayers' money. If people are in need they should get help, but when they start to climb on to a gravy train, which uses a bottomless pit of money, there is no end to it. I shall explain the front cover of the leaflet. It says: Claim it while you can. It is printed in three colours, and we all know from our election addresses what thousands of copies of three-colour runs on superior quality paper will have cost the ratepayers of Oldham.

The leaflet says: If you get: supplementary benefit, supplementary pensions, housing benefit,"— do not leave it at that. Get the nose in the trough. It offers: cash help with laundry and baths, cash help with special diets"— I do not need those— cash help with clothing and shoes, cash help with baby things. I shall not go through the list, because other hon. Members wish to speak and I am a fair man.

There is a claim form for dozens and dozens of items, listed on both sides, asking whether one needs this, that or the other. A woman can go into the DHSS and say, "Last night I lost all the clothing off my washing line except for one pair of knickers." The DHSS officer will say, "We cannot have this. We must replace all the other items of clothing. Let her have"— I cannot go through the list because I would be embarrassed, but the woman can get many items of clothing, and if she has a hole in her pullover, she can have a new one.

I may have made my point in a good-humoured way, but this is a serious problem. We are the custodians of taxpayers' money. We have to use it in a sensible way. We are not in business to feed Socialism. Let me explain what I mean by that. It is no coincidence that most of the Opposition Members who are in the Chamber have constituencies in inner city areas. Many of their constituents enjoy rent and rate rebates and are provided with free glasses, free prescriptions and all kinds of other free benefits. They do not mind if the Labour party inspires this kind of literature. Why do they not mind? They do not mind because it is free. If they feel that they can get something free from the Government and from the ratepayers, they will continue to vote for those people. That was the downfall of Liverpool.

The Labour party has cottoned on to the fact that the people who vote for them want more and more money for things that they do not need and to which in many cases they are not entitled. That is what the Socialist party is up to, and that shame has to be exposed. I shall tell you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, why it has to be exposed. Industry, small shopkeepers and commerce pay the bulk of the rates and the bulk of the tax. Furthermore, the people who live in the outer suburbs, in constituencies such as mine, pay high taxes and high rates, and they see their hard-earned money being shovelled into a welfare state system that has become universal and not selective in helping those who are really in need.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood , Roxburgh and Berwickshire

Is the hon. Gentleman able to say what proportion of the total social security budget constitutes single payments?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth

It happens to be £400 million.

Does the House realise that what this Conservative Government are doing will not win local government elections or by-elections? However, they have had the guts to do something that is very much required in this country, because our welfare state system has run wild.

We want those who are really in need to be given help. That is why all our thinking is closely targeted on low-income families. We shall look after them. We are no longer prepared to tolerate a gravy train from which people demand things to which they are not entitled and which they do not even need. That is why we are taking these measures, and that has to be right. We must help those in need, but we must not be ripped off by those who do not need help.

Photo of Mr Robert Clay Mr Robert Clay , Sunderland North 10:23 pm, 23rd July 1986

Although we have heard such repulsive garbage from Conservative Members, we have not yet been given a single example of a claim that should not have been allowed. The Minister for Social Security had his colleagues rolling about in mirth when he referred to an individual who had lost a large amount of clothing. It was an interesting example for the Minister to quote. When the Foreign Secretary was Chancellor of the Exchequer he managed to lose a pair of trousers on a train, presumably when he was travelling first class. Therefore, it ill becomes Conservative Members to crack jokes about people losing clothes.

When the Minister referred to the Strathclyde check list, I thought that the most interesting and important part of that story was the letter that the claimant later wrote in which she said that she needed some of those items. Had the social worker not called, it is possible that those items which were needed and to which that person was entitled would not have been received. That is the most important moral to draw from that particular tale.

I should like to cite not the most overwhelming case for the need for single payments but an important and comprehensive one. If a family that has nothing and has been in some kind of residential social services home for a year or more — I have one such home in my constituency, in accommodation run partly by Dr. Barnardo's and partly by the social services—comes out of that accommodation with nothing, it no doubt horrifies Government Members to know that there is a general understanding with local DHSS offices that that family can get £800 by way of a single payment. Government Members will say that is shocking, but I should like one of them to explain how he would equip a house with furniture, carpets and curtains and with every other thing it needs for £800.

Photo of Mr Robert Clay Mr Robert Clay , Sunderland North

No, I will not give way. We have heard quite enough garbage and filth from the Government side without the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) joining in as well.

Photo of Mr Robert Clay Mr Robert Clay , Sunderland North

I am not giving way: the hon. Lady is wasting time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. The hon. Lady can see that the hon. Gentleman is not giving way.

Photo of Mr Robert Clay Mr Robert Clay , Sunderland North

That is one serious example and the Government have perpetrated a deceit in this matter because we hear how much the figures have gone up. Those figures represent claims that are paid. We hear lots of jokes about claims that perhaps should not have been made and about little bits of, perhaps, fraud here and there. The money paid out in claims was needed. The Government have not explained why the amounts have increased. We have just had a lot of hysteria about fraud. The only explanation that we have heard is that people are getting things they do not need. There has not been a word about the fact that perhaps, if a claimant has been unemployed for two or three months, it is unlikely that such a person will need new clothes in that time and the number of people having babies in a two or three-month period of unemployment may be low, but when people have been unemployed for two or three years and when over 100,000 people have been unemployed for over five years and with the percentage of the long-term unemployed going up, that is bound to give rise to claims and explains the rise in the need for single payments.

I defend the advice and welfare rights centres that have been so much abused. My local DHSS staff tell me that they are a godsend even though they have a backlog. They say that those advice centres do a lot of the work that the DHSS should be doing. They are not encouraging people to make claims willy-nilly; they are explaining to people what they are and are not entitled to and how to claim and how much money they are likely to receive. If all the people who use those centres had to go to the DHSS for long interviews, there would be ever more pressure on a system that is nearly breaking down as it is. The DHSS should fund those advice centres for the good and effective work they are doing on behalf of the DHSS.

A matter that has not been mentioned sufficiently in the debates is the danger that exists following the withdrawal of many of these single payments. I shall give an example from the borough of Lewisham, where I stay when I am in London. In 1985, Lewisham council tested seven second-hand cookers on sale in its area through secondhand dealers. Every one of them failed the safety regulations and the condition of one was deadly. The local DHSS and the gas and electricity boards subsequently reached an agreement that, because there were obviously no safe second-hand cookers on the market, single payments would be made for new items at the cheapest available price, £225. I dare say that all Government Members always make sure when they buy a cooker that they buy a new one, but they expect claimants to get second-hand ones that blow up and kill them or burn them.

It is an interesting admission to hear Government Members say it is shocking that claimants should have new cookers rather than buy second-hand ones that are unsafe. The likelihood, not that claimants are being forced to buy second-hand cookers, is that traders will cash in and ask ludicrous prices for them. But that is all the DHSS will supply because it will not pay for new cookers and the dangers will increase. There are many other examples, quite apart from cookers. The restriction in single payments will cause not only further poverty and hunger and lead to people freezing because they cannot afford the clothes they need; it will also cause real physical danger. There will be more fires and explosions and more poisoned water. The Government should be ashamed of themselves, not only for what they are doing but for the despicable way in which Government Members have uttered filth and garbage from the sewers of the 19th century rather than make out any sort of case.

Photo of Mr Anthony Favell Mr Anthony Favell , Stockport 10:29 pm, 23rd July 1986

As I put it to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), it is clear that a campaign has been orchestrated by the Labour party to flood the single payment system. It is nonsense for the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Clay) to suggest that the notices have just been sent to people who recently came out of homes. They have been sent to every pensioner and person in receipt of housing benefit throughout my borough of Stockport, without exception. Now that the Labour party has been exposed, it is embarrassed. The single payment system causes a great deal of annoyance to the low-paid hard-working people who pay taxes. It causes them enormous resentment, and rightly so.

I recently came across two families living in terraced houses subject to a compulsory purchase order. One was occupied by a widow with two young children who was working and got no supplementary benefit. She was obliged to move and buy a second-hand cooker and second-hand carpets and curtains for her new home.

Next door was a family of four, none of whom was working, was doing any training or was making any effort to get a job and, my goodness, did they scoop the pool? They got a brand-new home, while the widow who had scrimped and saved for years in the most extraordinarily difficult circumstances had to go round the second-hand shops. She resented that, and there are many others in the same position.

Most people, when they need clothing, furniture, carpets or curtains, have to save. [Interruption.] Me too. The sooner the social fund comes in, the better. Then people who receive single payments will have loans and repay them. That is fair.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West, who has unfortunately left his seat, said that anyone who was unemployed could not afford to pay for something which at the moment is subject to a single payment. That is patent nonsense. Millions of people during the summer of this year saw people going to Mexico with, emblazoned across their chest, "We're here thanks to the DHSS". [Interruption.] They were bragging that they were there as a result of the welfare benefit system. [Interruption.] Good luck to them. If they can manage to save to go to the World Cup in Mexico, good luck to them. But if they can save to go to Mexico, they can save to buy a hot water bottle. The sooner the regulations are introduced the better.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West 10:32 pm, 23rd July 1986

We have before us tonight a Government who are presiding over record poverty. There are 7 million people in Britain living at or below the official poverty level. Earlier tonight the Government steam-rollered through the House a Bill which is designed to rob the poor of what little they have. These regulations are designed to take £100 million away from the poorest people in Britain and they are being steam-rollered through the House for the interim period between now and when the measures that we agreed earlier tonight come into effect.

As a result of the Social Security Bill, 19,000 households in my constituency will have their incomes cut. Of those, 2,700 households will have their incomes cut by more than £5 a week. The regulations will deprive already seriously disadvantaged and deprived people of essential help to enable them to survive. The Minister, who used to have a reputation as a liberal and a progressive, has treated us over so many months to a litany of measures designed to make the poor poorer and the rich richer that he lost his reputation long ago.

On the Jimmy Young programme this week, the Minister sought to justify these measures in very honeyed tones. We had the same story as he has given tonight about the check list. But he told his listeners that Members of Parliament were very lucky to have an opportunity to debate these regulations. He told them that there was no need to have a debate at all, because the new provisions would come into force on 11 August. He implied that it was only through his generosity that we would have an opportunity to debate the regulations—albeit for only an hour and a half.

This must be one of the most squalid, mean and nasty measures that this squalid, mean and nasty Government have taken since coming to office in 1979. The Minister gave the impression tonight that the regulations were being introduced because there had been an avalanche of single payments claims, and they were somehow preventing those in real need from receiving help. Listening to him, anyone would think that to obtain a single payment one had to be on supplementary benefit, and have less than £500 in the bank. We are dealing with people who have been unemployed for years in my constituency.

Things wear out and have to be replaced. Household items cost a lot of money. But the sort of household items that we are talking about do not cost as much as the items that Conservative Members consider to be essential. The hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Favell) has many interests and incomes. Some Conservative Members have two or three jobs.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) has a swimming pool. I am sure that she is not in any great need of a single payment.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

The hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Favell) is a hypocrite.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) must contain himself.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

The Minister used to have a reputation as a progressive, but he should be deeply ashamed of this measure and of the way in which he is exploiting those who wish to claim their rights. They are entitled to those things. He has chosen to put the blame on welfare rights advisers who merely help the poor to obtain what is theirs by right. He does not care about the tax advisers or tax avoidance schemes that exist to help very rich people to obtain even more money. They do not need or deserve it, yet it is supplied at the taxpayers' expense.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. The Minister knows that the hon. Gentleman is not giving way.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

This disgraceful measure will rob the poor of help to which they legally have a right in order to obtain the things to which they are entitled. Those things make their meagre, mean lives a little better. We are dealing not with those who can stand on their own feet and look after themselves, but with those who need and deserve help. They need these things and are legally entitled to claim them.

We shall vote against the regulations. We shall be beaten, but the verdict on this Government will be given at the next general election. We will have the political commitment to ensure that the poor of this country are given the resources that they need to climb out of poverty. We will reduce poverty and reform the social security system. At present social security workers are deeply ashamed of the inadequate service that they can give to the poor of this country. We shall give those workers the resources and the political support and commitment to tackle the poverty that the Government have created, which will be made worse as a result of these regulations.

Photo of Mr Michael Stern Mr Michael Stern , Bristol North West 10:40 pm, 23rd July 1986

I shall be brief, because I am conscious of the time. I shall try to deliver my speech at a slightly lower level of synthetic indignation than did my predecessor, the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden).

It seems that two issues have not been emphasised adequately. The Opposition have rightly argued that there is a comparison — [Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) will shut up for a change. There is a comparison between tax reliefs, which are available, and payments under the regulations. The Opposition have made the comparison time and time again in many different ways. In both instances, payments are made as a matter of right. The Opposition have not said that where the right of tax relief has been abused or has become too expensive, no Government have ever refrained from stopping or limiting it. Why, therefore— —

Photo of Nick Raynsford Nick Raynsford , Fulham

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Michael Stern Mr Michael Stern , Bristol North West

No, I shall not give way. I have only one minute in which to complete my remarks.

Why do the Opposition object when exactly the same position is taken on a system which is so clearly being abused to the extent that, in the words of the famous leaflet, it can be treated only as a closing down sale?

Photo of Mr Michael Stern Mr Michael Stern , Bristol North West

The Opposition use their social and welfare rights arguments when talking about claimants. They do not talk to the people next door to the claimants who are extremely resentful that they are working for a living and living at a lower level than those who are living off the state. Until they understand that, they will never understand why a Conservative Government are governing the country.

Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett Shadow Minister (Social Security) 10:42 pm, 23rd July 1986

This has been an extraordinary debate. The Minister has sought to argue that the regulations are necessary because the numbers and costs of the payments being made have increased so much. He implied this evening, as he did on Monday, that this is due almost entirely to fraud. In an effort to justify what is a contemptuous allegation, he endorsed the suggestion that payments should be made for unforeseen needs only. That has been the tenor of the remarks of Conservative Members. That is not the law, and it will not be the law even when the regulations are passed tonight.

The Minister justified his insinuations by saying that weekly benefit levels have risen under the Government and that need cannot, therefore, have increased. He must be aware, though I fear that many of his hon. Friends are not, that the long-term unemployed remain on the short-term rate of benefit until they are 60, drawing over £12 a week below the income that is considered adequate for any other group drawing benefit for longer than a year. How can the Minister say that in those circumstances need cannot have increased? We know that the number of long-term unemployed increases and the length of their unemployment increases with every year that the Government remain in office.

The smugness of the speeches of Conservative Members has been intolerable. The hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Favell), who does not even have the courtesy to listen to the speeches of Opposition Members, suggested that claimants should save from their weekly benefit. Does he think that he could save to buy or to replace, in the terms of the regulations, carpets, tables, chairs and wardrobes from £29·80 a week, which is what a single person has to live on, apart from his housing cover? Could he raise the money if he were trying to keep himself and his wife on £48·40 which is what an unemployed couple receive? It is contemptible talk—

Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett Shadow Minister (Social Security)

No, I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. It is contemptible to talk about people saving from sums of the sort that I have mentioned. Even before the unemployed reach the stage of claiming supplementary benefit, the Government have removed the payment to which they used to be entitled. The abolition of the earnings-related supplement means that a single man is nearly £20 a week worse off than he was when the Government came to power. It is grossly misleading to imply, as the Minister did in his statement on Monday and in his speech this evening, that the unemployed are better off than they were.

It seems that the Government object strongly to take-up campaigns. On Monday the Minister took credit for the improved advice services that his Department is offering, but apparently an improved advice service is acceptable only as long as nobody takes the advice. He argued at length tonight about the intolerable burden that welfare rights campaigns have imposed on staff in the context of the regulations. Most of his hon. Friends seem to swallow that argument because they are too ill-informed to realise that the announcement that the Government proposed to reduce and remove the grants in the social fund and pave the way for that by the regulations created those campaigns. The regulations are not following the campaigns; they initiated them. They are the cause of the very thing about which the Minister has been complaining.

On Monday the Minister assured one of his hon. Friends, who was worried about insulation grants, that they will not be affected by the regulations that we are discussing tonight. That is good, and of course we are pleased about that. but what it means is that those who can get a grant at all will he able to have a well insulated room with a bed, a cooker and a heater, but no curtains, no carpet, no cupboards, no chairs, no tables, no cooking utensils, no plates, no towels, and so on —[Interruption.] Conservative Members do not even know what is in the regulations. Those people cannot have those things, except what they can buy from £75 for a single person, or the princely sum of £125 for a couple. Not long ago we all saw a little story in the paper about the Prime Minister taking a special outing to somewhere in Chelsea to buy lamps for her new home. I wonder how much change she got out of £75.

I am well aware that some Conservative Members will argue that £75 or even £125 is a great deal of money, but if they compare it with the Government's own list of published costings— not exactly generous in themselves — they will see that the Government expect one to be able to get a vacuum cleaner for about £35 or a washing machine for £100. If they compare that with the £75 or £125 for a couple, which is supposed to provide for all their other needs, they may begin to understand how inadequate the measures are.

This is a contemptible measure. Conservative Members have sought to justify it by a series of contemptible speeches. They have reminded us vividly in the debate that the Conservative party stands for wealth, privilege and greed, and does not care who it stands on.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree 10:47 pm, 23rd July 1986

Perhaps my role at this stage might sensibly be to cool down some of the things that have been said in the debate, which has led to a good deal of extraordinary language, including some of the things said by the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) and others, from which it has to be understood that his conclusion is that to be liberal and progressive — to attach the adjectives that he attached to me in some former incarnation—one has to be willing to preside over a degree of manifest abuse of the social security system, which is militating against the interests not just of the taxpayer, but of serious, sensible claimants throughout the country. That is the point—

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

I shall tell the House frankly that I have never seen anything liberal or progressive, or indeed sensible or capable of any other reasonable label, about allowing abuse in a system — [HoN. MEMBERS: "Prove it."]— that already does too little to ensure fairness between those who are on benefit and those who are in low-paid work but not on benefit.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) asked what we were doing about our worries about the unfairness of the present system towards some of the people who are not on benefit. He knows what we are doing. We propose to introduce a family credit which will double the amount going to such families, and that will significantly improve the position.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Gentleman must address the House. He should not turn his back on the Chair.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

I apologise, Mr. Speaker. I do not wish to turn my back on you. I wish to turn my face to the Opposition Front Bench and ask a question which the Opposition never answer. In all this rhetoric, are the Opposition saying that they will restore any reductions and restrictions in single payments? Will that produce another bill from the shadow Chancellor?

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I shall give the Minister an answer if he wants one. The causes of the huge rise in single payments are the continuing enormous rise in unemployment, the rapid growth in long-term claimants whose needs are greatest and the inadequate rate of weekly benefit. Our answer is not to tackle the symptoms but to tackle the cause by reducing unemployment by 1 million in two years. That is the real answer. [Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I remind the House that we are debating a prayer, and prayer time for me was always a quiet time.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

The hon. Member for Oldham, West has given his answer at considerable length and that answer was no. He is not going to restore the consequences of the restrictions that we are proposing. At the end of the day, the reason why the hon. Gentleman will not restore the cuts is that he knows that, if he were a Minister, he would have to act on these problems to protect the sensible working of the social security system.

Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett Shadow Minister (Social Security)

I should like to remind the Minister that only a few days ago my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) reminded him that one of our three priorities is to give the unemployed the long-term rate of benefit. They would get an immediate increase of £12 a week from a Labour Government. Is the Minister going to match that?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

That is very interesting. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Answer."] The last time I did to the hon. Member for Oldham, West what I have just done, was during the debate a week or so ago when the hon. Gentleman was banging on about the £3·6 billion that he was going to spend and I said that as far as I could see it would be £3·6 billion, instead of £5·;6 billion, only if he took all the money back from those on supplementary benefit and housing benefit, leaving those people no better off than they were before. I did not get an answer to that point either. Perhaps we should have some answers from the Opposition, because we no longer know whether the Opposition will have £5 billion, £10 billion or £20 billion.

It is absolutely clear that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) does not have the foggiest notion what the figure is and he is frightened silly by the hon. Member for Oldham, West coming to the House night after night making further promises to spend money.

The non-answer from the hon. Member for Oldham, West tonight reveals clearly that the proposal is sensible, reasonable and necessary, and I rest my case.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

Although the Minister has given way, he has not at any time during the course of his various rants and rambles said whether there is firm evidence of abuse of single payments. He made many claims, but he did not say that there had been any abuse. I have sat through the debate and did not hear the Minister say that.

Many people have been forced into poverty by Government policies, and because they have turned up and claimed their rights and because so many people are now in poverty, the Government have said that they will change the system and take their rights away from them.

It is strange that the Minister, who has given the House a series of anecdotes, has never been able to show that there has been abuse. All that he has said is that there has been a great deal of pressure on the system. Of course there has; it has been brought about by the economic and social policies of this Government, who have created so much poverty—

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

And the cuts in staff.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

And the cuts in staff, as my hon. Friend says. So the Minister is changing—

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

So the Minister is changing the system—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Lady can see that the hon. Gentleman is not giving way.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

It is obscene that here we have a bunch of well-fed, contented Tory Members, many of whom turned up late for this debate, screaming abuse at welfare rights organisations which have simply pointed out to individuals that to which they are entitled. We have heard no complaints about income tax payers claiming the rights that the Government extend to them. They can afford to employ expensive tax accountants and lawyers to tell them what they can claim. I have not heard the Government say that, because people are claiming those tax benefits, they must be changed. I have not heard the Government say that, because so many people get mortgage interest relief, they will abolish it, too.

We are talking about people thrust into poverty by the Government's policies claiming what is theirs by right, and the Government—

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. SPEAKER put the Question pursuant to order [22 July].

The House divided: Ayes 179, Noes 233.

Division No. 278][10.56 pm
AYES
Alton, DavidField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Anderson, DonaldFields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterFisher, Mark
Ashdown, PaddyFlannery, Martin
Ashley, Rt Hon JackFoot, Rt Hon Michael
Ashton, JoeForrester, John
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Foster, Derek
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Foulkes, George
Barnett, GuyFraser, J. (Norwood)
Barron, KevinFreeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Beckett, Mrs MargaretFreud, Clement
Beith, A. J.Garrett, W. E.
Bell, StuartGodman, Dr Norman
Benn, Rt Hon TonyGolding, Mrs Llin
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Gourlay, Harry
Bermingham, GeraldHamilton, James (M'well N)
Blair, AnthonyHamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Boothroyd, Miss BettyHancock, Michael
Boyes, RolandHardy, Peter
Bray, Dr JeremyHarman, Ms Harriet
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Buchan, NormanHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Caborn, RichardHeffer, Eric S.
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Campbell-Savours, DaleHolland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Carter-Jones, LewisHome Robertson, John
Cartwright, JohnHoyle, Douglas
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham)
Clarke, ThomasHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clay, RobertHughes, Roy (Newport East)
Clelland, David GordonHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnJanner, Hon Greville
Coleman, DonaldJohn, Brynmor
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Johnston, Sir Russell
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Corbett, RobinKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Corbyn, JeremyKirkwood, Archy
Craigen, J. M.Lambie, David
Crowther, StanLamond, James
Cunliffe, LawrenceLeadbitter, Ted
Dalyell, TamLeighton, Ronald
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)Litherland, Robert
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)Livsey, Richard
Deakins, EricLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dewar, DonaldLofthouse, Geoffrey
Dixon, DonaldLoyden, Edward
Dobson, FrankMcDonald, Dr Oonagh
Dormand, JackMcKelvey, William
Douglas, DickMaclennan, Robert
Dubs, AlfredMcTaggart, Robert
Duffy, A. E. P.Madden, Max
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.Marek, Dr John
Eadie, AlexMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Eastham, KenMartin, Michael
Evans, John (St. Helens N)Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Ewing, HarryMaynard, Miss Joan
Fatchett, DerekMeacher, Michael
Meadowcroft, MichaelShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Michie, WilliamShort, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Mikardo, IanSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Millan, Rt Hon BruceSkinner, Dennis
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Smith, C.(lsl'ton S & F'bury)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Nellist, DavidSnape, Peter
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonSoley, Clive
O'Brien, WilliamSpearing, Nigel
O'Neill, MartinStewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyStott, Roger
Owen, Rt Hon Dr DavidStrang, Gavin
Park, GeorgeStraw, Jack
Parry, RobertThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Patchett, TerryThompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Pavitt, LaurieThorne, Stan (Preston)
Pendry, TomTinn, James
Penhaligon, DavidTorney, Tom
Pike, PeterWainwright, R.
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Raynsford, NickWareing, Robert
Redmond, MartinWelsh, Michael
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)Wigley, Dafydd
Richardson, Ms JoWilliams, Rt Hon A.
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)Wilson, Gordon
Rogers, AllanWinnick, David
Rooker, J. W.Woodall, Alec
Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)Young, David (Bolton SE)
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Rowlands, TedTellers for the Ayes:
Sedgemore, BrianMr. Allen McKay and
Shields, Mrs ElizabethMr. John McWilliam.
Shore, Rt Hon Peter
NOES
Aitken, JonathanChope, Christopher
Alexander, RichardClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Amess, DavidClarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Ancram, MichaelClegg, Sir Walter
Ashby, DavidColvin, Michael
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.Coombs, Simon
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Cope, John
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Corrie, John
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Couchman, James
Baldry, TonyCranborne, Viscount
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Crouch, David
Batiste, SpencerCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyDickens, Geoffrey
Bellingham, HenryDorrell, Stephen
Bendall, VivianDouglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Benyon, WilliamDover, Den
Bevan, David GilroyDunn, Robert
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnDurant, Tony
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnDykes, Hugh
Blackburn, JohnEggar, Tim
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterEvennett, David
Bonsor, Sir NicholasEyre, Sir Reginald
Boscawen, Hon RobertFairbairn, Nicholas
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaFarr, Sir John
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Favell, Anthony
Boyson, Dr RhodesFinsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bright, GrahamFletcher, Alexander
Brinton, TimFookes, Miss Janet
Brooke, Hon PeterForman, Nigel
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bryan, Sir PaulForth, Eric
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Buck, Sir AntonyFox, Sir Marcus
Budgen, NickFranks, Cecil
Bulmer, EsmondFraser, Peter (Angus East)
Burt, AlistairFreeman, Roger
Butler, Rt Hon Sir AdamFry, Peter
Butterfill, JohnGale, Roger
Carlisle, John (Luton N)Galley, Roy
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Carttiss, MichaelGardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Cash, WilliamGarel-Jones, Tristan
Chalker, Mrs LyndaGlyn, Dr Alan
Chapman, SydneyGoodhart, Sir Philip
Goodlad, AlastairMaude, Hon Francis
Gow, IanMawhinney, Dr Brian
Gower, Sir RaymondMayhew, Sir Patrick
Grant, Sir AnthonyMerchant, Piers
Greenway, HarryMeyer, Sir Anthony
Gregory, ConalMiller, Hal (B'grove)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Miscampbell, Norman
Ground, PatrickMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Grylls, MichaelMoate, Roger
Gummer, Rt Hon John SMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Moynihan, Hon C.
Hampson, Dr KeithMurphy, Christopher
Hannam, JohnNeale, Gerrard
Hargreaves, KennethNeedham, Richard
Harris, DavidNeubert, Michael
Haselhurst, AlanNewton, Tony
Havers, Rt Hon Sir MichaelNicholls, Patrick
Hawkins, C. (High Peak)Norris, Steven
Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)Onslow, Cranley
Hawksley, WarrenOppenheim, Phillip
Hayes, J.Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Hayhoe, Rt Hon BarneyOsborn, Sir John
Hayward, RobertOttaway, Richard
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidPage, Sir John (Harrow W)
Heddle, JohnPage, Richard (Herts SW)
Hickmet, RichardPatten, Christopher (Bath)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)
Hill, JamesPawsey, James
Hind, KennethPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hirst, MichaelPercival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Porter, Barry
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)Portillo. Michael
Hordern, Sir PeterPowley, John
Howard, MichaelPrice, Sir David
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Proctor, K. Harvey
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)Raffan, Keith
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jenkin, Rt Hon PatrickRidsdale, Sir Julian
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRoe, Mrs Marion
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Rossi, Sir Hugh
Jones, Robert (Herts W)Rost, Peter
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelSainsbury, Hon Timothy
Kershaw, Sir AnthonySkeet, Sir Trevor
Key, RobertSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
King, Roger (B'ham N'field)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
King, Rt Hon TomSoames, Hon Nicholas
Knight, Greg (Derby N)Steen, Anthony
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Stern, Michael
Lang, IanStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Lawler, GeoffreyTaylor, John (Solihull)
Lawrence, IvanTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Lee, John (Pendle)Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Lester, JimThurnham, Peter
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Lightbown, DavidTrippier, David
Lilley, PeterViggers, Peter
Lord, MichaelWakeham, Rt Hon John
Lyell, NicholasWalker, Bill (T'side N)
McCurley, Mrs AnnaWall, Sir Patrick
Macfarlane, NeilWardle, C. (Bexhill)
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Watts, John
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Maclean, David JohnWells, Sir John (Maidstone)
McLoughlin, PatrickWheeler, John
Madel, DavidWiggin, Jerry
Major, JohnWinterton, Mrs Ann
Malins, HumfreyWinterton, Nicholas
Malone, GeraldWood, Timothy
Maples, John
Marland, PaulTellers for the Noes:
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Mr. Peter Lloyd and
Mates, MichaelMr. Mark Lennox-Boyd.
Mather, Carol

Question accordingly negatived.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West 11:08 pm, 23rd July 1986

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I missed the last Division, which is why I am out of breath, and would like to ask your advice on how I should make representations regarding the procedure of the House. I made representations first to the Deputy Serjeant at Arms that a bus and about seven taxis were blocking the entrance to the House. He told me that today was wedding day and I got the impression that we took second place to those participating in it. We all support the wedding — [Interruption.] Some hon. Members may not support it. This is a charade. Tonight we have had a running Whip, some of us have been entertaining our wives and families — [Interruption.] I shall not tell you about the other little problem I had last week when I found—

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

Order. I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. I am sorry he missed the Division. I remind him that the Serjeant at Arms said that there might be difficulties today and that hon. Members should be aware of that. I shall have the matter looked into.

Photo of Mr John McWilliam Mr John McWilliam , Blaydon

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It seems that the Sessional Orders have been moved and accepted by the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Randall) has run into trouble. Therefore, the Sessional Orders have not been complied with.

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

I am aware of the Sessional Orders. I shall have the matter looked into to see why the hon. Member was not here.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

Further to my original point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I recall that at the beginning of this Session, the House voted on a matter concerning the Metropolitan police. Perhaps I should quote the question that the House voted on.

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

The hon. Member need not refresh my memory. I am well aware of the matter. I am aware of what has happened tonight. I assure the hon. Member that I shall have the matter looked into. It has been an exceptional day. We should move on to the business of the House.

Photo of Mr Donald Dixon Mr Donald Dixon , Jarrow

On a different point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It appertains to the Wages Bill.

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

I shall make an announcement about the Wages Bill which may deal with the point of order. If not, the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon) can raise it when we consider the Bill.

Photo of Mr Gerry Bermingham Mr Gerry Bermingham , St Helens South

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Randall). Would it not be common courtesy to hon. Members if the entrance to the House and the yard around it were kept clear at times when it can be anticipated that there will be a vote? It does not seem unreasonable to anticipate votes. All hon. Members know the time of tonight's votes. Priority should be given to allowing hon. Members access to the House.

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

There is no question about that. We are all aware of the Sessional Orders and the precedents. I shall have the reason why the hon. Member was delayed in getting to the House tonight looked into.

Photo of Mr Gerry Bermingham Mr Gerry Bermingham , St Helens South

Is the Chair prepared to concede, bearing in mind the debate, that steps will be taken to ensure that it does not happen again and that the result of the inquiry will be reported to the House before the House rises?

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

The Chair will take steps to see that the Sessional Orders are carried out.