I beg to move,
That this House, in order to achieve full participation and equality for disabled people in this country, calls on Her Majesty's Government to mark the mid-point of the Decade of Disabled Persons 1983–1992 by producing a full report on its record in relation to the United Nations World Programme of Action; to allocate now the necessary funds for full implementation of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 instead of continuing delays in default of undertakings given in July 1986; and to produce a Green Paper on the construction of a National Disability Income which will provide adequate non-means tested benefits for disabled people who are without full-time employment and assist in offsetting the extra costs of disabled living.
This is the first wide-ranging debate on the problems and needs of disabled people in which if, as we confidently expect, the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major) catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, he will speak in his still relatively new capacity as Minister for the Disabled. In extending to him the normal courtesies, may I also express the hope that he will be much more successful in influencing the Treasury's priorities than some of his immediate predecessors on that side of the House have been.
Meanwhile, I am sure that the Minister will want to join me today in welcoming to the Palace of Westminster the exhibition, which opened this morning, of the Association of Crossroads Care Attendant Schemes. The humane and deeply important work of Pat Osborne and her colleagues in the service of disabled people and their families has rightly won the admiration and support of all parts of the House.
Our motion is one whose objectives enjoy all-party support in the House and in the country. It was drafted with the sole aim of enhancing both the well-being and status of Britain's 5·5 million people with disabilities. The motion also seeks to help those who help disabled people, not least those who assist them to live their lives independently and with dignity in the community rather than in institutions.
The whole House must be concerned about this country's reputation abroad in relation to the United Nations World Programme of Action. As the Minister will know, I had the honour to chair the World Planning Group, whose work led to the formulation of the United Nations document. I did so as Britain's and the world's first Minister for the Disabled. Those who served under my chairmanship came from the north, south, east and west of the world. They were drawn from rich and poor countries alike and unanimously agreed on the way forward for disabled people worldwide. They urged upon all Heads of Government the undoubted truth that disabled people have not only problems and needs, but also rights; the same rights as all humanity to grow and to learn, to work and to create, to love and to be loved. Above all, the World Planning group argued that the basic problem of securing full participation and equality for disabled people is not one of resources, but of political will and priorities.
Here in Britain there has been no shortage of money for the means of disabling people, but important reforms for people with disabilities are held back by the failure to provide the resources they require. At the same time, huge tax cuts have been given to the most fortunate in society and more of the same is intended. Other Governments across the world have responded with vigour and urgency to the United Nations programme of action. Whereas we were once a world leader in provision for disabled people, we now lag behind many other developed countries. Many of our leading organisations of disabled people now protest that Britain has not only stood still while other countries have advanced, but that we have gone backwards since the present Government came to power, due to priorities that help the fit and fortunate more than those in special need.
If the Minister wants to argue that we have not fallen behind other countries, let him do so in the full report that we ask for in the motion. All that we have had so far are occasional and perfunctory replies to parliamentary questions from this side of the House, including one from the Prime Minister in which she said:
The Government have kept the United Nations Secretariat informed of the development of services for disabled people in the United Kingdom."—[Official Report, 24 June 1986; Vol. 100, c. 87.]
Will this House be allowed to see the Government's reports to the United Nations secretariat? What do their reports say, for example, about our deteriorating local services; about the Government's shabby manoeuvring to defeat the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing), to outlaw hurtful discrimination; and about the sombre fact that disabled people now find themselves at the back of the two longest queues in Britain, namely, those for jobs and adequate shelter?
Have the Government told the United Nations secretariat of Professor Peter Mittler's withering criticism of their policies? He has responsibility at Manchester university for training teachers of children and young people with special educational needs and is one of the foremost experts internationally in his field. Professor Mittler has said:
We had to abandon one of only four courses in this country in the education of children with social and emotional difficulties. There were no funds to continue this work…The education of children with special needs in this country, and the training of those who teach them, is a higher priority than spending £1 million a day on maintaining a presence in the Falklands, not to mention the billions of pounds we spend without question on nuclear armaments.
Again, how much have the Government told the United Nations secretariat about the view taken of their policies by the leading renal consultants in this country, who resent being forced, for purely economic reasons dictated by the Government, to choose which of their patients shall have treatment, and therefore who shall live and who shall die?
That is discrimination against disabled people at its most brutal and Dr. Tony Wing, a consultant at St. Thomas hospital, has said:
This may be effective rationing but it is scarcely humane. My colleagues in other countries think it barbaric.
What is the Minister's reaction to that devastating criticism of our standing internationally in the care of disabled people?
If the Government's reports to the United Nations secretariat seem defensible to the Minister for the Disabled, I urge him to arrange time for them to be debated. Today's debate has been provided from the limited parliamentary time available to the Opposition. We owe this debate, like almost every other debate on disability in this House since the present Government came to power, solely to the high priority given by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and his predecessors to the problems and needs of disabled people.
In the House last Tuesday my right hon. Friend raised with the Prime Minister our concern, widely shared in other parties, about the delay in implementing the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986, which, as the House knows, was so ably promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) after his success in the private Members' ballot. I am delighted to have him with me on this Front Bench today and must now remind the Minister that his Act reached the statute book with overwhelming support from both sides of the House. Before it was enacted, the then Minister for the Disabled made a clear statement of his intentions for its implementation. Sections 5 and 6 of the Act, at an estimated cost of £50 million, were due to be brought into force in October. These are absolutely key sections and the delay may have already affected the futures of disabled young people leaving school or further education well into the 1990s. Yet these sections, like other important sections of the Act, still lie dormant on the statute book. In fact, there is now no new date for their implementation—due, in the words of the Prime Minister, to their resource implications.
Can either the Prime Minister or the Minister for the Disabled name even one organisation of or for disabled people—or, indeed, anyone outside the Conservative party—that accepts their reason for delaying the implementation of this important Act? At a time when the Government are contemplating a give-away of £3 billion in the Budget, their defence that there are no resources to implement the Act is a grotesque misrepresentation of the facts. They stand guilty of a gross contempt of this House by their scandalous failure to give effect to its will.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Government's attitude is summed up in the amendment tabled by the Prime Minister and her colleagues, which states that they will implement that Act when
resources become available and as priorities allow"?
Does he agree that the words "as priorities allow" sum up the Government's attitude?
I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman, who, though his own Act, has done so much to help disabled people and their families.
For the Government to say that they cannot afford to implement the legislation introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West, when everyone knows that huge further tax cuts are in the offing for the richest 5 per cent. of taxpayers, is a total betrayal of disabled children, whose futures are put at stake.
The resources are unquestionably available fully to implement the Act and I urge all those many right hon. and hon. Members on the Government Benches who gave their support to my hon. Friend's Bill to join me now in insisting that, when Parliament wills the end, the Government must will the means. That must be especially true of legislation to help disabled people. Anyone who has spoken to a director of social services knows that the Act cannot he implemented unless the Government provide the extra resources that all of us knew would be required to give it effect.
Local authorities all over Britain, irrespective of their political colour, insist that they are already being forced to choose, not only which of their discretionary powers to use, but even which of their legal duties to disabled people can be fulfilled. It is not council leaders who are hurt by the Government's policies, but people with severe disabilities seeking to establish themselves in homes of their own, not least people with mental illness discharged after many years in hospital who find they have nowhere to live. If the Minister doubts that, he should urgently read the letter published in The Guardian on 2 February from three doctors at King's college hospital, in which they described how a homeless, mentally ill man of 32 recently suffered severe frostbite and had to have both his legs amputated. It is for people like him, among others, that my right hon. Friend, the Leader of the Opposition, much to his honour, found time for this debate.
Hon. Members on the Conservative side of the House often quote with approval the Audit Commission for Local Authorities in England and Wales. Was it not a major censure of the Government for the Audit Commission to say — in its recent report entitled "Making a Reality of Community Care"—that current policies on care in the community are
wasteful. disorganised and causing unnecessary suffering to elderly and disabled people?
The report points out that virtually all local authorities which provide social services lose grants from the Government if they increase spending in real terms, and it goes on to say:
Hence, the system used to control expenditure can penalise local ratepayers in authorities implementing Government policy and saving money for the NHS into the bargain. Thus in one authority visited that had pioneered community care for mentally handicapped people, in accordance with the Government's guidelines, heavy grant losses were being incurred because the authority was exceeding its GRE in part as a result of this policy.
How does the Minister respond to that biting criticism of a policy towards disabled people that is so manifestly self defeating?
In her oral replies last Tuesday to my rght hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition the Prime Minister made some grossly misleading statements both about the implementation of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 and about the comparative provision for the long-term sick and disabled by Labour and Conservative Governments. In an attempt to excuse the Government's failure to implement my hon. Friend's Act the Prime Minister said:
The Labour Government — [Interruption.] — faced a similar difficulty after they had passed the Chronically Sick
and Disabled Persons Act 1970. When a Labour Government later came in they took no steps to provide the local authorities with the resources to put the Act into effect.
The truth is that the 1970 Act, which I piloted through the House, came into effect on 29 May 1970, the final day of the 1966–70 Parliament. Three weeks later, a Conservative Government were elected. Failure to provide adequate resources during the first four crucial years of that legislation rests, therefore, very firmly with the Conservative Government of 1970–74. In fact, that Government were later very sharply criticised by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration for having "muddied the waters" in their circular to local authorities in August 1970 about the requirements of the Act.
What of the impact of the present Government on services provided under the 1970 Act'? they have cut rate support grant to local authorities by a staggering £18 billion since they came to power, reducing Exchequer assistance of more than 60 per cent. when the Labour Government were in power to only 47 per cent. today. That is why, as Department of Health and Social Security Ministers know, local authorities of their own political colour now complain that they are being forced to choose even which of their legal duties to disabled people can be fulfilled.
Let me also recall what the Prime Minister said here last Tuesday about the comparative expenditure on benefits by the last Labour Government and the present Administration. She said:
We increased spending on benefits for the long-term sick and disabled by 75 per cent., allowing for inflation, to nearly £6 billion.
the last Labour Government … did not begin to do anything like as well".—[Official Report, 10 February 1987; Vol. 110, c. 156–57.]
Yet in a parliamentary reply to me on 24 May 1985, of which the Prime Minister must have been fully aware last Tuesday, her then Minister for the Disabled, the hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) made it pikestaff plain that, in real terms, the average annual percentage increase in spending on benefits and services for the long-term sick and disabled had been significantly higher under the Labour Government than it had been under her Government.
That parliamentary reply, which the Prime Minister must have seen before misleading the House, stated that the average percentage increase under the Labour Government, in the years 1973–74 to 1978–79, was 8·3 per cent. Under the present Government, in the years 1978–79 to 1984–85, it was only 6 per cent. The figures are not mine. They are the DHSS's figures that were given to the House by a ministerial colleague, then and now, of the Prime Minister. What the hon. Gentleman's reply of 24 May 1985 showed—to use the politest language—is that the Prime Minister is guilty beyond dispute of barefaced distortion of the facts, for which there should now be a full apology to this House.
The issue is not one of political difference, but of political integrity; and it is not only the Prime Minister's reputation but that of this House that suffers if easily verifiable truth is stood on its head.
Even the Prime Minister's figures about her Government's spending require clarification. The House of Commons Library, as an independent source, disputes them as an exaggeration; so do the disabled themselves, whom the right hon. Lady robbed in 1980 of the important link forged by the last Labour Government between cash benefits and average industrial earnings, the loss of which has incontrovertibly kept their incomes much below what they would otherwise have been. The Prime Minister's self-congratulatory words of last Tuesday should be compared by the House with a document published by the Disablement Income Group — DIG — about her Government's record, entitled "Disastrous Years for Disabled People". That bluntly sums up exactly what so many other organisations of the disabled think about the right hon. Lady's priorities.
Right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Benches take legitimate pride in the fact that the last Labour Government's spending on cash benefits for long-term sick and disabled people more than trebled in five years. It was a wholly unprecedented increase. Again, our spending on centrally provided services almost trebled. In real terms, these were very substantial achievements in economic conditions of great difficulty. We quite deliberately singled out the disabled for special help and went further in providing new benefits than our manifesto commitments.
Even when public spending in almost every other area had to be cut back, there was rapidly increasing expenditure on new help for disabled people. The trebling of expenditure on cash benefits made many important advances possible, but it was not nearly enough. As I said at the time, there remained a long unfinished agenda of unmet need and, in particular, the need to construct a national disability income that would provide adequate, non-means-tested benefits for disabled people unable to find work and offset the extra costs of disabled living.
The demand for a comprehensive new income scheme for disabled people, which is subscribed to by hon. Members of all parties, has now been given a strong new impetus by an important new document from the DIG. It was launched here in the Palace of Westminster, at a presentation arranged by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) and the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam), on 27 January. The document shows that, at present, one very severely disabled person can receive just over £100 a week less than another with identical disabilities and family commitments, if his or her disabilities are the result of an accident at home rather than at work. A third person, with identical disabilities, can receive a further £25 less if he or she became disabled before contributing to national insurance. That is the nub of the case for our call in the motion for a Green Paper on the construction of a national disability income.
Even if it is argued that we cannot yet afford the financial support that disabled people need — unlike other European countries, notably the Netherlands and Scandinavia—it is now essential at least to make some progress towards meeting that need. To be meaningful, such progress must be towards a scheme based on meeting the twofold financial effects of disability: loss of earnings, which may be total or partial, and extra living costs. As there are two financial effects of disability, we need two kinds of benefits: an income maintenance element and one that will meet the extra costs of disabled living.
Any change at variance with these principles makes the social security system less satisfactory for disabled people. For example, we must avoid repeating the mistakes of the severe disablement allowance, which illogically imposes the twin test of incapacity for work and degree of disability on what should be a straightforward income maintenance benefit. Such nonsense—I use the DIG's description of the allowance — would not have arisen if the Government had been working towards a national disability income. The so-called "reform" of the supplementary benefit system provides other examples.
On 2 April 1984, announcing the social security reviews, the Secretary of State said that disablement benefits were not to be tackled. He said that reliable information from the new survey by the OPCS was essential for the longer-term development of the Government's disablement benefits policy.
Yet in fact the right hon. Gentleman did not wait for the results of the survey before tampering with important benefits for disabled people. The first adverse effect is that the most severely disabled will lose financially. It was only when we pointed this out to the Government that they announced a second disablement premium. As the Minister must know, however, that premium does not solve the problems of the most severely disabled. The criteria that the Government have chosen — even the latest criteria — are a confusing nonsense and the premium remains a hasty, ill-conceived reaction to our well-founded criticism of the original proposals. Many severely disabled people will suffer badly in consequence and, here again, the hardship inflicted upon them would not have arisen if the Government had been working towards a national disability income.
The second adverse affect of the Government's new Act is that disabled people in need will in future have to suffer the indignity of pleading both poverty and disability to get help from the social fund. Ministers have said that disabled people will not have to prove individual requirements on such intimate grounds as, for example, incontinence or the need for frequent baths. Yet the social fund removes all rights to any payment and thus requires every intimate detail of disabled applicants' lives to be discussed by the social fund officers and everyone with whom they liaise.
The disablement cost allowance of a national disability income would protect disabled people from those indignities, but the disablement premiums and the social fund are both at variance with that objective. They take us further away from a sound, coherent and rational system of benefits for disabled people. That is why we now call, with the backing of all the organisations of disabled people, for a commitment from the Government at least to work towards a national disability income.
For their part, the British public accept the need for a national disability income, as the findings of a Gallup poll commissioned by the DIG amply demonstrated in January of this year. Asked about the adequacy of benefits paid to very severely disabled people, 83 per cent. of those questioned said that the incomes of people who are born disabled are completely inadequate. Of those questioned, 76 per cent. thought that benefits for disability should be the same regardless of cause, while 67 per cent. were prepared to pay more in tax to meet the costs of a national disability income.
Those willing to pay more tax included 66 per cent. of Conservative voters, 67 per cent. of Labour voters and 72 per cent. of Liberal-SDP alliance voters. That is the extent of public support for a national disability income. It very strongly backs the DIG's approach and totally vindicates our call in the motion for a Green Paper.
What the British public recognised in their response to this important survey of opinion is that most people with disabilities have to face a higher cost of living than other people, and do so with lower than average incomes. The extra help that their organisations seek for disabled people is not for the provision of luxuries, but to achieve equality of opportunity and social fairness for people for whom disability is now all too often another word for poverty and humiliation. There is ultimately no gain in depriving the disabled of the help they need to live independent and fulfilling lives; for the costs of driving them into institutions can be very much higher than those of adequate benefits and community support services.
Not once in my speech, Mr. Speaker, have I used the word "compassion". The late and respected Sir Neil Marten—who among others assisted me throughout the proceedings on the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970—used to say, even then—and I most strongly agreed with him—that disabled people were fed up with compassion. They want understanding; they want respect for their abilities and for their social worth; they want the status that an acceptance of their rights can confer, so that they can he a part of and not apart from society. Above all, they want more equality and social justice and, as the Minister must know, they want our motion and not the Prime Minister's shoddy amendment to be approved by the House today.
I commend the motion to the House.
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
congratulates the Government on its continuing commitment to improving provision for disabled people; draws attention to the increase in annual spending on their social security entitlements of £2·5 billion in real terms since 1978–79 welcomes improvements in their tax position and employment opportunities; reaffirms its commitment to the provisions of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 with implementation as resources become available and as priorities allow; and welcomes the survey by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys into the numbers, circumstances and needs of disabled people as a basis for a comprehensive review of benefits of long-term sick and disabled people.
The right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) has raised a number of important matters and I will respond to his detailed points in due course. I should say at the outset that I welcome this opportunity to discuss provision for disabled people because it is an exceedingly important subject, and one to which the Government have given priority and will continue to do so. In his opening remarks the right hon. Gentleman referred approvingly to the Crossroads care attendance scheme and to Pat Osborne and colleagues. I fully endorse the comments made by the right hon. Gentleman. The Government have encouraged such schemes by providing direct financial assistance to the national association and my hon. Friend the Minister for Health and I take a considerable interest in their very worthwhile activities.
It might be helpful to put this debate into perspective. There will be general agreement in the House—the right hon. Gentleman touched on this briefly today and has done so more widely on other occasions — that in the past 15 years or so there have been enormous advances in the recognition given to the legitimate needs of disabled people. Much may remain to be done, but much has been achieved. The right hon. Gentleman's own Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 was an early and very important milestone. There were substantial — in many ways radical—improvements in social security provision for disabled people during the 1970s under successive Administrations. I refer in particular to the introduction of attendance allowance, mobility allowance and invalid care allowance. In more recent years, the Government have sought to build upon those achievements by abolishing the household duties test, extending the invalid care allowance, taking the mobility allowance out of lax, and so on. All those developments are welcome.
The right hon. Gentleman was critical of the Government's record in some respects, but I do not accept either his figures or many of his contentions. Social security expenditure on cash benefits for long-term sick and disabled people has increased dramatically since 1978–79—by about £2·5 billion, of which £1·75 billion is attributable to the increase in the number of beneficiaries, which is itself welcome because it implies a wider take-up, and £750 million to increases in the value of benefits. There is wider entitlement and better take-up. We have repeatedly stated that care of disabled people is a priority concern, and I believe that the scale of expenditure and resources shows that we mean what we say in that respect.
In the NHS, special priority has been given to services for elderly people and for mentally and physically handicapped people. Concern for mentally ill people was re-emphasised by the publication of "Care in Action" in 1981. There have been improvements in relation to access and transport and the voluntary code of good practice in relation to employment. Last year more than 77,000 disabled people were placed in work or on the community programme through the MSC. The list that I have given is illustrative, but by no means exhaustive.
Local authority spending on social services has increased by about 20 per cent. in purchasing power in real terms during the period of this Government. As the right hon. Gentleman will know, the whole question of finance for community care is currently being considered in depth by Sir Roy Griffiths' high-level inquiry. Whatever other points of contention there may be, no one can doubt the scale of progress made—nor, I should add, can we be complacent about what needs to be done, and it is to that proposition that I wish to direct most of my remarks on this occasion.
I know that many Members are deeply interested in progress on implementing the recommendations of the McColl report on the artificial limb service. Some of the recommendations raise significant and difficult issues—most notably, whether the services should in future be managed outside the DHSS—and I hope to announce decisions on that important matter very shortly.
In advance of that structural decision, I wish today to announce some improvements to the wheelchair service. I am anxious to enhance choice in the range of wheelchairs provided. As the House may know, we recently introduced brighter colours to supplement the standard black and grey chairs. In addition, we introduced two new powered models for indoor use which are both more attractive in appearance and have more sophisticated control units and more reliable batteries. These are small but welcome innovations, and we have decided to place particular emphasis on several further developments.
The McColl working party singled out a number of aspects of the wheelchair range which in its view require specific attention and I wish to announce decisions on three of those matters now. The first was the provision of a low cost chair for occasional users whose basic requirement is for a light, manoeuverable pushchair. We agree with that and have therefore purchased two types, which we have issued to users so that we may assess their suitability and acceptability. Following those trials and any modifications that may be necessary, we shall add such a chair to the range for general use.
The second area of concern to the working party was the range of chairs for children. McColl felt that the present range provided by the wheelchair service was unsatisfactory. Again, we agree. We have therefore decided that the wheelchair service should take the initiative and develop a new chair specially designed with the needs of children in mind. We shall focus attention particularly on adaptability, extra support, lightness, ability to fold and—this, too, is important, particularly to young people — overall appearance. Work on development has already commenced. We intend that introduction of the chair should be as rapid as possible, and I assure the House that we will push it speedily.
McColl also felt that the needs of younger active disabled people requiring a wheelchair to enable them to participate in sporting activities were not well catered for. Again, I agree. The development and supply of such a chair will cost money — perhaps substantial sums. As this cannot at the moment be at the expense of other users, we have directed that further improvement in the efficiency of supply and repair of wheelchairs generally should be achieved and that the funds released should be used for this purpose. From the inquiries that we have made, we are confident that this can be done.
There is a further point. The provision of a wheelchair is often only one step towards mobility, especially for the most severely disabled. The supply of accessories is vital, too, with seating perhaps the most important element. Correct seating is essential to enable severely disabled children and adults to use a wheelchair. Hospital treatment — sometimes to correct serious postural difficulties—can result from incorrect provision. In the past there has been some doubt about the extent to which the wheelchair service should provide seating. I wish to remove that doubt. We have now decided that the wheelchair service will extend its responsibilities to include the supply of special seating support for those severely disabled wheelchair users who need it. This innovation will take effect immediately.
I am conscious that there are other matters relating to wheelchairs about which I have no comment to make on this occasion, but I hope that my observations on those minor matters will be generally welcomed by the House. As I said earlier, nobody can be complacent about what remains to be done to improve the quality of life for disabled people. The hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) —who I believe is later to make his first and welcome appearance as Front Bench Opposition spokesman on this subject—accurately identified some of those needs in the Bill that he introduced last Session, which is now the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act. We entirely accept the principles of that Act and we are at one with the hon. Gentleman in wanting to see it in operation.
The hon. Gentleman will acknowledge, as he has done on previous occasions, that the Government put in a considerable amount of effort — not least the former Minister for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) and the former Minister with responsibility for the disabled, my hon. Friend the Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) — to improve the detailed provisions of that legislation. The hon. Member for Monklands, West, for his part, was generous enough to acknowledge on more than one occasion—not least on Third Reading and on Report—that parts of the measure had significant resource implications. My hon. Friends made it clear that those provisions could only be brought into effect in stages. I think that that point was well understood by the House at that time and the Government's position has not changed in any way since then.
Some things, however, have changed—
I am sure that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing), with his record on matters concerning disabled people, will be able to catch the eye of the Chair if he wishes to speak in the debate. The House will look forward to hearing from him then.
Since Royal Assent, the local authority associations have taken a more detailed look at that Act in the form in which it reached the statute book and have revised their cost estimates sharply upwards. On the basis of the latest estimates, the total annual cost of the Act might amount to around £150 million rather than the £100 million that was generally expected during the passage of the Bill. I should emphasise that that position is still fluid. The local authority associations are still refining their estimates and we are discussing the figures with them.
We are not, therefore, seeking to be unfairly dilatory in the implementation of the Act. There has been continuing contact between my officials and the local authority associations and I shall be meeting the associations myself a week today to review progress. I also hope to arrange a meeting shortly with representatives of the voluntary organisations who have asked to see me on the subject. I shall be happy to hear what they have to say and to discuss with them the precise circumstances of implementation as they see them. I hope that my meetings with the local authority associations and with the voluntary associations will be fruitful.
I can see the problem and I can see the value of the discussion. When the Minister has had the discussions and the sums have been fixed—I assume that this will be in the not too distant future—will he tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer that some of the billions to be given away would be going to a good cause if they were spent on the implementation of my hon. Friends Act?
The hon. Gentleman's long-standing concern is well known, and he may have knowledge of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor's Finance Bill proposals which I as yet do not have. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will read carefully what the hon. Gentleman has said.
Subject to the outcome of my discussions with the associations next week, it remains our hope that sections 4, 8, 9 and 10 of the Act can he implemented by 1 April. I am also optimistic that it will be possible to implement section 11 during the course of the year.
The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe referred—understandably, as I know his concern in the matter—to the important sections 5 and 6. I also wish to examine whether we shall be able to make progress on those sections which deal with the identification and assessment of disabled school leavers. As the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Monklands, West will know, the local authority associations originally believed that implementing those sections would not have a significant cost but I must tell the House that they have now, rather belatedly, changed their minds. They now estimate that the annual cost of those sections would be between £30 million and £50 million. That is one matter that I wish to examine with them urgenty at the meeting next week. The effect is that the cost of the Act may be up to 50 per cent. greater than we believed a year ago.
Does the Minister accept that the full cost of implementing that Act will be reached only over some years, as the provisions work through, particularly with regard to schoolchildren? Will he also accept that in a letter of 16 February to hon. Members, the Association of County Councils said:
The Association still believe that the whole Act should be implemented at the earliest possible date and that adequate resources should he made available for this to be done.
That is the standpoint of the association.
I am fully aware that that is the association's standpoint, and it is one matter that I look forward eagerly to discussing with the association. On the cost profile, the hon. Gentleman is right. The cost will build up over a period. How rapidly it builds up is one of the matters that one may wish to examine.
The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe has suggested in the past that at any rate section 5(i) and (ii) might be implemented so that disabled young people leaving school in 1988 and 1989 can be identified. That may be difficult, as even that limited implementation might have substantial actual and potential resource implications for local authorities. However, I undertake to pursue that point specifically with the local authority associations in my discussions with them next week.
I must make it clear to the House that we think it would be irresponsible to bring the Act into operation before we are clear about the costs and are satisfied that local authorities are able properly to implement the Act. We wish to ensure that when the commencement orders are made local authorities have the resources to implement the Act properly. I know some of the frustrations that the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe must have suffered when some parts of his Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 were not implemented as he had hoped during the passage of that measure.
I should make a further point which I want to make on the general issue of implementation. The hon. Member for Monklands, West made it clear, implicitly on Second Reading and explicitly in his usual generous fashion during the final stages of the Bill in the House, that he accepted that it would be necessary to consider implementation of the Bill by phasing. I understand entirely that on this matter hon. Members have deep and genuine concerns and that they have differences about the tempo at which phasing can realistically take place. The Government are not able to commit substantial resources to the implementation of the Act until we are sure that they are available. Phased implementation was implicit at the time the legislation was passed and it is barely a year since the Bill was introduced into the House. I repeat that we support the principles of the Act and that, when we can, we shall seek to implement it in the way that I have described to the House.
In regard to the Act introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), surely it is imperative that section 7, which deals with psychiatric patients discharged from hospital. should be implemented soon, so that those people may receive direct assistance from local authorities and from area health authorities. Lack of resources cannot be made an excuse when we are approaching 17 March and the Budget. The Minister may not be au fait with the details of the Budget, but as a Minister in the Government he should have an input to ensure that funds that could provide for discharged psychiatric patients do not go to rich taxpayers.
Whatever the hon. Gentleman may think, he will know that under successive Governments the details of the Finance Bill are predominantly a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Chancellors are aware of the concerns of Ministers, but I have nothing further to say on budgetary matters.
On the United Nations decade of disabled persons, the Government have drafted a response to the United Nations questionnaire which was addressed to all member states, reporting progress on the implementation of the world programme. We propose to consult RADAR, the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation arid the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People before the final version of the response is sent to the United Nations. That document will not be suitable for formal publication but we shall make copies available to anyone who is interested and we shall place a copy in the Library of the House. As the document will make clear, the Government's record on implementing the proposals in the world programme is good. My hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary may elaborate on that when he catches your eye later, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I am acutely conscious that a number of hon. Members are keen to contribute to what will now be a rather short debate and that there are many important matters that time does not permit me to deal with. In particular, I have said little about the important aspect of cash support, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred when he gave his views on a national disability income. The Government have over a period made their position clear on that. A major survey by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys into the numbers, circumstances and needs of the disabled people is well under way. When the results are available, they will provide the basis for a comprehensive review of disability benefits. That is the Government's position and I think it is well understood in the House.
I have sought to strike a positive note. I share with the right hon. Gentleman the view that disability, whether physical or mental, can be a considerable and crushing affliction for those whom it strikes and for those who care for them, but a great deal can be done to alleviate its effect and help disabled people to play a full part in society. As I have outlined, a great deal has been done by successive Governments of all parties, individual Members of the House, the caring agencies, professional people, voluntary organisations, relatives, friends, neighbours and the wider community.
That work will continue. It will do so in small ways, such as the announcement I made last week on invalidity benefit, which will remove a financial impediment to disabled people serving as elected councillors. It will continue in larger ways, with the McColl report. It will continue with the OPCS survey and the consequent review of disability benefits.
My hope, my expectation and my ambition—and I think that I carry the right hon. Gentleman with me on this — is that we can consolidate and build upon the progress that has been made. We need to be realistic about the pace of it; I appreciate that it may sometimes seem infuriatingly slow, but I hope that we are in a position to reassure the House generally and those who are unfortunate enough to be disabled that much progress has been made, that progress is certain and that it will continue.
It is significant that the Minister failed to respond to the challenge of my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) about the relative records of the Labour Government and the present Government. We have repeated those figures in every debate about disability since this Government took office, and they have not been repudiated. The Minister spent a great deal of time talking about wheelchairs. This debate is not about wheelchairs; it is about the veracity of the Prime Minister, nothing less.
The Minister knows that I am concerned with the McColl report and with wheelchairs, but today we are concerned with statements made by the Prime Minister in response to the, in my view, brilliant attack by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Last Tuesday my right hon. Friend attacked the Prime Minister and she made a categorical response. The Minister today has failed to retrieve the Prime Minister's error last Tuesday when she boasted that the long-term sick and disabled have been given a 75 per cent. real increase in benefit. She tried to convince the House that disabled people have been treated generously by the Government.
I do not want to turn an occasion like this into a party political bashing session, but I must draw it to the right hon. Gentleman's attention that I quite specifically, in the early part of my speech, drew the attention of the House to the very dramatic increase in cash benefits for long-term sick and disabled people, from about £3·5 billion to £6 billion during the period of this Government. That is a substantial increase indeed. It was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and it is not a matter for dispute. It is an unchallengeable fact that that increase has taken place.
If we are speaking of unchallengeable facts, we had better go over again the facts that we have put forward before. The first fact is that spending by the Labour Government on the long-term sick and disabled more than trebled in five years. The second fact is that the percentage increase in spending on long-term sick and disabled people rose by 8·3 per cent. between 1974 and 1979 but the increase in spending on long-term sick and disabled people under this Government has been 6 per cent. That is 6 per cent. compared with 8·3 per cent. I did not hear the Minister deny those facts for one moment.
It was the Prime Minister who made the party political point last Tuesday, and that is why we are challenging the Government on this issue. I can be as constructive as the next Member, but the Prime Minister was wrong. The Prime Minister misled the House of Commons and I believe that disabled people want those facts to be refuted, because the Prime Minister was totally wrong, and they know that she was wrong.
What about the Prime Minister's statement that there has been a 75 per cent. real increase in benefit? Let me explain it to the Minister. The vast majority of the people concerned live on invalidity benefit, and that basic benefit increased in real terms by a mere 4·5 per cent. from November 1978 to July 1986. So, during eight years of this Government, the increase in benefit has been a fraction over 0·5 per cent. per year. Some generosity there! Over the same period, net earnings for the top taxpayers increased by an astronomical 202 per cent. according to the Incomes Data Service top pay unit. That vast discrepancy alone will demolish the myth that the Government favour disabled people. It shows that disabled people are given a very low priority by this Government. That vast discrepancy conforms to the unpleasant face of capitalism and the policies derived from it.
If the basic invalidity benefit has risen only 4·5 per cent., from where did the Prime Minister get the 75 per cent. figure? Perhaps I can explain for the Prime Minister's enlightenment. The number of people receiving invalidity benefit has risen by over 40 per cent.; the number receiving attendance allowance has risen by over 70 per cent.; the number receiving mobility allowance has risen by well over 100 per cent. So more disabled people are receiving benefits — which are their legal entitlement. That has nothing whatever to do with the Government's generosity. They are simply receiving their legal entitlement. The Prime Minister responded to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition by saying that her Government had given a 75 per cent. increase to disabled people. That was a grossly misleading statement to make to the House of Commons.
Have the Government had the opportunity to be generous? Of course they have. They have had the biggest opportunity in history to be generous to disabled people, because they have had a fantastic oil bonanza. They have had the biggest windfall of all time. It has been a dream of El Dorado come true. For the first time ever a British Government have had the resources for a national disability income that is both equitable and comprehensive. They could provide a new deal. They could provide a fair deal. They could, in fact, give disabled people the ideal—a national disability income, which has been spelt out. But the Government have refused to make a commitment to, let alone introduce, a disability income even though, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe rightly said, the present system is unjust and unfair.
The Minister's excuse in his speech a short while ago was that the Government were awaiting the result of the OPCS survey. My right hon. Friend said that the Government did not wait for the result before tampering with benefits. I want to criticise my right hon. Friend there, because the word "tampering" is inadequate and far too weak. The Government have not simply tampered with benefits; they have actually by their recent Act, actually cut the benefits of some of the most severely disabled people. We all know that that is what they have done. Why did they not wait for the OPCS survey before cutting the benefits to some severely disabled people? If that survey prevents the Government from helping disabled people, why did they wait for five years after taking office before commissioning it?
The Minister mentioned—the Prime Minister often mentions this — the value of the mobility allowance. Time and again, when challenged, the Prime Minister has said, "We have increased and improved the mobility allowance." I am sick of hearing about the mobility allowance. The increase is presented like a jewel in the Government's crown, but the 116 per cent. improvement in the cash value of the mobility allowance has to be compared with the increase in the price of petrol, which has gone up by 111 per cent. The mobility allowance has done little more than match the increase in the price of petrol. I hope that the Government will not continue to boast about the mobility allowance.
I spoke a moment ago about a jewel in the crown. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to deal with a tiny, piffling increase as compared with the jewel that I talked about, I shall give him that concession. I shall readily acknowledge that the Government did that. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to criticise the Labour Government, that is fine, but no Conservative Member has been able to attack the basis of the case that I make. The Government have failed in any substantial way to increase the value of the mobility allowance. I have explained what has happened. The hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight) has no strong case on that point.
The Government have refused our request to extend the mobility allowance to three deserving groups. They are, first, mentally handicapped people; secondly, autistic people; and, thirdly, those who are both deaf and blind—not those who are deaf or blind. We have repeatedly put this point to the Minister. The present ruling is that if people are unable to walk they will get the allowance . These people can walk, but of course they cannot walk unaided. Because of their disability they must be helped, and they should get the allowance.
The Minister is one of the best Ministers in the Government. He is a humane person, but he is not able to administer a proper policy because of the people who run the Department. They are squeezing him. He will help if he can, but the Government refuse to extend the allowance to the people whom I mentioned. It is quite wrong for the Government to do that.
The Minister mentioned the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act. That Act was passed for two reasons; first, the skill and determination of my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke); and, secondly, the agreement and support of the Government. My hon. Friend's skill and determination were genuine. The Government's agreement and support were bogus. Their support was purely for public relations reasons. They sought credit for endorsing the Bill, but have refused to provide the cash to implement vital sections of it. That is bare-faced Tammany Hall manipulating and manoeuvring. It has further damaged the Government's reputation, if that is possible. A date has been given for implementing just three of the Bill's 11 sections. All of them require little expenditure, and as a consequence of the Government's decision, thousands of young disabled people will suffer.
I assure the Government that we intend to monitor the deprivation of disabled people, not only today, but on Budget day, when billions of pounds will be handed out by the Chancellor.
Jobs for the disabled are more than a source of income. They are symbols of cherished independence. The Government's record on jobs for the disabled is appalling. The latest figures show that in spring 1985, 1,764,000 economically active people were limited by health problems, and no fewer than 412,000 of them were unemployed. Those figures, provided by the House of Commons Library, were taken from the Employment Gazette 1986. They show a shocking rate of unemployment of 23 per cent. for disabled people.
The Government have failed effectively to tackle unemployment among disabled people. They have failed to make the quota system work. They have condoned the breaking of the law by employers and have refused to support the splendid initiative that was taken by the European Commission. They have undermined proposals to improve employment prospects for disabled people. The European Commission's document, which was first-rate, called for the enforcement of quotas as well as antidiscrimination legislation, but after discussions in which our Government played a prominent part, the final European Council's report was a badly watered down version of the Commission's draft document. It merely mentioned establishing rights in accordance with national laws and practice and the need to avoid dismissal on the ground of disability. The proposal to enforce quotas was scrapped.
The Germans are far more realistic than we are. They are far more generous to disabled workers. Their quota system is effective. It is backed by levies and tough sanctions that secure 80 per cent. enforcement. The British Government merely put their efforts into the voluntary system—that is, the code of practice mentioned by the Minister. I support the code of practice, and I back the Government in their efforts, but persuasion should be a complement to, not a substitute for, policy. The figures show that the Government have failed to find adequate jobs for disabled people.
Before the Prime Minister boasts of helping the disabled, she should study the facts. She should see the miserly limitations on help in the context of vast handouts to others. She should recognise the Government's failure to rise to the challenge. She should talk to disabled people and discover the extent to which the Government have failed them. Disabled people have been badly let down. I want no lectures from the Government about making party political points, after the Prime Minister has made party political points at the Dispatch Box. If she seeks to intrude on disability and make party political points she must expect the answers, and the answers are devastating to the Government. The Government stand condemned for their attitude to disabled people. Disabled people need a better deal. They will not get it under the present Government, but they will get it under the next Government.
I am pleased that the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) referred to the German quota scheme, because it gives me something with which I can agree. I have to be careful what I say about the right hon. Gentleman, because he is the chairman of the all-party disablement group. He wears the crown, though there are not many jewels in it, and I am his menial servant, the secretary. I do not intend to follow up some of the points that he raised in what I consider was a rather griping speech in, generally speaking, a non-partisan type of debate on disablement.
I welcome this opportunity to debate the needs of the disabled, because I believe that the record of this country is unparalleled. I find that my view is reiterated whenever I travel abroad to conferences on the rehabilitation of the disabled. I congratulate the Government on the constant and steady progress that has been made in dealing with the needs of the disabled. Hardly a week goes by without further announcements by my right hon. and hon. Friends, not only in the Department of Health and Social Security but in other Departments, about some form of increased help for the handicapped members of our society.
Only this week, two further changes were made. The first was to ensure that the disabled would not be deterred from serving in local government. The second was to increase the benefits for the disabled and the handicapped who are living in residential care and nursing homes. Today my hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security and the Disabled has made further important announcements about the implementation of some of the recommendations of the McColl report on wheelchair provision. In thanking him for making those announcements, may I add that both I and other hon. Members hope very much that something will be done about providing an indoor-outdoor powered wheelchair for the very seriously disabled.
There are always grounds for pressure and even criticism because of delays, but my experience over the last 16 years of working for the disabled is of constant improvements year after year by Government after Government, with the frontiers being steadily moved outwards. When I look at the range of benefits and facilities that are now available, about which we have our debates and discussions, and at the range of facilities that are available to the sick and the disabled I am immensely proud to have been part of that process.
Therefore, I resent the attempts in recent weeks by the Leader of the Opposition, who started the ball rolling, to make party political capital out of the recently enacted and very much desired Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 of his hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke). That Act was a major step for the hon. Member and also for the Government who agreed to support his private Member's Bill, because it has huge resource implications, I was a sponsor of the Bill and fought as hard as any hon. Member could do to help its passage through Parliament. The Act of the hon. Member for Monklands, West represents a major legislative step forward and takes the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 through to its logical conclusion—to the community.
I fully support the hon. Member's Act, but we cannot kid ourselves that it is inexpensive legislation. When fully implemented, it will involve expenditure of over £150 million. I do not intend to go into all the pros and cons of this partisan debate about what should or should not be done in the coming months. However, I refer the House to what the hon. Member for Monklands, West acknowledged. He said:
I accept … that it will be necessary to consider implementation on the basis of phasing." — [Official Report, 4 July 1986; Vol. 100, c. 1340.]
All of us knew that the Act would require phasing in over a period and here we are, in the first year, pressing Ministers to bring into effect various important parts of the Act. In my speech I shall do all that I can to highlight some of the areas that support our pressure to try to get the Department and the local authorities to agree to the satisfactory implementation of sections 5 and 6 of the Act.
I do not know why problems have emerged over the assessment of children's special needs. Where good practices already exist in certain local authority areas, sections 5 and 6 will add few additional responsibilities, but it is absolutely vital that when a disabled child leaves full-time education we should establish a bridge between local education authorities and social services departments. It is at the point when handicapped youngsters leave school and go home to their families that the greatest strains in their development emerge. It is then that the need for day care centres and further education and activity centres becomes most acute.
In my constituency I recently visited a further education centre that is now being established by the Exeter college of education, where a superb job is being done in providing for the needs of handicapped youngsters and adults of all ages. However, it highlighted the gap that still exists in providing for those with severe mental illness or handicaps who are being discharged into the community or to their parents. That gap needs to be closed if the whole system of care in the community is to work. We are reminded of that gap if we go upstairs and visit the Crossroads care exhibition and hear about the needs that have been discovered and that are being so marvellously catered for, again with help from the Government.
The evidence that I have recently received about this gap in local provision and the need to do something about it came, again, from my own constituency. Exeter is probably regarded as one of the foremost authorities in the country in making provision for the discharge of those in institutional care. However, the parent of a 25-year-old severe schizophrenic took me to talk to the doctor who is in charge of the Russell clinic at Digby hospital in Exeter, where 20 to 30 mentally ill patients are resident.
Tremendous progress has been made in moving patients into the new hostels that have been established in Exeter, but the few hostels that have been established are absolutely full and there is nowhere else for patients to be moved to from the hostels. Despite the progress that is being made in advancing the number of patients to the point where they could move into local authority housing units of two, three or four, in which they could live under normal conditions, with just a little supervision, such housing is not available because there is no tie-up between the local authority, the health authority and the social services department.
The whole cycle has become log-jammed. The hostels are full; therefore the institutionalised patients are becoming frustrated and upset because they are waiting for a chance to move out into hostels. They are also beginning to lose the stability that is so essential to their peace of mind. We must ensure full working co-ordination between local authorities and health authorities, the education and social services departments and the local voluntary agencies.
As he has stated again today, I know that my hon. Friend recognises the need to implement the remaining sections of the Act. I assure him of the full support of the all-party disablement group in his forthcoming negotiations with the local authorities.
Many areas could be touched upon in a debate such as this, but time does not allow. Therefore, I shall pick out a couple of issues that I should like to bring to the notice of the House. The first is a subject that we have debated many times—kidney transplants.
For several years every effort has been made to promote the present opting-in kidney donor card scheme. In debate after debate, both I and other hon. Members have displayed our donor cards and have hoped that our example, combined with the Government's determined publicity campaign, would produce a large enough public response to provide the required number of transplant organs. The Government have done everything possible within the existing scheme to make it work, but I regret to say that the opting-in procedure is not working well enough.
A Gallup survey showed that, of the 893 people questioned, 71 per cent. did not have donor cards and that a further 7 per cent. had cards but did not carry them. A total of 82 per cent. of those surveyed had not read or heard anything that would influence them in deciding whether or not to donate their kidneys. At present, there are about 3,700 kidney patients on the transplant waiting list, with about a third of that number are likely to have a transplant operation each year. These numbers have increased steadily over the years, but that is the position now. The cost of dialysis machines and their operation amounts to £30 million a year.
Something must be done to close that gap. We should consider changing to an opting-out system whereby doctors assume that organs are available for transplantation unless a card is carried stating otherwise. If that system was used in conjunction with a computerised index system on a national scale, we should achieve the desired results.
The other point that I want to raise concerns diabetics and the issue of blood glucose testing strips and disposable syringes by general practitioners under prescription. When I wrote to my hon. Friend the Minister last summer, he gave a strong indication in his reply that the Department accepted the case for blood testing strips to be available on prescription and it was hoped, given resource constraints, to carry that out in the not-too-distant future. I raised the question again last month and received a similarly encouraging response from my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security who is to reply to this debate. I want to press the point a little further and remind my hon. and learned Friend of the fearful nature of diabetes and the importance of self-monitoring so that early action can be taken to avoid the appalling complications that can occur at a later stage.
I want to quote from the Department's report on a meeting that was held with the British Diabetic Association and the British Medical Association. The second point in the report states:
The Department acknowledges that blood glucose monitoring offers significant potential advantages over the prescribable urine tests, including better diabetic control. Patients with better control over their condition can avoid or delay the onset of complications, which can lead to expensive NHS treatment quite apart from the humane arguments.
I want to press once again for the earliest possible introduction of prescribable blood testing strips.
I accept that a scheme for disposable syringes would be expensive and might cost £8 million and £9 million. However, now that the Government are considering the issue of disposable needles for drug misusers as part of the AIDS campaign, I stress that it would be completely unfair and unacceptable not to provide free syringes also to diabetics. I hope therefore that these provisions can be introduced as quickly as possible. The long-term gains far outweigh the short-term costs.
The right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) and others referred to the Disablement Income Group campaign for a general disability income. As I have been a patron of DIG for a number of years, it would be remiss of me not to say a few words in support of that long-running campaign.
Simply to say that someone is disabled does not effectively describe the deprivation and hardship which that person can suffer if for one reason or another he or she is unable to work and became disabled other than while covered by industrial injuries compensation. As an example, I want to consider three men of the same age who have become paralysed from the neck down, unable to walk or use their arms, unable to look after themselves and unable to work. The real difference between the three men is that they became disabled in different ways. The first was injured at work and receives £199·45 a week in industrial injuries compensation. The second was injured at home, but had worked and paid national insurance contributions and receives £91·30 a week. The third was born with exactly the same disability, has never worked, and receives just £75·85 a week. They have equal disabilities, but unequal financial allowances. The objective of the DIG campaign, which I fully support, is to secure a fairer distribution of income dependent on the extent of the disability rather than the cause or timing of the disability.
A disability allowance would have two essential parts. There would be a "below the line" allowance to cover the general expense and other costs experienced by disabled people in their daily living — clothing, adaptations, heating and so on. Secondly, there would be an "above the line" allowance which would depend on the degree of disability and the ability to work and would provide an alternative to earnings.
I have long campaigned for such a disability income and also for the "no-fault liability" such as is operated in New Zealand, because I believe that that would solve our problem. I recognise that there are substantial resource implications and it would take some time to put such a scheme into effect. However, in the meantime, I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to recognise the logic of such a step, which would remove many of the existing anomalies and complicated benefits. Whenever my right hon. and hon. Friends adjust or alter existing benefit schemes, will they try to effect any such changes within the general objective of creating a disability allowance so that, when the time is ripe, much of the sorting out will already have been completed and the changeover will not be so complicated?
The all-party disablement group has been engaged in many important issues in recent months and I want to thank Ministers for the courteous and helpful way in which they have received our representations. We have had meetings about McColl, access regulations, training of teachers for the deaf, the mobility allowance and about many of the issues that have been raised today.
I believe that progress is being made constantly. The frontiers are being pushed back and expenditure on the disabled is increasing steadily. I have no hesitation in supporting the Government's amendment to the Opposition motion. I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends and ask them to maintain the momentum towards a society in which the disabled and handicapped are allowed to live as fruitful and as happy a life as possible.
I have pleasure in taking part in this debate because alliance Members supported the passage through the House of what is now the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 and we want to ensure that real progress is made over the next decade to implement fully that Act and other legislation intended to improve the quality of life for disabled people.
We also want more support for the many first-class and excellent voluntary organisations concerned with the disabled, both in general terms and in their campaigns to increase public knowledge and understanding of disability and to try to combat prejudice and stigma. To that end, we believe that the £50 million earmarked for educational purposes for the disabled under the 1986 Act should be made available as soon as possible. Through education, more disabled people can be helped to a better quality of life and the able bodied can learn to be of assistance to those in need. One national body, known as PHAB—Physically Handicapped and Able Bodied — was established to bring together persons in both categories for social and recreational activities. PHAB does excellent work, as I know from the programme of a local branch in my constituency.
The alliance wants the best possible education and training for students with disabilities up to the age of 19. For many such students that age limit is arbitrary, and we would hope to extend that entitlement and ensure that continuing education is available to all people with disabilities. We also hope to implement fully the Education Act 1981 and integrate children with disabilities, where possible, into ordinary schools and to fund adequately education for children who require special arrangements.
It is the Government's declared intention to return people in homes or institutions to the community. We do not disagree with that in principle. Many people currently in hospitals or homes for the mentally handicapped should probably never have been put there in the first place. There was simply no other state provision for them, especially if they were elderly and in need of attention, but did not qualify for medical or surgical treatment in hospital. If individuals can be returned to the community they can live a comparatively full life, provided — and this is important — that there is adequate support and the necessary back-up services.
The aim of such services must be to provide patients with the kind of care appropriate to individual needs, giving as much independence as possible and being sufficiently flexible to cope with differing demands and requirements. It is difficult to estimate this community care option accurately. The cost of transferring individual patients from institutions into the community will be quite different from the average cost per patient of institutional care and from the marginal savings accruing from the transfer in question. The bulk of the savings will come only when the unit or institution is closed, and that means the transfer of all patients or residents, some of whom may be severely handicapped, either physically or mentally.
Community care is not a cheap option. The Government have said that any changes must be implemented within planned resources. They are promoting community integration for the disabled, but they are still hanging fire on the financial implementation of the 1986 Act. Some patients will be able to live in the community with very little extra support, but they will be balanced by patients who need 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week support for every week of the year. Such support will have to be mainly professional, although it will be supplemented by informal help from family, friends and neighbours. The availability of voluntary support will vary, with urban areas likely to benefit more than rural areas. Therefore, the burden will fall heavily on the statutory services.
Last week I visited Claypenny hospital in my constituency. It caters for many mentally handicapped people. The transfer of some of its residents into the community has already taken place and others are preparing for removal. One person with very little disability now has a regular job. This is good and encouraging. However, I am greatly worried about those whose severe handicaps could cause problems and unhappiness for themselves outside their present environment with its great wealth of resources and activities. That will happen unless sufficient numbers of trained staff are made available in the community to care for such patients.
Claypenny hospital—no doubt this applies to similar establishments all over Britain — has a devoted nursing staff, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, caterers, launderers and engineers — all the human resources essential to the welfare of the patients in an excellent institution and necessary for the smooth running of its day-to-day life. A community home with a few residents, about three or four to each house, is ideal. But what about individual attention and the provision of the many facilities now available in hospital? What guarantee is there that the education of the disabled will continue to the same or even to an increased standard?
Claypenny has its own fine special school set in its spacious grounds, and that school is doing good work. I am told that in due course it will close. That seems a great waste of excellent resources. Will funds be available in the community to replace this kind of educational back-up? I hope that the Minister will tell us about that.
Another matter must be considered when discussing voluntary help for disabled people. The Government must take far more account of the selfless people who stay at home to care for others. The carers are much neglected, and they are mostly women. Women have traditionally been allocated this caring responsibility and that tradition has been reinforced by the practices of both Conservative and Labour Governments. The Prime Minister has laid stress on Victorian values, irrespective of the fact that many of them were bad and certainly not to be encouraged—especially those that relegated women to the home as if that were her only place and role in life. Equally, a Labour Government in 1976 explicitly excluded married and cohabiting women from their entitlement to the invalid care allowance when it was introduced. Any comprehensive policy for care in the community must recognise the position of the carer.
Last year an early-day motion, signed by hon. Members of all parties, called for measures to lighten the burden of carers, to provide adequate respite care and to make the invalid care allowance available to married women carers, as advised by the European Court of Justice and recommended by the Parliamentary Committee. Carers, who are often daughters who give up their own fulfilling career to look after elderly parents or relatives, should be recognised in terms of rights to income support, training, holidays, respite care and professional back-up where necessary. Their contribution to society is as valuable as what is known as "productive" work.
All this costs money, but the total sum of £150 million that has been associated with the Act should be made available as soon as possible. Local councils can also contribute from their own budgets, and I am pleased to learn that in next year's budget North Yorkshire county council is providing a generous £885,000 for the care of elderly, disabled and handicapped people. This is the result of a balanced council that has all parties working together. It will mean more home helps — an important service that makes life more bearable for the housebound. Home helps are the salt of the earth and do an excellent job. Those in old people's homes are remembered as well. Additional staff there will mean greater personal attention and more security for our senior citizens.
In considering the handicapped we should not forget the problems faced by the deaf and the blind for whom special kinds of help are required to enable them to enjoy life. As the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) said, even greater support is needed for those who are both deaf and blind, because in their world they depend totally on their other three senses.
Britain is still a long way from being a society which offers equal opportunities to all. There is discrimination against many minority groups, and this includes people with disabilities. For example, there is no protection in law from discrimination in employment. A Bill of Rights, enforced by a human rights commission, would protect minorities. Even though there are statutory provisions governing the employment of persons with disabilities, they form a disproportionately high number of the unemployed. I urge the Government to see that the implementation of the 1986 Act is not delayed and to ensure that tax cuts in the budget next month are not made at the expense of those whose needs have already been recognised by hon. Members in all parts of the House.
I welcome this debate. I did not find the speech by the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) offensive, but I found it rather heavy on electioneering and rather light on facts. The Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 was not passed as a result only of efforts made by the Opposition. I remember being present on Second Reading and when the Bill made progress later on. At that time, the worry of the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) was that the Bill could well be talked out. I was one of a number of Conservative Members who supported the measure and I was prepared to urge colleagues to make short speeches so as not to risk losing the Bill.
That Bill had all-party support and was supported by the Government. For that reason I do not accept the criticisms made in this debate. Opposition criticism appears to relate to the delay in implementing the provisions of the Act. Reference was made earlier to the cost, which is now estimated at £150 million. From a sedentary position, the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) muttered, "So what?" All Governments must take cognisance of the revenue implications of policies that they implement. No doubt that was why the Labour Government of 1974–1979 did not provide resources to implement the 1970 Act. There may be a difference of opinion about the timetabling of this measure, but there is no difference of opinion about the principle.
I am keen to see implemented as soon as possible the provision that will allow disabled people to be represented before a tribunal. I believe that he who is his own advocate has a fool for a client. In some cases, a person who is emotionally involved in the proceedings is worried because it is his own problem that is being decided by the tribunal, and he wants to put over his case about receiving a benefit. Such people often get muddled and do not present the facts in a correct and intelligible way. It is important to ensure that, where possible, disabled people are represented.
I do not withdraw the point that I made earlier. The Labour Government of 1974 had the opportunity to implement that Act and they did not provide resources to local government to enable that to be done. Undoubtedly, the reason why they did not do so was that they had other priorities at that time, given the state of the economy. No criticism can be levelled today against the Government and I deplore the attacks on the Prime Minister that were made earlier in the debate.
The hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) referred again to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I did not interrupt the speech of the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South again, because of the shortness of the debate. Before the points that have been made get taken out of context, it would be wise for people to read the record and assure themselves that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that spending on disabled benefit has gone up by 75 per cent. That is what I said, and it is wholly true.
Referring to the point made by my hon. Friend the Minister, perhaps it is worth bearing in mind that that 75 per cent. increase in real terms includes an increase of 50 per cent. due to the increased number of beneficiaries and more than 20 per cent. because of the increase in real value of benefits for long-term sick and disabled people.
That is an important point, and I am sure that the House has noted it.
There are two areas in which there are problems for disabled people. The first is the fact that disabled people want nothing more than to be treated as ordinary citizens and members of the community. I regret to say that there is still discrimination in some areas, such as entry into cinemas, discos, dance halls, offices and shops. I would welcome the full force of the law being brought against those organisations and companies that break it in this area.
Opposition Members earlier mentioned the problem of disabled people and unemployment. It is fair to say that the disabled today still suffer, if not from prejudice, then certainly from some employers' reluctance to take them on. There appears to be a presumption that a person who is physically disabled is also mentally slow, incompetent and unable to work as well as an able-bodied person. I deplore that attitude, which still exists in some parts of industry.
There is no reason why someone who suffers from a physical disability should be prevented from acting as a typist, a receptionist or a telephonist. I know of a number of blind people and severely handicapped people who discharge those duties admirably.
All hon. Members should welcome the Government's initiatives on unemployment. I understand that, as far as access to MSC employment and training programmes is concerned, in some cases the disabled have preferential access because of relaxed eligibility conditions. I particularly welcome the fares-to-work scheme and the scheme which allows disabled people to borrow special aids for employment, such as fixtures for typewriters, earpieces for telephones and so on. Those allow a person to work who might otherwise not be able to do so.
I applaud the fact that the Government have implemented a job introduction scheme which encourages employers to recruit disabled people by offering a weekly grant of £45 for a trial period. I hope that, in the short term, the cash will triumph over the unfortunate attitude of some employers and will lead to more disabled people being offered employment.
The House should applaud the fact that, as the Minister said earlier, the Government are providing £6 billion in 1986–87 to assist the disabled. The ability of any Government to assist must depend on the state of the economy. Labour Members have no monopoly of compassion for the disabled. Conservative Members care about them, too. Putting that care into practice is the difficult thing. In view of the projected growth of the economy and of Britain's strong financial position, I look forward to a continuation in the next Parliament of the increasing help that the Government are giving to the disabled.
Some hon. Members are apparently suffering from an illusion about the nature of the motion before the House. They assume that no party political difference exists on this issue. The Government's record and attitude show clearly that there is a difference between us, no matter how much compassion there may be in the hearts of individual Conservative Members.
I remember an infamous day—18 November 1983—when I attempted to bring in a Bill that would have outlawed discrimination against disabled people. With four honourable exceptions Conservative Members were dragooned into the Division Lobby to stop that measure having a Second Reading. It was voted down on a closure. That illustrated more than anything else the attitude of the Government.
We have all heard of the St. Valentine's day massacre in Chicago in the 1920s. There has been another one recently. On Saturday 14 February 1987 the Careline bus service for the disabled that runs between the railway stations in London and the airports was closed down because the Government were unwilling to provide the revenue support that it needed. I know that there will be another service—the airbus service—but that will not be introduced until July. What will disabled people, not only from London but from all over the country, do? How will they get about between now and July? Even the Greater London Association for the Disabled is doubtful whether the airbus service will be an adequate substitute.
We should not be surprised at the Government's attitude. I worry about whether section 7 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act will ever be implemented so long as this Government have a majority. Psychiatric patients are being let out of hospital into an alien environment after six months, only to receive at best inadequate attention and at worst the fate of being completely ignored. In terms of this Government's expenditure on Trident and armaments, implementing section 7 costs very little—very little in terms of the £3·5 billion tax reductions for the very rich. There is no reason why the Government should not provide the resources called for under section 7 of that Act for these poor people.
The Government's indifference to the plight of the disabled is now well documented. Local authorities have been denuded of funds and have had to ignore their statutory obligations. There is a marked contrast between the district auditor surcharging and disqualifying councillors in Liverpool because they delayed levying a rate—a relatively minor and highly controversial matter—and the Government's attitude to local authorities which charged for home helps in contravention of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970.
The Government do nothing to ensure that local authorities discharge their statutory obligations to the disabled. The disabled have been under attack by this Government who have doubled the available scale margin from 50p to £1 and extended its application to heating allowances. The disabled now face the propect of having to pay 20 per cent. of their rates, irrespective of their means.
The Government are abolishing the additional allowances for items such as extra heating, special diets, laundry and clothing. They have replaced them, to all intents and purposes, with the measly £23 a week special disablement premium, and the most severely disabled have been the chief sufferers.
The Government are a lost cause, but soon there will be a new Parliament and it will have to address its attention to the creation of a national disability income. The need for that has been highlighted by a number of organisations, including the Disablement Income Group. The group has shown that three men aged 39, paralysed from the neck down, unable to do anything for themselves and unable to take employment, are treated differently according to how they became disabled. The man who is paralysed from the neck down but was injured at work receives £199·45 a week; the man who was injured in the home but has worked and paid his national insurance contributions receives only £91·30 a week; but the poor man who was born disabled, has never worked, and therefore has never paid any national insurance contribution, receives £75·85 per week.
Such anomalies can really be taken account of only by a proper national disability income. Such an income would have two elements. First, there would be a disablement costs allowance, which would defray expenses and the difficulties of daily living experienced by disabled people. Secondly, it would provide an alternative source of income to the earnings lost through disability. The present allowances are quite inadequate. An attendance allowance of £30·95 a week will not buy 24-hour care; a mobility allowance of £21·65 a week cannot cover the cost of daily taxi fares for people who are unable to use public transport; and £23·25 a week for a disability premium does not replace the weekly earnings of even the lowest-paid worker in this country. A disablement costs allowance would replace the chaos of the current inadequate benefit schemes. It would deal not only with the extra costs currently covered by additional allowances such as heating, but with the mechanical and electrical aids that are often needed by disabled people as an aid to living — to enable them to lead even the semblance of a proper life.
I believe that the next Labour Government — and speed the day when they take power—will have to keep faith with the 10 per cent. of the population and the 29 per cent. of households which have at least one disabled member. They must do that by doing at least three things. First, they must outlaw discrimination against disabled people.
The House will have a Bill before it very soon, if I am given leave to introduce the measure on 4 March. Secondly, there must be a national disability scheme. Thirdly, I believe that we should have a Minister for the Disabled with a Department equipped to run the rule over all legislation and all measures emanating from all Departments of State.
Socialists have an ideological as well as a humanitarian commitment to ensuring that disabled people are given equality, but this Government still have an opportunity in the remaining time available to them. If Ministers have consciences, if they believe that there is a case for bettering the living standards of disabled people, they have on the statute book the 1970 Act. The legislative background is there. It requires only the will — not the will to give largesse to rich taxpayers but the will to give to those who, often through no fault of their own, are suffering disability and need a real chance in life.
I am glad to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing). It is appropriate that the debate was introduced by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), who in so many ways is the father of us all when it comes to legislation for disabled people. The experience that my right hon. Friend had with the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 is a warning to us all of what happens when there is legislation on the statute book that does not immediately receive the resources or the full implementation that it deserves. My right hon. Friend underlined that in the way in which he introduced the warnings of what could be happening to the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986, which was piloted through the House by the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), who I am glad to see is sitting on the Front Bench this evening.
I shall not introduce party political bickering into the debate. I have paid credit in the past to some of the things that the Government have done —for example, what they have done for mentally handicapped people in Wales, the "all-well" strategy, and so forth. However, no one can say that the Prime Minister's response at Question Time last Tuesday was anything short of callous and indifferent. The Prime Minister said:
However, the provisions of the Act, which have significant resource implications, can only be brought into effect as and when these resources can be provided."—[Official Report, 10 February 1987; Vol. 110, c. 156.]
That was it. The Prime Minister did not say that the Government wanted to make progress as quickly as they could, or that they were doing everything in their power. She did not say that this was a high priority in the Government's programme. No; there was a full stop at that point. That was all the sympathy and action for the disabled that we had from the Prime Minister last Tuesday.
The amendment contains the words that I interjected when the Minister of State was speaking earlier. The amendment
re-affirms its commitment to the provisions of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 with implementation as resources become available and as priorities allow".
The reality is that the priorities of disabled people do not allow the Act to go ahead as rapidly as possible. Thousands of people the length and breadth of these islands need the implementation of all the provisions of the Act, and they need it now. People coming out of long-stay hospitals, people suffering from mental illness—as we have heard from several speakers—desperately need the provisions. Those people are being let loose into the community without community facilities and provisions being made available to them. But they are not a sufficient priority to be put above the other demands on the Government's purse.
No doubt, in a few weeks we shall be given a reduction in income tax. One sixth of every penny to be knocked off income tax would pay for the implementation of the Act, and it is not all needed in one parliamentary year, as the Minister said. But that is not the Government's priority. They would rather give the money away in the run-up to an election than spend it on essential services for the disabled. Nor is it their priority to help mentally handicapped children in schools. Such children need a personal plan and provision when they leave school at the age of 18 or 19 so that they do not come home to aging parents who do not know how to care for them, and have no back-up facilities within the community. That is a priority for many of us, but it is not the Government's priority.
No, I am not giving way. Time is short.
The Government would rather give away about £3,000 million to income tax payers to buy votes. There are unpaid carers in the community—often they are women — looking after elderly and disabled relatives in their own homes, who desperately need support services within the community. They desperately need domiciliary nursing support. They need therapy in their own households to stop their relatives from being hospitalised and going into long-stay institutions. They need that help now. They have a desperate priority. However, the priority of the Government is to cut income tax, not to find that one sixth of one penny of income tax which is needed to implement the Act.
We know of the need for greater assessment so that all those who have a real need, and who should come within the provisions of the 1970 Act will have those needs met. Yes, that will need expenditure, but it is not a priority for the Government.
The Prime Minister's response to this matter last Tuesday was a disgrace to the Conservative party and to the House. The Prime Minister and her Ministers should have been much more willing to ensure that the needs of disabled people are not the last priority in the queue. They should ensure that disabled people do not come after everything else and that money which is expected in the Budget is not given away elsewhere. They should ensure that those needs rank high in the order of priorities as we see them.
I accept that the Minister—as he said in an earlier intervention — does not know what is in the Budget. However, he could tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister that unless provision is made within the next financial year for the implementation of the Act, he will not vote for the Government on the Budget or anything else. It is a matter of principle and whether the Minister will stand up for what is needed by disabled people. It is a question of whether his priorities are those of disabled people, or of the Treasury or those of a Conservative Government before an election.
One can pursue many issues connected with disabled people. This issue will not go away. It will return at Question Time after Question Time, week after week. It will run hard in a general election, unless the Government rapidly find the money to make the Act a reality.
In cutting my comments short I wish to refer to the review of the supplementary benefit limits for board and lodging and residential and nursing care that were announced on Thursday of last week. An extra £5 was given for elderly people and £10 for physically disabled people under pension age. That is an increase of up to £190 a week from April.
Although the £10 a week was welcomed, it still does not address the problem of the more profoundly or multiple-handicap people who incur high care costs and face charges of up to £300 a week. Local authorities are obliged to top up the difference, and most do so. My concern is for the future, as more profoundly handicapped people go into residential care rather than hospital, and smaller "normal" homes are developed where economy of scale costs are not possible. If those people are seeking residential care they may have topping-up problems and be channelled into inappropriate care. The Spastics Society has made representations to the Minister seeking a special category of people on higher rate attendance allowance who would receive the nursing home rate of £230 a week without having to be in a nursing home. If the Government had acknowledged the special needs of that group of profoundly handicapped people, they would have encouraged local authorities to top up the difference.
The board and lodging rate for people with mental handicaps is also a problem. That remains unchanged, at £150 a week. MENCAP responded angrily to that. It will inevitably exacerbate the problems of mentally handicapped people in smaller group homes that are registered as residential care homes.
While the Government are attempting to seek a longer-term solution to the issue, individual disabled people are experiencing difficulties in the short term. The imposition of blanket limits inevitably results in the needs of individuals not being recognised. I hope that the Minister will take on board the need for profoundly mentally and physically handicapped people to be better catered for in the system. I underline the great dismay and disappointment that I believe hon. Members on both sides of the House feel because progress is not being made as they had hoped. Progress is being made, by stages, but we had hoped that it would be made by rapid stages. At present, there is no end to the tunnel. There is no light in sight. I hope that the Minister will give a greater commitment to the speedy, full implementation of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 within the next 12 months.
Labour Members have decried the £6 billion being spent on the disabled as though nothing had been done. Yet that figure represents a £2·5 billion increase. The increase in the number of people who now receive the increased benefit should also be welcomed by all hon. Members. Instead, however, Labour Members are somewhat mealy-mouthed about the success of the Government's measures.
The Social Security Act 1986 was mentioned in the usual disparaging way by the Opposition, but within the terms of that Act 160,000 disabled people will receive £4 to £5 per week more than at present. Surely that is a help. We talk about disabled people as though every one of them was extremely severely disabled. They all matter, however small their disability, but they are not all at the extreme end of the disability scale. The review that the Minister has had carried out into the genuine needs of the severely disabled is also important. A commitment was made in Committee on the Social Security Bill that people's needs would be considered carefully before the level of benefits was set. It was also stated that grants—not loans—could be made available through the social fund. That possibility could certainly be considered in some cases.
The severely disabled, who are obviously those in the greatest need, can be looked after even better than they are today within the terms of the new social security framework. The Government have made commitments to do that. They have also made commitments regarding the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), which contained some extremely important provisions. As was mentioned earlier, it is important that the disabled should be able to get help quickly for representations before tribunals. I welcome the Minister's comments today and the fact that there has at last been movement on the McColl report. That will be welcome news for many disabled people, and I hope that other measures recommended in the report will be implemented in the near future.
I welcome the steps towards people moving out of care and into the community. I am convinced that that is the right approach, but the benefits for those moving out should be monitored carefully. It is not just a matter of value for money. It is a matter of whether the homes into which those individuals move function well and to their benefit. These are comparatively early days, but we should monitor that change closely through local authorities and the DHSS to ensure that such moves are genuinely beneficial to all those concerned. I still have some slight doubt as to whether all the people being moved out are really ready for it and whether the places to which they are moved are suitable. A more formal institution might still be preferable for some of them at this stage.
Changes in the education provision for handicapped people have been working successfully for some years, but the effect on children going into normal schools should be studied. How much does that benefit some of those children? The majority will certainly benefit, but that also needs to be considered. The right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) mentioned those who are deaf and blind. Some parents in my constituency work very hard on behalf of the organisation called SENSE. I have visited that organisation's centre in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Those people have a most difficult problem — to put it mildly — in terms of mobility and being looked after. I can conceive of little that equals the difficulties of parents and other people who look after those children. I ask the Minister to consider carefully the terms of the early-day motion on mobility allowance for those people.
I have exhausted the few minutes that I had. The Government are concerned. The Government have taken action in the past and are taking action in the new social security review. The Government have a commitment to the legislation introduced by the hon. Member for Monklands, West. We have shown that we care about the disabled. More must be done, and I am sure that the Government will do it.
After 22 years involvement in the House in respect of disability, I shall now make my shortest speech on the subject. It is heartwarming that the disabled people are concerned about prevention. I am delighted to be associated with the Spastics Society's move to prevent disability in the young. The society has realised the suffering caused by disability, and it is willing to make a sacrifice to do something about the problem.
One of the great problems faced by disabled people is the handicap that prevents them from being educated. They will have a double handicap if we make it difficult for them to be educated. Will the Minister please ensure that more resources are made available for the provisions of the Education Act 1981, which we said were the Warnock recommendations without the resources? Those resources must be provided.
The disabled child or disabled adult who gets the education that he or she deserves has a good and substantial chance of being rehabilitated and of becoming who he or she wants to be—an income tax payer. If disabled people are to become income tax payers, after overcoming their disability, receiving their education and being rehabilitated, we shall have failed if the Manpower Services Commission does not fight much harder for them to get them employment. Will the Minister for Social Security and the Disabled please go to the Under-Secretary of State for Employment with responsibility for the disabled—the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Lee) —and say, "There is a fair amount of money available to the MSC, but there is not enough drive or initiative. There is an awful lot of propaganda and a tremendous amount of paperwork but there are not enough jobs."? At the end of the day, if we have prevented disability in some cases and educated in others and have rehabilitated disabled people, we owe them a chance to get a place in society working wherever possible.
Like other right hon. and hon. Members, my time is restricted. There are many points which I should like to make but which I shall reserve for another occasion. The Minister was generous enough to say some kind things, and I am grateful to him. Whether by the end of my speech he will feel that I have reciprocated is another matter.
It is extremely important that we should have this debate. The admirable speeches of my right hon. Friends the Members for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) arid for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) and for Eccles (Mr. Carter-Jones) and the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), show that the Opposition believe that there are questions that will not go away. We are determined to pose them and determined that the Under-Secretary of State should reply to them.
The Minister for Social Security and the Disabled began, as is the Government's style in matters relevant to disability, by announcing in dribs and drabs measures about which we should have heard some time ago when we expected a Government response to the McColl report. As with aspects of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986, we are finding that the Government and Government spokespersons are promising announcements—we await them — but nothing is said or done.
I obtained a Library paper on the McColl report which considered the issues mentioned by the Minister — wheelchairs and the rest. The McColl report is very important. The Library paper said that the previous Minister for Social Security — the hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) —was to make an announcement before the summer. This is February and the present Minister still has not made a clear statement on the Government's thinking on the McColl report. The Government's attitude to the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act is similar.
I welcomed, as did the whole House, the support given to the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act by those hon. Members who have participated in this debate, including the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam), but I could not agree with the account of the Government's timetable given by the Minister and shared to some extent by the hon. Member for Exeter.
The Government are well behind the commitments that they gave the House on Third Reading and when considering Lords amendments. If the Minister has any doubts about that, I refer him to the comment made on 11 April on Third Reading by the then Minister for Health the right hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) — when referring to the clause dealing specifically with the problems of disabled school leavers, which the Government disgracefully set aside. He said:
I am advised that there probably need not be any delay in implementing the new clause. I hope that its provisions will apply soon."—[Official Report, 11 April 1985; Vol. 95, c. 484.]
On 4 July, in the debate on the Lords amendments—by which time the Government had had plenty of time to think about their timing — the present Minister for Health, the hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton), said:
If possible, we should like to bring the provisions into effect in time to benefit disabled young people leaving full-time education in the summer of 1987, that is by the autumn of this year. We shall be consulting urgently with local authority associations about achieving that." — [Official Report, 4 July 1986; Vol. 100, c. 1328.]
That commitment has not been honoured. I challenge the Minister to give us evidence to the contrary. If he suggests that my right hon. and hon. Friends and I are misleading the House, I ask him to explain the position to voluntary organisations—from the Advocacy Alliance to RADAR, MENCAP, MIND and the Scottish Society for the Mentally Handicapped—which all feel as strongly as I do about the Government's failure to honour their commitment.
Those voluntary organisations said:
It is this particular section of the Act which is causing the most anxiety among the organisations at present. It already looks as though the Government will not bring this section into operation by October. If the Government does not move now, the future of those leaving school in 1988 and 1989 will be seriously and adversely affected. The young disabled people will leave school without a proper assessment of their needs and of their future".
I should like to repeat the next sentence, which is perhaps the most important comment so far on the Government's attitude to this legislation. The voluntary organisations—I know of not one that supports the Government's position—said:
Still more serious is the implication of these delays on the rest of the Act and the future of all ages of people with disabilities. How can the voluntary organisations be assured that the other sections of the Act will be implemented and how long will this take?
That overwhelming question mark hangs above the Government Dispatch Box as we debate these matters. The question mark was just as overwhelming when the Prime Minister attempted the other day to answer our question and left us with even more doubts about the Government's credibility than we had before.
I ask the Minister also, because leaks are not unknown in the Government, whether he has read, or is even aware of, the report yesterday in the Daily Telegraph about the disabled benefits review. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the OPCS survey which is being conducted. The House is entitled to know what that survey has been doing. Will it lead to a review, especially one about nil costs? If there are to be winners and losers, as the Prime Minister said in another context, are not disabled winners and losers to know exactly who they are before the election? The Minister owes the House that information at least.
With regard to local authority associations, I am delighted that the Association of County Councils, the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, which all supported the Act, have expressed their disappointment at the Government's niggardly attitude to the provision of resources.
Let there be no doubt, when the Minister and some of his hon. Friends suggest that I for one second agreed to the Government's timetable, that Conservative Members were fully aware of the resources implications and fully aware that the House would be profoundly disappointed if, seven months after Royal Assent, we found that not one ha'penny had been spent and not a single order introduced. They knew, too, that the House would be disappointed to know that, although we have pressed the Government time after time, the people of Northern Ireland still do not know whether the Government intend to apply the Act to them. If they are in doubt, may I remind them of the views of the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth), on Third Reading on 11 April. He said:
Those of us who may from time to time take a slightly parsimonious attitude to Government matters are anxious that all the resources needed should he found to fulfil the agreed measures behind this important Bill.
I add my voice to those of other Conservative Members who give their support in seeking the resources needed to fulfil the Bill's excellent objectives."—[Official Report, 11 April 1986; Vol. 95, c. 484.]
For the Government now to pretend that they did not know about resource implications, to pretend that hon. Members—especially my right hon. and hon. Friends—and local authorities did not anticipate that, is to mislead the House beyond what is acceptable.
Even if every word, line and clause of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 were implemented, problems would still remain. The hon. Member for Ryedale (Mrs. Shields), in an interesting and helpful speech. referred to the problem of carers. When the Government tell us about the cost, as they estimate it, of implementing the Act—setting aside the other priorities in which they seem to believe: £164 million to dispose of and advertise the sale of British Gas, over £200 million that they are spending on AWACS and the proposals to reduce tax in the next Budget—we would want to remind them that carers in Britain save the Treasury millions of pounds every day, every week and every year. The Government should not exploit that dedication.
Some Conservative Members gave genuine support to what is now the Act. I acknowledge that at the time and I do so now. If they believe that the Government are not acting in a lethargic manner, they are being led up the garden path. There is a difference on these matters between the two sides of the House. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition warned, two days before the last general election, that were the Prime Minister reelected there would be cuts in community services. He said then, and our debate has confirmed it:
I warn you not to fall ill; I warn you not to get old.
The Prime Minister mentioned St. Francis of Assisi. She forgot that he had suggested that we should seek not just to be understood, but to understand.
The inexcusable lethargy on the part of the Government is a clear admission that they fail to understand the problems of the 5·5 million disabled people and their carers in this country. For that reason I invite the House to support our motion, and I invite the British people to reach their own conclusions when the time comes.
It is a matter of note that the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) should make his debut on the Front Bench in a debate which largely centres on the implementation of a Bill which he piloted skilfully from the Back Benches.
I would have been able to give the hon. Gentleman a warmer welcome if he had not so heavily laced his opening speech from that position with humbug. The hon. Gentleman knew when he introduced his Bill, with Government support and the support of my hon. Friends—a point that was well made by my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight)—that he was accepting phasing. He said:
I accept, as I did on Second Reading, that it will be necessary to consider implementation on the basis of phasing."—[Official Report, 4 July 1986; Vol. 100, c. 1340.]
We shall implement some sections of the Act promptly. It remains our hope, as my hon. Friend said, subject to the outcome of his discussions with the local authority associations, that sections 4, 8, 9 and 10 of the Act can be implemented by 1 April. My hon. Friend said that he was optimistic that it would be possible to implement section 11 this year. Some realities come home to us when we look at sections 5 and 6. As my hon. Friend said, he also wishes to examine whether we shall be able to make progress on sections 5 and 6, which deal with the identification and assessment of disabled school leavers.
The hon. Member for Monklands, West originally believed that the implementation of those sections would not have a significant cost. The hon. Gentleman told the House — it was put more strongly by the right hon. Gentleman and Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) — that the Opposition now estimate the annual cost of those sections at between £30 million and £50 million, which is a matter that any Government would have to mention. It is a matter which Opposition Members ought to appreciate because they were clearly sensitive during this debate about their inability to allocate any specific sum between 1974 and 1979 to the implementation of the Chronically Sick and Disabled persons Act 1970, which was introduced by the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe. The reasons why they were in difficulty are well known to the House—the problem in 1976, the fact that the party was over, and the return from the airport.
Priorities and finances must be a matter for any Government. The priorities of the Opposition in this matter of disablement benefits deserve more careful scrutiny, and I commend this to the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) and the hon. Member for Monklands, West who has just joined the Front Bench. That £3·5 billion, which is all supposedly to be produced from the rich—although we notice from the newspapers that they are getting a little richer, and no doubt the yield is getting a little smaller—will not help the poor, the disabled or the long-term sick. As we know, that £3·5 billion, which is supposed to be spent on child benefit, on extra pensions and on the long-term scale rate, does not provide the extra £1 billion that would be necessary to offset the corresponding deductions from the means-tested benefits of the poor; nor does it provide the normal upratings that go with it for the long-term sick, for widows and for the disabled, which would require an extra £1 billion, making it £5·5 billion.
The hon. Gentleman seeks to attack us because we have careful priorities in finance, but the foundations of his party's strategy on the sick, pensioners and the disabled are undercut by its failure to think through the points that it is seeking to make. The Opposition say, "Take it out of defence spending." I watched the Leader of the Opposition talking to Sir Robin Day last night. He was not talking about taking anything out of defence spending. He was putting it into some sort of conventional defence which is supposed to help us. No money was to be obtained there.
The Opposition say that we should not make tax cuts, as though tax cuts affected only the rich; as though the only people in this country who pay tax were rich. A high proportion of the taxation that funds benefits is paid by people who get little more in earnings than many of the people who receive benefit. That is one of the realities that the Government do not forget.
The right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) made an uncharacteristic and ill-placed attack on my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. He failed to quote what she said and it shows the Opposition's sensitivity on this point. What my right hon. Friend said about the 75 per cent. increase in spending on benefits under this Government—no less than £2·5 billion—to £6 billion was absolutely accurate. Opposition Members are entitled to play with statistics, like the rest of us, and they are perfectly entitled to say that spending on the disabled went up by 8·3 per cent. in real terms during their period of office and that it has gone up by 6 per cent. during our period of office, but I shall put that into its real terms. When it comes to constant price money, the money that has to be provided by the taxes of people who go to work and pay their taxes, the increased amount paid each year during their period of office, 1974 to 1979, was £166 million. The increased amount that was being paid during the first six years of this Government was not £166 million, but £215 million in real terms. That puts the matter into perspective.
My hon. Friend has made our position clear. We will seek to implement the Act on the basis that we have set out. We hope to make significant progress with sections 4, 8, 9 and 10, and we hope section 11 in the near future, and we are looking carefully at sections 5 and 6. We will set about it in the workmanlike way in which we have set about our care of the disabled over the past six years and which we hope to continue over the next five years.
I invite the House to reject the motion tabled by the Opposition, and I commend the amendment in the names of my right hon. Friends to the House. If there is a Division, I invite the House to join us in the Lobby.
|Division No. 93]||[7.00 pm|
|Abse, Leo||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Adams, Allen (Paisley N)||Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)|
|Alton, David||Home Robertson, John|
|Anderson, Donald||Howarth, George (Knowsley, N)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Howells, Geraint|
|Ashton, Joe||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Hughes, Roy (Newport East)|
|Barron, Kevin||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Beith, A. J.||Janner, Hon Greville|
|Bell, Stuart||John, Brynmor|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Johnston, Sir Russell|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Kennedy, Charles|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil|
|Blair, Anthony||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Lambie, David|
|Boyes, Roland||Lamond, James|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Leighton, Ronald|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Lewis, Terence (Worsley)|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Litherland, Robert|
|Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Loyden, Edward|
|Bruce, Malcolm||McCartney, Hugh|
|Buchan, Norman||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Campbell, Ian||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||McNamara, Kevin|
|Canavan, Dennis||McWilliam, John|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)||Madden, Max|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Marek, Dr John|
|Cartwright, John||Martin, Michael|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Clarke, Thomas||Maxton, John|
|Clay, Robert||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S)||Meacher, Michael|
|Coleman, Donald||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Conlan, Bernard||Michie, William|
|Corbett, Robin||Mikardo, Ian|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Craigen, J. M.||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Crowther, Stan||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||Nellist, David|
|Dewar, Donald||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Dixon, Donald||O'Neill, Martin|
|Dormand, Jack||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Dubs, Alfred||Park, George|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Patchett, Terry|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Eadie, Alex||Pendry, Tom|
|Eastham, Ken||Pike, Peter|
|Fatchett, Derek||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Prescott, John|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Radice, Giles|
|Fisher, Mark||Randall, Stuart|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Redmond, Martin|
|Forrester, John||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Foster, Derek||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Foulkes, George||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Fraser, J. (Norwood)||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Robertson, George|
|Freud, Clement||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Rooker, J. W.|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Rowlands, Ted|
|Gould, Bryan||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Gourlay, Harry||Sheerman, Barry|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Hardy, Peter||Shields, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Haynes, Frank||Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Skinner, Dennis|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)||Weetch, Ken|
|Snape, Peter||Welsh, Michael|
|Soley, Clive||White, James|
|Steel, Rt Hon David||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Stott, Roger||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Strang, Gavin||Wilson, Gordon|
|Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)||Winnick, David|
|Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)||Woodall, Alec|
|Thorne, Stan (Preston)||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Torney, Tom||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Wainwright, R.||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Warden, Gareth (Gower)||Mr. Ron Davies.|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Alexander, Richard||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward|
|Amess, David||Durant, Tony|
|Ancram, Michael||Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)|
|Arnold, Tom||Eggar, Tim|
|Ashby, David||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Eyre, Sir Reginald|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Fallon, Michael|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Favell, Anthony|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey|
|Batiste, Spencer||Fletcher, Sir Alexander|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Forman, Nigel|
|Bellingham, Henry||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Benyon, William||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Best, Keith||Fox, Sir Marcus|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Franks, Cecil|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Galley, Roy|
|Blackburn, John||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Body, Sir Richard||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Goodhart, Sir Philip|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Gow, Ian|
|Bottomley, Peter||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Grant, Sir Anthony|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Griffiths, Sir Eldon|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Hannam, John|
|Bright, Graham||Hayes, J.|
|Brinton, Tim||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney|
|Brittan, Rt Hon Leon||Hayward, Robert|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Henderson, Barry|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Hickmet, Richard|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.||Hind, Kenneth|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Hirst, Michael|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Burt, Alistair||Holt, Richard|
|Butcher, John||Hordern, Sir Peter|
|Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam||Howard, Michael|
|Butterfill, John||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Carlisle, John (Luton N)||Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Irving, Charles|
|Cash, William||Jessel, Toby|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Chapman, Sydney||Kershaw, Sir Anthony|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Knox, David|
|Cockeram, Eric||Lamont, Rt Hon Norman|
|Colvin, Michael||Lang, Ian|
|Conway, Derek||Latham, Michael|
|Coombs, Simon||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Cope, John||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Cormack, Patrick||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Corrie, John||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Couchman, James||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Critchley, Julian||Lester, Jim|
|Crouch, David||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Lilley, Peter|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Pollock, Alexander|
|Lord, Michael||Porter, Barry|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Powell, William (Corby)|
|McCrindle, Robert||Powley, John|
|McCurley, Mrs Anna||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Price, Sir David|
|MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Raffan, Keith|
|Maclean, David John||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Rathbone, Tim|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)|
|McQuarrie, Albert||Renton, Tim|
|Major, John||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Malins, Humfrey||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Maples, John||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Mather, Sir Carol||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Mellor, David||Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)|
|Merchant, Piers||Robinson, Mark (N'port W)|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)||Rowe, Andrew|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|Mitchell, David (Hants NW)||Ryder, Richard|
|Moate, Roger||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.|
|Morris, M. (N'hampton S)||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Murphy, Christopher||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Neale, Gerrard||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Nelson, Anthony||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Neubert, Michael||Shersby, Michael|
|Newton, Tony||Silvester, Fred|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Norris, Steven||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.||Spencer, Derek|
|Osborn, Sir John||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Ottaway, Richard||Squire, Robin|
|Page, Sir John (Harrow W)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Stanley, Rt Hon John|
|Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil||Steen, Anthony|
|Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Stern, Michael|
|Pattie, Rt Hon Geoffrey||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)||Waller, Gary|
|Stokes, John||Walters, Dennis|
|Stradling Thomas, Sir John||Ward, John|
|Sumberg, David||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Taylor, John (Solihull)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)||Watson, John|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Watts, John|
|Terlezki, Stefan||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Thomas, Rt Hon Peter||Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)|
|Thompson, Donald (Calder V)||Wheeler, John|
|Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)||Whitney, Raymond|
|Thurnham, Peter||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Townend, John (Bridlington)||Wilkinson, John|
|Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Trotter, Neville||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Twinn, Dr Ian||Woodcock, Michael|
|Vaughan, Sir Gerard||Yeo, Tim|
|Waddington, Rt Hon David||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Waldegrave, Hon William||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Walden, George||Mr. Michael Portillo and|
|Walker, Bill (T'side N)||Mr. David Lightbown.|
|Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)|
That this House congratulates the Government on its continuing commitment to improving provision for disabled people; draws attention to the increase in annual spending on their social security entitlements of £2·5 billion in real terms since 1978–79; welcomes improvements in their tax position and employment opportunities; reaffirms its commitment to the provisions of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 with implementation as resources become available and as priorities allow; and welcomes the survey by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys into the numbers, circumstances and needs of disabled people as a basis for a comprehensive review of benefits of long-term sick and disabled people.