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Welfare Reform

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Social Security – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th January 1999.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling Secretary of State for Social Security 12:00 am, 11th January 1999

I agree with my right hon. Friend that the Government should respond to criticism—they will—but I am wary of undertaking to publish Green Paper after Green Paper. The Government are anxious to ensure that we make progress and implement the reforms that people want. The consultation period for the pensions Green Paper, which is a matter very close to my right hon. Friend, finishes at the end of March. The Government will consider the representations that we receive and decide whether we need to publish a White Paper or whether we can proceed to legislation.

On disability and bereavement benefits, I have made it clear that the Government want to legislate in this Session. The consultation periods on those benefits have just ended or will end this week. In each case, the Government will respond to all suggestions and criticisms and make it clear what representations we can and cannot accept, but I can assure my right hon. Friend that the consultation is genuine and helps to inform Government decisions.