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6.19 pm

Mr. John Battle (Leeds, West) : As an introduction, I shall make a few remarks about the context of the debate. We are being asked to approve an uprating on the same day as we read that some right hon. Members fare very well indeed. I refer to the second, or what in all justice should be called the third, job of the right hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson), the former Chancellor of the Exchequer. Let us not forget that his Budget last March and previous Budgets set the structural arrangements for this uprating and for previous arrangements for people on low pay and in poverty. I agree with the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) that we always have the difficulty that we cannot discuss tax and benefit arrangements in the same debate and relate one to the other.

We now hear that the right hon. Member for Blaby has been offered another job at £40,000 a year, working as an non-executive director of GPA, the world's biggest aircraft leasing company based in Shannon, County Clare. That is on top of the job that he has already been offered at £100,000 a year, working two days a week for Barclays. That focuses our attention on part-time work, which is a crucial issue in this debate. The right hon. Gentleman may well have spare time to write his memoirs and fit in political activities with doing those two jobs, but it is a shocking contrast with the 9 million people in part-time, temporary and low-paid work who make up the bulk of people in poverty, because low pay is the primary cause of poverty.

Today, the working party set up by Sir Gordon Borrie, the Director General of Fair Trading, reported that more than 200,000 households were in severe debt difficulty and that a further 500,000 people were having difficulty in coping with the debts that they had incurred. I hazard a guess that many people with such debts are precisely those who are on much less than the average wage. I am tempted to believe that most people with such debts are on low pay or low benefits. I do not have time for a part-time job because I fill all my time responding to the inquiries of constituents who find it hard to get by on low incomes, low benefits and low pensions. I shall quote an example from the Department of Social Security agency benefits unit :

"Mr. Garnett's requirements have been calculated at £75.60, comprising of a personal allowance of £54.80 for a couple, a £19.50 disability premium as Mr. Garnett is in receipt of invalidity benefit, plus £1.14 a week housing costs. The latter consists of rent and general rates less housing benefit and the statutory 20 per cent. deduction of the gross rates. There is also a £12.50 deduction in respect of non- dependents. (Mr. and Mrs. Garnett's daughter Denise lives with them). The comparison between Mr. Garnett's resources of £75.60 and his requirements of £75.44 resulted in an excess figure of £0.16. On this basis they are not entitled to help with prescription charges and are deemed able to meet the first £0.48 of any other NHS charges. I am sorry that this reply may be disappointing for Mr. and Mrs. Garnett but I hope you feel the explanation helpful." It is more than disappointing when people are trying to survive on incomes which are below half or even a third of the average wage. In another case, Mrs. Whiteley has an income of £49.31. Her needs are £46.10. She is not eligible for income support and the extra £2.50 that she received last October makes no real difference to her income.

Mr. and Mrs. Stanley wrote to me to say :

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"We are not destitute, but over the last 12 months the cost of living has risen so much. Every week the cost of different items, especially food, it is frightening to think of what is to come and new clothes are a non-entity.

The future looks very grim, I dread to think what next year will bring, what with the poll tax and increases are expected on electricity etc. My Wife and myself know how things are worsening from the fact that the small luxuries that we used to enjoy, such as a visit to the theatre and an occasional evening meal, to celebrate a birthday or anniversary are now a thing of the past."

They are hardly living on the average income or even half the average income, yet they are being denied some of the things that we take for granted as ways of participating in society.

Today I received a letter from someone who was worried about residential nursing homes. I ask the Minister to consider this issue. I tabled a parliamentary question asking why personal expense allowances, in particular the pocket money part of the board and lodging allowance, are being reduced to top up fees paid to private residential establishments. That pocket money is being absorbed. I hope that the Minister will suggest that that money will not be absorbed and that people will not have their pocket money withdrawn to cover increasing costs. Although the order suggests that there will be an increase of £10 a week, it will not match increases in inflation or needs. There will be a shortfall in the provision for the true cost of care. Many people will have to pay a huge shortfall out of their own pocket. The shortfall should not come from the personal expenses allowance.

I do not have time to speak about the knock-on effects on rents. The hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) said that he had noted that only one Labour Back-Bench Member had been called so far. May I assure him that there is plenty of scope to talk about housing benefit.

At the turn of the century, Seeborne Rowntree, in his study of York, identified one of the primary causes of poverty as the fact that people have to spend almost a third of their income on housing costs--either on rents or to purchase their home. I should like the Government to tell us what market rent levels should be, because it is the policy of the Department of the Environment to push up rents to market levels which will absorb more than a third of people's incomes and effectively price them out of their housing.

I hope never again to hear Conservative Members make comments such as those which the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) made on 24 January. He suggested :

"The long term homeless have turned their back on society." He continued with a little slip :

"Young offenders should be the responsibility of their parents, not of this Government. The Government have done quite enough for the homeless. I hope that they will spend no more money on them."--[ Official Report, 24 January 1990 ; Vol. 165, c. 879.]

I invite the Minister to repudiate that remark, and to dissociate himself and the Government from those ill-informed remarks. Not least, the Minister should not associate himself with the suggestion that anyone who is homeless is also a young offender. That criminalises the victims of homelessness and blames them for their plight. In an intervention, I mentioned child benefit. I hope that the Minister will accept that raising means-tested

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benefits is not adequate compensation for failing to maintain a non-means tested benefit which could cut through the poverty trap. The Secretary of State has shifted from using the word "targeting" to "focusing". I suggest that the Government have bifocal vision. They see through one lens the larger image of tax cuts and those who do well. Then they look through the other lens and see a smaller image where they are reducing benefits. As my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) said, it is clear that money is being taken from the poor and redistributed to the rich. In booming Britain, it is not enough to tell us about average wages. It may be that those who are at the top are doing well, but those at the bottom are paying the price because their incomes are going down. It is possible for that to happen even when the average is rising.

We have a new Secretary of State for Social Security and a new Chancellor of the Exchequer. Already the new Chancellor is rejecting the policies and direction of his predecessor. I hope that the Secretary of State for Social Security will say, "Now that we have a new Chancellor of the Exchequer with new policies, why should we accept the uprating statements of his predecessor?" I urge him to take that statement back to the Chancellor and ask him to look at it again to see whether the Treasury could be more generous to those in need rather than insisting that the House divide on it tonight. If we have to divide on it, I urge hon. Members to vote against it. 6.29 pm

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle) : I am grateful to the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) for allowing me three or four minutes in which to speak at the end of this interesting debate.

I have always thought that there is something rather artificial about these debates, and to listen to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), one would think that when looking at the Treasury Bench, one was looking at Scrooge before his conversion. That image sits unkindly on the shoulders of my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Minister for Social Security, and does not accord with the facts.

I do not want to repeat what has already been said, but we have a social security budget of £55 billion, and in 1992-93 it is forecast that it will be 4 per cent. above inflation, running up to £63 billion. Therefore, the argument that we may have to address is not that the Government have been less than generous, but that we must now establish where we are going. That is why I wanted two or three minutes in the debate to put down one or two markers.

The Government have won the argument against economic collectivism. Indeed, that argument is being won right across Europe and not only in this country, but we have not yet won the argument on social collectivism, and we must now address that problem in time for the general election. After all, we have a Government who are courageous enough to address the difficult subject of the reform of the National Health Service--I applaud what the Government are doing--and I believe that we have a Government who will be courageous enough also to address the problem of a social collectivist society.

That is a difficult problem to address, and nowhere is it more difficult than in the conundrum of child benefit. On the one hand, we have a universal benefit, which is

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universally taken up, does not add to the poverty trap, and which we should all like to keep ; on the other hand, it is given to all members of society regardless of wealth.

In addressing that problem, perhaps we should think in terms of combining the two structures of taxation and benefits. I hesitate to say this to my distinguished colleagues on the Treasury Bench, but perhaps the Department of Social Security should become part of the Treasury.

When I talk of the two systems being combined, I am not talking of a tax- credit system or of a system of minimum income guarantees. However, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) argued in The Times earlier this week, perhaps we could use a combined taxation and social security system to try to encourage people to invest not only in bricks and mortar, but in social security provision, pension care, health and education. It is an exciting prospect and one to which the Government must look if we are to solve the problem of how we can cope politically with a social security budget that is now running at £1 billion a week. Finally--I know that this is a courageous remark, but it must be made--I am not questioning that we have a commitment to provide all those who are now of working age with a state pension that will keep pace with prices, but we must remember that the state pension now accounts for £28 billion out of the total budget. Perhaps we should use the taxation and benefit system to give people more incentives and to encourage future generations to provide for their own future. If we are to be honest with people, we cannot continue to tell young people that the state can provide for them. I stress that I am not talking about people in middle age or those coming up to old age, and I am certainly not talking about old-age pensioners. Perhaps we should have the courage now to encourage young people, through the taxation and social security systems, to invest in their own future. As a society, it is easy to be generous with other people's money. However, those societies that are most collectivist are often the most barren in personal generosity. The taxation and social security system must encourage personal generosity. We must escape from our dependency society, which creates two nations. If we had the courage to address those problems, I believe that we could make considerable progress and seek to end the ratchet effect of an increasingly collectivist society.

6.33 pm

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West) : It is a pleasure to reply to this informative and worthwhile debate, in which we have heard creative ideas and constructive arguments from hon. Members of all parties. I deal first with the final points of the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh), who seems to have swallowed the myth of Government generosity as a result of the £55 billion figure. Although that figure is impressive in itself, it represents only 9.7 per cent. of our gross domestic product, whereas as recently as three years ago the social security budget accounted for 11.5 per cent. Therefore, with an aging population and growing demands for more expensive medicines, we are spending less on such services as a proportion of our national wealth.

The hon. Members for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith) and for Taunton (Mr. Nicholson) made useful contributions

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about the great difficulty of making comparisons with our fellow members of the European Community. Although they are real, there is no question about the selectivity of the figures quoted by the hon. Member for Taunton, which did not help the argument. The European Commission has made a serious attempt to make objective and valid comparisons. It took as its standard the amount paid to each new pensioner who had worked for an average wage in manufacturing industry and it compared the figures for each country in two ways. First, the cash amounts were converted into European currency units by using a standard rate of exchange called the purchasing power standard, which takes full account of the cost of living in each country. The pension was thus related to what it would buy locally. The United Kingdom came badly out of that comparison because, on that basis, the British pension is £55, which is barely half the £104 paid in Luxembourg and the £101 paid in the Netherlands. In that comparison, Britain was beaten into bottom place only by Ireland. The second comparison involved calculating the pension as an average of manufacturing earnings in each country after taking account of tax. The figure of 100 was used as the base for the ratios. On that basis, the best countries in Europe paid 90 per cent. of average earnings, while Britain came bottom, along with Ireland, paying 46 per cent. I do not ask the Government to accept those figures, although they were produced independently by the European Commission which does not have an axe to grind. However, I have used parliamentary questions to ask the Government to carry out the same calculations themselves.

Sadly, the reply has been that the figures cannot be given except at disproportionate cost. That is an unfair answer. If they want to make a comparison, the Government should match the figures from the European Community. The truth is understood by our pensioners--not only by the ones who have been on holiday to Greece--that, especially in relation to West Germany and to France, they have fallen behind their European counterparts in many ways.

If we want proof of the way in which the Government present their figures, we need only to consider the thoughtful speech of the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison), who, like his hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle, referred to the European tradition and to how we should set an example to the newly democratised countries in Europe. I hope that those right hon. and hon. Members saw a telling programme a few weeks ago on Channel 4 in which a Conservative Member was rash enough to explain how to write a manifesto to aspirant Members of Parliament from Hungary and Poland. I shall not identify that hon. Member because I am a kindly person, but he said, "In the Conservative manifesto of 1987 we made a promise about child benefit, saying that it would be paid as now and direct to the mother. Of course, when we come up against a problem, we can look back to the manifesto and if we want to pay the benefit, we can pay it, but if we do not want to pay it--if we want to freeze it--we can freeze it, because the sentence was ambiguous." There is the truth of the Government's duplicity in this matter.

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The minor calamity of the national insurance scheme has hardly been mentioned in the debate. The scheme has been plundered and pillaged by the Government during the past 10 years. They have jacked up the contributions from 6.5 per cent. to 9 per cent. and have held down the benefits. The Government have had a particularly bad year this year. I can remember the Minister of State describing the buoyant state of the national insurance scheme last year. He said that we were heading for a surplus of more than £2 billion on the year--and, indeed, the Government achieved that.

On that basis, we as a Parliament decided for the first time since 1911 to withdraw the Treasury supplement. It was significant that in 1911 Lloyd George sold the idea by saying, "You'll get 9d. for 4d." The Government contribution has been more or less the same for a long time. Even in 1979 it was paid at the rate of 18 per cent. If it were still at the same level, the Government contribution to the national insurance scheme would be £5.3 billion. That would go directly to pensions. When hon. Members ask where the money comes from, let them remember that figure.

What has happened this year? We were promised that there would be a surplus on the scheme of £519 million. A few weeks ago, we were told that there is a deficit of over £900 million, an error of £1.5 billion. The Treasury supplement has gone, but the deficit is also caused by the large take-up of personal pensions. Nearly 4 million people have taken up the bribe offered by the Government on personal pension schemes and their contributions have been denied to the national insurance scheme.

Therefore, the genuine rises that pensioners should have had have turned up in the profit sheets of insurance companies. It was no coincidence that, on the very day it was announced that the national insurance scheme had lost £1 billion, the Prudential announced a 26 per cent. increase in business, including 250,000 new personal pension schemes. So we are targeting the scheme to give to the richest pensioners of the day after tomorrow by robbing the poorest pensioners of today.

The Secretary of State gift-wrapped the changes to be made in the statutory sick pay scheme. It was an interesting performance. He said that he was criticised by someone--a sketch writer, I presume--for not being jovial enough at the Dispatch Box. I was once unkind enough to accuse the Minister of State, when his jovial mask had slipped, of wearing the guilty look of a vulture that had stolen the wrong eyeball--a description borrowed from America. I think that that is a suitable demeanour for Ministers who are carrying out the wretched task of dismantling the welfare state and spreading misery. What is behind the extraordinary decision on the statutory sick pay scheme? The Secretary of State mentioned that it had been considered by the Social Security Advisory Committee. Indeed it was, and the committee disagreed with it. The Government announced their decision in October but did not put the details out for consideration until late in December, just about Christmas. Opinions were received from 13 prestigious groups and individuals. The view was unanimous : they all said that it was wrong. However, we are going back to the old eastern European strategy. There is not so much a consensus as a Ceausensus, as Mr. Ceausescu would have understood it. The Government ignored all the opinion that came in and have gone ahead with their scheme.

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The Secretary of State mentioned several times the increase in benefit. It is an increase of 25p for a small group. At the other end there is a cut of £3.55. One point is very important. The Minister made light of the fact that it is a cut of between £70 million and £80 million, but there will be a severe cut for 2 to 3 per cent. of workers, the disabled, who will find it difficult to get employment because their employers will have to pay the full cost. There will be a great additional burden for people in that position. It makes a mockery of the Government's claims about helping the disabled. Behind the changes in statutory sick pay introduced by the Government is another part of the strategy of reducing the panoply of the welfare state. One wonders why the Government go on in this way. My great fear is that the myriad of small cuts here and there--little deceptions in the Health Service and elsewhere--mean that we are going down precisely the same road as they did in America in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The British Government are adopting the same philosophy as America. As all who have visited America know, there are 3 million casualties of the collapsed welfare state. There are 3 million walking wounded, many with histories of mental illness, living on the streets--the homeless, the shunned, the despised, the tent people.

We have a social fund that is not delivering. Terrible cases are brought up week after week--a boy who was told that he could not have a loan because he could eat in soup kitchens ; a pregnant mother who was told that she could not have a loan for a bed two days before her baby was due because she could sleep on the floor ; a disabled husband and wife who were told that they did not need a grant for a cooker because they could go out to eat. That is the reality of Britain today. Anyone who walks the streets of London sees a growing army of despised and homeless. Bush has called America's homeless America's shame. What is being created now will become known as Thatcher's shame.

6.45 pm

The Minister for Social Security (Mr. Nicholas Scott) : As the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) ended with an American analogy, I am inclined to refer to his speech by using the words of a former mayor of New York who said of an opponent's speech that however it was sliced, it was still baloney. The hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle), for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) and for Newport, West portrayed the present state of the social security system in a totally distorted and perverse manner.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) entered robustly into the lists. The ratchet that he described was a phrase invented, I think, by my noble Friend Lord Joseph. I think that the ratchet has been moving rapidly in the opposite direction for the past 10 years. We are not moving toward the collectivist society that Lord Joseph envisaged when he invented that concept.

Before dealing with the detailed points raised in the debate, I want to correct some of the apparent misunderstandings on the Opposition Front and Back Benches about the Government's record on social security. It is easy for Opposition Members to forget that, since 1979, spending on benefits has risen by 36 per cent. Spending on the elderly is up by 24 per cent. ; spending on

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the long-term sick and disabled--a group in which I take a particular interest--has almost doubled ; spending on working families with children is double the spending through its predecessor, family income supplement.

Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood) : That is not true.

Mr. Scott : It is true beyond peradventure. I cross swords with the hon. Lady in Committee twice a week. If she wants to intervene, she may, although she will understand that I have only 13 minutes left in which to reply to the debate.

Ms. Short : I shall be brief. This is a crucial question in the conflict between the two sides of the House. The question is how we share the economic growth that we have, year in, year out. The Government have not allowed the poor, the sick and the elderly to share in the economic growth. There has been marginal growth, but they have got worse and worse off.

Mr. Scott : What is true, and cannot be denied, is that at all levels people have benefited and have had improved standards under the Government. I do not resile for one moment from the fact that there has been more inequality. I believe that the competitive society, which includes extra rewards for those who do well, is the engine that enables us to provide the resources for the poorest. For Opposition Members, at least some of whom were members of a Government who failed manifestly to have sufficient economic resources to provide for the poor, to criticise us for a growth in inequality while we are still managing to provide resources to look after the poor, the sick and the elderly, is beyond the pale, as we used to say across the water--as the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Forsythe) will remember. We are certainly not seeking to starve the social security system of resources. The hon. Member for Leeds, West had some fun with the change of phrase from targeting to focusing. We are trying to make sure that the help available in the social security system goes to those who are in real need. I should like to deal with a couple of points made by the hon. Member for Newport, West. It is not really the incentive that has created the problem within the national insurance fund--there were two other matters : the ordinary rebate was introduced for all contracted-out schemes some time ago and this was combined with the reduction in national insurance contributions, a move widely welcomed on both sides of the House when it was introduced.

Nor is it any good looking at European pension provision and trying to compare it with ours in the way that the hon. Member for Newport, West did.

Mr. Flynn rose --

Mr. Scott : I am sorry, but I now have only 10 minutes. We are concerned about total pensioner incomes. It is all very well to draw on some theoretical position in which people might find themselves in Germany or France if they had paid enough contributions, if their earnings had been at certain levels, and so on. It is the total income of pensioners that we are concerned with--and very few countries in the Community keep any data at all about the total income of their pensioners. The hon. Member for Oldham, West said recently that he would be the first to admit that it was difficult to make comparisons with

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Europe, not only on pensions but on other aspects of social welfare, and that any comparison must be significantly qualified. It would be a help in discussing these matters to get away from European comparisons. It is clear to me that it is the total income and standard of living of retired people that matters to them rather than the level of the basic state pension. We have seen a tremendous growth in occupational coverage and in the income from savings of retired people, which have contributed substantially to their prosperity.

The hon. Member for Newport, West also went on to claim that the changes that we had made in statutory sick ply would somehow damage the prospects of the disabled and those with poor health records. All those allegations were made when statutory sick pay was introduced. None of them has turned out to be true, and I do not for one moment believe that the changes that we have made now will have that result.

I refer now to the hon. Member for Oldham, West. It is a debating point--I freely confess it to him before I make it--but he said that we had never had debates on the distribution of wealth and so on at the right time. We had an Opposition Supply day last week, when we had the chance of a proper debate. I do not know which part of the Opposition was responsible for managing to waste most of the day on discussions about identity cards for football supporters rather than-- [Interruption.] We know what was going on among the Opposition--

Mr. Meacher : It is a bit rich for the Minister of State to try to make a political point about debates on the distribution of income and wealth. When we had an opportunity last week, what did the Government do? They spent 50 minutes on a footling statement on hill farming when there was nothing of any significance to debate-- [Interruption.] --and then took 20 minutes on points of order to prevent my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) from introducing a ten-minute Bill.

Mr. Scott : I detect a certain amount of agitation among hon. Members who have hill farmers in their constituencies, about the very proper contributions made on that issue. It was up to the Opposition business managers to decide how the remaining time was distributed, and they preferred to spend it debating identity cards rather than poverty, the subject that they had chosen for their earlier debate. It is quite untrue that fewer resources are going into social security now than 10 years ago when we came to office, as the hon. Member for Oldham, West said. In 1978- 79 social security took 9.5 per cent. of the gross domestic product ; in the current financial year it is taking 10.2 per cent. of gross domestic product. As a percentage of public expenditure, which in many ways is a better guide to the priority given by successive Governments to social security over other matters, it has risen from 25 per cent. in 1978-79 to over 30 per cent. at present. It is therefore wrong to portray this as a reduction in the priority that we give to social security.

On inclusive rents, referred to by the hon. Member for Oldham, West, I hope that landlords will take account of the introduction of the community charge and the abolition of rates and reduce their rents. But it would be

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living in cloud cuckoo land to imagine that one could legislate to force the rents down in such a complicated area of housing, where there are inclusive rents and where many contracts entered into are not even signed but are simply verbal agreements to pay a particular rent. Many housing experts have agreed that that would be totally unworkable.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West might like to try it, but he would end up reducing the resources available for rent assistance to claimants on social security or housing benefit. That would be the inevitable outcome of the hon. Gentleman's attempts to trample into this area with his boots on. Our interest is in making sure that those claimants are able still to pay the rents to which they are committed not to damage the claimants at all. That has been our first priority.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West went on to say that we have somehow broken our promise over the compensation for community charge. That is absolutely wrong, and the figures that the hon. Gentleman gave are totally wrong. Income-related benefits were adjusted at the last uprating in April 1989 to include help towards the 20 per cent. contribution that income support beneficiaries will have to make. The amounts included £1.15 a week for single people of 18 to 24, £1.30 for single people of 25 and over and £2.30 for couples, and the amounts will be uprated from April as part of the overall benefit levels. The amounts included in benefit levels will be more than adequate to meet the average 20 per cent. contribution, if local authorities are able to keep their expenditure within appropriate levels--one of the main reasons for introducing the community charge in the first place.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West made great play of what he called the joker in the disability package--that is to say, that we would be stopping entitlement to increases in additional pension for purposes of invalidity benefit once the Social Security Bill had gone through. That is a sensible measure, for more than one reason. It will improve the balance of benefits between those who are in and out of work in the longer term. I believe that we were right in our disability package to try to shift the balance so that those who are disabled early in life or from birth have a more equitable provision of benefit compared with those who have enjoyed a whole working life and have been able to build up savings, contributory benefits and occupa-tional pensions as a result.

Ms. Short : The Minister has taken from the elderly disabled to give to the young disabled.

Mr. Scott : I do not agree : I think that the balance is right. In the longer term, the savings which may accure from this measure might give my successors--I suppose I have to say--greater room for manoeuvre in negotiating improvements and in increasing benefits in the future. The hon. Member for Oldham, West, however, could not bring himself to admit that, even with the change that we propose in the legislation, the cost of additional pension will rise from £450 million now to over £1.3 billion by the turn of the century.

I have been unable to address several points made in the debate but I undertake, as I usually do, to read the debate in the Official Report -- although I have listened to almost all of it--and to take careful account of all the contributions made. I simply add that Opposition Members ought to be more realistic in their attitude. It is all too easy for them to come up with recipes and

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prescriptions for spending more money ; the fact is that when in government they were never able to produce the necessary resources. From the low base that we inherited when we took office in 1979, this country's economic performance has been transformed and an increasing share of the resources, both of public expenditure and of gross domestic product, have been spent on those who need it most. It is a record of which we can be proud and which would never have been achieved by the Opposition.

Question put and agreed to.


That the draft Social Security (Contributions) (Re-rating) Order 1990, which was laid before this House on 18th January, be approved. Resolved,

That the draft Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 1990, which was laid before this House on 18th January, be approved.-- [Mr. Newton.]


Motion made, and Question put,

That the draft Statutory Sick Pay (Rate of Payment) Regulations 1990, which were laid before this House on 18th January, be approved.-- [Mr. Newton.]

The House divided : Ayes 285, Noes 222.

Division No. 68] [7 pm


Adley, Robert

Aitken, Jonathan

Alexander, Richard

Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Allason, Rupert

Amery, Rt Hon Julian

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Ashby, David

Atkins, Robert

Atkinson, David

Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Baldry, Tony

Banks, Robert (Harrogate)

Batiste, Spencer

Beaumont-Dark, Anthony

Bellingham, Henry

Bendall, Vivian

Benyon, W.

Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Body, Sir Richard

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Boswell, Tim

Bottomley, Peter

Bottomley, Mrs Virginia

Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Bowis, John

Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes

Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard

Brandon-Bravo, Martin

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Browne, John (Winchester)

Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)

Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick

Buck, Sir Antony

Budgen, Nicholas

Burt, Alistair

Butcher, John

Butler, Chris

Butterfill, John

Carlisle, John, (Luton N)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Chapman, Sydney

Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)

Colvin, Michael

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cormack, Patrick

Couchman, James

Cran, James

Critchley, Julian

Curry, David

Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Day, Stephen

Devlin, Tim

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Durant, Tony

Dykes, Hugh

Emery, Sir Peter

Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)

Evennett, David

Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas

Favell, Tony

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)

Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey

Fishburn, John Dudley

Fookes, Dame Janet

Forman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forth, Eric

Franks, Cecil

Freeman, Roger

French, Douglas

Fry, Peter

Gale, Roger

Gardiner, George

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Glyn, Dr Sir Alan

Goodhart, Sir Philip

Goodlad, Alastair

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gorman, Mrs Teresa

Gorst, John

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