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Prescott, Rt Hon John
Reid, Dr John
Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Chris (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Strang, Dr. Gavin
Column 123Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Wareing, Robert N
Column 123Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Wright, Dr Tony
Young, David (Bolton SE)
Tellers for the Noes: Mr. Eric Clarke and Mr. Dennis Turner.
Column 123Question accordingly agreed to.
Bill accordingly read a Second time and committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 61 (Committal of Bills).
Queen's recommendation having been signified--
Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Order [19 December],
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Jobseekers Bill it is expedient to authorise--
(1) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any sums required by the Secretary of State--
(a) for making payments by way of the jobseeker's allowance and the back to work bonus;
(b) for making grants in connection with resettlement places; (c) in respect of any other expenditure incurred by him under or by virtue of the Act;
(2) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable under any other Act out of money so provided; and
(3) the payment into the Consolidated Fund of--
(a) sums estimated by the Secretary of State to balance payments made by him by way of contribution-based jobseeker's allowance; (b) sums estimated by the Secretary of State to balance sums recovered by him in connection with payments made by way of income-based jobseeker's allowance;
Column 124(c) sums recovered by the Secretary of State by way of repayment of grants for resettlement places-- [Mr. Wood.]
Question agreed to.
Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West): Six and a half million disabled persons and their carers in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are looking to us to introduce legislation that will outlaw the discrimination that they have suffered for far too long-- [Interruption.]
discrimination--measures that will be seen as tangible, enforceable and fair. In so doing, we will restore the confidence that disabled people once had in the House. With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will be delighted to present that petition, which reads: To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. The Humble Petition of Residents from throughout Great Britain
That the overwhelming support for a Disabled Persons' Civil Bill in both Houses of Parliament should lead to urgent and meaningful legislation in this session.
Wherefore your petitioners pray that your Honourable House will urge the Prime Minister and his Government not to impede a measure which has already been implemented in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will every pray &tc. To lie upon the Table .
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Lightbown.]
Mr. Barron: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I applied to the Speaker's Office to bring up the treatment of one of my constituents, Mr. Michael Pitson, and the local social fund and how it operates within the Rotherham area.
It is one of Parliament's great strengths that we are able to use the Adjournment procedure to highlight individual cases and I hope that that never stops. We represent millions of people and we should be able to raise individual cases here when we believe that an injustice has been done.
Mr. Michael Pitson is a married man with two young children who lives in Maltby--a village in my constituency. He worked at Silverwood colliery in October 1992, when the President of the Board of Trade made an announcement about the future of the British coal industry. It is ironic that Silverwood colliery was not on the original hit list of coal mines at that time, although it subsequently closed. Like many others, Mr. Pitson had joined the coal industry thinking that he had a secure future. That was not to be.
Following the closure of Silverwood colliery, Mr. Pitson decided to change his career and applied to train as a nurse in the mental health field. He passed the entrance examination in December 1992 to commence a three-year course leading to a higher national diploma in nursing--mental health branch. Mr. Pitson wrote to many colleges and, after an interview, was accepted at Humberside college of health. Mr. Pitson came to my constituency surgery last April and explained in detail his problems finding accommodation for himself and his family. Initially, I asked him to put the matter in writing as I wanted to consider his problem. He wrote to me and said:
"On being accepted by Humberside College of Health I went to the council office in Hull to inquire about a council house in or near the Hull area. The spokesperson for the council told me that because I would have student status I was not eligible for a council house in the Hull area.
After this I went to Grimsby council to apply for a house on that side of the Humber and travel to the hospital over the bridge. No luck here! To be eligible for a council house in Grimsby you had to have lived in Grimsby for one year or more.
Having looked at the council map I noticed two councils that border the Hull area. Holderness is only two miles from De La Pole Hospital"--
where Mr. Pitson had been accepted to take a course.
"They told me that if the course had been inside their border, they would have offered me and my family a council house but because it was two miles outside their area, they said, `Sorry can't help'. The other bordering council was Beverley, who said if I wish to return to Beverley and were of pensionable age, no problem, but at a mere 26 and with a family they said, `Sorry, nothing to offer'.
Column 126So having tried all the councils I approached several private rental agencies. All had the same answers to my inquiries--as I was only a student nurse and currently unemployed they were unwilling to take me on their books. I have also had my name on the home swap list, but to the present I have had no inquiries."
Mr. Pitson wrote to the Department of the Environment and the Prime Minister. He received a letter from the Government Office for Yorkshire and Humberside telling him about the "Homeswap" scheme and giving him a list of other agencies to which he could talk. At the beginning of July, he thought that he had made a breakthrough. He wrote to me and said:
"I am writing to thank you for all your help in trying to find me and my family a home in Hull, so I can take up my nursing course. But like me your efforts seem to be hitting a brick wall.
So as a last effort before giving up I tried ringing around all the estate agents in the Hull area. Then to my surprise I came across an estate agent who not only rented the type of home I was looking for but they were also willing to accept me. The houses they were offering all had a monthly rent of £350. As I am eligible for rent rebate I approached Hull council who said once I had moved in, there would be no problem with claiming housing benefit to the full amount. Hooray, victory at last!"
Mr. Pitson went on:
"Not so, the estate agent said to secure any property they would need 1 month's rent plus £100 administration fee before I could move in. So not giving up I went back to the Social Security office to see if I could have the first month's rent in advance. They said `No', I was not eligible for housing benefit until I had moved in, and I could not move in because I have not got the £450 needed. So after getting so close the brick wall strikes again."
I then wrote a letter to the Benefits Agency in July. I said: "I have been corresponding on Mr. Pitson's behalf about the possibility of him getting housing on Humberside where he had been offered a course in a higher education diploma in nursing starting in March of next year. I have enclosed a copy of a recent letter from the college. I also enclose for your information a copy of a letter I received a few weeks ago from Mr. Pitson saying that our attempts over the last few months to find housing for him and his family on Humberside had shown some fruit, but were eventually dashed because of the need to have a month's rent paid in advance.
I would like to know if there is any possibility of Mr. Pitson being assisted in moving house and if a payment for rent in advance could be secured from Social Security.
Throughout the months that I have been dealing with Michael Pitson, he has shown nothing but a determination to get on in his life both for his own sake and that of his family. It appears that he now has a good opportunity to move into higher education and at some stage, hopefully in the not too distant future, to move off benefit dependency. I would hope that all people concerned will assist in any way that they can to make this happen."
The reply from the local benefits agency stated that it had no record of a budget loan claim, but that he had been sent the requisite forms. The letter also stated:
"A claim for rent in advance is generally considered to be of medium priority. At present we are only able to make loans of high priority items. However until we know the full circumstances we are unable to consider whether in Mr. Pitson's case the loan could be considered as high priority."
His application for a loan was made in August for advance rent and a bond and it was subsequently rejected.
Mr. Pitson waited for my return from holiday before asking me about what to do next. Unfortunately, the wait meant that he was outside the 28 days allowed for appeal. I wrote to the local office and to their credit the staff there accepted the reason for Mr. Pitson's delay and allowed