PENSIONS AND NATIONAL INSURANCE
Home Confinement Grant
23. Mr. Snow
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is satisfied with present arrangements whereby part or whole of a home confinement grant may be stopped if, in the opinion of the medical advisers concerned, it becomes desirable during the ten days that part of that period should be spent in hospital although the confinement was originally registered as domiciliary; and whether he will cause inquiries to be made into this problem.
The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)
The home confinement grant is a single payment of £6 for confinements at home. J. Boyd CarpenterMy right hon. Friend is satisfied that we have gone as far as we reasonably can [column 606]in also treating certain confinements in National Health Service hospitals as though they had taken place at home. These are cases where the mother has made arrangements to have her baby at home but has had to be admitted to hospital as an emergency case before the baby was born. Admission to hospital after the birth does not deprive the mother of this grant.
If I understand the hon. Lady's answer correctly, she stands on the argument that cases will arise where the mother, although she was intending to have her baby at home, has to go to hospital for a few days, and she will not be given any form of grant. Does not this create hardship in the sense that the mother and the family will have involved themselves in expenditure in anticipation of the baby being delivered at home? As this is not fair or equitable, I appeal to the hon. Lady to consider the matter again.
The purpose of the grant is to induce people to make arrangements to have the confinement at home and for the baby to be born at home. My right hon. Friend knows that there are cases where women have to be admitted to hospital. Special arrangements are made for them to receive the home confinement grant, not-withstanding the fact that the baby is born in hospital, because they have incurred expenditure; but a line has to be drawn somewhere and, broadly speaking, it is drawn at a maximum of five days.
Will the hon. Lady take steps to ensure that such provision as she has now declared is made known to families, and will she again look into the matter to see whether she can go further in this matter, because cases of hardship have been drawn to my attention?
The full details of emergency cases which still rank for home confinement grants are given in the leaflet N.I. 17A on Maternity Benefits.
Tribunals and Medical Boards
24. Mr. J. Hill
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what is the maximum allowance under his [column 607]regulations for loss of earnings to a person called before a local tribunal or medical board under the National Insurance Acts.
Forty shillings a day.
Since many of these people attending tribunals suffer loss of wages, will the hon. Lady put it to her right hon. Friend that it is time the question was reconsidered and an advance made on what is paid now?
The amounts payable as compensation for loss of remunerative time, which are common to committees and tribunals associated with Government Departments, are laid down by the Treasury, and questions about the scales are for my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.