§ Miss Richardson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether, 328W as part of his Department's share of the cut-back in expenditure in the Civil Service, it is intended to reduce the number of supplementary benefit child rates from five to three;
(2) if he will give details of the proposed new bandings of supplementary benefit rates; and how many children it is estimated will be covered by each in comparison with the numbers in the present bandings;
(3) if, as a result of the proposed reduction in the number of supplementary benefit child scale rates from the present range of five without cost, he anticipates that any families will be deprived of the full increase of benefit at any future uprating;
(4) whether he will ensure, if the proposed reduction in the number of child rates of supplementary benefit is implemented at the time of a general uprating exercise, that all recipients of the then present rates receive the full cost of living increase to which they would be entitled;
(5) whether, if the number of supplementary benefit scale rates for children is reduced, he will (a) meet the increases in the needs of children in proportion to their age by increasing the rate of child benefit at the different rates and (b) raise the lower rates.
§ Mr. Orme
A reduction in the number of supplementary benefit children's rates is under consideration, along with other ideas, as part of the Government's efforts to reduce the growth of the Civil Service. The aspects touched upon in my hon. Friend's Question are among those being carefully considered before my final decision is taken on this matter.