Without debate we should not have democracy. It is proper to examine fundamental issues such as how we, as a society, provide a welfare system.
In opening the debate about welfare, the Prime Minister said that welfare which helps people who have no other means of support, or those who have fallen into difficult circumstances, would remain a priority.
But he gave the reminder that there are some people whom he described as being part of a “culture of entitlement”.
Re-examining what we expect our welfare system to do is justified when nearly one pound in every three which is spent by the government is spent on welfare.
The Prime Minister said that a welfare system should support the responsible society and there is more work to be done to build on this.
David Cameron pointed out that about £110billion of the total welfare bill is spent on benefits for the elderly, most of which is for pensions. The link between pensions and earnings has been restored. He emphasised that people who have worked hard all their lives deserve dignity and security in old age and that the promise to protect benefits for the elderly made two years ago will be kept.
Disability benefits make up nearly £10bn of the total and there have been reforms to introduce objective assessments, with more money for the severely disabled.
The third part of the welfare system is benefits for people of working age and this accounts for about £84bn a year. This is the area where there can be massive complexity and also unfairness.
The questions which are being asked now are what welfare is for, who should receive it, what the limits of state provision should be and what sort of contribution we ought to expect from those who receive benefits.