HC Deb 24 July 1924 vol 176 cc1629-30

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


This Bill carries out partly the pledge of the Labour party in attempting to remove some of the limitations which were placed upon the Act in previous years. I regret that the time is not financially opportune for carrying into effect all of the pledges made by, I think, all parties in the House. One regrets very much the limitations that were placed in the Act a long time ago by those who now sit below the Gangway and in other parts of the House, and I am looking forward to the time when it will be possible for the party at present in office to carry out completely the pledges which they have made at election times. I regret very much the Clause which deals with earnings, because it seems to me that it adds an additional inquiry to be made of the applicants for old age pensions; but, while we are at present removing some of the mistakes that others have put into the Old Age Pensions Act, I recognise that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has indicated that this is as far as he can go with the money which he has in his possession or in prospect. I trust to time bringing along its due reforms, and I only regret that on this occasion the Chancellor has not been able to go straight forward for a reduction of the age limit for old age pensions and an increase in the amount of the pensions. I am young enough to have hopes that in the coming Sessions of Parliament he will be able to give to old people—and people are old as regards earning capacity before they reach the age of 70—to give them the hope of an old age pension at 65 of not less than 15s. a week.

I know that one of the chief arguments in Debates on this matter has been that there is not the money there, and that the point will be raised as to where it is to come from; but if one looks at the newspapers there seems to be a plethora of money in some circles of society. If one looks at the returns of the banks, the insurance companies and the big combines and trusts, it seems that there is an immense amount of spare money, or, at any rate, that very large profits are made, and, judging by the extravagance of society as a whole, there seems to be much waste of expenditure that could well be put to the purpose of providing old age pensions at an earlier age than 70, and of a larger amount than 10s. a week. There are many people aged 65 to 70 who cannot now find work, and to whom employers will not give work. There came to my knowledge only a few days ago the case of an engineer with a record of 23 years at the place where he worked, who was one of over 100 people who were suspended because trade was slack, and when application was made for a chance of work for him later on, the manager, in courteous language, but still, in plain language, indicated that, because he was 60 odd years of age, he was too old to have employment found for him. The time has surely come when folks who are refused employment because of their age should have the right to a pension, because they have been giving service to the State for, it may be, 50 or 60 years. The Commandment tells us to honour our fathers and our mothers, and it seems to me that the. State is doing the right thing in honouring our fathers and our mothers; but 70 is a long time to look forward to, and, with the limitations that exist, things are made very difficult for these old folks. While I am thankful to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the first Labour Ministry for abolishing some of these wicked restrictions which the Liberal party put on years ago, I look forward to the time when they may all be abolished, and pensions of not less than 15s. a week given at the age of 65.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.