HC Deb 31 May 1938 vol 336 cc1827-8
48. Mr. Tinker

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the number of old age pensioners receiving assistance from local authorities has gone up from 214,901 in January, 1937, to 230,652 in January, 1938; and, in view of this increase in numbers, will he reconsider the question of granting an additional 5s. weekly on the present 10s.?

Captain Wallace

My right hon. Friend is aware of the figures quoted by the hon. Member which are about 10 per cent. of the total number of old age pensioners. I am afraid that, as stated by my predecessor in reply to a question on 24th March, it is not possible to consider the increase suggested.

Mr. Tinker

Do not these figures show an alarming increase in destitution among aged people, and does the Government intend to rest content while that is happening? Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give no hope that something will be done in regard to this matter in the near future?

Captain Wallace

As regards the particular point which the hon. Member put, the increase in the number of old age pensioners who are receiving this kind of assistance reflects the fact that there has been an increase in the total number of old age pensioners.

Mr. Tinker

Even granting that, can the Government give no hope that they will do something in this matter soon?

Mr. Gallacher

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and his colleagues spend a weekend with some of the old age pensioners in order to see how these people live on 10s. a week?

49. Mr. Parker

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that 22 old age pensioners in Saffron Walden public assistance institution have received notice that their pensions are to be reduced as the cost of their maintenance has increased; what is the authority for this action; and is it to become general in all public assistance institutions in the country?

Captain Wallace

I understand that in accordance with decisions of the local pension committee the rate of pension in payment to 22 inmates of this institution has been reduced, but that appeals to the Minister of Health have been made in a number of these cases. Under the Old Age Pensions Act, 1936, the yearly value of any benefit or privilege enjoyed must be included in the calculation of a pensioner's means. Where the value of provided maintenance, whether in an institution or elsewhere, is such as to bring the means of a pensioner beyond the statutory limit appropriate to his current rate of pension, a question for the reduction or revocation of the pension is raised accordingly.

Mr. Parker

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this decision will mean that there will be a reduction to the old age pensioners concerned of at least 1s. 6d. a week in pocket money and an increased charge to the rates of 8s. 6d. a person, and what steps does he propose to take to remedy this?

Captain Wallace

I think the hon. Gentleman is assuming in his supplementary question that the pension is to be reduced from 10s. a week to nothing. I do not think that that is a fact. An appeal is at present pending before the Ministry of Health.

Mr. G. Griffiths

I intend to raise this matter if my hon. Friend does not, because at the present time there are old age pensioners who have had the whole of their 10s. taken away.