HC Deb 02 November 1938 vol 340 cc197-8
33. Mr. Day

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the hardships being experienced at present by a great number of old-age pensioners, many of whom are also on Poor Law relief, he will consider whether a Departmental Committee can be appointed to consider the full circumstances of these persons with the object of advising the Government in which way and for how much these pensions should be increased either in money or kind?

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Euan Wallace)

My right hon. Friend does not think that a committee such as the hon. Member suggests would serve any useful purpose.

Mr. Day

In view of the promises given to these persons by Government candidates at the last General Election, are not the Government prepared to do something?

Captain Wallace

Perhaps the hon. Member will tell me what those promises were. I seem to remember promises given by people other than candidates of this party.

Mr. Thorne

Is not the Financial Secretary aware of the many thousands of old age pensioners who are receiving Poor Law assistance in different parts of the country?

Captain Wallace

There are, I think, about 10 per cent. of the total number who are drawing old age pensions who are supplementing their pensions in this way, but I do not think that it has ever been claimed by any party that old age pensions do by themselves provide for full maintenance of persons devoid of other resources.

Mr. Gallacher

Is not the Financial Secretary aware that it is utterly impossible for these old people to live on 10s. a week, and is not the service they have given to the community sufficient to ensure that they should be maintained when they reach old age?

Captain Wallace

If the pension and other resources are inadequate, these people very properly have recourse to the public assistance authorities, where need is the criterion.

Mr. Day

Is it not the fact that at the last election promises were given by Government candidates that this sort of thing would be relieved?

Mr. Collindridge

Is the Financial Secretary aware that in my constituency the number of old age pensioners asking for relief has increased 30 per cent., thereby increasing very much the local rates?

Mr. Maxton

Are we to understand from the answer of the Minister that we can expect no improvement whatever in the conditions and that the mind of the Government is completely closed?

Captain Wallace

No, Sir. I should have no authority to convey such an impression, and I do not think it is a fair deduction from what I have said. The mind of the present Government is never closed to any question of public importance.

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