HC Deb 20 April 1939 vol 346 cc486-8
29. Mr. David Adams

asked the Minister of Health the total number of old age pensioners, and the number and percentage of these in receipt of Poor Law relief?

Mr. Bernays

At 31st December, 1938, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 2,380,913 persons in England and Wales in receipt of old age pensions under the Old Age Pensions Act and the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act. On 1st January, 1939, the number of old age pensioners in receipt of poor relief was 250,291, or approximately 10.5 per cent. of the total number.

Mr. Adams

Does the Minister see in this situation any justification for altering the amounts granted to old age pensioners?

Mr. Lipson

What amount was paid in Poor Law relief to these old age pensioners?

Mr. Bernays

I could not answer that question without notice.

Mr. H. Morrison

Will the Minister agree that, in the light of those figures, it is clear that the old age pension is inadequate and that in respect of 250,000 persons the Treasury has to be subsidised out of the local rates; and will he take those matters into account when considering the representations made to him by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons) for the reduction of rates?

Mr. Lawson

Is the Minister aware that the heaviest burden falls upon the poorest areas?

34. Mr. Burke

asked the Minister of Health how many old age pensioners there are in the county borough of Burnley; how many of these are on poor relief; and what is the cost to the town of these payments to old age pensioners?

Mr. Bernays

I regret that the information asked for in the first part of the question is not available, as the records of old age pensioners are not kept on a territorial basis. The number of old age pensioners in Burnley to whom out-relief in money and kind was granted during the week ending nth March, 1939, was 823, and the total cost of the out-relief granted to those pensioners and their dependants during that week was £267.

Mr. Burke

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the augmentation of old age pensions means an additional 6½d. on the poor rate for Burnley, while in Bournemouth the figure is only Id.; and what does he propose to do to remedy such inequalities, which press particularly hardly on the depressed areas?

Mr. Bernays

That position is met by the block grant.

Mr. Thorne

Is not the block grant system out of date?