HC Deb 28 February 1939 vol 344 cc1081-2
48. Sir F. Sanderson

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what would be the approximate cost to the Exchequer of increasing the non-contributory old age pension to 12s. 6d., and to 15s., respectively?

Captain Wallace

The cost of increasing the old age pension to all pensioners aged 70 and over from 10s. to 12s. 6d. a week would be about £12,500,000 a year, and the cost of increasing the pension to 15s. would be double this amount. These annual costs would increase from year to year with the growth in numbers of the aged population. If the increase of pension were restricted to those persons who could satisfy the means test for non-contributory old age pensions, the cost would be slightly reduced, but there are no statistics on which the amount of the saving could be estimated.

Mr. Silverman

Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether in estimating those figures account was taken of the consequent reductions there would be in the demands upon public assistance?

Captain Wallace

No, Sir. I was asked a perfectly simple statistical question, and I have answered it.

Mr. Shinwell

On the assumption that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's figures are correct, is it beyond the capacity of the country to meet that increased charge in order to provide proper treatment for the old age pensioners?

Captain Wallace

That is an entirely different question. Perhaps the hon. Member will put it down.