HC Deb 18 January 1945 vol 407 cc369-70
85. Mr. Lipson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that beneficiaries under the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1944, are having their old age pensions reduced in consequence of the sums they receive under that Act and are considerably aggrieved thereat; and will he take steps to prevent pensioners being deprived of the full benefits of the Act of 1944.

Sir J. Anderson

I am aware that non-contributory old age pensions are liable to be reduced in consequence of the grant of increases of pensions earned by service to the State or to a local authority under the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1944. Under the Old Age Pensions Act, 1936, these old age pensions are subject to a means limit and it inevitably follows that an increase of the old age pensioner's means from any source may entail the reduction of his old age pension. This being so, I am not prepared to introduce legislation to amend the Old Age Pensions Act, 1936, for the purpose suggested by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Lipson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that means, in effect, that only old age pensioners, who are the poorest beneficiaries under the Act, are deprived of benefit? Is he aware that I have two instances from my constituency in which a benefit of £27 5s. granted by the grant has been reduced to £6 9s.? Can he not do anything to alter that state of affairs?

Sir J. Anderson

No, Sir. I think it must be made clear that the passing of the Pensions (Increase) Act should not be the occasion for a fundamental change in the principles governing old age pensions.

Mr. Reakes

In view of the reply given by the right hon. Gentleman, does he not agree that the time is overdue now for the abolition of the means test for old age pensioners?

Sir J. Anderson

That, at any rate, is an entirely different question.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Will the right hon. Gentleman not take into account the situation at present, in which almost every one of these old age pensioners, who may be ex-civil servants or ex-Government servants, are having their pensions reduced? Should not the whole thing be reviewed by his Department?

Sir J. Anderson

That, again, is a separate matter.

Mr. W. J. Brown

Is the Minister aware that in many cases the reduction of old age pensions consequent upon the passing of the Act has been greater than the amount conferred by the Act? When we reconsider the matter at the end of the year, which we must do, will the Government be kind enough to take some advice from me which they rejected last time and not have the means test in the Pensions (Increase) Act?

Sir J. Anderson

I was not aware of the last point mentioned by my hon. Friend, and if he will give me some particulars I will have them looked into. The second point concerns a suggested amendment of the Pensions (Increase) Act, whereas the subject of the Question was a suggestion for amending the Old Age Pensions Act.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no means test for the big scale pensions? Is it not desirable that there should be the same treatment for all types of pensioner?

Mr. Lipson

In view of the hardship involved in this matter, I beg to give notice that I will raise the subject on the Adjournment at an early opportunity.