HC Deb 20 January 1948 vol 446 cc4-5
5. Mr. Heathcoat Amory

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he is aware that present scales of supplementary pensions and allowances are inadequate, in view of increasing prices of coal and other things; and what action he now proposes to remedy a situation which is causing growing hardship to many old people.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Any increase in the scales of supplementary pensions and unemployment assistance is a matter in the first instance for the Assistance Board. The Board will be under duty to prepare and submit to me fresh draft regulations when the National Assistance Bill becomes law. These will, of course, be subject to Affirmative Resolution by both Houses. I should add that, under the current regulations, the Board have wider powers, which they regularly exercise, to deal exceptionally with cases of special need.

Mr. Amory

Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that wages have risen 73 per cent. since before the war, and still seem to be rising, and that these supplementary pensions and allowances seem miles out of line with today's prices? Will he look into the matter to see if something can be done quickly?

Mr. Griffiths

As I have indicated, the Board will have an opportunity of considering new regulations in the very near future, for incorporation in the Act, which comes into operation on 5th July. In the meantime, the Board are making a special investigation into the needs of aged people, and in the last few months lump sum grants have been made in 124,000 cases, amounting to £300,000, to help aged people over the winter months.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Has the right hon. Gentleman ever heard of a thing called the vicious spiral?

Mr. Granville Sharp

Can my right hon. Friend say what action the Board have taken during the last few months to give additional allowances to meet the increased cost of fuel?

Mr. Griffiths

These are special grants made to pensioners for special needs, including fuel.