HC Deb 20 January 1948 vol 446 cc18-9
30. Mr. Odey

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the rise in the cost of living, he is now prepared to consider a commensurate increase in the war widows' pension.

Mr. Buchanan

Substantial increases in the pensions of war widows have been made since the outbreak of the recent war. At that time the pension of the 1939 war widow of a private soldier was 22S. 6d. a week if she was over 40 years of age, or had children or was incapable of self-support, and otherwise 15s. 6d. a week. The comparable rates today are 35s. and 20S. Similarly the allowance for each child of a widow was then 5s. a week and is now us. a week. A rent allowance up to a maximum of 15s. a week is also now payable to the widow with children where her rent and rates exceed 8s. a week. Thus, the 1939 war widow of a private soldier with two children and a rent of 16s. a week would in 1939 have received 32s. 6d. a week, whereas today she receives 65s. a week apart from any allowance under the Family Allowances Act. The rates of widows' pension will, of course, be considered in connection with any general review of the war pensions provisions.

Mr. Odey

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the hardship in 1948 of endeavouring to live on 35s. a week, and in view of the debt which this country owes to these women, would he give urgent consideration to this matter?

Mr. Buchanan

In 1939, when the hon. Gentleman's friends were in power, they measured it at a very low rate, and on comparative figures the rates are now well above any other advance. I think that, whoever else has a grumble, it is certainly not hon. Gentlemen on the other side.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the increase; since 1939 have kept pace with the increase in the cost of living?

Mr. Buchanan

In this particular case, they are far in excess of it. I am not saying the rate is too much, but so far as the percentage is concerned, it is far in excess.

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