HC Deb 18 July 1950 vol 477 cc2022-3
26. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Minister of National Insurance if she will state the total amount of money paid, and numbers in receipt of, old age pensions at the nearest convenient date; and what increase in National Insurance contributions per contributor would be necessary to cover the additional cost of granting an increase of 5s. per week to each old age pensioner.

Dr. Summerskill

As the reply is long and contains a number of figures, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Lewis

Would my right hon. Friend make any comment on the suggestion in my Question?

Dr. Summerskill

If my hon. Friend looks at my answer he will see why it is impracticable. At the moment retirement pensions cost the country £273 million a year. If we carried out the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, it would mean another £55 million at once, rising to £80 million in 20 years' time.

The following is the reply:

The number of retirement and old age pensioners will, it is estimated, be about 4,625,000 during the current financial year. They will be paid about £273 million. If pensions were increased by 5s. a week the cost would be increased by £55 million at once, rising to £80 million in 20 years' time. None of these figures takes any account of payments or savings by way of National Assistance.

If the additional cost were distributed between the contributor and Exchequer as at present, the contribution payable by or in respect of the individual contributor would go up immediately by 8d. a week and the Exchequer contribution by nearly £25 million a year. But, as my predecessor has pointed out, it would not be practicable under the present insurance scheme to increase pensions without, at the same time, increasing other benefits. The actual cost would, therefore, be very much more.

28. Mr. A. Lewis

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether she will make the necessary arrangements now to enable old age pensioners to receive twice the printed amount on their Pension Order Form for the Christmas week, 1950, so as to allow these old people to purchase a few extras for the Christmas festivities.

Dr. Summerskill

No, Sir. This would not be a proper provision to be made under a contributory insurance scheme. Furthermore, the cost of the proposal would be about £5,250,000 in the first year, and to meet this an increase of contributions would be necessary as well as payments from the Exchequer.