HC Deb 19 February 1952 vol 496 cc5-6
1. Sir Ian Fraser

asked the Minister of Pensions at what figure the basic rate of war pensions would require to be fixed in order to have the same purchasing power as 45s. had in 1946; and what additional cost would fall upon his Department in the first full year.

The Minister of Pensions (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)

About 62s. would now be required to produce the purchasing power of 45s. in 1946. The annual cost of increasing the basic rate of disablement pension to 62s. weekly is estimated at £11½ million, with a further £2 million if corresponding increases were made in officers' pensions.

Sir I. Fraser

Does my hon. Friend share the view of many people in this country in all parties that the time has come to make an adjustment in this matter? Will he convey that view to the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Mr. Amory

I must be careful to withstand the stratagems—the very friendly stratagems—of my hon. Friend, but I realise, as I am sure everyone else in the House does, that the increases in the cost of living that have taken place during the last six years have involved hardships for many sections of the community, war pensioners among them. As I have said before, this matter is at present under consideration, and I have nothing to add to what I have already said.

Mr. Desmond Donnelly

If there are hardships involved for all sections in the community, is not the one section that should be protected from these hardships that of the war pensioners?

Mr. Amory

I certainly agree that war pensioners should have the highest possible priority.

2. Sir I. Fraser

asked the Minister of Pensions the total expenditure of his Department on war disability pensions and allowances for the past six years; and the estimate for the year which will end on 31st March, 1952.

Mr. Amory

The total expenditure on disablement pensions and allowances in the last six financial years was £289,310,000, varying from £38,113,000 in 1945–46 to £50,262,000 in 1950–51. The estimated expenditure in this respect for the year ending 31st March, 1952, is £50,277,000.

Sir I. Fraser

In the absence of any alterations, such as that contemplated in the previous Question, can my hon. Friend say whether this figure is likely to fall materially during the next few years?

Mr. Amory

In the absence of a further war one would certainly hope that it would continue to show its present trend to diminish steadily.

Mr. H. Hynd

How do the figures the Minister has just given compare with the expenditure in a comparable period before 1946?

Mr. Amory

I am afraid I cannot give that comparison without notice. If the hon. Gentleman will put a Question down I will certainly try to do so.

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