HC Deb 05 May 1952 vol 500 cc2-3
2. Mr. E. Fernyhough

asked the Minister of National Insurance if he will make retrospective to Budget day the proposed increases in family allowance, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, pensions and National Assistance scales.

Mr. Peake

No. Sir.

Mr. Fernyhough

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it rather mean that while the cost of living is continually rising, these people are kept waiting for the benefits which the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised in the Budget? Could not this legislation have taken precedence over the recent National Health Service Bill? Will the Minister do everything in his power to see that the cost of living does not rise any further until these benefits have been granted to these hard-up people?

Mr. Peake

This legislation has been brought forward at the earliest possible moment, and the dates of its operation are the earliest possible practicable ones. None of my predecessors in the Ministry has ever been able to make the operation of benefits retroactive.

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton

Is the Minister aware that he has already lost the race in his chase after rising prices?

Mr. Peake

I dare say we shall have a chance of discussing this further this afternoon.

Mr. A. J. Irvine

Will the Minister bear in mind in this connection that the increases in assistance scales and rates of benefit do not cover the increased rise in the cost of living—that, for example, the increase of 2s. 6d. in the scale of assistance for children between the ages of 11 and 16 by itself cannot cover the increase in the cost of food due to such things as the cutting of the food subsidies and to transport charges? Will the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the relevance of these considerations to this question?

Mr. Speaker

We seem to be anticipating the debate that is to come later.