HC Deb 26 October 1953 vol 518 cc2559-75
Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)

On a point of order. Before we proceed with the next business, Mr. Speaker, I desire to raise a point upon which I seek your guidance. Is it your intention, Sir, that the two Prayers which now become the subject of discussion, and which deal with Scotland and England, should be taken together or separately?

Mr. Speaker

In reply to the hon. Member's question, it seems to me that the subject matter of both Prayers is identical, though the areas of their application are different. If it is agreeable to the House as a whole, I would have no objection at all to one discussion covering both Motions, and, if necessary, the Question could be put separately on each of the two Motions at the end of the debate.

10.6 p.m.

Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

I beg to move. That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the National Assistance (Charges for Accommodation) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations. 1953 (S.I., 1953, No. 1118), dated 17th July, 1953, a copy of which was laid before this House on 22nd July, be annulled. These Regulations come at a most untimely episode in the lives of old people. They give power to increase the charges for accommodation from 21s. to 26s. They come at a time when old people are finding it very difficult indeed to live, and when they do have to go into hospitals or hostels the amount of pocket money left to them is a matter of only 6s. 6d. per week. They also come at a time when, as we read in today's newspaper, the Middlesex County Council, for example, are actually increasing the amount of pocket money given to children in that authority's homes to 4s. 6d. a week.

If 4s. 6d. is considered a fair amount of pocket money for children of 16 years of age, I am sure that everyone would agree that 6s. 6d. is wholly inadequate for old people. I have been told that if the Labour Government had remained in power they would have left the amount at 6s. 6d. That may have been their intention some time ago, but I question whether it could possibly be their intention today. There is a climate——

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Commander T. D. Galbraith)

May I ask your guidance on this matter, Mr. Speaker? These Regulations deal with one thing and one thing only—they raise the minimum charge for residential accommodation from 21s. to 26s. They have nothing whatever to do with the question of pocket money, which was fixed by the National Assistance (Charges for Accommodation) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation, 1952, which was laid before this House on 24th July last year, and which was not commented on at all by this House.

Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

Further to that point of order. Is it not quite clear that the amount fixed for maintenance also determines the amount left over to the old age pensioners'?

Mr. Speaker

That seems to go to the merits of the matter. I was listening to the hon. Lady's speech and I could not, myself, see the relevance of the pocket money to the particular matter legislated for in these Regulations. I thought she was introducing it as a sort of foreground to her argument about the charge for accommodation, but it is perfectly true that the debate on this Motion must be concerned only with the increase in the charges for accommodation. That is the point really before the House.

Mr. Woodburn

Further to that point of order. Am I to understand that if my hon. Friend argues that the charge should be reduced to 23s. that would meet the point of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite? It would certainly meet the point of my hon. Friend for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann)—because, if it was reduced to 23s., it would leave more in the pockets of the old age pensioners.

Mr. Speaker

I think the argument must be confined to the increase in charges for accommodation. That may have all sorts of consequences, but all those consequences would not necessarily be in order in a Motion of this sort.

Mrs. Mann

The charge under the previous regulation, Sir, was 21s. I understand that it was fixed relative to the amount that ought to be left, having regard to the amount that would be necessary for people who had been in residential accommodation to have in their hands, on leaving that accommodation, to meet the cost of rent, clothing and the things that they did not require whilst they were in the accommodation. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite is arguing that this extra 5s. is necessary, may I point out that in the last week of the old Session I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he considered the amount given to old age pensioners in the 1952 Budget was adequate to meet the increased cost of living. The Chancellor then said it was more than adequate. That amount was 2s. 6d. for an old man and 1s. 6d. for his wife; namely, 4s. for a couple. If the Chancellor considered—and we have it on record—that 4s. was more than adequate then how do hon. and right hon. Members opposite justify an increase of 10s. for a couple of old age pensioners?

Mr. J. K. Vaughan-Morgan (Reigate)

As I understand it, the minimum charge, with certain exceptions, already fixed in the Regulations under the original Act was 26s. The effect of these Regulations will be to cause the Exchequer to pay the amount now paid by the local authority.

Mrs. Mann

I am afraid that the very opposite is the case. The Regulations allowed a charge of 21s.; then these Regulations come along, operating on 3rd August—and, if I may say so, sprung on us on the last day that the House sat before rising for the Recess—permitting a charge of 26s.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Iain Macleod)

I will try to be helpful, because I really think the hon. Lady for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) is on a wrong point. So far as I know, and I have looked carefully into it, not a single person is adversely affected by these Regulations, because the original Act lays down a standard charge and the people will pay according to means. Those who have pensions to which they have contributed, are already paying, whether the Regulations are approved or not, at a rate of 26s. The people who are paying 21s. are the people who have only National Assistance, and therefore this 5s. is purely a financial transaction between the National Assistance Board and the local authorities. I assure the hon. Lady that we know of no single person in Part III accommodation who would be adversely affected by these Regulations, which are purely financial.

Mrs. Mann

The information that I have received from inquiries at institutions under my local authority is to the contrary. In Coatbridge we have provided homes for our old people, and the local authority is allowed a good deal of latitude in the provision of hospital accommodation. If the right hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that the Regulations do not provide what I suggest they do, then why impose them? As I understand it, they urge local authorities to increase their charge for accommodation by an extra 5s. and they carry on the old concept that the old people should be left with 5s. We feel that the time has come when that should be altered because we do not feel that that amount is adequate.

A sum of 26s. leaves a balance which is insufficient to meet the cost of living. There are many things which are necessary for life, apart from bread. There are tram journeys, newspapers, knitting and sewing materials, and there may even be an urgent telephone call. There may even be extra food required. Must it be said that this House frowns on an old chap being able to go out and buy a pint of beer? Surely hon. Members, who think nothing of paying 30s. for a bottle of wine, or 45s. for a bottle of champagne, would allow old people to enjoy life by having an occasional pint of beer.

I am more concerned with the cost of living as it affects old people in hospitals. I think we ought to have left them with considerably more money with which to meet their obligations. In my constituency, nothing whatever is deducted from the pension of these old people during the first eight weeks. After that a small amount is deducted for a few weeks, and then the 26s. provision is put into operation leaving them with 6s. 6d. Old people have prolonged stays, because the older one gets the longer recovery takes. Recuperative powers grow more feeble, and chronic cases are predominant. These Regulations leave them nothing for continuing to pay the rent whilst in hospital or for the warm clothing they require when they come out.

While the Regulations may not specifically apply to the hospitals, the amount charged for hostel accommodation under National Assistance is correlated to that charged by local authorities to the old people in hospitals. Hon. Members on this side of the House very much regret that these Regulations were brought forward. We believe that the time is ripe for recasting our ideas concerning old people in institutions of all kinds. I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will withdraw these Regulations, so that the House may have another look at the situation with regard to old people.

10.22 p.m.

Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)

I beg to second the Motion.

It has been moved convincingly by my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann). These Regulations are brought forward under Section 22 of the principal Act, which was put upon the Statute Book in 1948. I am complaining not that the. Minister is exercising the powers conceded to him, but that he has allowed pressure from outside authorities to outweigh his humanitarianism. He may tell us that local authorities who are charged with the responsibility of finding accommodation for these unfortunate citizens have been pressing him during the last few months to revise the Regulations——

Mr. Iain Macleod indicated dissent.

Mr. Brown

The Minister shakes his head, but it does not alter the fact that pressure has been brought to bear.

He may also tell us that these Regulations were in course of transition when the Labour Government were in power. He may say that, but it does not alter the fact that these Regulations and the previous ones were wrong, because they never dealt adequately with the unfortunate people to whom they would apply. Section 22 of the principal Act of 1948, which deals with the charges to be made for accommodation, reads as follows: Persons for whom accommodation is provided under this Part of this Act shall pay for the accommodation in accordance with the following provisions of this section. (2) Subject to the following provisions of this section, the payment for any such accommodation shall be in accordance with the standard rate fixed for that accommodation by the authority managing the premises in which it is provided. (3) Where a person for whom accommodation in premises managed by any local authority is provided, or proposed to be provided, under this Part of this Act satisfies the local authority that he is unable to pay therefor at the standard rate, the authority shall assess his ability to pay. … That is an obligation resting upon the authority. They must take into consideration what the patient, whether man or woman, is able to pay … (apart from any supplementation of his resources which he will receive under Part II of this Act), and accordingly determine at what lower rate he shall be liable to pay for the accommodation: Provided that the liability shall in no case be reduced below such sum per week as may be prescribed by the Minister. Up to the present moment the sum prescribed by the Minister is 21s. The Minister cannot deny that. These Regulations make it compulsory to a very large degree upon the patient to pay 26s. The right hon. Gentleman may shake his head, but our experience is just the other way. We are finding that local authorities are charging that amount already, and this is manifestly unfair—I go further and say it is dishonest—because in these hostels 26s. is being charged before the Regulations are approved. I challenge the Minister to deny it.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The point the hon. Gentleman has missed is that he has not read from Section 22 of the 1948 Act the overriding provision, which is that the standard charge shall be made according to needs, and therefore all local authorities, as far as I know—I put it like that—in England and Wales, since the pension increase to 32s. 6d. came in in September a year ago, have in fact already been charging, and must according to the 1948 Act charge, 26s.; and these particular Regulations make no difference to that position at all.

Mr. Brown

Surely the right hon. Gentleman is not going to shelter himself behind that, because we know the position is totally different. He says, "As far as I know." Does he know everything in that connection? Let us be quite frank, because this is a very important matter. Is it not true that local authorities charged with the responsibility with which they are charged have already been charging 26s. when the existing Regulations say they should charge only 21s.? Very well.

I invite the Minister to make an examination of the administrative machine of the local authorities who should have continued to charge 21s. for accommodation until these Regulations had been passed by this House. I am very sorry that I entirely and wholeheartedly disagree with the information which the Minister has given to the House.

We had better get on with our arguments regarding our proposal. These Regulations affect the most unfortunate of our fellow citizens. Nobody can challenge that. The Minister cannot, nor his Department. I am very sorry I have to mention the Minister like this. I hope he will pardon me. I am not saying anything disrespectful about him, but I would say that if his Department cannot find any better use for their time than to bring forth these Regulations it is about time they should have a reshuffle.

These Regulations affect the most unfortunate of our fellow citizens. No man can challenge that statement. They affect the lonely because they are left high and dry. In the ordinary way of life they have to go to these hostels. They have no relatives or friends who will care for them. The only hope they have is to go to a hostel.

Furthermore, these Regulations will affect the blind, and that is a very important matter. The Minister shakes his head, but he has said in his circular that they affect the blind as well as the permanently infirm and the semi-permanently infirm, a class of people in society who have been overtaken in the race of life by all sorts of handicaps. Our job, whether we like it or not, is to help as far as we can those who have been overtaken by all sorts of misfortunes and handicaps. If we are true to our British characteristics we will see that that task is undertaken.

Since these Regulations were placed on the Table of the House, I have often asked myself, are we doing what is right to these unfortunate people? Are we making it possible for them to enjoy the eventide of life? I say definitely that we are not. These are the fifth set of Regulations that have been brought in since 1948, and not one of them has ever done justice to the unfortunate people in society.

These Regulations remind me of a character in Dickens's "Christmas Carol." They are mean, they are parsimonious and they are unworthy of the characteristics of a decent British mind. They are lacking in the correct conception of the lot of the unfortunate, and the Department but not the Minister—I do not want to be disrespectful to the Minister for I have a high regard for him—ought to be ashamed of their mentality and approach to this question.

Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)

The Minister sanctions them.

Mr. Brown

I know he is responsible for supervision.

Let us examine the number affected. It is estimated that the total number of residents in the local authority homes on 1st January, 1953, was 62,000, and practically every one of them was in receipt of pension or National Assistance. What does that indicate? It indicates at a glance that every one of those 62,000 people are living below the poverty line. Out of that total, 9,000 were in receipt of non-contributory pensions and received extra assistance from the National Assistance Board. Of the total of 62,000 17,000 have no resources at all. As we say in Lancashire, they have neither money nor marbles and few friends. They have no resources at all, and the National Assistance Board have to finance them almost entirely.

An important point is that all of them are not old. Some of them are middle aged, and some of them comparatively young. One-third of the total are blind or otherwise suffering from some handicap, and they are entitled—and I make no bones about this—to the protection of this House. They are entitled to the protection of the Minister, and I cannot understand the mentality of a Department that brings forward these Regulations which in the main will make it more difficult for these people to enjoy life as they should.

I wish the Minister would not continue to shake his head. He knows that what I am saying is perfectly true. I am not concerned about right hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House. My concern is for these unfortunate people. Is the Minister treating them as they ought to be treated? I do not think so. It is about time that a little more humanitarianism was infused into the mentality of the Department over which the Minister of Health is supervisor.

One could continue to quote hardships caused already by the charge of 21s., and now that charge is to be increased to 26s. In view of the increase in prices for the amenities which make life a little easier for these people, I suggest that the Minister would be well advised to take back these Regulations, re-examine them and then wait until the review of the whole social insurance scheme in 1954.

I plead with him. There is a large hospital in my constituency and some men and women have been in there for years. They find it extremely difficult to get the little extras and delicacies which are essential to make life a little happier, because of the limited amount of money they have left after paying for accommodation. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to take back these Regulations, reexamine them and later to bring forward something more generous to help these unfortunate citizens.

10.37 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Commander T. D. Galbraith)

I am sure that the House would like to pay a tribute to the sentiments expressed by the hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), but I must say that they are under a complete and absolute misapprehension about what the Regulations do. The arguments they have used today should have been employed when the National Assistance (Charges for Accommodation) (Scotland) Amendment No. 2 Regulations, 1952, which dealt with the whole question of pocket money, which was the basis of their argument, were introduced nearly a year ago.

Mr. T. Brown

Will the right hon. and Gallant Gentleman tell us what designation we should give to the money which is left for these people after they have paid for their accommodation?

Commander Galbraith

I shall deal with the whole matter, if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to proceed.

I should like to recall to the House the White Paper (Cmd. 7248), issued in 1947, outlining the provisions of the Bill. The hon. Lady and the hon. Gentleman have missed one essential feature which is in paragraph 25, which says: The majority of persons admitted to residential accommodation, will have at least a retirement pension or other insurance benefit of 26s. a week. Assuming that they retain 5s. a week for pocket money, such persons will be in a position to pay at least 21s. a week for their accommodation and maintenance. The Minister, under powers conferred by the Bill accordingly proposes to prescribe 5s. a week as the normal sum required as pocket money, and 21s. a week as the minimum charge for residential accommodation. The hon. Gentleman omitted from his argument—and the hon. Lady also—that there is a prescribed sum for pocket-money, which was laid down a year ago as the sum of 6s. 6d. Therefore, anyone drawing 32s. 6d. keeps for himself 6s. 6d., and the balance of 26s. is left for accommodation. That is the fact as it concerns persons drawing a 32s. 6d. retirement pension, and so they are not harmed in any way by these Regulations.

I think we should have a straightforward and simple statement of the facts. These Regulations simply transfer a burden from the local authorities to the shoulders of the Exchequer, through its agency, the National Assistance Board. Can I demonstrate this to the House, so Members can understand what is happening? Assuming that the 21s. minimum charge still stands and a person is drawing a pension of 10s. a week—and there are widows in these homes drawing 10s. a week—then that person receives the 6s. 6d. and 3s. 6d. is left; therefore, the National Assistance Board has to come forward with 17s. 6d.

Mr. T. Brown

In very few cases.

Commander Galbraith

Yes, but there are other people. There are those who have a non-contributory pension of 26s. and they claim their 6s. 6d., and there is 19s. 6d. left; so, in this case, the National Assistance Board comes forward with 1s. 6d. What is going to happen now that we have increased the charge? In the case of the non-contributory pensioner drawing 26s. a week, the Board is going to pay 6s. 6d. instead of 1s. 6d., and 22s. 6d. instead of 17s. 6d. For the United Kingdom the total cost to the Exchequer will be about £400,000 a year. Some hon. Members opposite recognised this long ago. In April of last year, the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) said: If the local authorities have to bear this burden much longer there will be a restriction of the programme for providing homes for the aged people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th April, 1952; Vol. 499, c. 1400.] We are relieving the local authorities of a considerable amount of their burden; in fact, to the tune of something like £400,000 a year, and we hope that that will spur them on to providing more homes. These Regulations should not harm a single person; they simply remove a burden from the shoulders of the local authorities. In these circumstances, I hope that the House will allow the Regulations to operate.

10.44 p.m.

Mr. William Keenan (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

In the early stages of this discussion it appeared to me that this alteration did not apply to the contributory pensioner. I do not know why these Regulalations were not embodied with those which were promulgated last year. It is now twelve months or more since the National Assistance scales and the National Insurance pension rates were increased, and I am wondering if any local authority allowed those who had the 32s. 6d. pension to get 11s. 6d., or whether any anticipated these Regulations and made the figure 6s. 6d.

The explanation of the Minister is clear. Actually the scale for National Assistance is slightly higher at 35s., but it would appear that the intention of the Minister is to make the Assistance Board accept liability at the contributory pension figure of 32s. 6d. I am glad that we have had it made clear.

In my constituency we have a building which houses approximately 1,400 people, most of whom are aged and infirm, and I wish to emphasise that this advance from 5s. 6d. to 6s. 6d. is totally inadequate. It does not pay for two ounces of tobacco. I hope that the Minister will look at this matter again, because a good case can be made out for increasing the amount. These old people are in institutions only because they have no friends or relatives to care for them.

Miss Elaine Burton (Coventry, South)

I wish to ask if I should be in order in developing another side of this problem. It seems to me that what is important in this argument is what the old people have to do with the money left to them after what they have paid for living in these homes has been deducted. I wish to discuss what the local authorities provide for the old people because that will determine the value of the money left to them. Should I be in order in discussing that?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)

I doubt it. These Regulations simply alter the amount. If we went into detail about other money we should be going beyond the scope of the Regulations.

Miss Burton

What I wanted to pursue was what the old person has to do with the money that is left after this charge has been made, which seems to me, subject to your approval, to be in order.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not think so, because these Regulations deal only with the charges for accommodation. I can appreciate the point the hon. Lady is making, but I think it is too far removed from the matter we are discussing.

Mr. Angus Maude (Ealing, South)

Is it not the fact, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that even if the charge for accommodation is deducted from the total sum, these Regulations in no way affect the amount of pocket money left to the inmate of any institution?

Miss Burton

I will not trouble you with the matter any further, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I wanted to discuss the accommodation which was provided for this sum.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not think that that would be in order. These Regulations simply deal with the charge for the accommodation. There is nothing about the accommodation itself.

Miss Burton

Would the Minister consider collecting information from the various local authorities as to what is done for the old people resident in their homes, because some authorities are good and some are bad. If one is lucky enough to be resident in a home administered by a good authority, it means that the money left to one often goes further. Would the right hon. Gentleman consider publishing a booklet giving an example of what is left to the old people resident in these homes?

Mr. Iain Macleod

I shall be very happy to consider what the hon. Lady says and see if there is any more information which I can give the House.

10.52 p.m.

Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)

I would not have intervened in this debate were it not that all of us have a very special concern, the well-being of these old folk. I think that the public conscience is more sensitive about the way in which we treat the older generation than about most public questions. This concern is not necessarily confined to people of any one political opinion. I acknowledge that men of good will in all parties are concerned to see that Regulations of this sort should not impinge too harshly upon the weaker members of the community.

During the Recess, I had old folk come to me in great distress because they felt—and indeed they so complained to me—that they were going to receive less as a result of what the Minister has been saying. I take it from what the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has said—I hope he will correct me if I am wrong—that these old folk will not receive a penny less than they received before these Regulations came out, including the people who are on the full basic pension. I am not referring to the non-contributors.

Commander Galbraith

With your permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I should like to answer that point. It may be that some people will suffer, because they have been drawing more than they ought to. That came about in this way. The House will remember that the pension rate was raised first of all to 30s. When it was so raised no reference was made to any increase in what I may call pocket money, and some local authorities split the additional 4s. equally between the individual and themselves. Others did other things. In fact, I have before me a list of authorities who treated the matter in quite different ways. But the majority of them adhered to what was the correct and legal procedure, that is, they let the pocket money stay at 5s. Therefore, the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question is that in certain individual cases people may get less.

Mr. Thomas

I am very grateful for that answer, although I must express my deep concern at its contents, because the Minister did not give any indication as to how many people will suffer a reduction if these Regulations go through. In how many cases——

Commander Galbraith

It was not legal for them to have had that money.

Mr. Thomas

Whether it has been legal or not, whether the Minister has been remiss in not seeing that local authorities fulfilled their duties and obligations, I do not know; all I am concerned with is that there are old people who, if these Regulations go through, will have less to spend than they have been receiving from the local authority.

I have no desire to make a party point out of this, but I do think it would be wrong for these Regulations to be rushed through the House tonight without our realising that a nameless number—we have no indication how many have been receiving the higher rate which they ought not to have had—are going to suffer as a result. The general cost of living is the basis for these Regulations, and, in view of the general increase in the cost of living, it seems unreasonable that the Minister should go out of his way in these Regulations not to see that the other pensioners are brought up to what these people have been receiving but that these pensioners who have been on the higher scale are pulled down. I cannot find adequate reasons for supporting these Regulations, and if my hon. Friends are going into the Division Lobby they can count on my support.

Mrs. E. M. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)

I should have been prepared to support these Regulations if I felt that they were doing what has been stated, but, as a member of a local authority, the Regulations seem to me to be doing the local authority out of 5s. from the National Assistance Board. At the moment, when a person in a hostel has no income, the National Assistance Board is paying the local authority only 21s., because that is the amount laid down at present. I felt that the 6s. 6d. laid down was too little; but there is nothing in these Regulations, as far as I can see, which makes any difference, excepting that it makes the National Assistance Board pay to the local authority, which is at present meeting the additional cost, the amount of the additional cost between the 21s. they are paying now and the 26s. which is laid down here. So it does not affect in any way the income of the person who has the insurance amount, because they have been drawing only 6s. 6d. for over 12 months.

I am on an old age persons sub-committee of the Liverpool Corporation, and one of our difficulties is that the National Assistance Board refuses to pay us 26s. because the Regulations say only 21s. I want to see these Regulations go through so that the local authorities can claim from the National Assistance Board the amount it ought to have been paying for the last 12 months. An hon. Friend asks me about all those who will suffer a reduction; but they had that 12 months ago. It was laid down that instead of 5s. the aged person in a hostel should be left with 6s. 6d. It is true that for a few weeks we were in a quandary, when it was raised to 32s. 6d., about what we should do between the 21s. they were paying and the 32s. 6d. I am very anxious——

Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)

I think that the hon. Lady is mistaken. The 1952 Regulations are based upon the increase from 5s. to 6s. 6d. and came into operation simultaneously with the 32s. 6d. She said there was an interim period when she did not know what to do.

Mrs. Braddock

There were a few weeks intervening before they came into operation.

Mr. Fraser


Mrs. Braddock

Yes. We have had this matter argued at the Liverpool local authority. That is the reason why there is this discrepancy and why some local authorities divided the amount into halves between the 21s. and the 32s. 6d. The Regulations with the 6s. 6d. pocket money were laid down about 12 months ago.

Mr. Woodburn

I do not think that the hon. Lady is differing from what any of my hon. Friends have said. The Minister has explained that because the new Regulations are to be imposed, some old age pensioner might suffer loss. While that is not a matter with which these Regulations are concerned, it is a matter which concerns my hon. Friend and she has appealed to the Minister to say whether it would be possible to alter the position in the Regulations. Perhaps he might take into consideration what has been said and not allow people to suffer.

Mrs. Braddock

It still seems to me that the matter is in a fog. I cannot see that these Regulations have anything to do with that matter at all. They are only making the National Assistance Board pay an extra 5s. to the local authority for every person who is not in receipt of an insurance pension. If that is all it is about, I hope it goes through. On the other hand, the 6s. 6d. which was laid down was insufficient because fares and other odds and ends bought by old age pensioners have increased. If I thought the Regulations had anything to do with that I would support my hon. Friend, but I cannot see that it has.

Mrs. Mann

I still think there is a great deal of confusion in the House about this matter. From the Government Front Bench we heard a statement that no old age pensioner would be affected in any way, and then the Minister corrected himself by saying that there would be some who would be.

Commander Galbraith

Perhaps I should have said that there might be some. There are only a few local authorities affected in Scotland, and I understand that there are none in England, but I could not give an absolute assurance to the House that none of them were not getting more than the 6s. 6d.

Mrs. Mann

It would appear that the Government Front Bench are quite keen to see that no one suffers from the Regulations. In view of that fact, and the fact that we have had a good airing of this matter, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.