HC Deb 20 December 1954 vol 535 cc2410-3
13. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the nature of the letter he received about old-age pensions from the Secretary of the National Federation of Old-Age Pensions Associations, dated 17th November; how many similar budgets he has since received; and what reply he has sent.

17. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he has received the leaflets sent to him by the secretary of the National Federation of Old-Age Pensioners Associations since the debate on 16th November in the last session; and what reply he has sent.

The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Osbert Peake)

The Federation, in the letter of 17th November, said that some budgets were being sent. Subsequently a parcel of budgets was received: these were acknowledged. No further budgets have come to hand.

Mr. Dodds

After the Minister's scurrilous attack on the Federation in the debate on 16th November, will he not now, as a gentleman, apologise for such regrettable conduct on that occasion?

Mr. Peake

No, Sir. The Federation appealed for 50,000 leaflets to be sent to me. In fact 15 were sent. Later, a bundle containing 2,667 was sent, but of those more than half, 1,524, were old, shop-soiled stock of a previous campaign. [Laughter.]

Miss Burton

Is the Minister aware that it would have been courteous, if nothing else, to have sent a detailed reply to the secretary referring to these last 2,000 questionnaires that he has received? Will he also realise that if his hon. Friends are not aware of what pensioners think of this sort of laughter from hon. Members opposite, people in the country certainly are?

Mr. Peake

No, Sir. I cannot agree that any detailed answer was called for. This type of personal budget supplied in this sort of way is absolutely useless as a means of judging whether people are in need or not.

Mr. Dodds

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recollect that in saying that of thousands of these notices sent out he had received only 15, he deliberately misunderstood the position for the sake of party advantage?

Mr. Peake

No, Sir, that is quite untrue.

16. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is now in a position to state the date upon which old-age pensioners may expect their promised increase in pension.

Mr. Peake

I would refer the hon. Member to my statement to the House on 1st December.

Miss Burton

Is there anything the House can do to get the Minister to realise that these old people cannot wait five months for this help? How does he propose they should pay for their cup of tea now that the price of tea is to be increased? What does he propose they should drink instead of tea?

Mr. Peake

I should like to correct the hon. Lady. It is not five months but four months from now until the end of April.

Mr. Hamilton

Would the Minister give an assurance that, if between now and the end of April the cost of living goes up and thereby reduces the purchasing power of the increase, he will introduce some additional legislation to remedy that?

Mr. Peake

The hon. Gentleman will surely by now be aware that we have done something more than is strictly required to restore the 1946 purchasing power of the pension.

18. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what would be the annual cost of raising the modified old-age pension, payable under special conditions governing title to old-age pensions under the Widows, Orphans and Old-Age Contributory Pensions Acts, for persons who have, on retirement from excepted employment, been granted a superannuation allowance, to the full rate payable under the National Insurance Act, 1952, and to that proposed in the National Insurance Bill, 1954, respectively.

Mr. Peake

I regret that I cannot supply this information, as the number of such pensioners is not known. It is the intention, as on previous occasions, to make a proportionate increase in these modified pensions by regulations under the new Bill.

Mr, Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the recipients of modified pensions who have voluntarily paid contributions for 15 years receive 9s. 6d. less than somebody receives under the 1952 Act after having paid for only five years? Will he look into this and do what he can to rectify the position, because all of these people are over 68 and most are over 70?

Mr. Peake

My hon. Friend must bear in mind that these people, in addition to their insurance pensions, of course have superannuation rights.

19 and 22. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (1) whether he will arrange for old-age pensioners to receive an extra week's pension at Christmas time so that they may be enabled to purchase a few additional items and thus enjoy the seasonal festivities;

(2) what the cost would be to make a Christmas bonus of 10s. to all old-age pensioners during Christmas week; and whether he will take the necessary action to implement this proposal.

Mr. Peake

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to a similar Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown) on 10th November, a copy of which I arm sending him. The cost of a 10s. bonus would be nearly £2½ million.

Mr. Lewis

But that reply was made before the recent proposed increase in the price of tea, and prior to our being aware that old-age pensioners would not be getting their increase until next April. In view of the fact that both sides of the House would agree with the idea contained in this Question, would the Minister not agree to provide something, if not a bonus of 10s., then of some nominal amount, such as 5s., or 7s. 6d.?

Mr. Peake

I do not think that there would be much support from any responsible quarter for the suggestion of using the Insurance Fund to give a Christmas bonus.

31. Brigadier Medlicott

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what extra amounts were paid to old-age pensioners at Christmas time during the years 1945 to 1950 inclusive.

Mr. Peake

None, Sir.

Brigadier Medlicott

Bearing in mind the request made today for a Christmas bonus, was it not very forgetful of the party opposite to omit to make any such provision during the six years when they were in office?

Mr. Beswick

Will the Minister remind his hon and gallant Friend that in 1945 the amount payable at Christmas was 10s. per week per pensioner?

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Would not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this matter, in view of the fact that under the Labour Government rents were not raised and tea was not sent up to double the price?

Mr. Peake

No, Sir. As I have said before, I do not think that any responsible person would advocate the use of the Insurance Fund as a means of giving Christmas boxes.

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