HC Deb 08 February 1954 vol 523 cc807-8
2. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is aware that many old age pensioners will be unable to afford the increased price of tea; and if, as this is one of their greatest needs, he will raise the matter with the National Assistance Board.

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

I am sure that the National Assistance Board is aware, without my bringing it to its notice, of the recent increase in the price of tea, which, I understand, is 1d. per ¼lb.

Miss Burton

Does the Minister realise that today old people just have not got these extra pennies? Is he aware that the Federation of Old Age Pensioners'Associations—whose representatives are, I believe, coming to see him about the matter—has stated that old age pensioners have less than 2s. a day to spend on food? Will he press the Assistance Board to look carefully into the question of the cost of tea?

Mr. Peake

I am sure that the hon. Lady will have noted with satisfaction the fall of 4 points in the food prices index since last July and will recall that on the occasion of the increase in assistance scales, in 1952, the Board stated that it took into account future increases in the cost of living which have not, in fact, occurred.

Mr. Gower

Can the Minister tell the House to what extent the ability of the Assistance Board to make adjustments of the kind asked for are limited and restricted by regulation?

Mr. Peake

It is the duty of the Board to recommend changes in the scale whenever it thinks it desirable.

Mr. T. Reid

Who is responsible for the demand for an increase in the price of tea? Is it the growers, or the distributors, or the blenders?

Mr. Peake

That question should be addressed to the Minister of Food.