HC Deb 15 February 1954 vol 523 cc1627-8
8 and 9. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (1) how many retirement pensioners were in receipt of supplementary benefit from the National Assistance Board as at 15th December, 1953; and how many other old-age pensioners were also in receipt of payments from the Board at the same date;

(2) what proportion of all old-age and retirement pensioners are now in receipt of benefits from the National Assistance Board.

Mr. Peake

At 15th December, 1953, about 935,000 weekly National Assistance grants were in payment to retirement pensioners and 160,000 to non-contributory old-age pensioners. These grants are being paid in respect of just over one-quarter of the total number of such pensioners.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these figures show a steady and alarming increase? Do they not emphasise the importance of having a complete review of the scale of retirement pensions in order to avoid so many of our old people—now over a quarter of them—having to apply for extra Assistance?

Mr. Peake

As I said in answer to an earlier Question, the rate of increase in these numbers is, I am glad to say, slowing down, and there are a number of factors which give reason for hope that these numbers will eventually stabilise and tend to decline.

12. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Ministerof Pensions and National Insurance what representations he has received from the Guildford Old People's Welfare Committee on the plight of retirement pensioners as revealed in a report to the committee's annual meeting in October, 1953; what reply he has made about such representations; and what action he intends to take on the matter.

Mr. Peake

None, but my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has received a copy of a resolution from the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Nugent).

Mr. Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that that report from Guildford, which is not predominantly Socialist-minded, refers to masses of old people who are spending a great part of the day in bed to save fuel and food, and that the Chairman of the Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau described the report as "perfectly ghastly"? In view of the deluge of evidence that the Minister is getting about the hardship of the old people, plus the authoritative speech by Lord Beveridge in another place last Wednesday, will the Minister say what he is prepared to do? Can he give any concrete facts of progress that he is making to solve these people's problems?

Mr. Peake

The hon. Member asked me what representations I had received. The only representation that we have received in the Ministry is a letter from my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford forwarding a copy of this resolution. In the circumstances, I do not think it would be very appropriate for me to discuss my correspondence with one Member with the House as a whole.

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