HC Deb 17 November 1955 vol 546 cc753-5
10. Captain Pilkington

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what categories, and approximately how many people, are covered by the Government's present reexamination of the position of persons living on fixed incomes; and when he hopes to be able to make a statement on the subject.

19. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the estimated cost, group by group, to bring pensioners covered by the Pensions Increases Acts up to the operative level at 1st January, 1955.

Mr. H. Brooke

As the reply is lengthy and contains a good many figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I hope to be able to make a statement on the whole subject later this afternoon in answer to another Question.

Captain Pilkington

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that these people are the hardest hit by the rise in the cost of living and that it was 29 per cent. for 1947–51 and has been 16 per cent. since?

Mr. Brooke

I suggest that my hon. gallant Friend should await the statement I hope to be able to make.

Following is the reply:

Only a very rough answer can be given. The structure, pay scales and pension arrangements in the public services have changed greatly in the past two or three decades. Many ranks and grades have disappeared while other new ones have been created. Again, some public services (e.g., local government, etc.) have had universal pension systems for a comparatively short period. For these reasons the figures for individual services are subject to a wider margin of error than the total. Subject to these qualifications, a very approximate answer is as follows:—

Category Number of Pensioners Estimated cost additional to existing Pensions Increase of giving current rates
Armed Forces 180,000 4½—5½*
Civil Service 128,000 5–7
Teachers 86,000† 3½—5½
Police 60,000 3–4
Fire Services 5,000 (say) 1/4
National Health Service 15,000 (say) ¼
Local Authority 120,000 3–4
Total 594,000 19½—26½

NOTES: Widows' and Dependants' pensions are included throughout.

*The figure for the Armed Forces is the cost of giving the 1950 Code pensions to pensioners who retired under earlier codes, without taking into account the fact that some pensioners retired under previous codes would not qualify for a 1950 code pension.

†Including 10,000 Scottish Teacher pensioners.

17. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has yet decided to introduce a new Pensions Increases Bill.

Mr. H. Brooke

The Government have decided that further measures to assist retired members of the public services are justified and are preparing detailed proposals to put before Parliament in the New Year.

Dame Irene Ward

While appreciating the spirit of my right hon. Friend's reply, which will give very great satisfaction, may I ask him whether he is open to receive representations and recommendations and whether it is his intention during the review to consider wiping out anomalies? In fact, is he to have a comprehensive scheme based on the needs of the people of today?

Mr. Brooke

I am certainly ready to receive suggestions and representations. This is an extraordinarily complicated matter, and it will not be until next year that the Government will be able to lay their detailed proposals.

Mr. Warbey

Is the Financial Secretary aware that one of the best ways in which the Government could help the people in these groups is by leaving the Finance Bill where it now is?