HC Deb 11 June 1956 vol 554 cc6-7
7. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, in view of the increasing cost of living since the last increases were authorised in National Assistance Board scales, which were necessary because of previous rising prices, what consideration has been given to the present position; and when action is to be taken to alleviate the hardships that have arisen.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The Act puts the initial responsibility for this matter on the National Assistance Board. I am sure that the Board can be relied upon to submit proposals to me whenever it thinks the situation requires it. The House will be aware that the present scales came into effect on 23rd January, and provide in real terms higher benefits than those originally enacted in 1948.

Mr. Dodds

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the cost of living so far this year has gone up faster than in any other year since 1951? Is he not sufficiently on speaking terms with the Board to be able to answer that part of the Question which asks what consideration has been given to the present position, or is it that no consideration at all has been given?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

If the hon. Gentleman will study my Answer, he will see that not only has consideration been given, but it has been translated into action in providing scales whose real benefit is greater than that of the original 1948 level.

Mr. Marquand

In view of the very large numbers of people on National Assistance, to which the right hon. Gentleman drew attention a moment ago, is it not now time to consider raising the basic pension itself in order to reduce those numbers?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, that is a totally different question from that on the Order Paper.