§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
I beg to move,That, in view of impending increases in rents and the continuous rise in the cost of the necessities of life, this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce forthwith appropriate measures to provide an immediate increase in benefits for retirement pensioners and all persons receiving National Assistance.I moved a Motion similar to this five months ago, on 25th February, to which the Government moved an Amendment which was accepted by the House, the House accordingly resolving that it wouldsupport Her Majesty's Government in all measures they could take to protect the real value of these benefits.Since then, they have certainly taken measures to increase some people's incomes. The Surtax payers' incomes have been increased. The incomes of landlords are shortly to be increased. But the Government have not fulfilled the terms of the Resolution which the House carried then and they have not maintained the value of insurance benefits.
The real value of insurance benefits which they promised then to protect has, in fact, been reduced. In February last, when we debated this question, the Index of Retail Prices, which I must take for the purpose of measurement—anyway, it is the Government's own figure—stood at 4 points above the level of January, 1956. Now, it is 6 points above that level, a rise of 2 points in five months. It is 10 points above the average for 1955, the year in which the last increase in pensions was made. Thus, the Government are failing by 2s. in the £ to maintain the value which Lord Ingleby, then Mr. Peake, thought appropriate to recommend to the House at the end of 1954. That is the measure of their failure, and 2s. in a £ means a very great deal when a person has only £2 a week to spend. Taking the figures from the Government's own publications, that is the measure of their achievement in protecting the real value of pensions.
It is no use any Minister or supporter of the Government arguing, if he has a mind to this time, that the rises in the index are not due to increases in the price of goods that pensioners buy. That has been argued sometimes in the past. 1574 but, this time, it will not do. The Ministry of Labour Gazette, announcing the latest upward move in the Index of Retail Prices in June said:It is due mainly to increases in the average prices of potatoes, bacon, eggs and tomatoes.The last increase is seen to be due mainly to a rise in the price of food, and not luxury foods either, but essential foods.
That is not by any means all. The case we put today is not merely that the Government have failed to fulfil the promise which they made to the House five months ago, but that there is very much worse to come. Again, this cannot be denied. We all know of increases in price which are bound to come about very soon, certainly before Christmas. We know of the increase in postal charges, for that proposal has been before us; it is the Government's own action, announced by the Government. Even old-age pensioners and people on National Assistance must occasionally write a letter.
We know that the price of coal has gone up. We know that the price of gas and electricity has gone up. We know that the effect of these increases in fuel costs will not be felt either in the index or in the daily budgets of the old-age pensioners and poor people living on National Assistance for a couple of months yet. They must look forward with grave anxiety and trepidation to what is to happen next winter, with these increases in price already approved and about to take place. How are they to manage? They have had hard enough times, as we all know, in recent winters to keep themselves in decent comfort. How are they to do it next winter, when these increased prices come along?
The price of steel has just gone up. Old-age pensioners do not, I suppose, consume very much steel in the form of such things as pots and pans and razor blades, but everybody knows that the increased price of basic commodities such as steel will be passed on through the economy. If we did not know it, the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us in the debate we had on the economic situation a short time ago. He said that all these price increases would pass through the economy and would result in further increases in the ultimate price of consumer goods.
An increase in freight charges was forecast, I noticed, in a recent issue of the 1575 Financial Times. These again, passed on by the railways to their customers, will be passed on by them into an eventual rise in consumer goods. Bus fares will probably go up. Indeed, so remarkable is this series of increases now in the price of basic commodities which must inevitably be passed on into the cost of final products that the Financial Times, in its issue of 15th July, headed its article on the subject, "Industry's Price Thaw".
I have not time to expound the whole article, but the theme of it was that these increases, which I have already mentioned, will be passed on, and that we may expect further increases in all kinds of other industrial products. With those increases, it is impossible to avoid an ultimate rise in the price of consumer goods. The inflationary spiral has undoubtedly taken an upward turn of very large dimensions.
§ Captain Richard Pilkington (Poole)
The right hon. Gentleman has just said that the inflationary spiral has taken a further turn upwards. Would he agree that the man chiefly responsible for the future of that increasing inflationary spiral is Mr. Cousins?
§ Mr. Marquand
I am not seeking to lay the blame for the increase in the inflationary spiral on anybody this afternoon. What I wish to do is to draw attention to the plight of 2½ million and more people, who have had no responsibility for it whatsoever, upon whom the main burden will unquestionably fall.
The worst of all the increases which are to come, in its effect upon old people and those living on National Assistance and other insurance benefits, will, of course, be the rise in rents. The Government, though they had decided that the rise in rents must take place, could, at least, apart altogether from any increase in pensions for which we are asking today, have taken more effective measures to protect the old-age pensioner and insurance beneficiary from the effects of increased rents. They might, at least, have taken steps to inform these people of their position. The Minister of Housing and Local Government might have sent out Form G to every one of them.
1576 The Minister has the addresses of all old-age pensioners. He, or the Assistance Board, has the names and addresses of all on Assistance readily to hand. Why did he not write a letter to them all saying, "An increase in rents is coming. These are the measures provided for your protection. If your house is in a bad state of repair, you can use this form"—and so on. Why not tell them? Instead, the Government have said that people can go to a shop, if they can find one with a form, and buy a copy for 6d.
A woman came to me not long ago during my last visit to my constituency. She was typical of the many whom we see in our "surgeries", an elderly lady, decent, respectable, well-mannered, and in no way to be criticised for the plight in which she found herself. She was living on National Assistance on the scale rate of £2 a week. She brought me a notice from her landlord saying that her rent was going up by 7s. 6d. "What am I going to do?" she asked. "How can I possibly pay this sum out of £2? I can scarcely live on it as it is."
§ Mr. John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
If the lady was receiving National Assistance, would not her rent have been paid by the National Assistance Board?
§ Mr. Marquand
The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden)might have allowed me a sentence or two to finish my story.
I was glad to be able to say to the lady, "Of course, you will not have to pay it. The Assistance Board will pay it." I told her to go to the Assistance Board. I asked her in what kind of house she was living. I could almost have guessed the answer beforehand. She was living, of course, in a house where the landlord had never bothered to do repairs for years on end. The water was dripping in on her bed. I was able to give her the appropriate form to fill up and she will be helped to fill it up, as she is entitled to do under the Act.
Why do the Government not arrange to have these things made known?
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle) rose—1577
§ Mr. Marquand
I will not give way again. I have given way twice in a very few minutes.
What measures have been taken to tell the retirement pensioner and persons already on National Assistance that the Assistance Board will pay their rent increases? Perhaps the Minister will tell us. It may be that he made a broadcast about it—I do not know. Perhaps I am doing him an injustice. If so, no doubt he will defend himself when the time comes. What effort has been made to let these people know?
In the correspondence which we receive—on this side of the House, at least—we have evidence that people just do not know their rights. They are being subjected to unnecessary anxiety and worry by a failure to let them know the protection that is provided in the Act.
§ Mr. A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)
Will the right hon. Gentleman give way to me now that he has done so to his hon. Friend?
§ Mr. Speaker
I would point out that we have only a short time for the debate on this important subject and that interruptions prolong speeches. The fewer we have of them, the more progress we shall make.
§ Mr. Marquand
It may well be that some hon. Members, feeling that they may not be able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, in the time at our disposal, might like to make their speeches while I am making mine. I cannot help them any more than I have done.
In round figures, there are 2½ million people—one in 20 of the population—living to a greater or less degree on National Assistance. Amid all the apparent prosperity which we see around us—the motor cars, radio, and television sets. shops full of goods, people preparing to go on holiday, crowded trains, and all the rest—these 2½ million people are living in miserable little houses in the grimy, unpleasant hack streets of our towns and 1578 in the little, unrepaired, patched-up cottages in the countryside. These are the forgotten people of Britain, on a standard which is quite indefensible in view of the standards of living at which the rest of the population is now able to live.
These 2½ million forgotten people are scattered all over this country of ours. If they could all be brought to one place, they would be double the population of the City of Birmingham. Then, perhaps, more notice would be taken of their plight. It is our duty this afternoon to think of them and to plead for them.
If I had time and if I thought it wise to do so, I could read dozens of letters which have been received by my hon. Friends and myself about the plight of these people. One could quote case after case which has arisen in what we call our "surgeries." I will read just this one letter, which has been passed to me by my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, West (Mr. Randall). This is a genuine letter if ever there was one:Ex-railway brick labourer, 72 years old. I write these lines to ask the Labour Party to try the powers that be to allow us, the ex-workers, to spend our tobacco duty relief tokens on bread.That is the position to which many old-age pensioners find themselves reduced. They wish that they could find some means of providing themselves with bread rather than with one of the luxuries of life.
How many more such people are there to be after the rent increases come into effect in October? I want to know. I hope we will get an answer from the Minister, not a debating answer, but a Ministerial answer, giving us the facts. What is the Government's estimate of the extra number of persons who will require and receive National Assistance after the rent increases come into effect, and how many of those will be retirement pensioners?
When Lord Ingleby introduced the Bill to increase pensions last time, there were 1 million retirement pensioners on National Assistance. He said that that number was so high that it was certainly time that the retirement pension itself should be increased so that the numbers having to resort to National Assistance could be reduced. One million was Lord Ingleby's limit. One million was the 1579 point at which, he felt, action should be taken to increase the retirement pension
When we last debated this subject, the number was 927,000, in December, 1956. The latest figure, published in the green book of statistics, was 942,000 in March, 1957. What is the figure today? I hope the Minister knows. It will be published in the green book in the middle of August, so presumably it is available already. It has probably gone to the printers. It is part of the Minister's duty to watch these figures, so he must know. If he knows the answer, will he please tell us? Has it reached the 1 million mark yet? It cannot be very far off at this rate of increase.
That is the outline of the situation of our people today. The plea that they are making to us and that we are striving to voice today in the House of Commons is simply this: for God's sake do something this time to protect us before the worst happens. Far too often in the past, action has been taken when it became apparent that the cost of living was unbearably high and when it became apparent that another 100,000, 200,000 or 300,000 people had to resort to National Assistance.
As it can easily now be foreseen that the cost of living must go up, as it is known to us that the cost of rent must go up, why can we not take the action now? Why can we not foresee these inevitable results of all the things that we know have happened? Why not submit the necessary order and regulations forthwith, as we say in our Motion, so that the books can be printed? As we have frequently said, it takes many weeks, if not months, to get all the alterations made in the pensions and all the books printed and sent out to the post offices. It takes a long time before the increase, once voted by this House, goes into the homes of the people. Why not begin now? It is easy to foresee the increases. Nothing at all that we can do will stop those increases, and no one here can deny that.
We have today put down a Motion which seeks to concentrate attention on two groups of people—very large groups indeed, as I have indicated—upon whom the burden of these price and rent increases and these other difficult conditions falls particularly heavily. But, of course, it does not mean that we lack sympathy 1580 in any way whatever for other views. If our Motion were carried, and there were, as soon as it was physically and legally possible to do it, an increase in retirement pensions, of course it would follow that there would be an increase in the other insurance benefits as well.
What we are particularly anxious about, since it is now inevitable that the insurance benefits cannot be increased until next Session, are two things. First, that the Government will tell us tonight that there is to be an increase in the pension sufficient to cover these increases in prices and to keep another 1 million or perhaps 2 million from going on to National Assistance—that that will be the first order of priority next Session, that it will be mentioned in the Gracious Speech and that it will he the first Bill mentioned to us when we come back in November.
The second thing we want is this. Since that will inevitably take time, since, inevitably, the increase in pensions would not be paid before, perhaps, January next year, in the interim all those people should be protected by an increase in the National Assistance payment. It can be done. The Assistance Board, I know, is independent. The Minister cannot direct the Board, but the House of Commons tonight can take a vote of which the Board will undoubtedly take notice. The whole country will take notice if the Motion which I have moved is carried tonght.
Action by the Assistance Board, will, I think, follow very rapidly. What action is needed? The Board decides upon a figure which it recommends for an improvement in the rates of assistance, and recommends it to the Minister. He brings it before the House and It goes through, when the House approves the Order laid before it. No amendment is possible. I hope we shall hear today that as soon as the Board produces its recommendations, the Order will be laid before us in the week in which we come back.
We have heard the business announced by the Lord Privy Seal for the week when we come back in October. There is plenty of room among that business for the placing on the Order Paper of a recommendation by the Assistance Board. If that is done in the first three days in the week in which we come back, I can 1581 assure the House that the recommendation of the Board, even if it should disappoint us, will be put through this House in no time. The Government need not worry about the length of time taken. It will go through. We shall expedite it to the utmost of our power.
What we plead tonight is that that Order be laid and that the Assistance Board listen to the plea of the House of Commons and the people of the country. I ask the Board to think again of the 300,000 people with children, drawing National Assistance, with a maximum weekly sum of 18s. on which to keep a child. I have said before in the House that this is a totally inadequate sum. It was totally inadequate a year ago when we discussed it. It is even more inadequate now. Let the National Assistance Board think of these children of the unemployed, the sick and the widowed, and, in some cases, even of the retirement pensioners. Think of the others, the long-term unemployed, sick and widowed, and let them take from the House tonight the message that this House wants those rates to be increased—not as a long-term policy for shifting over from insurance to assistance, but as an interim measure after which the Minister can introduce immediately in the new Session his legislation for an increase in the basic rate of pension and in the basic rate of all the other insurance benefits.
It would be the utmost hypocrisy to refuse these people who, as I have said, did not cause the inflation. In no way can they be held responsible for that. Indeed, they are undoubtedly the chief victims of it. It would be hypocrisy to refuse that to them on the grounds that such a payment would increase inflation further.
I said in February, when I introduced the previous Motion, that… it would be an outrage if, in the Budget which we are to hear next April, there were to be yet another hand-out to Income Tax and Surtax payers and nothing done for the poorest of the poor."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th February, 1957; Vol. 565, c. 867.]I said then that it would be an outrage, and the outrage has been committed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What will he do? There has been no increase in the Assistance rate and no increase in the pension rate. Instead, £65 million tax relief was given to the Surtax payers 1582 and to the property owners, on top of £100 million relief to the same groups in the Budget of 1955—a total increase in the inflationary pressure of £165 million. That £165 million would go a very long way to giving a substantial and satisfactory improvement in the retirement pension and in the Assistance rates of those who are not entitled to a pension.
I hope that there will be no diversionary efforts to talk about welfare and health visitors and that kind of thing. When we hear about block grants instead of percentage grants for local authorities, we wonder whether the welfare services will be reduced. Let us leave them on one side. Let us take that as common ground between us. Do not let us talk about those things on which we are all agreed. There are certainly many hon. Members on the benches opposite who are sincerely in favour of improvements in those directions. Let us hear from hon. Members opposite what they think about the money on which these people have to live and whether they do not feel that it ought to be increased substantially.
Some play was made in our last debate with the question, "What is your figure? Why not produce a figure?" I do not want to ride off on what is the correct constitutional answer, that private Members cannot propose increases in expenditure, and that that is the duty of the Government. I want to say simply that we have given an idea since then of what our figure would be. We have said in our new proposals for superannuation that we think that £3 a week is the sort of figure to which the basic pension ought to be raised.
§ Mr. Marquand
Yes. We have put forward our plans for a new system of pensions and superannuation. Indeed, if we were returned tomorrow it would not be by 1960, of course. We have put forward a new plan under which we believe it would be possible to provide a basic pension for all new entrants into insurance of £3 plus a differential on top, and we have said that in plain and common justice we would, of course, immediately make that £3 available to the present 1583 retirement pensioners. We cannot be accused any longer of having shrunk from mentioning a figure.
§ The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)
As the right hon. Gentleman has come to this matter, perhaps he would allow me to ask him a question, since it may save a little time later. When he talks of the £3 basic does he, in the proposal he is now putting forward, propose the inclusion of an addition to a wife's pension drawn on her husband's insurance? As I understand, in the Labour Party's published documents there is no suggestion of any such increase.
§ Mr. Marquand
That is so. The published documents on our plan so far show no such provision. Our plan is under discussion at present, as was intended, with the trade unions and with the interested organisations. The right hon. Gentleman is quite perfectly correct in what he says about that.
§ Mr. Marquand
That was a very interesting interjection by the right hon. Gentleman. I am becoming much more hopeful than I was. The Amendment which the Government have tabled to the Motion says what we were told last time, "Trust in us and we will take the appropriate measures." As I have said already, appropriate measures have not been taken in five months. Evidently the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to consider an increase to the extent of raising the present level from 55s. to 85s. for a couple.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
The right hon. Gentleman must not allow my success in at last eliciting from him and his right hon. and hon. Friends a definite figure which they pointedly refused to give on the last occasion to induce him to read into it any more than success in obliging the Opposition to state a figure for the first time.
§ Mr. Marquand
What I have said is that we believe that it is possible to do this, to raise pensions to that level in a comprehensive system of superannuation. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us tonight he has in mind a new comprehensive system of superannuation. That is why we gave him a lead. We thought he might, perhaps, follow our lead. Since he was so reluctant to give any figure we thought if we gave him a lead he might follow us. Let us hope that tonight he will follow.
§ Mr. Marquand
We hope that, though he will put forward his full proposals later, in the interim, here and now, to give protection to these people, he will say, "Since we know that in future there will be something satisfactory which will be recognised as fair and equitable, because we know that that will happen, because the Government have the power to do this and are the only people who can recommend increases in expenditure, we say here and now we shall, as soon as the House comes back after the Recess, introduce the necessary legislation to raise the payments up to—" a given figure. I hope that the right hon. Gentle-will say that. We are looking forward with great expectation, after that interjection of his, to what he will say.
Our plea particularly tonight is that the Government should act now for the interim. Long-term plans can be made. They will take a long time to work out, and will require discussions and the necessary legislation for a new, comprehensive system. They are bound to. Such an overhaul is bound to take a long time. All that we are asking tonight is that something should be done now to compensate for what has happened and to anticipate what we know will happen. What we say is that the Government should not say merely that in the future, sometime, possibly before 1950, something will happen. Do not let them say tonight that something will happen in the future and that, therefore, nothing can be 1585 done at the moment. Let them say, rather, "Because we know that we are to do something substantial and satisfactory in the future we can and will do something now in the interval."
Let the right hon. Gentleman undertake to the House tonight that he will use his best efforts to ensure that there will be an increase in National Assistance rates and that he will, as soon as possible in the new Session, introduce legislation for increasing retirement pensions and other insurance benefits; first, to compensate for the rise in the cost of living which has taken place since pensions were last raised; secondly, to protect the pensioners and the recipients of assistance from the future increases which we know are bound to come, and so as to avoid forcing another million or more people on to National Assistance; and, thirdly, to provide for those pensioners some share in the increase of productivity which the workers of the country have provided.
Let them have some share in the increased productivity. Those proposals should include provision for the increases in the cost of living already incurred, provision for the future increases in the cost of living which are inevitable, and, finally, a further amount to give those people a share in the increased prosperity which all of us have provided by our efforts. That is what we are asking the Government to do tonight.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser)has an Amendment to our Motion, to leave out from "That" to the end and add:having regard to the increase in the cost of living and of all amenities, and to the increase in standards of life enjoyed by many wage earners, salary earners, professional men, small business men and holders of equity shares, this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce as soon as practicable a major reform in the basic rate of war pensions and war widows' pensions and to introduce appropriate measures to provide increases in benefits for retirement pensioners and all persons receiving National Assistance".We have complete sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says in his Amendment. The record of this party in the matter of war pensions is comparable to anybody's. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman has been good enough on previous occasions to say flattering things about it. Of course we have a care for the welfare of war pensioners and war widows, as for 1586 the old, the sick. We have spoken about them many times. Tonight, however, we have tried to concentrate especially on those groups whom we think are the worst hit, because we know that if anything is done for them something will also be done automatically for those other classes as well.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Richard Wood)
I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:noting that the rates of war pensions, retirement pensions and other National Insurance benefits have twice been increased since October. 1951, and that the rates of national assistance have been raised three times since that date, this House expresses its confidence that Her Majesty's Government and the National Assistance Board will take such further action as may from time to time be just and fair both to the recipients of these payments and to the community as a whole".The Amendment, it will be noticed, draws attention not only to the Government's action in respect of retirement pensions and the increases in National Assistance since 1951, but also makes mention of other National Insurance benefits and of war pensions.
I understand that this is to be a reasonably short debate. My right hon. Friend is preparing himself to answer the questions which will be raised in it. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand)will forgive me if I leave to my right hon. Friend the task of answering his points as well, because I feel I may carry some hon. Members with me if I suggest that in a debate of this length two major speeches from the Treasury Bench would really be a great imposition, particularly at the beginning of August. Therefore, the reason why I have risen is more or less formally to move the Amendment so as to allow the questions of other National Insurance benefits and war pensions if necessary to be discussed.
However, as war pensions are put—as I would think, rightly—in the front of the Amendment, perhaps I may be forgiven if I say just a few words about them. Since 1951 the Government have increased by half the figure at which they then stood the basic rates both for disabled pensioners and for war widows. 1587 We have been able to double the allowance for widows' children, and we have gone a good long way towards doubling the allowance for orphans, and the maximum rent allowance which can be paid to widows who qualify has been increased by one-third.
Despite these changes, my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser)has often argued, and may, indeed, argue tonight, if he catches the eye of the Chair, that the ordinary disabled ex-Service man and war widow is relatively worse off than he or she was in the 'thirties. I have always felt that that argument is worthy of the most serious examination and I assure my hon. Friend that we shall continue to give to the disabled and the war widows all the help that we possibly can.
I am quite certain that hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that whatever may be the relative position of the disabled man who is not drawing allowances and of the widow, there is no doubt whatever that the really seriously disabled man who cannot work, or who cannot do the kind of job he was doing before his war injury, or who is completely helpless and cannot look after himself, is far better off today than he was between the wars. Since last February every pensioner over 65, with a disability of 40 per cent. or more, has received an extra weekly payment of between 5s. and 15s.
Improvements in war pensions, as in all parts of our social services—and it is useful to remind ourselves of this, for we often pay lip service to it—are mercifully not the work of only one political party. I am entirely in agreement with what the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East said about the work at the Ministry of Pensions. Labour Governments as well as Conservative Governments have contributed towards the improved position of the most seriously disabled. I am absolutely certain that the record of the present Government, when their work is completed, will abundantly justify the confidence which we hope and expect the House will continue to express in it.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)
With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House I wish to depart from the usual 1588 form of debate immediately following the two Front Bench speakers because I want to take the opportunity of paying my tribute to a former Member of the House who has passed away after serving faithfully and loyally for twenty-two years the Borough of Leigh. I refer to Joe Tinker, who was known to the older Members of the House. Unfortunately, he passed away on Tuesday at the age of 82. In his last letter to me, a few days ago, he expressed the profound hope that the Government would do something immediately to ease the burden on the old-age pensioners. At the age of 82, and after having left the House a number of years ago, his sympathies and desires were still with the old folk. We respect his memory and we revere the work that he did as a Member of Parliament in so many ways, and especially for the old folks.
I want to lodge my emphatic protest against the limited time accorded to this debate. My hon. Friends were fully expecting that on a matter of great importance such as the welfare of the old folk we should at least be given an opportunity of discussion for the normal course of a debate of approximately seven or eight hours. Instead, on a great human problem affecting the lives of nearly 5 million people, we are limited to the brief space of two hours. I hope that in future, in arranging these debates, the Government, and leaders of the Opposition will have greater regard for the welfare of old-age pensioners.
I occupy, not of my own seeking, a responsible position in connection with the old folk. My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Hubbard), now sitting beside me, and my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (The Rev. Ll. Williams)occupy similar positions. Never previously, whilst occupying that position, have I received so many letters condemning the Government's attitude as I have received during the last few months. That indicates that there is a growing feeling not only among trade unionists and co-operators, but in the minds of all old people that the Government are not fulfilling the promise that they gave a few years ago.
§ Sir Keith Joseph (Leeds, North-East)
We have heard a very responsible speech from the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand)and I 1589 would not have wished to intrude a party matter if the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown)had not contended that the present Government have attracted a great amount of correspondence on the subject of old-age pensions. If the hon. Member had held his office about six or seven years ago, at the time when the cost of food had risen 30 per cent. and when the Labour Party had not once increased pensions, I warrant that he would have received far more correspondence.
§ Mr. Brown
I have always looked upon the hon. Member as a well-behaved Member of the House. On the last occasion that we discussed this subject be took me to task. I replied to his interjection, as I reply to his interjection now, that I did not then occupy the position I hold today and therefore I cannot be held responsible for the correspondence that passed to my predecessor in that capacity. With all respect, the hon. Member had better behave himself, because I am a Lancastrian and he will get it straight from the shoulder if he interjects again.
Old-age pensioners and those living on the lower incomes have a very real complaint. It has been admitted not only by them, and they are the best judges, but by my hon. and right hon. Friends who have had the opportunity of reading letters sent to them by their constituents and constituents of hon. and right hon. Members opposite. Practically all those letters end by saying that the old-age pensioners and those who are in the lower-income groups have a genuine complaint. Nobody can deny it however much we try to escape it. None of us can say that the old-age pensioner can live on £2 a week.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud) rose—
§ Mr. Brown
I know that the hon. Member is a well-behaved Member and I therefore ask him not to intervene, because of the time factor.
The first charge I have to make against the Government is one of procrastination. The second, which I will elaborate, is one of a high degree of deception, and the third one of a high degree of complacency. It is just over five months since a petition was presented to this House calling the attention of the 1590 Government to the worsening condition of the old-age pensioners and those in the lower income groups. To be precise, that petition was presented to the House on 20th February. It was followed by a debate on 25th February, during which Members from both sides of the House called the attention of the Government to the poor economic and social condition of the old people.
Since that time those who have studied the Order Paper will have seen Question after Question from both sides of the House, the object of which was to bring about an improvement in the condition of these people by relieving the effects of the rising cost of living and the lowering of the spending value of the £. The cost-of-living figure today is higher than it has ever been in the history of this country. It stands at 106. The spending value of the £ has been going down and down, and only a week ago today it was reduced from 16s. 1d. to 15s. 11d. Every week the prices of food commodities are rising. The cost of coal, the cost of light, rents, all are rising, and the old-age pensioners suffer from each increase, while nothing tangible is done to relieve the increasing burdens they bear. So I charge the Government with continued procrastination, which has been proved up to the hilt. Time is limited so I will leave that point.
What about the charge of a high degree of deception? I do not like to apply that word, and I am not applying it, to any individual Member of this House, but that charge also can be easily proved, for the Government and their supporters promised that they would peg the cost of living. There is abundant evidence that they have not done so, and the old people are those who suffer most when prices increase.
I have always held that one of the great handicaps of the old people is that they have no trade union and are therefore at the mercy of every whim and fancy. No one can speak for them unless inside this Chamber we speak for them. I cannot possibly describe the hardships imposed upon them by the continual increases in food prices. I live amongst them in my little village, I meet them at their welfare centres, and every one of them is finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet. They are still awaiting the fulfilment of the promise made by the present Government some time ago to 1591 peg the cost of living, which they have not done. Seriously, and with all the emphasis I can command, I ask the Government if the elderly people are to wait in vain? Are they to wait until another winter dawns upon them? Are they to give up hope of securing any increase in their basic pension before this Christmas? If so, the Government had better tell them.
Now I will take a glance backwards to 1955. Every time the sun shines or the rain pours, or a gale blows, the old-age pensioners suffer from an increase in the cost of living. Let us look at some of the reasons given for such increases: Two years ago, in September, 1955, prices increased because of the hot spell. In March, 1956, prices increased because of the cold spell. In July, 1956, there was for once a glut of vegetables, but the economic law of supply and demand did not operate and prices did not come down. In June, 1957, two months ago, prices rose again. The sun shone again, so much so that lettuces sold in our markets at 2s. each.
Prices are still rising. Last month, in July, prices rose because rain and storms damaged crops. Now we have the Covent Garden dispute, and the Government and those responsible advance the argument that this is causing rising prices. All those increases have had to be borne by the old-age pensioners. Storms, sunshine, showers and disputes, they suffer from them all, and the Government do not seem to care about the position of the old people, despite all the warnings and pleadings from this side of the House.
My third charge is one of a high degree of deception, and that can be proved to the hilt. Let us examine briefly some of the statements made during the past six months by responsible Members of the Government and their party. For instance, shortly after the debate on 25th February, 1957, according to the Press reports, the Chairman of the Conservative Party said at Manchester that the Government were not unmindful of the economic conditions of the old-age pensioners, which were having their serious consideration.
That statement from a responsible Member of the Tory Party should have met with some response from the Government, but still nothing tangible was done. 1592 A little later there was the memorable meeting at Chequers which was attended by Cabinet Ministers and strong Government supporters. The Press reported some aspects of that meeting. The Lord Privy Seal, who is considered by practically every right-thinking man to be a very humane person, said according to the Press:In the sphere of social services, the Government's aim is to ensure that the welfare State works to comfort the afflicted, rather than to afflict the comfortable.They consider that stable prices are an extremely important element in social security. So do we on this side of the House, and every responsible person will agree that they are important. We believe that stable prices are one of the assets of social security. As I have said before, they are an indispensable factor in the social services. If the Government fail—whether it is a Tory Government or a Labour Government—to achieve price stability, we shall fail completely. The evidence we have proves conclusively that prices are not stable, and that is what is causing the trouble. Price fluctuations are causing a great deal of disturbance in our economic fabric in many ways.
I want to be fair. I know that the Government are not 100 per cent. responsible for the rise in prices and for these fluctuations, but it is no use advancing the argument that stable prices are part of social security when in a country like ours prices are not stabilised to any great degree but are fluctuating up and down—and they are often up rather than down.
I hope I shall not be misunderstood. When it comes to dealing with some parts of our society we can find the money. That cannot be denied. We can find money for everything except those people who stand most in need. There was no difficulty in finding £50 million for redundant officers of the Services. We can find the money for our own increases. We can find it for the judiciary and high legal luminaries. I am not complaining. I am one of those who believe in the philosophy that if men and women render service to their country, whatever the capacity in which they labour, at the end of their time they are entitled to a pension commensurate with an adequate standard of life. If we give emoluments 1593 and gratuities to other people, why cannot we do something for the old folk? Why cannot we set ourselves the task of meeting our obligations to the old people?
I have quoted one or two statements that have been made by responsible Ministers and responsible Government supporters. A fortnight ago the Prime Minister spoke on the occasion of the celebration of twenty-one years' service by a Cabinet Minister. This is what he said:Let's be frank; most of our people have never had it so good. Is it too good to last? Amid all this prosperity one problem troubles us—rising prices.If the responsible head of the Government gives expression to words like those, then the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance must face the consequences of rising prices.
Let us not deny that there has been a continual improvement in the standard of life for some of our people. Let us not wink our eye and say it is not so; it is so. However, there are five million people in this country whose standard of life has been reduced as a result of the increased cost of living, and we must focus our attention on those people.
The Prime Minister mentioned—I admired his wit—that he had been reading "Alice in Wonderland." He also said that he had been reading Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" and he mentioned some of the characters from the book, including Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Mr. Reliable, Mr. Anything and Mr. Two Tongues, and he said:… we have our Faithfuls, too.It is the old faithful people of this country that we must remember. We must remember the men and women who are now travelling towards the western shore of life, who have served their day and generation, who have made sacrifices, who have manifested their courage and skill, when working and who have put up with all sorts of hardships. Are they not entitled to some part of the national prosperity? Are we to continue to deny these men and women what they are richly entitled to? Is there any hon. Member who would deny the right to an adequate pension for old men or women who have served their day and generation, whatever the capacity they were called upon to accept?
1594 I am one who has always believed, and I put forward the philosophy here, that it is the duty of all men and women, whatever job they may be called upon to do, whether it be the town clerk in the town hall, or the street sweeper, whether they are employed in the mill or the mine, wherever their lot may be cast, to do the best for the industry and the State in which they work and live. If they have done their best, it is then the duty of the State and industry to protect them from poverty, want and starvation.
We are not doing that. We are not living up to the name that we have as a Christian country. A great Prime Minister of this nation once said that a nation finds its soul only when it cares for its old, its aged and its infirm. I hope that the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance and others who have responsibilities towards our old folk will find their soul and ensure that the old-age pensioners and those in the lower income groups are given a fair deal.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Morecambe and Lonsdale)
The hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown)has a warm heart, but when he says that the Government promised to peg the cost of living I do not think he is accurate. I will leave the Minister to deal with that. I would merely say that I have never thought the cost of living could be pegged; for many years I have not believed that to be possible. Eighty per cent. of the cost of living is represented by wages, because 80 per cent. of the cost of everything is wages, and unless we peg wages we cannot peg the cost of living.
I cannot vote for the Labour Party's Motion, although I am sure it is inspired by a good heart—and some politics—because it wholly ignores my friends, the disabled ex-Service men. Also, the Motion is impossible of fulfilment. Nobody knows that better than the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand)who spent some part of his speech saying that be meant, not what was on the Order Paper, but something quite different. What is suggested cannot be done immediately, and that makes me suspect that the Motion is political tactics more than anything else.
§ Mr. Percy Shurmer (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)
Will the hon. Member, who 1595 is the President of the British Legion, deny that when he is asking at British Legion meetings for more money for war pensioners he has refused to agree to a free vote in the House on the subject of an increase in pensions?
§ Sir I. Fraser
I feel it may be wholly irrelevant, but I am glad of the opportunity to answer that point briefly if Mr. Speaker will allow me to do so. I am sometimes asked by members of the British Legion and by members of old-age pensioners societies "Will you support a free vote on war pensions and old-age pensions in the House?" I have replied, "No, I will not."
§ Sir I. Fraser
Because no person who has a sense of responsibility, and certainly no one who has sat on a Front Bench—[Interruption.]—
§ Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. An hon. Member has just referred to my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser)as a "hypocrite." Is it correct to use that word in the House?
§ Mr. Speaker
I certainly did not hear that word. I should have taken objection to it if I had done so. If any hon. Member used that word, he ought to withdraw it.
§ Mr. Jennings
It was not what an hon. Member meant; it was what he said. He used the word "hypocrite."
§ Sir I. Fraser
I am grateful for the help of my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), but I would rather deal with this myself. With regard to the free vote, it is very important that the situation should be known and publicised. No responsible person, certainly no one sitting on either Front Bench—I challenge right hon. Gentlemen opposite as well as the occupants of the Government Front Bench to deny this—could possibly agree to a free vote on an important financial matter such as the provision of £20 million for war pensions or £20 million, £50 million or £100 million for old-age pensions. Why not? 1596 Because a free vote for one group must necessarily mean a free vote for the others. We cannot have it only for the old. We must have it for the ex-Service men, too, for the spinsters, the educationists, the agriculturists and, indeed, for every section of the community: the sick, the health services, all must have a free vote.
If we had a sectional vote on each occasion without the discipline of the Whips, without the discipline of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's review on national finances, we should at once find that our country was broke. In our wisdom—and not even the iconoclasts from Glasgow or those hon. Members opposite who are mumbling away can deny it—we have from Government to Government and from generation to generation prevented private Members from moving to expend the public purse. Only the Government can do that. Once a year the Chancellor must come here and balance his Budget.
§ Sir I. Fraser
That is quite irrelevant. The advocacy of bigger pensions has nothing to do with the free vote. The hon. Gentleman had better think again.
§ Sir I. Fraser
I cannot spend too long on this because time is limited. Let it be clearly understood that no Government in this country—I challenge any Privy Councillor, not any hon. Member, because there are one or two most foolish ones opposite, to get up and deny what I am saying—can possibly allow a free vote. All must be subject to the discipline of the Chancellor's Budget. That is a matter of confidence, and it always must be.
Wage earners, salary earners, small shopkeepers, business men, professional men and owners of equity shares have all found that their incomes have gone up during the last few years. They have gone up quite considerably. One Government after another has tried to follow this rise in incomes generally in the payments made to the old, the sick and to ex-Service men. None has ever caught up.
I should like to spend a few minutes in dealing with the history of the ex-Service men, because I do not think that 1597 it is quite right to allow, the right hon. Gentleman who was Minister of Pensions in the Labour Government and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to stand up and pat each other on the back, as they do, and say, "Aren't we both jolly good chaps; look at all the good things we have done." Let us judge that after my statement which is not an attack on any party or on any individual, but is, I think, a reflection on Britain.
In the Royal Warrant in 1919—a long time ago—in Article 24A, it is laid down that the war pension shall be 40s. so long as the cost of living figure is 215 points. I cannot elaborate this for lack of time, but it states that if the cost of living figure rises by 5 per cent. the 40s. will go up to a higher figure. In fact, the cost of living did not rise above 215 points for about twenty years. On the contrary, it went down. The Governments of the day, one after another, would have been perfectly entitled to put the pension down. They did not; they left it as it was. Eventually, in 1928, the Government stabilised it at 40s. and so it stood until the Second World War.
In 1928 Major Tryon, the then Minister of Pensions, came down to the House and said that the Government were going to stabilise the pension, but that it would remain based upon Article 24. He said that should the cost of living rise above 215 points the rate would be increased. It is very important that this should be remembered. It is also true to say that he gave a warning that if untoward events occurred the Government might well be compelled to take a fresh view of the matter. And, of course, there is no doubt that a new war with the great burden it places on the country is an untoward event.
The words that the Minister then used were "aggravated liabilities"—if the country suffered from aggravated liabilities, then the Government might have to think again. In spite of having to think again, the House will notice that when the Second World War came the Government of the day did, in fact, put the war pension on the cost of living ladder to which I have made reference. When a rise was given in 1942 it followed the ladder, and when a further rise was made in 1944 it followed the ladder again. So up to 1945 or 1946, or thereabouts, successive Governments, including the 1598 war-time Government of all parties, have by their own acts as well as their statements not merely implied but emphasised that the original promise still stood, that if the figure went above 215 points the pension would go up also.
It was from then on that Governments began to fall away. I do not make any political point concerning that. I simply say that since 1944 no Government have, in fact, stuck to the old ladder. It is true that in 1946 the Government of the day put on 5s. In 1952, 10s. was put on and in 1955 12s. 6d. was put on. But they had left the ladder, and no Government have come back to it since. That is really the complaint of the British Legion, that the implied and stated promises then made have not been carried out by the nation.
All parties and all politicians are blameworthy in this matter—not any one party; not any one Minister. The pension reached 67s. 6d. and there it has stood for the last two years. The British Legion, as is very well known, made its own calculations some ten years ago and those calculations convinced them that the pension ought to be 90s. That is the basic rate about which I am talking.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
The hon. Member seems to be arguing that the present pension rates are sufficient and that old-age pensioners fall into the same category as other people with small fixed incomes. Is that his argument?
§ Sir I. Fraser
No, it is not. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will listen he will hear what my argument is. He is quite wrong; it is nothing like that. I did not say that, and it is not anything like that.
I was saying that the pension is now 67s. 6d. and that the British Legion ten years ago calculated that it should be 90s. A good many people then said that it was a wild-cat figure. One Minister called it the British Legion figure—and even my figure. I admit that it is based on the best year, the best ladder, and that we made out the best figure. We stuck to our 90s., and the House should remember that 90s. is not very far away from the official Government figure, if the promises of the last 35 years had been kept. That is the very material point that the British Legion now wishes to make known.
1599 I will vote for the Government Amendment. I feel that the Government will in fact, make a major improvement in war pensions——
§ Sir I. Fraser
Undoubtedly, before the next Election, or, putting it in another way, within the lifetime of this Parliament.
So as not to miss the point, I want to say that both sides may take credit for having brought in marriage and children's allowances, and for having increased the rates payable to the most severely disabled men. That has been done, step by step, over the last 20 years. The ex-Service men are most grateful, but that does not answer the main question. It is still a fact that 600,000 pensioners, or 95 per cent., have not had the increase which they feel was promised to them, and the increase that would match the increase in the cost of living.
Having spoken of the cost of living, I want to mention the standard of living. That is not quite the same thing. Without any doubt, in the last ten years our people have become better off than they were. I say that three-quarters, or even seven-eighths of them are better off in every respect. They have more fun, more amenities, more food, more clothes, better transport and more of it, more holidays—in every way they are better off. Relatively, however, the war pensioners, the old people and the sick people are worse off, so that the very system that makes three-quarters of our people richer makes the old and the dependant classes poorer.
Here I would add a warning to all who work with hand or brain today. Unless they watch out they, equally, will be poorer when they are older, because this inflation will not stop tomorrow or the next day and, if it goes on, any pensions that they think will accrue to them will suffer the same fate. It is not only the old and the sick—every worker today must care about this, because if this inflation goes on all that he wants in his old age will disappear.
1600 It may be asked: in that case why advocate increases—will they not increase inflation? Let us get this in proportion. Not many days ago the Chancellor told us that last year, in one year, no less than £900 million was injected into the economy by increased wages and profits——
§ Sir I. Fraser
No, it is not a bogy; it is a fact, and if the hon. Member will only listen, he will hear that I am not deploring the fact.
An amount of £900 million was injected into the economy by way of wages and extra profits last year. That caused inflation, but as all the wage earning classes got richer so, progressively, did the old, the sick and the dependent get poorer, because the money entering into the economy was drawing on the same amount of production.
Therefore, we are in the dilemma that we want the wheels to go on turning——
§ Sir I. Fraser
Profits were only 10 per cent. of that sum, and even if we washed them out altogether we would still have a problem of the same magnitude to deal with. The problem is not profits, but the fact that the amount of money available to buy the goods is greater than the goods available. So it is that I say that it would not be right for the community to say to the old, the sick and the dependent, "We intend to enjoy inflation, and we intend to go on with it. We shall have more wages, more salaries and more profits, more Income Tax cuts, more equity share benefits—we shall have all that—but you are to be worse off all the time."
§ Sir I. Fraser
No. To go into the Lobby with the party opposite would make matters infinitely worse. The effects of the economics of hon. Members opposite—many of whom, I think, have very good hearts—is so appalling a prospect for this country and for my friends 1601 that I ant, and remain, a Tory. I do not know what the solution is, and I am not called upon to give one. I only say that the one thing that would not be right would be to make our old, our sick and our ex-Service men become poorer because we have not yet found out how to cure inflation.
To give some further point to this measurement that I am making of the proportions of the matter, I will take as an example the Bill to do what I would like to see done for disabled ex-Service men. The cost would be £20 million. That is .04 per cent, of the total income of the State from taxation, which is about £5,000 million. This £20 million is .04 per cent. of the State's total income, and that gives some idea of its size.
If the bill for old-age pensioners was four times as great, it would represent .16 per cent. That is a very small part of the total income of the State, and a very small part of the £900 million which was added to our spending power in the shape of wages and profits last year. Another comparison is this. What I and many others want done for the ex-Service men would, in terms of earnings, cost four weeks' work a year for each of our adult earners.
That shows what a very small effort is required to put this thing right somehow, but how it is to be put right in the long run is not for me to say [Interruption.] There is plenty of time. I can go on for another hour or two, and the next hour will be the most interesting and controversial. [HON. MEMBERS: "Eight o'clock."] It is quite all right, because the House does not have to stop anything at eight o'clock. That is only a private arrangement, of which I have no wish to take any notice. I can go on just as long as I like. But I will try not to be diverted; I do not want to be.
I want to say a word about old-age pensions. They are obviously to be raised in this Parliament, but they cannot be raised immediately. Every hon. Member on each side knows that.
§ Sir I. Fraser
Yes, I am afraid that that is true, and no doubt a figure could be given of how many will die, because those statistics are known. That is not very clever.
1602 It seems to me that we want to find some way of measuring how big old-age or retirement pensions ought to be. I do not think that they should be mere subsistence level pensions. That was what Lord Beveridge suggested, and it was what the Labour Party introduced. It was a great advance upon what we had had before. But we cannot go back to anything like that; we want something better than subsistence levels.
It seems to me that amenities should be taken into account. That is why my Amendment mentions the word. I do not doubt that within this Parliament proper provision will be made, but I want to say something about the order in which it should be made. The right hon. Gentleman asked that the raising of the National Assistance Board payments should be expedited so that they come first. I beg that they should come second, after the pensions themselves have been raised. The reason is that it causes tremendous and widespread hardship and heart-burning when, after the National Assistance Board payments have been raised the rise is taken away when the pension rates rise. I have seen a tremendous amount of misunderstanding over that point. I would think it was better to have the order reversed.
I want to make one other point concerning timing. Everyone in the House knows that we cannot raise old-age pensions or National Assistance Board payments immediately, but we can raise war pensions relatively quickly. That can be done because the procedure is by way of Royal Warrant. I should like the Government to do it as quickly as possible. I have said that on many occasions in public and I say it again in this House.
I have little else to say, except that both sides have done their best for war pensioners—up to a point. But both have stopped short of doing what a nation like ours should do. I ask that before this Parliament ends we should make a proper settlement of this matter—a settlement of which we can all be proud.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)
I agree—and I believe that a large part of the House will agree—with one thing which was said by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), namely, that it is 1603 a pity that this debate, upon what we probably all recognise to be one of the great issues of the day, has to be compressed into a highly inconveniently restricted scope.
I will say at once that it was certainly no wish or fault of mine that the House decided, earlier this afternoon, to spend two hours upon a matter which, relatively speaking, seems to me to be of infinitely smaller importance. I shall not waste time, and I hope that the House will hot want me to waste what little time—under the understanding—remains to me, in attempting to do more than deal realistically and sanely with what is, on the social service side of our affairs, the great issue of the day from the point of view Of the human issues involved and also of the very serious financial and economic questions which are involved.
I would have liked to follow up much of what was said in his very interesting and thoughtful speech by my Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), and it would have been interesting to have followed him into the question of the admitted change of policy of successive Governments upon the whole question of war pensions—from the old system after the First World War, in which the main emphasis was placed upon the basic rate, to the somewhat more selective treatment which both Governments have given the issue since the 1939–45 War.
In recent years more and more of the weight, relatively, has been put upon the allowances paid to the more seriously disabled men while the basic rate has, perhaps, not been raised to the levels to which, relatively, it was raised earlier. Those are the big and interesting questions upon which there is a good deal to be said on both sides—if I may say so with respect to my hon. Friend. I must seek to deal very quickly with the Motion.
Whatever may be said outside, I am quite certain that on the Floor of the House we shall want to deal with this issue not upon a naive and emotional basis—the basis which pretends that this is a simple matter, merely a case of a hard-hearted Government denying much-needed money to deserving people. Everybody, in this House at any rate, knows how infinitely more complex the issue is than that. Hon, Members know quite 1604 well—as has been so well put in the pamphlet which hon. Members opposite have recently produced, associated with the name of the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman)—that increased provision for the old can be met only at the cost of those at present in work, and upon the basis of some willingness on their part to receive less by way of the good things of this world than they would otherwise receive.
This is not a simple and emotional question; it is one which involves a very careful weighing of what is the right amount to lay on the current producers for the benefit of the older section of the population. Even in the atmosphere of the end of this Session the House will not want to discuss this matter without having at least to some extent in mind the very formidable financial burdens which this State of ours has already accumulated in respect of the provision for old age.
We are spending today £450 million a year on retirement pensions. If the present rates of benefit and contribution were to remain unchanged over the next twenty years that figure would very nearly double. I make no reflection upon anybody or upon any Government; that is the inescapable result of decisions taken some years ago. With the present rates, the National Insurance Fund, even when allowance is made for the Exchequer contribution, will go into deficit next year to the extent of £41 million, and assuming the present basis to go on that figure will rise to several hundred million pounds over the next twenty years
I am not putting these figures before the House with any intention of seeking to argue that that means that at the appropriate moment changes in benefit cannot be made, but I am seeking to warn the House that what it does do is to give an indication that benefits will have to be met, whichever way the burden is spread as between contributions and the Exchequer, at a serious cost to the present working population. I hope that all of us will be prepared to consider this great issue against that background, and with those ideas in mind.
I do not regret anything about this debate, other than its relative shortness. The Motion, however, is a very odd vehicle for the debate. To begin with 1605 its mover, the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand)conceded that it was quite impracticable. He said that he appreciated that at the moment, when the House had decided to rise tomorrow until 29th October—when it would have an end of Session sitting of three days—the legislation which the Motion calls for was clearly impracticable.
We start on that basis. I shall not try to go hack into the question of what people should or should not have done; I am trying to deal with the Motion. The right hon. Gentleman very fairly admitted, first, that what the Motion asks for is, in present circumstances anyhow, impracticable. He then went on to explain that the Motion meant all sorts of things which are not included in it. He included, for the first time on the Floor of this House, a figure—and he seemed rather surprised that I should want to know what his figure meant. The reason is perfectly simple. It is the duty of anyone who speaks from this Box upon this sort of issue to remind the House of the cost of any proposal put forward. Unless the right hon. Gentleman will give me clear figures I cannot give him the cost of his proposals.
I shall, in fact, proceed to do so shortly. [HON. MEMBERS: "You have done so.''] Hon. Members opposite must be mind-readers, or must have a telepathic view of my notes, if they can know a figure of cost that I have not yet disclosed. As if to demonstrate that his own Motion will not do, the right hon. Gentleman said that it mentions only retirement pensions, but that if they were dealt with sickness and unemployment benefits would follow. I do not know why we are to take that for granted.
It was not what happened in 1951. When right hon. Gentlemen opposite did raise some retirement pensions in October, 1951, they left the main rates of sickness and unemployment benefit the same; and it is asking a good deal when the right hon. Gentleman proposes a Motion which he asks the House to carry and in which he gives what is his view, and then says that it means something which is inconsistent with the record of his party and himself the last time they were responsible for these matters.
The right hon. Gentleman also said that it means war pensions. Once again, 1606 in 1951, it did not mean war pensions. Whatever other case the right hon. Gentleman made out—and he spoke with his usual agreeable persuasiveness—he made out an overwhelming case for the Amendment moved at the beginning of the debate by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. The Amendment was designed, as my hon. Friend explained, to make it quite clear that the debate, and the ultimate decision of the House, should not be confined to the one category—admittedly immensely important and very large, but one category only—of recipients of National Insurance benefit; that it should be clear that the House was equally concerned with the sick and unemployed and with the war disabled, of whom my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale spoke so movingly.
I put to right hon. Gentlemen opposite that if they take this matter to a Division if, in other words, they seek to resist the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend, they are going back on what was said by the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East in moving the Motion. It is our Amendment, and not the Motion, which makes quite clear that what we are concerned with and talking about is the whole broad picture of our social services and not one particular category of them.
I promised that I would give the right hon. Gentleman the cost of the proposal which he has told us he makes—though it is not in the Motion—of the £3 with nothing new for the dependants.
The cost would be £212 million a year at once, rising to £317 million in some years' time. If one puts the figure into the context of National Insurance, it would be the equivalent either of 4s. on the joint contribution, or, to put it in another way, 10d. on the standard rate of Income Tax. If what the right hon. Gentleman said was also carried out, and the other National Insurance benefits' increased at proportional amounts, the figure would be bigger. It would be £281 million. which would be equivalent to 5s. on the stamp, or Is. Id. on the Income Tax, and it would rise to £412 million after twenty years or so.
If the right hon. Gentleman found it impossible to resist the demand that he should follow the course which all his predecessors have followed, and make some adjustment at the same time for 1607 dependants, the cost would rise to an even larger figure, £338 million, or over 6s. on the stamp; so that the House will realise that we are discussing figures of immense gravity.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
When the right hon. Gentleman refers to 6s., is that amount on the contribution of the worker, or is it shared?
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
It would be 6s. on the joint contribution.
The Motion refers to the National Assistance Board, and I think that I may deal quickly with that part of it. This House put the initiative on the Assistance Board to propose changes in the scales of benefit, and I do not believe that any responsible hon. Member would deny that the Board has discharged that difficult and serious responsibility with conspicuous judgment and skill. The Board has made proposals resulting in changes on five occasions since 1948, and three times since 1951. This Government have complete confidence in the Assistance Board—of which the distinguished membership includes former hon. Members from both sides of the House—to do its duty when, in its judgment, the right time arrives.
The reference in the Motion to rents is almost completely irrelevant so far as the Assistance Board is concerned. I am able to tell the House precisely the way the Board intends to handle this question of rents. I am informed that except in cases where accommodation is shared by a son or daughter or other person in employment, and in a position to meet some of the increased rent, it is the intention of the Board to provide in an Assistance grant for the full amount of any permitted increase in a controlled rent; and for any reasonable increase where the rent is not controlled.
Even where—[Interruption.] This is a matter of some importance to people outside and I hope that the House will at least be interested enough to hear what is the policy. Even where accommodation is shared, the Board will give some help with the rent increase, though, obviously, the amount must depend on the facts in each case.
The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East referred to a particular case the facts of which I have covered in that 1608 statement. The right hon. Gentleman slurred over the fact that the case he cited is an indication of the benefits of recent changes. As the right hon. Gentleman said himself, the lady in question is to be reimbursed for the increase in the rent and she is to have the advantage of having her house—which he rightly said had not been properly maintained—put properly in order. That, to me, seems a justification of the policies not only of my Department, but of the Departments of some of my right hon. Friends.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we and the Assistance Board had not been helpful in drawing the attention of people to the fact that they could be helped over rent problems. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman knows that on the Assistance Board order book there appear the words:Let the Board's officers know if your rent is alteredit could not be plainer or more helpful.
§ Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East) rose——
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
No, I am sorry, I cannot give way—[HON. MEMBERS: "There is plenty of time."] I do not know whether the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)would agree with that last interjection.
§ Mr. Marquand
The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I was not criticising the Assistance Board I was criticising him. I said I thought that he should have taken special measures to remind people of this fact, now that circumstances have changed. I know about the book. It is the new circumstances about which I complain.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Since the right hon. Gentleman has referred to me, may I assure him that he need not limit himself in any way by having regard to the next Motion upon the Order Paper, if that would prevent him from giving a more adequate reply to the case which has been made against him on the Motion we are now discussing. I will willingly give him the time.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his habitual courtesy in giving permission, and for the habitually courteous way in which he gave that permission.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I have given way to a right hon. Gentleman and to an hon. Gentleman and I think that two in one "batch" is enough.
Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite seem always to be touchy if I or my right hon. and hon. Friends refer to their record in these matters. I should like to explain why it is necessary to do so. Some hon. Members opposite, for example, the hon. Member for Ince, seem to suggest in their speeches that the fact that we have not raised the rates even further than we have over recent years is due to some ideological bias, or prejudice, or lack of humanity. Surely, therefore, it is relevant—by way of reassuring such people as the hon. Member for Ince—to inform them of what was done by people in whom presumably they have confidence when they were confronted with these same problems. It is not done with any desire to point out weaknesses of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but to restore the level of the debate, because a good deal of emotional excitement seems to have intruded into it.
Let me therefore remind right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite—I will pass very quickly from this delicate subject, if they wish—of what they themselves did when they came to review the rates of benefit in September, 1951, which was, by happy coincidence, on the eve of the General Election that year. They raised the rates of some pensions but not the main rates of sickness and unemployment benefit, or the rate of retirement pension for those who had not reached pension age; they left those rates of benefit at the old level. Compared with the pensions payable today the new rates they introduced were a good deal short in purchasing power. At present prices, they were worth 2s. 3d. less than the present purchasing power of the pension.
That was not done at a moment at which prices had not yet eroded benefits and rates of pension, but was a figure which the then Government quite deliberately fixed in the light of their knowledge of prices. It is, therefore, not good enough for right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who, for good or bad reasons, made that decision, now, at this time of day, to attack and accuse us of being stony-hearted. We have not only maintained those benefits; my right hon. 1610 Friend, now Lord Ingleby, raised them in 1955 to a higher level than existed when right hon. Gentlemen made that increase.
Despite the permission granted by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne I do not wish to abuse his hospitality but there are one or two things I must say. Propaganda outside this House suggests what I think no hon. Member would seriously argue, that there are large numbers of retirement pensioners living on the bare pension and nothing else. There may be a very limited number. It is unwise in this field ever to be completely dogmatic. Hon. Members know perfectly well that the great majority of pensioners do not depend upon the bare pension for their living. Some have private pensions from superannuation schemes, which today cover one in every three insured workers. Some earn an incremented National Insurance pension.
Half the men pensioners retiring today have an incremented pension. The average rate of it is over 9s. 6d. Others have means of their own or live with their families. For the rest, there is the back-stop of National Assistance. The right hon. Gentleman asked me for the figures for the latest date of retirement pensioner households in receipt of National Assistance. The figure is 948,500, which shows a very small change for the end-June figure compared with the March figure and, as a percentage of the total number of retired pensioners, is considerably below what it was some years ago.
The number of pensioners has, of course, increased. Therefore, perhaps, the percentage rather than the total gives a truer impression of the size of the problem. I am sure that the House will want to bear in mind the point that, with the scales fixed as they are, there can be few cases indeed in which any pensioner is bound to live on the bare National Insurance pension. That is a very important aspect of the matter.
The House knows that the Government have been very carefully considering this enormously important problem, with a view to finding the best solution, providing adequately and fairly for the older section of our population, while not imposing an intolerable burden upon the rest. The House knows that the Government have been working on this problem 1611 and knows, also, that I am not in a position tonight to give an account of what we intend. It would be completely unrealistic if I were to do so, because changes in National Insurance rates of benefit and contributions require legislation, and that cannot take place this Session. Nor would it be right now for me to anticipate next Session's legislative programme. All I can say is that when our proposals appear they will be in accord with our long record of sound and humane social legislation.
It is abundantly clear, in particular from what has been said by the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East, that his Motion will not do, and that the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend represents the true sense of this House, which is that the need, and, indeed, the
§ duty, falls on every Government to give the most careful attention and concern to all the recipients in our social service system and not only to one category, however important.
§ I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will now feel that, having demonstrated the need for this Amendment himself, what should go out from this House is an indication of our concern for all the categories of social service pensioners. I hope that he will not seek to resist our determination to amend his Motion. If he persists in it as it stands, it will be our duty to put him right.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 239, Noes, 295.1615
|Division No. 179.]||AYES||[8.7 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Donnelly, D. L.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Albu, A. H.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Dye, S.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)|
|Anderson, Frank||Edelman, M.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holnn & St.Pncs. S.)|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Benson, G.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)|
|Beswick, Frank||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Fienburgh, W.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Finch, H. J.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Fletcher, Eric||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Boardman, H.||Forman, J. C.||Kenyon, C.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Bowles, F. G.||George, Lady Megan Lloyd(Car'then)||Lawson, G. M.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Gibson, C. W.||Ledger, R. J.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Gooch, E. G.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Greenwood, Anthony||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Lewis, Arthur|
|Burke, W. A.||Grey, C. F.||Lipton, Marcus|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Logan, D. G.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||MacDermot, Niall|
|Carmichael, J.||Grimond, J.||McInnes, J.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hale, Leslie||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Champion, A. J.||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||McLeavy, Frank|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hamilton, W. W.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hannan, W.||Mahon, Simon|
|Clunie, J.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Coldrick, W.||Hayman, F. H.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfd, E.)|
|Collins, V.J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Healey, Denis||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Cove, W. G.||Herbison, Miss M.||Mason, Roy|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Holman, P.||Messer, Sir F.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Holt, A. F.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Houghton, Douglas||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Monslow, W.|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Hoy, J. H.||Moody, A. S.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hubbard, T. F.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Mort, D. L.|
|Deer, G.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Moss, R.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Moyle, A.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Hunter, A. E.||Noel-Baker, Hon. P. (Derby, S.)|
|O'Brien, Sir Thomas||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Timmons, J.|
|Oram, A. E.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Tomney, F.|
|Orbach, M.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Usborne, H. C.|
|Oswald, T.||Ross, William||Viant, S. P.|
|Owen, W. J.||Royle, C.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Padley, W. E.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Weitzman, D.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||West, D. G.|
|Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Skeffington, A. M.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Parkin, B. T.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)||Wigg, George|
|Paton, John||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Pearson, A.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Peart, T. F.||Sorensen, R. W.||Willey, Frederick|
|Pentland, N.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Popplewell, E.||Sparks, J. A.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Prentice, R. E.||Steele, T.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Probert, A. R.||Stonehouse, John||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Stones, W. (Consett)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Pryde, D. J.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Stress, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Randall, H. E.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Woof, R. E.|
|Rankin, John||Swingler, S. T.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Redhead, E. C.||Sylvester, G. O.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Reeves, J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Reid, William||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Rhodes, H.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Mr. Holmes and Mr. J. T. Price.|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thornton, E.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gurden, Harold|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Cunningham, Knox||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Currie, G. B. H.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Dance, J. C. G.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)|
|Ashton, H.||Davidson, Viscountess||Harvey, Sir Arthur (Macclesfd)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Atkins, H. E.||Deedes, W. F.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hay, John|
|Balniel, Lord||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.|
|Barber, Anthony||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Barlow, Sir John||Doughty, C. J. A.||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.|
|Barter, John||Drayson, G. B.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||du Cann, E. D. L.||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Duthie, W. S.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. (Kelvingrove)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Elliot, R. W.(N'castle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Errington, Sir Eric||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Erroll, F. J.||Hobson, John(Warwick & Leam'gt'n)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Fisher, Nigel||Hope, Lord John|
|Black, C. W.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Hornby, R. P.|
|Body, R. F.||Forrest, G.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Fort, R.||Horobin, Sir Ian|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Foster, John||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Braine, B. R.||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Freeth, Denzil||Howard, John (Test)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Gammans, Lady||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.|
|Bryan, P.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Gibson-Watt, D.||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Glover, D.||Hurd, A. R.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Glyn, Col. R.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)|
|Carr, Robert||Godber, J, B.||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.)|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Goodhart, Philip||Hyde, Montgomery|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Cough, C. F. H.||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Gower, H. R.||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Graham, Sir Fergus||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Cole, Norman||Grant, W. (Woodside)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Cooke, Robert||Green, A.||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Gresham Cooke, R.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Audrey (Hall Green)||Mawby, R. L.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Sharples, R. C.|
|Kaberry, D.||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Shepherd, William|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Kershaw, J. A.||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Kimball, M.||Moore, Sir Thomas||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Kirk, P. M.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Soames, Christopher|
|Lagden, G. W.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Nairn, D. L. S.||Speir, R. M.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Neave, Airey||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Nicholls, Harmar||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.||Storey, S.|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Page, R. G.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G.(Sutton Coldfield)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Teeling, W.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Partridge, E.||Temple, John M.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Pitman, I. J.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Pott, H. P.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|McAdden, S. J.||Powell, J. Enoch||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Profumo, J. D.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Ramsden, J. E.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Rawlinson, Peter||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Redmayne, M.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Remnant, Hon. P.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Renton, D. L. M.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Rippon, A. G. F.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Maddan, Martin||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Maitland, Cdr. J.F.W.(Horncastle)||Robertson, Sir David||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Robson Brown, Sir William||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Marshall, Douglas||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mathew, R.||Russell, R. S.||Mr. Oakshott and|
|Maude, Angus||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Colonel J. H. Harrison.|
|Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
§ Proposed words there added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That, noting that the rates of war pensions, retirement pensions and other National Insurance benefits have twice been increased since
§ October, 1951, and that the rates of national assistance have been raised three times since that date, this House expresses its confidence that Her Majesty's Government and the National Assistance Board will take such further action as may from time to time be just and fair both to the recipients of these payments and to the community as a whole.