HC Deb 01 July 1957 vol 572 cc668-9
9. Mr. T. Brown

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will introduce legislation to amend the provisions of the Second Schedule to the National Assistance Act, 1948, in order to bring them into accordance with changes in the value of money since that date.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I have no proposals for legislation on this subject at present.

Mr. Brown

The right hon. Gentleman must surely be aware that this matter has become so urgent and important that it was the subject matter of the annual conference of the British Legion and of one of the old-age pensioners' associations, and that this week it is to be discussed by the National Union of Mineworkers. Does he not realise that if he does not bring forth this legislation the penalty inflicted in 1948 will continue? People cannot be expected to wait longer than that. It is now nine years since the disregards were fixed, there has since been the change in value of money, but no attempt made by the Minister to alter the disregards. He can surely do something better than that.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

My recollection of the first two bodies to which the hon Gentleman referred is that they discussed many other subjects as well as this. As to his point about the value of money, that, of course, has been dealt with under successive Governments by successive increases in the rates and scales of payment, which has the advantage of giving the additional benefit against changing prices to all, whereas increases in the disregards, in the nature of things, give the additional assistance where, ex hypothesi, it is less needed than in other directions.

Mr. Marquand

Has the right hon. Gentleman discussed this matter with the Trades Union Congress? If not, will he do so?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am always prepared to receive representations, of course, from that or any other body.