HC Deb 20 May 1957 vol 570 cc856-7
38. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he is aware that the present rates of the retirement pension of 40s. for a single person and 65s. for a married couple were fixed in April, 1955; that in comparison with the £ sterling being worth 20s. in 1945, these pensions only had a purchasing value of 27s. 3d. and 44s. 3d., respectively, on 25th April, 1955; and, using as the basis of calculation the retail price indices, what would be the relative purchasing value of these pensions today in comparison with 1945.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Miss Edith Pitt)

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, sir". On the basis of the Cost of Living Index for the period up to June, 1947, and the Retail Prices Index from that date, the amounts required in 1945 to equal the purchasing value of 40s. and 65s. today were, respectively, 25s. ld. and 40s. 8d. The hon. Member will no doubt be aware that in 1945 the old-age pension was 10s. for a single person and 20s. for a married couple.

Mr. Lewis

In view of the fact that hon. Members and most people in the country agree that old-age pensioners are having, and have had for some years, a very shabby deal, will the hon. Lady not promise to do something to help these people because, as we know, many of them are passing away? Every hon. Member would be only too pleased to vote any money that is necessary. Can the hon. Lady please hold out a little hope that something will be done for these people?

Miss Pitt

The hon. Gentleman fails to make his case by taking 1945 as a basis when, as I have explained, the pension payable was quite different and was under a different Act of Parliament. Today's pension is still worth much more than was paid in 1945 under the old Act.

Mr. Lewis

Will not the hon. Lady answer my supplementary question?