§ 4. Mr. Hale
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is aware of the large number of old-age pensioners who are unable to purchase adequate supplies of clothing; and whether, in view of the recession of trade in clothing industries, he will consider the issue of an additional bonus to retirement pensioners in the form of clothing purchase vouchers.
§ The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)
No, Sir. Reversion to benefits in kind would be a retrograde step.
§ Mr. Hale
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is the most lamentable statement of the decadence of Tory capitalism? Here we have a great industry which cannot produce, a large and reputable section of the community deprived of goods which it needs, an increasing number of workers deprived by political action of their chance of making those goods and factories standing empty, and the only thing that happens here is that day after day we hear Ministers getting up burbling and blathering the same pious and optimistic platitudes.
§ Mr. Hale
I was asking the Minister to agree with me, Mr. Speaker, and suggesting that if he objects to subsidies he should convey that view to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, and, if not, that he should do something for one of the great industries of this country which needs temporary help.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
The hon. Gentleman will note that my Answer related to benefits in kind and not to subsidies. I express again the view that benefits in kind are quite alien to our system of National Insurance.