HC Deb 23 November 1959 vol 614 cc1-3
1. Brigadier Clarke

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will grant all old-age pensioners who have no other form of income a supplementary old-age pension.

The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)

As my hon. and gallant Friend is aware, any retirement or non-contributory old-age pensioner having no other resources who is living on his own or is a householder would normally be eligible for a pension supplement: if my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind any case of difficulty, perhaps he will let me or the Chairman of the National Assistance Board have the particulars.

2. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he is aware that increased fares in public transport vehicles make undue inroads into retirement pensions; and if he will now take steps to meet this by arranging for old-age pensioners to be provided with free transport to and from the place where their pension is paid, or alternatively by making an appropriate addition to the pension.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

No, Sir. As the hon. and learned Member is aware, any pensioner in difficulty can nominate a friend or relative to cash his pension on his behalf.

Mr. Hughes

As an alternative to the concession for which I have asked, would the Minister consider applying to old-age pensioners the same principle as that which is applied to civil servants, officers of Her Majesty's Forces and the Speaker of this House, and that is removing the earnings rule?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I really do not think that the earnings rule has anything to do with a question of the provision of free transport for the purpose of cashing pensions.

8. Mrs. Butler

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what reply he has sent to the request of the Old-Age Pensions Association that the Government should make a substantial increase in the basic pension and a corresponding increase in National Assistance scales.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I do not know to which request the hon. Lady is referring. The policy of Her Majesty's Government on this matter has been clearly and publicly stated.

Mrs. Butler

Is the Minister aware that the Old-Age Pensions Association believes that its members can share in the increased prosperity promised by the Government only if the amount of the basic pension is increased? Can the Minister say at what point the Government will feel that prosperity has risen sufficiently to enable an increase to be made in the basic pension?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

If the hon. Lady will study the events of the last few years, she will see that such increases have been made as the national prosperity has developed and improved under wise economic policies. Our position for the future was so clearly set out by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary when he wound up the debate on the Gracious Speech that it would be superfluous for me to add anything to what he said.

Mr. Houghton

May I ask the Minister whether these stalling replies is all he has to say to the old-age pensioners in the way of good cheer and hope for the coming months? Is all that he can offer to the old-age pensioners an opportunity of getting 10s. more of what they earn without having a cut from their pensions? When does he propose to bring to a conclusion this constant and close review on which he assures the House that he is engaged and provide some hope for the pensioners for the long hard days that lie ahead this winter?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the hon. Gentleman will know and as has been made clear, the proposed changes in the earnings rule do not qualify or minimise in any way our general undertaking to keep the benefits under review. On that our record speaks clearly.