HC Deb 16 March 1960 vol 619 cc1376-440

7.12 p.m.

Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)

I beg to move, That this House is of the opinion that the increase, to £3 per week, in the basic rates of retirement and widows' pensions, sickness and unemployment benefits, which was first urged by the Labour Party in May 1957, should be put into effect immediately. We are starting on this Motion a little later than we had originally thought. Therefore, I do not propose to make the speech I had originally intended to deliver because, in the interests of all hon. Members who wish to take part in what is a very important debate, short speeches should be the order of the day. If that course is followed, it will enable more hon. Members to participate, and I wish to set an example. Therefore, I do not propose to deal with the sickness, unemployment and widows' pensions aspects of the Motion. I hope that hon. Members will pick up those points. Indeed, we have heard a very interesting speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) on those topics. It is incumbent on me to deal with one specific topic, and I think that that might appropriately be old-age pensions, leaving the rest to be picked up as we go along, in the interests of hon. Members wanting to make speeches.

It is an interesting exercise to prepare a speech on a subject on which one does not normally speak in the House. It makes one read a great deal of what all the people have been saying for the past year or so. I have read a few hundred columns of HANSARD in the last day or so. I was very struck by the amount of time which has been spent in the House on arguing who did best for the old-age pensioners—the Labour Government or the Tory Government. The arguments can always be changed by reason of the starting point from which one begins the argument—whether one begins the argument at the 10s., which the Labour Government altered to 26s., or whether one starts the argument at the 26s., which was where the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance usually started his arguments.

The Government have tabled an Amendment noting that national insurance benefits are in real terms substantially higher than they were at any time under any Labour Government …". The Government are awfully modest in their claim. I do not accept the word "substantially", but, leaving that out, why did they claim only that their benefits were higher than under the Labour Government? They are higher than under any Government in this century. The Government have been very modest not to include "all previous Governments"—all previous Tory Governments, Liberal Governments, Labour Governments. National Governments, all Governments.

There must have been a good deal of pure political chicanery about the arguments as to who did best. What is important is to face facts. I want to save the Minister a fair amount of his speech by conceding right away that the amount of pension which the old-age pensioners receive today is more than they got in 1951 and that the purchasing value of the pension today is greater than it was in 1951. That should save the right hon. Gentleman at least twenty minutes of his speech, if one can judge from what has taken place in the House in debates on this subject.

The strange thing is, when looking at the actual figures, that the Labour Government in six years advanced the old-age pension by 20s. and the Conservative Government in nine years have advanced the old-age pension by exactly the same amount, namely, 20s.

The circumstances have been a little different. The immediate post-war years can hardly be compared with the years from 1951 to 1960. I remember the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) making some very memorable speeches, particularly one in which he said that at the end of the war this country would be bankrupt and there would not be money for anything. Looking at this impartially, the efforts of those six years under the Labour Government were slightly better than the efforts made in the following nine years by a Tory Government, although it is still true that the total amount that the pensioner has and its purchasing value is greater than it was in 1951.

By how much is it greater? In nine years we have increased the purchasing power of the old-age pensioner's pension by 5s. 9d. a week. In view of all that has taken place and the increased prosperity of this nation, along with all other Western European countries, it is an absolute disgrace to crow or to suggest that there has been a real improvement in pensions when the improvement is only 5s. 9d. a week.

It is important, therefore, that we should see how other people have fared. The latest figures I have of weekly earnings—the right hon. Gentleman may have later figures—are those for October, 1959. It looks as though the average weekly earnings rose from £7 1s. 1d. a week in October, 1951, to £11 8s. 6d. a week in October, 1959. If we want to bring that back to purchasing value, as I have brought the figures back for the pensions, it means that the real purchasing value increase in earnings from October, 1951, to October, 1959, has been 39s. 6d. a week. That figure must always be compared with the original figure 1 mentioned in relation to old-age pensions, namely, 5s. 9d. Therefore, the weekly wage earner has managed to get an improvement of 39s. 6d. in his standard of living.

I was surprised when I looked at the figures, which are quite old, of people who are on £1,000 a year. One gets a figure that is about twelve months old in relation to the income groups. The figure at this moment must be considerably higher than the one I am about to give. In the last two years the number of people earning £1,000 a year or more has increased by 460,000. Today, one earner in twelve earns over £1,000 a year.

I mention those two relative figures only because it is important now to bring the Government to the specific promises they made. I have shown that the average standard of living both of the salaried man and of the weekly wage earner has risen very considerably in the past nine years, and that the old-age pensioner has had to be content with this very modest increase of 5s. 9d. We are now entitled to relate that fact to the promises given by the Government, because it is very germane.

In the debate in this House in which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster took part, a good deal of time was spent by him on orchestras and such things—which must have been highly amusing at the time, although I did not hear it—

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

A jolly good speech.

Mr. Robens

This is what he managed to convince the House, on a Division, was the right approach to the old-age pensioner. He said that we had to accept … the assurances of Her Majesty's Government's present advisers that they will continue to maintain and improve these benefits to the fullest extent consistent with fairness to all sections of the community. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th April, 1959; Vol. 604, c. 45.] So far, therefore, the Government have not taken the view that it would be fair to the rest of the community, whose earnings I have just indicated, to raise the old-age pension by a few extra shillings.

We move into the General Election period. What did the right hon. Gentleman the Minister say then? He said: In our Manifesto we pledge ourselves to ensure that pensioners continue to share in the good things which a steadily expanding economy will bring. Five and ninepence a week! It means that we are determined that, as the national wealth and so the standard of living of our people as a whole rises, a share of that goes to the pensioner, including of course existing pensioners. One specific question to which I shall want an answer is: when?

The right hon. Gentleman was joined by other leading members of his party. In a broadcast, the Leader of the House said: Well, we give an undertaking to the old-age pensioners that not only will we maintain their rate of pension in relation to the cost of living which we have done up to date, and more, going by the figures. But we also say that you will take your share of the rising prosperity of the country … I still ask: when?

Then, we have the Chancellor of the Exchequer saying: … we intend to ensure that as our prosperity increases pensioners and others will continue to have a share. Finally, the Prime Minister says: As the government's programme unfolds … we shall fully live up to our fine record of achievement in the service of our older fellow countrymen. The fine record of achievement is an increase of 5s. 9d. a week in nine years of Tory administration.

We want to know what the Government's policy is. It is quite clear to us, at least, that their policy is not now to go on increasing the old-age pension as a whole, but rather to devote some money to public assistance rates in order to relieve some of the poorest of the community. As a result, they have thrown overboard completely the whole conception and principle of the Beveridge Report, which was that of a pension that was adequate without having recourse to a means test of any kind.

We want to know whether that is their intention. Is it their intention merely to relieve real hardship where it exists, leaving the pension where it is; or do they propose to continue the policy which, in Coalition, they apparently accepted, the aim of which was to provide a pension that was in itself sufficient without recourse, other than in very exceptional circumstances, to public assistance? These are the questions that we require answering, rather than being given more statistics about who did best —a Labour Government or a Tory Government.

There are 5½ million old-age pensioners, of whom 1,134,000 are on National Assistance. That figure of 1,134,000 should not be taken as representing the only ones in that sort of need, because not only have we an idea as a result of surveys that there are a further 400,000 or even 500,000 people who are entitled to assistance but are a little too proud to ask for it, but I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that about 3 million of the 5½ million old-age pensioners are over 70 years of age. They are the Victorians. They grew up in the days when wages were low and there was not the opportunity for saving.

They are a genteel type of folk, and many of them are living at this moment in their genteel poverty behind the old aspidistra plant. They will not go for public assistance. Some are widows on very small pensions from the railways of those days. The hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) asked only the other day what the Government intended to do for railway superannui-tants, because she knows, as we all do, that people whose pensions were based on a retirement of some fifteen years ago have very little indeed.

Those pensions have been overtaken by the rapid rise in the cost of living after the war. Today, they are pittances. A good many of these people who are not within the ranks of the 1,134,000 but are in the ranks of the 5½ million are people with small pensions whom public assistance would not reach or, if it did reach them, it would be to the extent of only a shilling or two, and they will not resort to public assistance for a matter of shillings.

These people are living pretty hard. It is of them that we are talking. They are not sharing in the increased prosperity that we have been enjoying, and the Government pledges, which were so specific and so clear, have so far not been borne out in fact. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell us tonight that at least the promises he made as an individual are to be fulfilled, or alternatively, that he will take the honourable way out.

How do they live, these people of whom we are talking—the Victorians, the genteel folk, those finding it hard? Every social survey shows and every social worker to whom I have talked says that it is as clear as the nose on one's face that the present pension is completely inadequate. They say that National Assistance means frugal living to such an extent as to be even degrading.

It is true, of course, that absolute poverty has gone in this country. The Labour Government made sure of that when they abolished the Poor Law. Absolute poverty has gone, but relative poverty remains, and it remains in an area of loneliness. It exists among men and women who live surrounded by every aspect of affluence and prosperity. This is the loneliest sort of life which people at that age can possibly live. They see all around them signs of the affluence of others. They look in shop windows and see television sets and all the things which can never be theirs; they were not born in the era which presented these things to the world. Their loneliness is matched only by the way they try to keep up appearances.

I have myself been shocked, after being forced by circumstances, which I do not welcome' to take the initiative in this debate and to face the work which I have done during the last few days, by finding out how old people today are living. This morning I went down to the village near where I live and called at the local cooperative shops. I spoke to the managers of the grocery, butchery and greengrocery departments and asked them what old-age pensioners buy when they come to their shops. Time is short and I will not weary the House with individual budgets—there is no need to do that—but I will tell the House of a few extracts I took from some of the pathetic orders which I was able to see in the order books. One old-age pensioner regularly had half a pound of rashers of bacon every week, but it was collar bacon, the cheapest, at 3s. 3d. a lb.—bacon which in our house we would not eat.

I went to the butchery and asked the same question. The manager told me that old-age pensioners buy sausages or sheep's liver but they never buy a joint and they never have any fillet steak. Does anyone in the House really feel very comfortable at the thought that when any one of us goes to the Strangers' Dining Room and takes a guest the bill for the two of us for one meal comes to more than the total grocery bill at the "co-op" shop of a woman on an old-age pension? Surely, that shocks the right hon. Gentleman as it shocks me—or am I too sensitive? I think it is terrible and immoral that, in the very affluent Britain of today, there should be these people, few, it is true, compared with the size of the population, driven to eating sausages and the cheapest cuts of bacon. If any hon. Member wants the truth about how old-age pensioners fare, let him go to the grocer or the butcher and ask. He will be told what I was told this morning.

Our Motion is really far too modest in its aim. We call for 10s. a week. Our idea was £3 a week in 1957, and we ought to be demanding a lot more than 10s. now. But we asked for 10s. because we thought, "Good heavens, if we can get 10s. now, it will be something", and this is the appropriate time to make the appeal because, presumably, it will have to be dealt with in a Budget. That is why we have not put the figure at a level which today would be consistent with our declaration in 1957 which called for £3 a week.

I say again to the right hon. Gentleman, "Never mind the medals for who has done the most". That is not important. I keep coming back to that, and the right hon. Gentleman will hear that I have a lot more to say about it. It is a damned shame that we should concern ourselves for five minutes in this House about who did the most when poverty needs to be relieved now. Old-age pensioners are not interested in our wonderful dialectical arguments across the Table. They are interested in living decently. I say again that I am not interested in who gets the medals or who did what. We are a long way from a General Election. We do not have to go round asking for old people's votes and being politicians. Let us be statesmen and humanists in the House and think of the problem as one which must be solved now.

I put these specific questions to the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope he will answer them. Do the Government accept the Beveridge principle that adequate pensions should be provided? Do the Government still accept as an objective adequate pensions without a means test? How far has the old-age pensioner to fall behind the rest of the community before the Government are prepared to do something about an increase in the pension? In Western Germany, in January, pension rates were raised by about 6 per cent. In Western Germany today, the old-age pension varies from £3 2s. 6d. to £5 a week. Yet we won the war.

On no subject about which I have had the pleasure and privilege to speak in the House of Commons have I felt as moved as I have on this, after my close contact with old-age pensioners and the disgraceful and shocking way in which the country is treating them. This is a country which can spend £200 million on Blue Streak which, as is no secret, is to be abandoned. This is a country which can produce wonderful scientists so that at Joddrell Bank we have a radio telescope the like of which is not to be seen anywhere in the world. This is a country which, through the capacity of British genius, can harness rivers, make roads and bridges and do all the wonderful things in this country and throughout the world of which we are so proud. But, my Goodness, to leave our pensioners with their present pensions is a crying scandal and a disgrace which I invite the right hon. Gentleman to remedy tonight.

7.38 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: noting that National Insurance benefits are in real terms substantially higher than they were at any time under any Labour Government, and having regard to the steadiness of prices, and the improvements made by Her Majesty's Government in the social service benefits, expresses its confidence that Her Majesty's Government will cottinue to give to the pensioner a share in the increasing prosperity which wise economic policies will continue to bring about". It is not without significance that this debate is taking place on the eve of poll of two by-elections. There are two excellent reasons for that.

Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)

That is a low one.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

After the protests of the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) that the Opposition were not interested in elections, it is worth remembering that this date was chosen by them, not by us, and I really do not think that hon. Members can complain at a fair comment.

The Opposition have frequently raised the subject of pensions on the eve of elections. Moreover, one must admit that they are faced with the dilemma of finding a topic upon which all their Members can agree. We welcome this debate. We know, as the right hon. Member himself fairly conceded, that pensions are higher than they have ever been before. In his comparisons, however, the right hon. Gentleman suffered a peculiar amnesia in comparing the very highest level which the value of the Labour Government's pensions reached in 1946—

Mr. Robens


Miss Hornsby-Smith

The level of pension operative under the right hon. Gentleman's Government, when they went out of office, is 10s. 9d. less in real value than the present level. The difference in real value between the present pension and the 26s. pension of 1946— that was the highest level in real terms under the right hon. Gentleman's Government—is 6s. 2d.

Mr. Robens

That is not strictly accurate, and I am sure the right hon. Lady does not want to mislead the House. I certainly did not attempt to mislead the House, nor did I take the figure that she assumed I would take which she has written in her brief and now finds difficulty in getting away from. I said that in October, 1951, the pension was 30s. and its purchasing value was 23s. 3d. and that in March, 1960, the pension was 50s. and its purchasing value was 29s. The difference, therefore, is 5s. 9d.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I do not want to enter into a long argument with the right hon. Gentleman, but he has repeatedly been given these figures in answer to Questions in the House. I have here a full table of the figures. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the difference between the pension of 30s. in 1951 and the pension today is 10s. 9d.

We welcome this debate, because we believe that we have a good case, a far better one than hon. Members opposite. We stand by our pledge—here I am answering the first question which the right hon. Gentleman put to me—that pensioners shall continue to share in the good things which a steadily expanding economy will bring. We have done that during the last eight years in office, and we shall continue to do it under this Administration.

Today's debate really boils down to a contest between pledges given by hon. Members opposite and the performance of hon. Members on this side of the House. The Opposition's Motion deals solely with paying out. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned not one word from start to finish of his speech about where the £200 million is to come from or how he proposes to raise it. It is important that we should bear in mind that this House has not only to give out money but has a responsibility to those who cannot be the beneficiaries but who must make the contributions to pay for it.

The right hon. Gentleman has painted a Dickensian picture of what he claims is the plight of retirement pensioners and other beneficiaries today. Like him, I am cutting out a good deal of my speech because I know that we have only a short time and that other hon. Members wish to speak. I welcome the fact that the right hon. Gentleman dealt with pensioners, and I shall do the same.

It is difficult to reconcile the passionate expressions of hon. Members opposite out of office with their performance in office. Hon. Members opposite should be justifiably sensitive about their record, since for five long weary years the cost of living soared and the pension got lower and lower in value. Over the years, the Government have demonstrated in cash, not words, that we recognise the need of retirement pensioners and other beneficiaries. We have three times increased the value of pension, not only to meet the increase in retail prices; we have gone further than would have been necessary if the pension were tied to the cost-of-living index, which is the recommendation put forward from time to time by hon. Members opposite. The increases made by my right hon. Friend have more than met what would have been necessary to tie the pension to the cost-of-living index.

I repeat that today the 50s. pension is worth 10s. 9d. more in purchasing value than the 30s. basic pension rate of 1951.

Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)

I am sure that the right hon. Lady does not want to mislead the House. The proposal from this side was not that the pension should be tied to the cost-of-living index but to a special index of the costs of the old-age pensioners. It is quite misleading to say that we suggested that it should be tied to the normal cost-of-living index.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that there is very little difference between the figures. It would still leave the rates under this Government higher than any possible rate under either index.

As I have said, the highest value of pension reached under the Labour Government was 26s.—which would now be worth 43s. 10d.—in 1946. I will spare the right hon. Gentleman the classic and very frank quotation of his right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), but I must say something about him.

Mr. Crossman

Not right hon.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman interposed to say that, and I hope that he will be able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, lest it be thought that, like some of his colleagues, I was subjecting him to angry silence.

Whatever measure one uses to compare this Government's record—whether it is a comparison of the rate at which pensions have gone up compared with wages or any other comparison—our record is very high compared with that of hon. Members opposite. What is still more important to the beneficiaries and indeed everyone in the country is the Government's policy in stabilising prices. We have held prices steady for two years, which is of the greatest importance not only to pensioners but to people on small fixed incomes and people with modest earnings—in fact, to everyone in the country. The holding of the value of money is of prime importance to pensioners.

No one has a more important stake in our economic expansion and solvency than the retirement pensioner. But we have to earn our keep before we can spend it, and that is what we are doing at this moment. We would rather pay a pension which held its value than bounce it up and see it year after year go down in value, as it did under the policy of hon. Members opposite. Stable prices and national solvency are of first importance before one can safely increase pensions. We have no evidence that Socialism and stable prices or, indeed, national solvency have proved to be synonymous terms.

This brings me to the question which the right hon. Gentleman deliberately avoided, namely, what his proposal would cost and how the money would be provided.

Mr. Robens

As the matter was fully dealt with in the April debate, I did not think that the House would want to go through the record again. The right hon. Lady is making us hear it all over again. Let us deal with the problem of the pensioner.

Miss Homsby-Smith

We have been spending a great deal of time today discussing the expenditure of public money without proper debate. The right hon. Gentleman has given us a classic example.

I confess that, expressed as a single item, 10s. does not sound much, but when it is multiplied by over 5 million people and by 52 weeks in the year it amounts to a vast sum which has to be found either by increased contributions or higher taxation. An increase of 10s. in the 50s. rate, with corresponding increases in Industrial Injuries benefits but excluding pensions and allowances paid for uninsured wives, would cost about £165 million. As I read the Motion—the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—no increase for wives on their husband's insurance is recommended. The pensions of the poor wives are to remain at 30s.

As the right hon. Gentleman wishes to be so generous, I cannot understand why the wives should not have their share. If there were a proportionate increase for wives, the bill would be about £200 million a year.

If that £200 million is to be met from National Insurance contributions, that means an extra 2s. from both employees and employers. That will raise the weekly contribution of an adult male from 9s. 11d. at the moment to 11s. 11d.

Here I take up the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth on what he threw in as a debating point and what has been used by many advocates of increased pensions, and that is the rates operated in West Germany. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that the contributions towards old-age pensions paid by employees under their system amount to 7 per cent. of their earnings. On our average weekly earnings of £13 total social security contributions at the West German level would mean a contribution of 29s. a week. Is the right hon. Gentleman seriously suggesting that we should put up the 9s. 11d. contribution to 29s.? If we did that we could certainly raise benefits. If he is not advocating that he is still avoiding saying how the pensions are to be paid for.

Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)

Will the right hon. Lady tell the House how the present pensions are paid? The contributions have more than doubled since the Conservative Government came into office.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I am not denying that. The hon. Member for Mother-well (Mr. Lawson) has missed my point. I am not denying that the contributions have increased.

Mr. Lawson

The Government have doubled the contribution, but not the pension

Miss Hornsby-Smith

That still does not get us away from paying 29s. a week, if we pay 7 per cent.—

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

Is it not a fact that it is hardly surprising that this should be the case, considering the increased number of pensioners who have only contributed about 6s. out of the benefits they receive?

Mr. Crossman

Rescue her.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

On the contrary, I do not want to be rescued on that particular point. It is the right hon. Member for Blyth who is entirely avoiding saying how these payments are to be paid for. The House should be asked to consider where Members opposite propose to raise these sums. The cost cannot be met by taxation alone, and if we are to preserve the so-often proclaimed pension as a right of insurance, the pension and the benefit and the contribution must be linked; if benefits are to rise then contributions paid to meet them must rise as well. Any attempt to meet greater expenditure without putting up contributions would undermine the whole of the contributory principle to which Members from both sides have paid tribute.

Mr. Crossman

I am sure the right hon. Lady would agree that, at present, a young man is already paying 1s. 3d. a week more in contributions than is required to pay for his own pension. The Government have raised his contribution to pay for the pensions of older people. Why does she say that we should have to raise the flat-rate contribution even further? If she did that, that young man would be subsidising older people even more. It would be fairer to do it by taxation.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

The hon. Member for Coventry, East has missed one point. It is hardly likely that the young man paying over the next few years, will, when he retires, draw the same pension as he is actuarially contributing to at the moment. Members opposite—and the right hon. Gentleman himself made a point of it—frequently mention the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, and claim that the Beveridge scheme was for a pension which would be adequate. I must remind them, however, that the proposals put forward in the Beveridge Report, brought up to date in present purchasing terms, would have provided something like 38s. 6d. a week as a single basic rate and 64s. 9d. a week for the married rate, and it was not intended by the Report that that standard should be reached for twenty years. Members opposite are forgetting that delay of twenty years.

To the extent to which we have left Beveridge, the present rates are far better and more generous than those contained in his Report, and the new rates were immediately operative without the lag of twenty years which would have applied to those recommended under Beveridge.

We all tend to generalise and suggest that all old-age pensioners are necessarily poor. That was a very fair generalisation up to 1958, because of the pre-1948 earnings limitation on liability for insurance contributions, which meant that many retirement pensioners were almost necessarily of modest means, earning under £420 a year—because otherwise they could not come under compulsory contributory insurance. Since 1948 contributions have been spread over all income groups and, since late entrants became eligible for retirement pensions in 1958. more and more retirement pensioners have an occupational pension besides their old-age pension.

Each year sees a wider cross-section of the community becoming eligible for pensions. One and a quarter million people are drawing occupational pensions, in many cases in addition to the State pension, and about one-fifth of all retirement pensioners have an incremented pension through having deferred their retirement after the age of 65. Some have earnings, some have invested income. It is therefore true that we have a much wider cross-section and a different pattern of retirement pensioners than before 1958.

I now turn to the food that pensioners purchase and the extent to which they apply their pension to that very necessary item. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth will no doubt have seen the national food survey in the Monthly Digest of Statistics. The average spent weekly in 1957–58 was 25s. 6d. The average amount spent in 1958–59, after the 10s. rise in the basic rate, was 28s.—a rise of 2s. 6d. They paid 10 per cent. more money for food, but food prices had gone up by only 1½ per cent., so they got more food. A quarter of the extra pension was applied to purchasing more and more varied food.

Since this Government took office we have three times raised the pension and have seen to it that it did not lag behind increases in the cost of living. We have seen to it that pensioners, the sick and the unemployed have shared in the nation's growing prosperity.

Mr. Robens


Miss Hornsby-Smith

The right hon. Gentleman must know that they have substantially more than in the days when, for five long years, hon. Members opposite let that 26s. go down. We have pledged ourselves, during and since the General Election, not only to maintain the value of the present benefits but to ensure that old people receive their share of the rising prosperity of the country, which we believe can be assured only by a sound financial policy and by economic expansion, under which the standard of living of all our people can be maintained and enhanced.

Mrs. Alice Cullen (Glasgow, Gorbals)

But did the Government consider the representations from the delegations of the pensioners?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

Probably more satisfactorily than was done up to 1951.

For these reasons, I ask the House to support the Amendment. At any rate, I ask my hon. Friends to support the Amendment, which is based upon performance and achievement which even the right hon. Gentleman opposite admits, and to reject the Opposition's Motion, which asks this House to pay out £200 million more money immediately, without advancing any method or a single argument about how it is proposed to pay for it.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)

I hope that the remainder of this debate will be dealt with in a very serious way because, as I have said before and I repeat, the problem now before the House is. whether expressed in the Amendment or the Motion, an intensely human problem and must be dealt with on human grounds if we are to succeed in achieving what we set out to do.

There was a very important week last month in the lives of pensioners. Every week in the month is important to them, but during February there were three very important days in the lives of the old-age pensioners, the sick and the disabled, the unemployed and those who are suffering from industrial injuries. Those three days were 9th, 10th and 12th February. On 9th February, as the Minister and the right hon. Lady— who was somewhat erroneous in her treatment of the problem—will remember, they met a deputation from the Old-Age Pensioners' Association. That deputation consisted of people who came from as fax afield as Aberdeen, Newport, Cardiff, Liverpool and Merseyside. Why did they come? They came because they felt aggrieved at the inaction of the Government in not meeting the promises which the Government had made to them during the General Election.

Mr. Gower


Mr. Brown

I cannot give way because my time is limited, as is that of all other hon. Members, and I do not want to stop somebody else having an opportunity to take part in the debate.

They explained to the Minister and to representatives of the Government side and of the Social Insurance Committee representing this side, the dire needs of the old-age pensioners of this country. They did not come for the sake of paying a visit or for the sake of a joy-ride. They had been sent by the Old-Age Pensioners' Association to put before the Government their grievances.

The right hon. Gentleman, I understand, was very sympathetically inclined towards them. That is the report, fair and square, made by them in the newspaper which they run. The right hon. Gentleman was very sympathetically inclined to the plea which they put forward. They had no fault to find with his reception of them. However, as I have said before, we have a saying in Lancashire that sympathy without relief is like mustard without beef: it is very sharp. I think the right hon. Gentleman's sympathy was very sharp, because he has not given relief.

On 10th February, the day following that on which the old-age pensioners met the right hon. Gentleman, two important questions were asked in another place. Who was the gentleman who asked those two very important questions? He was the architect of the Welfare State, the noble Lord who presented the Report upon which the Welfare State has been based. He is disturbed, very much disturbed, as much as hon. Members on this side of the House are disturbed, by the dire need of the old folk. Let me just quote the questions to show what was in the noble Lord's mind and why he was so desirous of getting from the Government a statement of their intentions in dealing with the problem confronting the old people. Lord Beveridge asked the Government whether they can say how far the increase of social security pensions in 1959 has reduced the numbers and proportions of such pensioners needing to obtain National Assistance as it was at the end of 1950. The representative of the Government did not try to escape the responsibility. He gave a straight answer to a straight question put to him by a very important citizen of this country, the man who was charged with that responsibility twenty years ago to give us the Beveridge Report. This is what the Ear] of Dundee said: My Lords, there were no increases in retirement pensions in 1959. They were last increased in January, 1958, when the standard rates were raised from 40s. to 50s. for a single person and from 65s. to 80s. for a married couple. Since that date, however, there have been changes in National Assistance in September, 1959, both in respect of the scale rates and the treatment of resources. The number of pensioner households receiving supplementary payments of National Assistance in December, 1959, was 976,000 compared with 677,000 in December, 1950. Expressed as a proportion of such households, the number receiving supplementary pensions is estimated at between 21½ and 22 per cent. in December, 1959, compared with 20.7 per cent. in December, 1950. The figures, however, are not comparable because, on the one hand, the real standard of National Assistance is now substantially higher and, on the other, the range of retirement pensioners is wider following the influx of 400,000 'late-age entrant' pensioners in July, 1958."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 10th February, 1960; Vol. 220, c. 1109–10.] I have always maintained that the acid test of any pension scheme is how many people it saves from going to the National Assistance Board. That is the acid test. The more that people have to seek recourse to National Assistance for supplementation of the basic pension, the more that proves up to the hilt that the basic pension is inadequate.

What did the noble Lord do? In another question, so anxious he was—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

I hope the hon. Member will bear in mind that while it is in order to quote what is said in another place by a noble Lord speaking for the Government, it is not in order to quote what is said in the same Session by another noble Lord who is not speaking on behalf of the Government.

Mr. Brown

Very good, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I stand corrected. However, I did take the trouble to find out and make doubly sure that I would be in order in quoting what was said in questions in another place. I was told that I should be perfectly in order in quoting questions, though not in quoting speeches. Anyhow, if you rule it otherwise, I will abide by your Ruling.

But there was a noble Lord at the same time who said—he did not ask a question—to the representative of the Government in another place that these are forgotten men and women whom the Government have left high and dry on one side.

I want to speak of the pensioners. I will leave my hon. Friends to speak of the injured workmen.

I remind the Government very forcibly of what was said in the Gracious Speech from the Throne. It reads: My Government will give close attention to the social welfare of My people, including the needs of the war-disabled and their dependants and of old people. Those words are taken from the Gracious Speech, but the Government have not honoured their promise. They have had opportunity after opportunity, and debate after debate has taken place in this House. Private Members' Motions have been submitted, and yet no notice has been taken by the Government. No attempt has been made to honour that promise made to the old people at the commencement of this Parliament, and that is where the Government have fallen down. These people have been waiting and wondering what was to be done to meet the dire need which they are experiencing.

The Gracious Speech also said: The earnings rules for pensioners and widowed mothers will be further relaxed. I give credit where it is due, and that promise has been honoured, but how many old-age pensioners have benefited? A mere handful. Our plea today is for the major portion of the old-age pensioners who are finding it extremely difficult to live.

Have the Government taken into consideration the growth of the family of old-age pensioners and the way in which it is increasing, which is a matter of very great importance? In January, 1959, there were 5,320,000 people of pensionable age in receipt of retirement pensions. In September of last year the figure had gone up to 5,429,000, and the number of people in receipt of National Assistance has gone up considerably, because, as I have said before, they have been forced by the inadequacy of the basic pension to apply for it. They are reluctantly compelled to do so, and I use the word "reluctantly" advisedly, because none of these people—and I am proud to be a member of them—goes to the National Assistance Board for the sake of going there. They are forced by economic circumstances to seek some supplementation of their pensions.

Many of us welcomed the announcement made in the Gracious Speech. I did, and I thought it was long overdue, but I. noticed that there were several hon. Members on the Government benches who also welcomed the announcement and were delighted that at long last something was to be done by the Government to relieve the poverty-stricken conditions of our old people. I noticed that the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) in the course of his speech quoted the passage to which I have referred, but he went further than most speakers when he reminded us of the following words in the manifesto of the Conservative Party: We pledge ourselves to ensure that pensioners will continue to share in the good things which a steady and expanding economy will bring. He went a bit further—and I liked the distance he went on this occasion—when he said: I think that the pensioners themselves are confident that we will do that,"— meaning the Government. He was confident that it would be done, but the important words in that sentence were— and we must do that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th October, 1959; Vol. 612, c. 572.] That is what was said by an hon. Member on the Government side of the House. I welcome the forthrightness of the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood, just as I welcome the forthrightness of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) this afternoon. My experience of dealing with the hon. and gallant Gentleman over a period of years leads me to say that he is a man of his word. He does not believe in celluloid business premises and a Jewish fire brigade. As I say, he is a man of his word, and because he is a man of his word I like him.

Before I say anything about existing pensioners, I desire to correct an inaccuracy. This is where I quarrel bitterly with the Government and the Conservative Party Central Office. They tried during the General Election to delude the electors, and particularly the old-age pensioners, when they said—and it is in their election manifesto—that they had given more to old-age pensioners than had the Labour Party. That is wrong. I have it here in black and white—

Mr. Gower

indicated dissent.

Mr. Brown

The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) shakes his head, but I have it here in the election address of my opponent, in which he said: We have done much more than they did— 14s. as against 20s. given by the Conservative Party. The Government should not attempt to delude and deceive old men and women. It is morally wrong to do it when the truth is that the Conservative Party did increase the amount by 20s. and the Labour Party also increased the old-age pension by 20s. We should not allow this sort of thing to go out.

I want to deal now with the old-age pensioners and their budgets. I went to the trouble, as did my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), of visiting some of the old-age pensioners' homes. I live amongst them. I live in a road of terrace houses, and seven out of eight people living in that terrace are old-age pensioners. Therefore, I have seen them going to the Post Office to draw their inadequate pensions. The cost of living has been argued. It is all very well for the statisticians in the research departments of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance to tell us that the cost of living has not gone up, but the acid test in my opinion is whether the pension is adequate or inadequate, and what the pension will buy and will put into the shopping baskets of the old-age pensioners when they go to the market.

I took the trouble to find out how these people live and what they buy. Since 1958 the cost of living has risen. Rents have gone up, clothes are dearer and all these increases have militated against the old-age pensioner who finds himself or herself today having to live on 4s. 4d. a day for food alone. If the hon. Lady the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance or any right hon. Member or hon. Member on the Conservative benches challenges that statement, I am quite prepared to take anybody to the home where I obtained these figures. This 4s. 4d. a day is the price of a decent meal. I have not eaten because I have been sitting in the Chamber throughout the day, but I am sure that the majority of meals consumed by hon. Members in the Members' Dining Room today cost not less than 4s. 8d.

Do we expect people to live on 4s. 4d. a day? We must approach this question of trying to assist the old-age pensioner either by a direct increase in the basic pension or by a review of the pension, based on the increased cost of living. This matter has been examined by experts and by social welfare workers. They have examined the loopholes and the question whether it is within the realm of possibility for an old-age pensioner to live on a basic pension.

I should like to mention briefly some of the 21 items which I have examined. No one can challenge this, because I made the analysis myself. [Laughter.] It is no laughing matter. I am not taking what any Tom, Dick or Harry tells me. I simply went and found out for myself. I did not get the information at second hand or third hand from somebody who had made a report. What are the articles which are brought into the domestic larder of the old-age pensioner? He consumes three loaves a week costing 2s., 31b. of potatoes costing 1s. 3d., vegetables 2s., fish 1s. 6d., ¼lb. of liver—and fancy an old-age pensioner in 1960 having to go to the butcher for a ¼lb. of liver—

Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent, North)

It is expensive these days.

Mr. Brown

These are shocking figures. Then there is ¼1b. of sausages at 9d., 11b. of jam 1s. 8d, ½1b. of flour 7½d., ½1b. of tea 2s. 3d., and ½1b. of lard at 9d., and so on. The total cost of all the items is £1 10s. 6d.

What about the other essentials? The old-age pensioner cannot live rent-free or light- or coal-free. He must pay for the essential commodities which bring a degree of comfort and which help him to achieve a reasonable standard of living. Again I took the trouble to check the cost of these essentials. I find that coal costs 9s. a week, gas and electricity averaged over twelve months, 4s. a week, clothes, shoes and renewals 3s. a week, cleaning materials 3s. 6d. and insurance 1s. 6d. The total of these five essentials is £1 1s., making a grand total of £2 11s. 6d. Therefore, on the fairest basis possible, the single old-age pensioner is going into the red at the rate of 1s. 6d. a week.

Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

The figures given by my hon. Friend are most interesting, but I know a great number of old people in Scotland and I am quite sure that none of them can exist and provide the heat which they need at a cost of one bag of coal a week. The minimum is two bags. Therefore, in the area which I represent one can easily add 9s. 4d. to that total figure.

Mr. Brown

I will concede that point straight away, because in Scotland the climatic conditions are much colder than they are in the area in which I represent.

I think that I have said sufficient to prove that the present pension of £2 10s. a week for a single pensioner—and I will not enter into the argument about a married couple—is inadequate to live on. Whether under a Tory Government or a Labour Government, the fact remains that we have a responsibility which has been shirked in the past. We have never done what we ought to have done for these people who have made the country great with their skill and devotion and response to the call of duty in all kinds of weather. They have responded nobly to the calls made upon them. Is it too much to ask in 1960 that we should not treat our old folk, our veterans of industry, worse than old folk are treated in other countries?

As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South said, we have gone through two world wars. Let us remember that the men and women for whose benefit we are appealing tonight are the mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers of the young men and women who saved the country during two world wars. I appeal to the Government to put on one side the cost of £200 million involved. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary asked where we are to find the £200 million. I say do not spend so much money on armaments. Do not spend so much money on the Blue Streak [An HON. MEMBER: "That is at an end."] This is a serious matter.

Life has always been to me a wonderful thing. It is wonderful to think that everyone on this fair earth is possessed of the radiant gift of human life with its great possibilities, its lofty ideals and noble ambitions. Every man and woman, every boy and girl, should have an opportunity to attain the highest standard of living, but they cannot enjoy this when their circumstances are governed by adverse economic conditions.

8.29 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Tiley (Bradford, West)

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) earlier in the day, although it seems a long time ago now, said that we should have television in this Chamber. If we had, I fear that at this moment we would look a pretty drab lot.

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

That is what I want to show up.

Mr. Tiley

Indeed, I think we would need some of those pep preparations that are advertised on television. If we had been on view to the millions of watchers, it would have needed a genius to explain to the old-age pensioners why we were not talking about pensions during the afternoon. Many of us have been sitting here very patiently, and it makes us impatient with each other when we think of all the speeches that will not be delivered. Many of us would wish to assure them that it was purely an act of Parliamentary justice which prevented us from debating this important topic earlier.

We welcome the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) to the Dispatch Box in a new guise. The right hon. Gentleman was firing on both barrels most of the time. Those of us who have been interested in the question of pensions for many years do not need to go out into the highways and byways to discover the problems. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman had to make inquiries here, there and everywhere showed that the position is nothing like the drab picture he painted for us.

Our pensioners are not the drab, unhappy, miserable, forgotten people the right hon. Gentleman tried to picture. The very point he made about the increasing prosperity and rising wages, happily visible throughout our economy, has helped our old people in no small way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I have never been one of those who believe that children do not help their parents. They do, at any rate in my part of the world, so parents have been helped considerably by the prosperity of their children.

The right hon. Gentleman also referred to a visit to the "co-op". A few weeks ago I saw a very happy announcement in the Telegraph and Argus when the City of Bradford Co-operative Wholesale Society advertised an excursion to the South Coast for all old-age pensioners, asking them to apply early because the seats were likely to be overbooked. That is a picture which one is entitled to paint in contradiction of the point made by the right hon. Gentleman.

Mrs. Slater


Mr. Tiley

I am sorry, it is very late and I cannot give way. I am not usually averse to doing so.

I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown). In all my five years in this House, I remember only one occasion on which we have discussed pensions when he has not been here. That was a debate held about a fortnight ago. When I spoke to the hon. Gentleman a day or two later about his absence, he said it was the first debate he had missed, and that was because he had been ill. The hon. Gentleman said that this is a human problem, and so it is. The Opposition may be united on this subject—it is unusual to find them united.

Mr. Manuel

Report to Nabarro.

Mr. Tiley

Together with some of my colleagues from these benches, I saw the deputation a few days ago to which the hon. Member for Ince referred.

Mr. Manuel

The hon. Gentleman is too slick.

Mr. Tiley

I think all on the deputation were over 70 years of age. They had come from north, south, east and west, making perilous journeys, to present their case to us. But they did not come full of criticism. They were not militant. They were reasonable in their request.

Mr. T. Brown

They have been trained that way.

Mr. Tiley

More than that, they were quite amazed when, during the discussion, it was pointed out to them that of the 50s. which is being paid to a single person only 6s. has been contributed by the pensioner, and the effort being made by the wage earner is a prodigious one.

I am forced to oppose the Motion, and I must declare my interest. I always do this, traditionally. The House knows that I engage in insurance. The practical experience that I have had for about thirty years makes the Motion a revolting one to me. It is amazing to find leaders of the party opposite, who have devoted long periods of study to this question, adding their names to a Motion for the provision of increased pensions without at the same time saying how the money is to be raised to pay for them.

Mr. Ellis Smith

It will come from the Exchequer.

Mr. Tiley

I am greeted with all sorts of suggestions as to how the money shall be made available Why does not the Motion simply state that hon. Members opposite would welcome an increase in Income Tax or an increased contribution? That would have been honest. It would be the method advocated in their National Superannuation booklet.

Hon. Members on this side of the House are pledged to award or deflect a share of our rising prosperity to pensioners. I know that we shall honour that pledge.

Mr. Manuel


Mr. Tiley

We have to decide not only when, but how.

Hon. Members


Lord Balniel (Hertford)

Behave yourselves.

Mr. Tiley

I thank my hon. Friend, but I do not need any assistance. It should be given to the pensioners. To infer that our pledge has been broken so soon after the General Election is just a political manoeuvre, which is being indulged in because some by-elections are taking place tomorrow.

Another serious omission from the Opposition Motion is any reference to increasing National Assistance scales by the same amount as that by which the pensions are to be increased. I hope that we shall never again increase pensions without adding an adequate amount to the National Assistance scale, so that those who are most in need may get their just reward.

We shall often debate this subject during the next four or five years. Hon. Members opposite need not be impatient; they will have plenty of time to make long speeches. This is our major economic problem. The difficulties of the railways or the mines are as nothing compared with those of pensions. If anybody does not believe that, let him look at the growing cost—

Mr. Robens

I do not believe it, but I know all about pension schemes.

Mr. Tiley

I shall try to convince the right hon. Gentleman. He should look at the growing cost of our pension schemes and the growing contributions which people are called upon to make. Let him consider the fact that, happily, our older people are living longer. If he wants an example of the way in which a national pensions scheme can quickly get into a mess, let him look at the National Health Superannuation Fund, where in a few short years and involving only a comparatively few people, not the mass of the citizens of the country, a deficit of about £80 million is shown by the actuarial computation.

Mr. Manuel

That is a lot less than the cost of Blue Streak.

Mr. Tiley

The Government, in their pension legislation last year, and the Opposition, with their national superannuation scheme, established firmly and for the first time the two immense problems which the country had not fully understood before this booklet, "National Superannuation" was published. One of them was that we can receive an adequate pension at 65 only if we begin to contribute at 25 and work and save throughout the whole of our lives. This is a 40-year project. An adequate pension can be achieved only by a lifetime of work and saving. Whatever we may envisage in the future, we shall have this problem with us until the year 2,000, so that these debates are likely to go on.

There can be no doubt that the last General Election was mainly fought on this issue. In my constituency, the electors concerned themselves almost entirely with the question of pensions. I was rather proud of the importance attached to a vote which I gave in a Standing Committee when 18 hon. Members voted against a Socialist Amendment to increase the pension by 10s. Thousands of leaflets were delivered about it. I said that I was not ashamed of the vote I had given. I spoke against that Amendment because it was the same dishonest proposal as we have on the Order Paper today—paying out the money with no thought whatever to the way in which the money is to be obtained before it is paid out.

During those weeks in October people throughout the country had plenty of time to consider the whole question of pensions. They compared the record of my right hon. Friend's Ministry and the Conservative Government with what they had received when the Opposition were in power. Before coming to their decision, they compared the prospects for the future and came to the con- clusion that the Tory faith would bring them more than the Socialist propaganda promised them.

I have told the House time and time again that pension schemes of any sort are never popular because they annoy too many people. They have to be paid for, and while we are paying for them we are slightly worse off. I wish to be completely fair to the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), whose intellectual abilities were deployed in the production of this effective booklet. Fortunately, the hon. Gentleman posed this problem on the first page. He stated the greatness of the problem: If the old are enabled to spend more, the rest of us will have that much less to spend.

Mr. Crossman

Would the hon. Member accept one correction? That book is Labour policy, and I am not more responsible for it than any other member of the party. This is a Labour Party policy, not written by me, but written as Labour Party policy.

Mr. Tiley

I content myself by saying that the hon. Member not only shares in pronouncing this very great truth but spent a great deal of time in lectures in the country to trade unions and others trying to persuade them that this theory must be accepted. It is absolutely true, but it is unpalatable. People to not like to be told that they will have less to spend and are going to be slightly worse off, but if we do not accept that theory and do not impress it on the whole of our people, there can be no hope whatever of pensions meaning anything in the future when they have been increased, because the whole tendency will be inflationary.

The country had adequate time to consider all these points and it came to one conclusion. It knew that this Government were treating everyone fairly, not generously, for no Government have ever yet been able to treat our old people generously. That is a great pity. We are all too selfish—all of us, in all walks of life—but the country and the old folks themselves came to the conclusion that we were being fair to all those who take part in the provision of pensions. We were being fair to those who were paying the contributions, we were being fair in allocating to those who were being educated and not at work a sufficient amount of our income, and we were being fair to those who have retired. We on these benches have been fair in the past, and we shall be fair in the future.

The problem is one which stays with us because, as the hon. Member for Coventry, East again truthfully said in a debate twelve months ago, we have a changing standard of judgment. What was acceptable to our grandparents is no longer acceptable. In my youth a youngster with a pedal-cycle among the youngsters with whom he played was a millionaire. Now a pedal-cycle is replaced by a motor-cycle. Not all the changes have been for the better. My old granny had a flat iron, a precision instrument which cost 1s. Now with these changing standards we pay £5 for something which looks like an atomic reactor and which does half the work half as well. We have all got them because we have to "Keep up with the Jones's."

Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)

Instead of wasting time with all these tales, for which we have not time available, will the hon. Member tell us why he is opposing the necessary increase we are demanding?

Mr. Tiley

The hon. Member should restrain himself in patience; then he will find out. The Government's problem, and our problem, was admirably summed up by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) on 3rd November last. We all regret his continued absence from this House. The right hon. Member summed it up in these words: There is one important problem facing representative Parliamentary government in the whole of the world where it exists. It is being asked to solve a problem which so far it has failed to solve: that is, how to reconcile Parliamentary popularity with sound economic planning…. There in a nutshell is the problem we face.

So far, nobody on either side of this House has succeeded and it is a problem which has to be solved if we are to meet the challenge that comes to us from other parts of the world."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd November, 1959; Vol. 612, c. 862.] That sums up the issue we are discussing. I do not see around me any sign of discipline or that we are prepared to be poorer so that our old folks may be better off. We are asked to spend more on the Health Service, doctors need more pay, pension costs are going up. pressure groups are asking my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer for personal tax reductions, Surtax alterations are demanded, free drugs, Schedule A alterations and, from all sides, higher wages are asked for, shorter hours and longer holidays with pay. We shall not be fair to our old people if we accede to these requests, especially for personal tax reductions, before we have dealt with the problem of the old-age pensioners. I have advised the powers that be on our Front Bench that I shall not find it possible to support a Budget which gives these concessions before the problems of the old people have been adequately tackled.

Mr. Mendelson

Why did not the hon. Member say that last year?

Mr. Tiley

We all look forward to the day when disarmament will enable some hundreds of millions of pounds to be devoted to other purposes, but I hope that nobody on either side of the House will recommend that if we save £200 million or £300 million on Blue Streak we should immediately share it out, because that way lies economic ruin. Savings through disarmament must go to the production of more goods for export so that all our people may be kept fully employed and all classes may share in the result.

I shall support the Government in the Division Lobby tonight because we have been fair in the past and we shall be fair in the future, and under the Conservative faith we shall expand so that all will share in the bigger pie which there will be to divide.

8.52 p.m.

Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)

The fact that I am speaking from a position in the House different from that expected a few days ago will, I hope, make only one difference to what I say: it will be shorter and it will be sharper. Indeed, I feel that I have one advantage over my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens). I am sure that if he had had the advantage of listening to the egregious performance of the Parliamentary Secretary he could have added even more power to his speech.

Before I deal with the Parliamentary Secretary's speech, I should like to refer to that of the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley). I thank him for exposing one of the hon. Lady's more outrageous assertions. He has stated the fact correctly. The fact is that for the last three years the Labour Party has emphasised in every statement which it has made on the subject that pensions would have to be paid for. It was not necessary for my right hon. Friend to say it today because the scheme has been laid down. As the hon. Member for Bradford, West rightly said, we incurred the danger of unpopularity by saying, day in and day out, "You cannot have pensions for nothing. Contributions must be raised". We explained precisely how it would be done.

I thought that the right hon. Lady fell somewhat below the level which she usually reaches when she failed to point out that fact and suggested that the Labour Party has not faced up to the problem of paying for pensions. In the few minutes which are available to me I will discuss precisely how we should pay for the extra pensions about which we are talking.

Before doing that, I should like to deal with two or three other points which the right hon. Lady made I was interested in her remark about stable prices. She said that prices are so stable that the pensioner has much for which he should be grateful. I know that little things may not matter, but the pension was last increased in January, 1958, and I reckon that since 1958, since the pensions were last increased, the pensioner has been welshed of 1s. 6d. a week. I know that that is not much by the right hon. Lady's standards, but under our system, with an automatic adjustment of the pension in order to cover any cost-of-living increase, that 1s. 6d. would have been paid to the pensioner. I know that it is difficult for a Tory to imagine that pensioners mind about 1s. 6d. a week, but we of the Labour Party know that this is one of the essentials and that even in a period of relatively stable prices a small increase in prices makes an enormous difference to the pensioner.

The right hon. Lady tried to persuade us that the pensioners were all right because, on the whole, they are sharing in the increased national prosperity. I must point out to her that, according to the Government, the only pensioners who are permitted to share in the increased national prosperity are those on National Assistance, for when they increased the National Assistance scales just before the election the Government expressly stated that the increase in the National Assistance scales was justifiably higher than might have been required by the cost of living as a contribution to enabling the pensioner to share in rising national prosperity. We then put the question, "If the million pensioners in this category are allowed to share in it, why not the other 4½ million?" There was no reply.

The right hon. Lady suggested that not all pensioners are poor, because 1¼ million of them are on superannuation. She did not add that of the 1¼ million on superannuation, at least one-third are on very small amounts of superannuation. I quote the railwaymen as an example. If we include in her statistics the railwaymen who are receiving the pitiful railway superannuation, we get a false impression. In addition to the 1 million on National Assistance, in my view we have at least 2 million pensioners who are destitute or would be destitute without assistance from their sons, daughters and other relatives.

Those are the facts about sharing in rising national prosperity. If, as the Government assert, national prosperity has been increasing steadily year by year, we know for certain that the majority of pensioners have had no share in it since the last increase in the pension in January, 1958.

I come to the right hon. Lady's central challenge. She said, "All right. In principle we agree. But it would cost £200 million." The hon. Member for Bradford, West asked why National Assistance was not mentioned in the Motion. There is a simple reason. It is not within the power of this House to order the National Assistance Board to increase the rates of assistance. All that we can do is to advise and suggest it. I made no secret of the fact that when we put forward the £3 pension scheme in May, 1957, we realised that it would be a very big increase, and in my view no Government would have been justified in introducing a £3 pension and automatically increasing the National Assistance rate by £1 at the same time. It is the aim of the Labour Party to raise the pension above the National Assistance level. The increases we proposed in May, 1957, were so large that we could have begun to raise the pension above the National Assistance level.

Three years have gone by since then. Two increases in National Assistance have been given and 10s. has been granted on National Assistance. I will be frank with the House. We calculate that it will cost £200 million now to add 10s. to the flat-rate pension, because no Government could possibly deny giving 10s. on National Assistance today. Of course we have to reckon that, in raising the basic rates today, we should have to raise not only the health, sickness and unemployment benefits but also include the full 10s. on the National Assistance rate. This merely proves that the basic pension has been kept scandalously low during that period. The hon. Member said that they should be put up both together. The Government do exactly the opposite. They put up National Assistance in September for one million people and deny the other four million.

The problem is how do we pay? The hon. Gentleman gave the case away when he said that he was giving notice to the Government that he had a pretty shrewd suspicion there would not be any tax concessions this year. Did he give notice last year when the Government had £340 million to give away? On this side of the House we said that it was wrong to give tax concessions on beer and 9d. off Income Tax before we gave the £200 million to old-age pensioners. I say this to the hon. Member on his own principle. I am glad that he has now admitted that the 10s. should have been given last year out of the tax concessions. I go forward to this year. Having failed to give it out of last year's prosperity it is our duty to give it this year, even if it would mean increasing taxation.

I make this final point about payment. I personally believe that we have to give 10s. increase to the pensioner this year whatever it costs the community. I believe that to do so we should not have to increase taxation. The Minister of Defence told us that he was putting only £87 million—a mere nothing—on defence. To give a rise to old-age pensioners would cost £100 million-and the other £100 million would be incidental. Let me say that if it means increasing taxation, I would vote for increasing taxation in order to do it. But we have always made it clear from this side of the House that the emergency measure of increasing pensions out of taxation is a burden that we cannot place permanently on the taxpayer. That was the main reason for the whole of our superannuation scheme. It was to introduce a scheme which enabled pensioners over a period of time to get a decent pension without having an altogether different system of contributions graded according to performance. Under our scheme the £50-a-week man would at last pay his fair share.

We know full well that one cannot obtain an adequate old-age pension on a flat-rate contribution. The hon. Lady talked about having to raise the contribution. It would be an outrage to raise the flat-rate contribution in order to raise the pension today, when the Government have doubled the contribution in the last two years and simultaneously increased the burden on the insured person while reducing taxation on the wealthy. Now the Government must redress the balance by putting more on taxation while they are getting a scheme into effect.

However, we have not got a Labour Government putting into effect a decent scheme. We have a Tory Government with a crooked swindle, as we all know. I see the Minister laughing. I hope that he will not be Minister of Pensions this time next year, because when the people start paying their contributions under the scheme and begin to examine the benefits they will receive they will find that the Labour party was right in describing this as a swindle. There will be a great hubbub in this country when the people discover what they will be paying from April next year.

The real aim of this Government is permanently to prevent a decent pension. We have seen quite clearly what the Government are doing. They are doing it behind a smoke-screen. They are reintroducing a pension on a means test. The whole aim of the Government is to keep the basic rate steady and, on the one side, encourage private insurance schemes so that they can say that there are two million people in such schemes. Then they can say to those people who are not in such schemes, "If you are not in private insurance, you will have to go on to National Assistance".

I make a little prediction to the Minister. We shall see National Assistance raised once again without the basic rate rising. I shall be delighted if I am proved wrong. I shall be delighted if in the Budget there is a 10s. rise in the pension and the increase in taxation necessary to support it. I shall certainly not oppose it. I predict that the Government will, in fact, keep the basic pension down whilst raising the National Assistance level all the time in order to try to see that everyone on the State pension gets it economically on a means test and is told, "It is your fault that you are not in a private superannuation scheme."

That is what we are fighting. It can only be fought by introducing a decent superannuation scheme. That means a change of Government. That is why in the spring we shall have to make a major protest on behalf of the old people, because one thing is clear about the Amendment to our Motion. It tells us that there is to be no increase in the old-age pension. The right hon. Lady's speech would have been slightly different if she had had some hope of saying something decent to the old-age pensioners.

This is an after-General-Election year. We know quite well that the calculation of this Government is political, pure and simple. If they give an increase, they give it at the most fortunate moment. So we can expect with assurance to be told this year, in a period of ever greater affluence, "We are sorry. Inflation may come. Something will happen. We are terribly sorry for the old people". All hon. Members will remember the Prime Minister's Speech in his last television appearance the day before the General Election. He said, "Trust me, you old people. I will know the time to raise your pension". I hope that they do not trust the Tory Party at the next election.

9.4 p.m.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) said that this was an after-election year. He will recall that my right hon. Friend did not attempt to bribe the old people immediately before the last election. This type of debate has a long and peculiar history. By "peculiar history" I mean that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends would be truly astounded if my right hon. Friend now came forward and said that he accepted the Motion.

Mr. Crossman

Delighted, not astounded.

Mr. Gower

They would be astonished, because they would be able to trudge the country and tell the people that it was their initiative that secured the increase. If, on the other hand, my right hon. Friend rejects the Motion, they can trudge the country telling people that each Conservative Member who voted against their Motion was opposed to the betterment of conditions for old people. In other words, in tabling a Motion like this, they put themselves in the extremely happy position of "Heads, we win; tails, you lose".

It is very difficult for the old people to understand the tactics of this House. Even if my right hon. Friend—and I reply to the hon. Member for Coventry, East— had decided to increase these pensions next week, he would be most unlikely to do so today in response to an Opposition Motion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It would be the most foolish tactics. One unfortunate thing that emanates from a debate like this is that it sometimes enables the Opposition to pose as being better friends of the old people than are we on this side, and that is absolutely untrue.

The hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) painted a picture, and quite a true picture, of a deputation coming from the North to see the Minister. When he was painting that picture, I could not help wondering whether similar deputations came to see the right hon. Lady the Member for Warrington (Dr. Summerskill) who was Minister of Pensions in the Labour Government in 1950; when she assured the country that there was no evident hardship among the old people. Did the deputations come down then? My experience in my part of the country is that some of those who have habitually protested during the lifetime of two Conservative Governments made no murmur when there was a Labour Government.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) opened this debate by saying that he did not want to compare records, and then went on very skilfully to suggest that the Labour performance was better than ours. What was that performance? I concede that the Labour Party put up the pension to 26s. in 1946, and that it was a step forward partially to cover the erosion of the value of pensions during the war years.

But what did they do in 1947? Nothing. What did they do in 1948? Nothing. What did they do in 1949? Nothing. How much increase was there in 1950? No increase. And what increase was there in 1951? For many pensioners there was no increase at all and for the others, 4s. only. That was the magnitude of their achievement. I know several old-age pensioners in my constituency who, from 1946 until a Conservative Government took office, had no increase at all.

The position of back-benchers on this side of the House has been made quite difficult during the lifetime of two Conservative Governments, even though there have been three successive increases in the basic rate; but had the earlier position prevailed, had there been five years with no increase for a lot of pensioners, our life here would have been intolerable. When I view the Government's Amendment in the light of that performance, I have absolute confidence in the pledge given in the Government's Amendment that the old people will, in future, share in our greater and rising prosperity.

The hon. Member for Coventry, East criticised, by implication, or more expressly, the increases that have been made in the National Assistance rates. I believe that it was absolutely right that this Government should first have attended to the wants of the most needy section of the community. It was absolutely right, if we intended to give people, pensioners and others, a share in our increasing prosperity, that we should start with those retirement pensioners whose need is obviously the greatest.

The right hon. Member for Blyth suggested, as did his hon. Friend the Member for Ince, that the number of people in receipt of National Assistance was evidence of the inadequacy of the pension. Hon. Members opposite supported not merely the increase in the rates of National Assistance; they supported, and indeed, many of them warmly advocated, the extension and improvement of the disregards system, steps which were designed deliberately to bring National Assistance into more households, including the households of retirement pensioners. It was inevitable that, when the National Assistance rates were increased and the disregards were altered so that more people qualified to receive National Assistance, the proportion and numbers of retirement pensioners receiving National Assistance would vastly increase.

We should reconsider our view about this matter. When one of my right hon. Friend's precedessors, then Mr. Peake, was Minister, it was obviously quite a good basis of judgment to consider how many old-age pensioners were receiving National Assistance, but, at that time, as indeed during most of the latter years of the Labour Government, retirement pensions were at a very low level. Now that we have put National Assistance on a much higher scale and now that the pensions themselves, as the right hon. Gentleman admitted, are on a better scale, I submit that, if we give this extra help where it is most needed, that proportion no longer provides a proper basis for judging the adequacy of the pension.

I support what has been said by several hon. Members about the excellent services rendered by the National Assistance Board. I make only one comment. In my experience, certain people quite wrongly imagine that, if they happen to own their own houses, however small, they are thereby precluded from having the benefit of National Assistance. I hope that publicity will be given to this aspect of the administration of National Assistance in order to correct that impression.

When we consider that, at this time, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley) pointed out, increasing demands are being made from every direction on the National Exchequer, and the same people in Opposition are pleading for more expenditure on hospitals, education and roads, we must realise that there must be more practical and accurate suggestions made as to how an increase in pension can be financed. The right hon. Member for Blyth gave the example of Western Germany. He knows very well that in Western Germany the rate of contribution is, on average, about 25s. or 26s. a week, and it would surely not be possible to introduce such a contribution on the part of employer and employee in this country today. He must know that that sort of comparison is not very instructive in a debate of this kind.

I must keep my word and sit down at a certain time, so I will be brief. I respectfully submit that this debate is in many ways but a repetition of many we have had in the past. The Opposition are on a very happy wicket. They can go to the country and say either that they took the initiative and brought about a result or that they took the initiative and proved that the Government would not give what they asked for.

I respectfully submit that this is a field of Government administration in which performance speaks louder than words. There is much evidence that, during the last General Election campaign and at the time of the election itself, very many old people felt that our performance was better than the words we hear from the Opposition. I have every confidence in the Government. For my part, I hope that, after my right hon. Friend and the Government have considered the many claims that are made, and particularly the very deserving nature of this claim that there should be another basic increase—I agree with the hon. Member for Coventry, East that we want an increase in the basic rate—[Interruption.]—yes, I hope that, after its financing has been carefully considered and all its implications have been carefully looked at, it will be brought in as soon as means can be contrived, but not merely in response to a Motion of this kind which is obviously ill-considered, and, I believe, no more than a tactical exercise by the Opposition on the eve of two important by-elections.

9.14 p.m.

Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)

The occasion of this debate is of no more political significance than the Prime Minister's party political broadcast. They both happen to come on the eve of the Brighouse by-election. However, having just returned from Brighouse, I can assure the right hon. Lady the Joint Parliamentary Secretary and hon. Members opposite that Yorkshire folk are not easily tippled over one way or the other at the last moment. Their minds are already made up. To know which way the majority of their minds are made up we must await the result of the poll.

I thought that the speech of the right hon. Lady was rather out of character. Why she injected so much political venom into her speech, I cannot understand. My right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) certainly felt and spoke passionately about the plight of a great many old-age pensioners, but I think that that was no reason why she should have thrown out such a series of unworthy comments about my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friends. Earlier this afternoon, the complaint was that the Opposition were not doing their job and that hon. Members opposite must do our job for us. Now, when we are doing our job, the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) complains that we are having a very happy time. This is no happy occasion for us. It is our duty to raise the matter of the position of National Insurance beneficiaries as frequently as seems appropriate to us.

Let me remind the House that there is an obligation upon it to deal with this very big social issue. There is no one else to do it. The old-age pensioners have no Priestley Commission, Pilkington Commission or Guillebaud Committee to advise on their claims for a bigger share of the national income. That responsibility rests on this House, and we alone can discharge it. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) said, this responsibility is not only upon the House: there is a responsibility upon the Minister also.

I should like to remand the right hon. Gentleman of certain statutory obligations which are placed upon him under Sections 39 and 40 of the National Insurance Act, 1946. He is in duty bound to present a report upon a quinquennial revalution or a quinquennial actuarial report on the state of contributions and benefits in the National Insurance Fund. The last one we had was at 31st March, 1954. I suggest that the Minister should take stock, since two years has expired since the last increase, and come to the House to tell us the prospects for the well-being of retirement pensioners in the conditions of today.

Before the House there is a choice between a Motion in the names of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and my right hon. and hon. Friends which is quite explicit and specific about what should be done and an Amendment which contains some paltry references to the Labour Party's record but nothing but vague promises about the future intentions of the Government. Some of my hon. Friends believe that a 10s. increase is not enough. I do not think it is enough either. This is the residual portion of a proposal to increase the pension to £3 a week which we made in 1957. The Government met us only half-way in the improvement they made in 1958. However, the proposal to increase the pension from 50s. to £3 a week is at least an increase of 10s., and that is better than nothing, which is what the Amendment means.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) said, the Government's Amendment means that there is to be nothing more for retirement pensioners. The speech of the right hon. Lady left no hope for any increase in the basic rate of pension. She shrank from increased contributions and she shrank from finding the cost from taxation. She poured cold water on any idea of accommodating this considerable increase in expenditure within the nation's budgetary arrangements in the near future. When will there be an increase for National Insurance beneficiaries?

There is one central issue in this debate: is the retirement pension of 50s. a week for a single person and £4 a week for a married couple enough in present circumstances? Do we have to argue that in detail, to examine the budgets of old-age pensioners, to show the manifest inadequacy of these benefits for a decent standard of life?

My right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth conceded to the right hon. Lady the Joint Parliamentary Secretary that in real terms the level of benefits today was higher than the purchasing power of 1946 or 1951, but in order to get that result we must examine the severity of the subsistence standard inevitably taken in 1946. If the House wishes to know what that standard was in pre-war terms, it was a total expenditure of 17s. 6d. for a single person and 29s. 6d. for a married couple, in 1938. There are many Members who can carry their minds back to 1938. What was living like then on 17s. 6d. a week for a single person or 29s. 6d. for a married couple? Yet it is upon that foundation that the calculation is made of the higher purchasing power of the pension today in real terms compared with 1946.

As the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley) says, ideas are changing, standards of judgment are changing. The standard of life in the country is improving and we want to see that retirement pensioners have their full share of it. We are tonight the custodians of the well-being of more than 6 million people who are on National Insurance benefit. More than 5 million of them are on retirement pensions, and the rest are on sickness or unemployment benefit. One-fifth of the retirement pensioners are on National Assistance. That proportion has remained fairly steady over the years. It did rise to one quarter, and it is now just over one-fifth; but there is no comfort in the fact that one-fifth of its retirement pensioners have to go to the National Assistance Board for supplementation.

I do not think there is any real disagreement in the House tonight that these benefits are too low. They are too low. What then is to be done about it? One thing we have not got is a definition of the criteria we shall take in judging whether an increase is necessary. The right hon. Lady the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has given us information about the proportion of pensioners who have vocational pension benefits of one kind or another. She referred to the National Food Survey. It would be interesting if we could arrange for an exhibition in this House of what the diet and the clothing purchases of old-age pensioners would look like when taken over a period of, say, four weeks or even six months.

What sort of standards are these pensioners living at? Behind many tidy windows, clean steps and window-sills in the industrial parts of the country there exist old-age pensioners living lonely, drab and unhappy lives. They do not go out on coach tours. They may be taken by the generosity of others who sympathise with their position. The hon. Member for Bradford, West was in error in suggesting that the old-age pensioners indulge in high jinks and gallivant about the country in coaches. Many people subscribe large sums of money to enable old-age pensioners to get a little enjoyment, a little relaxation and change from the drabness of their lives.

Mr. Tiley

The hon. Gentleman is being a little rude to the statement I made. I said I was happy to notice that this relaxation was coming to our old-age pensioners. I considered that it was fair to say this to offset the drab picture painted by the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens).

Mr. Houghton

I thought the suggestion underlying what the hon. Member said was that old-age pensioners had now enough money to be able to afford to make these trips. I categorically deny that that is so. There are friends of old folk and of old-age pensions associations who make subscriptions and give bountiful help and generous assistance so that pensioners shall have some enjoyment.

All that we hear from the benches opposite is that the old-age pensioners shall have some share in the increasing prosperity. What is the basis upon which this increasing share will be given? We have tried time and again to get from the Minister some criteria by reference to which pensioners can judge their position in relation to changing economic and social conditions, but he has declined to define his position: he says that it must be a matter for the judgment of the Government having regard to the whole situation. I suggest that that is not good enough.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) asked three questions, but he did not get an answer to any of them. We have asked those and similar questions repeatedly in the past. Ministers themselves occasionally have asked rhetorical questions, about whether we should provide a pension high enough for subsistence or whether we should tolerate National Assistance playing a bigger part. They have failed to answer their own questions and now they have given up asking them.

The hon. Member for Bradford, West need not fear that an increase given to the pensioners will be inflationary. They are not the people who are putting pres- sure behind hire-purchase transactions for motor cars, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and the rest. They are not people who are pressing in their demands for consumer durables. Their needs are quite basic, food and clothing, and they get very little margin for either.

Colonel Sir Malcolm Stoddart-Scott (Ripon)

And fuel.

Mr. Houghton

There is also the question of the cost of this proposal. Of course, it will cost money. Of course, it will cost, let us admit, about £200 million. It is, perhaps, too late to lament the action of the Government this year in reducing taxation by no less than £360 million without apparently giving consideration to the position of the retirement pensioners.

Another thing which we ought to bear in mind in this connection is the fantastic gerrymandering and jiggery-pokery which has been going on over recent years with the finances of the National Insurance scheme. I suppose the Minister would think that I had taken leave of my senses if I were to say that there is a reserve fund of £1,160 million and £352 million in the National Insurance Fund from surpluses built up over the years when contributions were in excess of requirements, but the money having been invested with the Government, it is a phan-tom fund at present. It cannot be drawn upon without the Government having to fill the gap in gilt-edged or nationalised industry investments by more taxation or by borrowing. So this enormous reserve fund is a complete myth from the point of view of practical assistance at the present time. So we are having to run our fund on a pay-as-you-go system notwithstanding these enormous surpluses which have been built up over the previous years.

But there is more to it than that—much more. I ask the House just to take account of the successive measures which the Government have taken to shift the burden previously accepted by the State from the Exchequer to the contributors. First of all—and this is the Government's recipe for a sound social policy—by keeping down the cost of National Insurance by keeping benefits below the National Assistance level and relying on personal savings, vocational pensions, a higher earnings limit, bigger increments, and National Assistance to take care of hardship. My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East is quite right. This is a device to avoid raising the basic rate of benefit.

Then, there is another move in this operation. Shift from taxation some of the liabilities put upon it by earlier legislation and transfer them to the contributors; that is, replace progressive taxation by poll taxation, so that the employed man is made to pay for his pension 39 per cent. more than is actuarially required.

Then, third, and for good measure, put a limit on the Exchequer contribution, even lower in actual amount than was foreseen and accepted when the scheme began.

Finally, mix these ingredients into a graduated pensions scheme until the employed person getting over £9 a week will pay a contribution of which only 42 per cent. is needed to be paid actuarially for the higher benefit, the remaining 58 per cent. going to reduce the Exchequer liability to its former commitment. That is the Government's recipe for progressive social legislation. Then, when they have mixed it all up, they pour tendentious treacle over the lot and call it "increased prosperity pudding" That is the dish which the Government are presenting to the retirement pensioners and National Insurance beneficiaries in the country today.

If we are to talk about costs, is the House to say that retirement pensioners and other National Insurance beneficiaries are expendable in the name of economy? Is it to say that the rise in the Estimates this year of over £340 million can be allowed to pass on every other object except this? That is what the Government are saying. We say that this is a great moral obligation. This is the social purpose to which Parliament and the country put its hand in 1946 and must be pursued courageously, and accommodation must be found for it within the national resources. No one will pretend that the national resources today cannot hold an increased cost for retirement pensioners. Of course, they can. One way of enabling them to accommodate this cost would be by restoring, and no more than restoring, the Exchequer liabilities to what they were previously. That is all that needs to be done. That could be continued until the new scheme can take care of the higher cost of the standard level of benefits.

The country is certainly not likely to be happy to see the existing benefits stay where they are. The Government are trying to lull the nation's social conscience to sleep. It is being obscured by the glitter and glossy "admass" that is being put across at the present time. Our duty as an Opposition is to keep the nation's social conscience alive, and that is the purpose of this debate. If nothing comes of it, we shall return to the charge in due course, because it is the duty of the Opposition, and as we feel passionately about it we shall go on doing it.

9.34 p.m.

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

I have listened to the whole of this somewhat abbreviated debate, and I think that the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) will agree with me at least in saying that the changes in what we might describe as the normal caste of these debates, some of which have arisen in circumstances which I will not be so indelicate as to intrude upon, have very much improved the standard of our debate.

The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr Robens) seemed a little irritated with my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary when she made the suggestion that the timing of this debate had been arranged not wholly in ignorance of the fact that Brighouse and Spenborough polls tomorrow. I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman is not so naive as to suggest that that idea was wholly out of the minds of his right hon. Friends. I make no complaint about it, because this particular line is the line which right hon. Gentlemen opposite have pursued for the last three or four years with a consistent lack of success, and it is a little unrealistic for the right hon. Gentleman to get so excited when my right hon. Friend drew attention to so evident a fact.

The Motion itself is curious and here I cannot congratulate the right hon. Member on its being any improvement at all on its predecessors. Firstly, it refers, as the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) said, to the May, 1957, proposal. It refers also to £3 a week. I assume therefore that it follows the May, 1957, proposal in providing 10s. for a single person and 10s. for a married couple.

I do not believe that any serious student of social affairs will really argue that if one is supporting on grounds of hardship, as hon. Members have done during the debate, a proposal for an increase in pensions, it is a serious proposal to propose to give no more to two people than to one. I am afraid therefore that it leaves the impression that this 10s. is put in the Motion because it looks attractive here and elsewhere; but it is not and cannot be intended to be a serious proposal, still less a proposal based upon an idea that it will remedy hardship.

Then the Motion, like a certain notorious surgeon, is more notable for what it leaves out than for what it leaves in. It says nothing at all about any proposal to touch war pensions. There is not a word about Industrial Injuries either. There is not a word about National Assistance, and not a word therefore about trying to help the very poorest section of the community, about whom hon. and right hon. Members opposite were so very eloquent earlier today. The hon. Member for Coventry, East was conscious of that lapse when he said, "We did not put it in because the House cannot initiate changes. They lie with the National Assistance Board."

I do not think that that is the hon. Member's best argument. It does not stand up when I invite his attention and that of the House to the fact that hon. and right hon. Members opposite, including himself, had no such feelings for constitutional niceties when they tabled the Motion of 20th April, 1959, which referred explicitly to a proposal to increase National Assistance scales, nor for that matter when they tabled their Motion of 1st August, 1957. But I must deal with the Motion—and I accept the invitation—in the terms in which it has been put down, and that is that it is a proposal to increase the particular benefits referred to in it, and no others. Indeed, it would not be fair to the House to discuss the Motion on any other basis.

My right hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, in her most admirable speech, very rightly drew attention to the fact that there is not a word in the Motion, nor was there a word in the speech of the right hon. Member for Blyth, on how this proposal was to be paid for. If we are not to be told— and not only are there no proposals in the Motion as to how these things are to be paid for but there are other highly expensive things not even in the Motion which right hon. Members opposite are urging but forgot to include—I say to the right hon. Member for Blyth that he is dealing with this matter in a wholly irresponsible manner.

The hon. Member for Coventry, East, as he always is, was perfectly frank and he threw a perfectly clear light on what his views are. The House respects him for that. He said frankly, "We will put the lot on taxation". Is that the proposal of the right hon. Member for Blyth or the hon. Member for Sowerby? Apparently not. I see that there is another disagreement.

The House, and the country outside, will look at this proposal even more sceptically when we are told that various things are advocated which were not put in the Motion, and for the most unsubstantial reasons, and when there is nothing in the Motion about how the proposed increase is to be paid for. Apparently there is some doubt. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sowerby will enlighten us on how it is to be paid for?

Mr. Houghton

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. Is he aware that under the National Insurance Act passed last year the Exchequer contribution for 1968 will be actually less in money terms than that accepted and forecast under the 1946 Act? Under those conditions, what is the good of raising the question of whether this is on taxation or not? The Exchequer has repudiated—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] —I would be in favour of the Exchequer assuming a responsibility now at least equal to that which it accepted in 1946.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Then that rather long intervention means as a matter of simple mathematics that the hon. Gentleman does not agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East that the whole £200 million involved in this proposal should be put upon the Exchequer. That is clear.

Therefore we come back to the point that this proposal apparently does not contain all that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite want. It not only does not contain any indication of how it is to be paid for, but there is disagreement between the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Coventry, East. I think we can leave that matter there. The country will judge, and judge clearly, of the seriousness or otherwise with which this proposal is commended to it at this particular moment.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth exhibited extraordinary hyper-sensitivity to the possibility that his own party's record in these matters might be referred to. I think the right hon. Gentleman did not appreciate the relevance of those references. If one is, as the right hon. Gentleman is doing, alleging in the most vigorous language that the Government of the day are maltreating and ill-treating the retirement pensioner, it is surely a relevant method of testing either the accuracy or the sincerity of that charge to point out that the Government to which the right hon. Gentleman belonged treated those very same pensioners considerably less well.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that? And is that not also relevant to allegations as to the future intentions of the Government and also, for example, to the most entertaining little intellectual cocktail which the hon. Member for Sowerby shook so vigorously at the Box a few minutes ago? As to what the intentions of the Government may be, it is surely relevant that we are talking about the intentions and policy of a Government which, to whatever extent one may criticise its handling of this matter, is one which has at least done better in this respect than those who seek to criticise it.

The right hon. Gentleman got into a little tangle upon this comparison. I do not blame him because he comes new to these debates. He does not appear to appreciate that apart from the figures —which he will allow me to correct in a moment—there is a clear contrast between the records of the two Governments in this respect. His Government reached their highest level for the pension in 1946 and allowed it to be eroded year by year; even, indeed, when they increased the pension for some, but not for all, pensioners, they did not raise it sufficiently at that moment to restore even the 1946 value.

Under this Government, however, we have had increases which have steadily raised the pension to new high levels. It is not a simple exercise of comparing the high points of one Government with those of another; it is a question of noting the tendencies, and the fact that under the Administration of right hon. Gentlemen opposite the pension decreased in purchasing power. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to make these violent criticisms, speaking in most moving terms of what his grocer told him this morning and then conveniently forgetting that his own Government never succeeded in restoring the pension to the 1946 level.

Now let me correct the right hon. Gentleman's figure. The real value of the pension today—

Mr. Lawson


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Speaker

If the Minister does not give way, the hon. Member is out of order in persisting in his effort to speak.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

For the same reason as the hon. Member for Coventry, East did not give way—

Mr. Lawson


Mr. Speaker

Order. I have reminded the hon. Member of his obligations. I hope that he will not forget them.

Mr. Lawson

On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman has been making definite assertions regarding the policy of his Government, which, according to my information, are not true.

Mr. Speaker

I hope that the hon. Member will not raise as a point of order that which he does not believe to be one.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I must come back to the right hon. Gentleman's figure, from which I am not to be diverted. He challenged by hon. Friend and said that under nine years of Conservative Government the pension had risen by 5s. 9d.

Mr. Robens

In terms of purchasing power.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In terms of purchasing power. Let us get the figures quite clear. In 1951 the single rate of pension for those who had benefited from the change was 30s. a week. I am giving the right hon. Gentleman the advantage of the more favourable example; he will remember that some pensions remained at 26s. a week, but I will give him his 30s. a week. The purchasing power of that sum, at 1960 prices, would be 39s. 3d. Since the current rate is 50s., it is clear that there has been an increase in the real value of the pension, under Conservative Governments, not of 5s. 9d. but of 10s. 9d. My right hon. Friend was right. That is the true measure of what has been done.

Mr. Lawson


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Speaker

This is tedious. Did not Leonardo say: Where there is shouting there is no true knowledge"?

Mr. Lawson

Hon. Members opposite took up three or four hours of this debate, probably with the deliberate purpose of not permitting many hon. Members on this side to discuss this question. We are now left with no time on our hands, and the right hon. Gentleman now makes some very inaccurate statements.

Mr. Speaker

Nothing happened that was out of order today, that I know of. I am afraid that the hon. Member must resume his seat unless the Minister wishes to give way.

Mr. Lawson

Further to that point of order. Would it be in order for us to continue the debate for another hour, so that we may get this matter fully discussed?

Mr. Speaker

I have no power so to continue it.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The House knows well—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] It is my duty to answer the speeches that have already been made in a time that is becoming more limited already as a result of the intervention of the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson). I cannot spare him any of the time which is left, and I am going to give the answers to the House and to the right hon. Member for Blyth.

Let me remind the House that this case of the retirement pension, which is not the only benefit mentioned in the Motion, is the one least favourable to us. On the other benefits the case is stronger. The widow's pension today in real terms, in terms of what it will buy, is 16s. or 47 per cent. better than it was left by right hon. Gentlemen opposite in 1951. In the case of the widowed mother with three children the pension was 55s. in 1951; it is 112s. today, an increase in real terms of 40s.

Take the sick or the unemployed to whom the right hon. Gentleman referred. There is an increase for a man with a wife and three children in real terms of 39s. 4d. or 45 per cent. The right hon. Gentleman may appreciate when he makes the sort of attack he has made today that though we differ—as of course we do because it is the essence of Parliamentary and public life—as to what is precisely the right level, it obscures counsel and does not help his own case to underrate the solid and real improvements, or, if I may put it in this way, the share of increasing prosperity which has already been given by the Government.

Let us take the point made by the right hon. Gentleman about the numbers receiving supplementation from the National Assistance Board. The latest figure which I can give the House is 21.8 per cent. of retirement pensioners as at December. I tell the House frankly that this is an increase above the level of 20.4 per cent. in the previous December. It is still less, let me remind the House—and perhaps the hon. Member for Sowerby will not nod quite so vigorously—than the 22.7 per cent. figure for 1951.

Of course, there has been some increase. But it is wrong in the circumstances to refer to that increase as an intimation of increasing hardship, for this reason. The right hon. Gentleman may not have followed this, but in September last, for the first time since the National Assistance Board was created, there was a real and deliberate increase in real standards. Not merely, as was the case before, just enough and a little bit more to take care of the changes in prices, but an increase in the real value irrespective of the very small price changes which had taken place since the last increase. At the same time the disregards, that is the amount a person can have without being denied supplementation, were increased. Both that increase in scale rates and, still more, the increase in disregards would plainly have failed if the number and the proportion of people and of pensioners receiving supplementation had not increased. There is another factor and I acknowledge it at once. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House—I am thankful for it— played a considerable part in seeking to overcome the unwillingness of a minority of people to exercise their right to have supplementation. We have all done our best to try to bring that about and it would be an intimation of failure if we had not caused more and more people to apply, and so further increased these figures.

I do not accept—I take this opportunity of saying so—the figure of the hon. Member for Coventry, East which he gave in his famous television broadcast, and which was repeated in a sound broadcast in almost identical terms by the Leader of the Opposition—they were in happy unison on that occasion—that there are 500,000 people eligible for assistance but too proud to claim it. I do not believe that any such figure can be sustained. Nor do I like the idea of suggesting that there are people too proud to claim it, because that carries with it the implication that those who do exercise their proper right are doing something which harms their pride, and that is wrong. There may have been a few people in that position; it is not my job to argue to the contrary. But it is our combined efforts and the combined efforts of the chairman and other members of the National Assistance Board which have caused some increase in those figures.

Therefore, of course, we watch them. They are an important factor in the situation. And these are new circumstances because we are in the position of having a new and higher scale of benefits for National Assistance. It is necessary for the House to remember that, in view of these figures—

Mr. Crossman

We based those figures on three sample surveys in three cities. If the right hon. Gentleman does not accept the Labour Party's figures, he should conduct an investigation throughout the country and give us the facts. We should be very grateful if he would do so, but we have been denied them from his Ministry.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Member has been denied no figures by my Ministry which I have been able to obtain. That is not so. The Assistance Board is just as keen as the hon. Member to ascertain what truth there is in this because, if it can obtain the facts, it can combat the trouble, but there is no reason to believe that this is so. In this I am reinforced by the experience of the Board throughout the country that nothing like that number of cases exists.

There is only one other major point. The whole case has been made on grounds of hardship. It has been suggested in speech after speech that the terms "retirement pensioners" or "old-age pensioners", which have been used equally frequently, are synonymous with the term "poor people". That is really not true. There are 5,400,000 retirement pensioners today, a cross-section of every part of our varied and variegated community. I am not disputing that there are cases of difficulty— of course there are—but it does not help in dealing with real cases of difficulty to make these wild allegations about this very large number of our fellow citizens.

Hon. and right hon. Members opposite must get out of the old-fashioned thinking to the effect that that is so. Nor must they delude themselves with the idea that any pensioner who is a householder need necessarily live on the bare retirement pension alone. That is a fact which hon. and right hon. Members opposite have entirely ignored. Of course there is a case—we have said it and I have said it at this Box—for making steady improvements in the standards of life of our older citizens.

Hon. and right hon. Members opposite ask, "When?" I say this to them. At the General Election we, unlike them, declined to give in advance a precise date or a precise amount. No doubt we suffered some electoral disadvantage because of that, although I am bound to say it did not seem in the result to do us much harm; but we did not say so for reasons which we made clear at the time, because we believed it was the wrong way in which to handle this immense social problem. When we come to the moment for making changes of this sort, we have to face a variety of factors.

We declined at that election to take the easy road which hon. and right hon. Members opposite took of offering precise sums. We do not propose to depart from that line by making forecasts tonight. We base ourselves tonight, as we did at the election on the confidence of our fellow countrymen that our record in handling these matters entitles us to the trust which not promises, but performance, confers.

Mr. Lawson


Mr. Herbert W. Bowden (Leicester, South-West) rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question: —

The House divided: Ayes 222, Noes 296.

Division No. 51.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Abse, Leo Foot, Dingle MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Ainsley, William Forman, J. C. Mahon, Simon
Albu, Austen Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Ginsburg, David Manuel, A. C.
Awbery, Stan Gooch, E. G. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Bacon, Miss Alice Gourlay, Harry Marsh, Richard
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Greenwood, Anthony Mason, Roy
Beaney, Alan Grey, Charles Mayhew, Christopher
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mendelson, J. J.
Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.) Grimond, J. Millan, Bruce
Benn, Hn. A.Wedgwood(Brist'l,S.E.) Gunter, Ray Mitchison, G. R.
Benson, Sir George Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Monslow, Walter
Blackburn, F. Hamilton, William (West Fife) Moody, A. S.
Blyton, William Hart, Mrs. Judith Morris, John
Boardman, H. Hayman, F. H. Mulley, Frederick
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Healey, Denis Neal, Harold
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Herbison, Miss Margaret Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)
Bowles, Frank Hill, J. (Midlothian) Oliver, G. H.
Boyden, James Holman, Percy Oram, A. E.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Holt, Arthur Oswald, Thomas
Brockway, A. Fenner Houghton, Douglas Owen, Will
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Howell, Charles A. Padley, W. E.
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Hoy, James H. Pargiter, G. A.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Pavitt, Laurence
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hunter. A. E. Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Callaghan, James Hynd, H. (Accrington) Peart, Frederick
Carmichael, James Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Pentland, Norman
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Chapman, Donald Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Prentice, R. E.
Chetwynd, George Janner, Barnett Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Cliffe, Michael Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Proctor, W. T.
Collick, Percy Jeger, George Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Randall, Harry
Graddock, George (Bradford, S.) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Rankin, John
Cronin, John Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Redhead, E. C.
Crosland, Anthony Jones, Dan (Burnley) Reid, William
Crossman, R. H. S. Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Reynolds, G. W.
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Robinson, Kenneth (St.Pancras, N.)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kenyon, Clifford Ross, William
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Royle, Charles (Salford, West)
Deer, George King, Dr. Horace Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lawson, George Short, Edward
Dempsey, James Ledger, Ron Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Dodds, Norman Lee, Frederick (Newton) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Donnelly, Desmond Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Skeffington, Arthur
Driberg, Tom Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Small, William
Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Edelman, Maurice Lipton, Marcus Snow, Julian
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Logan, David Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Loughlin, Charles Spriggs, Leslie
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Steele, Thomas
Evans Albert MacColl, James Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Fernyhough, E. McKay, John (Wallsend) Stonehouse, John
Finch, Harold Mackle, John Stones, William
Fitch, Alan McLeavy, Frank Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Fletcher, Eric MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)
Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith Wade, Donald Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Swingler, Stephen Wainwright, Edwin Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)
Sylvester, George Warbey, William Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Symonds, J. B. Watkins, Tudor Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Weitzman, David Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Thomas. George (Cardiff, W.) Wells, Percy (Faversham) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.) Wells, William (Walsall, N.) Woof, Robert
Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.) White, Mrs. Eirene Wyatt, Woodrow
Thornton, Ernest Whitlock, William Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Thorpe, Jeremy Wigg, George Zilliacus, K.
Timmons, John Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Tomney, Frank Wilkins, W. A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Willey, Frederick Mr. John Taylor and
Mr. Rogers
Agnew, Sir Peter Deedes, W. F. Hutchison, Michael Clark
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) de Ferranti, Basil Iremonger, T. L.
Allason, James Dighy, Simon Wingfield Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Alport, C. J. M. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Jackson, John
Amory, Rt. Hn. D. Heathcoat (Tiv'tn) Doughty, Charles James, David
Arbuthnot, John Drayson, G. B. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Ashton, Sir Hubert Duncan, Sir James Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Atkins, Humphrey Duthie, Sir William Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Balniel, Lord Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Barber, Anthony Eden, John Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Barlow, Sir John Elliott, R. W. Joseph, Sir Keith
Barter, John Emery, Peter Kaberry, Sir Donald
Batsford, Brian Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Errington, Sir Eric Kerby, Capt. Henry
Beamish, Col. Tufton Erroll, F. J. Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Farey-Jones, F. W. Kimball, Marcus
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Farr, John Kirk, Peter
Berkeley, Humphry Fell, Anthony Kitson, Timothy
Bevins, Rt Hon. Reginald (Toxteth) Finlay, Graeme Lagden, Godfrey
Bidgood, John C. Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Biggs-Davison, John Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone) Leather, E. H. C.
Bingham, R. M. Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Leburn, Gilmour
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.
Bishop, F. P. Gammans, Lady Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. Alan
Black, Sir Cyril Gardner, Edward Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Bossom, Clive George, J. C. (Pollok) Lindsay, Martin
Bourne-Arton, A. Gibson-Watt, David Linstead, Sir Hugh
Box, Donald Glover, Sir Douglas Litchfield, Capt. John
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Boyle, Sir Edward Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.) Longden, Gilbert
Braine, Bernard Godber, J. B. Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby
Brewis, John Goodhew, Victor Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Gower, Raymond McAdden, Stephen
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside) MacArthur, Ian
Brooman-White. R. Green, Alan McLaren, Martin
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Gresham Cooke, R. McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia
Bryan, Paul Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Bullard, Denys Hall, John (Wycombe) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) McLean, Neil (Inverness)
Burden, F. A. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)
Butcher, Sir Herbert Harris, Reader (Heston) MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)
Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) McMaster, Stanley R.
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Harvie Anderson, Miss Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Hay, John Maddan, Martin
Cary, Sir Robert Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward Maginnis, John E.
Channon, H. P. G. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Maitland, Cdr. J. W.
Chataway, Christopher Hendry, A. Forbes Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Chichester-Clark, R. Hicks Beach, Maj. W. Markham, Major Sir Frank
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Hiley, Joseph Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Marshall, Douglas
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Marten, Neil
Cleaver, Leonard Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Mathew, Robert (Honiton)
Cooke, Robert Hirst, Geoffrey Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)
Cooper, A. E. Hobson, John Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hocking, Philip N. Mawby, Ray
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Holland, Philip Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Cordle, John Hollingworth, John Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.
Corfield, F. V. Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John Mills, Stratton
Costain, A. P. Hopkins, Alan Montgomery, Fergus
Coulson, J. M. Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia Morgan, William
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Morrison, John
Critchley, Julian Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Nabarro, Gerald
Cunningham, Knox Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Nicholls, Harmar
Curran, Charles Hughes-Young, Michael Nicholson, Sir Godfrey
Currie, G. B. H. Hulbert, Sir Norman Noble, Michael
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hurd, Sir Anthony Oakshott, Sir Hendrie
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Orr-Ewing, C. lan Robson Brown, Sir William Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Osborn, John (Hallam) Roots, William Turner, Colin
Page, Graham Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Tweedsmuir, Lady
Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Russell, Ronald van Straubenzee, W. R.
Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan Vane, W. M. F.
Peel, John Scott-Hopkins, James Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John
Perolval, lan Seymour, Leslie Vickers, Miss Joan
Peyton, John Sharples, Richard Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Simon, Sir Jocelyn Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Pike, Miss Mervyn Skeet, T. H. H. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
Pilkington, Capt. Richard Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick) Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)
Pitt, Miss Edith Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher Watts, James
Pott, Percivall Speir, Rupert Webster, David
Powell, J. Enoch Stanley, Hon. Richard Wells, John (Maidstone)
Price, David (Eastleigh) Stevens, Geoffrey Whitelaw, William
Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.) Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Prior, J. M. L. Stodart, J. A. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Prior-Palmer, Brig, Sir Otho Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Profumo, Rt. Hon. John Storey, Sir Samuel Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Proudfoot, Wilfred Studholme, Sir Henry Wise, Alfred
Ramsden, James Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury) Wolrlge-Gordon, Patrick
Rawlinson, Peter Sumner, Donald (Orpington) Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Talbot, John E. Woodhouse, C. M.
Rees, Hugh Tapsell, Peter Woodnutt, Mark
Rees-Davies, W. R. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Woollam, John
Renton, David Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Worsley, Marcus
Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Ridsdale, Julian Thomas, Peter (Conway) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton) Mr. Legh and
Robertson, Sir David Thomton-Kemsley, Sir Colin Mr. Edward Wakefield.

Question put, That the proposed words be there added:—

The House divided: Ayes 297, Noes 222.

Division No. 52.] AYES [10.12 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Channon, H. P. G. George, J. C. (Pollok)
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Chataway, Christopher Gibson-Watt, David
Allason, James Chichester-Clark, R. Glover, Sir Douglas
Alport, C. J. M. Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)
Amory,Rt. Hn. D. Heathcoat (Tlv'tn) Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)
Arbuthnot, John Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Godber, J. B.
Ashton, Sir Hubert Cleaver, Leonard Goodhew, Victor
Atkins, Humphrey Cooke, Robert Gower, Raymond
Balniel, Lord Cooper, A. E. Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodlide)
Barber, Anthony Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Green, Alan
Barlow, Sir John Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Cresham Cooke, R.
Barter, John Cordle, John Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.
Batsford, Brian Corfield, F. V. Hall, John (Wycombe)
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Costain, A. P. Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)
Beamish, Col. Tufton Coulson, J. M. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Harris, Reader (Heston)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Critchley, Julian Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Berkeley, Humphry Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth) Cunningham, Knox Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Bidgood, John C. Curran, Charles Harvie Anderson, Miss
Biggs-Davison, John Currie, G. B. H. Hay, John
Bingham, R. M. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Deedes, W. F. Henderson, John (Cathcart)
Bishop, F. P. de Ferranti, Basil Hendry, Forbes
Black, Sir Cyril Digby, Simon Wingfleld Hicks Beach, MaJ. W.
Boosom, Clive Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Hlley, Joseph
Bourne-Arton, A. Doughty, Charles Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Box, Donald Drayson, G. B. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Duncan, sir James Hinchlngbrooke, Viscount
Boyle, Sir Edward Duthie, Sir William Hirst, Geoffrey
Braine, Bernard Eccles, Rt. Hon. sir David Hobson, John
Brewis, John Eden, John Hocking, Philip N.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Elliott, R. W. Holland, Philip
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Emery, Peter Hollingworth, John
Brooman-White, R. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Errington, Sir Eric Hopkins, Alan
Bryan, Paul Erroll, F. J. Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia
Bullard, Denys Farey-Jones, F. W. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Farr, John Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. lves)
Burden, F. A. Fell, Anthony Howard, John (Southampton, Test)
Butcher, Sir Herbert Finlay, Graeme Hughes Hallett, Vine-Admiral John
Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Hughes-Young, Michael
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone) Hulbert, Sir Norman
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Fraser, lan (Plymouth, Sutton) Hurd, Sir Anthony
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Hutchison, Michael Clark
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Gammans, Lady Iremonger, T. L.
Cary, Sir Robert Gardner, Edward Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Jackson, John Mawby, Ray Simon, Sir Jocelyn
James, David Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Skeet, T. H. H.
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Mills, Stratton Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Montgomery, Fergus Speir, Rupert
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Morgan, William Stanley, Hon. Richard
Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green) Morrison, John Stevens, Geoffrey
Joseph, Sir Keith Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Kaberry, Sir Donald Nabarro, Gerald Stodart, J. A.
Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Nicholls, Harmar Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Kerby, Capt. Henry Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Storey, Sir Samuel
Kerr, Sir Hamilton Noble, Michael Studholme, Sir Henry
Kimball, Marcus Oakshott, Sir Hendrle Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Kirk, Peter Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Sumner, Donald (Orpington)
Kitson, Timothy Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Talbot, John E.
Lagden, Godfrey Osborn, John (Hallam) Tapsell, Peter
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Page, Graham Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Leather, E. H. C. Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Leburn, Gilmour Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. H. Peel, John Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. Alan Percival, Ian Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Peyton, John Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Lindsay, Martin Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Linstead, Sir Hugh Pike, Miss Mervyn Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Litchfield, Capt. John Pilkington, Capt. Richard Turner, Colin
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Pitt, Miss Edith Tweedsmuir Lady
Longden, Gilbert Pott, Percivall van straubenzee, W. H.
Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Powell, J. Enoch Vane, W. M. F.
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Price, David (Eastleigh) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Joh
McAdden, Stephen Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.) Vickers, Miss Joan
McArthur, Ian Prior, J. M. L. Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
McLaren, Martin Prior-Palmer, Brig, Sir Otho Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St.M'lebone)
McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricla Profumo, Rt. Hon. John Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Proudfoot, Wilfred Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Maclean, SirFitzroy (Bute &N.Ayrs) Ramsden, James Watts, James
McLean, Neil (Inverness) Rawlinson, Peter
Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Webster, David
MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Rees, Hugh Wells, John (Maidstone)
McMaster, Stanley R. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley) Renton, David Whitelaw, William
Macmillan, Maurice (Hallfax) Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Macphereon, Niall (Dumfries) Bidsdale, Julian Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Maddan, Martin Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Maginnis, John E. Robertson, Sir David Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Maitland, Cdr. J. W. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Wise, A. R.
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Robson Brown, Sir William Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Markham, Major Sir Frank Roots, William Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Woodhouse, C. M,
Marshall, Douglas Russell, Ronald Woodnutt, Mark
Marten, Neil Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan Woollam, John
Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Scott-Hopkins, James Worsley, Marcus
Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Seymour, Leslie
Maudling, Rt. Hen. Reginald Sharples, Richard TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Legh and Mr. Wakefield.
Abse, Leo Carmichael, James Fernyhough, E.
Ainsley, William Castle, Mrs. Barbara Finch, Harold
Albu, Austen Chapman, Donald Fitch, Alan
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Chetwynd, George Fletcher, Eric
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Cliffe, Michael Foot, Dingle
Awbery, Stan Collick, Percy Forman, J. C,
Bacon, Miss Alice Corbet, Mrs. Freda Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh
Beaney, Alan Cronin, John Ginsburg, David
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Crosland, Anthony Gooch, E. G.
Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.) Crossman, R. H. S. Gourlay, Harry
Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood(Brist'l,S.E.) Cullen, Mrs. Alice Greenwood, Anthony
Benson, Sir Ceorge Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Grey, Charles
Blackburn, F. Davies, Harold (Leek) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Blyton, William Davies, Ifor (Gower) Grimond, J.
Boardman, H. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Gunter, Ray
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Deer, George Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil(Coine Valley)
Bowen, Roderlc (Cardigan) de Freitas, Geoffrey Hamilton, William (West Fife)
Bowles, Frank Dempsey, James Hart, Mrs. Judith
Boyden, James Dodds, Norman Hayman, F. H.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Donnelly, Desmond Healey, Denis
Brockway, A. Fenner Driberg, Tom Herbison, Miss Margaret
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Hill, J. (Midlothian)
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter Holman, Percy
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Edelman, Maurice Holt, Arthur
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Houghton, Douglas
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Howell, Charles A.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Hoy, James H.
Callaghan, James Evans, Albert Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Mendelson, J. J. Spriggs, Leslie
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Millan, Bruce Steele, Thomas
Hunter, A. E. Mitchison, G. R. Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Monslow, Walter Stonehouse, John
Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Moody, A. S. Stones, William
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Morris, John Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Mulley, Frederick Stross,Dr.Barnet(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)
Janner, Barnett Neal, Harold Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith
Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.) Swingler, Stephen
Jeger, George Oliver, G. H. Sylvester, George
Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Oram, A. E. Symonds, J. B.
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Oswald, Thomas Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Owen, Will Thomas, George (Cardiff, w.)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Padley, W. E. Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Pargiter, G. A. Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Parker, John (Dagenham) Thornton, Ernest
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.) Thorpe, Jeremy
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Pavitt, Laurence Timmons, John
Kenyon, Clifford Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Tomney, Frank
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Peart, Frederick Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
King, Dr. Horace Pentland, Norman Wade, Donald
Lawson, George Plummer, Sir Leslie Wainwright, Edwin
Ledger, Ron Prentice, R. E. Warbey, William
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Watkins, Tudor
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Proctor, W. T. Weltzman, David
Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Wells Percy (Faversham)
Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Randall, Harry Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Rankin, John White Mrs. Eirene
Lipton, Marcus Redhead, E. C. Whitlock, William
Logan, David Re[...]dWilliam Wigg, George
Loughlin, Charles Reynolds, G. W. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred Wilkins, W. A.
MacColl, James Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Wllley, Frederick
McKay, John (Wallsend) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Mackie, John Ross, William Williams, Rev. Ll. (Abertillery)
McLeavy, Frank Royle, Charles (Salford, West) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
MacMillan, Malcolm (Western lsles) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Short, Edward Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Mahon, Simon Silverman, Julius (Aston) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Woof, Robert
Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Skeffington, Arthur Wyatt, Woodrow
Manuel, A. C. Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Small, William Zilliacus, K.
Marsh, Richard Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Mason, Roy Snow, Julian TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mayhew, Christopher Sotkice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Mr. John Taylor and Mr. Rogers.

Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.


That this House, noting that national insurance benefits are in real terms substantially higher than they were at any time under

any Labour Government, and having regard to the steadiness of prices, and the improvements made by Her Majesty's Government in the social service benefits, expresses its confidence that Her Majesty's Government will continue to give to the pensioner a share in the increasing prosperity which wise economic policies will continue to bring about