HC Deb 07 November 1960 vol 629 cc646-7
44. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what is the estimated annual cost of the proposals submitted to him by the National Assistance Board for increases of scale rates of 3s. 6d. per week for the retired single householder and 5s. for the retired married couple; and what would be the additional cost if such amounts were increased to 7s. 6d. and 12s. 6d., respectively.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am informed by the National Assistance Board that, of the figure of £18½ million given in the Board's Explanatory Memorandum as the estimated cost in a full year of the increases in scale rates provided for in the draft National Assistance (Determination of Need) Amendment Regulations, 1960, approximately £9½ million is attributable to the particular increases mentioned and to retirement pensioners among those who will be affected; and that if the increases in those rates for retirement pensioners only were 7s. 6d. and 12s. 6d., respectively, without comparable increases in the rates for other people, the additional cost would be about £11½ million. These figures, of course, relate to the direct cost of increases of rates of Assistance, and do not take account of the effect on expenditure by the Board of other changes.

Mr. Allaun

Since that sum would hardly bankrupt the country, why not give an increase of 7s. 6d. all round? Does the Minister think it fair that those suffering most will receive less, and that while the poorest woman in the back streets will get only 3s. 6d., Lord Montgomery and others will draw 7s. 6d.?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that if we take the whole process since the last overall increase in rates in 1958, the increase in single rates for retirement pensioners is 7s. 6d. and for the recipient of National Assistance 8s. 6d. Further, the point that he has made does not, I think, really tie up and is not consistent with the criticism that I so often hear from the benches opposite about the proportion of retirement pensioners receiving supplementation.