HC Deb 16 July 1962 vol 663 cc6-7
9. Mr. Prentice

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether the current Government studies designed to lead to a long-term incomes policy include consideration of National Insurance and National Assistance rates, and the need to relate these payments to the general level of wages and salaries.

Mrs. Thatcher

The rates of these benefits are kept under constant review and, as the hon. Member knows, the House approved on Friday draft Regulations increasing the scales of National Assistance. The matters referred to in the last part of the Question are, as has often been explained, among those which are taken into account

Mr. Prentice

In case these talks on a long-term incomes policy lead somewhere, is it not important that the next Minister, whoever he or she may be, should be represented at the talks so as to stick up for the pensioners? In doing so, will the Government bear in mind the long-standing Labour Party proposal for an annual review of rates of all National Insurance benefits so that they can keep pace with increases in the cost of living or with the level of incomes?

Mrs. Thatcher

The pension has more than kept pace with the rising cost of living. It seems to me that part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is concerned with my former Minister and part with the next Minister.

Mr. Ross

Is the hon. Lady aware that since the last announcement of increases the pension for married couples has not kept pace with the rising cost of living but has lost 6s. 9d.?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am aware that it is nothing like the amount lost in percentage terms between 1946 and 1951.