§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
I beg to move,That this House deplores the lack of any action by Her Majesty's Government to grant increases to old people, widows and others on National Insurance benefits and National Assistance to compensate for higher prices and to ensure their fair share of the national income.A short while ago my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taverne) served on the Government a preliminary notice to quit, and I feel sure that that will be confirmed in the results of by-elections to follow.
This Motion deals with one of the causes of the Government's present unpopularity, their failure in social policy. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen may go into the Lobby to vote against this Motion, but many of their supporters would not, and there is a growing feeling amongst the people of Great Britain that we are not caring for the aged, the sick, and the helpless as much as we should, despite present difficulties.
The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance has held his present office for a long time, very nearly eight years. He is not only the best Minister of Pensions and National Insurance that we have, but within the recollection of many hon. Members he is the only Minister we have ever had. This places upon him a very special responsibility. Although we do not under-rate his achievements or his abilities, he must either break through our present stagnant system of social security or resign, because it has become a system of discretionary grants on a colossal scale. It is the weaknesses of the present position of social security that we wish to debate this afternoon.
In recent months the old people, the widows, the sick and the needy have made few claims upon the time of the House. We had a small Bill before Christmas, containing some very important concessions and one thoroughly bad Clause, to take away the family allowance from about 50,000 families in respect of their apprentice sons. We have not debated the main issues this Session. They have been crowded out by the economic crisis, the 1143 clamp down, the pay pause, and the clumsy antics of the Government in relation to wage negotiation and arbitration.
Within a few weeks the first phase of the pay pause is to come to an end. A Government White Paper has already described what the Government believe should be the next step. On 9th April we are to have the Budget. We have tabled this Motion because there is no sign whatever that welfare of the aged, the widows, and the poorest in the community will be taken care of in forthcoming pressures upon our modestly expanding resources. We have seen no guiding light for them.
When the Minister has been questioned recently about the intentions of the Government, he has made evasive answers and taken cover by recalling that the last increases were given as recently as last April. That is perfectly true. It will be within the recollection of the House that just before Christmas, 1960, we passed a Measure to increase National Insurance benefits by 7s. 6d. in the case of a single person to 57s. 6d. a week and by 12s. 6d. in the case of a married couple to 92s. 6d. a week. Regulations improving National Assistance scales were passed at much the same time. These increases raised the benefits, as the Minister never tires of saying, to the highest level in real terms yet reached. He also stressed that these increases were given as recently as last year.
To many old people, April of last year is a long time ago, because their condition has been worsening ever since. The National Assistance increases given last April were 5s. in the case of a married couple to 90s. a week, exclusive of the rent allowance, and in the case of a single person 3s. 6d., raising the scale to 53s. 6d., also exclusive of the rent allowance.
In the autumn of 1959, National Assistance scales were increased when National Insurance benefits were not increased at the same time. It is only fair to say that there were, therefore, two increases in National Assistance, one in September, 1959, and the next in April, 1961. During the past ten years National Insurance benefits have been improved at approximately three-yearly intervals. National Assistance scales have been increased at one-or two-yearly intervals, 1144 those in 1955 and 1959 being coincidentally within the few months of a General Election. The increases over the past ten years have been in 1952, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1961. After all that, these scales are manifestly still too low.
The Motion deplores the lack of action to improve both sets of benefits now or in the very near future. Our aim is to satisfy the Government and the House generally that, notwithstanding past increases and the complacent Answers that the Minister has given recently, the scales, both of National Assistance and National Insurance, are too low, and have failed to fulfil the purpose which they have in our scheme of social security.
When we say that these benefits are too low we mean that they are too low to meet the reasonable needs of the people to whom they are given. They do not give people enough to eat or to wear, or the small luxuries that go to make life less dreary and drab. The recent evidence of the Survey of Family Expenditure suggests that old people are now spending less on fuel and food—the two necessities of their existence—which suggests that they are going without. They cannot afford even the standards which they had previously.
But the pragmatic and human test which many of us apply, which would convince most people in the country of the inadequacy of these benefits, is not enough for the Government. They always try to prove the adequacy of the benefits and express satisfaction with them by statistical rather than practical evidence. Therefore, I must try to meet the Government on the ground of their own choosing in order to make our case.
The first thing to note is that from 1959 in the case of National Assistance, and from 1960, in the case of National Insurance, the Government promised to do more than merely maintain the real value of these social benefits. They made a promise during the election, and it was repeated when the Minister moved the Second Reading of the National Insurance Bill on 15th November, 1960, that the Government wished to do more than maintain the real value of the benefits and to give them a share in the increasing national prosperity.
1145 That is the new and very important factor in our consideration of the adequacy of these benefits. Admittedly, however, it lacks precision. I shall come to that a little later. We do not really know what a share of the increasing national prosperity means. We have not had much experience of it either—only once in connection with National Insurance benefits and twice in connection with National Assistance. We have to get closer to what makes the Minister tick when he is considering these matters, in the light of the promise that social security beneficiaries shall have more than the restitution of the fall in the purchasing power of their benefits but shall have, in addition, a share in the increasing national prosperity.
The nearest I can get to what the Minister considers in interpreting and applying that promise is the Answer he gave to a Question tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) on 14th November, 1960. He said:The factors which have to be borne in mind in proposing legislation for the improvement of National Insurance benefits include changes in the cost of living, the standards enjoyed by other sections of the population, what level of contributions would be reasonable and the state and prospects of the national economy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th November, 1960; Vol. 1630, c. 18.]He then said that some of these considerations were very clearly set out in certain paragraphs of the Phillips Committee's Report.
The next day the Minister introduced his proposals to improve the National Insurance benefits, and, after referring to previous increases, he said:… this particular body of proposals is in some ways distinct and different from those three preceding ones. It is different because this is a series of proposals not in any appreciable measure designed to compensate pensioners and others for a diminution in their pensions owing to rising prices. On the contrary, it is a series of proposals in substantial measure to increase the real standard of those provisions … to a far greater extent than the three preceding measures.The Minister then said that the cost-of-living retail price index has increased only 2 points since the National Insurance benefits had been previously increased. He said:The 1958 improvements have in overwhelming measure retained their value, and these proposals are, therefore, built as a further advance 1146 in standards on that foundation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November, 1960; Vol. 630, c. 220.]To show how good were the Minister's proposals and how far they overshot all the usual "traffic lights", the Minister applied three tests. First, the retail price index. He told the House on 15th November, 1960, that it had risen by 2 points since the previous increases in January, 1958. That was the cost of living factor—2 points. In looking at incomes of other members of the community the Minister said that wage rates had increased 6 per cent. since the previous increases. Although it was not mentioned by the Minister, the then Parliamentary Secretary who wound up the debate for the Government referred to the fact that average earnings had increased by 11½ per cent., as distinct from the figure of 6 per cent. for wages.
The Minister gave another figure, a new one, that of disposable incomes. He said that this figure had risen by 9½ per cent. since the previous increases in January 1958. So there we have a cost of living increase of 2 points and a wages increase of 6 per cent., with average earnings 11 per cent. up and disposable incomes 9½ per cent. up. The pension increases proposed then were 15 per cent. higher for a single person and 16 per cent. higher for a married couple. We see that in 1960 the Minister was proposing increases going well beyond the amount needed to preserve the value of pensions in real terms. As the right hon. Gentleman said, it was a real advance and it was indeed, in part at any rate, a fulfilment of the election pledge.
The Minister has made no proposals since to increase benefits and we can only judge in present circumstances what a share of the increasing national prosperity should be now. How much is it? There is no index for a share in the increasing national prosperity. It could be a full share or a proportionate share. It could be something less. But one thing we can agree on is that it must be something more than merely compensation for the fall in the value of benefits. It must be better than that—unless, of course, the Minister intends to say that there is no increase in national prosperity and, therefore, there is no share-out, not even for National Assistance and National Insurance beneficiaries.
1147 I now leave 1960, and turn to what the Minister had to say in 1962. On 12th February, the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) asked how far the White Paper on incomes Command Paper 1626, paragraph 7—which rather discounted changes in the cost of living as grounds for wage increases—would affect the basis on which increases were to be given to retirement pensions. The Minister replied by referring his hon. Friend to the Answer which he had given to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East on 14th November, 1960—the very same Answer that I quoted a few minutes ago.
In answer to supplementary questions the Minister stuck to the 1960 formula which he said, at the time and since, was a considered statement. That was his brief and he was not going beyond it. Very well. We must now look at the 1960 formula, reiterated in February, 1962, as applicable to our consideration of the level of benefits today.
Of the factors defined by the Minister in 1960, two related to the standard of benefits, one to the contribution and one to the state and prospects of the national economy. Of the two which related to the level of benefits, the first was changes in the cost of living and the second the standard enjoyed by other sections of the population. So we must apply an up-to-date test to both of those. The index of retail prices has risen from 112 points to 117 points since January last year. It has gone up 5 points as against the 2-point rise at the time the Minister proposed quite substantial increases in National Insurance benefits in 1960.
In reply to written Questions from my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) and my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) the Minister said that on cost of living grounds alone we should need to increase benefits and National Assistance scales by 4s. a week for a married couple. There is, however, a growing volume of evidence, based on practical field research, to show that the actual cost of living of low income households, especially old people, is higher than the index of retail prices. The latest contributions to contemporary thought on this 1148 subject are to be found in two most valuable and recently published social studies. "National Assistance and National Prosperity", by Mr. Tony Lynes, and, "The Economic Circumstances of Old People", by Mrs. Cole and John Utting.
I invite all hon. Members who are interested in these social problems to read those two studies, which are most revealing. Mr. Lynes shows convincingly that the difference between the pattern of spending in low income households and other households requires different weightings in the retail price index. On his showing, the index for single pensioners as at April last year would have been no less than 28 points higher, and for married pensioners 16 paints higher, than the Ministry of Labour figure. Obviously, I cannot detain the House by investigating that proposition, but it is not to be brushed aside and it is closely argued in the study to which I have referred.
There is a considerable weight of evidence behind it in the practical survey undertaken by Mrs. Cole as to how old people really live and on what they spend their money and what they cannot have. We can all understand that the necessities of life, like fuel and food, take a much larger bite out of the income of the average pensioner than from the household budget of the population as a whole, whose spending habits are reflected in the retail price index.
Now, apparently, we are to have television, and even weekend trips in the motor car, brought into the retail price index. That will take the index further away still from the realities of life for the people with these low incomes.
I now come to the second test of the adequacy of the level of benefits, and that is the standard enjoyed by other sections of the population. When higher benefits were last proposed in November, 1960, wage rates had risen by 6 per cent. and average earnings by 11½ per cent. since the previous increase of January, 1958. Now, since November, 1960, when the Minister proposed the increases which became effective from April, 1961, wage rates have risen again by 6 per cent. and average earnings have risen again, not quite 11½ per cent. but 11 per cent.
1149 Much the same increases have occurred in bath wage rates and average earnings since 1960 as were taken by the Minister as the test of the increases he proposed in November, 1960. The average earnings of an adult man in October, 1961, were £15 6s. 10d. a week. The pension for a single person has steadily fallen as a proportion of average earnings from more than one-quarter in 1946 to less than one-fifth today. Imagine a pension for a single person of less than one-fifth of the average earnings of the adult male worker in the country today. The married pension rate has fallen from well over one-third to distinctly less than one-third of average earnings. There is no striking evidence there of pensioners getting a share of rising incomes.
The end of the pay pause will bring further wage increases to a larger number of workers. The Chancellor's guiding Light will certainly lead to an increase of 2½ to 3 per cent., at least in wage levels, fairly generally. How do the old, widows and others among the poor and helpless get their share of increased production and a higher national income? They have no trade union, no joint industrial council, no arbitration board; they rely on the Government and upon this House for protection and fair treatment.
In 1960, in connection with pensions, and in 1959, in relation to National Assistance, the Government gave us the understanding that a share of the national prosperity was to be the keynote of all future action by the Government. We are now looking for a tangible sign that that pledge will be consistently, and without fail, kept in the months to come. As I have said, at present there is no index for it, no sliding scale, no review date, no accepted criteria for automatic adjustment as in West Germany, for instance. There is no appeal, no guarantee against a neglectful, a weak or even a mean Government, and some guarantee should be put there.
Since 1957, in West Germany the pension is no longer determined by the actual contributions paid, but is calculated by an advisory commission applying a formula to take into account rises in earnings by men still at work in the pensioner's former vocation or profess- 1150 sion. A corresponding percentage is added as pension. In 1960, receipts for the pension fund from contributions amounted to just over £1,000 million, to which the taxpayers were called upon to pay over £500 million to enable the new dynamic pension scheme to be met, more than double the Exchequer contribution in this country this year.
Something on these lines is the only way to make sure that the pensioner does not get left behind. In Sweden and Belgium there are methods of tying the level of benefit to a pension cost-of-living index. In Sweden, there are cost-of-living increments. At present, the total of the cost-of-living increments amounts to £37 12s. a year on top of the basic national pension for a single old-age pensioner of £140 a year. We are out of date. The static pension scheme is a thing of the past.
Summing up the test of the 1960 criteria so far, we find this: in 1960, the cost of living was up by 2 points and in 1962 by 5 points. Wage rates in 1960 were 6 per cent. up and in 1962 6 per cent. up. Average earnings in 1960 were 11½ per cent. up and in 1962, 11 per cent. up. The remaining test for the level of benefits was disposable incomes, which, in 1960, the Minister said had risen by 9½ per cent. Unfortunately, I cannot give the comparative figures for 1962 owing to the lack of published information for 1961, but there is no reason to believe that the rise in disposable incomes since November, 1960, has been at any lower rate than it was between January, 1958, and November, 1960. Therefore, comparing the position today with that taken by the Minister in November, 1960, when framing his proposals to increase pensions by 7s. 6d. and 12s. 6d. a week, respectively, we find that the retail price index has risen more than twice as much, and wage rates and earnings just about the same.
On the basis of these factors, augmented for an undefined share in increasing prosperity, the Minister increased pensions by 15 per cent. in 1960. Why is he not proposing to do the same today? That is a question which I think it is fair to put to the Minister in the light of the evidence of comparisons which I have given. I assume that he will not do that judging by the 1151 terms of the Amendment to our Motion. What, then, is preventing him? What is in the way of the Minister proposing increases comparable with those of 1960 in the light of comparable statistical evidence? It may be that the Minister is inhibited by the other two factors which he mentioned in 1960. Those, the House will remember, were: what contribution would be reasonable? And the state and the prospects of the national economy.
We on this side fully accept that higher benefits mean higher contributions for the three parties in our contributory scheme—employees, employers and the State. The Minister has shown amazing resourcefulness in getting workers and their employers to pay more so that the State should pay less. In the graduated pension scheme he opened the most enterprising "bucket shop" in Britain today. He diminished the cumulative obligations of the Exchequer by robbing the graduated contributions to pay for flat rate benefits.
§ The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. John Boyd- Carpenter)
Although the hon. Member may talk about the potential liabilities of the Exchequer, the effect of this Measure was to increase the Exchequer contribution to a level of £200 million a year, which is the exact converse of the action taken by the Leader of the Opposition, who, in 1951, reduced the proportion of the Exchequer contribution.
§ Mr. Houghton
If the Minister wants to read all about 1951, I made a speech on that which finally set at rest a great many of the unfounded accusations made against my right hon. Friend in that connection. We all know that the Exchequer contribution was increased somewhat when the combined graduated and flat-rate scheme came into operation in 1961. The Minister will not deny that, in return for a modest immediate increase, he relieved the Exchequer of prospective liabilities of hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I certainly do not accept that. By putting the National Insurance Fund on a solvent basis, of which, I should have thought, the hon. Member would approve, I relieved the Insurance Fund of serious potential 1152 liabilities. By "Insurance Fund" I mean all three contributors to it, as the hon. Member himself stated a moment or two ago.
§ Mr. Houghton
In the debates on the 1960 Bill, I went into this matter carefully and I produced evidence to show that the Exchequer fully contemplated having to make good a substantial deficit in the years to come on the National Insurance Fund. There is no getting away from that. The whole purpose of the graduated pension scheme was to solve that financial problem. It was not to give people slightly bigger 6d. bricks on top of their flat-rate benefit. It was to solve the Minister's prospective financial problem. It had no other purpose. We admired and congratulated the Minister on his wizardry and sleight of hand in performing that feat in front of the vigilant eyes of the people without being denounced as fraudulent in bringing a scheme of that kind forward.
I now return to my theme. We on this side accept that higher benefits mean higher contributions for all three parties. The British people have never shown themselves unwilling to pay for social security for themselves and for others. They have accepted extra burdens cheerfully, even when the Minister has performed feats of jiggery-pokery to relieve himself of ultimate financial burdens. Therefore, we need not stay to make heavy weather of finding the money. It is there and it will be readily forthcoming provided that the Minister plays straight on the proportion to be paid by the Exchequer.
I have one final point on the question of comparisons. The state and prospects of the national economy have to be taken into account by the right hon. Gentleman. Do the Government put it now so low that they must bilk the pensioner as well as the Armed Forces? Are we now having it so bad that there has to be a pause in the relief of poverty and the much heralded real advance of last year nibbled away by higher prices and falling behind the fresh advance being made by four-fifths of the nation on 1962 wages, 1962 profits, 1962 rents, interests and dividends and 1963 Surtax remissions?
We hear that the Government are straining every nerve to enter Europe. Entry into the European Economic Community would carry with it obligations 1153 to harmonise social benefits and expenditure. According to a recent survey by the I.L.O., our social security benefits expressed as a percentage of total consumption expenditure in 1957—the last figures available—were lower in Great Britain than in West Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. Against our 11.2 per cent. West Germany's proportion was 21 per cent.
But the West Germans are not "broke". They have not "gone through the floor". Theirs is a vigorous, vital and expanding economy. Indeed, they are showing us how to do it. They are certainly not doing it by starving the poor. They are not doing it by curbing social security benefits so that people should have bigger wages and profits and forget all about the old people.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
Will the hon. Gentleman add that other countries which have lower social service contributions than ourselves—Denmark, Norway and Switzerland—are not exactly starving to death?
§ Mr. Houghton
I was giving comparisons with countries in the European Economic Community, with which we have to associate and to whom we are under obligations to harmonise our social expenditure and our benefits. It is not a question of what we can afford so much as what we are prepared to afford. It is a question of priorities.
If anybody tells me that the West German worker is paying a high proportion of his wages in social security contributions, I admit it, but apparently he is doing it willingly and cheerfully, because he knows that in return for it he will get a dynamic pension scheme and not one of the shabby, flat-rate things on which we have to nudge, shove and browbeat the Minister before we can get any increase. Our social security scheme is no longer the envy of the world. We now lag behind.
Finally, I come to National Assistance. This, if anything, is the more pressing of the two. National Assistance scales can be improved more speedily than National Insurance benefits. They do not require legislation. Draft regulations do it. There are no complications of contributions. The Government can do something quickly if they will. I recall that the married scale for National Assistance is 90s. exclusive of rent 1154 allowance and for a single person, 53s. 6d. Discretionary grants are, of course, made to a large proportion of cases and small pensions and small savings are either disregarded or not reckoned in full—we all admit that. The low living standards of the poorest of the community are, however, supposed to contain an increasing prosperity bonus.
Can any hon. Member opposite see the bonus in 53s. 6d. a week or in 90s. a week, exclusive of rent allowance, for a married couple? Can anybody identify the increasing prosperity bonus? And yet on two occasions the Minister has said that he was adding something for good measure to reflect the increasing standards of the population generally. In 1959, in introducing even lower scales than we have today, the Minister said thattoday the value of the scales is above the original 1948 level"—Hip, hip, hooray!—"and … the proposed increase, unlike any of its predecessors, is not necessitated or called for by changes in the cost of living, but is a deliberate decision to improve the standards." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th June, 1959; Vol. 607, c. 37.]I can see the right hon. Gentleman crowing and preening with his confident stride, saying, "They have never had it so good, and now we are giving it to them even better." He should read what Mr. Lynes has to say about all this in his pamphlet. At pages 16 and 17 he asks this pertinent question:If National Insurance is now going to reflect the level of incomes of the population generally, when does it start from?Does it start only from September, 1959, or from some other arbitrarily fixed date from which the Minister will not give an additional bonus for increasing prosperity? Even so, what is the Minister doing about the increased cost of living, quite apart from the increased prosperity bonus?
The retail price index is up by 5 points. This matters a great deal, especially to people to whom the retail price index is not a reality and does not reflect their own mode of life. Is the prosperity bonus and part of the real value of National Assistance scales to be eaten away before the Minister does anything more? If there is to be any reality in this share of increasing prosperity in both schemes, it should be built 1155 into the scheme, which should be reconstructed from the beginning and not merely be an ad hoc discretionary grant at the whim of the Minister dating from 1958 or 1958.
Mr. Lynes' booklet shows that even after the 1961 increases an extra 10s. a week for a single person would be needed to give a proportionate share in the real increase in national income compared with 1948, and since then prices have risen further. The increases now needed are at least 15s. for a single person and 17s. for a married couple. A widow with three children would need an extra 25s. a week. The Government have chosen to rely on National Assistance to help those in need rather than give adequate pensions and other insurance benefits. Having made this choice and accepted the principle of shares in increasing prosperity, the very least they can do is to see that assistance rates rise as fast as other incomes. The income of a single pensioner on National Assistance is only 14 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1948 and during the same period the real increase in national living standards in terms of average disposal income has been three times as great.
I have tried to show, on grounds chosen by the Minister himself, that increases in both sets of social security benefits are justified now and that the Government will be lacking in their duty if they fail to take action. On the criteria taken by the Government, improvements are justified. On the criteria taken by ordinary people who move about and see the plight of many old folk at first hand, our case does not need all this elaborate and intricate statistical support. It is self-evident to them, if not to the Government.
I said before, and I repeat, that the Government should not underestimate the passionate desire of the great majority of our people to see the old, the widows and the casualties of industry dealt with fairly and even generously. They should not be put to the hardships which many of them now endure—and still less should they be put to the shame of the begging bowl every time their conditions worsen. Let the Government act now, and boldly. The people will respond.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:noting with approval the substantial improvements in the value and standard of National Insurance and other social security benefits which have been made since 1951, and in particular that these were raised to a new high level as recently as last April, expresses its confidence that Her Majesty's Government will continue to secure that the recipients of these benefits share in the rising standards of the nation.The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) was, perhaps, expecting the Minister to rise at this stage. It is rather salutary that if one has been in office in the same position for six years one has to listen to so many of one's own speeches quoted back. I must remember that in what I might say today. My right hon. Friend will, of course, be winding up the debate. The hon. Member for Sowerby has done a great deal of homework. Although he seems to despise statistics, he gave a volley of them. I shall try to reply to some of them and try to follow some of his arguments, and I trust that I shall provide one or two answers.
I want to start by comparisons with the cost-of-living index, to go on to comparisons with average earnings and from there to discuss the cost to the community as a whole of the provision which it makes for old people through retirement pensions and for the needy through National Assistance. It seems to me that, for a speech of criticism, the hon. Member's speech turned out to be a speech of quite high commendation of my right hon. Friend, although I doubt whether that was altogether the intention.
I should like to start with a comparison with the cost-of-living figures. I take as a starting point for retirement pensions the obvious date, which is the date of the inception of the improved rates in 1946. For National Assistance the figures are different because, as the hon. Member is aware, that scheme started in 1948.
I take, first, retirement pensions. Had the pension increased with the cost of living, 26s. in October, 1946, would now be 46s. 10d. as against the 57s. 6d. which 1157 it is. The 42s. for a married couple in October, 1946, would now be 75s. 8d. as against the 92s. 6d. it is. That is over the whole period since 1946. If I were to take the period during which the Conservative Government have been in office—and I take the period beginning with October, 1951, immediately after the last increase by the last Socialist Government—the corresponding figures show that had we increased the 1951 pension to keep pace with the cost of living, the pension would now be worth 42s. to a single person and 69s. 11d. to a married couple, as against the 57s. 6d. and 92s. 6d. which we are paying. This means that during the present Government's term of office the pension has increased in real value by 15s. 6d. for a single person and 22s. 7d. for a married couple.
The hon. Member for Sowerby gave a large number of price increases, but he did not calculate any of them from the date when the last benefit rise came into operation. They dated from the proposals made by my right hon. Friend, although the base line which the hon. Member was using was not the date of the previous proposals but the date of the previous increases. Therefore, he has made an artificial selection by comparing like with unlike.
Since April, 1961, the retail price index has risen by 3.7 per cent. for all items and by 2.5 per cent. for the food components of the index. I agree that the retirement pension would be restored to its April, 1961, value by an increase of 3s. 5d. for a married couple and 2s. 2d. for a single person. On the National Assistance comparisons, relating them to the cost of living, between July, 1948, and April, 1961, the ordinary scale rate for a single person has risen from 24s to 53s. 6d., which is an increase in cash terms of 123 per cent.—I am using Mr. Lynes's booklet—and the rate for a married couple has risen from 40s. in July, 1948, to 90s. in April, 1961, an increase of 125 per cent. in cash terms.
Over the period, July, 1948, to January, 1962—and I take the latest possible figure, to take the worst possible case against myself—retail prices rose by 67 per cent. Therefore, there has been a very real increase in National Assistance and I find it difficult to understand why the hon. Member for Sowerby found it difficult to discover the bonus.
1158 The assertion is made by the hon. Member that the rise in the cost of living is greater for poorer people than that shown by the index. That is certainly not true since the introduction of the 1956 index, which, of course, was a revised one. I should like to give one or two figures. Since 1956, food has risen in price less and fuel and light more than the general index. The ordinary retail price index has risen as a whole to 117.5 from the base line of 100 in January, 1956, when it came into operation, but food items have not risen by anything like as much. The food index now stands at 110.7. But fuel and light have gone up more than the average, to 130.6.
The hon. Member for Sowerby mentioned Mr. Lynes's booklet and he will find there that Mr. Lynes gives a weighted index. I believe that it is related to Professor Allen's index of the corresponding amounts spent on food, fuel and light, and he says that the pension couple spend about four times as much on food as on fuel and light and that the single pensioner spends about 2½ times as much.
Therefore, if we give those figures the appropriate weightings, bearing in mind that food has risen in price very much less than the index as a whole, and fuel and light a little more, there is no reason to think that the cost of living for old folk is materially different from that reflected in the present index. I stress this point particularly because it was not brought out in Mr. Lynes's booklet, which I have examined very carefully indeed.
I come now to average earnings. I will not make any comparison with wage rates, because that is not a material comparison. Wage rates have lagged behind pension rates. Wage rates do not seem to be significant in this context. The average male earnings are the significant ones for this debate. I take, first, National Insurance benefits. Taking the period from 1951 to 1961, there has been an increase in average earnings of 85 per cent., and this is to be compared with an increase in pension rates of 92 per cent. for the single pensioner and 85 per cent. for the married couple. Thus, during the period of Conservative stewardship, the pension benefit rates have kept in line with, or 1159 have risen by as much as, average male earnings. That is significant.
I take, next, National Assistance scales. The National Assistance scale rate has risen by the amount I gave, and average male earnings in industry have risen from £6 14s. to £15 6s. 10d., an increase of 129 per cent. during the relevant period for National Assistance. This is to be compared with the increases of 123 per cent. and 125 per cent. in the National Assistance scale rates for the single person and married couple respectively. There is little material difference between the 129 per cent. for average earnings and the 125 per cent. for the scale rate for the married couple.
The hon. Gentleman made various disparaging remarks about the consumption of food in pensioner households, and referred to a survey which is unknown to me and which I have not seen. The survey which I shall quote is one which has built up a reputation over the years, the National Food Survey. Its findings are directly at variance with what the hon. Gentleman told the House. The National Food Survey studies the food intake of pensioner households, pensioner households being defined as households in which the household income is wholly or mainly derived from retirement pensions, non-contributory old-age pension, or, in the case of a widow over 60, a widow's pension—in each case with or without supplementation from the National Assistance Board. The survey is carried out once a quarter.
For the pensioner group, standards of nutrition generally appear to have risen significantly during recent years. The latest available figures show that, in the six months April to September, 1961, average expenditure per head on food by pensioner households was 29s. 11d. a week. Average expenditure per head by all households in the same six months was 31s. a week. The difference between expenditure in pensioner households and expenditure in ordinary households was only 1s. 1d. per head per week. This seems to be totally at variance with the impression given by the hon. Gentleman.
Having made a favourable comparison with both the cost of living and average earnings, I come now to an aspect not considered by the hon. Gentleman, the cost to the community as a whole of the 1160 provision made by the present Government, continuing the previous policy, to show that it has been an increasing cost. When I took out the figures to make the comparison with average earnings, I should not have been surprised if the result had shown that pension benefits had lagged behind average earnings for the simple reason that, although we have had an increase in the working population, that increase has to cater not only for increased benefits for the same number of pensioners, but for increased benefits for a considerably greater number of pensioners.
In 1946, there were six members of the working population for every pensioner. In 1956, there were only five members of the working population for every pensioner. In 1961, there were only four members of the working population for every pensioner. The figures for the advance in the working population which I am using are those published monthly in the Ministry of Labour Gazette. Thus, every person working has to provide not only the increased pensions per person, but has to provide for more persons. It is commendable that, in face of that situation, pension rates have risen as much as average earnings.
In the financial year 1951–52, which is when we came back into office, the annual cost of retirement pensions was £275 million. In the financial year 1958–59, it was £617 million, more than double. This year, it will be £787 million. This seems to indicate not a stagnant social security system, but a very vigorous one.
Next, I project forward on the current rates of benefit. At present, as the House knows, there are rather more than 5½ million retirement pensioners. In 1971, there will be nearly 7 million to cater for, and in 1981 there will be nearly 8 million. On the present rates, therefore, the cost to the community of footing the bill for the increasing number of pensioners will be £1,000 million in 1971 and £1,200 million in 1981.
Once again, this is not a stagnant system, and my right hon Friend has not been evasive in the actual benefits which he has delivered on this remarkably high level.
§ Mr. Houghton
The hon. Lady will, of course, agree that the cost has to 1161 be taken in relation to the growth in the national income. Presumably, if we are to double our standard of life in twenty-five years, we can cater for double the number of pensioners or, on the other hand, double their standard of life.
§ Mrs. Thatcher
I entirely agree. The hon. Gentleman gave figures of net disposable income. I have some figures here, but I had discarded them as rather academic. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will bring them in his reply, to the debate, or, as is more likely, will give a far more cogent reply to the hon. Gentleman.
It is quite clear that expenditure on the elderly section of the population will impose a heavy and increasing load on the future working population. If, since 1951, rates of pension had been increased in line with rising prices, the total cost of retirement pensions this year would not be £787 million, as it is, but only £580 million: the difference of £200 million represents the extent to which the pensioners' share in the national income has risen in the last decade.
For reasons which hon. Members will know it does not have the same significance to give the numbers on National Assistance, because they vary according to how the rates of retirement benefits move as compared with the National Assistance scale rates. However, I will give these figures in respect of the provision made by the community in cash terms. In the first complete year of National Assistance, we provided £49 million from the Exchequer for the needy. In 1950–51, this amount had risen to £61 million. In 1960–61, £172 million was provided in National Assistance. That is a measure of the increasing care for the needy given by the community.
Total expenditure per head of population on the social services rose from £30 in 1950 to £62 in 1960, according to an Answer given by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. All these figures show that the community has made considerable advances in real terms of caring for these people.
I come now to a heading which I call the adequacy of the basic retirement pension and National Assistance scale rates. The question is often asked whether anyone can be expected to live on the retirement pension of 57s. 6d. or 1162 on the National Assistance scale of 53s. 6d. The obvious answer is that no one is expected to, because there are other resources available. Of the 5½ million pensioners today, many have private resources or are members of occupational pension schemes and are receiving benefits from them. Also, 1¼ million pensioners have earned increments to the basic pension by deferred retirement, a very valuable part of the National Insurance Scheme to which, I think, too little attention is given.
The figures are rather complicated. I do not think that they have been given before, so I thought that hon. Members might be rather interested to hear an analysis of the increments being received by the 1¼ million pensioners who get them. Of the 1¼ million, 160,000 receive increments of 15s. and over; 293,000 receive increments varying from 10s. to 14s. 6d.; 319,000, increments varying from 5s. to 9s.; and 480,000, increments of varying amounts up to 4s. 6d. An increasing number in future will also have graduated additions to their pensions.
I recently visited Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where our central offices are situated. I was very interested indeed in one particular item of information which they gave me, and which may surprise the House almost as much as it surprised me. We tend to talk about a basic pension rate, but I was told that at present there are approaching 150 different rates of retirement pensions in payment, the majority being above the basic level. This is because of incremented pensions, graduated additions pensions and other reasons, but 150 different rates represents a colossal administrative problem when it comes to a change in the rates.
I turn from the retirement pensions to National Assistance. The scale rate of 53s. 6d. is only part of the help available from the National Assistance Board. My main comment about Mr. Lynes's booklet is that to take the scale rate on its own is to found the result of one's thesis on a false hypothesis, because the scale rate is only part of the assistance available. Hon. Members know, roughly, how the calculation goes. We assess a person's need, first, by taking the scale rate and adding to it the amount, or the proportion of the mount, paid in rent by the applicant 1163 for assistance, and we set against that figure of need the available resources.
In calculating the available resources, we disregard quite a number of capital assets and a considerable amount of income. The difference between these two figures is the basic National Assistance supplement, and to that is then added the appropriate discretionary allowances. The number of discretionary allowances has greatly increased since the inception of the scheme. At the end of 1961, two-thirds of retirement pensioners receiving National Assistance supplements were receiving discretionary allowances averaging 7s. 10d. In the calculation of need, rent is taken into account in full in 99 per cent. of the cases in which there is a rent liability.
The disregards for National Assistance were very substantially raised in 1959 by substituting 30s. for 20s. in the disregard of industrial injury and war disability pensions, and by substituting 15s. for 10s. 6d. in that of superannuation payments, while the disregards of earnings went up from 20s. to 30s., plus half the next 20s. The limit of capital assets above which assistance is not payable was increased from £400 to £600. It is interesting to note that at the end of 1960 over 200,000 retirement pensioners who were receiving assistance had some other income, and that about 450,000 of them had capital assets, over and above the value of owner-occupied houses, of £62½ million. Therefore, we are not altogether dealing with people absolutely on the poverty line, in the old sense of the term, for which I am profoundly thankful.
The hon. Gentleman has mentioned Mr. Lynes's essay quite extensively, and I have been through it myself. It is an essay, not a survey, but it is a very interesting and well-argued paper which, incidentally, confirms that the increase in assistance levels has done more than merely compensate for price increases. I think that some of the propositions in it are rather debatable. The hon. Gentleman talked, in particular, of the low-price indices—I believe that he was referring to them—which are mentioned in the calculations on page 36. Having been through it academically, as a person very interested in statistics, I find this one of the most difficult paragraphs to follow, and the best advice I have 1164 received has not been able to follow it, because it is entirely based on a "smoking household". If we include people who smoke cigarettes, it artificially inflates the price index.
It is ironical that the hon. Gentleman has taken the basic figure for a "smoking household", because only one-third of the pensioners in receipt of National Assistance actually had tobacco tokens and used them. It would have been much more appropriate to have taken it the other way round. I mention this because if we go back to table 5, on page 31—I hope that I am convincing the hon. Gentleman, even if he is not altogether following me since I have studied it very carefully—it shows an increase in the low income indices between July, 1957, and July, 1958, for single pensioners and pensioner couples, in the first instance, of 9 points, and, in the second instance, of 6 points. The comparable figure in the low price index for widowed mothers, who never had the tobacco tokens, remained stable.
Therefore, the hon. Gentleman has chosen that very part of the report which I have found extremely difficult to follow, though I have tried to follow all its calculations. Apart from that, I think it is a very interesting report and one which we shall consider carefully.
The second point I should like to make about it is that, when one compares assistance levels with average earnings levels, to get the comparison in proper perspective one should look at the level of assistance for a family group. The hon. Gentleman has been comparing assistance for pensioners with the average earnings of a family group. It would be better to compare assistance for a similar family to that which is taken in connection with average earnings. If we take a moderately-sized family of a man and wife and three children, the present assistance rates total £7 10s. If we add 28s., for rent, that is the average rent figure added by the Assistance Board for unemployed persons receiving assistance, the total is nearly £9 a week. There must be many wage earners with three children whose "take home" pay is not very much above this level.
The hon. Gentleman also referred to the Cole Survey, again a most interesting document. He referred, it seemed to 1165 me, in somewhat disparaging terms to the National Assistance supplement and the discretionary allowance. I would, therefore, point out that on page 97 of the very document which he has quoted, Mrs. Cole had this to say on the work of the National Assistance Board as a result of her findings:The overwhelming impression which we gained from the people who were actually receiving National Assistance was one of satisfaction with the way the system was administered".She went on to quote this:'I've told all that to my Assistance man: he looks after me, why do you want to know it all?' said one old lady at the beginning of an interview. 'We can manage on what we've got now. The Assistance is very good to us', said two sisters 78 and 75 living entirely on Assistance, since they had never been employed.
§ Mr. Houghton
I want to ask the hon. Lady not to use the term "disparaging". Criticism is not necessarily disparagement. I do not think that I was disparaging.
§ Mrs. Thatcher
The hon. Member underestimates the effect of his own words. I am sitting opposite him, and I would have called them disparaging.
There is not time to go into the Cole Survey too deeply. The only other comment I would make is that its definition of income—which definition is used to support sweeping statements about old people alleged to be living close to the poverty line, entitled to National Assistance and not getting it—was drawn to ignore all benefits in kind, such as rent-free accommodation and the value of living with a relative. On page 95, the Report points out that two-thirds of those people who Mrs. Cole suggested were entitled to but not receiving National Assistance were keeping house with someone else.
On that same page, she points out:Possibly, then, the units in our sample entitled to but not receiving allowances were rather better off than those already receiving them.As a practical test of the efficiency of Mrs. Cole's conclusions, we noted that she interviewed just over 1,000 people. 1166 Her survey is the result of an analysis of 400 units, but she interviewed just over 1,000 people. The interviewers went armed with forms from the National Assistance Board and left them where they thought there was a prima facie case for receiving assistance. They did not leave them otherwise.
Of the 1,000 people whom they interviewed originally, they left these forms with 58. Only 21 of the forms were used and, of those, 18 were awarded an allowance. In other words, 2 per cent. of the people interviewed were ultimately awarded a National Assistance allowance. These figures do not compare very favourably with the conclusion drawn by the survey as a whole.
I knew that someone would mention Surtax payers. If it is possible—if hon. Members will listen to me—I want to try to put the Surtax relief, with the amounts payable from 1st January next year, in a slightly different light. It is very easy to make disparaging remarks about relief to Surtax payers—and I do not think that the hon. Member for Sowerby will refute that some of his remarks have been disparaging. It is a pity that his party has chosen to adopt the line that those who get on and make extra earnings by their own efforts must be publicly decried and milked as often as possible. That is a matter for him and not for me.
My point is that these people, who number fewer than 400,000 have contributed heavily to the Exchequer and, consequently, to our social security system. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has gone into his annual vow of silence and, therefore, the latest available figures I can get are those which have already been published, for 1959–60. It is noteworthy that these people—numbering fewer than 400,000—in 1959–60 contributed to the Exchequer, in Income Tax and Surtax, £735 million. The figures for the previous years are, respectively, £712 million; £655 million; £633 million; £608 million; £583 million; £536 million; £541 million; £531 million; £489 million and £475 million. Their contribution of £735 million is a very powerful one indeed to the Welfare State.
I suggest that it is against this background that the reduction in Surtax should be considered. Even if the 1167 amount paid by Surtax payers has not risen in the two years in respect of which figures are yet to be published—which I doubt—it means that after the relief of £83 million, Surtax payers, on the lowest possible estimate, will still be paying £650 million to the Welfare State, through the Exchequer, which my right hon. Friend and I are very pleased about, because we rely upon heavy in goings to the Exchequer for financing some of the schemes.
At one stage the hon. Member compared our scheme with the Swedish one, and later with those of other Common Market countries. He frankly admitted that the latest comparable figures are totally out of date, because they relate to 1957. In fact, no up-to-date ones exist. Comparisons between our scheme and those of European countries or any other countries are notoriously difficult to make, for reasons which are not difficult to see. For a start, when there are many unemployed people a higher demand is imposed upon social security. It is very ironical that having fewer unemployed, and, therefore, paying less in unemployment benefits, counts against one.
Secondly, there are different structures of populations. Different working populations have to support different numbers of retirement pensioners. It is right to point out that most European countries have a fairly high number of retirement pensions, but that the rate of increase varies considerably, as against ours. Therefore, comparisons should be used very sparingly. Most serious commentators on the schemes agree about that.
A general fact worth pointing out is that a country which has a high standard of living spends proportionately less on its social security schemes. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) kindly pointed out, Denmark and Sweden—countries with a high standard of living—spend broadly the same proportion as does the United Kingdom on social security benefits. Countries like Australia, Canada, Israel, Norway, Switzerland, and the United States of America, spend less. In France, the high amount is due to the very high rate of family allowances, which is an unusual policy but 1168 happens to be well suited to the requirements of that country.
The hon. Member quoted the Swedish figures as being very favourable as compared with ours. I am not certain how my figures compare with his, but according to the latest information available to me the basic pension in Sweden is £190 per annum single and £300 per annum married—payable only from the age of 67 for men and women alike. The United Kingdom is one of the few countries which pays retirement benefits, or any other benefits, on a weekly basis. Many other countries pay them on a monthly basis and some on a quarterly basis, so that they have nothing like the same administrative costs. If the hon. Member is quoting comparable figures he should point out the different age at which persons become entitled to benefits in the various countries.
§ Mr. Houghton
I was quoting the schemes of Germany, Belgium and Sweden to show that they have a built-in provision for automatic adjustment. I was not attempting to show whether or not those schemes were better than ours.
§ Mrs. Thatcher
The hon. Member may now feel happier that, even without a built-in automatic adjustment, we have kept pace, under a Conservative Government, with the rise in average wage earnings which I quoted.
I turn to the West German scheme, which the hon. Member quoted very favourably as having this built-in adjustment. It is paid on a monthly and not weekly basis, which makes a considerable difference. We cannot properly ignore the contribution provisions of the West German scheme. Again, it is not easy to compare. I will give two different comparisons. Under the West German scheme, which is run on a different basis, contributions are paid not only for pensions and other National Insurance benefits, but for health services as well. It makes comparisons very difficult.
What I have tried to do is to compare what would happen to our contribution rates if we shifted over entirely to the West German system. Difficult as it has been, I have attempted to isolate the pension factor. The first analogy would involve the shifting over to the German system of financing social security, which 1169 depends heavily on contributions. It is financed by a contribution of 12¾ per cent. from the employee's earnings and 15¾ per cent. by the employer—a total of 28½ per cent.
For the £9 a week worker in this country, this would work out at a contribution of approximately 22s. 9d. a week, instead of the present 10s. 7d., while the employer's contribution would be about 28s. 4d. as against 8s. 7d. at present. It would mean a total weekly stamp for the £9 a week worker of 51s. 1d., as opposed to the present 19s. 2d.
Then there is the case of the £15 a week worker not contracted out of the graduated scheme. His flat rate and maximum graduated contribution would be 38s. 3d. a week instead of 15s. 8d., while the employer's contribution would be 47s. 3d. instead of 13s. 8d. This would be a total weekly contribution of 85s. 6d. compared with the present 29s. 4d. That is what is involved in shifting over entirely to the West German scheme of financing.
If we try to isolate the pension component, we still find that the contribution rates are very much higher than the existing ones in this country. The pension contribution in West Germany is 7 per cent. of earnings up to £964 per annum, both for employer and employee. To an employee in this country earning £9 a week, this would mean a contribution of 12s. 7d. a week, while the employer would also pay 12s. 7d. That is for pension only, and it is more than our existing contribution of 10s. 7d. from the employee—which goes not only to pensions, but to sickness, unemployment, and industrial injuries benefits, and to the National Health Service—and 8s. 7d. from the employer for people not contracted out.
For the person earning £15 a week or more, the contribution for retirement pension only would be 21s. per week for each side compared with the present contribution of 12s. 9d. from the employee and 9s. 10d. from the employer to cover all contingencies. These are the maximum graduated contributions.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
There is something wrong with the hon. Lady's figures, which are very complicated. My calculation is that the contribution would be 15s. 8d. from the employee.
§ Mrs. Thatcher
I will have my calculation checked and let the hon. Gentleman know whether my figures are correct.
I do not wish to detain the House for long. I hope that I have said enough to convince right hon. and hon. Members that not only have pensions risen more than the rise in the cost of living, but that they have risen in proportion to the average male earnings and that the community has made an increasing contribution—a contribution which is likely to go on increasing—for the benefit of the retirement pensioner and those in need. As it is less than one year since the last benefit increase came into operation, we have, of course, no proposal at the moment for a further increase in benefits. For the reasons I have given, I have the greatest confidence in commending the Amendment.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Finch (Bedwellty)
I congratulate the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary on the able manner in which she put her case. Her speech consisted largely of figures and statistics, but, nevertheless, she put her case very ably.
The Minister seems to have anticipated this debate, because, when he addressed a meeting of Conservative women at Bournemouth recently, he said, according to The Times of 8th March, that the Labour Party were… going back to their old vomit of pensioneering.
§ Mr. Finch
That was a very crude remark. Indeed, it was nauseating.
The right hon. Gentleman has always shown a very wide knowledge of the National Insurance Acts and Regulations in this House, but whenever we approach the subject of pensions he gives the impression of intolerance and impatience. I can only conclude that he is conscious of the plight of the old people, but resents being reminded of it. Nevertheless, we want him to do something about it.
The Times of 8th March also reported that the right hon. Gentleman had received a deputation from the National Federation of Old Age Pensions Associations. It is evident from this that the demands for increased pensions are not confined to any political party. The 1171 old-age pension associations consist of people belonging to various political parties, or to none at all. If they express dissatisfaction with the pensions they should know what they are talking about, because they live on them.
Whatever figures may be put forward, the fact is that most pensioners, despite what the hon. Lady says about the increases in April, 1961, are in poverty. I challenge anyone to deny that. The majority of those who depend on rates of benefit under the present legislation are in poverty.
The retail price index has been mentioned. If we take the January, 1956, figure as being 100, then by November, 1960, when the National Insurance Act, 1960, was introduced in the House, and the Government made their decision on the rates of benefit to be paid, the index had gone up to 112. By January, 1962, it had gone up to 117. Since the right hon. Gentleman introduced the Act in November, 1960, the index has risen by 5 per cent. That is very serious for old people.
The right hon. Gentleman must recognise that simply because pensions and other benefits were increased in April, 1961, this does not mean that there should be no further improvement It is because of that that we are justified in pressing him for an assurance that the pensions will be increased for those who are on the flat rate.
The hon. Lady made play of the position in 1948 and 1951, relating the figures then to the figures today. But we all know that the pensioners are not interested in what took place in 1948 or 1951. Many of the pensioners who received benefits ten years ago are not alive today. There is a new class of pensioners many of whom compare their pensions with their earnings at the time they retired.
When the coal miner retires—there is compulsory retirement in the coal industry—his income falls to £4 12s. 6d. for himself and his wife. Perhaps he had been receiving £15 to £25 a week as a piece worker, which is what can be got in certain coalfields. A fall in income to £4 12s. 6d. a week, plus any supplementary allowance which there may be, is serious for him. It may be said that as a person grows older he 1172 does not incur the same expenditure which he incurs when he is younger and in work, but when a person's wage falls from £15 a week to £4 12s. 6d. a week it causes considerable hardship, and it is difficult for him to adjust his life to changing circumstances.
We raise this matter today because we believe that pensions should be dealt with in a more scientific way. The old-age pensioners do not like these debates in the House of Commons all the time. It is most undignified. They do not like the system which causes us continually to plead for pension increases because of increases in the cost of living. We on this side believe that the time has come when there should be a system under which pension increases are automatic, without there having to be these debates.
Whatever the Parliamentary Secretary may say about the German or Swedish method or any other European method, one thing which stands out prominently is that other European countries have methods of adjusting pensions automatically in relation to the cost of living or to average national wages. We have no such policy here. Suppose that the Minister agreed today to increase pensions. In two or three years, or even less, the cost of living will have risen again and the value of the £ will have fallen and we should have to have another debate about the need to increase pensions. We are achieving so much in so many directions, yet we have to spend Parliamentary time in pleading the case of pensioners. The time has come to look at this problem in an entirely different light.
The Parliamentary Secretary is quite right when she says that the German worker makes greater contributions to his pension scheme than the worker in this country. But as time goes on he will be getting a higher pension than the worker in this country, in spite of Germany's present economic position. In Germany, pensions are dealt with automatically. Since 1957, the West Germans have got away from the idea of subsistence levels. Pensions in that country are related to national wages, and they are adjusted in the light of changes in industrial production and productivity.
There is an automatic revaluation of pensions in Belgium when the retail price index varies by more than 2½ per cent. 1173 France has an annual revaluation with effect from 1st April each year and there is an adjustment of pension when the wage index varies by more than 3 per cent. in six months. There is an automatic adjustment in Luxembourg every time the index figure varies by 5 per cent.
I do not propose to go into the merits or demerits of the schemes or rates of benefit which operate in those countries. I merely say that there is a more scientific way of dealing with the problem than the way in which we in this country deal with it. It may be said that it is not correct to base the pension on the retail price index or on national wages, but there is a method by which pensions can be increased automatically by taking the yardstick which I have said is used in European countries. We have no such method as that.
Even the graduated scheme which the Minister introduced some time ago has no regard to the future. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) said in the last debate, a man of 40 years of age, earning £12 a week, will pay an extra 2s. 8d. a week and his employer an extra 2s. 8d. a week for twenty-five years. For these extra contributions, he will get an increase in his pension of 11s. 6d. In view of the present-day inflation, what will be the value of 11s. 6d. in two or three years' time? The same may be said about a man who has been in employment for 40 years earning £15 a week. If he is married, when he is 65 years of age he will get £6 7s. 6d. a week. But what will be the value of that in ten or fifteen years' time?
Even in this scheme, future increases in the cost of living or changes in the valuation of the £ are not taken into account. This will result in further debates in this House so that we may plead for an increase in pension because of the rise in the cost of living. The time has come when the Minister should consider a better method of dealing with pensions.
We must also pay attention to injury, sickness and unemployment benefits. Here, I return to the position in Germany and in Luxembourg, countries with which negotiations are taking place today about our entry into the Common Market. The figures which I now pro- 1174 pose to give are taken from the International Labour Review of the International Labour Office. They concern a married man working in the steel industry who has two children. In Belgium, his industrial injury benefit is 71.3 per cent.; in France, 46.7 per cent.; in West Germany, 70.5 per cent.; in Italy, 68.4 per cent.; in Luxembourg, 78.4 per cent.; in the Netherlands, 75.8 per cent.; and in the United Kingdom, 45.7 per cent. of his gross annual wage.
§ Mr. Finch
I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby said. If pensioners and those in industry get value for their money under any scheme, they are prepared to pay increased contributions. But the Government's graduated scheme does not give value for money, and that is why we criticise it.
I now turn to the question of unemployment benefit. In Belgium, it is 42.2 per cent.; in France, 40.2 per cent.; in West Germany, 51.8 per cent.; in Italy, 19.3 per cent.; in Luxembourg, 55.8 per cent.; in the Netherlands, 79.8 per cent.; and in the United Kingdom, 34 per cent. of the workers' annual wage. Similar considerations apply to unemployment benefit and sickness benefit. We are bottom in the table. This information has been given by the International Labour Office.
§ Mr. Finch
No. This information is dated July-August, 1961. The family allowances position is not quite as good, for the West German figure is below ours. But in many other countries family allowance benefits are better than ours.
These figures reveal that we must look more closely at the whole scheme. It is not good enough to rely on the graduated scheme now operating because it 1175 is only related to retirement benefit and not to the other factors. If the countries which were ravaged far more severely than we were during the last war can raise their sights so much higher than ours it is time that the Government examined the whole basic morality of their social security policy.
The Minister of Health has always argued about our being increasingly selective. I think that the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance also mentioned this at that Bournemouth gathering about which I spoke. But we do not know what is meant by the phrase "increasingly selective." I recall that last week the Minister of Agriculture asked for a Supplementary Estimate of £78 million without batting an eyelid. It seems that the farmers got £31 million—and I am not complaining about that—but where the balance went I do not know.
It certainly did not result in a reduction in meat prices or in other commodities. It is evident that it went towards the distribution costs and to the middlemen. I speak of a figure of more than £40 million, so I am wondering what is meant when Government spokesmen say that we must be more selective in our expenditure on the social services.
After all, we are dealing with elderly men and women who have helped to make Britain what it is. They have lived through two world wars and times of depression. Are we satisfied that now, in the evening of their days, they should live on £4 12s. 6d. a week with some supplementation? That is poverty. Whatever the Government say, it is sheer poverty. How can they live adequately on such a sum?
These old people would like to take holidays and enjoy our higher standard of living. They see their children living in better circumstances and surely, in justice, we should relate their position to our improved standard of living. What the Labour or any other Government did in 1948 or 1951 is beside the point, for we must look at the problem as it is today. I hope that, as a result of this debate, we shall have convinced the Government that they should look at this whole problem in a completely different light. I realise that after a lot of agitation, perhaps in six or eight 1176 months' time—or when a General Election is approaching—the Minister may say that increases will take place.
§ Mr. Finch
After we have had further general increases in prices, resulting in even greater poverty for these elderly folk, the right hon. Gentleman will no doubt say that increases will be given in the rates of pension. But we want that done now. Now is the time when these people need this money. Although summer is approaching they are already thinking of having to face another winter. It will be one of impoverishment and poverty for them and I hope that, as a result of the remarks that have been made today, the Minister will give a satisfactory reply.
§ Sir W. Robson Brown
To get the position quite clear, may I refer the hon. Gentleman to my previous intervention? I was drawing his attention to the fact that a good part of the money he quoted as having been paid in other countries was financed by the industries of those countries. I believe that more of that should be done in Britain, although a lot is already done. More should be done by industry to look after and care for its own people.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
I join in the congratulations which have been expressed by hon. Gentlemen opposite to the hon. Lady the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance on the charming way in which she revealed to the House her vital statistics. But also, before I attack the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), I should say that I agreed with one thing he said; that if we are to have a new cost-of-living index in which television sets and cars will be included, I hope that it will be possible to have a cost-of-living index for the older people as well. That might also help to answer some of the extravagant claims made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch).
1177 I welcome this debate not only because it gives us an opportunity of showing how timely Government action has been in the past ten years towards old people, but because it provides a valuable opportunity of discussing what should be done to ensure that old people, widows and those on National Insurance, have their fair share of the national income.
Successive Conservative Governments, over the last ten years, have taken timely action to compensate for higher prices. The Government took prompt action to restore in July, 1952, the purchasing power of the National Insurance benefits. They were raised well beyond the 1948 level in 1955 and for a third and fourth time they were raised to the highest levels ever reached in 1958 and 1961.
Successive Conservative Governments have raised retirement pensions in money terms; from 30s. for a single retired pensioner in 1951 and 50s. for a married pensioner to 57s. 6d. for a single pensioner and 92s. 6d. for a married pensioner in 1961. As the Parliamentary Secretary said, the purchasing power in terms of prices in January, 1962, has increased by 15s. 6d. for single pensioners and 22s. 7d. for married pensioners; an increase of 37 per cent. over 1951 for a single pensioner and 31 per cent over 1951 for married pensioners. My hon. Friend also rightly said that there was a comparable increase of about 33 per cent. in average industrial weekly earnings over the same period. So pensioners have more than kept pace with the cost of living and, indeed, with industrial earnings.
The gross national product under the Labour Government increased by 46 per cent. and the pensioners' share increased by only 15.6 per cent. Under the Conservative Government the gross national product has increased by over 60 per cent. while the pensioners' share has gone up by 66.6 per cent. The pensioners and the elderly have also gained from improvements made in housing, health, welfare services, employment opportunities and tax reliefs and timely action has indeed been taken by the Government in all of these spheres, none more particularly than in housing, which is so important to elderly persons.
§ Mr. A. E. Hunter (Feltham)
Will the hon. Gentleman remember that a number of elderly people have lost their rent control?
§ Mr. Ridsdale
I realise that, but help has been given through National Assistance. Indeed, the contributions made by National Assistance have gone up by about 100 per cent. to those who have had difficulty with their rents.
In 1961, 24,257 single-bedroom houses were built for elderly people in England and Wales compared with 11,000 in 1951. A person over 65 with an annual income of £440, or £9 a week, pays no tax, whereas in 1951 such a person paid £39 in tax.
Other tax reliefs have, of course, been given. For example, for those over 65 investment income is now counted as earned income, and it is open to the Government to make further improvements in this line. What about widows, mentioned in the Motion? A widow with three children now receives 134s. 6d. a week compared with 55s. a week in 1951, an increase in real value of almost £3 a week or 75 per cent. between October, 1951, and December, 1961. As for help in respect of the earnings limit, the widowed mother's personal allowance is not fully withdrawn until her earnings have now reached £8 8s. a week compared with £4 10s. in 1951.
What else have the Government done to ensure pensioners a fair share of the national income? In March, 1960, the Government increased the earnings limit by 10s. for the retirement pensioner. Thus, the 57s. 6d. retirement pension is not fully withdrawn until earnings reach £6 18s. a week compared with £3 10s. in 1951. Supplementary pensions have been increased by six times between October, 1951, and April, 1960—by 23s. 6d. for a single person and 40s. for a married person.
Those on National Assistance get an automatic refund of prescription and other National Health Service charges. All these are timely acts on the part of the Government. Probably one of the most important was mentioned by my hon. Friend, that for those on National Assistance. This concerns the disregard for capital purposes in respect of 1179 National Assistance payments which was raised in September, 1959, by 50 per cent. to £600.
Such actions by successive Conservative Governments entirely refute the insinuation in the Opposition Motion that timely savings to the elderly are not the Government's policy. Indeed, it was this record and such actions by the Conservative Government which constituted such a decisive factor in the last General Election. The result of that election showed that pensioners on the whole were well content with the balance achieved at that time of their share in the national income compared with those at work and those who were at school and being educated. But as productivity increases they look forward to further increases in the benefits of prosperity. However, they were content to wait rather than fall for the lavish promises which the Opposition made to them during that election.
They did this, I believe, because what pensioners want more than anything else, more even than the successive increases which they have received since the war, are financial policies which will lead to stability in prices. Indeed, even more than getting immediate compensation for higher prices, pensioners rightly want to know what was the real cause of the upset of the stability which they enjoyed for two years and what should be done to restore that stability and which other sections of the nation have gained since 1959.
Let us look at the facts and consider how the balance has altered since September, 1959. I am sure it is clear to everyone that the reason for the upset in the stability of prices is that incomes have increased so much ahead of productivity, last year by £1,620 million compared with a productivity increase of £630 million. That is the reason for the rise in prices at present. Surely, therefore, just as important as giving compensation for higher prices is the need to halt the wage inflation. What is wanted, first, is to stop the rise and not to add to the spiral at this moment by giving further money incomes to be spent. That is the honest way to help the pensioners and the country.
I am certain that pensioners are beginning to see through the double-talk of 1180 hon. Members like the hon. Member for Sowerby, who seems to want to play a double rôle in the rise in the cost of living. Having succeeded in his capacity as a union leader in pushing wages ahead of productivity to the detriment of pensioners, now he wants to add a little more fuel to the fire of wage inflation which he has helped to create and, at the same time, he asks the Government to take action to put out that fire.
§ Mr. A. V. Hilton (Norfolk, South West)
The hon. Gentleman has said that one of the biggest difficulties about pensions is the continued increase in incomes in recent times. I wonder whether he is aware of the national minimum wage of farm workers? I know that he does not represent an agricultural area, but would he regard the national minimum wage of agricultural workers, which rose only a fortnight ago to the "astronomical" sum of £8 15s. for a week of 46 hours, as having any effects in making pensioners dissatisfied?
§ Mr. Ridsdale
I would remind the hon. Member that I represent a farming constituency. This is, however, a pensions debate, and the point I want to make is that what is needed is responsibility and restraint in order to keep wages in line with productivity. That is how to bring about stability in prices and help the pensioners and lower wage earners more than anything else.
I know that it is very nice to make comparisons between one section of the community and another; one can find so many heartrending cases. But the case that I am making against the hon. Member for Sowerby is that he has fanned the flames of wage inflation by encouraging wage increases and has then asked the Government to put the situation right again, thereby adding more fuel to the fire.
§ Mr. Houghton
Surely the hon. Gentleman must be aware that I have had nothing to do with pushing anybody's wages anywhere in the last few years.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
Then I hope that the hon. Gentleman will restrain some of his hon. Friends, with whom he is, I 1181 know, very friendly, from pushing wages as they have done.
What has happened is most unfortunate, because what pensioners want more than anything else, even more than immediate grants to compensate for higher prices, is an end to the wage inflation.
I want to take up the point of the hon. Member for Bedwellty about selective benefits being given to pensioners. I should like to suggest how funds, when they become available, might be allocated to ensure that the old people—widows and others—have their fair share of the national income. Last Friday week the House debated a private Member's Motion of mine about the position of elderly ratepayers. Before and since that debate I have received 500 letters from all over the country. I notice that the most heartrending and moving of those letters have come from those who have been retired for some time. These have included a number who are above the National Assistance level, but who are too poor to benefit from tax relief.
I hope that when funds are available the Minister will be able to make National Insurance more selective in this context and concentrate on the categories of beneficiary which need help the most, such as widowed mothers and the long-term sick and, above all, pensioners who have been retired for some time and have to replace their clothing and other things at a time when it is more difficult for them to get the benefit that other sections of the community have because of the length of their retirement. It is in that context that I look to the Minister to allocate the sums selectively and wisely to cure this searching need at the moment in our community to help those people who have been retired the longest.
I am sure that the House will have noticed the absence from the Motion of any reference to the need to deal with wage inflation, or the need to keep stability in prices. This is the action which is needed now, above all else, to help old people, widows, and others. It is this policy which I am certain the Government are resolutely pursuing. It is because I have faith in their determination to pursue this policy that I confidently support the Government in opposing the Motion, and support the Government in their Amendment.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. A. E. Hunter (Feltham)
I have pleasure in supporting the Motion. The hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale) dealt with inflation and old-age pensions. My hon. Friends and I do not consider that a pension of 57s. 6d. a week for a single person and 92s. 6d. a week for a married couple can be regarded as Utopia. The hon. Lady, who I gather was speaking from the Dispatch Box for only the second time, made a good speech, but if she and her hon. Friends think that the figures I have mentioned represent Utopia—I know that in some oases National Assistance is also provided—then they and I are looking at the position in different lights.
I agree that we have made progress in the social services. Had we not done so, our lives would have been wasted. My hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) has spent a lifetime helping his fellow countrymen. As I say, we have made progress during the last thirty years, but we have not made the progress that we should have made in the twentieth century, when poverty and want should have been totally abolished.
The hon. Member for Harwich talked about the old-age pensioners in relation to inflation. Old-age pensioners do not cause inflation in consumer goods. Apart from a very small proportion of wealthy pensioners, how many of them buy motor cars? Some have television and radio sets, and good luck to them if they have, but it is not they who put pressure on consumer goods. Therefore, I do not think that one can blame the old-age pensioners for the inflation that has occurred during the reign of this Government.
It is some time since we had the opportunity to discuss the needs of old-age pensioners, widows, the sick and those who are unable to work. This Motion concerns millions of people. It is as important as defence, or some of the other subjects that are debated. As I say, we seldom get the opportunity to debate the needs of the poorest people in our community.
Since the Government announced the last increase in pensions in November, 1960, retail prices have gone up 5 points. 1183 I agree with the hon. Member for Harwich that a special index of prices for old people would be of great benefit to them. This increase of 5 points in the retail price means that the cost of living has affected the poorest people most, and one of the great weaknesses of the pension scheme is that there is no annual review to adjust pensions and National Insurance benefits in accordance with rising costs.
In some industries, for example, in the building and some other industries, there is an annual review of wages so that if the cost of living rises wages are automatically increased. It seems to me, therefore, that it should be possible to have an annual review of pensions, and automatically adjust them to the cost of living. The majority of the people about whom we are talking live on the smallest of incomes. They live on a razor's edge, and according to a recently published report forty out of every one hundred old age pensioners have no savings. If these people are not on National Assistance and they want new clothes, or new equipment for the kitchen, or some article of furniture, the outlay can be a serious drain on their resources.
I have always thought that the basic rates for the old-age pensioner, the sick and the unemployed were too low, and the rise in retail prices during the last year has had a marked effect on their small incomes. Again, a cold winter like the present one proves a great burden to the old and the sick. We have had four months of cold weather during which old and sick people have not been able to leave their homes. This means heavy additional expense for heating, whether it be by coal, gas, or electricity. To keep themselves warm, it is necessary for these people to have a fire going for 12 or 14 hours a day, and some nights have been so cold that I imagine those who could afford it have kept a fire going for 24 hours. The Minister should remember the extra cost which these people must necessarily incur in an effort to keep themselves warm, during the Winter.
My hon. Friends have referred to the pensions paid in other countries. I do not want to go too deeply into this, but, like my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), I hope that the hon. Lady will give us the figures for 1184 West Germany. In some European countries retirement pensions are much higher than they are in this country. The rates in Australia, New Zealand and Canada are higher than they are here. This is not good for a country like Great Britain. I want Britain to be at the top of the league, not at the bottom. I want Britain to be the pioneer in social services. I want her to be at the top of the league for old-age pensions, sick and unemployment benefits, and not at the bottom.
Another point that is often made is the cost of the social services and pensions. No one denies that pensions cost money. I do not like going back into history, but hon. Gentlemen continually refer to 1948. The Government have doubled the contribution since 1948. In 1948 the joint contribution was 9s. 1d. It is now 18s. 2d. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) that people do not mind paying for their social benefits and for the care of the old and the sick. It must be remembered that the people pay the bulk of the contributions. A comparison of the joint contribution of employee and employer and the Exchequer grant with the amount paid out shows that the bulk of the amount paid out in benefit is paid for by the people and not by the individual or, as it is often said, by the taxpayer.
§ Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)
Does not the hon. Gentleman mean that future pensions may be paid for largely in the way he describes, but not pensions paid at present or those which will be paid to people retiring in the next year or two?
§ Mr. Hunter
This generation has a responsibility for the 5½ million old people today. These old people did not live and work in the brighter part of the century. Before the war wages were lower with mass unemployment. There were few social services. There was little opportunity to save. Today's older generation may want looking after more than younger people who have far better opportunities, but provision must always be made for retirement in old age.
By tabling the Motion my right hon. and hon. Friends have drawn the Government's attention to this great social problem. I met the Minister 1185 accidentally the other night. I said to him, "We have not had a pensions debate for a long while". I had no idea then that there was to be a pensions debate this week. The Motion gives the House an opportunity to discuss the needs of these people. When old-age pensioners read in the Press or hear on the wireless that Parliament has debated their needs and cares, they will know that they are not forgotten. These debates do good.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Harwich thinks that my hon. Friends are insincere on this question. I believe that hon. Members on both sides are keen to help the old people. It is unwise to allege that people are not sincere. I believe that the Minister is sincere about wanting to help the old people. The great difference between the two parties is that we are prepared to rouse the country to pay for pensions, while hon. Members opposite think that it costs too much. We say, "We cannot afford not to do it." Hon. Members opposite say, "We cannot afford to do it."
Therefore, I hope that the Minister will take note of what has been said in the debate, namely, that we have not reached Utopia in retirement pensions or in benefits for the sick, for widows, and for the unemployed. I again remind hon. Members of the hard winter we have just had. I hope that before long the Minister will announce that there is to be an increase in retirement pensions and in National Insurance benefits.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
I did not accuse hon. Members opposite of being insincere. I said that the Motion was insincere.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Curran (Uxbridge)
I assure the hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) that I certainly do not accuse him of being insincere. I recognise that he speaks with great sincerity about old people. I merely point out to him that compassion is not a monopoly of his party. However, I do not want to score any party points in talking about what we are to do for old people. I want to make some constructive suggestions.
In all the speeches of hon. Members opposite the characteristic with which I disagree most is this: they all spoke about old people as though they were a 1186 homogeneous unit, as though all the 5½ million old people were in a state of equal destitution, all dependent mainly or entirely on what the State gives them by way of pension or National Assistance. This is completely fallacious. Nobody who wishes to be taken seriously can argue that all or even most of the 5½ million people now drawing the retirement pension are poor.
There have been many references to the survey which has just been published by Dorothy Cole and John Utting about the economic circumstances of old people. It is a very interesting survey. It comes to the conclusion—I quote it without necessarily endorsing it—that there are nearly 2½ million old people living very near the poverty line as determined by National Assistance standards. This estimate may be far too high. But let me assume for the sake of argument that it is accurate that 2½ million pensioners are living on or near the National Assistance level. This leaves 3 million pensioners who are not. We must not continue to discuss pensions as though all the £5½ million people who are receiving them live in poverty and that the only way in which we can help them is by a flat all-round increase.
It has been suggested that pensions should be linked with the standard of living and that there should be some mechanism for making an automatic increase when the standard of living rises. This is an attractive suggestion. It can be put very persuasively. But anyone who is tempted to accept it should look carefully at its electoral implications. These 5½ million pensioners form nearly one-sixth of the entire electrate. They will increase in number and in proportion. There will be about 7 million by the end of the decade. A very large proportion of the electorate, therefore, now consists of people who are past working age: a higher proportion than ever before in our politics.
This is a fact of very great importance to politicians and anybody else considering the future of England. Does the hon. Member for Feltham think that it would be desirable or prudent to give such a very large proportion of the voters a means of contracting out of inflation? Does he not think that it would be highly dangerous to create in 1187 the electorate a block of voters with no concern about whether money would remain stable?
This is a dangerous policy to advocate. One of the facts about post-war politics—Socialists will agree with Tories about this—has been that in our post-war society there has not been anything like a built-in barrier against inflation. We have not had, as we ought to have had, a group with a vested interest in resisting inflation. At any rate, we have not had a group large enough to make itself felt.
It would be highly dangerous to run our pensions structure in the future on the basis that millions of people who are past working age need not bother in the least about the value of money because they will be given an automatic built-in increase no matter what hapens.
So far from looking forward, as apparently the Labour Party does, to a society in which everybody when they come to the end of their working lives will look automatically to the State for support, we should look in a completely different direction. This is the great line of rupture between members of the Labour Pary and members of the Tory Party. The kind of England I want to to see is not an England in which everybody at the end of his working life collects a State pension and lives on that. The kind of England I want is an England in which the ordinary citizen during his working life will be able to get from his job and his savings a sum sufficient to enable him to live in comfort when he is too old to work. I regard the State pension not as a permanent feature of our society but, though essential for the time being, a temporary stop-gap. I want an England in which the level of prosperity will rise to the point where people past the working age turn not wholly or even mainly to the State for their support.
Let me say to the hon. Member for Feltham that I recognise that now we have in our society a sizeable number of old people who are living in circumstances that are exceedingly difficult. Whether or not we accept the figure of 2½ million which I have already quoted—if I may interrupt myself, I hope the Minister will tell us whether he accepts that estimate and, if he does not, what sort of estimate he thinks would be fair 1188 —we are all bound to agree that there is in our society a sizeable number of old people who are hard-up.
They are the people who are supplementing their pensions by going for National Assistance. The question is, what are we to do for them? They are all people in their sixties, seventies or eighties. They are survivors from the age of poverty. Their working lives were spent in years when wages were low, when there was mass unemployment, when they had no opportunity to make provision for their old age. It is true that they are a dwindling army. We might refer to them if we want to be picturesque as Cinderellas of the Welfare State.
These 2½ million, or whatever the number may be—these people living on pensions plus National Assistance and the people living on pensions who could get National Assistance but who do not draw it—are the people who need help urgently. The question is, is an all-round increase the best way to help them? I do not think that it is. For their numbers are dwindling all the time and not being renewed. We have to remember that in England today more and more people are becoming members of occupational pension schemes. As their working lives end and they pass into retirement they do so as recipients of pensions derived from their work. We have had figures about this and they are well worth keeping in mind.
In 1958 the Government Actuary presented a report on occupational pension schemes. He showed that at that time there were no fewer than 8¾ million people in this country who were in occupational pension schemes. That represents about one-third of the entire labour force. The number has been increasing ever since. By this time there must be about 10 million people who are at work building up job pensions. As a consequence, when these people reach the end of their working lives they will not live wholly or mainly on a State pension. The more we can accelerate the development of job pensions the sooner we shall create an England in which people, when they get past working age, will have sufficient resources of their own to support themselves without looking to the State for aid except in a marginal number of cases.
1189 I agree that we have not reached that situation yet. But we must regard this problem not as a permanent factor in our society which calls for a permanent increase in pensions. We must regard it as temporary and terminating.
I come back to the question, what are we to do about the hard-up? I turn again to this Cole and Utting report on the economic circumstances of old people. It is based—as most of us who have read it will know—on a survey made in half-a-dozen regions of this country. In order to help those 2½ million people who are reported to be hard up, do we need to give more money to 3 million others who are not hard up? That question has to be faced by anyone who advocates increasing pensions. Are we to make an all-round increase and give help to people who need it while at the same time giving far more help to people who do not need it and who do not ask for it? I cannot see how anyone can argue rationally on the facts that we should make an all-round increase in pensions.
It seems to me self-evident that if we desire to help the people who are hard up we should concentrate on helping them with whatever money we can afford to spend. This money should be concentrated on them, not dispersed and wasted by giving some of it to people who are not in the same position as the minority to which I am referring. I shall not urge the Minister to make large concessions of money. I know it is easy and tempting for a politician to curry favour by saying that masses of people, all of whom have votes, should be given more money at once. I am not going to say that. But I want to put some suggestions before the Minister and ask how he reacts to them.
In the first place, one way to help some of the hard-up old people would be to tackle the long-standing grievance of the earnings rule as it applies to widows, widowed mothers and pensioners. I will not repeat the arguments which we have all heard for and against the earnings rule. We can take them as said. I am sure that the Minister has heard them so many times that he must be heartily sick of them. I should like my right hon. Friend to consider whether the time has not come for him to raise the limit of the earnings rule for 1190 widows and for pensioners. A widowed mother who gets a pension loses it if she goes out to work and earns more than 8 guineas a week. The earnings rule begins to operate for her as soon as she earns more than £5 a week.
This rule has led to an enormous amount of anger and bitterness. As we all know, it applies only to some kinds of widows and not to others. It can apply to a widow whose husband dies a natural death but not to a widow whose husband dies an unnatural death. It applies to the widow of a man killed at work but not to the widow of a man who is killed on his way to work. If a man is killed in battle the earnings rule does not apply to his widow. This rule is riddled with inconsistencies and has made a great many people angry. I should like to ask the Minister whether he thinks it worth preserving and what is the use of it.
We shall probably be told that the cost of scrapping it would be £2 million—that is the figure usually quoted. Will the Minister tell us whether he is satisfied with that estimate? How is that figure arrived at? If we scrapped the earnings rule in relation to pensioners we are told that it would probably cost £30 million a year. That is the estimate usually quoted. Again, I should like the Minister to say whether he is satisfied that the estimate is a sound one.
So far as I understand it such estimates are based on a sort of Civil Service crystal-gazing operation. It is argued that were the rule scrapped immediately every man on reaching the age of 65 and every woman on reaching the age of 60 would retire from work, draw a retirement pension, then go back into the labour market and earn more. Is that supposition well-founded? It seems highly debatable. I should like to know whether the Minister has any evidence to make it appear probable that this calamitous state of affairs would occur if the earnings rule were scrapped. I should like my right hon. Friend also to remember the desirability of treating widows and pensioners in a manner which most people regard as fair. I can assure him that most people nowadays regard the earnings rule as being grossly unfair.
I should like my right hon. Friend to consider the desirability of allowing 1191 these people to earn as much as they like. Surely it is completely pointless, especially in the 1960s, to place any impediment in the way of people working. I recognise that this rule has been built into the pensions structure and that if we scrap this piece it may make the whole jigsaw puzzle insoluble. But I should like the Minister to look at the matter again. We have been told about the difficulties now for fifteen years or so and it seems to me high time that we considered whether all these calamities would occur.
Having said that, I turn now to draw the Minister's attention to suggestions made by the authors of this Cole and Utting Report on the economic circumstances of old people. I should like the Minister to tell us whether he accepts the conclusions that they reached. When they made an examination of the conditions of the elderly poor in this country they found, in the first place, that the bulk of the elderly poor were either spinsters or widows and, secondly, that most of them were people over the age of 70. There is nothing particularly striking about either of those two things. We are all aware that women live longer than men, but usually the working life of a woman is a good deal shorter than that of a man. Poverty is therefore likely to strike her in old age.
The survey suggests that one way in which we could help the elderly poor, the hard core of poverty among the pensioners, would be either to raise the pension at the age of 70 or to raise the pension for women only. If we raise the pension for women only it might be an infringement of sex equality. Suppose that we were to make an increase in pensions at the age of 70—a once-for-all increase. Suppose we said that now, or as soon as we can afford to do so, we would increase the pensions for people now past the age of 70; not for people who will be arriving at the age of 70, but for that dwindling class of citizens, the survivors of the age of poverty—the people who have had no chance of accumulating savings and who have been the victims of social circumstances which are now disappearing. Those are the people in urgent need of help. They are a dwindling minority. Is it financially practicable to talk of a once-for-all 1192 increase in the pension at the age of 70 so as to lift them above the National Assistance line?
I am asking not answering that question. Obviously, a large number [...] people and a large sum of money ate involved. But I should like the Minister to tell us what would be the probable cost of doing it? If the Minister could give us the figure we could discuss how the money could be raised. I think that if the Minister announced that it would cost £X million it would not be difficult to get most of us in this country to accept some kind of voluntary tax in order to raise the money. I am sure that there are a great many people who would be very happy to accept some sort of personal levy or voluntary imposition on themselves in order to raise the money necessary to put this dwindling group of over-70s out of the reach of poverty.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
I have a great deal of sympathy with the point made by the lion. Member, but I am a little puzzled how we would arrive at a voluntary levy. It would hardly be practicable. It would be essential for the Government to impose taxation to meet the position that he has outlined.
§ Mr. Curran
I am not proposing a policy. I am asking the Minister to consider what we can do to help this diminishing minority. I do not believe that the right way to help them is to make an all-round increase in pensions. If we were to do that we should be giving most of the extra money to people who do not need it and only a small part to the people who do. If we accept the figures that have been given, nearly two-thirds of the money would go to the people who do not need it and only one-third to the people who do.
I ask the Minister what would be the cost of a once-for-all increase in pensions for people over 70 and whether he regards this as something financially practicable at the present time. If it is financially impracticable, I should like him to consider if there is any other way in which citizens themselves can do the job. This is a matter of concern to all of us. The presence in our society of this group of people, all of them elderly, all of them hard up, offends the conscience of a great 1193 many of us. I should like to see some method by which we can display our sympathy for them—and not merely sympathise with them but help them.
I recognise how easy it is to advocate all-round increases and distribution of public money without considering how the money is to be obtained or the inflationary results. It is undoubtedly true that the most effective way in which the Government can help pensioners is by keeping the value of money stable. It would indeed be a mockery for the State to give large sums of money to pensioners, if by doing so its value became less. Therefore, I am heartily in support of the Amendment.
The record of the Government towards the pensioner can be defended with confidence anywhere in this country. I have no doubt that the Government are determined to continue to secure that pensioners share in our rising standard of living. While I agree with that, however, I ask my right hon. Friend the Minister to say how he proposes to deal with the temporary problem, that will not recur, of the vanishing minority who are over the age of 70. Is it possible for my right hon. Friend to indicate to us, first, what it would cost to help them and, secondly, whether it is practicable for the Government to do so?
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran) has given the Minister a tremendous amount of work and it will be some time before the hon. Member can be given a proper answer. This is not, however, a debate for the purpose of examining all the little details about earnings, about people reaching the age of 70 and miscellaneous changes in the pension position. What we need is a new psychology towards pensions and, of course, towards the sick and the injured.
In her speech this afternoon, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary seemed pleased to try to impress upon us that pensions have risen by the same percentage as earnings. It was a good point in one sense, but when we examine the actual figures the position does not appear to be so good. In 1948, the average level of earnings was 138s. and the pension 42s. The difference between pension and earnings was 96s. Today, however, 1194 with earnings at a level of 307s., the pension is 92s. 6d., the difference between the two being, not 96s., but 214s. Therefore, while the percentage rise may be fairly similar, the cash difference is tremendous. That is not a satisfactory position. It is one which cries out for a change in the structure of pension arrangements so that the pension is brought much nearer to the average level of earnings of the community.
The fact that a new standard is required has been emphasised by the great amount of discussion concerning the Common Market and our entry into the European Economic Community. There is no doubt that the information that we receive about the attitude towards pensions in the E.E.C. countries brings the majority of people to the conclusion that the time has arrived to make a completely new structure for pensions and other National Insurance benefits.
Another point arises clearly when we consider other countries and their ability to pay bigger pensions. As hon. Members have said, we cannot have all the things we want in this respect unless we pay more for them. This is a question which touches the spirit of the people. There seems to be a general attitude in the E.E.C. countries to do more, not only by the workers, but by employers of labour.
In Germany, for example, the position seems to be accepted that workers contribute 12 per cent. of their wages and employers pay a figure of 15.2 per cent. What kind of attitude would employers in this country take if we asked them to pay 15 per cent. and what would be the attitude of the workers if they were asked to pay 12 per cent.? Whatever the contributions in Germany or elsewhere, however, the facts emphasise the need for a change in this country if we want to satisfy the workers and if we want their support at election time. It is high time that the Minister put on his studying cap to see what he can do before the next election, because if the Government want the country to have the right spirit, a change must be made.
Let us consider various factors concerning pensions. Again, my comparison is with Germany. By a 12 per cent. contribution, a Germany worker earning the equivalent of £15 a week would pay 1195 36s. and his employers 45s. That is a rather stiff proposition, but let us compare the position of a worker with a similar wage in this country, using the basis of the graduated scheme that the Government introduced in 1959.
In this country, a £15-a-week man pays a contribution of 15s. 8d. After 47 years, he will get about £4 12s. 6d. a week for himself and his wife, plus £2 1s. under the graduated scheme, making a total pension of £6 13s. 6d. a week. In Germany, however, a contributor to the scheme is credited with a figure of 1.5 per cent. a year, with the result that at the end of the same period of 47 years, he would get 70 per cent. of his wages as pension—not £6 13s., but £10 10s. a week. Therefore, whatever our views about the level of pension which is reasonable and about how much the workers should pay, there is a glaring necessity for a change in our whole pension scheme.
I have studied these matters for a long time, but I have had difficulty in reaching the right conclusions. I have consulted pensioners, who have told me what would be the result of my proposed scheme. A disgraceful position exists in this country concerning some 1,322,000 insured people in 1960 who had paid for their pensions. Yet when they receive it they find themselves in such difficulty that they had to attend the National Assistance office and go through a means test to enable themselves to live.
When as a nation we examine what kind of scheme we should produce for old people, this is not a situation which we should encourage. It should not be a permanent state of affairs that men who have been paying for years into National Insurance should find at a time when they can no longer work that they have to apply for National Assistance and go through a means test. No one cried out more against the means test than the Labour Party, but it still exists today and perhaps to a greater extent than it did when complaints were being made about it throughout the country.
I believe that in any National Insurance scheme, the principle should be that men who have paid for years and years into State insurance should receive a pension of such a character that they need not apply for National Assistance. It would seem that many hon. Members 1196 opposite acclaim the idea that more people ought to be applying for National Assistance. The idea is being encouraged that the best thing to do is to give a rather smaller pension and then let the people who are most in need obtain the necessary supplement to their income from National Assistance. I am certain that many of the people who argue in that way would have the strongest possible objection if through unfortunate circumstances they had to apply for help beyond their ordinary income.
In the past, in all amendments made to insurance schemes, the Government have examined people's needs and have changed benefit scales and have spread the benefits over the whole "bag of tricks", the widow, the woman with children and so on. There have been all kinds of variations in benefits during the past 14 years. To all intents and purposes the variations which are applied to the differing conditions of different families have now been finalised.
Does the country wish, or does either political party desire, to make a change in the situation so that without giving tremendous sums to the beneficiaries all these people are taken away from National Assistance? I have a case in my constituency of two old people who have not worked for years owing to disabilities. Their daughter has written to me about them. They have a very small income. They could receive benefit from National Assistance but they have what is called "pride" and they will not apply. Many people have written about such cases and there have been investigations in various parts of the country. There is no doubt that a tremendously good and absolutely necessary job has been done by the National Assistance Board, but despite that there are thousands of old people who have such an independent spirit—misguided to my mind—that they will not apply for help. Officials and their own relatives interview them and try to persuade them to apply for what is their legal right but they will not. They have an old-fashioned idea about that kind of thing.
It is absolutely essential that when we reconstruct National Insurance we should make changes to ensure that an insured man who has been paying for a long period should not have to apply for National Assistance. I have gone into 1197 this whole matter, more or less as a hobby, for some years and I find that, however much we explain that we are sympathetic to old people, if we have a real desire to help them the only improvement will come if we are prepared to do what is necessary to take these old people as a whole off the National Assistance level. I am convinced, after going into the whole matter, that this might be done if we introduced my suggested 4 per cent. levy on wage earners, a 5½ per cent. levy on employee and a certain 7 per cent. on the self-employed.
I recognise the difficulty for the State. More money is being lost by the State through National Insurance than most people realise. The information has been given by Answers to Questions in the House that in 1958, for example, tax relief in respect of insurance represented a loss of revenue of £183 million. This was tax relief given to employers and the insurance people. There is no doubt that about £210 million will be given in tax relief for 1961, despite the fact that in the meantime Income Tax was reduced by about 9d. in the £. I would not change this system, however, because I know from past experience that it cuts in a number of ways and that to change it would cause a great upheaval. When a 5½ per cent. levy on employers is mentioned it should be remembered that, however much employers complain, about half the money which they pay to National Insurance or to the National Health Service is returned to them in the shape of tax relief. In reality, their 5½ per cent. is little more than 2½ per cent. A similar factor applies to the higher income groups, which is where the grouse will come.
The ordinary worker who may have to pay 4 per cent., inclusive, for National Insurance will not make much fuss about it if he knows he will get value for money and that pensioners will receive far more than they are having at the moment. If they know that their own relatives or other people in difficult circumstances will have more substantial pensions to live on, the ordinary workers will be quite prepared to pay a good deal more for that purpose.
Are we prepared to do it as a nation? The ordinary workers are prepared to do it. People with higher incomes may grouse, but they will receive fairly sub- 1198 stantial tax reliefs which will reduce their commitment. There is no doubt that they will pay vastly more as a contribution because of their higher incomes, but one might overcome that source of complaint by raising the amount upon which tax relief is given. It might be done in blocks. At the moment it is £18. It might be taken to £25 and then to £40, according to the level of income, in order to ease that situation in a sense.
It is a complicated matter both financially and technically, but I am quite satisfied, after devoting a good deal of work to it, that 4 per cent., 5½ per cent. and 7 per cent. in the classes I have suggested, with the State paying about one-seventh of the total contributions, would do the job. It may be thought that a good deal more money will be required. I have gone into the figures and worked them out for about ten years. One-seventh of the contributions made, according to the various rates, would not after ten years involve much extra money from the State, especially if one takes into consideration the £81 million now being paid to National Insurance beneficiaries for National Assistance which would be saved. After about tern years, the extra liability of the State would be only about £30 million, although, of course, there would be a small addition because of the increased contributions earned as time went on. However, taking all those matters into consideration, I suggest that it is a scheme which should be considered carefully.
My suggestion is that the basic pension should be raised to £5 plus, and that the same should be done for the basic rate in respect of sickness and unemployment. Let all the complicated additions in respect of wife, children and other dependents remain absolutely as they are. In my view, we should concentrate on raising the basic rate. Let us put all the money we can afford into that, because in that way we shall do the job which needs to be done and provide £5 as a basic rate to all those who are now receiving 57s. 6d. In my view, the whole scheme could be worked on the basis of the proportions I have already given, 4 per cent., 5½ per cent., 7 per cent. and one-seventh of the contributions from the State. In that way, 1199 all our pensioners could be kept away from National Assistance. If one wanted to pay more, of course, more contributions would have to be paid.
This idea may not suit the Minister. It may not suit the Labour Party, which may take a larger view and want to do more. Some people might want the State to do more. However, I ask the Minister to consider it and try to work out a system of that kind, concentrating on the basic rate and the percentage increases. Perhaps, before the next election, he could bring it in as the insurance system for the future so that the benefits rise by 2 per cent. when wages salaries and Forces pay rise by 2½ per cent.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. MacKay) because, although I am not absolutely confident that I followed the trend of what he was saying with very great precision, in spite of trying very hard to do so, as far as I could gather my views are almost diametrically opposed to his. I propose to give my right hon. Friend precisely contrary advice. The hon. Gentleman said that this subject was something of a hobby of his. I am glad to think that my right hon. Friend has a more serious commitment.
I shall submit to the House certain observations, first, on the realities of the social security system; second, on the perspective in which we should see the whole problem of pensions in an expanding economy; third, on the emphasis which I shall urge my right hon. Friend to put on the various commitments which come to him; and fourth, on a matter of detail about which I have a question to ask.
I ask the House to note the phraseology of the Opposition Motion and contrast with it that of the early day Motion on the Order Paper which calls for an increase for retired pensioners and widows. I think that the House as a whole must be moving in the right direction, because we have a distinct improvement here. I am sorry to see that the Opposition Motion still refers to pensions for old people, but I am glad that the unofficial Motion refers to retirement pensions. The House will be well 1200 advised, I believe, to be a little more precise than it has been hitherto and follow the example of the Motion, recognising that there are no such things as old-age pensions and welcoming the fact that the phrase does not appear anywhere on the Order Paper now.
It is high time that the phrase was abandoned. The truth is that there is no such thing as an old-age pension. There is no such thing as a retirement pension. There is no such thing as a widow's pension, that is to say, a pension paid in respect of widowhood as such. All these pensions are pensions paid in respect of unemployability. That is the underlying principle which inspired the recommendations of the Beveridge Report. It may be unemployability because of age or—
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
The hon. Gentleman could not apply that point about unemployability to a colonial civil servant who had served his country well and who, on retiring at 40 years of age, had been thought worthy to receive a retirement pension. That has nothing to do at all with unemployability.
§ Mr. Iremonger
I think the hon. Gentleman is a little confused between a contractual pension and one inside the State scheme. We are talking about the State social security system in respect of National Insurance, and the principle that underlies the whole State National Insurance system is that people are paid pensions in respect of unemployability, either because of age, when they have retired, or because of widowhood, not in the sense of widowhood, but in the sense that because a woman has been out of the employment market for a long time she is, therefore, presumably unable to enter it again. That is the basic justification for the earnings rule, which is attacked on both sides of the House, but if we sacrificed it we should make nonsense of the proposition on which the whole scheme is based. I think there is much misunderstanding about this, and it would be as well if the House and the country could get this point quite clear.
§ Mr. Iremonger
The hon. Member says that I do not understand it, and he 1201 is perfectly entitled to give his own interpretation to the House. I would only say in reply to him that if I do not understand it neither did the framers of the Beveridge Report nor did his hon. and right hon. Friends who were responsible for administering the scheme when they were in power. My analysis is, I am quite sure, fundamentally sound.
I should like to put to my right hon. Friend the perspective in which I suggest the whole problem should be seen. The Beveridge Report was conceived in and born of deflation, and it has been nurtured and come to fulfilment in an expanding economy and in an era of inflation, and that is the root of the greater part of the political troubles that we have in administering the pensions scheme. I think it was not at all inappropriate that my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) should have intervened in the proceedings in the way he did. The important thing which this House and the Government have to do is to keep the British economy strong and to ensure that the British £ maintains its present value.
§ Mr. Iremonger
The hon. Gentleman makes my point for me, because if the £ does not hold its value the pension will not. One of the factors which makes the £ lose its value is Government expenditure, which is what was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Is not a sound economic policy the best way to preserve the £? What I understand the hon. Gentleman to be arguing is that there is no such thing as a pension and that people get benefits because they are unemployed. This is nonsense, because a person over 70 and still employed can still receive the retirement pension.
§ Mr. Iremonger
The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that he is then deemed to be unemployed. If the hon. Gentleman wants to continue to argue this, he will be only detaining the House.
§ Mr. Iremonger
It is precisely because those who are disqualified by the earnings rule are in fact in employment and are not retired that they are not eligible for the retirement pension. I am surprised to hear an hon. Member on the Front Bench opposite, let alone back benchers, so absolutely adrift on the fundamental principle.
§ Mr. Iremonger
Yes, but it reduces it because the pensioner is in employment and earning, and, therefore, is not retired. I do not see any point in arguing round this. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] If the hon. Gentleman likes to look at the OFFICIAL REPORT, he will find that the point I am making is absolutely sound and that the whole of our social security system is based upon it.
I was saying that my right hon. Friend must see his commitments to the pensioners in the light of his duty to the Government as a whole to maintain a sound economic policy. Of course, the commitments which he enters into are a large factor in Government expenditure, and Government expenditure is a large factor in the amount of investment which the economy can afford, and, in the inflation, the necessity for holding the value of the £. Therefore, my right hon. Friend will be doing a very poor service to the pensioners and to the country as a whole if he fails to see that his first duty is to fit in with the economic policy of the Government and to maintain the value of the £, because the passenger who gets into the boat at the cost of sinking it has paid a very high price for his passage.
I should like now to suggest to my right hon. Friend what I think should be the emphasis and the priorities for sharing out what resources may be available for pensions. The Motion calls for what are, in effect, indiscriminate increases in pensions, and it is my submission that this is a wasteful policy and not in the best interests of those most in need. Many pensioners are in no need, most are in very small need, and a few are in great need, and these latter are the ones to whom all available help 1203 should be directed. If we try to help all pensioners indiscriminately we shall penalise those to whom our help should primarily be directed. When the time comes when he has extra resources to spare, my right hon. Friend should think well who should have them.
My own order of priorities would be these. First, those who are over 70 should have increases; secondly, the widows and widowed mothers; and, thirdly, the level of National Assistance should be raised. These are the three directions in which increases in benefits would bring the most good. I would not say, with all respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran), that the earnings rule should have a very high priority. I should have thought that if my right hon. Friend had £40 million or £50 million, or whatever it may be, available, which might enable him to scrap the earnings rule, he might think of better things to do with it.
There is one point of detail which I should like him to consider in regard to the widows' pension. I have found that widows who were widowed just before reaching the age of 50 find it intolerable that people who, for all practical purposes, are in almost exactly the same circumstances can get pensions while they themselves get no pension at all, other than the thirteen weeks' benefit and so on. To take an extreme case, there were twins born with 24 hours between them, which is quite possible, and who lost their husbands on the same day. One who would have been just short of 50 got no pension at all, while the second got the whole pension. That is the inevitable result of having to draw a line somewhere.
We recognise that the scheme has to draw a line, but I am sure that it would be possible to work out a scheme whereby the benefits for widows' pensions could be somewhat tapered. I wonder if it would be possible, when my right hon. Friend wants to increase the widows' benefit, to pay some extra benefit to widows who are widowed after the age of 52, and then to graduate the benefit from the age of 52 downwards to 50, and then, again, to institute a benefit which would apply to widows from the age of 50 and down to 48, going up by 5s. stages, or whatever sum 1204 he liked, so that, at least, the contrast between them would not be quite so painful. The widow who was widowed one day short of the qualifying age for any particular stage in the pension would contrast her situation not with that of a person receiving the highest pension but with that of a person having only a slightly higher pension, being in the next higher age bracket.
That would go a long way to ameliorate the feelings of outraged injustice on the part of many widows. This point is not likely ever to give rise to a large-scale political agitation, because inevitably those who are widowed sufficiently close to the age of 50 to feel this sense of injustice are very few in number, and the pressures that they can bring to bear are politically negligible. But it is not a good thing that the scheme should lose the confidence of even such a small number of people who really do not understand the principle on which it is based.
Hon. Members opposite were very impatient with me when I talked about the principle of unemployability, but I submit to them, sincerely, that when they are faced with widows who were widowed only a short time ago they will not be able to explain to them the difference between their treatment and the treatment give to their slightly older sisters without deploying the argument that I have put forward. They must say, "Your pension is not paid to you in respect of widowhood. It is called a widow's pension, but it is not. Your pension is paid in respect of a putative unemployability, and you are considered to be able to enter the employment field because you were widowed just short of the age of 50, whereas somebody else who was widowed a few days after having reached that age is considered unable to get a job."
We must accept the fact that the whole pension system is based upon the principle of unemployability. It is unfortunate that there should be such a sharp difference in respect of people who do not understand the principle, and who, with the best will in the world, never will understand it. I would rather see the widowed mother's pension applied over a fairly narrow age bracket of four or five years, with small increases according to age, so that the person who 1205 receives nothing will contrast her situation with that of a person who receives a comparatively small pension rather than with one who receives the full pension.
I want to reassure my right hon. Friend that hon. Members on this side of the House are not deceived by the quite legitimate political motives behind the Motion. The claim of hon. Members opposite is a little earthy—but, then, they could not be sure when my right hon. Friend would be able to move, and they wanted to be sure that they got in now rather than be caught, as they have been before, rather anxiously pretending that they would have brought in a larger increase, and sooner. I am confident that my right hon. Friend, with due regard to the interests of the economy, has a fairly shrewd idea of what he will be able to do and when he will be able to do it. I am sure that it will be a fair and generous increase.
I hope that he will make it discriminating. I say that purposely, in absolute contrast to what hon. Members opposite have said. I hope that he will apply what he has to carefully selected categories of those in need, so that instead of a little money being given to many people who do not need it, a substantial amount will be given to those who need it most.
§ Mr. Iremonger
I am prepared to leave that to the judgment of my right hon. Friend and—hon. Members can take this in any way they like—I am sure that his judgment will be a sound one.
I am proud to oppose the Motion and to support the Government Amendment. I am proud of the Government's record in the past, and for the future I am confident that we shall continue to have a realistic, responsible, honest and humane pensions policy.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Mr. A. V. Hilton (Norfolk, South-West)
The hon. Member for llford, North (Mr. Iremonger) ended his speech on a note far better than that on which he began it, except for his closing remark, that he was pleased to oppose the Motion. I want to refresh the minds of hon. Members as to the wording of the Motion. It says:That this House deplores the lack of any action by Her Majesty's Government to grant 1206 increases to old people, widows and others on National Insurance benefits and National Assistance to compensate for higher prices and to ensure their fair share of the national income.That is what the hon. Member utterly opposes. For the life of me, I cannot see how any hon. Member could oppose it.
Reference has already been made to the charming way in which the Parliamentary Secretary opened the debate from her side. It is true that the hon. Lady made a charming speech, but charming speeches do not fill the bellies of pensioners, widows and others who are in need, and who are referred to in the Motion. I am sure that, like myself, the pensioners will be very disappointed in the words of the hon. Lady, when, in conclusion, she said that her right hon. Friend had no proposals at present for any additional help to be given to pensioners.
Many figures have been quoted by hon. Members on both sides of the House. Figures can tell many stories. They are quoted by bon. Members on this side, and opposed by hon. Members opposite, or vice versa. The only figures I shall quote concern retirement pensions. The pension for a single person is now 57s. 6d. a week and, for the married couple, £4 12s. 6d. a week. This is what we want to talk about this afternoon. Hon. Members on this side of the House claim that those figures are far too low, in view of the present high cost of living and the fact that it is nearly a year since pensions were last increased.
In my constituency I live among many old-age and other pensioners, whom I am proud to call my friends. I know from first hand how pensioners have to struggle to eke out the meagre sum they receive. I cannot help drawing comparisons. Not very long ago a number of my hon. Friends and I were in the Tea Room of the House when an hon. Member opposite came in and wanted to pair. That was fair enough. But when somebody asked, "Why do you want to pair?" the hon. Member opposite said, "I have a ticket for a special dinner. I must go. The ticket cost me six guineas." I cannot help comparing that with the miserable pittance of 57s. 6d. a week or £4 12s. 6d. a week respectively, given to a single pensioner or a married couple.
1207 I am aware of the difficulties many of my constituents have in living on their pensions. Like hon. Members on both sides of the House, I hold weekend meetings, and although at present there are many other important issues to talk about—the Common Market, the pay pause and nuclear tests—what most people in my constituency are interested in is pensions and the high cost of living. This has been borne out in the recent Lincoln by-election.
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock) was in Lincoln a week ago, and she has reported that, although many people in the city were on a four-day week, and that while she was there the engineers had a one-day token strike, the main issue she came across when canvassing was the plight of the old-age pensioners. I am sure that she can vouch for what I have said. She had the same experience a few days later, in Orpington. We all find this the main topic amongst the ordinary people of our constituences. It is priority No. 1 to them.
My hon. Friend the Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) mentioned, in his interesting and sincere speech, the plight of pensioners especially at this time of the year, during the cold spell that we have had. Only last Friday, one of my constituents, a widowed pensioner, asked me if I could help her to get National Assistance. She told me that she had a very old bedridden lady living with her and that they were spending 32s. a week on coal alone. Last year, the Government doubled the prescription charge to 2s. and this, too, is an additional burden on such people. There is, without doubt, a case for an immediate increase in pensions.
Mention has been made of the Government's graduated pension scheme. I represent what is almost completely an agricultural area, where wages are very low. One hon. Member opposite has suggested that the workers are able to save against the time of retirement. Some are certainly able to do so, but in my constituency they are the exception and not the rule. It is only a fortnight ago that the national minimum wage of farm workers was increased to an all-time record of £8 15s. for a 46-hour week. How much would the right hon. 1208 Gentleman expect farm workers to save out of such a wage? My hon. Friend the Member for Feltham was quite right when he said that only about 40 per cent. of the workers are able to save for retirement.
Because of the minimum wage, many farm workers do not qualify to take part in the graduated pension scheme. A man has to earn £9 a week or more in order to participate. It has been left to the National Farmers' Union to introduce a private pension scheme to give farm workers some encouragement for his future retirement. The Government, and the Minister, in particular, should be ashamed that farm workers, despite their splendid record of service to the country, are excluded from the scheme because of the low wages they are getting. The N.F.U. has done a splendid service in introducing the private scheme.
The people we are pleading for are those who have worked for most of their lives. They have worked to give us this wonderful country which hon. Members opposite are so proud to remind us about—except on occasions like this when they think there is not enough in the "kitty" to give pension increases. But it was these "old faithfuls" who helped to bring about the better state o£ affairs in our country, and all we ask is that they should have a fair share of the national income. No one could object to that after thinking about it seriously.
We are not the only ones to realise that the pensioners have a case for an increase. Just before Christmas, the Prime Minister made a special radio and television appeal for additional help to be given to old people over Christmas.
§ Mr. Hilton
Exactly. The Prime Minister's appeal was proof positive that there is a case for an increase.
One answer given by hon. Members opposite is that, if pensioners feel they have not enough money, they can always apply for National Assistance. Many of them do, but many more refuse to do so because they consider that 1209 it is beneath their dignity to go to the National Assistance office and claim what is their right. I think that they are wrong, and I regret that their pride prevents them from getting a little extra in this way; but the fact remains that we all know that they do not do it because of what they refer to as dignity. We should not blame the old people for this. They are the survivors of the 'twenties and the 'thirties; they remember the means test and believe that even the National Assistance Board imposes such a test.
The hon. Member for Ilford, North, suggested that those over 70 years of age have a stronger claim, and that there might be an increase for them.
§ Mr. Hilton
Yes. I entirely disagree with this idea, because many very deserving pensioners would still not receive the increase to which they were entitled.
One or two hon. Members have spoken about farming subsidies. We shall be discussing those on Thursday, but I wish to use them as an example. Farming subsidies are paid to all those farmers who are entitled to them. There is no discrimination. The fact that a man is a large, wealthy farmer, with other industrial interests, or a small family farmer, who works during all the hours of daylight and during many hours of darkness, makes no difference. Right hon. and hon. Members do not hesitate to support this principle in farming, and I entirely agree with it. Farmers are entitled to it, whether they are big, wealthy farmers, or small struggling farmers.
The same principle should apply to pensioners. There should be no discrimination in the matter. I agree that the need of some old people and some pensioners is greater than that of others, but, if they are entitled to pension, there should be no discrimination between them.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Percy Browne (Torrington)
I agree with the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton) that the subject of the social services generally is talked about more than any other in my constituency as in his. I should like 1210 to return later to farming subsidies as an example of discrimination in increases in pensions. I should have thought that that was a bad example if a new age limit—in this case 70—is set above which pensions might be increased.
I am on record as saying during the Second Reading of the National Insurance Bill in November, 1960, that I felt that the increase proposed at that time and carried into effect the following spring was too small. Since then, the cost of living has increased and one is therefore bound to say that it is still insufficient. But that does not mean that I intend to support the Opposition's Motion. To my mind, it is a thoroughly bad Motion for this reason, that it suggests that pensions should be increased but does not suggest how they should be increased. If we were to have a free vote in the House, which is frequently suggested, on whether there should be an increase in pensions, automatically the answer would be "Yes". But Parliament must not only decide whether there should be an increase but also will the means, and there is no mention in this Motion of how that can be done.
So long as we stick to this, to my mind, outdated idea or principle of equal contribution, equal benefit—outdated partly because anyone who has contributed throughout the time that he could have contributed is entitled only to 9s. a week—the money must be raised for a blanketing increase in one of two ways—either from the Exchequer, or, as in the present accepted form, from the Exchequer, the employer and the employee. If the money comes from the Exchequer and we upset the present balance of roughly a quarter of the fund, £185 million a year, being paid by the Exchequer, then one of two things must happen. The first is that we must have different priorities. To my mind, this is essential. I do not wish to argue about whether it is better to increase pensions than to build Cunarders, but it is high time that we had a real look at the social service payments by the Exchequer.
I have made a plea for this in February last year, and I should like to repeat it tonight. This problem is a political hot potato, and an independent committee should be set up to consider it. 1211 In support of this, I should like to quote one sentence from the Plowden Committee's Report:The social changes of the last fifteen years have altered the incidence of hardship so that there now may well be excessive social services for some purposes and inadequate ones for others.There is another way by which the Exchequer could produce more money, namely, by an increase in productivity, as suggested by the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton). I accept that this is one way to do it, but I think that the hon. Gentleman would agree that if we are to do that we must export more. If we do that, we must first steady the cost of living.
The steadying of the cost of living and the maintenance of the value of the pound is, as has been said by my hon. Friends, far and away the best service that we can render to pensioners and to those living on fixed incomes.
§ Mr. Browne
I said that the best thing that we can do for pensioners is to steady the cost of living.
The alternative is to increase contributions. We can do that in the way in which it has been done in the past.
I noticed a quotation from the Guardian which the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) used in his winding-up speech in a debate on the National Insurance Bill that we had in November a year ago. The Guardian suggested that the rise then contemplated would be comparatively smallerthan that enjoyed by the more prosperous four-fifths of the community which lives off earnings on the 1960 scale. To have held the pension in the same relation to earnings as it had in 1957, the standard benefit of a single person would have to be raised by £1 and for a married couple by 30s."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November, 1960; Vol. 630, c. 322.]My right hon. Friend the Minister, in introducing the Bill, said:The House may say, 'One has to take rates of earnings.' I am not sure that that is right, because they tend to fluctuate more."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November, 1960; Vol. 630, c. 225.]He suggested, therefore, that we should work on the basis of wage rates rather 1212 than of earnings. My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary said this afternoon that she thought that we should deal with the matter on the basis of earnings rather than of wages. I agree with what my right hon. Friend said eighteen months ago. Wages must be the criterion. I shall come to the question of wage rates in a moment.
In my part of the country, as in the part of the country of the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West, average earnings might reach £10, well over £5 below the national average. Wage rates are approximately £9. Therefore, one asks: is it fair and reasonable to expect the wage earner on the lower wage rates to increase his contribution in order to give a blanketing increase to all pensioners, irrespective of whether they need it or not?
The alternative way to increase contributions is through the employer only. This is relevant at the moment because of the system on the Continent. But, as has been said and as the House well knows, the figure of Exchequer expenditure together with employers' contributions in this country and the figure of Exchequer expenditure together with employers' contributions on the Continent are almost equal.
I suppose that one has really answered the question oneself as to whether the employer should increase his contribution, whether the Exchequer should increase its contribution, or whether the system should be left as it is. If we go into the Common Market, no doubt there will be pressure to increase the employers' contribution and the Exchequer contribution will decrease. But I believe that there are one or two other ways in which we can do what we all wish, namely, to increase the benefits to those who need them. I do not want to be monotonous or inelastic or as repetitious as a modern pop record and go over what I have said before, but I must briefly reiterate that the insurance principle as we have known it has already been breached, not only in the amount the pensioner would receive, but we no longer have a straightforward flat-rate pension scheme in existence.
I do not believe that it is sensible, therefore, for the low wage earner to have to increase his contributions to provide a larger pension for those who 1213 do not need it. I would have thought that if this was agreed then a universal means test—such as everyone must undergo for Income Tax purposes—would be more acceptable than a discriminatory means test.
It is in this connection that we come to the question of farmers and subsidies. I think the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West will agree that certain subsidies are and have in the past been loaded towards the small farmer, and deliberately so. There are such things as the Small Farmers' Scheme which has been introduced for this purpose. In the last few years, generally speaking, the cuts in subsidies have taken place in the crops which the large farmer grows compared with those grown by the small farmer, and I say that from practical experience as a farmer.
§ Mr. Loughlin
I appreciate the point the hon. Gentleman is making, but my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton) was making the point that the principle was different. While it may be true that certain crops have had reduced subsidies in different price reviews, the principle is the same; there is no means test and it is not a question of whether the farmer is big or small. Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that in the application of all subsidy policy the Government apply the same principle: that there is no means test? An illustration of this is the White Fish Bill by which Associated Fisheries, the largest combine in the trawling industry, will receive £100,000 in one year.
§ Mr. Browne
I accept that there is a difference in principle, but not for the farmers. We are not having a farming debate and I cannot develop this point too far, but the Small Farmers' Scheme is kept within a certain group, deals solely with the farmers in that group and is, in fact, concerned with 100 acres at the top and 20 at the bottom. The principle is there and so, for farming, this is not just a breach of principle as was made out by the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West.
I accept what the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) said about the other subsidies, and I have never suggested anything to the contrary. I was arguing the parallel principle mentioned by the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West.
1214 If the suggestion I have made is not acceptable, I join with my hon. Friends who have suggested that, since we know that as people get older they need more—more heat, they are less able to look after themselves, their clothes are wearing out, as are their utensils—there is a case for a discriminatory increase in the basic pension for pensioners aged 70 and over. It is interesting to note the age groups among pensioners who have recourse to National Assistance, because 13.8 per cent. of men between 65 and 69 and 29.7 per cent. of men over 80 have recourse to National Assistance. Meanwhile, 20.6 per cent. of women between 60 and 65 seek National Assistance and, when they reach the age of 80 and over, that figure rises to 30 per cent.
Whichever way it is done, whether general or selective, there is no doubt that there is real need today for an increase of some sort for a comparative percentage of pensioners. We must do something before next winter, and I urge my right hon. Friend to set up an independent committee to look at the level of contributions and Exchequer payments throughout the social services, this committee to report urgently and at the same time to initiate an analysis of the position of old people throughout the country, as suggested in the report written by Mrs. Cole.
Regarding matters of National Assistance, I hope that the two bites which my right hon. Friend took at the National Assistance rates and the increases he made on the last occasion will not be repeated in the same way, for he put the pension up but at the same time he did not proportionately increase the National Assistance rates. This is not just a political issue, for many people found this. Despite the two increases—of 10s. and 14s.—when it came to the increase last April it meant that those who had been enjoying the increase in National Assistance benefits of the previous 18 months found that it appeared as if their pensions went up by only a very small amount. I am, of course, referring to those on National Assistance.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
Does not a difficult and regrettable position arise from the fact that the National Assistance Board, by virtue of its terms 1215 of reference and constitution, sometimes makes a recommendation for an increase in assistance at a time when an increase in the standard rate of insurance benefit is not contemplated?
§ Mr. Browne
Surely the Minister is in control of this outfit? Surely he is the person who eventually decides whether or not there should be an increase? I am suggesting that even if he gets such recommendations in the future the two should be tied together. I am entirely in favour of the National Assistance scales being raised separately, but only so long as they are raised equally with pensions when there is an increase in pension.
Concerning disregards, there seem to be two things wrong, which I hope my right hon. Friend will put right. First, someone who draws an external pension, as opposed to someone who is earning money, is worse off. In other words, the disregard for a supplementary pension is only 30s. while it is 40s. for an earner. Secondly and more important is the question of capital disregards. I realise that they were put up in 1959, that the first £100 is disregarded and that the next £600 is also disregarded and that, for that £600, 6d. a week is the income which is considered to be the amount which should be earned on the capital.
That is not very much if the capital is invested, say, in undated Government stock, and I ask my right hon. Friend whether it is tone nominal value or the actual value at the time the National Assistance officer sees a particular person. This point of capital disregards and this anomaly is well illustrated on page 93 of the Survey. I have worked out that, on the basis that it is 6d. income on every £25 capital, this capital would have to be earning 5¼ per cent. I know from letters I have received from people who have their money invested in undated Government stock, War Loan and the like that many old-age pensioners have their money in this sort of stock and are getting 3½ per cent. So I worked it out that while in respect of the disregards scale the National Assistance Board says that a pensioner can have 14s. per week disregarded on this basis, if one has £700 invested in 3½ per cent. stock the chances are that one gets 1216 about 8s. 8d. a week, so that the combined total of a single pension with the income comes to 66s. 2d.
It can be argued—it is argued, understandably—that one should not through National Assistance help those with considerable capital assets. I accept that. But there are, surely, two strong arguments for increasing the capital disregards or turning them into income disregards for unearned income instead. First, there has been this decrease in the value of undated stock. Second, and much more important, we are always telling people that they must save—rightly so—and yet those who have put a bit by are the hardest hit by the system. I have found in my constituency that many of these people with small savings and probably an owner-occupied house with all the outgoings entailed are, as a result of the carnage of the First World War, spinsters or widows. I suggest that it would be sensible to increase the level in these cases.
I had a number of other points which I wish to raise—about widowed mothers, widows and so on—but time is getting on and many other hon. Members wish to speak. Consequently, I shall content myself by saying in conclusion that I believe that, although my right hon. Friend has made many real improvements in respect of the various categories in need during the short time I have been in the House, the time has come for a reassessment of the present principles upon which, in particular, the Exchequer expenditure on our social services is based. Bearing in mind the increasing number of people annually reaching retirement age, the changing social pattern and the obvious need for improvements in the scales for many pensioners, it is essential that an independent committee should study the right order of priorities now so that the Minister can this summer bring to the House proposals to increase the level of benefits in one form or another for next winter.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne), when he takes part in these debates, always introduces a number of points which are very acceptable and show that he gives deep thought to these problems. He has done that again this evening. I detected, however, a trend in 1217 his speech tonight where he joined company with some of his hon. Friends. I regard that as straying from the straight and narrow path, and that is very dangerous. He joined forces with some of his hon. Friends, who talked about giving particular attention only to those who are 70 years of age or over.
We have now had many speeches and many references in letters to newspapers about this point, coupled with the insistence of many Conservative spokesmen in the country that we are misguided in having increases for all pensioners, and that we must, instead, concentrate available resources upon those who are among the poorest of the poor. Taking those two trends together, I rather fear that we are facing a reactionary barrage that desires a development of our social services backwards instead of forwards.
The argument that we must concentrate our available resources on the poorest of the poor is nothing new. It was the argument that was bandied about in the 1830s and 1840s, when the early pioneers of social service demanded the sort of social services that Lord Beveridge later suggested. It looks deceptively attractive, but it is nothing but a refurbished system of old-fashioned charity.
There is an important point to remember about the 2½ million people to whom the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran) referred who are estimated by the survey which he quoted to live on or below the poverty line. Throughout his speech he never mentioned the sections which are just above that line. One must not. assume for one moment that merely because one does not belong to that poorest section, and is just above it, one is enjoying a decent basis of existence.
§ Mr. Browne
The hon. Gentleman is right up to a point, but this is bound to happen in National Assistance scales. The only alternative is to raise the basic pension to such a high level that National Assistance is not necessary at all.
§ Mr. Mendelson
I completely agree with the alternative, but I was dealing with the point made by the hon. Member for Uxbridge, who did not at any time tell us what he thought of the social composition of those groups of pen- 1218 sioners out of the 5½ million who are just above the poverty line. He mentioned 2½ million and invited the Minister to confirm or deny that as a correct analysis. We should be most misguided to assume that the only problem of near-poverty that exists in this country today is concentrated in these 2½ million pensioners. That is the substantial point that I submit to the House.
I wish to deal with certain points made by the Parliamentary Secretary. I regret that the hon. Lady is not at the moment in her place, because I propose to criticise her. I do not for a moment criticise her absence, because she has been sitting here throughout the afternoon and if she is to be here for the conclusion of the debate there must be some time when she cannot follow the debate. I understand that, and there is nothing personal about what I say. None the less, it is a pity that she is not here, because it is a happier exercise to criticise an hon. Member who is present.
The hon. Lady made a technically highly competent speech. To that extent, I join in the congratulations which have been offered to her. It was a very fine piece of work, speaking for the first time in a major debate of this kind and showing the mastery of the facts that she did. However, I warn her that with that technical competence she is in danger of doing what she referred to when she said that she had academically gone very thoroughly through the report that she was discussing.
My impression at the end of the hon. Lady's speech was that all she had given us was a purely academic performance. It was remarkable that she was capable of making a long speech on the tragic position of many of our old people without making any reference whatsoever to her real experience of how they live. All the time I felt that I was back in the university seminar and that we were having a purely academic exercise.
§ Mr. Mendelson
They do, and they are quite justified in doing that.
I am sure that my hon. Friend will be with me in this, because he enormously encourages university life and learning and is himself by way of being a scholar, particularly of the Constitution. I am 1219 sure that he will be with me when I say that where one has to concentrate upon training scholars it is not necessary to bring to the fore all the time the personal experience of day-to-day life.
However, to some extent the hon. Lady is in charge of the nation's resources in that her Department is responsible for making the case to the Cabinet and in the Cabinet when occasion arises—they are the only people who are constitutionally charged with looking after the welfare of our old-age pensioners—and I should have expected more experience and more reality in her speech.
I thought that the hon. Lady was rather unfair on one or two occasions when she was discussing the surveys which have recently been made. First, she referred to the booklet published by Mr. Tony Lynes, and said that he had concentrated too heavily in his survey on old-age pensioners who were also smokers. This may not be regarded as a point of great substance, but I thought that the hon. Lady was unfair in what she said about the men who had undertaken the survey.
Mr. Lynes says in a footnote to his pamphlet that in 1957 the Tobacco Duty concession was claimed by about half of all retirement pensioners, and that, therefore, he had to make some decision as to how the survey was to be based. He says:In the case of tobacco a further adjustment was made in the two groups of pensioner households to eliminate non-smokers. This seemed desirable because of the effect of the Tobacco Duty concession for pensioners, introduced in 1947 and withdrawn in January, 1958. It was assumed that 50 per cent. of the single pensioners were smokers and 80 per cent. of the pensioner couples included at least one smoker.That seems to me a reasonable basis, and I would not have introduced it in a major debate, but, obviously, the hon. Lady was making this point and it appeared at the end of her criticism that there was perhaps a less serious approach to this selection than Mr. Lynes ought to have undertaken. I should like to take this opportunity to justify what he did.
More important than that, when the hon. Lady referred to a point of great substance, namely, whether the normal cost of living index was applicable 1220 totally, completely and justifiably to the weekly total outlay of old-age pensioners, she concentrated on the items of food and fuel, and told us that while in the case of fuel the total weekly outlay for old-age pensioners was higher and more expensive after a number of years, with food it was the other way around.
The case made by Mr. Lynes was based, first, on the Report of the Political and Economic Planning Institute, which published a broadsheet, Poverty Ten Years After Beveridge in 1952, and, secondly, as the Minister knows—and as the hon. Lady knows, because she told us she had gone through this carefully—on the survey suggested and undertaken by Professor R. G. D. Allen, and it is the first four or five items of essential expenditure that form the basis of these two surveys.
I do not want to make too long a speech, because I know that other hon. Members want to speak, but I should like to quote one set of figures to oppose the analysis which the hon. Lady tried to give the House. Based on the figures suggested by Professor Allen, and quoting his results, we find that during the period 1953 to 1957, which is a more relevant period because it falls within the period of the Government of the party to which the right hon. Gentleman the Minister belongs, the amount of money paid out on all goods by the ordinary families that form the basis of the cost-of-living index surveys rose by 16T per cent. When this test is applied to the old-age pensioner who was living alone, the corresponding increase was 20.2 per cent. When applied to a couple, one finds that the figure rose by 17.9 per cent., still 2 per cent. more than for the average index family.
Those are some of the figures. I know that the hon. Lady could not give a complete analysis of these surveys, but they put a different construction on the essential point that there is a basic difference between the necessary requirement in a total weekly outlay and the percentage of the total weekly outlay for an old-age pensioner or an old-age couple compared with the ordinary family which forms the basis of the cost-of-living index survey.
When discussing the booklet published by Dorothy Cole and her associates the hon. Lady again concentrated, perhaps 1221 naturally, upon some of the figures and on some of the more general points which had been made. She referred to one or two details, including one that I regard as of great importance and would like to submit to the House for consideration. The hon. Lady talked for some time about the number of people who, in the opinion of those who conducted this survey, would be entitled to National Assistance, but did not receive it. The hon. Lady pointed out that there were only a few people—in the end she reduced the figure to two, which made it appear very tiny indeed—who fell into this category with whom forms had been left and in respect of whom, after investigation, it was decided that new National Assistance payments should not be made.
We have to remember what the people who conducted the survey said, and I submit that this should have been quoted before the hon. Lady gave the House her critical analysis of the position. The authors said:We must not conclude from this that there are very few old people with entitlement to Assistance but not getting it. On the contrary a detailed study of the 400 cases on which this report is based suggested that there were many more.They go on to show in detail the facts and figures on which they based this analysis.
I turn now to one or two general problems arising out of the debate. First, I think that it is important to realise that the background to this debate cannot be dealt with in the way in which the hon. Lady approached the problem. She said at one stage that if we compared the average earnings among the categories that she enumerated we might find that average earnings had gone up by 129 per cent. since 1951.
That figure would be arrived at by basing the calculation on the years suggested by the hon. Lady. I make no complaint of that. Whoever has to work out these figures has to select a basis on which to work, and there is bound to be disagreement about the base which is selected. The hon. Lady said that there had been an increase of average earnings of 129 per cent. since 1951, that National Assistance had gone up by 125 per cent., that that was not a big gap, and that National Insurance itself had gone up by rather more.
1222 How can people who started from a poor base line in 1951, or at any time since then, fairly be compared with people who have either been in employment over these years, or have had other earned or unearned income over the same period? How can it be assumed that all these groups started from scratch and have faced the same problem?
Some years ago, when I was working for other institutions which have their value, at one point I started in a very modest and small way a survey of my own. It concerned 148 old-age pensioners. I had 12 helpers. The information was given to me in confidence. Therefore, I have never published it. I have never been entitled to publish it. However, I am allowed to make a number of general remarks about what I found.
My first and most impressive discovery at the very beginning of my modest survey was the tragic fact of how far old-age pensioners had been left behind. In many cases there was a very serious problem when the local authority offered to an old-age pensioner's family an old-age pensioner bungalow. Many housing authorities adopt the sensible policy of providing bungalows for people whose sons and daughters have married and have homes of their own. Many pensioners found it extremely difficult to find enough furniture to make the new home properly habitable.
The second thing I found tragically confirmed was the decision which has to be made every time a member of an old-age pensioner's family has to replace a piece of clothing by a new piece of clothing. These are the realities. How can we assume for one moment that a base line can be taken from all these different groups starting from scratch? It is beyond my comprehension. I do not want to charge the hon. Lady with introducing it in this way. She was honestly reporting in her own way what she had discovered when comparing the surveys with the figures available in her Ministry. But it would be completely misleading if we overlooked the basic realities facing many old age pensioners.
This does not mean that I do not regard statistics or comparative surveys as valuable in coming to an analysis of the position. The Minister knows the 1223 tragic situation as well as I do. I know that he knows it, because with other hon. Members we have served on a Standing Committee together. He was as capable of referring to the human side of this problem as any other member of the Standing Committee. I know this very well. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will easily take my point that the Government are not making a proper contribution to the solution of this problem if hey confine themselves, in 1962, merely to an analysis which proves that, by taking certain base lines, they have not done worse than their political opponents did in the past.
I come to what I think should be done about the present situation. There is no doubt that when the pay pause is over the Minister will be responsible for arguing the case of old-age pensioners with the Government. He will have the constitutional duty of representing opinion in this House and in the country. However hesitant some of the proposals made by one or two of his hon. Friends have been, I know that a number of hon. Members opposite are in basic agreement with us that the time is overdue for a reasonable increase in the old-age pension and in the scales of National Assistance.
I want to mention one practical point about National Assistance which is mentioned in the surveys and has been mentioned today. In various parts of the country there is complaint, about which I should like to hear the Minister's opinion, that there is rather unequal treatment in the granting of additional supplementary allowances by different offices of the National Assistance Board, To quote one example, the introduction of smokeless zones creates a special problem. This problem is only one of many which face old-age pensioners. There is a need to introduce a new type of smokeless fuel. I have received many letters from people who think that this change leads old-age pensioners into a difficult position, because they have to spend more money on fuel, which is one of their main essentials.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman is not responsible for the fuel side of the question. I am not raising this point with that in mind. He is responsible for the offices of the National Assistance 1224 Board. It has been reported to me, as it has been reported to other hon. Members, that in some cases additional allowances are agreed upon after consideration. In other cases, as the authors of the survey indicate, there is need for a special doctor's certificate.
I want to make a brief quotation from a letter I have received from one of my constituents to whom I have sent the Minister's opinion and the opinion of the Minister of Fuel and Power, who had consulted the right hon. Gentleman's Department. I forwarded their opinion to my constituent and said to her:The Minister is convinced that additional allowances are being paid where such fuel increases in an old-age pensioner's household might arise.The lady who is a constituent of mine quotes the following paragraph from a letter from the Minister of Pensions:Allowances are already available through the National Assistance Board and I hope that people will approach the Board to see if there is any way in which we can help.The lady's letter continues:This is not true. The pensioners are still only getting the ordinary winter allowances, so why should it be put in this way?I should like the Minister to clear up that point and tell us whether there is any uniform administrative practice.
In her absence from the Chamber I mentioned a great many things over which I disagreed with the Parliamentary Secretary. But I agree with her when she says that comparisons between social services in this and other countries may be undertaken only with great care because the conclusions arrived at are often misleading. We have recently received a number of figures relating to Common Market countries where the detailed contributions were not mentioned, but only the total figure as a percentage of the gross national product.
That can lead to conclusions which are quite misleading. There are certain definite advantages about our insurance system which I should not like to see replaced by a system based on other principles. But when my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) accuses the Government of allowing the country to fall behind in comparison with the systems of other countries, and says that we are not leading the world any more, he is quite correct.
1225 There is no doubt that we shall have to come to a system in which we relate the earnings of people over the last five years before they retire to the amount of pension which they receive after retirement. I find that what leads to tragedy for many old people is the terrible gap between the last week when they receive remuneration for their work and the first week when they cease to be gainfully employed. It is essential that we agree on a system in the years to come which will result in the abolition of this gap.
I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Torrington that an independent committee could remove his duties and responsibilities from the shoulders of the Minister. No committee could do that because in the end the right hon. Gentleman, as the head of a Department, is the only person who can recommend a decision to the Cabinet and to the Government and get it backed by a majority in this House. But I have always hoped that from time to time we should realise that this is a highly political matter and that it is the duty of the Opposition to remind the Government of their responsibilities when the Opposition consider that the Government are failing in their duty as is the case tonight.
Above all, the right hon. Gentleman should regard it as his definite responsibility to do what he can—even at the expense of fighting his own colleagues upon occasions—for the welfare of our old people. That is essential. It is also essential that members of the Opposition should go into the Division Lobbies tonight in order to remind the country that the Minister and the Government are not doing their duty. I still hope, however, that after due consideration the Minister will find it possible to accept some of the arguments which we have advanced and that in the not-too-distant future the necessary increases in pensions will be made. If that does not happen it will be appreciated by many people that it was wrong and unintelligent of the Government not to have agreed with what we are pressing them to do.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
I always follow with pleasure the well-informed and intelligent speeches of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendel- 1226 son) on this matter. I hope that he will forgive me if I do not follow him too closely tonight, although I shall refer to what he said in the course of my remarks, because I wish to give an opportunity for others to speak.
I shall not deal with lengthy comparisons between the situation of pensioners today and what it was at different times in the past. The pensioners are now rather ahead in the game, so to speak, in relation to the cost of living. Let us keep it so and let every Government consider it a responsibility to keep it so. Every discussion about pensions is concerned with how to increase pensions; at least, I have never taken part in discussions on how to decrease pensions. In discussions on how to increase pensions in the future, we have to decide what should be first priority, to increase National Assistance or to increase National Insurance.
National Assistance has one great asset, in that it goes to those people who obviously need it most. It has some defects as well. In the first place, it does smell of charity. I yield to no one in my admiration of the way in which National Assistance is administered, but every hon. Member will agree from experience in his constituency that it suffers from the disability that none of the money, so to speak, has been earned by the definite work of the person concerned. Secondly, there is the limitation that it can never rise higher than the lowest average wage, because that would make it much easier for some people to live on National Assistance and not to work.
My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary made an excellent speech and I should like to join in congratulating her. In opening the debate, she said that a family with three children might be drawing £9 a week. That is not far ahead of the basic wage which the hon. Member for Norfolk, Southwest (Mr. Hilton) mentioned for his constituency. There must, therefore, come a level where National Assistance is no longer applicable. National Assistance is quite irrelevant to the difficult transitional period, mentioned by the hon. Member for Penistone, between the day before and the day after a man retires. I therefore conclude that the main weight should be on National Insurance. Should it be an all-round basic increase such 1227 as is generally proposed by most hon. Members of the party opposite?
It is said in argument against us that it is wrong to subsidise the rich, and sc it is. This must be good Tory philosophy. I have never understood why we cannot get over this at least to some extent by taxation. This is the argument for family allowances. We pay family allowances whether the recipient is rich or poor. The rich man pays more taxes but does not benefit to the same extent.
Nevertheless, it is fashionable in many places to consider a selective rather than a general increase, and I should like to consider this for a moment. What categories, if we have to make them, can we help most? It is difficult to choose, as has been discovered in taxation and in the repayment of post-war credits, between individual needs. Therefore, one must have a category which is clearly defined.
The category to which several of my hon. Friends have referred is what I might call the older age group—not the 90s but the 70s. This is a category which, obviously, can be specified. The case for this category has logic. Certain comforts become much more necessary at the age of 70—special foods and the like. Most of my constituency is a rural area, involving the travelling considerable distances for those living in the villages. This is especially hard for people as they become older. The increase in bus fares, which has been made necessary by various factors, is a hardship.
In the villages, as old people become increasingly unable to get out and do their own shopping in the market town, there arises the problem of the delivery charge which is sometimes made by tradesmen and which falls most heavily on them. In the rural areas, too, disappointment was widely felt at the increase of telephone and rental charges. Most retirement pensioners do not want to use the telephone. I go further and say that most people do not want to use it. We all hate the instrument, but we sometimes like to know that it is there even if we do not want to answer it. To have it in the house but not to use it is a sort of reinsurance that old people like. I am sorry that the cost 1228 bears also on rural people rather than on those who live closer to their neighbours. There is, therefore, a strong case for increased benefit at a later age.
My hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne) was unwilling that contributions by lower-paid workers should be raised to meet in-increased benefits. One way in which the problem might be handled is by a percentage increase based on wages, as is done on the Continent of Europe. It is difficult to make many valuable comparisons with Common Market countries; there are so many different scales. Comparisons have been made with Germany and the high pensions which workers who have been insured in Germany have on retirement.
One must, however, be selective, because German pensions are not paid on the day of retirement unless the worker has been insured for 40 years, which none of us has been. The Germans have been insured for that length of time because Bismarck started the scheme back in the 1880s. One day, when most of us have passed away, we will all have been insured for forty years, too. Nor does the comparison extend to everybody in Germany, because, on the whole, it is only the industrially employed who are covered.
The comparison with France is not a good one, because only 20 per cent. of wages is paid on retirement and less than half the population is covered. Those who are not in industrial employment do not get any benefit. My information about the Netherlands differs from that given by one hon. Member opposite. Since 1957, the main Dutch scheme has been strictly actuarial and nobody receives from the scheme more than he has paid into it by contributions. Again, forty years' insurance is necessary. The actuarial value of the pension under the British scheme is £3,000 and the maximum contribution by a man and his wife cannot exceed £300.
One thing which is certain about the Continent is that contributions there are much higher, though our taxation is higher. We have other benefits which the Continent does not enjoy, such as a better Health Service. We do not have quite such high family allowances, but I do not suppose that everybody here would agree that 1229 the French scale, which is three times as high as ours, would be appropriate.
Certainly, we will have to make changes if we enter the Common Market because of the difference in the amount of the contribution paid by employers. In the Common Market countries, employers contribute much more to the social benefits of the employee than is done in this country. The everage contribution by employers is 42 per cent. of wages, whereas the contribution by employers in this country is only 12 per cent. This makes one believe that if we were to turn over to the continental system, we must have changes. It would not be sufficient merely to increase the percentage of contribution paid by the employer. To do so would put our cost of manufacture far ahead of everybody else's. Therefore, if we changed over to the continental system, it would be necessary for us to accept a sharp reduction in wages. I cannot believe that this would be acceptable policy to anybody and it would be difficult to advocate.
The true measure of the social charges made upon people on the Continent lies in taxation and the wage content of the product. In the advanced Common Market countries at least, the wage content of the product is little lower than it is here. I hope that this point will be borne in mind if our negotiations with the Common Market reach a decisive stage, because we do not want to change over to a system that would increase our costs and be unfair to our contributors.
I support the Amendment. I believe that we have kept the pensioner ahead of the game. This is by no means the last debate that we shall have on the subject. I certainly consider it the duty of every Government to bear the lot of these people in mind.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
I agree with the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw), who has so kindly galloped through his speech to give someone else a chance to take part in the debate, that it is important that we should concentrate on an increase in the basic pension and should not pursue the tendency of hon. Members opposite who preceded him and who said that all we need to do is to increase the National Assistance scale.
1230 In the few minutes left to me, I want to make one point. We have had an argument developed by hon. Members opposite which shows a dangerous tendency. The hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) produced the usual argument that we were facing an inflationary situation and that in that situation it was the prime duty of the Minister of Pensions to bear in mind the need to maintain the value of the currency and the strength of the pound and, therefore, he must not indulge in lavish increases in expenditure.
I wish that the hon. Member were here, because I should have liked to challenge him on the point and to ask him how he voted on the Surtax concession. Did he vote against that as inflationary? We must bear in mind that when hon. Members say that the country cannot afford increases in old-age pensions, it is because they are concerned to cut down the Exchequer element in the cost of the pensions. They are doing it not to fight inflation, but to give Surtax concessions to those who are already so well off.
I ask the Minister to tell us, when he replies to the debate, what answer he gave to the National Federation of Old-Age Pensions Associations when it sent a deputation to see him a few days ago and presented material to show that the Exchequer contribution towards helping the old people has been steadily diminishing. Unfortunately, I have not the time to deploy in full the argument which they deployed before him, but they make clear in the document which they put before him that whereas between 1949 and 1960 the contribution by employers and employees to the pensions scheme increased by 100 per cent., during the equivalent period the Exchequer contribution increased by only 25 per cent.
It is this tendency in the Government's approach to the financing of our social security schemes that we on this side of the House wish to fight. I want it made clear in the debate that we believe that if the Exchequer were doing its duty towards old-age pensioners, by paying a commensurately adequate contribution to the cost of the scheme, we could have this increase which is so long overdue without the vast increases in contributions by employed workers to which 1231 the Minister has so frequently referred. The Exchequer element is not playing its part in meeting the needs of our old people. It is not playing its part not because of a great campaign against inflation, but because the Government, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) has pointed out, have been running down their share of the responsibility in order to make tax concessions to people who already enjoy incomes which make the incomes of those on National Assistance and old-age pensions look like something out of Dickens' day.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
There is no doubt that the House has shown, rightly, a considerable interest in the debate. Whilst the speeches may have been good tempered, certainly from this side of the House they have evinced our continuing concern about the well-being of these people for whom all of us are the spokesmen. When we consider that only by our actions in this House will their position be maintained or improved, and when we appreciate that they of all people are probably more weak and more helpless in the face of the economic stress and circumstances which engulf not only them but others, it becomes all the more difficult to appreciate the remark that was made by the Minister when addressing a meeting of Conservative women at Bournemouth, that the Opposition were "returning to their vomit of pensioneering". I do not mind if we on this side of the House are likened to dogs. Somebody once said that when he looked at hon. Members on the other side of the House he found more fidelity in dogs.
However, we should appreciate that what one hon. Member opposite said is true, that no party has a monopoly in compassion. But one party has a monopoly of power. It is only the Government who can initiate action. Only Government supporters, by taking the right action in the Lobbies, can exercise their power to assist the people of whom we have been talking. That is why we have moved this Motion.
I congratulate the hon. Lady the Joint Parliamentary Secretary on her speech. It was very charming. We on 1232 this side of the House have always appreciated her statistics.
§ Mrs. Thatcher
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. May I say that my statistics were wrong at the point at which he interrupted me. The relevant figures should have been 15s. 8d. and 13s. 8d., instead of 12s. 9d. and 9s. 10d. I think that they were the only wrong statistics.
§ Mr. Ross
The figures are not vital, but it shows that we were right. We appreciate the hon. Lady's statistics, but we do not like her figures—in the plural. The answer that we got is the one that we expected, and we shall no doubt get it again from the Minister.
Reference has been made to the fact that the Minister has been in his present position for about six years. He is now in his seventh year and almost qualifies for a Ministerial pension. I would describe him as a man who has had a varying brood of Parliamentary Secretaries who are now scattered throughout the Ministries in the Government. They have come and they have gone, but he has waited. He is the head waiter. He is going to dish us out tonight his usual dish of cooked statistics, selected, slightly stale perhaps, rehashed, but they will be incomplete and most of them will be quite irrelevant to the real issue facing the ordinary people.
The comparison is not with the increase in the cost of living since 1946. The comparison is with what people who have retired and are retiring today consider are the hardships that they have got to face—the unemployed man and the man who is going to be unemployed next week. It is the drop from his present earning power and the purchasing power of has weekly wage to managing on National Insurance benefit.
If we take the relevant statistics from 1946 onwards we find that that gap has widened and widened, and never was it wider than it is now. In that respect, there is today greater hardship than there ever was. We should be moving away from the ideas of Beveridge, away from what was thought right in 1942 or 1944 when we were looking back at the prewar years, and the years of hardship and unemployment. Surely, we set ourselves better standards now—or are we to tell people who are retiring that there 1233 are certain things that other people take for granted as part of the livelihood of every individual but which they must forgo?
There was a time when a wireless set was a luxury. Then it became a necessity. Now it is a nuisance when it is carried around. We have not yet got to the stage of carrying round the television set, but would not everyone agree that television is no longer a luxury but, for retired people particularly, a necessity? Yet the cost of a wireless and television licence is £4 a year. In addition, there is maintenance. Everybody knows what maintenance in respect of one single item alone can mean. All that, of course, changes our whole attitude to pensions and, indeed, to the allowances necessary for what old people should have.
I am surprised and shocked that hon. Members opposite are prepared to be fed with this dished-up statistical argument. It just does not meet the case. There was little change in the relative value of the pension from 1946 right through to 1957 or 1958. At times, of course, we reached—as we always do when the Minister brings in a new Bill—a new peak, but before many months had passed the rising sea of prices had made that new peak look pretty small.
That is happening today. We have this Government Amendment signed by the Prime Minister himself—he did not sign this the day after he made the Guildhall speech:noting with approval the substantial improvements in the value and standard of National Insurance and other social security benefits which have been made since 1951 …What improvements have been made since 1951 that are worth crowing about?
The only real improvements in relation to a share of rising prosperity that went beyond the cost of living were those made in the last increase—and let us remember what The Times said about that. This is the one statistical quotation that I hope to inflict upon the House. When the pension was raised by 10s., a leading article in The Times of 19th November, 1957, said:An index of working-class living costs allowing for big rent increases suggests that pensions of the 1946 real value would have to amount to 47s. and 76s. 6d. in 1958.1234 That is for a single person and a couple respectively:The rates proposed are 50s."—that is 3s. more:and 80s."—that is 3s. 6d. more:The higher figures have come about because the Government in addition to making the adjustment to higher prices have had the courage to abolish the tobacco subsidy for pensioners who happen (or claim) to be smokers.In other words, if we take into account the wiping out of the tobacco subsidy the net increase in the 1958 rates over those of 1946 could be measured in pennies. Therefore, in order to examine the validity of this Amendment that has been signed by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, we have to look at what happened in the case of the last increase. It was on 2nd November, 1960, that the Government announced that they were going to fulfil their election pledge by giving the old people, including the existing pensioners, a share in the rising prosperity of the country. The then Parliamentary Secretary, on Second Reading, said that pensions now had a new look, thanks to the sound policies of the Government, and after three months we were in an economic crisis.
Here is the point. The hon. Lady and the right hon. Gentleman today told off one of my hon. Friends for saying that we related the changes in the cost of living that happened since that time to the date of the announcement and the Second Reading, when we really should start with when the pension came into force, which was the first week in April, 1961. Let me remind her what the right hon. Gentleman said and what the last Parliamentary Secretary of her own sex said when we discussed this matter in this House. They said that, of this great new increase of 7s. 6d. for a single person and 12s. 6d. for a couple, 1s. 1d. for the single person and 1s. 9d. for the couple related to the previous rise in costs. That was said, I think, on 12th November, 1960, and on 24th November, when we were at another stage of the Bill, we got new figures. The 1s. 1d. had risen, I think, to 1s. 9d., and the 1s. 9d. had risen to 2s. 5d.
If the right hon. Gentleman is to trot out to us, as did the hon. Lady today, the argument that the cost of living had 1235 risen by only just over 2 points, that was the period to which those two points related, and we are entitled to point out to them that since the increase was announced on 2nd November, 4s. of the 12s. 6d. has been eroded by the cost of living. If we left it there, the couple would receive an increase at today's prices of 6s., but we cannot leave it there, and, with due respect to the hon. Lady, I think she was most unfair to people who are applying their minds to the needs of the old people. She did not quarrel with their statistics. She did not refute any of their statistics. What she did was to say that she would have preferred them to have taken others. She did not like them, but their statistics were very relevant, because we cannot get from the present index of retail prices a proper picture of how old people are affected in regard to their expenditure.
Let the hon. Lady go into the Library or ask the Minister of Labour to supply her with the Ministry of Labour Gazette published at the end of February, which gives details about the rise in the cost of living for the month of January, and see what it shows. It shows that the increase in the cost of potatoes and vegetables has been partly offset by the decrease in the prices of tomatoes and fresh fruit. Will she tell me how much fresh fruit old-age pensioners are buying? It also states in another section that the increased cost of haircutting and of cinemas has been partly offset by the seasonal decrease in the cost of dry cleaning. What relevance has dry cleaning to old-age pensions? All that we can get from a retail price index is a trend. It does not measure the cost of living of any person. Every old-age pensioner has a different budget, and in different parts of the country there are different problems.
I warn my English colleagues that Scotland has a problem which they have yet to face. I want to quote from a letter I received from one of my constituents who lives at 31, Main Road, Gatehead, near Kilmarnock:Dear Sir, Old-age pensioners and the new valuations … I got the rates demand note today as under. The County rate, the Kilmarnock District Council rate, The Gatehead Drainage rate, lighting, scavenging and water rate—total, 19s. 7d. in the pound. … Total paid on the old rates, in 1960, £9 10s. In 1961, £33 5s. 10d. Extra over the old rate. 1236 £23 15s. 10d.—an increase of 9s. 1½d. per week. The 12s. 6d. per week increase in pension has been reduced by this one thing to 3s. 4½d.I have another letter from a constituent who is very much more meticulous. He gives the date, the item of increase, the amount, and what it means weekly to him. He says that on 8th February, 1961, the coal price was increased by merchants by 3d., which cost him 6d. extra weekly. Electricity was up so much per unit. On 1st March local and Sunday newspapers went up by 1d. per week. He also refers to the fact that National Health prescriptions were increased from 1s. to 2s. an item. Do the prescription charges and their increases enter into the retail price index? If the hon. Lady will consult the Ministry of Labour index she will find that doctors' and dentists' fees and the like are not included. Before the much-heralded increase of 7s. 6d. for an individual and 12s. 6d. for a couple came into force the prescription charge was raised from 1s. per item to 2s. per item.
If the right hon. Gentleman looks up his report from the National Assistance Board he will find that in 1960, of £1 million spent in relation to prescription charges, only £32,000 related to people who were not receiving National Assistance. Therefore, for the great bulk of people who are on retirement and other fixed incomes this is a considerable burden. Indeed, taking that amount off the 6s. that was left, there is little left of these new high-level payments.
The Government have every reason to be concerned about the position of the pensioners, because every one of these items is needed by them, day by day. My constituent has a little additional pension, upon which he pays Income Tax of 2s. 10½d. He says that haircutting and dress collars are up, and that cigarettes are up. He says that he is giving them up. Whisky is up—this was on 3rd July, 1961—by a 1d. per nip. He says that he has not quite given this up. This amounts to 3d. The Reader's Digest has gone up by 6d. per issue. Are these things all luxuries? They constitute part of these people's standard of living.
My constituent recalls that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's austerity Budget came in July, and that on 1st August there was an increase in bus 1237 fares. Then the Postmaster-General helped things by putting up the cost of telephones, and on 1st October increased postal charges. On the 7th October there was an increase in local rates. On the 1st January last, the insurance companies put up the cost of insurance against fire.
We have not yet mentioned in these items, which amount to 19s. 3d. a week, the increases in the prices of food, clothing and many other items. My correspondent writes that when he handed this list over to his wife she assured him that the 5s. increase granted to wives last year did not cover the higher prices of groceries, vegetables and other food.
The pension has been whittled away and many old people are considerably worse off. This applies not only to pensioners but to those on fixed incomes. When hon. Members opposite say that some of these people do not rely only on a pension but have a small income besides, they should remember that these fixed incomes are also being eroded. There is, in effect, a double attack on such people.
Government supporters have no reason to be complacent about what has happened since November, 1960. The number of points by which the cost-of-living index has risen is seven. The National Insurance Act, 1960, received its First Reading on 2nd November, 1960, and the figure on which the Minister worked was the September figure of 110.5. What is the figure today? We do not know, because today is the day on which the Ministry of Labour is calculating the current month's cost of living. It is calculated on the Tuesday nearest to the 15th of the month. The figure will not be published until February's issue of the Ministry of Labour Gazette.
The latest figure we have is for January, when it was 117.5, an increase of 7 points over September, 1960. In the Ministry of Labour Gazette, there are pages and pages listing wage increases in the printing and steel industries and others related to the cost-of-living increase. Under the arrangement of a sliding scale, there is an automatic increase when the cost of living rises 2 points.
We are here dealing with the most helpless people—but they are still told 1238 by hon. Members opposite that they are in affluence at 57s. 6d. for a single person and 92s. 6d. for a couple. A great many have no other income. The average payment of National Assistance covers rent, with about 2s. more. Last year the average overall National Assistance payment was 34s. 4d., but the weekly supplement for old people alone averaged out at 22s. 6d. The average rent allowance is just over £1. People are stepping down from a reasonable income and are losing the purchasing power of their money because they are losing their earning power. But their liabilities remain the same. Many of their liabilities are increasing as a result of the Government's action, supported by hon. Members opposite.
A footnote to the letter which I have received from Kilmarnock is that a rent increase is imminent. I should have been discussing that in the Scottish Standing Committee upstairs tonight. Many may wonder why there have been so many vacant benches today. The reason is that members of two important Standing Committees, namely, those on the Transport Bill and on the Housing (Scotland) Bill, were denied the right to participate in this debate and to state their feelings about the increases which will arise from current legislation.
We are here concerned with over 7 million people. It is not good enough for hon. Members to say, "There are some people in need". The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran), in a speech which was certainly worth listening to, said that we should do something about certain specific categories. He underrated what it would cost to deal with some of those categories. He seemed to think that the matter could be dealt with just like that. Other hon. Members have put forward their points of view to show the measure of restive-ness that there is about this matter, even on the benches opposite.
However, far too many hon. Members took refuge by saying that the matter should be dealt with by increases in National Assistance. Let us face it: that is the cheapest way to deal with it. The only thing settled by the Government in this matter over the past few years has been their contribution to the financing of pensions. They have settled it to the satisfaction of their friends by 1239 limiting the Exchequer's liability and passing the burden to the employer and to the employee, both through his wages and through unpaid wages.
The Joint Parliamentary Secretary spoke about the contribution made in this matter by the 400,000 Surtax payers. But has she examined the contribution to pensions made by ordinary individuals during the past ten Tory years? The Government do not raise and support pensions. They have never once raised pensions without making a profit out of it in the first year. The Minister seemed to deny this today. I do not know why. Perhaps it was because he knew that I would have the relevant quotation ready. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman need not worry. I did not need to find it; I have quoted it so often. Like the Minister, I know it by heart. The date of it is 13th November, 1957. The Minister pointed out that by 1964–65 the pension burden on the country and on the Treasury would be £357 million. Then he said this:… we think that it is right that the country should assume the burden, although it is a profound mistake to under-rate the magnitude of the liabilities which … the taxpayers are assuming."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1957; Vol. 577, c. 976.]The right hon. Gentleman interrupted my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) today and denied that the taxpayers were assuming that burden In fact, what has happened?
The Government's most recent report shows that, this year, their contribution is £189 million. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary spoke earlier about the growing cost of insurance benefits and she cited the year 1981. Today the Government's contribution is £189 million. By 1981–82 the Exchequer supplement will rise to £238 million—representing even less in 1981–82 than they were prepared to face in 1964–65 under the old régime. How is it done? What is this wizardry, this graduated wizardy?
§ Mr. Ross
I select my words carefully. Hon. Gentlemen opposite constantly talk about taxation increases. Let me remind them that in 1952 they raised the pension—but they also raised an extra £64 million by increasing the 1240 contribution by 8d., and I am leaving out the employer's side of this. In 1955 they raised the contribution of the employee by 11d., resulting in their receiving £100 million. In 1958 they raised it by 1s. 9d. and got £190 million, and in 1960 they raised it by 1s. 5d. and got £136 million.
This is only the flat rate. It means an additional annual burden on employers and employees of more than £500 million a year, plus a further £202 million out of the graduated contributions. That represents £700 million together, and we are no nearer any feeling of satisfaction that we have solved the long term problem of pensions.
A man must pay at the top rate for six years before he can earn an extra 5s. on his pension; or 24 years before he can earn an additional £1. What will the £ be worth in 24 years time? The whole thing is just sheer nonsense as a contribution toward solving the pensions problem. All the Government solve is the Treasury problem, and all they have done is to transfer the burden to the individual. We have not given a fair share to the pensioners, and we have not erected any barriers to protect them against rising costs, for which the Government must accept responsibility.
The Government take great credit when, for 16 or 18 months, there is relative stability. Since they do that they must accept condemnation when we have a rise of 7 points in such a short time. I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer now and say that something must be done.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite ask why we call for immediate action now. The answer is that if we decide to do something today, judging by what happened at the time of the last "effort", it will be at least five months before anything practical is done for the pensioners. That is why we ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to face the issue now. They should not wait until the eve of the next General Election, for the needs of these people cannot wait.
I recall a speech made some time ago at the Guildhall, not by the Prime Minister but by the Lord Provost. He said that what was required today was for us to care for the people. That is 1241 what we are urging tonight; we are not returning to the vomit of electioneering as the Minister suggested. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite who care for people to ensure that they take the right action and go into the right Lobby and support the people who are suffering.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter)
From the moment that the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) sat down till the moment that the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) rose, we had a pensions debate that followed the usual pattern and as such was markedly out of relation to the Motion which right hon. Gentlemen opposite have seen fit to put upon the Order Paper.
Apart from the two hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Front Bench who spoke very much to the Motion—I shall have some words to say about it in a few minutes—we have had, and I would remind hon. Gentlemen that I have sat here right through this debate, an extremely useful pensions debate. It followed, of course, the usual relationship in point of time to pending by-elections. But we have got used to that. It is one of the happy coincidences of parliamentary life.
We have not had, as usual, any contribution from the Liberal benches.
§ Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West) rose—
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
In a moment. I am sorry if I woke up the hon. Gentleman, but this is the first time that any hon. Member has risen from the Liberal benches, so to encourage him I very happily give way.
§ Mr. Wade
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on a number of occasions I have spoken in pensions debates? Is he further aware that I and my colleagues frequently speak in debates on various subjects, but that if we attempt to speak in every debate we are not at all popular with the members of other parties?
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
We have before us what both my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite regard as one of the great issues of the day. Yet the Liberals do not enter into these debates lest they 1242 become unpopular with other parties. I leave it there.
We have had—here we follow the pattern of normal pensions debates—some extremely useful and thoughtful speeches from my hon. Friends the Members for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw), Uxbridge (Mr. Curran) and Ilford, North (Mr. Ire-monger), and one or two other hon. Members, all of which would have added up to a useful way of spending the day if we had not had the Opposition Motion to deal with.
I always enjoy listening to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, a pleasure which, I understand, is enjoyed in even fuller measure by those hon. Members who have the privilege of serving on the Scottish Grand Committee. The hon. Member always recalls to me the remark of someone who had served on many juries about a famous advocate—that he was a brilliant advocate but that the other man seemed always to have the better case.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
That is, of course, the case here. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock spent several minutes of his speech, in which, incidentally, he also spent several minutes which might have been mine—
§ Mr. Boyd - Carpenter
—yes—in attacking my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for her use of the index of retail prices, and he said, pointing that finger, as he always does, across the Dispatch Box at my hon. Friend—[An HON. MEMBER: "What else could the hon. Gentleman do with it?"] I could tell the hon. Member. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock said, "Prescription charges are not, of course, in the index of retail prices." But they are. Of course they are. If the hon. Gentleman had looked at the Ministry of Labour publication, "Method of Construction and Calculation of the Index of Retail Prices", he would have seen that they do appear, so those minutes of attack at least were wasted.
1243 The hon. Gentleman and the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle)—and I have a fellow feeling with her tonight as she, also, was limited as to time—took the point of the adequacy of the Exchequer contribution. I think that that, confined to National Insurance, is a false point. We have heard this afternoon comparisons with continental and other systems, and it is not particularly illuminating to concentrate an argument on the degree of Exchequer support for National Insurance if one ignores the degree of Exchequer support for other social services which, in other countries, are paid for by the contributor. For example, family allowances in most European countries, certainly in France, where they are very heavy, are paid for largely by the contributors.
The great bulk of the high and rising costs of the National Health Service falls here on the taxpayer, whereas there is no comparable system in the European countries which we have been discussing. But even taking the argument with the artificial limit with which the hon. Gentleman ringed it round, I think that the figures tell their own story. The original Exchequer contribution in the first years of the scheme was £66 million. It rose to £95 million in 1950–51 and then, as I told the hon. Gentleman in an interruption to which he referred, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduced a drastic reduction in the Exchequer contribution. He was in some measure deflected from it by my noble Friend as he now is, Lord Ingleby but, none the less, the result of his action was to reduce the Exchequer contribution for 1951–52 to £80 million, and to £65 million the following year.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
The right hon. Gentleman should not mislead the House. It is true that I reduced the Exchequer contribution. I did so because there was a large surplus in the Insurance Fund and it seemed pointless to pay it in on one side and to pay it out on the other to the same hands. What my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) was accusing the Government of doing was steadily increasing the employer- 1244 employee contribution and reducing the Exchequer contribution. I did not increase the employer-employee contribution.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is being a little more naive than usual when he says that he reduced the Exchequer contribution so that there should not be a surplus. Does he realise how helpful it would have been with a scheme whose payments were inevitably, inescapably rising every year, in the earlier years of the scheme, which these were, to have built up a surplus?
If the right hon. Gentleman does not know that, I should be alarmed if he was left to manage any pension scheme, because if he has studied pension schemes he must know that every reputable pension scheme builds up a large surplus in the early years to meet maturing commitments. The National Insurance Scheme as it was planned would have done that, but the right hon. Gentleman intervened for the reason he has given, namely, to prevent it building up a surplus.
The right hon. Gentleman is also wrong in saying that we reduced the Exchequer contribution. On the contrary, as I was saying when he intervened, the contribution rose from the £65 million to which he had reduced it to £70 million in the following year and, as my hon. Friend said, has risen steadily to £189 million in the current year and will certainly, under the proportionate arrangements of the scheme which we have restored, continue to rise. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is wrong on his second point, because we have increased it.
The hon. Members for Sowerby, Kilmarnock and Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) recommended that we should follow the German method.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
They upheld the German proposal. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I will only remind those whose recollections appear to be failing of the fact that the German contributions are very large indeed. My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has given them. I need only repeat them to this extent, that the joint contribution paid 1245 under the German scheme in respect of a man earning £15 a week is over £4 a week between employer and the workman. That is at least three times the amount of our contribution. I do not believe that hon. Members on either side of the House can believe that under our conditions and under our system of negotiation it is practical politics to talk of introducing contributions of that order without doing the fatally damaging thing of introducing inflation and inflationary demands. I will leave that matter there.
§ Mrs. Castle rose—
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I am sorry, but I am very short of time.
My hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne) asked if, for the purpose of the disregards, capital was taken into account at its market value. The answer is that it is taken into account at its market and not at its nominal value.
The hon. Member for Bedwellty and the one or two other hon. Members advocated an automatic system of varying pensions in accordance with certain formulae. The hon. Member for Bedwellty said that pensioners were not interested in statistics or in formulae. They were interested in what they yielded. The House must face this fact. If any conceivable criterion is taken, whether it be the cost of living, whether it be wage rates, or whether it be net disposable income, none of these tests, if automatically applied from 1951, would produce as good a pension as our system now produces.
Therefore, the argument that such a system would safeguard pensioners against, as the hon. Member for Sowerby said, a weak or mean Government may well have force in the case of certain Governments but has conspicuously not had force in respect of Conservative Governments. Those who argue that we should have this automatic elevator must face the fact that in the last ten years it would not have helped the pensioners as much as our system of careful consideration from time to time of what is the right thing to do.
I come, as I promised, to the Motion, which has an endearing impudence about it. Any stranger to our proceedings, any 1246 Martian Colonel Glenn who might have got into the Distinguished Strangers' Gallery, would think that such a Motion was based on a long period of inaction by the Government during which large increases had taken place in the cost of living. They would think that it was put forward by people whose own consciences were clean, that they themselves had taken action in similar circumstances.
Of course, both of those assumptions would be wholly unsound. The basic fact of this debate, as was said by my hon. Friend, is that since the increases which came into operation at the beginning of April—increases which raised the level of the benefit to the highest point it has ever reached—only eleven and a half months have passed and there has been only a 3.7 per cent. change in the cost of living. Indeed, since this, the cost of living increase in respect of food—which, by universal consent, is the thing which matters most of all to the pensioner—has been less than the general change, and has been 2.5 per cent.
Is it then the proposition that a change of 3.7 per cent. in the index and the passage of eleven and a half months exposes any Government that has not taken action to increase the pensions to the charge contained in this Motion, of lack of action which this House should deplore? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Very well. Hon. Gentlemen opposite always show considerable hypersensitiveness to any references to their own handling of this matter, and I can well understand it. But now that they have accepted the proposition that a Government are to be condemned if they do not move on a 3.7 per cent. increase in the index and the passage of eleven and a half months, I am bound to remind them of their own record in this matter.
In 1947, by a curious coincidence, the index rose by 3.7 per cent., exactly the same amount, and there was no action to increase the pensions. In 1948, it rose by 4.6 per cent., and there was no action. In 1949, it rose by 3.6 per cent. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman has asked about food prices. The interesting thing is that in the period I am talking about, contrary to recent experience, food prices rose more than the general level of the index. In 1950, it rose by 3.9 per cent. and in 1951—
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell) rose—
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
No, I cannot give way.
Between January and October, 1951, it rose a further 9 per cent. and then, I agree, right hon. Gentlemen opposite moved. They moved—to use the words used earlier today by the hon. Member for Sowerby—coincidentally close to a General Election. They made an increase, but not for all the beneficiaries of National Insurance. Not even, indeed, for all retirement pensioners, but for some of them, to the extent of 4s., which did not, even at that date, restore the original value of the benefits.
To summarise, those who seek to condemn us for lack of action, which the House is asked to deplore, in respect of a 3.7 per cent. increase on the index and the passage of eleven and a half months, allowed five and a quarter years to go by, and a 28 per cent. increase in the index, before they moved. I do not want hon. Gentlemen opposite to misunderstand—as sometimes they seem to do—the impact of this on ordinary people. I concede at once that I would not wish a Conservative Government to be judged by the standards of a Socialist Government. What was good enough for them is, plainly, not good enough for us. But I think that they must appreciate that people outside look upon a Motion of this kind with some cynicism when it is put forward by those whose own record in the matter is so lamentable.
Let me take the real value of the pensions. The single rate pension is worth 15s. 6d. and the married 22s. 6d. more than when right hon. Gentlemen opposite left office. Their case, for their own record, would be batter if they could show that even out of an admittedly much smaller national income at that time they had done as much for the pensioner as we have done. My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury gave an answer the other day, which is a very interesting one, to a Question.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I wonder whether the Minister would go back to the days when his party was in power and it was ten bob a week.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I am making comparisons with those who seek to condemn us. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ten bob".] If bon. Gentlemen do not want to hear the facts of the improvements which have been made, the people outside—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Hon. Gentlemen even on the Front Bench must remember that to remain seated and persistently to shout during the speech of another hon. Member is grossly disorderly.
§ Mr. Callaghan rose—
§ Mr. Callaghan
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that you recognise the difficulty of putting a point to the Minister if he refuses to give way. What we are trying to get the Minister to acknowledge in his comparisons is that the 10s. started there and it rose to 26s. We put it up to 26s. Why does not he start from there?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sure that any hon Member will recognise the difficulties of the Chair. If, in lieu of inviting the Minister to give way, the method is to remain seated and to shout repetitive shouts, I cannot think that that assists.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. It is quite manifest that the Minister is not wishing to give way. In that case, it is the duty of the hon. Gentleman to resume his seat.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I think that the horn. Gentleman did not hear me. I have pointed out that it is his duty to resume his seat.
§ Mr. Manuel
On a point of order Following your attempt to curb the noise emanating from this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, may I draw 1249 your attention to the continual interruptions and loud-mouthed interjections by the nut from Knutsford? Can you do something to control the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) in his continual loudmouthed interruptions?
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
If hon. Members opposite do not wish to hear the facts—[HON. MEMBERS: "That is what we want."]—of the comparison between their action and ours, by every test that can be applied, whether it be the share of the national income, the share of the net disposable income or the share of public expenditure, by each of these the present provision made by the Government is better as a percentage of the total than in the years of the Government of hon. Members opposite. Those are the facts. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is no use hon. Members opposite attempting to prevent these facts being known, because there are means by which they can be made known, and made known they will be.
We welcome a debate on National Insurance benefits because as a Government we have a record of which we are proud. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ten bob."] The Motion is on an utterly wrong basis. Everybody outside and everybody in the House knows that it does not represent what hon. Members opposite would do in our place or what they did when they were in our place. To put forward a Motion in such terms and then to seek to deny to the person who replies for the Government a statement
§ of the facts as the Government see them, after the Opposition spokesman had been heard in complete and courteous silence, indicates that in their hearts hon. Members opposite know that this is a wrong and unjustifiable Motion.
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
They know—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."]—that it does not represent what hon. Members opposite would do or what they did.
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
To adopt it is a procedure which can only arouse in people outside this House a cynicism about Parliament and democratic politicians. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ten bob."] The only right course before us is to deal with the Motion by amending it drastically so that it is consistent with the truth and with the facts of the situation, and so that, instead of criticising a Government who have done more for the pensioner than any Government in history, it should represent the facts of the position.
In those circumstances, our duty is plain, to—[HON. MEMBERS: "Resign."]—amend the Motion, to amend it drastically and to bring it into line with the facts. That is what I suggest we now do, with the consciousness that the Motion, as hon. Members opposite in their hearts know, should never have been brought forward.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 221, Noes 299.1253
|Division No. 124.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Driberg, Tom|
|Ainsley, William||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John|
|Albu, Austen||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Eds, Rt. Hon. C.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Callaghan, James||Edelman, Maurice|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Awbery, Stan||Cliffe, Michael||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Baird, John||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire W.)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Evans, Albert|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Cronin, John||Fernyhough, E.|
|Bence, Cyril||Crosland, Anthony||Finch, Harold|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Fitch, Alan|
|Benson, Sir George||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Fletcher, Eric|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Blyton, William||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Forman, J. C.|
|Boardman, H.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leies, S. W.)||Deer, George||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Delargy, Hugh||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Bowles, Frank||Dempsey, James||George, LadyMeganLloyd (Crmrthn)|
|Boyden, James||Diamond, John||Ginsburg, David|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Donnelly, Desmond||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Grey, Charles||McInnes, James||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||McLeavy, Frank||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Gunter, Ray||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Small, William|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Manuel, Archie C.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mapp, Charles||Snow, Julian|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Marsh, Richard||Sorensen, R. w.|
|Hannan, William||Mason, Roy||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mayhew, Christopher||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Mellish, R. J.||Stonehouse, John|
|Healey, Denis||Mendelson, J. J.||Stones, William|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (RwlyRegis)||Millan, Bruce,||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Mitchison, G. R.||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Monslow, Walter||Stross, Dr.Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Moody, A. S.||Swain, Thomas|
|Hilton, A. V.||Morris, John||Swingier, Stephen|
|Holman, Percy||Mort, D. L.||Symonds, J. B.|
|Holt, Arthur||Moyle, Arthur||Taverne, D.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Mulley, Frederick||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||Neal, Harold||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn.Philip (Derby, S.)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Hoy, James H.||Oliver, G. H.||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Oram, A. E.||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oswald, Thomas||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Owen, Will||Timmons, John|
|Hunter, A. E.||Padley, W. E.||Tomney, Frank|
|Hynd, H, (Accrington)||Paget, R. T.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Wade, Donald|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Pargiter, G. A.||Warbey, William|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Parker, John||Watkins, Tudor|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Parkin, B. T.||Weitzman, David|
|Jeger, George||Paton, John||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Pavitt, Laurence||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Whitlock, William|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Peart, Frederick||Wigg, George|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pentland, Norman||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Willey, Frederick|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Popplewell, Ernest||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Prentice, R. E.||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Kelley, Richard||Probert, Arthur||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Lawson, George||Randall, Harry||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Ledger, Ron||Rankin, John||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Redhead, E. C.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Reid, William||Woof, Robert|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Reynolds, G. W.||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Rhodes, H.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Loughlin, Charles||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Ross, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|McCann, John||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)||Mr. Short and Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.|
|MacColl, James||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Boyle, Sir Edward||Costain, A. P.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Braine, Bernard||Craddock, Sir Beresford|
|Allason, James||Brewis, John||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian||Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Crowder, F. P.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Cunningham, Knox|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Curran, Charles|
|Barber, Anthony||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Bryan, Paul||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Barter, John||Buck, Antony||Dance, James|
|Batsford, Brian||Bullard, Denys||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Deedes, W. F.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Burden, F. A.||de Ferranti, Basil|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden)||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nalrn)||Doughty, Charles|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Bidgood, John C.||Cary, Sir Robert||du Cann, Edward|
|Biffen, John||Channon, H. P. G.||Duncan, Sir James|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Chataway, Christopher||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David|
|Bingham, R. M.||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Eden, John|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Elliott,R.W.(Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cleaver, Leonard||Emery, Peter|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Cole, Norman||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Bossom, Clive||Cooke, Robert||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Cooper, A. E.||Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.|
|Box, Donald||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Cordle, John||Farr, John|
|Fisher, Nigel||Leburn, Gilmour||Renton, David|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Foster, John||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lilley, F. J. P.||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Freeth, Denzil||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Litchfield, Capt. John||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Gammans, Lady||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Gardner, Edward||Longbottom, Charles||Roots, William|
|George, J. G. (Pollok)||Longden, Gilbert||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Loveys, Walter H.||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Gilmour, Sir John||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||McAdden, Stephen||Seymour, Leslie|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||MacArthur, Ian||Sharpies, Richard|
|Goodhart, Philip||McLaren, Martin||Shaw, M.|
|Goodhew, Victor||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Shepherd, William|
|Gough, Frederick||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Gower, Raymond||Maclean, SirFitzroy (Bute&N. Ayrs.)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd A Chiswick)|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain (Enfield, W.)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||McMaster, Stanley R.||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Green, Alan||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Speir, Rupert|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Maitland, Sir John||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Stodart, J. A.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Marlowe, Anthony||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marshall, Douglas||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Marten, Neil||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Talbot, John E.|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Mawby, Ray||Tapsell, Peter|
|Hastings, Stephen||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hay, John||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Taylor, Edwin, (Bolton, E.)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mills, Stratton||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Montgomery, Fergus||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Hendry, Forbes||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Teeling, Sir William|
|Hiley, Joseph||Morgan, William||Temple, John M.|
|Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Morrison, John||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Nabarro, Gerald||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Neave, Airey||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Hobson, Sir John||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hocking, Philip N.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Holland, Philip||Noble, Michael||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Hollingworth, John||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hopkins, Alan||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Hornby, R. P.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Turner, Colin|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Hurd, Sir Anthony||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Page, John (Harrow, West)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Jackson, John||Peel, John||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|James, David||Percival, Ian||Walder, David|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Peyton, John||Walker, Peter|
|Jennings, J. C.||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wall, Patrick|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pilkington, Sir Richard||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Pitman, Sir James||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Pitt, Miss Edith||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Pott, Percivall||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wise A. R.|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Prior, J. M. L.||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Kimball, Marcus||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Kirk, Peter||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Woollam, John|
|Kitson, Timothy||Pym, Francis||Worsley, Marcus|
|Lagden, Godfrey||Quenneli, Miss J. M.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ramsden, James|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rawlinson, Peter||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Mr. Chichester-Clark|
|Leavey, J. A.||Rees, Hugh||and Mr. Finlay.|
§ Question put, That the proposed words be there added:—1254
§ The House divided: Ayes 297, Noes 217.1259
|Division No. 125.]||AYES||[10.12 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian||Barber, Anthony|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Arbuthnot, John||Barlow, Sir John|
|Allason, James||Atkins, Humphrey||Barter, John|
|Batsford, Brian||Goodhart, Philip||Marten, Neil|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Goodhew, Victor||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Gough, Frederick||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Gower, Raymond||Mawby, Ray|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Grant, Rt. Hon. William||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Bidgood, John C.||Green Alan||Mills, Stratton|
|Biffen, John||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col- R. G.||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||More, Jasper (Ludlow)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Morgan, William|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Morrison, John|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Neave, Airey|
|Bossom, Clive||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Box, Donald||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hastings, Stephen||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Braine, Bernard||Hay, John||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Brewis, John||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hendry, Forbes||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hiley, Joseph||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Bryan, Paul||Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Pearson, Frank (Ciltheroe)|
|Buck, Antony||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Peel, John|
|Bullard, Denys||Hobson, Sir John||Percival, Ian|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Hocking, Philip N.||Peyton, John|
|Burden, F. A.||Holland, Philip||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Butler,Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden)||Hollingworth, John||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hopkins, Alan||Pilkington, Sir Richard|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hornby, R. P.||Pitman, Sir James|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Pott, Percivall|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Iremonger, T. L.||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Jackson, John||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Cole, Norman||James, David||Pym, Francis|
|Cooke, Robert||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Jennings, J. C.||Ramsden, James|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Cordle, John||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Costain, A. P.||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Rees, Hugh|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Joseph, Sir Keith||Renton, David|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Crowder, F. P.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Cunningham, Knox||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Curran, Charles||Kershaw, Anthony||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kimball, Marcus||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kirk, Peter||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Dance, James||Kitson, Timothy||Roots, William|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lagden, Godfrey||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Leather, E. H. C.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Doughty, Charles||Leavey, J. A.||Seymour, Leslie|
|Drayson, G. B.||Leburn, Gilmour||Sharpies, Richard|
|du Cann, Edward||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Shaw, M.|
|Duncan, Sir James||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shepherd, William|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Lilley, F. J. P.||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Eden, John||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Litchfield, Capt. John||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Emery, Peter||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Longbottom, Charles||Speir, Rupert|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Longden, Gilbert||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Loveys, Walter H.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Farr, John||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stodart, J. A.|
|Finlay, Graeme||McAdden, Stephen||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Fisher, Nigel||MacArthur, Ian||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||McLoughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Foster, John||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute&N. Ayrs.)||Talbot, John E.|
|Freeth, Denzil||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||McMaster, Stanley R.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Gammans, Lady||Macmillan, Rt. Hn, Harold (Bromley)||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Gardner, Edward||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Maitland, Sir John||Teeling, Sir William|
|Gilmour, Sir John||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Temple, John M.|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Marlowe, Anthony||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Clyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Marshall, Douglas||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)|
|Thomas, Peler (Conway)||Vane, W. M. F.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Trure)|
|Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis||Wise, A. R.|
|Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)||Wakefield, Sir Waved (St. M'lebone)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Thorneycrott, Rt. Hon. Peter||Walder, David||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Walker, Peter||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek||Woollam, John|
|Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Wall, Patrick||Worsley, Marcus|
|Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Watklnson, Rt. Hon. Harold||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Turner, Colin||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Whitelaw, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Twectlsmuir, Lady||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)||Mr. Noble and Mr. Martin McLaren.|
|van Straubenzee, W. R.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Abse, Leo||Hayman, F. H.||Oswald, Thomas|
|Ainsley, William||Healey, Denis||Owen, Will|
|Albu, Austen||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (RwlyRegis)||Padley, W. E.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Paget, R. T.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds. W.)|
|Awbery, Stan||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Hilton, A. V.||Parker, John|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Holman, Percy||Parkin, B. T.|
|Bence, Cyril||Holt, Arthur||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Houghton, Douglas||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Benson, Sir George||Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||Peart, Frederick|
|Blackburn, F.||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Pentland, Norman|
|Blyton, William||Hoy, James H.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Boardman, H,||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Bowden. Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bowles, Frank||Hunter, A. E.||Probert, Arthur|
|Boyden, James||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pureey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Randall, Harry|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Rankin, John|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Janner, Sir Barnett||Redhead, E. C.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Reid, William|
|Callaghan, James||Jeger, George||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Rhodes, H.|
|Cliffe, Michael||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Ross, William|
|Cronin, John||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kelley, Richard||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kenyon, Clifford||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lawson, George||Small, William|
|Deer, George||Ledger, Ron||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Snow, Julian|
|Dempsey, James||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Diamond, John||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Driberg, Tom||Lipton, Marcus||Stonehouse, John|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Loughlin, Charles||Stones, William|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Edelman, Maurice||McCann, John||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||MacColl, James||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mclnnes, James||Swain, Thomas|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Evans, Albert||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Symonds, J. B.|
|Fernyhough, E.||McLeavy, Frank||Taverne, D.|
|Finch, Harold||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Fitch, Alan||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfleld, E.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Manuel, Archie C.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mapp, Charles||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Forman, J. C.||Marsh, Richard||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mason, Roy||Thornton, Ernest|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mayhew, Christopher||Timmons, John|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mellish, R. J.||Tomney, Frank|
|George, LadyMeganLloyd (Crmrthn)||Mendelson, J. J.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Ginsburg, David||Millan, Bruce||Wade, Donald|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mitchison, G. R.||Warbey, William|
|Grey, Charles||Monslow, Walter||Watkins, Tudor|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Moody, A. S.||Weitzman, David|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Morris, John||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Mort, D. L.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Moyle, Arthur||Whitlock, William|
|Gunter, Ray||Mulley, Frederick||Wigg, George|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Neal, Harold||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Willey, Frederick|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Hannan, William||Oram, A. E.||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith|
|Williams, W. R. (Openehaw)||Winterbottom, R. E.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Williams, W. T. (Warrington)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)||Woof, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)||Mr. Short and Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.|
§ Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That this House, noting with approval the substantial improvements in the value and standard of National Insurance and other
social security benefits which have been made since 1951, and in particular that these were raised to a new high level as recently as last April, expresses its confidence that Her Majesty's Government will continue to secure that the recipients of these benefits share in the rising standards of the nation.