HC Deb 05 May 1964 vol 694 cc1106-7
34. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he has for the introduction of a further Pensions Increase Act.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

None, Sir, at present.

Dame Irene Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware how very high winter coal prices hit people on small fixed incomes, particularly those who have nowhere to store coal bought at summer prices? Will he turn his great mind to the problem of what to do to help people to be able to provide warmth for themselves at these absolutely ridiculously high prices when the winter comes?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

These are very much matters which, in our continuing review of this problem, are borne in mind, but my hon. Friend, who is very familiar with this subject, will recall that as recently as early last year we brought into effect the fourth of the Pensions Increase Measures introduced by the present Government and that it was the largest and most expensive for the taxpayer of any such Measures, and that since then there has been a high measure of stability in the index of retail prices.

Mr. Houghton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in November 1962 he promised the House that he would try to find a better way of adjusting public service pensions than periodical Pensions Increase Bills? Has he any statement to make about that?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I made a reply on that matter, I think in February, to my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. David James) to indicate that I had no proposals on that subject.

Dr. King

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 223 hon. Members on both sides of the House have signed their names to a Motion urging that something be done?

During the debate on the Pensions (Increase) Bill hon. Members on both sides of the House agreed that never again should the old retired pensioners have to plead in this way, and that there should be a Measure which would compensate automatically in some way for the problems faced by the very old pensioners. In those circumstances, and with the spare time which the Government have before the General Election, cannot they bring in a Measure of that kind?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As I told the House during the debate to which the hon. Gentleman referred, I have given close study to this matter, but I have not been able to find any system which is better than the present one, with all its imperfections. For example, the suggestion is often made that these pensions should be linked to the cost-of-living index, but that would in fact have resulted in much less advantage to the pensioners than the system applied in the 1962 Act.