HC Deb 08 April 1965 vol 710 cc658-60
Q 1. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Prime Minister if he will revise the social security system and the tax system so as to provide greater benefits for those who live on fixed incomes, if necessary by reducing the benefits now paid to wage and salary earners who are less hard hit by inflation.

The First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. George Brown)

I have been asked to reply.

No, Sir. The problems the hon. Gentleman has in mind cannot be dealt with in this way.

Mr. Griffiths

I congratulate the First Secretary on substituting for the Prime Minister, but will he accept, without offence, that we wish the Prime Minister a speedy recovery from what, I hope, is a temporary indisposition?

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that many of the assumptions on which the Welfare State was founded nearly 25 years ago are getting out of date, and will he, therefore, consider appointing a Royal Commission to investigate the Welfare State so that those who receive benefit and do not need it may give up a little for those who need benefit and, very often, do not get it?

Mr. Brown

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his kind words, which I shall convey to my right hon. Friend.

We are ourselves already conducting an examination on how to change this, and we shall be bringing proposals to the House in, I hope, the not-too-distant future.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

As the cost of living has risen nearly two points in the last five months and the Government turned down the Bill prepared by my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) which might have helped the very old, will the right hon. Gentleman treat this matter with urgency?

Mr. Brown

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, having failed for so long to deal with the same Bill and having raised the cost of living by a lot more, ought to be a little more gentle about reproaching us now.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that, whatever the result of the Government's review may be, there will be no room in it for the kind of miserable donation to people of a certain age which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition offered?

Mr. Brown

Under this Administration, the idea of donations from lairds is out.

Mr. Ridsdale

Will the First Secretary do his best to protect non-contributory pensioners, especially from the severe imposition which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put on old people by his new tobacco tax?

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