HC Deb 02 February 1965 vol 705 cc871-2
12. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will introduce legislation designed to relieve all retirement pensioners from any increase in rates in respect of houses occupied by them between date of receipt of pension and date of death.

Mr. MacColl

I must ask the hon. Member to await the outcome of the Government's examination of local government finance.

But my right hon. Friend's first reaction to his suggestion is that it would produce rather arbitrary results.

Mr. King

Does the Minister agree that when a pensioner retires he arranges his affairs in accordance with his known and thereafter unalterable income and that his grievance is not so much at the level of his pension as at the constant inflation of his expenses—often by the Government—and that while he may arrange or rearrange some part of his affairs, the one part which he cannot rearrange is the house in which he lives, because there is nowhere else for him to go? Does not this constitute an injustice which the Minister should put right?

Mr. MacColl

I think that the evidence undoubtedly is that the sector of the community most badly affected by rates are old people who are living on fixed incomes. I would not quarrel with that at all. The Allen Report indicates that that is so and will be seen to indicate it when it is published. The difficulty about the hon. Member's proposal is that it would make a very arbitrary distinction between the people who had reached their retirement age when the rate was fixed and those who reached it shortly afterwards. The problem is difficult and my right hon. Friend is examining the whole question.

Sir J. Eden

When may we expect the publication of the Allen Report? Shall we have to await the publication of this Report before we get any views expressed by the Government on the problem of rating and rate increases, or shall we have to wait until the whole local government review has taken place? When shall we have some decision from the Government?

Mr. MacColl

The publication of the Allen Report is the subject of another Question. My right hon. Friend's review is continuing and will continue. It is not waiting for the publication of the Report. As the hon. Member knows well, from his experience in the last Session, there has been a good deal of delay in waiting for these reports. It is only now that we are able to push on with the inquiry.