HC Deb 12 July 1965 vol 716 cc1-4
1. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what was the value of the increase in the retirement pension at the time it was made; and what is its current value, having regard to the fall in the value of the £ since then.

The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Miss Margaret Herbison)

On the basis of the Retail Prices Index, the 12s. 6d. increase for a single pensioner provided by the Act passed in December, 1964, was worth about 12s. 5d. in March, 1965, when it first became payable, and 12s. 2d. in May, 1965, the latest date for which the Index is available.

The corresponding figures for the 21s. increase for a married couple are 20s. 10d. and 20s. 5d. respectively.

Mr. King

Does not that suggest, having regard to the retirement pension, and pro rata, a fall of something over 3s. in the £ on the whole pension in a single year?

Miss Herbison

What it does represent, if we take the figures for May, 1965, is that it would require an extra 2s. 4d. for the whole pension to be brought up.

Mr. Ridsdale

Does the Minister realise that those figures do not give a true appreciation of the hardship which pensioners are having to suffer now because of the severe rise in prices?

Miss Herbison

In fact, pensioners—I was speaking to a great many of them yesterday—realise that they have got the biggest increase ever, except under a Labour Government in 1946.

17. Sir F. Bennett

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether she will give renewed consideration to the adequacy of the scale of retirement pensions.

30. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether she will increase all retirement pensions by 25 per cent.; and when she will introduce legislation to give effect to this proposal.

Miss Herbison

As the hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend will be aware, the very substantial increase in pensions made only three months ago raised their purchasing power to a higher level than ever before. I have no further proposals to announce at the present time.

Sir F. Bennett

If we are to talk about "substantial", does the right hon. Lady realise that, according to figures supplied to me by one of her colleagues at the Treasury over a period of Written Questions, if the present rise in the cost of living and the reduction in the value of money go on at the present rate, the pension next spring will actually be worth less than it was last October?

Miss Herbison

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was present when I answered Question No. 1, when it was clearly shown that the loss in the pension so far had been 4d. on the 12s. 6d. and 7d. on the 21s. increase. The Government are doing everything possible to steady the cost of living and perhaps hon. Members opposite, who may have some influence with their friends the industrialists and manufacturers, will try to use that influence to keep prices down.

Mr. Lewis

I thank the Minister for all that she and the Ministry have already done for the old-age pensioners. Appreciating that the pensioners have never had it so good, may I ask whether she is aware that it is a bit invidious that past Lord Chancellors should get a 25 per cent increase to £5,000—

Mr. Speaker

Order. There is a Bill on that subject for Second Reading this week and we cannot discuss its merits now.

Mr. Lewis

Without referring to the Lord Chancellor and his 25 per cent., may I ask my right hon. Friend whether she will bear in mind that many of us on this side of the House would prefer the ordinary old-age pensioner who has worked hard all his life and helped to build up the wealth of the country to get 25 per cent. rather than some others whom I will not name, but—

Mr. Speaker

No. We cannot anticipate the merits of that Bill.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Will the right hon. Lady confirm that, nine months after the Government came to power, pensioners have to pay 21s. for goods and services for which they would have paid 20s. last October?

Miss Herbison

But in spite of that the figures show that because the value of the increase was almost 19 per cent. and was a far bigger rise proportionately even than the rise in earnings, pensioners are better off than ever previously.

Mr. Woodburn

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the reduction in bus fares brought about by a Measure passed by the Government has given pensioners a far bigger increase in their real incomes than has occurred in the prices of goods which old-age pensioners may not buy, and that part of the increase in the cost of living is due to the cost of transport which an old-age pensioner is not now being asked to pay?

Miss Herbison

Certainly. In some areas that has considerably helped old-age pensioners to live a fuller life. Doing away with prescription charges has also been of the greatest help to the old people.

Sir F. Bennett

In view of the totally unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.