HC Deb 04 July 1966 vol 731 cc151-85

(1) In section 13 of the Finance Act 1957 (relief for persons over 65 with small incomes) as amended by section 10(6) of the Finance Act 1965, for the references to £390 and £625 (the income limits for exemption) there shall be substituted references to £420 and £675.

(2) For section 13(1)(b) of the Finance Act 1957, as amended, there shall be substituted: (b) shall be entitled, if he is not exempt under the foregoing provision by reason only of his total income for the year exceeding four hundred and twenty-five pounds or six hundred and seventy-five pounds as the case may be, and the excess is less than one hundred pounds, to have the income tax payable in respect of his total income reduced, where necessary, to an amount equal to one-quarter of the excess, and where the excess is £100 but less than £200 to an amount equal to half that excess."—[Mr. Turton.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. R. H. Turton

(Thirsk and Malton): I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The Chairman

I think that it will be for the convenience of the Committee if with new Clause No. 41 we take new Clause No. 15 (Age relief on small incomes) and new Clause No. 16 (Old age relief).

Mr. Turton

When my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) was adopting the baby which was abandoned by its Socialist sponsors—new Clause 23—the Financial Secretary disdained it and turned it aside, saying that as tax should be made on capacity to pay and not on source of income that Clause was not the right way to do it. New Clause 41 would abate tax on capacity to pay and therefore, in my submission, it is the right way to do it.

9.15 p.m.

New Clause 41 deals with the "Peter Thomeycroft" relief for old people. It was granted for the first time in 1957 and it had three provisions. First, if one were over 65 and one's income was not more than £250, one had complete relief. Secondly, for a married person with an income of not more than £400, there was complete relief. Thirdly, there was a marginal provision for the band over £50 in which the tax was to be not more than half the excess of that band. I am trying in the Clause to bring the first two provisions up to date and to alter the system of marginal reliefs in the third. These are two quite distinct points and I will treat them quite separately.

The last time the figures of the Peter Thorneycroft relief were altered was when the Chancellor announced on 11th November, 1964, that he would alter them. He then said that in view of the general rise in the cost of living he felt that there was a need for these figures to be increased.

If we look at what has happened since the date of his announcement we find that the Retail Prices Index has risen by 9 points, which is 8.3 per cent., and in food alone there has been a rise of 10 points. If we apply those increases to the figures fixed by the Chancellor following his announcement—£390 and £625—we find that they justify an increase of £32 for the single person and £52 for the married couple to cover the extra cost of living. In my new Clause I have suggested rises of £30 and £50. That is the first limb of my argument—that if the Chancellor was right when he made his announcement on 11th November, then to meet the rise in the cost of living we should now increase these figures by £30 for a single person and £50 for a married couple.

I turn to my second limb of my argument on what the figure should be. The Government have passed the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1965. As a result, a number of people living on retirement pensions, together with public service pensions of small amounts, have been moved into the tax bracket who previously were exempt from tax. I am sure that if the Financial Secretary agrees that it was right, because of the rise in the cost of living to grant the pension increases, it is wrong that people previously exempt from tax should be brought within the scope of the tax by reason of that pension increase. I will deal with this even more when I come to my later argument about the method of marginal relief.

One must look at taxpayers with a certain degree of relativity. Originally when exemption was granted to married couples receiving less than £8 a week, the average earnings in this country were about £12 a week. Now we have the position in which, with average industrial earnings at £21 a week, it is wrong that people whose annual total incomes are between £425 and £675 should be paying a good deal of tax.

Three points should be stressed. First, the cost of living has risen a great deal and we should, therefore, adjust the tax this year. Secondly, the Pensions (Increase) Act has brought within the tax provisions many people, both married and single, who previously were exempted from paying tax. Thirdly, we must approach this whole matter with a degree of relativity. If there are higher average earnings, those who are earning much below the average should not be paying tax.

That is the first part of my argument, although I add this further consideration. I have never previously known a Finance Bill which has not contained any social service provisions at all and which does not have any provisions dealing with old people. To have such a Bill which does not deal with the elderly is one thing, but to have a Bill which does not contain any social service provisions is quite startling. Another alarming factor is that when I have previously been in Committee on Finance Bills, social service matters have been argued by hon.

Members on both sides of the Committee. When my hon. and right hon. Friends were in Government my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) often attacked the Government from the back benches. When discussing this Bill there have been a few hon. Gentlemen on the back benches opposite for discussions about accountancy and so on, but when we have been discussing the problems of the old people, hon. Gentlemen opposite have been absent and silent. I hope that as this Parliament develops hon. Gentlemen opposite, who clamour for crowded morning sittings, will at least attend our deliberations on the problems of the elderly.

In dealing with the second part of the new Clause, I submit that the present way of dealing with marginal reliefs does not work justly. In other words, if a person is just not exempt, then he is paying much too much tax, representing too large a slice of his income. I will illustrate this by referring to a Question which I put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 23rd May, when I asked the right hon. Gentleman: … what Income Tax liability a married person over 65 years of age incurs when his unearned income is increased from £625 to £650 per annum … I also asked in that Question similar questions regarding increases from £705 to £730, £900 to £925 and £1,400 to £1,425. The Financial Secretary replied: If the married couple have no other income the extra tax payable would not exceed £11 5s. 0d. in each of the first two cases and £13 15s. 0d. in each of the others."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd May, 1966; Vol. 729, c. 33–41.] In other words, old people are paying tax at the rate of 9s. in the £ in the first two cases and 11s. in the £ in the second two cases. I cannot believe that the Committee can be satisfied with that arrangement, and I am glad to see the Financial Secretary speaking to the right hon. Lady the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance on the Front Bench opposite because I know that she has a heart.

To show exactly how this works out I should like to quote from a letter from an Army pensioner, a constituent of mine, who was in the Records Office at York for a short time and so has two sources of public service pension. He writes: I received 11s. 9d. increase on my Army pension and 5s. on my Civil Service pension, making a total income now of £13 10s. Previous to this increase of 16s. 9d. per week I was paying about 5s. per week on £12 13s. This information comes from someone who is in the marginal area. He goes on: … after waiting since 1962 for an increase in pension of 16s. 9d. a week I lose I Is. 9d. of it in tax.

We are getting this failure of marginal relief in the case of people who were exempt but are no longer exempt, and who now, on that increase, whether it be of 5s. or 11s. 9d., have to pay tax at the rate of at least 9s. in the £ and in one area of tax at a rate of 11s. in the £. I believe that to be wrong. It has a very deterrent effect. On an earlier new Clause, we had the question of whether old people, who at the moment are exempt from tax, should work. Though previously exempt, directly they start working they pay out at the rate of 9s. in the £ on the extra they get from their work. That is a deterrent on their working. I certainly find that old people can never understand how this marginal relief works.

I suggest in the new Clause that whereas now the band of marginal relief is £160 it should, for the purpose of simplicity, be £200. I suggest that on the first £100 in the band, the tax charged should not be more than a quarter of the excess; in other words, instead of the old persons paying 9s. in the £ on the excess they would only pay 4s. 6d. in the £. In the further band of £100 the figure would, as now, be 9s. in the £ on the excess. I ask the Financial Secretary to think very closely about this question of marginal relief, because I believe that any form of marginal relief should have a shading of the bands so that as a person enters the tax field he does not suffer the present savage cut of the full 9s. in the £, which is more than the standard rate.

The Financial Secretary will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that the cost of the new Clause would be about £5 million in the present year and about £8 million in a full year. I suggest that instead of thinking of paying to employers in manufacturing industry about £130 million as a result of the Selective Employment Tax Bill, this Committee would do better first to see that the old people are properly looked after by this suggested tax remission; and that we should cut back that amount in respect of Selective Employment Tax rather than see the old people go without.

I believe that at the present time—and I am sure that the right hon. Lady the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance will agree, although she was cruel and unkind to us last Friday—there is a tremendous problem in respect of old people with small fixed incomes. These are people who served Britain well, and are now pensioners drawing not only their retirement pension but another small pension, whether it be a railway superannuation payment or a pension for war service. I beg the Government, who have been singularly adament about all the other new Clauses, to look at this one with sympathy.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Simon Wingfield Digby

(Dorset, West): I make no apology for detaining the Committee for a few moments on the subject, on which I have spoken frequently in previous Finance Bill debates. Although we have made progress with age exemption, it seems to me that we are creeping forward very slowly.

We are living in an age of inflation for which both sides of the House must bear some responsibility. The first victims of inflation are inevitably the elderly. Once retired, they have to sit and watch their costs going up, and usually their incomes are fixed and so do not rise proportionately. The calculations which they made on retirement go very quickly awry. They see their costs in relation to food, rent and transport—I particularly mention the problem of my own constituents in regard to rural transport, the buses being very infrequent and becoming increasingly expensive—rising, and life becomes difficult for them.

It is one of the fundamental precepts of the Treasury that pensions are earned according to the actual earnings when the individuals were in work. That bears very hardly on these people. Many of them gained their pensions at salary or wage rates which were very low compared with the rates today. I have many sad examples in my post-bag of people living in reduced circumstances. They may have spent a little too much on the house which they have chosen to live in, but it is difficult to change it when they see how much the cost of living is going up.

I believe that the time has come when we should be more generous about these age exemptions. I believe that the case rests not on the amount that the cost of living has gone up in a particular year but on our general attitude to the problem. It is time we recognised that the old people on fixed incomes are some of the most deserving types in the community, even if they are not the most vocal. I hope that we can creep forward once again, if only by extending the limit by £50 a year, but I believe that the time will come when we must take a bigger step forward in this direction.

Mr. Braine

I strongly support the proposal by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). As my right hon. Friend said, the principle of age relief was introduced originally nine years ago and was modified about three years ago. All along hon. Members on both sides have felt that we should edge forward with relief of this kind whenever we could. In an affluent society like ours, we ought to be prepared to be generous to the elderly.

I go further. I think that in our taxation arrangements and our social service policies we should give conscious preference all the time to the weaker elements in society—in this case, the financially weaker, those whose savings have lost a good deal of their value since they left work and who find as a consequence that much of their efforts have gone for nought. No section of the community is harder hit by inflation than the elderly and those living on small fixed incomes.

I see the right hon. Lady the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance on the Treasury Bench. Earlier this year, one of her Joint Parliamentary Secretaries admitted in the House that one-quarter of the generous increase granted in the State retirement pension last year had been eroded by the rise in prices. Whatever the reason, it is a fact that prices have been tending to rise in the last 20 months faster than they had done for a long time. The people we are seeking to help have no organised bodies, no champions to represent them. I do not wish to be unkind, certainly to those hon. Members opposite listening to the debate, but lack of sympathy among the party opposite for this cause is evidenced by their almost complete absence.

The resignation of the right hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Cousins) has focussed attention, in a way which perhaps no other event could, upon the difficulties the Government are encountering in their prices and incomes policy and because of inflation generally. One of those difficulties has been that too many groups in the country have been taking too much out of the kitty. Almost every wage award granted has been above the norm. This modest proposal is an attempt to see that the old people who have no one to champion their cause get a fair crack of the whip. In an earlier debate today there was much talk of "MacDermot's Law". When the Chief Secretary replied, someone said that "Diamond's Law" was clearly that Socialism is no longer the language of priorities. We are beginning to feel that this is true.

I hope that it is not true. I hope that the presence of the right hon. Lady here is evidence of the pressure she is trying to bring upon the Treasury. We know where her heart lies and what she would like to do. But she is not in the Cabinet. Indeed, it is a weakness of the present Government that neither she nor the Minister of Health are members of the Cabinet. I hope that the right hon. Lady's presence means that there is a determined attempt on her part to soften the heart of the Financial Secretary. My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton put forward a powerful and compelling argument and one that is quite unanswerable either on economic grounds or on grounds of social justice. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will not disappoint us.

Mr. A. P. Costain

(Folkestone and Hythe): I rise to support my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Mal-ton (Mr. Turton). Those of us who have the honour to represent constituencies which have a large number of elderly people well know the difficulties they are up against.

Sir S. McAdden

On a point of Order, Mr. Grant-Ferris. May I draw your attention to the fact that, on this important matter, you are having difficulty in selecting hon. Members to speak, being restricted to hon. Members on this side of the Committee? This is because there are so few hon. Members opposite and none of them wants to speak on this Clause. We should not really discuss this Clause with fewer than 40 Members present in the Chamber.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Grant-Ferris)

I deprecate those points of order.

Sir S. McAdden

Further to that point of order, Mr. Grant-Ferris. May I draw your attention to the fact that fewer than 40 Members are present?

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present;

Committee counted, and, 40 Members being present

Mr. Costain


Sir S. McAdden

On a point or order. May I ask for your guidance, Mr. Grant-Ferris? When I avail myself of the opportunities which are perfectly permissible in this Chamber and draw attention to the fact that fewer than 40 Members are present, why should you deprecate it?

The Temporary Chairman

I am very sorry. I did not quite hear what the hon. Gentleman said and I thought that he said something rather different. If I had realised that he was calling for a count, he would have been within his constitutional rights to do so and I should have called it at once.

Mr. Costain

I was saying—[interruption.]—I was saying—[HON. MEMBERS "Goodbye."]—I suppose that hon. Members opposite are now leaving the Chamber not only because I am speaking, but because they would be ashamed to stay in the Chamber and hear the arguments from this side of the Committee, advanced for the benefit of the elderly, and then to have to go into the Division Lobby when the bell rings.

Mr. Hirst

Is my hon. Friend aware that when we were discussing an allowance for incapacitated wives, only two hon. Members were present on the Government side?

Mr. Costain

During the course of this Finance Bill, we have had a great deal of sympathy from the Government Front Bench, but very little action. We have had back benchers opposite roaring their opposition like bulls, but stamping through the Division Lobbies like butterflies.

The new Clause gives the Government an opportunity to turn what has been a mingy Budget into something which gives some social benefit to those who need it most. My hon. Friends have pointed out that the Minister of Pensions is herself present on the Front Bench. We know from correspondence with her of the care and sympathy which she gives to the many cases which we put to her. Only this weekend, constituents came to see me who had never expected not to be able to live a respectably comfortable life on their retirement pension, but who have found that the cost of living has risen so much that they are now suffering from financial embarrassments. It is wrong that that should happen.

This modest Clause is an opportunity for the Government to rectify some earlier mistakes. My argument is brief because it is sincere, and I very much hope that hon. Members opposite will come to our assistance if the Government do not give way.

Sir J. Eden

I am sure that every hon. Member on either side of the House can produce evidence from his own constituency experience of the sort of case for whom hon. Members are pleading in this short debate. I know from my own experience that these difficulties are increasing and that more people are expressing deep concern about the trend of rising costs and prices which they are having to try to meet. Anybody who has any dealings with elderly people knows how much greater is their worry and concern, particularly when they have extremely limited means, when they find their resources diminishing and the value being eroded by inflation. I find it very difficult to help them and I think that every hon. Member is in much the same position.

One of the most difficult questions which I have to answer is, "Why should my small pension be taxed?". I am sure that all hon. Members know the formal answer, but it is difficult to explain it to the pensioner. It is difficult to get the message across and it is not a particularly palatable or happy message at that.

9.45 p.m.

What we are asking for on this occasion is that those who are at the lower income end of the community, who have the smallest amount of money coming in regularly, and of whose income a substantial proportion is inevitably made up in the form of retirement pension, shall have some relief given them. This relief must take account of the trend of inflation and of the rising earnings among those younger and more active than themselves. This point was made very forcibly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) in moving the new Clause.

The disparity between the pensioners' income and the earnings of those actively employed in industry is extremely great and contributes to the general unhappiness and concern among pensioners. It is inevitable, struggling as they do, trying to make both ends meet, to find the wherewithal for the bare necessities of life, that they should note the tendency of those employed in industry to contract out of the consequences of inflation, which in many instances those engaged in industry are responsible for creating and stimulating.

We see this to a great extent because we are living in the midst or by inflationary trend, and because we hear almost daily of wage claims being granted and further claims being demanded. Here, at the lower end of the income scale, is a group of people who are not able to fight their way free from this ghastly, vicious circle in which they are the innocent victims. This is something which concerns all of us. Regrettably it is run-of-the-mill in our constituency affairs. We are dealing with these people all the time. For Heaven's sake let us stop preaching to them and do something positive to help.

This is all we are asking—a little bit. It is not much. In this Finance Bill there is accruing to the Revenue hundreds of millions of pounds in taxation. All that we are asking is for a small portion of it to be set aside to bring a slight measure of relief to these people, and to bring them a little peace of mind. I do not for a moment believe that the small amount of revenue which will be lost is anything which will cause a great deal of concern. My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton pointed out the many ways in which this money could be recovered. The anxiety and the heartache caused by inflation and rising prices, and by the fact that even pension increases are being taxed out of existence, are out of all proportion to the amount of money accruing to the Revenue. I would strongly urge acceptance of this new Clause upon the Government.

Sir L. Heald

I ask the Financial Secretary, when he replies, to lay aside the Treasury brief and to deal with one simple proposition which seems to me to underlie the very powerful introduction of the new Clause by my right lion. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). Does he, or does he not, agree that the effect of inflation should be reflected in relief from taxation just as much as it is reflected in the increased incomes which are permissible even under the Government's prices and incomes policy'?

We lose sight, when dealing with problems of inflation, of this sort of thing. As my right hon. Friend clearly explained, over the years there has been growing recognition of the justice of increasing these reliefs. But we do not seem to appreciate that inflation affects them in exactly the same way in which it affects everyone else. I hope that we may have, for once, a reasoned argument in reply and not the stereotyped answer already typed out.

Mr. James Ramsden

(Harrogate): I wish to reinforce the plea made on behalf of this group of people by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) by bringing to the notice of the Financial Secretary two examples which came to my notice during the last election. I say in parenthesis that one's experience at succeeding elections in talking to different householders—I suppose that this is particularly true in a constituency like mine in which many retired people live—brings home to one how this group of people are undoubtedly the hardest hit by the failure of successive Governments—I make no party point about this—to control the rate of inflation and to mitigate the extent to which small fixed incomes are eroded by rising prices.

The first example illustrates how these people are hit whatever happens and whichever party is in power. In the borough of Harrogate there used to be a system whereby rates could be paid in half yearly instalments. If people paid their rates promptly on receipt of the demand notice they received a discount, which is valuable to people who are forced to count the shillings. Recently the system was changed. Now, in order to get the discount, people have to pay the rates in one lump. It is true that they have the option to pay by weekly instalments, but if they do that they do not derive the advantage of the discount.

My borough is not notable for the inefficiency of its administration; quite the reverse. Therefore, I inquired why it was necessary to introduce this system. I was told that, because of the extra volume of administrative work laid on the rating staff by applications under the Rating Act, this simplification of the method of collection had to be introduced. Be that as it may, this seems to be an illustration of the fact that whatever happens this class of people suffer and there is very little, it seems, which can be done to help them.

My second illustration is a personal case which is probably not untypical but it is particularly illustrative of the fact that the people about whom we are talking are not plutocrats by any means. they are people with very slender resources often due to the fact that they have been left by their husbands in circumstances which took into account a standard of life no longer within their grasp. The case which I have in mind is of the widow of a distinguished civil servant who played a notable part in the defence of Malta during the Second World War and who subsequently served in the Cabinet office. That is a by no means isolated example but it brings home to one the kind of people who are suffering from the circumstances which my hon. Friends have described.

The reason why I make these two points is that by accepting a new Clause of this kind the Government would be doing one of the few possible things within their capability to help these people. There are not many ways in which to help this relatively restricted group, who have just so much income that they cannot fall back on National Assistance and who have so little capital that they are not able to ease their circumstances by prudent investment. They are a comparatively small class. Acceptance of this sort of proposal seems to me to be about the only way in which they could be helped. I hope very much that the Financial Secretary will sympathetically consider the new Clause.

Mr. Gower

We all know that the right hon. Lady the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, who has been present throughout this debate, has deep sympathy with the needs of the elderly, as she has shown repeatedly in her correspondence with, I am sure, all hon. Members, on both sides. I know that if the right hon. Lady had her way, she would like to repeat annually what she was able to do a year ago and increase the retirement pension for everyone. That, however, would cost a lot of money. The global cost of that and associated National Health Service benefits last year was something like £300 million, an enormous amount.

In the context of the new Clause, however, which was so clearly proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), the Minister and her colleagues have a means of giving valuable assistance to a considerable number of people. My right hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden) said that they were a relatively small section, but, nevertheless, a considerable number of people are in the category of the old.

Another point about this group of people is that they are by definition persons with small resources, and yet they are thrifty. By golly, this country needs thrift as never before. If ever the country needed the quality of thrift, as well as the quality of hard work, which is more often referred to, it needs it today. These persons have been thrifty, but in their retirement and their older years they find that the hard-won results of their modest thrift are being eroded.

The right hon. Lady was able, just over a year ago, to introduce an increase which was not inconsiderable, but yet in real terms, for each pensioner, was not by any means too large, and yet 25 per cent. of that has already been eroded simply through the increased cost or living. This has happened before—I am not making a party issue of it—and it has happened during the last 12 months. Of the increase granted by the Government a year ago, one-quarter of it for these and other retirement pensioners has already gone.

Mr. Braine

Is my hon. Friend aware that that was the position in February? That was when the Parliamentary Secretary gave the House that information. Since then, prices have continued to rise and the erosion has continued.

Mr. Gower

If we had up-to-date figures, we could probably say that about one-third of the value of the increase has been eroded by the mere effluxion of about 12 months.

In the modest terms of my right hon. Friend's Clause, we are asking for a concession in the terms of a Budget which has imposed enormously large new taxation and which includes, with an associated Bill, proposals for the distribution, rightly or wrongly—it would be out of order to debate that issue now—of very large sums, much larger than those to which we are referring.

10.0 p.m.

All we are asking for is this modest figure. It has merit because it is based on the increase in the cost of living not only since last year but—which is much more important—since the time when the last proposals were brought before us for age relief of this kind. As my right hon. Friend has pointed out, there has been a considerable change since that date. The Committee accepted the principle of age relief then. Neither side of the Committee has criticised it since. Neither side of the Committee has tried to do away with it. So, presumably, both sides of the Committee support the principle of age relief in this sphere.

We say that, on the basis of the changes in the cost of living since that age relief was framed, this new Clause stands on its own merits. We say that, as a result of the introduction last year of the Pensions (Increase) Measure, which, as my right hon. Friend indicated, has brought many of these people into the tax bracket, there has been erosion of the benefits which were surely intended for them; it was intended they should have a larger benefit than in fact they are enjoying. Finally, the very difference of those benefits in the face of average earnings further puts into broad relief their problem.

Let us pass this Clause. I do hope that the Financial Secretary who has so often said, "No" will, in principle, say "Yes" this time. Let us help the thrifty of yesterday, and give hope to the thrifty of today and tomorrow.

Dame Irene Ward

I am delighted to support this new Clause so ably proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). I understand that we are also discussing new Clause No. 15 and new Clause No. 16 which have their own very important angles.

How relieved I think the whole Committee—both sides of it—must be that when the Financial Secretary replies to the debate his arguments will not at any rate be able to contain the phrase"It is difficult to define the categories "because they are very clearly defined and have been defined for a very long time.

The hon. and learned Gentleman, I am sure, will himself be delighted that he really cannot even say, "Why did not the Conservative Government do it during the 13 years they were in power?" because it was Mr. Peter Thorneycroft who first initiated this kind of tax relief. I would say to the hon. and learned Gentleman that I never mind when he chips at us, but I am bound to say that the Socialist Government seem always to be so rigid; they always seem to think the Conservative Government were rigid. Here, however, was an entirely new arrangement for those living on small fixed incomes and it was introduced by a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, and built upon, and improved, by successive Governments. So we have not got to bother about the definition of categories; we have not got to bother about the allegation that the Conservative Party did nothing during the 13 years it was in power: we have only got to discuss the merits of these new Clauses.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton said very clearly and with great force and wisdom that it has always been difficult to find a way of helping those living on small fixed incomes who do not attract National Assistance. It has been very worrying. Our postbags are full of letters on the subject. These people are the least complaining of all sections of the community. They have always made tremendous efforts in support of the country and they have done wonderful work. For the most part, their letters do not raise any complaint about the affluent society in which we live today. What they say is that their future is filled with anxiety. Many of them have to dispose of their savings in an effort to meet their obligations, and they find it very difficult to see how they are to manage in the future. They are more anxious and apprehensive about that than the fact that they are living in an affluent society. There is very little opportunity of finding a way to help them not to keep pace, because that would be impossible, but to ensure that their future is not overclouded by the fear that to the end of their lives they will not be able to provide even a reasonable standard of living for themselves.

I do not know whether the Financial Secretary has ever considered, for instance, the terrific burden imposed on these people by the increase in telephone rental charges. Many of them live in isolated parts of the country. They are old and they cannot afford to travel to see their friends and relatives. In the past, they have always enjoyed having telephone conversations. Now, with the increased rentals and the increased cost of what I call human conversations rather than business ones, under the new system they are unable to talk to friends and relatives over the telephone.

I have had people tell me that they cannot even afford to have library books sent to them because of increased postal charges. I know that the library systems in all the county and rural areas have developed in a miraculous way and that a great deal of the difficulty about books has been relieved. But that does not apply everywhere. One can imagine the anxiety of old people when they feel that they have to give up their library subscriptions because of the increase in postal charges. Everyone knows that the cost of parcels is phenomenal. All the little things which people enjoy when they reach the age of 65 seem to become more and more expensive, even to those living on small fixed incomes.

In their younger days, a great many people in this category subscribed towards gilt-edged securities. The phenomenal drop in the value of undated War Loan means that people who have to realise their savings in order to maintain their standard of life are getting only about half the money which the War Loan was worth when they responded to the call of the nation to subscribe to it. We all know that it is impossible to do anything about the fall in the value of gilt-edged securities. The result is that this section of the community is slowly being strangled by this affluent society.

I think that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) who said that these people had nobody to put the case for them, but that is not really true. Some of us have argued their cause with both Conservative and Socialist Governments, but I feel that, because these people are not in any great organisation, their position has not been appreciated. I simply cannot believe that anybody who has had any contact with them—and I know that the right hon. Lady has had plenty of contact, because occasionally we gossip—does not appreciate their plight.

The Treasury in its ivory tower has not the remotest idea of what goes on among these people, and I hope that my male colleagues in the Committee will forgive me if I say that these old people find it a little easier to talk to a woman than to a man. Men are very good at arguing a case, and I admire them for this, but widows do not like to disclose their poverty and their anxiety to a man. They would much rather talk to a woman, because we know a little more about their problems.

I think that we have given the Financial Secretary an extremely easy wicket to bat on. I do not think that he has ever had an easier one. I hope that he will at least choose the marginal relief side of the new Clause. He could also, of course, increase the amount of money which is free of tax. I hope very much that the appearance of the right hon. Lady means that she will bring pressure to bear, if pressure is needed, to persuade the Treasury that this is an absolute must for acceptance by the Government.

Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies

(Isle of Thanet): One thing which I am sure is recognised by the Committee is that whether my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne mouth (Dame Irene Ward) gets acceptance from the Front Bench opposite or not, she commands the attention of the Committee when she speaks on this subject. My hon. Friend talks from the heart. She not only has considerable experience of the position of widows, but she commands the attention of men, and this is quite something. She speaks with profound conviction on these matters, and we ought to pay a good deal of attention to what she says.

I rise to speak because when I first came into this House, which was more than 10 years ago, the first thing that I had to deal with in 1955 was this issue. I then suggested that we should introduce a Measure which would give what was then called unearned income relief to women over 60 and men over 65. My ally back in those days was my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth who, if I may say so, was my leader in that regard. She was even then a fighter in this matter, and had been for some years.

10.15 p.m.

As always happens, it took a few years before the Government of the day acted and it is well to remember how the Opposition reacted. In 1955 they reacted on the basis that to give relief to old people over 60 or 65 meant that it was being given to all those who had not earned it. That is the history of the matter.

It took us some years to persuade them that those who were retired no longer earned money and that it was therefore fair enough to treat those with unearned income as if they had earned it. In 1957 this provision was first brought into effect. It began with a sum of £250 for an unmarried person, and year by year it was raised on the basis that those who were living on small fixed incomes were very much worse off than those living in the prosperous society in the days of Tory rule.

As the years went by the sum was increased, and the new Clause seeks to raise it still further, from £390 to £420 for an unmarried person and from £625 to £675 for a married couple, with the shading to which persons are entitled in respect of Income Tax. This year the increase is only £30 for the unmarried and £50 for the married.

Leaving out of account the argument about the fall in the value of money or the rise in the cost of living, I turn to a point to which nobody has yet addressed himself. During last week I was addressing the Committee on the question of the Selective Employment Tax. If persons have made a certain amount of money by working part-time during the summer and we charge their employers with the Selective Employment Tax we shall drive these people out of their employment. This is what I have found to be the case over the weekend.

Many of these people will no longer be able to carry on their present work, which has enabled them to earn money for their retirement. They will be deprived of that opportunity, and at the same time will have nothing to take into account for Income Tax relief. Not only is there a good case for all the arguments which have been adduced, but there is a good case for saying that those who are retired today ought to receive further Income Tax relief in the form of an addition to the unearned income relief. Therefore, if we were to raise the one rate by £30 and also to raise by £50 the married relief, which is free of Income Tax, we would not only give direct assistance to those who have retired—married and unmarried—but would give them a quid quo pro which would be a genuine advantage against their loss under the present Government proposals to compel them, if they are employed, to pay the Selective Employment Tax which the Government has just introduced.

All these matters are inter-related. The position today of those women who are over 60 and those men who are over 65 turns first of all on the Income Tax which they have to pay, secondly, upon the question of whether they will qualify for National Assistance and, thirdly, upon whether they can be employed and, if so, on how much money they are likely to earn part-time. That, in turn, depends on the new tax which the Government are introducing, which says that they shall pay just as much tax as a man earning £50 a week.

Until the Government will listen to reason about the Selective Employment Tax, they must otherwise make some compensation now upon this tax. I care not which it is. If they do not make it upon this, they must make it upon the other. I hope that the Government will recognise that the best way of dealing with this matter at the moment is to make a concession here. I hope that the Financial Secretary will deal with the situation from 1957 to the present time. I think I am right in saying that there have been either four or five increases since the original acceptance of the principle that it was proper to treat this as earned and not unearned income for the elderly.

It has always been recognised that we make a change every year provided that the inflation rate and the conditions of the old people deserve it. The Conservative Party promised that, however much there was a rise in the cost of living or, what was far more important in those days, however much there was a rise in prosperity and production—which there was every one of those years—they would give to the old people, by way of offset, a significant addition in this way, with which the new Clause deals.

The Government cannot claim, as we could claim, that there was a rise in production and prosperity this year, but they can use the argument that there has been a significant rise in the cost of living and in taxation. These two things are just as important to the old people as being able to get the entitlement arising from an increase in productivity or prosperity. If the cost of their way of life is put up, we should compensate them by lower taxes. Let the younger generation pay for the future. The old people should not have to suffer at their stage of life for what is the Government's and the country's fault. It is partly the country's fault for not putting up production, and partly the Government's for the measures which they have introduced.

Whichever it may be, let us see that the old people do not suffer and that they get a continuing benefit. Relief on £30, which is not the same as £30, in the one case and £50 in the other is reasonable in all the circumstances. I hope that, in this matter, upon which the Labour Government has shown no great partisan-ship—I give them full credit for that—since they accepted the principle in 1957, they will take the view that they can make a concession which will, to some degree, offset the damage, at least to some people, which would otherwise be caused by the other tax measures which the Government have produced in this Budget.

Mr. Hirst

I shall be brief, because the case has been very well argued and I agree with all that has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies). The Chair has been gracious enough to select new Clauses Nos. 15 and 16, which are in my name and that of several of my hon. Friends. I particularly support my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), whose proposition is the main point of our discussion. I accept that the two Clauses which I have put down go a little wider, but they have been discussed well and ably here tonight and they should strike some cord of conscience in the minds of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite.

I am grateful to see the right hon. Lady the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance here tonight. All too often in the nine days of our debates on the Bill, the greater part of which the Financial Secretary knows only too well I have attended, we have lacked rather a lot the support of Government Departments associated with the Amendments. In contradistinction to this, I pay my respects to the right hon. Lady for attending. I know from past experience what a sincere interest she takes in matters of social welfare and I remember our discussions in the past.

I can remember joining arms once or twice with right hon. and hon. Members opposite in matters arising on Amendments on social welfare. There were some that I could not join, but I recall the persuasiveness of the arguments which they put up when they sat on these benches. They should have some care to their conscience in this matter because they now face precisely the kind of arguments to which we had to listen from them—only in a more aggravated form, because the horrible bug of inflation is eating into the retired people of whom we have been speaking tonight.

All of us have come across this problem in our constituency work, no matter which side of the committee we sit on—and I am sorry that more hon. Members are not taking part in the debate, particularly hon. Members opposite. The problem of inflation in regard to retired people is saddening, and we owe something to them. They cannot do anything about it themselves; they cannot go out and increase their earnings. In a material sense they are dependent upon us. Either we have to hold prices and kill inflation—nothing that Government policy is doing at the moment appears to fit that bill and I do not appear to be alone in that thought—or we must do something to help them.

The only way that we can do that for these groups of people is through the tax instrument. It has always been extremely difficult to get at some people. If they do not pay any tax we must depend on the full-fledged social services. Many people have tried in one way or another to safeguard themselves for the future so that they should not be a charge on the State. They pride themselves on this, and great honour is due to them. But the tide is getting too deep—it is too vast. They cannot compete; there is nothing that they can do.

We all have such people in our constituencies, although some areas have a particularly large number of retired people, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden), whom I live near, knows only too well. Other constituencies of that character also have a great number of them, but we all have them and they are very much on our minds.

The Bill does absolutely nothing for them. The Government gave way on a technical Amendment of mine, which I do not suppose many people will understand if I repeat tonight, and, backgammon was removed from the highest rate of gambling tax. But nothing was done for the social services. How can right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite square that with their conscience? They cannot argue the economic situation, because at this stage, after the best part of two years, they hold a very great responsibility for it.

For ten months the cost of living has been rising month by month, and there is every sign that the rise will continue. The new Clauses are designed to meet this problem. I do not wish to hold the Government to any of the figures which I have given in the new Clause. It may be argued that they go too far. But one has to put down something to allow a discussion in a Clause which one hopes that the Chair will select. Nothing has been more devastating than the Chief Secretary's abuse of that fact and his argument on the literal proposals of the Clause when they have been put down simply to permit discussion. Fortunately my respect for the Financial Secretary is much greater than for the Chief Secretary. We are seeking to give an opportunity, for which I am sure the nation is waiting, so that the Government may show that they have consciences and that they are prepared to meet the House and the country on this matter.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. MacDermot

The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) began by claiming that if the Government wish to help people through tax relief, this is the right way to do it. I entirely agree with him. This form rather than that suggested in an earlier Clause would be the right approach, as my right hon. Friend showed last year, when it was by raising the limit for age exemption that he gave assistance.

We are discussing two points—the age exemption and the age relief in respect of investment income. The latter arises on new Clause 16: new Clauses 41 and 15 deal with the age exemption. The case has been made primarily on the increase in the cost of living which has taken place. The right hon. Member in his new Clause limited the increase specifically to the amount which would be required to make good the increases in the cost of living which have taken place. The other new Clause would go rather further.

The right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) asked me whether the Government accepted that the effect of inflation ought to be reflected in relief from taxation. Provided that he is not asking me to say that every year automatically there must be an increase, I will agree with that proposition. This is a factor, probably the principal factor, which must be taken into account particularly when considering this type of relief. We all know that cost of living increases bear, broadly speaking, more heavily upon the elderly than upon other classes of the community.

The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton supported this case with a further argument that because of the Pensions (Increase) Act some people have been moved into the tax-paying band and that it was wrong to bring people into the category of taxpayer by pension increases. That is a somewhat novel doctrine. I do not think that it was followed by his own Government after the 1959 Pensions (Increase) Act. It was three years before there was an increase in the age exemption limit after that Act. But I can see the force of the argument, particularly in relation to the second part of the argument, dealing with marginal relief, and I will come to that at the end of my speech. He also adduced an argument based on the fact that average industrial earnings have risen, as they have, during the past year. That is, as it were, a more extreme way of putting his argument based on the cost of living. I say at once that if this was a year in which my right hon. Friend felt able to grant reliefs from taxation, particularly to the elderly, this is the type of proposal he would have made.

My right hon. Friend has been criticised because there are no social services provisions in the Bill, but I hope that the Committee will remember to consider the whole programme of legislation. If hon. Members are fair they will recognise that an enormous amount has been done by the present Government for the elderly since they came to office, and that they are continuing to do so in legislation that is now before Parliament.

Hon. Members have paid generous tributes to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance for her presence throughout this discussion and for the great concern which she has shown, and feels, for the elderly. One hon. Gentleman opposite commented adversely that my right hon. Friend is not in the Cabinet. I assure the hon. Gentleman, speaking as a Treasury Minister, that the elderly have not suffered and do not suffer in the slightest from her not being a member of the Cabinet. I could almost say that we in the Treasury might be grateful if some of our colleagues who are in the Cabinet were not as successful as she is in obtaining public funds for the work of her Department. The Committee will not need reminding of the magnitude of her initial success in achieving a substantial increase in the retirement pension, which was one of the first acts of this Government when we took office in 1964. There have been many other Measures since.

The hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) referred to the difficulties of the cost of transport, particularly for the elderly; rural transport and so on. I remind him that one of the first acts of the present Government was to introduce a Measure to empower local authorities to introduce concessionary fares for the aged, some of which is very much appreciated in my constituency and many others. I could list many provisions which have greatly helped the elderly, including the Rent Act, the abolition of prescription charges, and matters now before Parliament such as the rate rebate scheme, something which will help people generally, but particularly those we are discussing.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Since the hon. and learned Gentleman has raised this point, is he aware that it has come to my knowledge, for the first time, that those who are given a war pension must have the whole of their income treated against the rent rebate in respect of rent rebate schemes, and that this is one of the ways in which one must recognise how wrong it is to suggest that there is any great advantage to such people from the scheme?

Mr. MacDermot

That is an extravagant comment for the hon. Gentleman to make. I repeat that a great many of the people who are precisely in this category, to whom the age exemption applies, will benefit greatly in a most practical way from rate rebate scheme. There are other Measures which will benefit those within these income limits, such as my right hon. Friend's Social Security Bill.

Mr. Gower

With respect, how can the hon. and learned Gentleman really make a valid point of that when the maximum increase which any of these people will get under the rate rebate scheme is in the neighbourhood of a 5d. rate, when rates have already increased by 25 per cent. since the Labour Party came to power?

Mr. MacDermot

I do make the point, because they will get the relief. They also get the benefit of being able to pay their rates by instalments, which is also a great relief to them.

To turn to the terms of the Clauses themselves, I think that the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) was conscious of a drafting error in one of his Amendments, because it ignores the last two increases that have taken place. I think from a remark he made that he realised that.

Mr. Hirst

I quite agree. I was informed, it would seem incorrectly, that one had to amend by reference to the original Act.

Mr. MacDermot

The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) asked me to remind the Committee of the history of this relief. It was introduced in 1957. There was an increase in 1958. There was then a gap until 1962, after which there has been an increase each year, including the increase in last year's Budget. That is the history of the increases there have been. So this form of relief has been dealt with quite favourably in comparison with others in recent years. There are, of course, also the marginal relief provisions. Clearly, as I have indicated, if this were a year in which my right hon. Friend was able to grant reliefs, this relief is one which would have a strong claim for review.

I was asked about the cost of the new Clause proposed by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Mallon. This would be, as he says, about £5 million this year and £8½ million in a full year. That would be the cost of raising the age exemption limit. It is not possible to estimate the cost of the marginal relief proposals owing to the sudden jump involved, with which I shall deal a little later, if I may. The cost of the new Clause in the name of the hon. Member for Shipley would be £13 million this year and £22 million in a full year.

I turn now to the marginal relief provisions. The present provisions are that where it is to the taxpayer's advantage his tax bill is nine-twentieths of the amount by which his total income exceeds the exemption limit, instead of what it would be under the normal rules. The point at which marginal relief ceases to be advantageous varies from case to case, depending on the particular income, but it cannot be higher than £459 for the single person or £782 for a married couple.

These marginal relief provisions are sometimes criticised, as they were today by the right hon. Gentleman, on the grounds that the marginal fraction of nine-twentieths is too high and produces a heavy impact, as it were, of tax on that first band when a person ceases to enjoy the full exemption and comes into the marginal relief band. I am afraid this this is an inevitable consequence of a provision which is intended to be an exemption for small incomes—and this is, of course, the nature of the relief.

Unless one wishes to extend it up the scale very considerably so that, in effect, it ceases to be a small income relief then, inevitably, one has marginal relief provisions that will taper off, as it were, the benefits, and taper them off fairly rapidly. It follows that the marginal fraction must be above what would be normally the taxpayer's rate of tax at that level of income if it is to achieve its tapering object. Equally, unless the tapering is to be extended very far, it must exceed that marginal rate quite substantially. That is the explanation for the nine-twentieths figure.

The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that it might mean—I forget the exact figures, but I take his point—that someone coming into the marginal band through additional income—say £25—would pay a substantial rate of tax on that £25. So he would, but what one has to look at is not just the marginal rate on that £25 but the rate of tax on the whole of the income. It is a very low rate of tax. Naturally when he begins to pay tax, although it is calculated on the marginal band, what he is doing is paying a very low tax on the whole of his income, and that is the right way to look at it. This is inevitable in tapering provisions.

10.45 p.m.

I am afraid that not only a similar but a worse result would flow from the remedy which the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton has proposed in the second part of his new Clause, because it would involve a sudden jump in tax where the excess of income over the exemption limit is just over £100. The right hon. Member proposes to reduce the liability to one quarter of the excess of the total income over the new limit, provided that the excess is not more than £100, or half the excess if it is more than £100 and less than £200. That would mean that if the excess of the income over the exemption limit is £100 the liability to tax would be a maximum of £25. But if the excess is £101, his income having gone up by £1, then the liability would be £50 10s.—half the excess. A jump of that kind would, I think, be far more unacceptable than the increase which is involved in the present marginal relief provisions.

Mr. Turton

Does not an exactly similar jump occur as in the figures given by the Financial Secretary when one gets over the £160 margin. I am suggesting that one should grade this into three bands. In the first band people would be paying a rate not exceeding 4s. 6d. in the £, in the second 9s. in the £, and then it is quite true that when one got over that there would be a big jump, but that is inescapable in any system of marginal relief. Where I am trying to help the old person is where he is just over. At the moment there is this very large increase of 9s. in the £ on the excess. That is a deterrent to working and also a disappointment to anyone getting an increase under the Pensions (Increase) Act.

Mr. MacDermot

I will certainly be glad to look at what the right hon. Gentleman has been saying to see whether there is any way in which one can soften the first stages, but I imagine one could only achieve that object either by extending the marginal relief into higher brackets or by increasing the steps at a later stage of the marginal relief. Certainly, for the reason I have given, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has succeeded in finding the right answer, because in the middle of his marginal relief there would be this very sudden jump from £25 to £50 10s. in tax liability, as a result of an increase in income.

As far as new Clause 16 is concerned, this is old age relief and the Clause proposes to raise from £900 to £1,200 the income limit for age relief. This is the relief which gives the equivalent of the two-ninths earned income relief on investment income to taxpayers over 65 whose income does not exceed the prescribed limit. The intention of it, as the hon. Member for Isle of Thanet said, is to equate the tax liability of a taxpayer who in retirement has to live on a modest income from the investment of his savings with that of a retired taxpayer who lives on a pension which qualifies for earned income relief. Again there are marginal relief provisions and the precise point at which this ceases to give benefit varies from case to case, but they can in some cases extend up to a total income—where it is all from investments—of £1,500.

If the limit were raised in the manner suggested in the new Clause, the marginal relief would finally disappear at slightly over £2,000. Again, I do not wish to say anything to detract from what hon. Members have said about the effect of cost of living increases on the elderly, but I do not think that this is a relief which my right hon. Friend could increase this year. The cost of doing it would be £1¼ million in the present year and £3 million in a full year.

Mrs. Thatcher

We are all grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) for moving the new Clause and adducing so much evidence in favour of it. We ought to be clear what he is asking for. It is not any extra relief for the aged. It is for relief in order to keep them in the same position as they were in last year, so that they shall not continually be worsted by the rise in incomes which has been going on relative to the rise in productivity. It is strange that in a year when incomes have risen faster than ever before, the Government are not willing to ensure that the old folk are not put in a worse position than they were in at the beginning of the year.

Throughout the Finance Bill debates the Financial Secretary has had one refrain on his lips when asked about tax reliefs—"Never on weekdays." What would have happened if the Committee had sat on Sundays I do not know, but we have had no reliefs on weekdays from him. This is the last opportunity for some social service provision to be inserted in the Bill in Committee, and I would have hoped that the Financial Secretary would have taken it and given some encouragement to the Committee. We know what has happened. He has the unenviable job of a No. 2 at the Despatch Box, and I know how unenviable a job it can be. His brief is marked "Resist". The arguments are set out there, and he has to give those arguments. Fortunately, it is not part of his job to believe in those arguments; otherwise he could not carry on, particularly on a new Clause like this one. Surely no hon. Member—and no Minister—can willingly go into the Lobby tonight and insist that those aged over 65 on under £8 a week should be compelled to make a contribution to the salaries of Members, which have been increased vastly, and to the salaries of Ministers, which have been increased vastly. But that is what the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying they must do.

As the Financial Secretary pointed out, this was what we called the "Peter Thorneycroft" relief, introduced by a Conservative Government and increased many times by a Conservative Government and increased once by the last Labour Government. It was increased many times to show the kind of priority that we give to those aged over 65.

Let us look a little more closely at who they are. I call them the hardship groups. They are above the National Assistance level. We cannot give them any more direct subsidy from the State because they are just above the limits which we deem necessary for them to get extra subsidy. They are people who made proper provision for their own retirement during their working lives. During their working lives they had to bring up their children without family allowances, sometimes they had to pay for their education and they often had to pay for their own medical services. They are now asked to subsidise the children of people on average earnings of £21 a week, who have family allowances, a National Health Service and free education. They are people who seemed to have done everything for themselves and done it right. They are not the small fixed income groups. They are the small dwindling income groups, and those incomes will be dwindling further if the Financial Secretary does not give some measure of relief tonight.

The new Clause is modest. It will not be lost on the Financial Secretary that, whenever there has been an expensive new Clause or Amendment before the Committee, we have refrained from voting upon it because we recognise that it could not be given this year. But this new Clause would cost a very small amount—chicken feed. We have offered him £133 million and suggested that the Government should not pay the 7s. 6d. premium to manufacturers. Why does not he take that offer and accept this new Clause?

We should be very pleased if the hon. and learned Gentleman did, but if he does not we shall show our feelings in the Lobby. I hope that this time some hon. Members opposite will come with us. I cannot recall a Finance Bill during which so little has been said by Government back benchers.

Sir S. McAdden

How can my hon. Friend expect hon. Members opposite to join us in the Lobby when hardly any of them have been here to listen to the arguments?

Mrs. Thatcher

Hope springs eternal although I have little faith. We were told to expect great things from this intake of Labour M.Ps. We were told that they were the most highly educated there had ever been. I do not know how

Division No. 92.] AYES [10.58 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Gurden Harold Miscampbell, Norman
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Hall, John (Wycombe) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Awdrey, Daniel Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Balniel, Lord Harris Frederic (Croydon N.W.) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Batsford, Brian Harris, Reader (Heston) Murton, Oscar
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Harrison, Brian (Malden) Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Bell, Ronald Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Heave, Airey
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Bessell, Peter Harvie Anderson, MISS Nott, John
Black, Sir Cyril Hawkins, Paul Osborn, John (Hallam)
Body, Richard Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Page, Graham (Crosby)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Heseltine, Michael Pardoe, John
Brains, Bernard Higgins, Terence L. Percival, Ian
Brewis, John Hill, J. E. B. Pike, Miss Mervyn
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hirst, Geoffrey Prior, J. M. L.
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Bullus, Sir Eric Holland, Philip Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Carlisle, Mark Hooson, Emlyn Roots, William
Clark, Henry Hordern, Peter Rossi, Hugh (Homsey)
Clegg, Walter Hornby, Richard Sharples, Richard
Cooke, Robert Howell, David (Guildford) Smith, John
Costain, A. P. Hunt, John Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Crawley, Aidan Hutchison, Michael Clark Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Crowder, F. P. Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Dalkeith, Earl of Kaherry, Sir Donald Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Dance, James Kimball, Marcus Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Kirk, Peter Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Kitson, Timothy Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Knight, Mrs. Jill Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Digby, Simon Wingfield Lambton, Viscount Ward, Dame Irene
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Lancaster, Col. C. G. Weatherill, Bernard
Eden, Sir John Langford-Holt, Sir John Whitelaw, William
Errington, Sir Eric Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Loveys, W. H. Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Foster, Sir John McAdden, Sir Stephen Worsley, Marcus
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Wylie, N. R.
Glover, Sir Douglas Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain Younger, Hn. George
Gower, Raymond Maddan, Martin
Grant, Anthony Mawby, Ray TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gresham Cooke, R. Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Mr. Francis Pym and
Mr. Jasper More.

highly educated they are, none of them can hold a candle to my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) when it comes to trying to help the old. Whether on these benches or opposite, whether against this Government or against a Conservative Government, she would be in the Lobby seeking increased relief for the aged. Hon. Members opposite should follow her example.

We are glad that the right hon. Lady the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance has sat throughout this debate. Until she came in, no woman M.P. from the party opposite had attended any of the discussions on the new Clauses dealing with social security today and I am glad she remedied that. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will vigorously go into the Lobby in support of this new Clause.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 120. Noes 178.

Anderson, Donald Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton) Ogden, Eric
Archer, Peter Gardner, A. J. O'Malley, Brian
Armstrong, Ernest Garrow, Alex Orbach, Maurice
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Ginsburg, David Orme, Stanley
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Gourlay, Harry Oswald, Thomas
Bagler, Gordon A. T. Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Baxter, William Gregory, Arnold Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Bence, Cyril Grey, Charles (Durham) Paget, R. T.
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Palmer, Arthur
Bidwell, Sydney Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Binns, John Hamling, William Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Bishop, E. S. Hannan, William Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Blackburn, F. Harper, Joseph Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Boardman, H. Hazell, Bert Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Booth, Albert Heffer, Eric S. Price, William (Rugby)
Boston, Terence Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Rhodes, Geoffrey
Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert Hooley, Frank Richard, Ivor
Bradley, Tom Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Brooks, Edwin Howie, W. Robertson, John (Paisley)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hunter, Adam Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hynd, John Roebuck, Roy
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Rose, Paul
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Buchan, Norman Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Ryan, John
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Kenyon, Clifford Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Carmichael, Neil Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)
Coe, Denis Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Silkin, John (Deptford)
Coleman, Donald Leadbitter, Ted Silkin, S. C. (Dulwich)
Conlan, Bernard Lee, John (Reading) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Lestor, Miss Joan Small, William
Dalyell, Tam Lomas, Kenneth Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Swingler, Stephen
Davies, Robert (Cambridge) McBride, Nell Tinn, James
Delargy, Hugh McCann, John Urwin, T. W.
Dempsey, James MacDermot, Niall Varley, Eric G.
Dewar, Donald Macdonald, A. H. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John McKay, Mrs. Margaret Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Dickens, James Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Doig, Peter Mackie, John Wallace, George
Driberg, Tom Mackintosh, John P. Watkins, David (Consett)
Dunn, James A. Maclennan, Robert Weitzman, David
Dunnett, Jack McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Wellbeloved, James
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) McNamara, J. Kevin Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Manuel, Archie Whitaker, Ben
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Whitlock, William
Ellis, John Mayhew, Christopher Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
English, Michael Mikardo, Ian Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Ensor, David Milian, Bruce Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Molley, William Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Fletcher, Tod (Darlington) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Winnick, David
Floud, Bernard Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Foley, Maurice Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Yates, Victor
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Moyle, Roland
Ford, Ben Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Forrester, John Murray, Albert Mr. Walter Harrison and
Fowler, Gerry Norwood, Christopher Mr. Alan Fitch.
Fraser, John (Norwood) Oakes, Gordon