HC Deb 14 November 1966 vol 736 cc20-1
40. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Minister of Social Security to what extent the real value of pensions are falling due to rising prices; and what steps she is taking to offset any reduction in pensions.

44. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Minister of Social Security by how much she estimates the retirement pension of 80s. per week has fallen in real value since it was granted on 29th March, 1965.

Mr. Pentland

At current prices, the single pension of 80s. is worth about 5s. 3d. less than in March, 1965, and the 130s. rate for a couple 8s. 6d. less. Even when account has been taken of rises in prices, however, the value of the present rates of pension is appreciably greater in real terms than that of any previous rates.

Mr. Roberts

While I thank the Minister for the very favourable conditions now compared with those under previous Administrations, is he aware that the expenditure pattern generally does not apply to this group and that, in fact, if the proposed increase in the price of bread which has been threatened comes about, this group will suffer still further?

Mr. Pentland

Yes, Sir. I appreciate that, but in fact the retail price index stood at 116.6 in July, it rose to 117.3 in August, but fell in September to 117.1. Therefore, the rise since July has been less than half of 1 per cent.

Mr. Frederic Harris

If, in the Minister's own words, the pensions have reduced by some 6 per cent. or a little more in a year and a half, what action do the Government intend to take to restore the ground?

Mr. Pentland

Of course, we are concerned about the decrease in the value of the pension, but, whatever anyone may think about the adequacy of the pension rate, it is nevertheless a fact that the pension is still standing at a higher rate in real terms than at any other time previously.

Mr. Worsley

Has the hon. Gentleman made any estimate of the future fall in the value of pensions which will certainly come about as a result of the introduction of the Selective Employment Tax?

Mr. Pentland

Questions about the increases arising from the Selective Employment Tax have already been answered by my right hon. Friend on previous occasions. I am saying that since July, when the Government took the meaures to increase postal charges and so forth, there has been an increase of only half of 1 per cent. in the retail price index.