HC Deb 10 November 1970 vol 806 cc184-5
17. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he intends to take to protect those on low incomes from the effect of increased food prices consequent on the proposed change of method of financial support for the agricultural industry.

Sir K. Joseph

Social Security benefits are due to be reviewed next year.

Mr. Hamilton

Does not the right hon. Gentleman accept that the patterns of personal expenditure of people on low incomes, particularly old-age pensioners, are very different from those of other people, and that therefore they will suffer more than proportionately as a result of the Government's new food policies? Will he give an undertaking that all the measures the Government have introduced so far, allegedly to reduce poverty, will not be used as an excuse for not protecting people on low incomes from the wicked policy on which the Government are now embarking?

Sir K. Joseph

The Government's food policy is unlikely to have as much effect on food prices as the Labour Party's performance on prices generally, including food, during its period of office. I have made inquiries into the relativities of the pensioners' index and the general retail price index and I find that they are marching almost identically together.