HC Deb 30 November 1971 vol 827 cc222-3
2. Mr. Strang

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his latest estimate of the percentage increase in the purchasing power of the national insurance pension, since the last but one increase in November, 1969.

Sir K. Joseph

As measured by the movement of the General Index of Retail Prices to October, 1971, the purchasing power of the standard rate of retirement pension for a single person is 2.4 per cent. higher than in November, 1969. For a pensioner over 80 the increase, including the new age addition, is 6.7 per cent.

Mr. Strang

Does not that first figure highlight just how inadequate in real terms has been the last increase in pensions? Will the Secretary of State allow hundreds of thousands of pensioners to spend this Christmas on the poverty line? Would he think again and bring forward substantial increases in their pensions?

Sir K. Joseph

That, again, is the subject of this afternoon's debate. The hon. Gentleman will know that we managed this time to do marginally better on the increase than the Labour Government did in 1969.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Would the right hon. Gentleman now give his estimate of when the value of the pension increase will have disappeared altogether? We suspect that it will have disappeared altogether in January and that from then on pensioners will be getting steadily poorer.

Sir K. Joseph

No, I will not make a guess. But the up-rated pension has always tended to lose value between up-ratings.

6. Mr. Raphael Tuck

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much of the £1 increase in retirement pensions is received by persons in receipt of supplementary benefit.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. Paul Dean)

Single supplementary pensioners received an increase of 60p in total income, comprising £1 more in retirement pension and 40p less in supplementary pension.

Mr. Tuck

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the absolute despair felt by old-age pensioners when they see their money buying less and less? Does he appreciate that this much-vaunted £1 increase, which the Government have vaunted on so many occasions, is nothing more than a shoddy piece of window dressing? Why does he not give pensioners their full £1?

Mr. Dean

On the contrary, the hon. Gentleman must realise that there is a real increase in the purchasing power of the pension which was introduced in September. Supplementary pensioners have had the same increase as retirement pensioners, but they have had it in two instalments—one last year and one this year.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I remind hon. Members that we shall be debating this matter for the rest of the day.