HC Deb 08 February 1972 vol 830 cc1127-8
21. Mr. Hardy

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of a single retired person's pension was usually spent on food at the latest date for which figures are available; and what proportion was so spent in the last quarter of 1969.

Mr. Prior

The Family Expenditure Survey data are based on the total available income of the household. On this basis, food represented 29 per cent. of the total expenditure by retired one-person pensioner households in the last quarter of 1969, when pensions were increased. The latest available survey results relate to the second quarter of 1971, immediately before pensions were increased, and the proportion was then 32 per cent. The September, 1971, increase brought the real value of pensions to the highest level ever.

Mr. Hardy

Is it not clear that the present situation is unsatisfactory and that the imminent increase in food prices, to which the Minister referred today, is likely to make the position disgraceful? Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that his colleagues in the Government are aware that food prices will rise very heavily, that pensioners will be very badly placed and that there is urgent need for very sizeable increases in pensions?

Mr. Prior

My colleagues in the Government, and the whole of my party, are aware of this problem. That is why we are the party which has announced that the pension will be reviewed annually, and that is very welcome to pensioners.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Why is Mr. Alexander Kenworthy apparently so much better informed than Members of Parliament? Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the report that he is now negotiating a further 10 per cent. increase in food prices as part of the present farm price review? Is he aware that if that happens, it will be heartbreaking news for every pensioner and everyone on a fixed income?

Mr. Prior

The hon. Gentleman would not expect me to comment on what newspapers say any more than I comment on what he says.