HC Deb 14 November 1972 vol 846 cc201-2
11. Mr. Thomas Cox

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he proposes to meet representatives of the National Federation of Old Age Pensions Associations.

Sir K. Joseph

I met representatives of the National Federation of Old Age Pensions Associations on 25th October this year.

Mr. Cox

The right hon. Gentleman is, therefore, in no doubt about the deep concern which retired people are expressing. In view of the statements made at each party conference in October, is it not time that this House had the guts to show the country that if we want a recent standard of living for our retired people we must pay for it? Does not the right hon. gentleman realise that until we tie retirement pensions to the average weekly wage, the standard of living of retired people will diminish month by month? Is this what Parliament wants? If it is not, let us have the courage to say so and campaign for adequate pensions for retired people.

Sir K. Joseph

The members of the delegation I met put the pensioners' views vigorously and forcefully, as they always do, but they expressed appreciation of the Government's initiative in bringing in an annual uprating. Had they known of it, I think they would also have welcomed the £10 for a single pensioner and the £20 for a married couple that is to be paid next month.

Mr. McCrindle

In view of the now established precedent of paying the £10 bonus within a few weeks of announcing it, will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of further such payments without prejudice to the annual review, and will he draw this point to the attention of the pensioners' representatives when he meets them?

Sir K. Joseph

I suspect that my hon. Friend has his tongue slightly in his cheek, as he knows perfectly well that this is a special one-off operation, with the help of the Post Office, and that it takes no account of the personal situation of each beneficiary, as has to be done in upratings.

Mr. Harold Walker

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure pensioners that the £10 bonus will be paid directly and personally to each pensioner, including those who live in local authority homes, hospitals and other institutions whose normal practice is to retain the pension apart from a small amount of pocket money?

Sir K. Joseph

I am nervous of giving a wrong impression by a quick answer. The hon. Gentleman should wait until the Bill is introduced.