HC Deb 06 February 1973 vol 850 cc208-9
8. Mr. Eadie

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will set up an emergency working party to assess the effect of the increased price of meat on retirement pensioners.

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

No, Sir, but account will of course be taken of the movement of prices in the normal annual review of pension levels.

Mr. Eadie

Surely the hon. Gentleman must agree that evidence is piling up in the constituencies that pensioners are suffering because of the escalation of meat prices. Indeed they went up by 40 per cent. in 14 days. Surely the hon. Gentleman is not informing the House that he will wait until October before he tries to redress the problem. Pensioners need help now.

Mr. Dean

The hon. Gentleman will know that the annual review of benefits is now in operation and that increases in prices will be taken fully into account in the next review. Equally the House would not wish to exaggerate what has happened to the retail price index. The pension was increased by 75p in October; it has lost only 1p since that time.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that with the ever-increasing price of beef and the better cuts of meat, in the North East in particular, where wage levels are generally lower than in the South East and the Midlands, it is becoming increasingly difficult for pensioners to purchase even the cheaper cuts of meat because of the resultant demand arising from the high cost of the better cuts?

Mr. Dean

I accept that meat prices have gone up. That is perfectly true. But so has the level of pensions. The level of pensions has been increased in real value by no less than 7 per cent. since the Government came into office. For pensioners over 80 it has increased by 11 per cent.

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