HC Deb 24 May 1973 vol 857 cc655-6
18. Mr. Molloy

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received seeking relief for retirement pensioners from taxation when following part-time employment.

Mr. Higgins

This suggestion is made quite often but I do not think it would be right to single out these pensioners for special treatment.

Mr. Molloy

But the Treasury has indeed singled out a certain class of people for special treatment. Bearing in mind the dramatic drop in the value of the pound and the astounding increase in the cost of food, the Chancellor has enabled the well-off to deal with this serious situation by giving them massive tax reductions. Does not the hon. Gentleman consider that old-age pensioners are also entitled to some consideration? Will he not dismiss them so cavalierly and so lightly?

Mr. Higgins

I do not think that that arises out of the Question, but, as I said earlier, the record of the present Government on pensions provision in general is one of which we can be proud.

Mr. Costain

Will my hon. Friend give special consideration to the case where the pension of an older husband suffers if he has a younger wife who is employed?

Mr. Higgins

I shall give consideration to that point.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the hon. Gentleman consider not only the financial matter but the medical matter? Is he aware that we have a highly increasing cost in geriatrics and that one of the ways to keep people out of hospital after they reach pensionable age is to give them useful and gainful employment and keep them in the community? The suggestion in the Question might save the Treasury money in the long run.

Mr. Higgins

There are conflicting views on the question whether, or to what extent, it is right to encourage people to go on working beyond a certain point and what fiscal measures should be taken to that effect, but the hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware that in September 1971 the earnings rule starting point was raised from £7.50 to £9.30 and that in October 1972, as a result of the National Insurance (Amendment) Act, brought in by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Coombes), the proportionate band was increased from £2 to £4.