HC Deb 27 July 1976 vol 916 cc236-7
10. Mr. Nicholas Winterton

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on his plans for the payment of cash credits in retirement.

Mr. Orme

The Government have made a number of substantial improvements in benefits for the retired and have on the statute book a new scheme for earnings-related pensions. My right hon. Friend has no other proposals at the present time.

Mr. Winterton

I am grateful to the Minister for his reply, but has he read Labour's Programme for 1976, showing as it does proposals for cash benefits for those over retirement age? Does that not show a remarkable similarity to the tax credit scheme put forward by the Conservative Party?

Mr. Orme

There are many excellent suggestions in Labour's programme for 1976. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for drawing the point to the attention of the House. The matter that he raises will have to be discussed in future policy, but there is no immediate intention to introduce such a scheme.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Will my right hon. Friend add up all the requests for extra public expenditure made by the Opposition this afternon and publish the results in the Official Report?

Mr. Orme

I am afraid that I would have to add a lot of noughts to the figures that we already have.

Mr. Boscawen

Before the right hon. Gentleman adds any new benefits to the statute book, will he consider meeting the obligations promised to the pensioners in the Social Security Act 1975, to raise pensions in line with prices?

Mr. Orme

The pensions increase this November will take pensions to their highest ever level and will cushion pensions against the effects of the current cost of living.

Mr. Loyden

My right hon. Friend was asked what consideration was being given to additional benefits. Will he state what the Department intends to do to offset the effects of increased fuel costs on the aged and other groups, and what the Department can do in the forthcoming winter to alleviate the problem?

Mr. Orme

There is a later Question on this subject on the Order Paper. The matter is under active consideration.