§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)
I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 3, line 1, leave out subsection (3).
§ Mr. Speaker
With this we may also consider the following amendments: No. 2, in page 3, line 7, leave out `15/' and insert '17'.
No. 3, in page 3, line 10, at end insert—(c) Provided that this subsection shall not apply in the case of invalidity benefit'.No. 4, in page 3, line 10, at end insert—(3A) In calculating the increases to be specified in any draft of an up-rating order prepared and laid before each House of Parliament under section 125 (3) in 1981, the Secretary of State shall increase the value of invalidity benefit so that it has the value which it would have had if section 1 of the Social Security (No. 2) Act 1980 had never been in force.'No. 5, in page 3, line 10, at end insert—'(3A) Subsection (3) of this section shall not apply to any of the sums mentioned in Part IV of Schedule 4 to the Social Security Act E 975'.No. 6, in page 3, line 10, at end insert—'(3B) In calculating the increases to be specified in any draft of an up-rating order prepared and laid before each House of Parliament under section 125 (3) in 1981, the Secretary of State shall increase the value of the unemployment benefit so that it has the value which it would have had if section 1 of the Social Security (No. 2) Act 1980 had never been in force.'No. 7, in page 3, line 10, at end insert—'( ) Provided that this subsection shall not apply in the case of retirement pension'.No. 8, in page 3, line 22, leave out from 'benefit' to end of line 24.
§ Mr. Buchan
This series of amendments is concerned with the main gaps in the Bill. When to a friend working in social security I described the Bill's appearance as causing one of the blackest days in the history of social legislation in this country, he said that I should strengthen my description because it was even worse than that.
For the first time since the beginnings of what we have come to call the Welfare State we have seen specific clawbacks and cuts—under the fancy name of abatements—in our social legislation. Our case today is that the cuts are not only morally indefensible. They are certainly socially indefensible and we doubt whether some of them are legally defensible.
Amendment No. 1 would delete the entire proposition of clawing back pensions by 1 per cent. What a mean concept it is that pensions should be cut by 1 per cent. Amendment No. 2 would raise the baseline on which the year's uprating is to be made and would make good the accumulated shortfall in long-term benefit upratings since the Government came to power. That is of extreme significance because we deny the validity of the Government's argument. We do not accept that there has been an overprovision of pensions.
892 Amendment No. 3 would exempt the invalidity benefit from the cutback. We would expect in the International Year of Disabled People to get some support for that. Amendment No. 4 would require restoration of the cut in the value of invalidity benefits. Amendment No. 5 would exempt from the clawback increases for dependants. Amendment No. 6 would require restoration of the value of unemployment benefit in this year's upratirtg. Amendment No. 7 would exempt the retirement pension from the clawback, and Amendment No. 8 is a safeguard to prevent the Government from repeating the process of clawing back social provision in the future.
The amendments break down into two sets. One set is concerned with the 1 per cent. clawback, the dreadful proposition by the Government that the pensioners were overprovided for last year by a penny in the pound, and that they must therefore take the money back. The other set—amendments Nos. 4, 6 and 8—deals with the savage attack on those who receive unemployment or invalidity benefits in, of all years, the International Year of Disabled People, by which the benefits will be cut by 5 per cent.
We deny that even under the Government's etimates there is any proper basis for saying that there was a 1 per cent. overprovision to pensioners. We are horrified by the concept of the 1 per cent. clawback. The Government are unjustified in claiming that the pensioners were overpaid. I shall not rehearse the arguments. they are all on the record. The Opposition deployed them at length in Committee and I shall not repeat them here. It is sufficient to say that, given the shortfall in the years from 1978, the pensioners have been underprovided for.
In Labour's last year in office we failed to make up the shortfall. We lost the general election and we were unable to make good the underprovision. We were pledged to do so, but the Conservatives came into power and they changed the law that linked pensions to prices or earnings, whichever was the higher. Their change established the link with prices only, but they forgot to honour their obligations under the then law which at that time required pensions to be related to earnings. The Government have sailed very close to the wind in terms of obeying the law.
The Secretary of State accepted that point when he was asked whether he would make up the shortfall. In a parliamentary question he was askedwhether the Government proposed to make good the shortfall in … pensions and other long-term benefits arising from the underestimate of the rise in earnings"—which at that time was the law. He replied:No. There is no legal obligation to make up this shortfall which, it is estimated would cost £195 million in a full year. We fully complied with the statutory requirements when uprating retirement pensions and other long-term benefits in November 1979." —[Official Report, 25 January 1980; Vol. 977, c. 418–191The Government therefore recognised at that time that there was a shortfall but they assert now that they are not prepared to make it up. In legal terms they are sailing very close to the wind in asserting that. There cannot be a shortfall and overprovision. Either the pensioners were getting too little or they were getting too much. By his answer the Secretary of State said that they were getting too little, but that the Government were not intending to make good the difference. In spite of that answer, the right hon. Gentleman proceeded with this iniquitous Bill in order to cut back by a penny in the pound that to which 893 the pensioners were reasonably entitled. It is the meanest action of any Government since 1931, above all since the beginning of the Welfare State as we understand it.
§ 4 pm
§ Mr. loan Evans (Aberdare)
It is a particularly mean act when the Government have already acted, because it was the Labour Government's intention to increase the pensions in relation to increases in average earnings or prices, whichever was higher. That has already been removed from the pensioners by the Government and now they are meanly taking off a penny in the pound.
§ Mr. Buchan
It is meanness upon meanness. As I said on Second Reading, I almost prefer major crime to that petty, mean inequity. The removal of the link with earnings is a major factor, because the pensioners have been told by the Government that they will never be better off. If, by accident, they become better off, even by a penny on the pound, the Government will claw it back. By linking pensions to prices only and by clawing back, the Government are asserting to every pensioner "You will never be better off. If by accident you become better off, we shall take it back." No matter how much better off the rest of society become—whether Ministers, Members of Parliament, Vestey or the other people who will benefit from tax benefits—pensioners will have the same standard of living. We reject the morality, the social necessity, the budgetary necessity and the legal necessity for that. The Government have done it by choice, and it will be a black day for Britain if we allow the Bill to be passed today.
There is then the abatement aspect, the 5 per cent. cut in invalidity pensions. What a welcome the Government have given to the International Year of Disabled People. Unemployment benefit is to be cut by 5 per cent. in a year when we have 2½ million unemployed. That will go down in history for its infamy. This week the Government have promised to reintroduce abatement of invalidity pension.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury was asked on Monday whether the Government would restore the 5 per cent. abatement in unemployment benefit. The excuse for cutting unemployment benefit by 5 per cent. was that it would be brought into taxation. We do not object to benefits being brought into taxation. We recognise that there is a case for all incomes to be taxable. When the Financial Secretary was asked whether he would restore the 5 per cent abatement, he said:There was some concern, … as to whether the 5 per cent. abatement of unemployment benefit will be made good when the taxation comes into play in April 1982. If I could answer that question here and now, I would gladly do so, but I cannot, for the simple reason that no decision has been taken. This is a public expenditure matter and the decision will be taken in the course of the public expenditure review alongside all the other public expenditure decisions." —[Official Report, 11 May 1981; Vol. 4, c. 513.]The decision to cut back by 5 per cent., because the Government intended to make a decision to bring it into taxation, has now been rejected, and it becomes a public expenditure factor. Either it is a principle that they should apply or they should be honest and say that they are trying to save money on unemployment benefits so that they can give it to the rich in tax handouts; it cannot be both. That is the gravamen of my charge.
894 Many hon. Members wish to participate in the debate. I cannot say that I have been devoid of friendly comments about the length of time for which I spoke yesterday, so I shall be brief to allow others to speak today.
The Government are the first I have known who have caused an economic crisis and then attempted to solve it by punishing the poorest and most deprived in our society. That action has outraged the pensioners, and rightly so. They cannot understand why this mean action about the 1 per cent. should be applied to them. The unemployed cannot understand the mean action on the 5 per cent., as they are unemployed through no fault of their own. We back them entirely. It is iniquitous, and the Government have two ways to solve it.
There is anxiety over the whole of social security at present. I had hoped that the Secretary of State would be present. I want to ask him what he and his Department are doing to force the Treasury Ministers and, above all, the Prime Minister to listen to the requests of the Civil Service unions to negotiate, arbitrate or listen to the Trades Union Congress, which suggests that the International Labour Organisation might be brought in to the crisis. We are facing a difficult problem and if further problems arise in social security and other offices through the troglodyte behaviour of the Government in refusing negotiation, the fault will be entirely on their shoulders. We shall ensure that the community recognises that. What is the right hon. Gentleman doing to persuade the Government to agree to discussions with the Civil Service unions?
My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), intelligent and ahead of us all as usual, said on Second Reading that hon. Members would recall that we debated this subject in the year of the announcement of the Royal Wedding, the engagement of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. He said that it would be a good gesture, to which the country would respond, if the Government's wedding present to the Royal couple was the announcement that they would not cut pensions by 1 per cent. this year but would return the 1 per cent. to pensioners. That would be welcomed as a Royal present indeed. I invite the Government to follow that suggestion.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Stockport, North)
In supporting the amendment, I want to make a short, simple point. Throughout this Parliament, the Government's reason for the number of social security measures, two last Session and two so far in this Session, is that the country cannot afford, in the present economic climate, to do the decent thing by the disadvantaged—the pensioners, the unemployed and other groups. The excuse was always that in the present economic climate nothing could be done. The message was either that there had to be cuts or the necessary and obvious improvements, that everyone realised needed to be made could not be carried out.
For the past two months, from the Prime Minister downwards, we have been told that the Government can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that matters are improving. Most people do not believe that, but that is the collective view of the Government. If so, when are the pensioners, the unemployed and those on supplementary benefit likely to see benefit from the improving economic climate?
The first opportunity for the disadvantaged to see some improvement will be in November. If the Government removed the clawback and the claim about over-provision for pensioners, pensioners would benefit this year from the 895 Government's claim of an improvement in the economy. If that is not done this November, the disadvantaged groups will have to wait until November 1982. If there is an improvement in the economic situation, when will the pensioners benefit?
§ Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)
My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) reminded me that one of my constituents, a priest, wrote to ask me to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the wedding in the Windsor family that is due to take place on 29 July, the Government will consider giving an extra day's pay to the unemployed and those in receipt of supplementary benefit as a gesture of good will and recognition of the event.
The reply from the Prime Minister was the single word "No". She did not even have the decency to give an explanation. Therefore, in asking for the withdrawal of the Bill and the 1 per cent. clawback which the Government have disgracefully put before the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West is asking for the impossible. The Government's heart is too stony and their face is too hard.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
It was probably a little before my hon. Friend's time, but at the time of the Coronation in 1937 the then Government gave the unemployed an extra half-crown to celebrate the occasion.
§ Mr. Cryer
My hon. Friend is quite right. Of course, nowadays the sum would be significantly greater than the 1 per cent. clawback proposed in the Bill. There has been a marked move away from generosity and towards a vicious attack on the poor. I hesitate to ask Ministers what a half-crown in 1937 would be worth today, because, as we know, mental arithmetic is not their strong point.
The Bill represents a continuation of an attack on the poor. Alternative sources of income are available and I shall spell them out. We are talking about a Government who introduced a 54-week year to deny pensions for a fortnight to people who have worked all their lives and who deserve a decent pension. The link between pensions and earnings has been removed as a result of legislation introduced by this rotten Tory Government. Recently tax refunds for the unemployed were deferred, and still earlier there was a £12 disregard in respect of social security benefits for strikers' dependants.
In every conceivable way, the Government are attacking those who are least able to bear cutbacks of any sort. It is interesting that the Government should be introducing this rotten measure, because earlier today I asked the Leader of the House to initiate a debate on the register of members' interests. He said "No".
By common consent, widows, pensioners and recipients of supplementary benefit are living on the lowest incomes. We should therefore compare the time allocated for debate on this Bill, and the Government's desire to get this legislation through, with their desire to avoid a debate on the register of members' interests. In the main, the names of Conservative Members appear in that register, although some members of the Social Democratic Party appear as well and, unfortunately, several Labour Members.
However, they are in the minority. The vast majority of Tory Members are living off the fat of the land. They are receiving public money, and are skiving off and obtaining money from company directorships and 896 parliamentary adviserships. But will Parliament discuss the issue of those who are advantaged as opposed to those who are not? Not on your life.
This rotten Conservative Government have turned their attention to the well-off and are attacking the not so well-off. That does not apply simply to this elitist little group inside these oak-panelled walls. The Government will avoid any opportunity to discuss the advantages of the elite at large.
Part of the revenue to pay for the 1 per cent. clawback could come from the tax concessions that the Government have given to their wealthy friends. That would ensure that people who have worked all their lives and have only a State pension as income would get a full and decent pension. It would also enable widows, whom the Goverment are attacking, to get this 1 per cent.
At present, three or four Conservative Members, including two bag carriers, are present to discuss this matter. I bet that if we discussed Members' salaries there would be a larger attendance, and I have no doubt that that would also be true if we discussed tax concessions for the well-off. There was a much better attendance during our discussion on the Lloyds Bill. I remember that a large number of Tory Members could not vote because they were all members of Lloyds. There is a strong affinity between the attendance of Conservative Members and items dealing with significantly large sums of money for their own friends. That is a reflection of their grave and vindictive attacks on people who can least afford a 1 per cent. cutback.
In the past, Ministers have asked where the money could come from. As I have said, during the two years of this Government we have seen massive tax concessions to the well-off. It is understood and recognised that the wealthy have done best out of the Government. In addition, if the Government want to spend significant sums of money on weapons of mass extermination such as Trident, £6 billion can be obtained from our tottering economy. Without a doubt, if the Government back a priority, they will find the money.
The Trident programme will be embarked upon because the Conservative Government place means of extermination before reasonable pensions for widows and people in the lowest income bracket. The Government are spending more than £12 billion on defence. The Ministry of Defence is currently overspending by about £250 million. [Interruption.] A Minister asks about Polaris. The Labour Government spent £1 billion on updating Chevaline. I was a member of the Government at the time but, like other members of the Cabinet and the Government, I did not agree with that expenditure. It is an indictment of the Labour Government that a tiny clique, including the leader of the Social Democratic Party, took that decision without the consent of Parliament. It is undemocratic to agree to expenditure of that sort without the consent of Parliament, and I have consistently argued that Parliament should have scrutiny over all Government expenditure. Conservative Members who are chortling cannot fault me on this issue. It is a sign of improvement that the Labour movement is determined to ensure that a future Labour Government do not renege on policy behind its back.
The Government are spending massive amounts of money on defence. They are spending £6 billion on Trident, a decision which has caused argument among 897 their own Members, let alone among the public at large. I am convinced that if the public were asked to decide between providing for the poorest in society and massive spending on a means of extermination, they would decide that the Government should spend the money on the poorest people who are deserving of support. That was the message spelt out in the county council elections. The Sting Ray torpedo, which has cost £1 billion, is about to go into production and will eventually cost Britain millions more pounds.
We should reject such priorities and opt for a decently progressive taxation system in which the wealthy make their proper contribution to society rather than being given the soft option by the Government. They must make their contribution so that wealth may be spread more fairly throughout society. There must be a movement of wealth from those who have it to those who do not—to the working men and women and their families. That principle should govern our tax system.
The Government take the opposite view. This legislation is an example of that. They want to shift wealth towards the wealthy and take from those who are least able to bear any reduction—even 1 per cent. —in their income. This is a shameful, vicious, mean, wretched little Bill which comes from a shameful, vicious, mean, wretched little Government.
§ Mr. Andrew Bowden (Brighton, Kemptown)
We have heard a typical contribution from the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer). I do not think that the House wants me to spend much time dealing with it, except to say that it is pretty despicable for any hon. Member to make the broad smears against his parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the House in the manner that the hon. Gentleman did this afternoon. We have heard him do so often in the past, and I have no doubt that the vast majority of hon. Members will treat his remarks with absolute contempt.
§ Mr. Bowden
At the risk of being ruled out of order, I ask the hon. Gentleman to recall that in his opening comments he made some smearing and scathing remarks about the outside interests held by many hon. Members. There is nothing morally wrong in having outside interests. It is of value to the House if many Members gain additional experience as paid trade union officials, paid company directors, paid consultants and paid advisers. It makes them better Members of the House.
If an hon. Member has outside active interests he can occasionally come down to earth by seeing the realities of life. We live in a hothouse—an artificial atmosphere. The vast majority of Members, whether or not they have outside interests, work well in excess of 50 to 60 hours a week. The hon. Gentleman's comments did no credit to him, to Parliament or to the House.
§ Mr. Bowden
I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman again. He is not worth my giving way. I have done it once and I am not prepared to do it again.
§ Mr. Cryer
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When an hon. Member makes a vicious attack on another Member—or, indeed, even mentions another Member—as the hon. Member for Brighton, Kempton (Mr. Bowden) has done, it is usual for that Member to give way so that the other Member can raise a point in reply. The hon. Gentleman raised the issue. I did not make the attack. I am simply trying to respond to it.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
The hon. Member for Brighton, Kempton (Mr. Bowden) is not giving way.
§ Mr. Bowden
I am grateful to you for your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The House will judge who made the attack on the honour, integrity and reputation of the House.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) is not in his place, as I wish to refer to his speech. I appreciate that there are considerable pressures upon his time.
§ Mr. Bowden
The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West claimed that the Labour Government intended to make up the shortfall in the pension increase which should never have occurred, in November 1978. The facts show that that is not true. It was publicly announced before the 1979 general election that the old age pension would be increased by the Labour Government, if they were returned to office, by 12.8 per cent. in November 1979. Yet earnings for the period rose by 14.5 per cent. It is right that the House should realise that the Labour Government broke both the spirit and the letter of the law in failing to increase pensions at the rate that they had pledged. They broke that pledge in 1976, and again in 1978.
The House will recall that I made clear my views about the Bill on Second Reading. The Bill compounds the fact that for a number of years pensions have not kept pace with pensioners' true living costs. During an interesting debate in Committee we discussed the pensioner index and the retail price index in some detail. We must consider the early 1960s to determine what happened during the following 10 or 20 years.
The pensioner index for a two-pensioner family from January 1962 to December 1974—taking 100 as the base in 1962—rose from 100 to 212, while the retail price index rose from 100 to 205. There was a considerable gap between the pensioner index and the retail price index. Pensioners' income began to fall behind their true living costs. The single pensioner household index between 1974 and 1980 fell 1.7 per cent. behind.
The key reason why I strongly oppose the Bill, why I shall vote in favour of the amendment, and why I voted against the Bill on Second Reading, is that it fails to keep pensions in line with pensioners' true living costs. Parties and Governments on both sides of the House have betrayed the pensioners. For a long time they have not kept pensions in line with pensioners' living costs.
My hon. Friend the Minister will argue that the pensioner index for the past three or four years shows little 899 difference from the increases in the retail price index. That I concede, but there is a difference between 1974 and 1980, albeit only 1.7 per cent. If that 1.7 per cent. had been made available to pensioners, if the base rate had been higher and not kept lower than it should have been on at least two occasions by the Opposition when they were in office, the very points we are now arguing about would have little validity. The base figure is low and should be higher. I cannot and will not support this Bill.
In that context, I deeply regret that this mean Bill should have been brought forward by my own Government. I am not going to repeat the points I made on Second Reading. I hope we will be given a clear and definite undertaking from the Front Bench that never again will the Government bring forward a Bill which reduces the pension increase by 1 per cent.; that we will do our utmost during the life of this Parliament to make up that amount, to make up the amounts which were not paid when the Labour Party was in office, to make up the amounts which should have been paid to meet pensioners' real living costs based on the pension index in the last 10 or 15 years. If we do that, today's debate and the whole discussion of this Bill will not have been wasted time.
§ Mr. Robert Kilroy-Silk (Ormskirk)
I wish to support my hon. Friends in their opposition to what the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) has described as a miserable Bill. It is rather extraordinary that we should be spending so much time in Committee and in the House debating a Bill which has as its function the taking of nothing more than 1p in the £ off all social security benefits and pensions. It is an extraordinary state of affairs that the Government should have found it sufficiently serious to introduce a Bill aimed at taking vindictive action against what are, by any standards, some of the most vulnerable, highly deprived and disadvantaged of our fellow citizens. As the hon. Member for Kemptown said—he has a very proud and even honourable record on this issue—it is unfortunate and rather strange that the Government should place a Bill before us which takes money away—small amounts, but significant to the recipients—from claimants and beneficiaries and yet at the same time increases fines or terms of imprisonment that can be imposed for any infringement of social security legislation or regulations.
The Government are asking us to enact a Bill that will take from claimants an amount of money that in terms of the Government's general resources is insignificant, but which, in terms of the amount of money at the disposal of a widow, widower, pensioner, single parent family, unemployed person on supplementary benefit, a person who is sick, disabled or handicapped in some way, is relatively large and significant.
This is an attack on the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens, but it is by no means the first, and I suspect it will not be the last. It is in line with the Government's attack upon pensioners generally through the reduction in pensions and the breaking of their pledge to maintain the link between pensions and the increases in prices or earnings, whichever is the higher. This link was imposed and met by the last Labour Government so that at the end of their term of office pensions were higher in real terms than they were when we came into office. This 900 Government gave a pledge before the election which they have now dishonoured and the Prime Minister is dishonoured in the process.
§ Mr. Bowden
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk). He has made a strong attack on the Government over this Bill. Would he also be fair and accept that—he used the word "vindictive"—if the Government are making the poorest section of the community suffer—those living on the lowest incomes, particularly those not in receipt of a supplementary pension, when there are 600,000 who could be—it is also true and just as disgraceful that his Government broke the link on two occasions and that his Government, in the statement made early in 1979, said they would not increase the pension in line with the link on earnings, as they were pledged to do?
§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
Unlike many of the lion. Gentleman's Friends, I am not a hypocrite. If my Government did what this Government are doing I would be just as contemptuous and outspoken as I will he on this occasion.
§ Mr. J. W. Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)
Is my hon. Friend aware that under the last Labour Government, if the rule had been that pensions were only raised in line with prices rather than prices or incomes, whichever is the higher, at the time of the General Election in 1979 the pension for a married couple would have been £5 less, under Tory law, than it was under the law introduced by the last Labour Government? The hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) knows that.
§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
My hon. Friend is right, as he always is. The hon. Gentleman will remember that many of my hon. Friends, including myself, voted against the actions dictated by the International Monetary Fund, which my Government imposed. The Labour Government imposed cuts, not enthusiastically, not gleefully, but with a great deal of reluctance under the pressure of financial and economic circumstances over which they had no control. This Government do not have the International Monetary Fund breathing over them. Thank goodness for that. This Government are deliberately and premeditatedly acting in a vindictive and disruptive fashion against the interests of the unemployed, the sick and the disabled and all the rest of our disadvantaged citizens. They are doing it because they want to, because they are embarked on a bout of vindictive spite, not because they are required to do so under terms imposed by the International Monetary Fund.
I wanted to speak for only three minutes——
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Social Services (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)
If the hon. Member wants to speak for only three minutes, perhaps he might make a more relevant contribution. He seems to have forgotten that in governing the country now this Government are taking economic action which is necessary to put our house in order. They are not waiting for the International Monetary Fund to tell them how to run the economy. They are seeking to bring the whole of the financial dilemma which this country faces under control. They are not being breathed upon by the International Monetary Fund or any other outside Government.
§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
The Minister is well known as one of those Tories who are otherwise described as wets but are known to have bleeding hearts. She is known to be a decent and compassionate person who feels deeply for the disabled and the unemployed. At least that is her media image, one assiduously cultivated and sustained on Merseyside, which area we both represent. I do not deny any of those claims which are made by her and for her. The fact that she felt the need to respond in the tone and the manner in which she did indicates very clearly her embarrassment and great discomfort over being asked to take this action on behalf of this most troglodyte of Governments in their attitude towards the unemployed.
I do not accept—nor, I believe, does the hon. Lady—that it is right or necessary or proper for a Government to have to manage the economy, to get it right, as she said, by means of 2½ million unemployed. That is not necessary. It is not necessary for the Government's financial targets. It is not necessary for the public sector borrowing requirement. It is not necessary for the maintenance of the economy deliberately to squeeze the most disadvantaged members of our community, to take back a miserable 1p in the £ from already disadvantaged pensioners, from the unemployed living in poverty, from one-parent families.
Is the Minister saying that neither she nor her colleagues can manage the country's affairs other than by resorting to such despicable tactics? If she is saying that, it is a condemnation of her and her Government. They should get out now and let somebody else deal with the country's affairs more efficiently and effectively.
The Government have attacked working people and recipients of benefits in other ways. They have reduced pensions. They have broken the link between pensions and increases in prices or earnings. They have attacked the unemployed by refusing to allow tax refunds when people are unemployed. They have attacked strikers by assuming a notional £12 income from trade unions. They have attacked the whole working community by the increase in VAT and through inflation.
Not content with that, nor with a massive erosion in the living standards of the poorest people, the Government are pretending that they have the compassion that always follows the Under-Secretary of State wherever she goes. The Government, with all the cheek that they can muster, are saying that a further 1p in the pound should be taken from the poorest and most deprived people in our community.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) said, the Prime Minister pretends that she can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that our economic prospects are improving. Why cannot the Government demonstrate their confidence in their economic policy and prophecies about the improvement in the economy by withdrawing the Bill? As the hon. Member for Kemptown said—and it comes from no better place—the Bill is mean and despicable. Ministers should be ashamed of introducing it and even more ashamed of pretending to defend it.
§ Mr. Ioan Evans
It is difficult to find words to describe the Government's mean actions. Yesterday I said that many people believe that the Government want to undermine the Welfare State, because they are withdrawing some welfare benefits. That was a moderate comment. The Under-Secretary of State claimed that I said 902 that the Government were dismantling the Welfare State. I did not say that, but if she wants to put the words into my mouth I shall accept them. The Government are beginning to dismantle the Welfare State. If the amendments are not accepted, or the Bill is not thrown out, as the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) said, the Welfare State will be further dismantled.
When we were in Government we sought to give the pensioners a guaranteed increase in pensions linked to the retail price index. We wanted pensioners to share the benefits of prosperity. We did not want to tie them to the same pension for ever and a day when other sections of the community improved their living standards. If inflation rises by 15 per cent. and the pensioner is given a 15 per cent. increase he receives nothing. He remains at the same standard. We said that if civil servants, the Armed Forces and other workers had pay rises, the pensioners should have equivalent rises.
§ Mr. Robert Taylor (Croydon, North-West)
Is the hon. Gentleman arguing that under the Bill the pensioners will do less well than the average worker, who is accepting a wage increase of about 7 per cent.?
§ Mr. Evans
The pensioners are doing less well than they would do under a Labour Government. The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Taylor) has only just come into the Chamber. If he stays a little longer he will discover that we are discussing taking 1p in the pound off the pensioners. In spite of the Government's lack of incomes policy, incomes are being kept down. It is difficult to explain to civil servants that the Government do not have an incomes policy, because they certainly seem to have such a policy in relation to some sectors. I shall not be drawn into discussing incomes, because the Government are already in enough of a mess about that.
By withdrawing benefits that people have come to expect the Government are dismantling the Welfare State. The pension reduction is petty. The Government say that instead of the rise being 16.5 per cent. it should be 15.5 per cent. Next week the Defence Estimates will be published. Between £5 billion and £6 billion will be spent on Trident. The Government are pound foolish in relation to the arms race. Government supporters do not object to that.
Pensioners are to lose 1p in the pound because the Government have discovered that the increase should be 15.5 per cent. not 16.5 per cent. They do not tell the Ministry of Defence that they have had too much and must give it back, but pensioners are told that they must accept 1p in the pound off their pensions.
The Government's decision is based on the retail price index. They have argued that the RPI is not quite accurate. The Financial Secretary introduced the tax and prices index. That is now higher than the RPI because the Government have imposed enormous taxes. The Government were supposed to reduce income tax, but people are now paying more income tax. They have imposed taxes on spending. VAT and other taxes are paid not only by employed people but by pensioners, the unemployed and recipients of invalidity benefit. The Government's taxation burden has been taken off the shoulders of the people who can best bear it and put on the shoulders of the poorest.
903 Under the Government's first Budget the wealthy had their tax reduced from 83 per cent. to 60 per cent. —a 23 per cent. reduction. The Government have not made a change there. They have not said that they are in financial difficulty and therefore must withdraw that massive concession to the wealthy. Yet they are prepared to take 1p in the pound off pensioners and make a 5 per cent. cut in the income of people who are so disabled that they can claim invalidity benefit.
The Government have increased the number of unemployed by over 1 million. They are also to bear a 5 per cent. cut in payments. Words fail me. I look forward to the election. In South Wales people still have folk memories of the Tory Government in the 1930s. People still talk about what they were like then. The Tories in the 1930s were like pilgrims compared with the present Tory Government.
What they are doing is beyond belief. I hope that they will consider these amendments and if they do not throw out the Bill—and I agree with the hon. Member for Kemptown that the Bill should be thrown out—let us at least accept the amendments and give 1p in the pound back to the pensioners.
§ Mr. Allen McKay (Penistone)
This is the most despicable Bill that I have seen in this Parliament. I never thought I would see the day when the Government would take power to claw back 1 per cent. from the aged and most vulnerable members of our society. I believe that this is a watered-down version of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's intention, which is entirely to abolish the linking of benefits.
The Prime Minister has been reminded of her election pledges and the promise that she made during the election. This is a dilution of those pledges. Far from there being an overprovision of benefits since this Government came into power, there is an accumulated shortfall. In 1978, whilst earnings rose by 13.3 per cent., long-term benefit rates increased by only 11.5 per cent. The second Social Security Act of 1980 effectively ended the link with earnings. A single pensioner lost 65p and a couple lost £1.05p. A widowed mother with two children lost £2.65p, and that includes the cut of the children's addition. On invalidity pension, the combined effect of the two Social Security Acts is that a single person lost £1.80p, a couple £2.90p, and a couple with two children £4.90p.
The real value of unemployment and sickness benefit was cut by 70p for a single person, £1.20p for a couple and £2.40p for a couple with two children, including the cut in the child addition. This 1 per cent. has been clawed back when all, or most, of the benefits have already been subject to cuts, and when the value of the benefits has been falling relative to the average incomes at work. On this basis alone there is no justification for the clawback. If the Government have made a statistical case, they certainly have not got a moral one.
My hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) talked about the Civil Service and its problems. What is happening to the pensioners at present is unforgivable. People say to me that they depend on the social security benefits to pay their rent, and then they receive a letter from the social security office after an increase of rent of £3.20p saying that they will have to wait but to write no more and to be patient. Patience does not pay the extra £3.20p a week. From where will that person get the money?
904 In Committee the hon. Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) spoke of pensioners as being of value to the country, people of independence, of responsibility. I endorse every syllable that he said. But what do the Government do as a reward? What do they give as value for independence, for responsibility, for loyalty? These loyal and independent people lived through the 1920s and 1930s. The Government reward their loyalty by docking 1 per cent. from their pay.
When I was a trade union negotiator the employer always reminded us of the qualities of the workman and rewarded those qualities. We in local authorities reward those qualities through local councils by television licence concessions, free travel and coal concessions.
I recently met 2,000 pensioners in Westminster Hall. They put to us their problems in rents, rates, travel costs, heating costs and television costs. Although they still have those costs, this Government will dock 1 per cent. from their pay. The Government have stated time and again that it is their intention to improve the pensions in real terms whenever circumstances will allow. I suggest to them that those circumstances exist already. My hon. Friends have talked about the cost of armaments and Trident. The profits from North Sea Oil in about three or four years will be worth about £35 billion. Therefore, the money is already available and there is no reason why the Government should take back the 1 per cent. Why should people believe the Government when they say that they intend to restore these benefits? They can give a fillip to what they are saying by throwing out this Bill and not clawing back the 1 per cent.
§ The Minister for Social Security (Mr. Hugh Rossi)
This group of amendments represents a series of variations on a theme—the theme being a root-and-branch objection, by the Opposition and one of my hon. Friends, to the Government's proposal to readjust the excess in the November 1980 uprating, in pensions. The first amendment seeks to delete the provision altogether, the subsequent amendments to prevent its application piecemeal to a number of related benefits.
I have to advise the House that the Government are unable to accept any of these amendments. In doing so I feel that I must explain what the Government are seeking to do in their proposals which are under attack, because it is evident that there has been a great deal of misunderstanding concerning them, both within and outside the House.
The starting point is that this Government are fully committed to maintaining the level of retirement pensions in line with inflation—namely, increases in prices—and to improve them beyond that when economic circumstances permit, which is clearly not yet. Last year our advance forecasts suggested that prices would rise by 16.5 per cent. Accordingly, the pensions were uprated by that factor for the period November 1980 to November 1981 and the standard rate of the basic retirement pension for a single person became £27.15.
§ Mr. Buchan
The pledge was not as the Minister describes it. The pledge, by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State was "at least" on a level with the rise in prices. What they have done is to assert "at most" on a level with the rise in prices, because the moment it appears to go 1 per cent. over they claw it back. That is the denial; that is the betrayal.
§ Mr. Rossi
I am sorry I gave way, because clearly the hon. Gentleman did not listen very carefully to what I said. The pledge to raise pensions at least in line with prices during the lifetime of a Parliament, is exactly what I have said: to maintain pensions in line with prices and to improve them beyond that point when circumstances permit. Those two statements are identical and compatible. I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman does not understand these matters, that I take up valuable time of the House in giving way to him.
I was saying that, because of the forecast as to anticipated inflation of 16.5 per cent., the retirement pensions between November 1980 and November 1981 were increased by that amount and for a single person this meant a pension this year of £27.15. In the event our counter-inflationary measures were more successful than we had cautiously forecast and the increase in prices proved to be 15.5 per cent. instead of 16.5 per cent.
On that basis the standard rate of the basic retirement pension for a single person should have been £26.90—in other words, 25p per week less than it is. This is where the first misunderstanding arises. We are not seeking to take back the 25p per week which has been paid, which is continuing to be paid and which will be paid until November 1981. Pensioners are being paid that amount and they are keeping that amount. The same is true of the extra 40p a week on the married couple's retirement pension and of all the related benefits and the extras on related benefits which follow in line with pension increases.
We made an over-pessimistic forecast. Additional money was paid out. That was our mistake and we cannot conceivably ask for it to be paid back and we are not doing so. However, when we come to the next increase, which will take effect in November 1981, we do not wish to perpetuate our mistake. Thus, having calculated the rate of inflation for the purposes of the next uprating at 10 per cent., we are saying that that 10 per cent. must be calculated on, and added to, what the pension should be, not what it is because of last year's miscalculation.
Therefore, for the single pensioner the uprating will be 10 per cent. on £26.90, producing a new pension rate of £29.60 a week from November 1981. To calculate the 10 per cent. on £27.15 would be to give 10 per cent. on the extra 25p that the pensioners should not be getting but which he is being allowed to keep this year. The error would be merely perpetuated and compounded.
§ Mr. Rossi
No, I shall not give way. I must make progress. As a result of clause 1(3), which the amendment seeks to remove, the pensioner will find that at the end of 1980–81 his pension will have increased in line with prices, which is exactly what the Government have given their pledge to ensure.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
There was an abatement of 5 per cent. in invalidity benefit last November. What possible justification can there be for taking 1 per cent. from those who suffered the abatement last November? Will he now admit that this is the shabbiest and unkindest cut of all?
§ Mr. Rossi
It is a readjustment in the pension level because of an over-assessment of the rate of inflation for last year. No money is being taken back from pensioners that they have already received. They are merely being put back to the position that they should occupy at the end of the two years on the basis of the correct calculations. That is totally in line with the Government's pledge to keep pensions in line with prices.
§ Mr. Rossi
——"the next increase on top of it." That would have been popular and an easy way out. However, we cannot afford the extra £200 million a year on social security costs that that would involve. We must content ourselves with giving the inflation protection over the two years that we promised and which we are honouring.
§ Mr. Rossi
The hon. Members for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) and Keighley (Mr. Cryer) argue that savings could be made in the defence budget. The hon. Member for Keighley spoke about the £5 billion or £6 billion that will be spent on Trident. He did not tell the House that that sum is currently not being spent. It will not come into the budget, if it does at all, until 1983–84. Before that year there may be an election, when the British people will be able to pronounce their view. It will not come into the budget until 1983–84 and the £5 billion or £6 billion will be expended over 15 years.
The social security budget is £27 billion a year. My Department spends £5 billion or £6 billion over not 15 years but 19 weeks. Over half that sum is expended on pensions. My hon. Friend the Minister for Health, who is responsible for the Health Service, spends £5 billion or £6 billion every six months. Let us keep these matters in perspective and in context.
It cannot be said that the Government are not making an extensive public expenditure allocation for social security. As I have said, the budget is £27 billion this year. However, even against such sums, we must have regard to what the country can afford. We are talking about another £200 million that we do not have. That is why we are keeping strictly to our pledge to maintain the level of pensions in line with the increase in prices——
§ Mr. Buchan
The hon. Gentleman has repeated the pledge many times in different forms. Three times out of four he stuck to the pledge "in line with prices". Once out of the four he said "at least". That was when he got it right. The pledge given by the Government, including the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Social Services, was that pensions should be kept in line with prices, at least. The sad feature of the Bill is that pensions will be kept in line with prices, at most. The moment pensions moved 1p over the pound against the rise in prices the Government cut them back. That is where they broke the pledge. If the hon. Gentleman is boasting about the money that the Government are spending on social security, the real reason for that is the 2½ million on the dole.
§ Mr. Rossi
The hon. Gentleman is indulging in a semantic exercise about the pledge. Hon. Members know what that pledge is. I have described it accurately—[Interruption]. The words are in parenthesis and mean exactly the same thing. "At least at present" means the same as "we shall do better when things improve". Anyway, our pledge extends over the period of a Parliament. The hon. Gentleman seems to want to play with words and to waste our time. If that is so, I shall not give way to him again.
For similar financial reasons, the Government cannot accept amendment No. 2, which proposes an uprating of 17 per cent. That would cost £300 million. I understand that the intention is to make good shortfalls in relation to earnings, not only in the long-term benefits but in short-term benefits. It is not our policy that benefits should be kept in line with earnings. I understand that it has never been the Opposition's case that short-term benefits should be uprated with earnings. Indeed, we inherited a situation in which there had been a shortfall of 1.9 per cent. in long-term benefits. The Labour Government's policy on short-term benefits was the same as ours on this point. In November 1979 we made good that shortfall, when longterm benefits increased by 19.5 per cent. We improved the base that we had been left with. This is the best that we can do.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) referred to the retail price index. In Committee, we discussed the retail price index in great detail. Between June 1970 and February 1974 the single rate pension increased by 55 per cent. but the retail price index increased by only 41. per cent. Indeed, if the retail price index and the increase in single rate pension between 1974 and 1978 are compared, it will be seen that the pensioner has done relatively better. In any event my hon. Friend will also know that the uprating is based not simply on the retail price index, but on a forecast of expected increases. Therefore, the retail price index is not the only factor that is taken into account when the upratings are brought into effect.
908 5.15 pm
In Committee, I stated that the wording of clause 1(3) makes it clear that the operation is for this year alone. If we had wished to reserve the power to take such action annually, we could have drafted the clause accordingly. However, I hope that my hon. Friend will take this limitation as an earnest of our good intent not to go through the operation again. If we are forced to, further legislation will be necessary. Obviously that would not be undertaken happily. I hope that my hon. Friend will accept that that is the situation.
Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 deal specifically with invalidity benefit. One amendment seeks to avoid the adjustment in the 1 per cent. over uprating for the past year.
The second amendment seeks to deal with the 5 per cent. abatement. It is not clear what effect amendment No. 3 would have on the rate of invalidity allowance for next year. As things stand, the rate of allowance is affected by the 1 per cent. adjustment, but only to the extent that the unabated 1981 rate is based on recalculating the 1980 rates as if they had been 15.5 per cent. more than the 1979 rates—instead of 16.5 per cent. —and then adding 10 per cent. for this year. This puts the allowance back on the same basis as the allowance paid with retirement pension.
If amendment No. 3 were accepted, the rate of invalidity allowance paid with invalidity pension would be higher than the rate of invalidity allowance paid with retirement pension. The proposers of the amendment probably did not intend that outcome. To exempt invalidity pension from the adjustment would entail additional expenditure of £14 million in a full year.
Amendment No. 4 brings us to consideration of the 5 per cent. abatement. We cannot accept the amendment, because my right hon. Friend has already given an unqualified assurance to the effect that the value of invalidity benefit will be restored to the level that it would have reached without the abatement. In other words, it will be restored to the level of the retirement pension when it is brought into tax. Moreover, we have already found it possible to take a first step in that direction by arranging to restore the value of invalidity allowance this November. Small as it is, the fact that we have been able to make this special increase in the invalidity allowance should be welcome.
The Government are pleased to have been able to take that first step towards restoring the whole benefit. It is worth recalling that only 15 per cent. of invalidity pensioners do not also get an invalidity allowance. Of the 630,000 receiving pensions at any one time, 30 per cent. receive the highest rate of invalidity allowance; 20 per cent. receive the middle rate and 35 per cent. the lower rate. Restoring the value of the invalidity allowance will cost £5 million in a full year. It would cost a further £50 million gross to restore invalidity pension to the retirement pension level this November. Savings on supplementary benefit would reduce this cost by about £3 million, but it is not possible to spend such an additional amount at present. There can be no question of the Government taking on such a commitment now, although it exists and will come into effect as soon as the benefit is brought into tax.
It is not generally disputed by hon. Members that in principle income replacement benefits, such as invalidity benefit, should be subject to tax. However, we have given an assurance in respect of invalidity benefit to the effect 909 that it will be put back in line with the retirement pension when it is brought into tax. That cannot be in 1982 as was first hoped, but it seems unlikely that any delay in making the benefit subject to tax will be disadvantageous to the vast majority of invalidity beneficiaries. Very few would be better off with a taxable unabated benefit than with a non-taxable abated benefit.
The object of amendment No. 5 is to preclude the recovery of the excess for increases for children and adult dependants for a list of benefits that includes unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, invalidity pension and maternity allowance. The amendment would cost about £20 million. However, the effect on beneficiaries would be small. For example, it would mean 10p a week for an adult dependant of a claimant on unemployment benefit and 5p for a child dependant. No case can be made for making a special exemption for those dependency additions.
Amendment No. 6 involves the 5 per cent. abatement on unemployment benefit. It was discussed in debate yesterday and also, at length, during Monday's debate on the Finance Bill.
The reasons given by my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary why the Chancellor of the Exchequer is unable at this time to give any undertaking on that matter have already been quoted. Therefore, there is nothing which I can usefully add to what has already been reported to the House.
Amendment No. 7 requires that the subsectionshall not apply in the case of retirement pension".In that I call in aid all the general remarks which I made at the beginning of my speech about this group of amendments. Those remarks were directed principally to the position of the retirement pensioner.
The intention of amendment No. 8 is not perfectly clear. I am not sure that it would have the desired effect, even if one could discern clearly which of the two possible constructions it bears is the real intention of the Labour Party.
The amendment relates to the 5 per cent. abatement in the November 1980 increase of short-term benefits. That abatement was made because of the need to restrain public expenditure and because, unlike pensions, the benefits in question are not taxable and should be. The measure was approved by the House, and what the House approved last year is what we are carrying through this year in relation to invalidity pension and short-term benefits—no more and no less.
As we are being consistent with what the House decided on a previous occasion about that amendment, I ask the House to reject it also, together with all the other amendments, for the reasons which I have given.
§ Mr. David Ennals (Norwich, North)
I shall deal only with the question of pensions. During the five years when the Labour Government were in power the real value of the pension rose by a total of 20 per cent. —an average of 4 per cent. a year. In part that was due to the 1975 Act, which obliged the Government to take earnings as well as prices into consideration, and it was partly because, in any case, there was a general increase in standards of living. We now make a comparison between what the Labour Government did and what this Government are doing.
910 The Government's decision to remove the obligation to base uprating on earnings, which cuts 1 per cent. from pensions below price protection, is a totally different approach from that of the Labour Government. It is mean, penny-pinching and despicable.
When the Secretary of State made his announcement about that matter on 11 March, I asked:does he not accept that the Government's decision not to protect against inflation the elderly, the sick, those on supplementary benefits and the unemployed will be seen as a cynical attack on the people least able to care for themselves?The Secretary of State replied:The vast majority of elderly people understand the economic difficulties that we face and are perfectly prepared to pay their share." —[Official Report, 11 March 1981; Vol. 1000, c. 897.]That is sheer nonsense. I do not believe that elderly people are prepared to accept that a Government who reduced their entitlement understand their position at all. That was well demonstrated in the local elections and the results which we saw just a week ago.
The Government seem to have no qualms about stealing 1 per cent. of even the expected rise of the inflation rate as from November 1981. What does the Minister think pensioners do with their weekly pension? Do they feel that they are being over-compensated and that too much money is being put into their pockets by either a generous Government or a Government who got their arithmetic wrong? Do they feel that they are receiving too much money as a result of their long years of contribution to national insurance?
Does the Minister think that every week elderly people are putting aside 20p or 30p into a little collecting box because they are overpaid in order to save themselves the extra money for the year when they will be underpaid? Of course that is all nonsense. Does not the Minister accept that he is forcing elderly people to lower their standards of living and not to improve them, as we did—unless the Chancellor's guesstimate is once again optimistic? Not many of us on the Opposition Benches think that it is likely to be optimistic.
So far all the other guesstimates of the Chancellor have proved to be hopelessly wrong. All his guesstimates on the PSBR, money supply targets, the level of unemployment, growth—or lack of growth—in the economy have proved to be wrong. The signs are that the downward trend in the retail price index, on an annual basis, is slowing down. In April it went up from 12.5 per cent., which it was in the previous month, to 12.6 per cent. In the three months of February, March and April, it was 12.8 per cent.
The petrol price increases and other Budget measures have not fully worked their way into the system. Therefore, I am surprised that the Government are confident about what will happen to the retail price index, especially with the news, published earlier this week, that wholesale prices are now moving upwards again. We know that eventually wholesale prices are reflected in retail prices and in the retail price index.
It is not impossible that single-figure inflation will be down to 10 per cent. by the end of the year. However, even if they accept that possibility, many forecasters believe that the inflation rate will start to rise early next year. If it is then rising above 10 per cent. the pensioners will be suffering even more than the Government have planned and intend for them to suffer now.
This is a mean and petty measure, which every member of the Cabinet and every member of the Government should be ashamed to introduce. Pensioners should not be 911 expected to pay their share of the tax reliefs for those on incomes many times higher than the pension that the pensioners receive. The Secretary of State said that they would understand. They will understand one thing. They will understand where Tory priorities lie, compared to the priorities of the Labour Government and of the next Labour Government, in relation to the responsibilities that we have for the elderly people in our society.
§ Mr. Rooker
The Minister has gone through the amendments almost one by one. I felt that he threw out some of them because they would cost too much and that he threw out others because it would not benefit people very much to pass them. The Minister cannot have it both ways.
I shall confine my remarks to amendment No. 1, which is the most expensive. We shall seek to divide on that amendment. If subsection (3) were taken out, the whole 1 per cent. would be demolished. We want to put the £229 million back into people's pockets.
§ Mr. Rooker
I accept what the Minister has said about the figures.
However, I shall not continue to bandy the statistics that we have already given. Basically, we wish to knock out the subsection that gives the Government power to take back the 1 per cent. The Minister has had a new phrase drummed up by someone in his office—"adjustment of excess". Last November the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that pensioners were over-provided for. Now it is simply an excess.
§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
By an "adjustment of excess" the Minister means a cut. The Government will no doubt call an increase an increase, so why do they not now talk about a decrease?
§ Mr. Rooker
They already have the terminology organised. A citizen in Kingswood, in Bristol presumably, wrote to ask the Treasury why it was taking the 1 per cent. back. In its reply dated 5 January the Treasury stated:It therefore decided that when the pension is next increased, in November 1981, the increase will be reduced by the bonus of 1 per cent. paid this year.It is worth putting that on record as a warning for the future. Someone in the Treasury is getting lined up so that when pensions rise above prices and the Government keep them there it becomes a bonus. To give the civil servants their credit I also put on record that the letter was signed by a Mr. P. S. Jenkins, private secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The amounts involved are small. The Minister said that one amendment would benefit people by only 10p a week, which is £5 a year. The basic salary of Members of Parliament is £13,000 a year, which is just over £200 a week, so £5 a year does not seem substantial. However, the point is that we are not dealing with people earning over £13,000 a year. We are dealing with people in receipt of social security benefits, such as old age pensioners, people receiving industrial injury benefit, widows and people on attendance allowance. Those are the benefits that are being cut. For a single person it could be 25p a week and for a couple with a pension 40p a week, which 912 is £20 a year. The amount would probably not pay for a quarter's energy bill these days, but it would substantially help to pay for the summer gas or electricity bill.
In Opposition the Conservatives made a big song and dance about persuading us to do more for widows, although they could not quote a single case where we had cut their benefits. The cut of 1p in the pound is £17.50 over the year for widows.
By and large, the Bill has been treated outside the House in much the same way as the Social Security (No. 2) Act 1980. Organisations that have a good track record in championing the cause of the underdog have been conspicuous by their silence in opposing the measure, although they have privately made representations to the Government. They are worried about their charitable status or about being seen to be political.
The argument applies only under a Conservative Government. If it was Labour legislation, registered charities would be up and down Whitehall and in and out of the BBC. The BBC would have peak hour broadcasts and Fleet Street would have front page announcements. We should hear from Mr. Bryan Redhead and the "Today" team every day of the week. There would be no distortion from such sources, as there was on the Social Security (No. 2) Act last year, referring only to strikers' benefits and not to the cuts in invalidity and other benefits. There would be interviews with Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so from this or that pressure group, who had written to the Chancellor or the Secretary of State for Social Services about the deplorable, mean and despicable Bill, cutting 1p in the pound. The media would have a field day—but not under a Conservative Government.
§ Mr. Bowden
The hon. Gentleman is being less than fair to organisations deeply concerned about the elderly and in particular Age Concern England. I have a large batch of press releases issued by the organisation, which made its views clear about the Social Security Act and the present Social Security Bill David Hobman, the director, has been on the radio and television to make plain his opposition to both pieces of legislation. I shall not deal with the media, but the organisations that devote energy and time to such causes, backed up by a great number of voluntary workers, have clearly and widely made their views known to the Government, hon. Members and the nation.
§ Mr. Rooker
I deliberately refrained from going through the organisations. They have made representations privately and not strongly enough. It is not their fault that the media have not responded, but they would respond under a Labour Government. The director of Age Concern advised me and others at a breakfast meeting in 1979 that it had to be careful about its charitable status. Three organisations dealing with the elderly, children and the disabled said the same that year. No organisation told me or my hon. Friends of concern about its charitable status under the Labour Government. It happens only when the Conservatives come to power.
I do not criticise individual organisations. I criticise them collectively. Some have written to tell me that they learnt the details only when they heard about the Bill on "Today in Parliament". I do not include that programme in my complaints about the media. I have singled out "Today" on its track record.
913 The total effect of the 1p in the pound is not insignificant. It is £229 million. Pensions to former members of the Armed Forces and local authority workers are included.
§ Mr. Rooker
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will remember that remark when widows of members of the Armed Forces make representations to him about their pensions being cut by the Government. I accept that it is a small amount, but it is not insignificant, when one considers the £4 million a year off war pensions, irrespective of the £121 million off retirement pensions, £6 million off widow's benefits and £1 million off maternity allowances. To the recipients it is not an insignificant sum.
I shall say a brief word about the pledge. My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) and others mentioned the alleged pledge by the Prime Minister—of which we know that she was reminded during the Cabinet's discussions about the cuts last November—that she gave in her interview with Brian Walden in 1979. In Committee, the Under-Secretary amplified the Prime Minister's pledge, and for that we are grateful. It is on record in the form of a letter to me, which I can arrange to put on the record in Hansard. The Prime Minister's pledge on pensions means pensions and longterm benefits. The Under-Secretary has listed all the benefits that are involved in the pledge. The pledge means that there will be full compensation for price increases over the lifetime of the Parliament. They include widows' pensions, industrial death benefits, war disablement pensions, industrial disablement pensions, supplementary pensions to the retirement pensions and attendance allowances.
The pledge is on the record. It is in at least three Parliamentary written answers to questions—in other words, the answers were considered answers. It has been mentioned, too, at the Dispatch Box. So why is there a lingering doubt about the pledge? It was given, initially at least in line with prices. One assumes that if the over-provision were of a minor nature—and I consider 1 per cent. minor—the Government could let it ride and, in fact, they could get enormous kudos from it. They could say "When we said 'At least in line with prices', we meant what we said. This accident has occurred, but it was not intended. It is only 1 per cent. and we shall leave the money in the pockets of pensioners and others." In reality the money will be taken from the pockets of pensioners and others this November.
There is one reason why the pledge may not be as firm as we were led to believe. The Treasury is about to commence another round of public expenditure discussions. I want to refer to the reports of a speech made a week ago by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Most of the reports were buried away in the financial pages of the press, and not on the ordinary news pages. On the financial pages of the Financial Times of 8 May the headline was:Pension costs becoming intolerable, Howe warns.The Times report was:Warning by Howe on pensions rebellionIt was not talking about a rebellion by Tory Members over pensions. We know from yesterday and today that the only speech made by a Conservative Back-Bench Member 914 either today or yesterday was made by the one hon. Member who voted against the Bill on Second Reading. I suspect, too, that he will vote with us in the Lobby for this amendment, and against the Third Reading. He deserves the praise of his own pensioner constituents for that action, although I do not intend to heap praise on him. So the Chancellor was not talking about a pensions rebellion.
The headline in The Daily Telegraph of the same day was:Howe warns on rising burden of pensions".The Daily Mail was an exception because its report was on page 2. Its headline was:Can we afford these high pensions?".The Guardian did not even report it. It was buried away in the economic notebook without a headline. However, on the same day Hamish McRae gave a report of the Chancellor's speech to the National Association of Pension Funds. The Birmingham Post—I think the speech was made at the National Exhibition Centre—gave the report in the financial columns with the heading:Howe's warning on pension schemes.So what is the problem? The Chancellor's speech said:Quite apart from the question of equity between one group of pensioners and another, there is the question of the affordability of the present day pensions structure as a whole".He went on:There is a real risk that the working population may come to question the justice of further increases in this burden".He is talking about paying for the pensions of their mothers and fathers and grandparents. I have not met one person who objects to the part of their national insurance contributions that pays for the pensions of their parents and grandparents and other members of the family. The Chancellor went on:This is why we cannot afford to increase the real value of pensions at such a time. This is why we are recovering the 1 per cent. excess over the rate of inflation which occurred in the November 1980 uprating. Other countries have gone further. They have argued, for instance, that changes in indirect taxes or the rising price of energy are not changes for which wage-earners should seek compensation.He then quoted the Scott Committee, and it is worth mentioning that quotation:In some circumstances, as has happened before, the standard of living of the whole community might have to be reduced…It would be inequitable if this were prevented from happening to pensions also.That is the advice that the Chancellor read out that day. He then said:We must ask also if private employers are not offering too generous pensions".That was what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said on Thursday 7 May, and his words were not to be released before 16.30—by which time, of course, most of the anti-Tory votes were in the ballot box. That would not be such a worry if it were an isolated case. The Chancellor spelt out to the pension fund managers of Britain his disquiet, as shown in those press headlines, about the cost of the pension scheme. Much of his speech referred to the State pension scheme, which was enacted by the Labour Government with the full co-operation of the Conservative Party when it was in Opposition. It was a bipartisan approach—if that is not a dirty word word to use these days—after about three or four attempts to get occupational pension structures correct and bring to an end the ping-pong of putting through pension proposals that never came into operation and were thrown out at the next 915 general election. The late Brian O'Malley made a significant contribution, but we have not yet benefited from that new pension scheme. Yet now the Chancellor is starting to chip away at the foundations of that pension scheme.
As I said, we should not be so worried if this were an isolated case. In another Treasury press release of Wednesday 13 May, there is a report of the Chief Secretary's speech to the international executive seminar at the Ritz Hotel. Not many of my pensioners were there. What he said at the end of the press release must be a warning to everyone in the House.What had previously been thought sacrosanct has been challenged. What was regarded as an entitlement has been downgraded to an aspiration. To quote just one example, the Swedish Government has excluded rises in energy prices and indirect taxes from the index used to calculate increases in pensions and some other social security payments. We have been reluctant to adopt such a radical approach.I am not sure whether that sentence should be read as being in the past tense. We must have from Ministers—they may be unable to do it now—a copper-bottomed assurance that there will be no mucking around with the composition of the retail price index as it affects pensions. They must confirm that there will be no attempt to remove from it any aspect of the cost of living, certainly not energy costs which form a high proportion of pensioners' living costs.
We want to be assured that there will be no attempt to take these charges out of the retail price index as the Government clearly intend to do for wage earners. That may spill over to social security recipients, and that includes pensioners. It is clear that speeches from the Chancellor and the number two at the Treasury, the Chief Secretary, making the same point, are designed to soften us up. They are helped in that by the story on the front page of today's Financial Times which carried the headline:Treasury asks for big new options on spending cuts.The last paragraph of the story reads:Some Ministers apparently said that it was nonsense for all departments to have to produce options, on the grounds that this would just lead to 'needless' press speculation about the kind of horrors the Government was planning. But Mrs. Thatcher is believed to have backed the Treasury request for a complete review.In the complete review that the DHSS will have to make will it give us an assurance that pensions are protected in terms of the RPI? We cannot ask for an assurance that if there is under-provision on the basis of the forecast rate of inflation the Government will make that good this year. We know from our debates in Committee that they will not do that. They are prepared to take back the penny of over-provision. But pensioners know that nothing in the Bill carries the assurance that if there is under-provision in the RPI estimate the Government will put that right.
Ministers may claim that they will do it over the lifetime of a Parliament, but they will not write the alternative to what they are doing into the Bill. It is a waste of time asking for it. We are entitled, however, in the light of those two speeches, to ask for an assurance that the RPI will not be messed about with by the Government in the way that pensions are uprated this November.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 213, Noes 270.919
|Division No. 186]||[5.53 pm|
|Abse, Leo||George, Bruce|
|Adams, Allen||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John|
|Alton, David||Ginsburg, David|
|Anderson, Donald||Graham, Ted|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Grant, John (Islington C)|
|Ashton, Joe||Grimond, Rt Hon J.|
|Atkinson, N.(H'gey,)||Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)|
|Bagier, Gordon A.T.||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd)||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Beith, A. J.||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bennett, Andrew(St'kp't N)||Hogg, N, (E Dunb't'nshire)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Homewood, William|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro)||Hooley, Frank|
|Bowden, Andrew||Horam, John|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Howell, Rt Hon D.|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Janner, Hon Greville|
|Buchan, Norman||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J.||John, Brynmor|
|Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P)||Johnson, James (Hull West)|
|Campbell, Ian||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)|
|Cant, R. B.||Jones, Barry (East Flint)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Cartwright, John||Kilfedder, James A.|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)||Lambie, David|
|Coleman, Donald||Lamborn, Harry|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Lamond, James|
|Conlan, Bernard||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Cook, Robin F.||Leighton, Ronald|
|Craigen, J. M.||Litherland, Robert|
|Crowther, J. S.||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Cryer, Bob||Lyon, Alexander (York)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W)|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||McCartney, Hugh|
|Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)||McElhone, Frank|
|Dalyell, Tam||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||McKelvey, William|
|Davies, lfor (Gower)||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Maclennan, Robert|
|Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd)||McNally, Thomas|
|Deakins, Eric||McTaggart, Robert|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||McWilliam, John|
|Dempsey, James||Magee, Bryan|
|Dewar, Donald||Marks, Kenneth|
|Dormand, Jack||Marshall, D(G'gow S'ton)|
|Douglas, Dick||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Dubs, Alfred||Maxton, John|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Dunn, James A.||Meacher, Michael|
|Dunnett, Jack||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Eadie, Alex||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)||Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)|
|English, Michael||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Morton, George|
|Ewing, Harry||Moyle, Rt Hon Roland|
|Field, Frank||Newens, Stanley|
|Fitch, Alan||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Flannery, Martin||O'Neill, Martin|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Ford, Ben||Palmer, Arthur|
|Forrester, John||Parry, Robert|
|Foster, Derek||Penhaligon, David|
|Foulkes, George||Prescott, John|
|Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Freud, Clement||Race, Reg|
|Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Radice, Giles|
|Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Richardson, Jo||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Roberts, Allan (Bootle)||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Rooker, J. W.||Tilley, John|
|Roper, John||Tinn, James|
|Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)||Torney, Tom|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)|
|Rowlands, Ted||Wainwright, R.(Colne V)|
|Ryman, John||Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)|
|Sandelson, Neville||Watkins, David|
|Sever, John||Weetch, Ken|
|Sheerman, Barry||Wellbeloved, James|
|Sheldon, Rt Hon R.||Welsh, Michael|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||White, J. (G'gow Pollok)|
|Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)||Whitlock, William|
|Silverman, Julius||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Skinner, Dennis||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)||Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)|
|Snape, Peter||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Soley, Clive||Wilson, William (C'try SE)|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Winnick, David|
|Stallard, A. W.||Woodall, Alec|
|Steel, Rt Hon David||Woolmer, Kenneth|
|Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Stott, Roger||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Strang, Gavin||Mr. Frank Haynes and Mr. James Hamilton.|
|Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Adley, Robert||Chapman, Sydney|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Churchill, W. S.|
|Alexander, Richard||Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)|
|Alison, Michael||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Clegg, Sir Walter|
|Ancram, Michael||Cockeram, Eric|
|Arnold, Tom||Colvin, Michael|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Cope, John|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne)||Cormack, Patrick|
|Atkins, Robertf(Preston N)||Corrie, John|
|Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone)||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Critchley, Julian|
|Banks, Robert||Crouch, David|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Dean, Paul (North Somerset)|
|Bell, Sir Ronald||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Bendall, Vivian||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||Dover, Denshore|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward|
|Best, Keith||Dunn, Robert (Dartford)|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Dykes, Hugh|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Blackburn, John||Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)|
|Blaker, Peter||Eggar, Tim|
|Body, Richard||Elliott, Sir William|
|Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)||Emery, Peter|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Bright, Graham||Fairgrieve, Russell|
|Brinton, Tim||Farr, John|
|Brittan, Leon||Fell, Anthony|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Brotherton, Michael||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n)||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Fox, Marcus|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh|
|Buck, Antony||Fraser, Peter (South Angus)|
|Budgen, Nick||Fry, Peter|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.|
|Burden, Sir Frederick||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Butcher, John||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Goodhew, Victor|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||Gow, Ian|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Mudd, David|
|Gray, Hamish||Murphy, Christopher|
|Greenway, Harry||Myles, David|
|Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)||Neale, Gerrard|
|Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)||Nelson, Anthony|
|Grist, Ian||Neubert, Michael|
|Grylls, Michael||Newton, Tony|
|Gummer, John Selwyn||Onslow, Cranley|
|Hamilton, Hon A.||Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Page, Richard (SW Herts)|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Patten, Christopher (Bath)|
|Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Patten, John (Oxford)|
|Hawksley, Warren||Pattie, Geoffrey|
|Heddle, John||Pawsey, James|
|Henderson, Barry||Percival, Sir Ian|
|Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Peyton, Rt Hon John|
|Hicks, Robert||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Holland, Philip (Carlton)||Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)|
|Hooson, Tom||Prior, Rt Hon James|
|Horam, John||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Hordern, Peter||Pym, Rt Hon Francis|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)||Raison, Timothy|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Rathbone, Tim|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Kimball, Marcus||Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Knox, David||Rossi, Hugh|
|Lamont, Norman||Rost, Peter|
|Lang, Ian||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Latham, Michael||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Scott, Nicholas|
|Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Lee, John||Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)|
|Le Marchant, Spencer||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shepherd, Richard|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)||Shersby, Michael|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Silvester, Fred|
|Loveridge, John||Sims, Roger|
|Luce, Richard||Speed, Keith|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Speller, Tony|
|McCrindle, Robert||Spence, John|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)|
|MacKay, John (Argyll)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Macmillan, Rt Hon M.||Sproat, Iain|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)||Squire, Robin|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Madel, David||Stanley, John|
|Major, John||Steen, Anthony|
|Marland, Paul||Stevens, Martin|
|Marlow, Tony||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)|
|Mates, Michael||Stokes, John|
|Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Mawby, Ray||Tapsell, Peter|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Tebbit, Norman|
|Mayhew, Patrick||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Mellor, David||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Thompson, Donald|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Thorne, Neil (llford South)|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Mills, Peter (West Devon)||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)|
|Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Trippier, David|
|Moate, Roger||Trotter, Neville|
|Molyneaux, James||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Monro, Hector||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Viggers, Peter|
|Morgan, Geraint||Waddington, David|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Wakeham, John|
|Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.||Wickenden, Keith|
|Wall, Patrick||Williams, D.(Montgomery)|
|Waller, Gary||Wolfson, Mark|
|Ward, John||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Warren, Kenneth||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Wells, John (Maidstone)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Wells, Bowen||Lord James Douglas-Hamilton and Mr. Robert Boscawen.|
|Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
§ Question accordingly negatived.