HC Deb 09 March 1982 vol 19 cc711-2
10. Mr. Rooker

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the effect on a single and a married couple's weekly pension of the Social Security Act 1980 changes at the latest date.

Mr. Rossi

The hon. Gentleman is presumably referring to the break in the link between earnings and prices for the purposes of uprating pensions and other long-term benefits. If that break had not been made pensions might have been up to 4 per cent. higher, but this depends upon a number of hypothetical assumptions, as explained by my hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mrs. Chalker), who is now the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, in her reply to the hon. Gentleman on 10 February. What is not hypothetical is the Government's pledge to protect pensions against inflation.

Mr. Rooker

Why is the Minister being so coy? Why cannot he convert to weekly benefit the figures that he has given in percentage terms? Does he accept that the figures that have been recalculated by the Library, on the basis of a previous answer, show that the single person's pension would have been £1.40 a week higher and a married couple's pension would have been £2.30 a week higher? Does he recognise that those figures must be added to any figure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announces today if the Government are to come anywhere near to providing what the pension would have been if the Labour Government's rules and laws had not been overturned?

Mr. Rossi

That is subject only to certain assumptions. Subject to the hypothetical assumption that the uprating shortfall against the movement of earnings in 1979 and 1980 would have been made good in full and that the 1981 uprating would have been by reference to the same forecast movement in prices as actually used, with the shortfall made good at the moment following the uprating, the pension level might have been about £31.45 for a single pensioner and £50.25 for a married couple, but not otherwise.

Mr. Alton

In view of the Minister's hypothetical assumption, why is it that the extra but miserable 25p that is given to pensioners when they reach 80 years of age has not been increased since 1970? What will he do about it?

Mr. Rossi

That is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.