§ Mr. Wigley
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will take steps to ensure that all pensions and social benefits are geared to the cost of living index and are automatically adjusted at six-monthly intervals.
§ Mr. O'Malley
To restrict the up rating of pensions and other long-term national insurance benefits to movements in the cost-of-living index would be less favourable to pensioners than the statutory obligation in the National Insurance Act 1974, which provides that short-term benefits should be increased annually at least in line with the movement of prices and that the annual increase in pensions and other long-term national insurance benefits should be geared to the movement of average national earnings, unless it would be to the advantage of pensioners to have regard to price movements. As regards six-monthly reviews, the Act requires my right hon. Friend to consider, at each annual review, the desirability of introducing legislation requiring more frequent reviews.