§ Mrs. Winifred Ewing
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will 232W take steps to rectify the anomaly which has arisen in the rate of retirement pensions being lower than all of those of EEC member countries; and what steps she will be taking in 1976 to harmonise these United Kingdom pensions.
§ Mr. O'Malley
Detailed comparisons of pension rates in the member States of the European Community are not meaningful because it is impossible to take into consideration all the relevant factors, such as exchange rates, differences in the cost of living, levels of wages, taxation and social security contributions and general provision for social welfare. But the Government have substantially improved pension levels since taking office and have undertaken a statutory commitment to raise them in line with the movement in the general level of earnings, or prices, whichever is more favourable to the pensioner. Further, last year's Social Security Pensions Act will lead to a buildup from 1978 onwards, of rights to an additional pension which will ultimately be based on the contributor's best 20 years of earnings.