§ The Prime Minister
I have received representations from statutory authorities, voluntary bodies, trade unions and individuals. I do not treat them lightly and it would be misleading to suggest that the restraints on public expenditure the Government have been forced to introduce could be achieved without any consequences at all for the elderly. But we have taken steps to protect those areas of spending which mean most to the elderly. We have just increased pensions to their highest ever real value, we have made the Christmas bonus a permanent feature of the social security system, and we have given a commitment to phase out the earnings rule for retirement pensioners. We have also made it clear that statutory authorities should aim as far as possible to protect services for the most vulnerable including the very old and frail.