§ 24. Ms Roseanna Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor on the level of the basic State Pension and pensioner poverty in Scotland. 
§ Dr. Reid
I have frequent discussions with my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Social Security on a wide range of issues.
The Government announced in the pre-Budget report that the level of the basic state retirement pension would be increased by £5 a week for single people in April 2001 and by £8 for married couples. The Government also 632W announced that in April 2002 the pension for single people will be further increased by £3 with the pension for couples going up then by £4.80. These increases are excellent news for the around 900,000 pensioners in Scotland.
The Government have taken major steps to combat pensioner poverty in Scotland. In the pre-Budget report, we announced that the Minimum Income Guarantee would be increased, from April 2001, to £92.15 a week for a single pensioner and £140.55 a week for couples. We also indicated that the Minimum Income Guarantee would be at least £100 a week for a single pensioner and £154 for a pensioner couple by 2003. The Winter Fuel Allowance will be set at £200 per eligible household this winter, which helps around one million people in Scotland.
Finally, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security has announced details of the proposed pensions credit which will benefit single pensioners with incomes below £135 and pensioner couples with incomes below £200.