asked the Prime Minister whether the Government are prepared, in view of thefact that the necessities of life have increased in price to the extent of 130 per cent., to recommend an immediate increase of 2s. 6d. a week to old age pensioners pending the Report of the Committee which it is proposed to appoint?
The answer is in the negative. I may remind the hon. Member that 130 per cent. is the average increase in retail prices, not the increased cost of living, which was put by the Sumner Committee at 80 per cent. Old age pensions have already been increased since theWar in most cases by 50 per cent.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir F. HALL:
Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the statement made in this House on 7th December, 1917, by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, that prices of foodstuffs between July, 1914, and November, 1917, had increased by 106 per cent.; and has there been any reduction since then?
asked the PrimeMinister whether the scope of the proposed inquiry into old age pensions will be so enlarged as to include the granting of pensions to the widows and young children of deceased workers for whom no other provision is made; and, if this is not possible, whether the Government, in the interest of national efficiency, will take other steps to see that the young children of deceased workers shall have secured to them a proper standard of maintenance and education apart from the Poor Law?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many widows have been left with large families and that they have to leave their children to the tender mercies of neighbours while they turn their hands to the washtub?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, under the regulations made during the War, an old age pensioner may earn up to 30s. a week without prejudice to his pension; whether he is aware that, in many such cases, the pensions officer has taken away the pension book; and if he will say what steps a pensioner can take to secure the advantage of the regulation?
Action is not in general being taken for reduction or revocation of existing old age pension in consequence of the pensioners'earning increased wages during the War, so long as their wages and other means taken together do not exceed 30s. a week. Where the wages and other means exceed that limit, the pensioner is given the opportunity of surrendering his pension order book temporarily in lieu of action being taken for formal revocation of the pension; and if he elects to surrender it, the pension is not formally revoked, and the book can be restored if and when the circumstances justify it, without his having the trouble and delay of preferring a fresh claim. I am not aware that in any case the pension officer has taken away a pension book, except where the pensioner has elected to surrender it under the above arrangement. If any pensioner who has surrendered his book considers that he is entitled to the benefit of the concessions, he should apply in writing to the pension officer for its return. The matter will then be investigater, and if the pensioner is entitled to the benefit of the concessions the book will be returned at once.