asked the Minister of Health approximately how many, or what percentage of, old age pensioners do not draw a supplementary pension; whether he has any information respecting the number who have applied for a supplementary pension owing to the increase in the cost of living; whether supplementary pensions are invariably increased in relation to the increased cost of living; and whether, in view of the present decreased value of the basic pension, he is considering the need of taking action respecting this hardship?
Nearly two-thirds of the total number of old age pensioners, including widow pensioners aged 60 years or over, are not receiving a supplementary pension. It is not' possible to say how many pensioners have applied for a supplementary pension because of an increase in the cost of living. All supplementary pensions are assessed in accordance with the scales laid down in the Regulations which include an element in respect of the increased cost of living. As regards the last part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Central Southward (Mr. Martin) on 7th August.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that many elderly people are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet on the pensions and supplementary allowances which they receive? Is he further aware that many associations of old age pensioners have passed resolutions demanding more substantial increases?
As a result of the review of cases under the Determination of Needs Act, a large number of pensioners have received increases in their Supplementary Pensions. I hope to be able very soon to make a statement regarding the results of the review.
Is it not a fact that the spirit which prevailed in our discussion in this House on the means test is not being carried out by the Minister's officers, and that the means test is being more stringently applied to old age pensioners than was the intention of this House?