Old Age Pensions.

Oral Answers to Questions — Education. – in the House of Commons on 9th October 1941.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

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?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

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.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

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?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

Yes, Sir, I have noticed these, and also the proceedings which took place at a recent conference.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Will my right hon. Friend be likely to make some statement in the near future?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I cannot add anything to what I have already said.

Photo of Mr Thomas Kennedy Mr Thomas Kennedy , Kirkcaldy District of Burghs

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the widespread desire for the removal of the household means test in the matter of supplementary old age pensions; and whether he can indicate any prospect of an increase in the pensions paid?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

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.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Is it not the case that the means test is still operating as viciously as ever, and will the Minister have special reference to that in his review?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I could not accept that. As the House knows, I have tried to give as much information as I can on this very vital subject.

Photo of Mr George Griffiths Mr George Griffiths , Hemsworth

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?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I cannot accept that.

Photo of Mr George Griffiths Mr George Griffiths , Hemsworth

It does not matter whether the Minister accepts it or not; it is a fact.

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

Perhaps the hon. Member will give me evidence.