Oral Answers to Questions — Old Age Pensions.

– in the House of Commons on 25th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider the introduction of legislation to increase the old age pension to 30s. a week flat rate and abolish the means test, in view of the rising cost of living and the difficulties of the old people resulting therefrom?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Dundee

I would refer to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) on 20th January.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

Is the hon. Member not aware of the wide discontent among old age pensioners, and will not something be done to meet the situation?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Dundee

If my hon. Friend will look at the answer to which I have referred, he will see that the addition can be given by means of supplementary pensions, without increasing the basic pension.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

Is the hon. Member not aware that, in spite of the supplementation, there is very great hardship? Will not something be done to make the position better for the old people?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Dundee

If the hon. Gentleman will let me know of any cases of hardship, I will look into them; but the scheme is operated by supplementary pensions.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

Is the Minister aware that in the case of a man living by himself the amount paid is 19s. 6d., and in the case of a married couple it is 30s.? Does she realise that, in view of the increase in the cost of coal, etc., a married couple cannot live on 30s. per week?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Dundee

The hon. Gentleman is referring to the supplementary pension, as well as to the basic pension. As he knows, the rent is taken into account.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

Is the Minister aware that the 30s. is the limit in most cases, under the means test? Will she take into account the question of raising the basic payment by the Assistance Board; or, if not, will she take steps to understand it?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Dundee

The hon. Gentleman has explained his own case quite adequately. The 30s. can be exceeded, as he himself has said, where it is shown that there is need.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

It cannot be exceeded as a basic amount. Will the Minister take steps to have the matter reconsidered, and not ask Members of Parliament to run about as message boys, even for her?