Old Age and Widows' Pensions and Unemployment Assistance.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 29th July 1942.

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Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I am sure the House is grateful to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I will say only one or two words about unemployment assistance. The effect of the Regulations is that the scale rate for unemployment assistance will be increased by 2S. 6d. for adults and 1s. for a child. The numbers affected will be roughly 40,000 and the annual cost will be about £400,000 per annum.

Now as to the pensions Regulation. It is straightforward and simple and affects for their good at least 1,125,000 souls, at an estimated cost of £9,250,000 per annum. It is one of three new improvements suggested by the Assistance Board and adopted by the Government to meet the special difficulties of war-time. I mention the other two in passing, although they will take place by administration and do not need a Regulation. The first is an extension of the period of winter allowances to the end of April and an increase of the amount to 2s. 6d. The second is a series of extra grants to meet special needs of clothing, bedding and other household supplies, and the House might like to know that the total annual cost of these three improvements is estimated to be £11,000,000. But the Regulation which the Government ask the House to approve to-day is concerned solely with an increase in the scale rate of 2s. 6d. for supplementary pensions for each person over 16 years of age, whose needs are taken into account, and 1s. for each child below that age. The House will see that the increase in the case of a married couple without dependants will be 5s. Members who were in the House in 1908 will realise that the cost of this increase will be about £2,500,000 a year more than the cost of the original old age pension of 5s., which was between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000 per annum. We have come a long way since them; all parties have contributed to that move—