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 cannot tie myself down to any particular method, but we will do our best to see that everything that the House wishes to do by these regulations which will mean alterations of the kind I have indicated is done, so that no old age pensioners may be deprived of any right that ought to be theirs.

I want now to say one or two general words. This regulation has, in conjunction with the other steps I have mentioned, the sole purpose of helping the old people to meet war-time needs. It has nothing to do with long-term policy. That is, as the House well knows, to be the subject of a comprehensive report by Sir William Beveridge on Social Security. This nation, in the last three decades, has been feeling its way, in measures of improvement to which all parties have contributed, towards a national social minimum. Whatever our parties may be, whether we have parties or have not, all of us have our views as to whether a national social minimum is now realisable, what its character ought to be, and what the amount should be. I think that to-day the House will want no misunderstanding on this outside the House. The fact is that all parties in the House are united in the desire to do the best possible for the old folk. Everybody wants to help them. In the meantime, in moving these Regulations, I ask the House to unite, as the Government are united, to take this single step in helping the old folk to meet the special difficulties to war-time, thus making the total estimated annual cost of pensions nearly £135,000,000.