Clause 1. — (Increase of certain pensions payable in respect of public service.)

Pensions (Increase) Bill – in the House of Commons on 18th April 1944.

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Photo of General Sir George Jeffreys General Sir George Jeffreys , Petersfield

I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, at the end, to insert: Provided that an appropriate instrument shall authorise payments of pensions on an increased scale to persons who have been in receipt of such pensions in respect of service in the Armed Forces so that their pensions in addition to any increases that may be granted shall be not less than the basic rates applicable to their rank and service under the Royal Warrant of 1919. I wish to call attention to the desirability of publishing at least the purport of the provisions of the proposed instruments—Royal Warrants, Orders in Council, or King's Orders, as the case may be—which, for convenience. I will refer to as Royal Warrants. The provisions of them are customarily identical for the three Services. I quite understand that the actual text of such instruments cannot be published. They are the conveyance of the Sovereign's will towards those serving in the Armed Forces and they cannot be published textually, hut surely something more definite can be stated as to the proposed contents of the instruments than a mere intimation that the terms will be similar or will correspond approximately—to use the expression employed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—to the two scales in the Bill.

Such a definite statement seems to me to be the more necessary in view of the doubts as to the effect of the Royal Warrant of 1919 which have undoubtedly prevailed. I would like to read the terms of that Warrant, and again say that they correspond exactly with the. instruments for the other two Services. The first paragraph is as follows: The new rates shown in the following tables are granted in consideration of the present high cost of living, and the rates of pay, half-pay and retired pay will be subject, after five years, to revision, either upwards or downwards to an extent not exceeding 20 per cent., according as the cost of living rises or falls. After 1st July, 1924, a further revision may take place every three years. As regards that Royal Warrant, there have been a very great deal of doubt and apparently actual mistakes in interpreting its terms. The Treasury interpretation of the terms of that Warrant are materially different from that of the Services and the pensioners. The main differences are two. One is over the meaning of "not exceeding 20 per cent." and the other is over the words "a further revision may take place." "May" appears to be, and I suppose we must take it to be, permissive. It permits a further revision and, according to my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, permits stabilisation at any point which may be selected. I imagine that "may" is not meant in the fortuitous sense that "it may happen," but I think it should be noted that for the first five years, it was stated, the rates would rise and fall, and they duly fell. Afterwards, it is stated, they may be further revised, and so long as the cost of living fell they were further revised in a downward direction.

The Services, doubtless mistakenly, expected a corresponding rise when the cost of living rose, but surely, the new Warrant should be so clear as to permit of no misinterpretation, either by the Services or anybody else affected. It should be in the plainest of plain English. The promise should be, I venture to say, definite, and there should be nothing permissive which may seem to give the Treasury the option of whether they will put it into practice or not. Still less, should the terms be in any way fortuitous or capable of being interpreted in one way by. the Treasury and in another way by the doubtless less astute intelligence of officers in the Services. As it is, it seems to me that a pig in a poke is being offered. It may be satisfactory, or unsatisfactory, but either way it must be taken without being looked into. I hope it will be a very good pig, but I have some doubts on the subject. Again I would urge clarity and an early publication of a précis of the terms. I know that the actual terms cannot be published, but the purport of those terms might be communicated to the House.

Clause 1 provides for increases to the smaller pensioners, and so far as those of them who retired under the 1919 Royal Warrant are concerned, it seems that under the Bill, and subject to certain tests—on which there will no doubt be discussions on a later Clause—they will get increases exceeding their former reductions. I do not, therefore, wish to press this Amendment, but I ask for clear and unequivocal consideration of it, and a statement at the earliest possible moment of what the terms will be. I would add that Parliament should be able to consider the effects of the Bill in detail so far as the Armed Forces are concerned. At present we have only the assurance that the terms will be substantially the same as those for the Civil Service and others affected by the Bill.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I wish very briefly to support the Amendment which has been so ably moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Peters-field (Sir G. Jeffreys). There are really two points to this Amendment. The first is that the position of the retired officer ought not to be left to a casual and incidental reference in the explanatory memorandum of the Bill. Something much more positive than that is required if the retired officers and men are to know where they stand. The second point is that, under Parliamentary procedure we are not allowed the liberty or the opportunity of discussing the terms of a Royal Warrant when it has once been signed. Therefore, if the men and the officers are to know what is to happen to them under this Bill we ought to know in this House before we part with the Bill exactly what will happen in that area of the pension field. We are not told that, either in the Bill or in the explanatory memorandum. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend that something more precise and clear is necessary. I hope that the moving of this Amendment, which it is not desired to press to a Division, will elicit from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a statement that can be understood, not only by Members of Parliament but by the men who will be affected by this Clause of the Bill.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I think I can deal quite briefly with the points that have been made. My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. Brown) rather complained that the position of the retired officer had been dealt with merely by a casual reference in the memorandum. He realises, I am sure, as well as anybody that the retired officer is not dealt with in this Bill at all and therefore, it would have been, I should have thought, inappropriate to go into great detail in the memorandum on a matter entirely outside the scope of the Bill. My hon. and gallant Friend the member for Peters-field (Sir G. Jeffreys) said something about officers being invited to buy a pig in a poke. In these days of food shortage, pigs, whether in or out of pokes, are not unwelcome. But I think I can readily dispose of the misgivings of both my hon. Friends by saying simply this—it has been said before, and I will repeat it—that the position of officers who, for technical reasons, cannot be dealt with in this Bill but must be dealt with by Royal Warrant, will be adjusted by the terms of the Royal Warrant in such a way as to correspond exactly with the provisions of this Bill, so that the Committee may have the assurance, in dealing with Amendments to the Bill that while they will be specifically dealing only with those classes of pensioners who are within the scope of the Bill they will at the same time, by virtue of the assurance I am now giving, be making a corresponding provision for officers.

Amendment negatived.

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

I beg to move, in page line 14, to leave out from "has," to "two," in line 15, and to insert "at least one dependant."

Under the Bill as it was presented to Parliament a pensioner might obtain the benefit of the higher scales of increase set out in paragraph (2) of the Second Schedule if, although he was unmarried, he could show that at least one person under the age of 16 was dependent upon him. Similarly, a woman pensioner with a dependant under i6 might obtain an increase at an earlier age than was otherwise contemplated by the Bill. The present Amendment forms part of a series put down in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the object of extending the benefits to pensioners who have certain dependants other than children under the the age of i6. It is proposed that a pensioner shall be entitled to these benefits whenever he can show that he has a dependant as defined by the proposed new Sub-section (5). The concession also enables a woman pensioner with a dependant to qualify for an increase at an earlier age than is otherwise contemplated by the Bill.

In order to establish that a person is a dependant for the purposes of the Subsection it must first be shown that he is wholly or mainly supported by the pensioner. This condition is obviously important, because the whole object of the higher scales is to give a special relief to pensioners whose domestic circumstances are such that they have special calls upon their incomes. There may be some cases, however, in which a person wholly or mainly supported by the pensioner has means of his own. The proposed subsection provides that a person shall not be regarded as dependent if he has independent resources amounting to more than £52 a year. Under paragraph (a) of the proposed new Sub-section any person who has not attained the age of 16 years or who, if he has attained that age, is still receiving full-time education or training will, if he is wholly or mainly supported by the pensioner, and if his income does not exceed the prescribed limit I have mentioned, be counted as a dependant. It will not be necessary to show that any such person is the child of the pensioner or even his adopted child or illegitimate child. In paragraph (b) of the Sub-section a father, mother, child, uncle or aunt of the pensioner may be regarded as a dependant, and paragraph (c) will bring in brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces and grandchildren. Moreover, the subsection goes on to provide that—

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I am sorry to interrupt, but the right hon. Gentleman appears now to be referring to a later Clause. I do not know whether it is the desire of the Committee that we should discuss all these matters together, but if that is the case we must not have too long a discussion on subsequent Amendments when they are moved.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

Obviously, all these Amendments hang together and I would certainly support the suggestion that we should discuss this whole question at one time.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

If the Committee understand the position I am, of course, quite agreeable.

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee that we should deal with the matter in this way, and I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) and other hon. Members who have put down Amendments on this matter will be satisfied that the proposals made under the various Amendments which you, Major Milner, have been good enough to allow us to discuss together do, in fact, meet all the requests which were made upon the Second Reading of the Bill and do give a wide and generous definition of "dependants".

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

I am very glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made himself responsible for putting down these Amendments. When the Bill was introduced I realised that in this respect it was inadequate. There have been many other Statutes in which the question of a dependant has been raised and the definition there has been wider than the definition proposed in the Bill, which in my opinion was a very narrow one. I saw no reason why the definition should not be widened, and put down an Amendment to remove the words "under 16 years of age". The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not accept that proposal in those precise terms, but I think the Committee will share my view that in substance he has accepted my Amendment, and in the sub-section which you, Major Milner, have allowed us to refer to the precise definition of dependants which the Chancellor is prepared to include is stated.

Looking over the categories of persons who are covered I feel that a rather peculiar method has been adopted. Grandchildren or nephews or nieces have been brought in as other than someone in the previous category, and the previous category includes aunts and uncles, and as far as I can make out the only relatives who are excluded are grandparents. As the pensioners are presumbly elderly people I feel the Chancellor came to the conclusion that it would be a little otiose to include grandparents. Still, we do not know how long people may live in the days to come. We do not want to back to the days of Methuselah, but we may get people living to over 100. No doubt if such an occasion does arise those who are administering the Bill will cast a favourable eye upon the case of the grandparent of the elderly pensioner and do something about it. Apart from that point, which I do not put very seriously, I welcome most heartily the decision of the Chancellor to amend the Bill by widening the definition of dependants, and I hope that the Committee will accept it in the same spirit.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I have a general point to make about the Amendment and also a particular point. The general point is that, in my opinion, it is quite improper to make the grant of increased pensions in any way contingent upon whether a pensioner has dependants or not. In 1922 the House of Commons insisted upon making pensions fall as the cost of living fell. There was then no question of relating the incidence of that fall to whether the pensioner had a depen- dant or not. The House of Commons insisted, and the Government carried out the project, that all pensions had to come down automatically and mathematically, whether the pensioner had, any person dependent upon him or not, and, in my opinion, it seems to be monstrously wrong that we should import into this Bill the consideration of whether a pensioner has a dependant or not. Therefore, I cannot speak of this Amendment in the terms of eulogy which have been used by that defender of the proletariat the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence). I think it is a bad Clause and that the Amendment does not put it right, but inasmuch as the Amendment makes at least some improvement in the situation I am not disposed to divide the Committee against it.

On the particular point, I wish to ask whether housekeepers are covered by the Amendment and the additional Subsection which we shall be discussing later. We seem to have covered most of the relatives except the grandparents, but there are many pensioners who are being looked after not by a relative but by a housekeeper. They maintain the housekeeper, and I imagine they will be eligible for relief in respect of the Income Tax allowances for housekeepers, but I do not see that housekeepers are specifically provided for here, and I should like an assurance that. a housekeeper who is not related by blood to the pensioner would count as a dependant.

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

The answer is that the housekeeper is not covered. Dependants are those for whom the pensioner has some sort of moral responsibility on account of their being relatives. There is no question of a housekeeper being covered. The circumstances are wholly different from those in connection with Income Tax which the hon. Member mentioned.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that this is not a question of moral obligation but of physical subsistence? Some of these pensioners are aged and ill, are very sick people, and they must have a housekeeper to look after them. In those circumstances surely it is quite improper to refuse to regard a housekeeper as a dependant for the purposes of this Clause.

Photo of Major William Allen Major William Allen , County Armagh

In some dozen places in the Bill we have references to "at least one dependant." Surely this does not mean that unless a pensioner had a dependant he cannot get any increase in pension. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to clarify the position, because it would save a great deal of time if that were done.

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

There is nothing in the point which my hon. and gallant Friend makes. This is designed to define what is a dependant, and if my hon. and gallant Friend will study the Bill carefully he will see that a pensioner who has a dependant, is put in the same position as a married pensioner, and is entitled, therefore, to a higher level of pension. It does not mean that because a pensioner has no dependant he gets no increase at all.

Photo of Major William Allen Major William Allen , County Armagh

I am very glad to hear that. It certainly clarifies the position, although it is not clear, in the context of the Bill, that a pensioner without a dependant receives the addition. I have had some extraordinary cases put before me with regard to this and I am, therefore, glad to have the explanation that even if a pensioner has no one dependent on him, he is entitled to receive the increase of pension.

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

I only intervene for a moment on one point. I must say I sympathise with the point of view of my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown). We are legislating for two years and the point I want to bring in is that, inevitably, we shall have children's allowances in this country.

Photo of Sir Adam Maitland Sir Adam Maitland , Faversham

Is not this Clause in effect a limitation Clause? Only those people who are named as dependants will be considered. I would like a little more attention to be given to the point raised by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), for, as I gather, only those people mentioned in the Sub-section would, in fact, be regarded as dependants. There may, of course, be other cases like the housekeeper, and, as my hon. Friend said, several other people who are not specified in the Sub-section and the person concerned would not then have the benefit.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

In reference to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh (Sir W. Allen), I think the Financial Secretary used words which might be misunderstood. He said there was no question of a person being denied an increase of pension because there was no dependant. Those words are not quite correct. If a person is over the limit at which a man can obtain a pension when he is single, but below the limit when he would get the increase of pension if he were married, or had a dependant, then it is true the limitation does prevent that man getting the pension. The fact is, however, that the pensions are higher within the same category for persons who have dependants or are married, and that, above a certain figure, there would be people who would have got a pension had they a dependant or were married, but who will not get a pension under the Bill as it stands. I mention that for the sake of accuracy; otherwise the Financial Secretary's statement might be misunderstood.

Photo of Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks , Chichester

May I he allowed to put one question to the Financial Secretary for clarification? The pensioners in this Clause are clearly defined in the Explanatory Memorandum, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given us a categorical assurance with regard to the increase of pensions for officers. But I cannot see that either of those two categories deals with the question of pensions for warrant officers or non-commissioned officers. I should be grateful if the Financial Secretary would tell us what are the proposals for the increase or corresponding amendment of the pensions of those two categories.

Photo of Mr Francis Douglas Mr Francis Douglas , Battersea North

I want to refer again to the question relating to a dependant of a pensioner, excluding a housekeeper. It is perfectly true that a housekeeper is not a dependant. A housekeeper is somebody who is employed, but that is not sufficient to get rid of the point which has been raised. The reason why the dependant is introduced in this matter at all, is because it is a test of need, and because if a pensioner has a dependant, therefore his need is greater. But precisely the same argument applies where the pensioner is so infirm or crippled that he has to have a housekeeper to look after him. That is the principle which operates in the Income Tax Act. An allowance is given in respect of a housekeeper, just as it is given in respect of a child or certain other dependants, and I do suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that those arguments are equally valid in this connection. It is a question of need. He bases his Bill upon the assumption that beyond a certain figure there is no need at all, or there is no need unless the pensioner has a larger drain upon his resources because he has dependants. But if a pensioner is so infirm that he has to have a housekeeper then his position, also, is one of increased need, and I ask that that point be reconsidered.

Photo of Major William Allen Major William Allen , County Armagh

May put a concrete case to the Chancellor of the Exchequer? It is the case of a widow who is in receipt of the princely pension of £17 a year. She has no one dependant upon her. She has to live on that and any help her neighbours can give her. She is practically in rags and gets very little food. I want to know, definitely, whether that widow is, or is not, entitled to the increase of pension under this Bill.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

As my hon. Friend referred to me, let me reinforce what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has said My mind went back to the time when a very good friend of mine was in the place I now occupy. Let me reinforce what my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary has just said. If my hon. Friend will look at the terms he will see that a pensioner, whose pension does not exceed £75 a year will get the same increase whether or not that pensioner has a dependant. That, I think, covers the point.

Photo of Major William Allen Major William Allen , County Armagh

That entirely covers my point, and I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I beg to move, in page r, line 15, to leave out "two hundred and fifty" and to insert "three hmidred."

Photo of Mr Gilbert Gledhill Mr Gilbert Gledhill , Halifax

On a point of Order. May I ask for your guidance, Mr. Chairman? Is it the intention to discuss this Amendment and the next two together?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I have no objection of it would be for the convenience of the Committee.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I hope the Committee will agree that it will be convenient, in dealing with this particular Amendment which stands in my name, to deal with all the other Amendments which form, in fact, one proposal for the improvement of the terms of this Bill. In the Bill as originally introduced, certain limits were prescribed both as regards the rate of increase to be granted in the two cases of a pensioner with dependants and a pensioner without dependants and, also, in regard to the limit beyond which no increase should be granted. The Bill, as introduced, placed the limit in the case of the pensioner with dependants at £250 a year, and this Amendment raises that limit to 300£ a year. In the case of the pensioner without dependants, the limit in the Bill, which was £175, is increased to £225 a year—substantial increases, as the Committee will observe, in both cases. Together with that Amendment, I propose to amend the scale of increases for which provision was made in the Bill, and I think it will be convenient to refer also to that matter now. The original scale provided for a maximum rate of increase of 25 per cent. up to a certain limit and an increase of 20 per cent. between that limit and the ultimate limit above which no increase is to be given. The scale of increase which I now propose—

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I am sorry to raise a point of Order here. I think we were wise to allow the discussion to broaden itself earlier, but I do not think that is enough. The Amendment with which the Chancellor is dealing is a simple one and relates to one point only—the ceiling beyond which, if a man possesses a salary, he is disqualified in part or in whole from receipt of a pension. I submit that where that line should be drawn, is quite different and separate from any argument as to what the amount shall be, and that we should deal with the increases quite separately later on, bemuse there are a number of Amendments on the Paper in that connection.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

I think that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to confine himself to the upper limit now and the change in the upper limit and deal with the increases later on it would be better. These matters could be more appropriately dealt with separately.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

It does affect the application of the ceiling, but if it is thought to be more convenient to deal with the scale of increases later, I am perfectly content. As I was saying, I have proposed these increases in the limits from £250 to £300 in the case of the pensioner with dependants, and from £175 to £225 in the case of the pensioner without dependants. I would point out that the Bill makes provision whereby, in applying the proposed increases, other income up to £52 a year may be disregarded, so that the effect of my proposal is that a pensioner with a pension up to £300 a year, if he has dependants, may also have other income up to £52 a year. That is to say, a pensioner who has up to £352 a year of total income will qualify under this Bill for some increase.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

It cannot be raised above that figure.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

He cannot get anything beyond £350 a year, but, up to that figure, he is entitled, under the Bill, to an increase. I agree with my right hon. Friend that it is important to be absolutely accurate, but I think that what I have said is correct. I have had under consideration, from the outset, what I said on the Second Reading of this Bill, that the object is to provide for cases of really severe hardship. I suggest that, in raising the limit—and I am now dealing with the pension of those with dependants—from £250 a year to £300, and keeping in mind what I have said about disregard of other income, I have gone as far as it would be reasonable to go, consistent with the general purpose of the Bill as it was defined on Second Reading. I am, it is true, making provision by a Bill which will operate only for two years, but no one can doubt that similar provisions will continue so long as the circumstances justify them. When one bears in mind that the financing of this Measure will have to be secured by.means of taxation, which goes down at present to quite a low level, and that there are many classes of taxpayers on fixed incomes, who will have to pay Income Tax and who have no means of obtaining any increase in their emoluments as the result of changed economic conditions, I hope that the Committee will agree that the limit which is now suggested is a reasonable one.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

I am very glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has seen fit, after the facts have been put before him, to propose this Amendment. When the Bill was introduced, I felt that the limits were too low. I was moved to that consideration by this fact, which I would beg the Committee to appreciate. A cursory reading of the Bill would suggest that a married person with an income of £250 a year would be entitled, under the Bill, to an increase of 20 per cent. That was not correct, because the £250 was not the ceiling of a man who was entitled to a 20 per cent. increase, but was the total ceiling up to which his pension increase could bring him. That was why I ventured to correct the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had, if I may say so somewhat incorrectly stated the position. Under his proposal, a man with £300 of pension and, let us say, £52 as well of, if the right hon. Gentleman likes, unearned income, did not get any increase at all. The man below £300 would get his income raised to £300, but that was the ceiling. Feeling that this limit was too low, and to prevent anyone reading the Bill from getting too optimistic an impression, I put down an Amendment, which is on the Order Paper, to increase the upper limit from £250 to £350, with a similar increase for the single person from £175 to £250. Under my Amendment such persons would not have got the full 20 per cent. increase, but only to per cent. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has adopted a different method of dealing with the question. He has not seen fit to go as far, in raising the ceiling, as I proposed, but he proposes to give the benefit of the full 20 per cent. increase, in so far as it is applicable, instead of the 10 per cent. which I suggested.

I would like to explain why I am prepared to accept the method which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed. The principal beneficiaries from either the scheme which I proposed or that which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put forward, are not the people above the old limit, but the people below the old limit, because both in the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and in my Amendment the people below the old ceiling will, for the first time, all get the benefit of the full 20 per cent. increase. They will be a very large proportion of those who would benefit from either his Amendment or from mine, When you come to those above the old ceiling, under the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for a time they will, although they are slightly above the ceiling, get more money by his Amendment than they would by mine because they will get the 20 per cent., instead of 10 per cent. Ultimately, they will reach the new ceiling put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and then they will get less by his Amendment than they would have got by mine. It is very difficult to make a point of this kind appreciable by verbal explanation, but, for a very large proportion, his proposal will bring more benefit than mine would have done, for a small number, it will not make any difference which method is adopted; and, for the rest, mine would be better than his. For a number of reasons, I think the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a very good one, and I hope that it will be accepted. I anticipate that the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) will argue that the ceiling is far too low.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

In that anticipation my right hon. Friend is absolutely right.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

I share some of the views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this point. I would like to see, if we could get the money, and the goods which would be represented by it, from another planet, pensions increased in all cases at least to keep pace with the cost of living. To that extent, I am wholly in agreement with the arguments which I imagine will be put forward by the hon. Member for Rugby. But I am bound to face the facts of to-day. There are large numbers of people, some of whom come only very narrowly outside this Bill, like employees of public authorities, who are not strictly within the four corners of this Bill—and about whom something may be said later—and employees of private concerns, who get no increases to meet their responsibilities, and others, who are all going to be taxed in effect to meet this concession, legitimately, I think, because these are persons for whom the State is directly responsible. I am not prepared to push the ceiling up to the sky, and to give people with large incomes a benefit which other people, who have not been servants of the State, and who may have smaller incomes, are not in a position to get. Although I put down these Amendments of mine for raising the ceiling, I support the argument, within limits, for not raising the ceiling any further.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I am sorry to interrupt this love-feast between the two Front Benches, which, it seems, is going to be a characteristic feature of the Debates in this Committee to-day, but I wish to express a point of view quite different from that expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or that expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence). This Clause originally contained a provision for a certain ceiling to the Bill, the idea being that pensioners who had incomes above a certain limit should not be qualified for benefit under the Bill. The Chancellor has moved an Amendment to increase that ceiling slightly, and he has received the approbation of my right hon. Friend. I do not think that there ought to be any ceiling in this Bill, and I put down an Amendment, which you, Major Milner, felt that you ought not to call, because of the terms of the Financial Resolution. That Amendment provided for the deletion of the ceiling altogether. I think it ought to be deleted altogether, because, when pensions were being reduced because the cost of living was falling, there was no question of putting a floor to the reduction. If you do not put a floor to a reduction, you have no moral right whatever to put a ceiling to the increase when the cost of living goes the other way. The truth is that this is a thoroughly immoral Bill, and, when we come to the Third Reading, I am going to characterise it in language which I trust will scarify and cauterise the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a way that he will never forget. This ceiling ought not to be here, and it is not put right by slightly adjusting it in the way that this Amendment does.

I found nauseating in the extreme the language of the Chancellor and the language of my right hon. Friend on the subject of the burden of the taxpayer in this connection. This Bill is estimated to cost about £5,000,000 a year. It is a tiny Bill, compared with the scale of war-time expenditure in other directions, and, although it may be necessary to introduce the effect on the taxpayer when we are dealing with questions involving hundreds of millions of pounds, I submit that if there is a case where we might have omitted that argument, the case of the poor old pensioner is the one. Failing to get a discussion on the abolition of the ceiling, owing to the narrow terms in which the Financial Resolution is drawn, I put down other Amendments, to raise the ceiling very much above that proposed by either the Chancellor or my right hon. Friend. If the Committee will look at page 957 of the Order Paper, they will see that I proposed a ceiling of £500 where there is a dependant and of £350 where there is not. At the end of the Second Reading of this Bill, we were assured by the Financial Secretary, who wound up the Debate, that, when we got to the Committee stage, we should be able to deal with all these issues, discuss them and amend them. I want to ask the Chancellor how can I get my Amendment, which proposes to raise the ceiling up to £500, before this Committee, so that the Committee can be given an opportunity of discussing it. I am sure that the opinion of many hon. Members will be that the situation is not met by the Clause as originally drafted, and is not met either by the Amendment now before the Committee. Therefore the Committee should have an opportunity of debating what is a much more comprehensive Amendment.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

When the Question is put to insert a certain figure, it will, of course, be competent for the Committee to defeat the Amendment, and, in that event, it will be possible for the hon. Member to move his own Amendment to make the figure £500.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

In order to bring my Amendment to the notice of the Committee, I must divide the Committee and have this Amendment defeated? I am much obliged.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

It is not necessary for the hon. Member to bring his Amendment to the notice of the Committee. The hon. Member has already done so, but in order to get a decision on it, it would be necessary to take this Amendment to a Division if the hon. Member wished to do so.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Gledhill Mr Gilbert Gledhill , Halifax

While I certainly support the Amendment to increase the ceiling and bring in more pensioners, I find myself sympathising much more strongly with the remarks of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown). The Chancellor is fixing a ceiling in this Clause, and then spoiling the whole effect by exempting the civil servants in a later Clause. This raises a feeling of injustice, which has been put to me by the retired teachers—mostly retired head teachers, who are on a figure round about £250. They will be completely debarred from any increase. They ask me why this advantage should be given in the case of retired civil servants and not in the case of retired teachers. They point out that their contributions have been paid just as others were paid when the purchasing power of money was greater than it is to-day. Now, when the cost of living has increased so rapidly, and they have to pay higher taxation, they fail entirely to see why they should be debarred from the benefits of this Bill. It is true that, under this Amendment, a number of people are brought in, but those over £300 or so are automatically shut out. In a recent Debate, the Government said they could not give teachers equal pay because it would bring in civil servants as well. Surely, the converse is equally true—that you cannot give a benefit to civil servants that you do not give to teachers?

Photo of Sir Adam Maitland Sir Adam Maitland , Faversham

I do not think the Chancellor need be unduly alarmed by the strictures which the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Brown) promises at a later stage. I think the assumption is that, as far as he is concerned, in this matter he will have support and the continued confidence of the country. I do not think it is a very cogent or convincing argument that only a comparatively small sum is involved. We have many problems to deal with, and it is very important that we should have the benefit of the Chancellor's views on the respective merits or demerits of all problems from the financial point of view. It is, I think, only right to refer to the fact that some of this increase of pension will in part be borne by people who are in receipt of less income than those to whom the increase may be given.

I do not think it is at all wrong for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to draw attention to the claims of all people who are concerned in these matters; and indeed it is on that aspect I wish to ask a question. I wish to ask the Chancellor about a point arising from the Bill, which deals with the pensions granted for services to the State or local authorities. I want to ask the Chancellor whether, in view of the additional burdens being imposed upon them, he has consulted the local authorities and whether they are agree- able to the change? I think it right they should be so consulted.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

To take first the point just raised by the hon. Member for Faversham {Sir A. Maitland), whose support I am very glad to have, it is, of course, the fact that, before this Bill was introduced, there were consultations in the usual way with the associations of local government authorities, and these associations, I understand, were generally in favour of the proposals in the Bill. There are two other points made in speeches since I last addressed the Committee, with which I should like to deal. My hon. Friend opposite raised the question of the inclusion of the provisions of Clause 2. He wondered why the provisions of Clause 2 were limited as they are, and what sort' of case there could be for giving more liberal treatment to certain classes of public servants, notably civil servants, together with the retired officers in whom the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) is interested, in comparison with the position of local authority employees. I did explain, I hope adequately, on the Second Reading, how Clause 2 came to be in the Bill. It is not on all fours with the other provisions of the Bill, but it represents provisions which were inserted in an attempt to meet, so far as I thought it practicable to meet it, the sense of grievance that had been expressed on behalf of those pensioners whose pensions had been subject to fluctuation with the cost of living figure until stabilisation was decided upon in 1935. That is the whole explanation of the special provisions of Clause 2. I would like to say a word or two in reply to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), who said he found it quite nauseating that I should bring in any arguments with reference to the burdens which taxpayers on the lowest levels are being called upon to bear.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I said I found it nauseating that the right hon. Gentleman should bring it in on this case.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I bring it in in this case for a very good reason. I have to take a wider view than my hon. Friend, and I have received many representations from people who fear, sometimes with an element of justice, that they are being hardly used. I do not think it is right that we should go out of our way to create a sense of grievance on the part of people who are responding so magnificently to the demands made upon them. I say without any hesitation that if we gave, at the expense of the taxpayer, uncovenanted benefits to people already better off than those on whom tax burdens are being laid, we should certainly be making a change for the worse in the attitude of the people in this country, which hitherto has been beyond all praise.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

How much more does the Chancellor estimate it will cost if the ceiling is raised to £5O0?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I have not got the figures, but I think I have made it clear that the argument, from my point of view, does not rest solely on additional cost.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Gledhill Mr Gilbert Gledhill , Halifax

That does not satisfy the objections which hon. Members have made. There are two classes of pensioners, some receiving a higher and the others a smaller amount. If you give an increase to those receiving the higher rate, it will raise a feeling of injustice.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I referred to what I said on the Second Reading of the Bill, in giving reasons why different treatment is being given. Let me say that what has been said about the attitude of the teachers does support, very strongly, the argument for looking at all classes of taxpayers, who have to be persuaded that, as far as is practicable, they are being equitably dealt with. But there is a material difference between the teachers and the civil servants to whom Clause 2 applies. In the case of the civil servant, as in the case of retired officers, the pension was subject to fluctuation according to changes in the cost of living figure, and these were at a certain point stabilised so that when the cost of living began to rise the pensions of these persons were not automatically increased. I do not consider that there was any breach of faith in the decision to stabilise, which was taken after full consideration in 1935. But there was undoubtedly a sense of grievance which I thought it desirable to try to remove as far as possible. The point for teachers to bear in mind is that they were not subject to the conditions described in this House more than once and which constituted the justification for Clause 2.

Photo of Mr Daniel Lipson Mr Daniel Lipson , Cheltenham

The Chancellor's Amendment proposes to raise the ceiling to £300, but, in his speech, the right hon. Gentleman made play of the fact that £52 of other income—to those having it—is exempt, so that, in fact, the figure is £352. The assumption is that he thought this £352 was a reasonable ceiling. That is all very well for those people with other income. What is the position of those whose sole income is that £300? Would it not be fairer to extend the ceiling to £350 and not provide exemption for those with other income?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I do not know, but I should have thought that the provision, which appears in this Bill for the first time and was not in the two Bills which this House approved after the last war—under which a certain amount of private income can be disregarded—would have been considered as in line with other decisions taken about private income—in connection, for example, with supplementary pensions and Public Assistance Board grants—and would have been regarded as welcome. That is the reason why I am merely calling attention to the existence of that provision. The ceiling of pension provided in the Bill is £300.

Photo of Mr Thomas Burden Mr Thomas Burden , Sheffield Park

The Chancellor has told the Committee what is being done for those servants whose pensions have been reduced as the cost of living figure fell. Those who have fluctuating pensions had a very substantial case. The Chancellor's argument, quite rightly, is that those superannuation classes who have not been subjected to decreases in a similar way, should not receive the benefits of Clause 2. But if that argument is valid, surely those classes whose pensions have been subject to fluctuation should receive the benefit of Clause 2? I refer to a number of local government servants whose pensions have fallen owing to the operation of the cost of living scale, and the Chancellor is really getting it both ways. I suggest to him that he might give consideration to those local government servants, whose pensions have been subjected to reductions owing to falls in the cost of living figure, and that he might put that right at a later stage.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 1, line 16, to leave out "one hundred and seventy-five," and insert "two hundred and twenty-five." [Sir J. Anderson.]

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

On a point of Order. I do not propose to move the next Amendment which stands in my name and that of hon. Friends—in page 1, line 17, at end, insert— (2) For the purposes of this Act a dependent person means a person in respect of whom section twenty-one or section twenty-two of the Finance Act, 1920, or section twenty or section twenty-one of the Finance Act, 1938, a deduction may be made in the assessment of income tax. —as it deals with the question of the child under i6 and we have really covered the point.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I beg to move, in page r, line r8, to leave out Sub-sections (2), (3), (4) and (5).

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

It might be for the convenience of the Committee if we have a short Debate on these various tests on this Amendment.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I am obliged. The effect of the Amendment, which is in my name and that of other hon.' Members, is to leave out the Sub-sections mentioned. The effect of these Sub-sections is to make the grant of an increased pension depend upon a number of diverse qualifications. One of the qualifications is that the pensioner must have attained the age of 60 years. If he has not attained the age of 60, he does not get benefit under the Bill. Another qualification is that the pensioner is a woman "upon whom at least one person under the age of 16 is dependent." We have taken out "up to 16 years" presumably, but she still has to have a dependant. A further qualification is that the pension authority shall be satisfied that the pensioner is "disabled by physical or mental infirmity." All these are hurdles to the attainment of the increase in pension given under the Bill.

It rather looks as if whoever drafted this Bill began by saying to himself (1) "How little can we possibly give?" and (2) "How many people can we disqualify from even the narrow range of benefit that we propose? "There are imported all these elements, which my Amendment seeks to delete from the Bill, as conditions of entitlement to increased benefit. I now make the point—I have made it twice already, and I shall have to make it many times during the day—that when this House and the Government brought pensions down when the cost of living fell, there was no question, then, of importing all sorts of qualifications; no question of an age clause or a dependancy clause, or a physical or mental infirmity clause. There was a clear cut decision by the Government that, if the cost of living fell, then all pensions, large and small, of persons with dependants or without, whether well or sick, automatically had to come down.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

Surely, this Clause deals with a large number of pensions which, in fact, have not been reduced in accordance 'with the fall in the cost of living.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

There is no qualification at all in these whether they they have been increased or decreased by the rise or fall in the cost of living. Who are the categories with whom we are dealing? Let us translate it from the general to the particular. In the Civil Service, probably the largest single category, all pensions have been reduced because of decline in the cost of living. In the case of Army officers and men, all pensions have been reduced because of decrease in cost of living.

Photo of General Sir George Jeffreys General Sir George Jeffreys , Petersfield

May I correct the hon. Member? As regards the Army and the Services generally, all pensions have not been reduced; the pensions of other ranks, generally speaking, were not reduced. The pensions of all officers who retired under a certain series of Warrants and Orders in Council, that is, since 1919, have been reduced, but it is not quite correct to say that this first class does not include any officers. It includes the smaller pensioners, quite a number of junior officers, and particularly officers promoted from the ranks, quarter-masters and so forth.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

The short answer to the point raised by the hon. Member opposite is that, if it be true that there are some people incidentally covered whose pensions have not been decreased—and if there are, I do not know who they are—it is certainly the fact that the overwhelming majority of the persons dealt with in this Bill are those whose pensions have been reduced because of the decline in the cost of living, and when they were reduced none of these qualifications was in force. What is the effect of the Clause as it stands unless we knock out these sub-sections? Take, first of all, the police officers. You may become a policeman in Britain at the age of 21 or thereabouts. You may complete your 25 years of service and retire on pension from the age 45 or 46. Suppose a man has completed his 25 years and has gone out on pension, the value of that pension has been enormously reduced by the rise in the cost of living. The first sub-section here will deny that policeman a penny of benefit under the Bill, solely because he has not reached the age of 60 years, and 60 years was never the retiring age of a policeman. Prison officers have had their pensions reduced because of a decline in the cost of living. Their retiring age is 55, but no retired prison officer, unless he has reached the age of 60, is entitled to a penny of benefit under the Bill. I cannot speak with the same weight of authority of the teaching profession or the local government service, but there are probably substantial numbers in those professions who, for one reason or another, have retired at an earlier age that 60, and ought not to be disqualified from benefit under the Bill.

The Financial Secretary will, no doubt, shortly tell me that if the prison officer or the policeman or the local government officer or the teacher is physically incapacitated, then he will be entitled to benefit under the Bill. But we ought not to make it a condition of granting pensions which have their purchasing power reduced by a rise in the cost of living that a man has to be in a state of complete mental or physical disability. The whole approach to the Bill is wrong. The qualifications here are indefensible, and my Amendment seeks to delete them from the Bill, so that the only question shall be whether a man conforms to the other conditions of the Bill.

Photo of General Sir George Jeffreys General Sir George Jeffreys , Petersfield

These tests of means or otherwise are, as a general rule, completely foreign to the pensions of the Services. The basic rates of retired pay, the original rates at which the officer or other rank retires, have never been conditioned by tests at any time whatever, except in the case of peacetime pensions granted to widows of officers already retired. If a retired officer dies, and the widow applies for a pension, her means are rightly taken into consideration, but, on the other hand, the Pensions (Increase) Acts, 1920 and 1924, impose means tests as far as increases in pension are concerned, and no doubt they are used as a precedent in this particular case, but it is a somewhat unfortunate precedent. All these tests will cost money and will certainly cost a great deal in time, in forms, and in inquiries. In order to obtain all the particulars, to ascertain that the pensioner is not under 60, is suffering from Mental or physical infirmity or disability, that a widow is not under 40 or has dependants or is disabled—and there is the question of the definition of disablement—there will have to be forms comparable to those which are now, I do not hesitate to say, greatly puzzling a great many employees and a good many of their employers under the new Payas-You-Earn Income Tax scheme. These forms, in the case of pensioners, will be equally puzzling to pensioners and will cause an enormous amount of trouble to the officials of the Treasury, both at headquarters and in the country.

That seems to be the certain result, and I wonder whether it will be worth the time, the cost, the undoubted annoyance, and the very frequent hardships that it will certainly cause. It is beside the question that these ceilings which we have passed are too low having regard to the cost of living and the standard of living of a very large number of smaller pensioners in the neighbourhood of £200 or £300. I think they might well be higher. Surely, any savings and the income of a wife ought not to be reckoned in the case of the smaller pensioners. It penalises the thrifty, especially the old officers, most of whom come into the lower category as having been promoted from the ranks or from the lower deck. In the case of teachers, some of whom have very low standards of pension, or of policemen, especially those who retired before 1919—those who retired before 1919 would certainly be over 60 and would not be disqualified in that way—their pensions are very low, and in many cases a sergeant of police, retired before 1919, receives a much lower rate of pension than a police constable who has retired since that date.

I think it is hard to split hairs over their income and their savings, and it seems to me to be a discouragement and a penalisation of the thrifty if we take their small means into consideration. Many bachelors, or widowers living alone, are really worse off; not in terms of money, but really worse off than where there is a wife to help, to provide companionship, to keep the house going, and to make the best of even the exiguous food rations which can be obtained to-day. I believe the case of a lone man, or if it comes to that, a lone woman living alone in these days on a small income is very hard indeed, and far from penalising a man because he has not a wife or any dependant living with him and has to live alone, it ought to be a case for making him an allowance.

I very well know that the Treasury cannot be expected to be generous, but surely it might be a little less ungenerous in dealing with these matters and not, whilst seeming to give with one hand, take away with the other. It is a characteristic attitude, not only now but at all times, of the Treasury. Without going into details, which would be out of Order, it used to be a constant complaint in the Services that whatever you might get in the way of allowances, it was always qualified by something which in many cases prevented you from drawing them. I do think that in a matter of this kind—it would not cost much money—the Treasury might be a little more generous to these low-paid pensioners. With regard to the cases of hardship, with which the Chancellor has always professed to deal first and foremost in these matters, I think there are grave hardships for many of these lower pensioners, and those hardships are only qualified by the fact that some times they have a little money saved of their own, or possibly their wives have a little money, which makes it easier for them to maintain something like a standard of living to which they might reasonably expect to conform, but in these very difficult and very hard days I hope that some consideration will be given to this Amendment.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

I would like to say one word in support of the Treasury attitude upon these matters. We are constantly hearing hon. Members complaining that the Treasury is unduly niggardly. There was a time when this House constituted itself the protector of the pockets of the taxpayers, and it is during the last 50 or 60 years that the attitude of this House has completely changed. If it were not for the Treasury, which does endeavour to look after the interests of the taxpayers of the country, I think that the heavy burden of taxation which exists at present would be even heavier than it is.

With regard to the merits of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), I cannot help thinking that much of the argument which he put forward would have been more appropriate in dealing with the special classes of pensioners who are entitled to the benefits contained in Clause 2. It was pointed out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his speech on the Second Reading, that anyone eligible under both schemes would be treated under whichever was the more favourable. It follows, therefore, that in the case of those pensioners who have sustained reductions in their pensions owing to the decline in the cost of living in the years immediately after the last war, they will be able to avail themselves of the special provisions of Clause 2. It appears to me, therefore, that in moving the Amendment the hon. Member for Rugby should, in logic, have addressed himself to the case of those pensioners who have had the claim put forward on their behalf that they should be granted an increase in pension on the ground of hardship. Now, if the increase, which the State is not under any contractual obligation to give to them, is to be granted for the purpose of relieving hardship, then it seems to me to be absolutely essential that there should be proof that the hardship exists. For those reasons I hope that my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will take the view that this is an absolutely essential feature of the Bill, to which the House agreed upon the Second Reading.

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) and my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) both suggested that the Chancellor ought to be rather more generous. Of course it is not for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be generous, though it is certainly not for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be ungenerous.

Photo of General Sir George Jeffreys General Sir George Jeffreys , Petersfield

What I said was "less ungenerous." I did not say "more generous."

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

I heard my hon. and gallant Friend rightly, I think, and I want to point out that it is not possible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to exercise his generosity at the expense of other people. When dealing with other people's money one has to be particularly careful. We should always think of that. The object of the Amendment is to leave out all the conditions with regard to age, infirmity, and so on, under the hardship scheme. Of course the conditions which are imposed under these various sub-sections, to which my hon. Friend takes exception, are based on Sections which appeared in the earlier Pensions Increase Acts, but I may say that they are more liberal, in certain respects at any rate, than those previous Acts. However, the various conditions are, without any doubt, an indispensable part of the hardship scheme of an emergency character. I find it difficult to see—and I think the Committee will agree with me—why, under present conditions, a hardship increase should be granted to a pensioner who is under 60 years of age, without a dependant, and in good health. Such pensioners ought, in the view of the Government, and are in fact, contributing to the war effort and there is every opportunity for their employment, and we are extremely grateful to them for all they are doing. When the case for a scheme of some kind was put forward, we were urged by various hon. Members to remember the hardships under which certain sections of pensioners were suffering. My hon. Friend came to see me at the Treasury on a deputation and that was the point he made, a point which struck home and had its effect.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I do not want to interrupt, but if the Financial Secretary is making the point that when I went to see him with other hon. Members, I stressed the fact that there was hardship amongst the pensioners, that is right. If, however, he is suggesting that I based the case of that deputation only on the ground of hardship, he is wrong. I based my case then, as I base it now, on this plain circumstance, that when the cost of living was coming down, the House and the Government insisted on automatic reductions in pension. I say that that being so, we have no moral right to do anything other than increase pensions when the cost of living is going up, and that it is wrong and immoral to introduce all the qualifications that this Bill imports. For them the only justification which can be found is that they are someing like what appear in the Pensions Increase Act, 1920. The big distinction I see is that the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1920, was not preceded by heavy reductions in the size of pensions on cost of living grounds. But this Bill is preceded by heavy reduction of pensions on cost of living grounds, which makes 'the case quite different.

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

My hon. Friend knows quite well that I never deliberately misinterpret him. I was pointing out to the Committee that the argument he brought forward when he came to the Treasury, which impressed me, was the one of hardship.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

That was the weakest of the lot.

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

I am quite aware that the hon. Member put forward a great many other arguments; he generally has a great many strings to his bow, and there are few people as capable of finding an argument to suit the occasion as my hon. Friend. But the hardship ground impressed the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is the hardship ground which is the basis of this Bill. Some play was made by my hon. Friend with the case of ex-policemen, prison warders, and others who normally retire at some earlier age than 60. It may well be that it is appropriate for those classes of persons to retire from their occupation earlier than 60, but that is no reason at all why, after retirement, they should not obtain lighter employment in other occupations which are open to them and, in fact, they generally do. We all of us know that ex-policemen have a great advantage in obtaining suitable positions when, they are retired, and it would be quite wrong to introduce into a hardship scheme—

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

—into a hardship scheme a proposal which was to give to, let us say, an ex-policeman who is a pensioner who is now earning a handsome income, the benefits of this hardship scheme. I am afraid that there is nothing further I can add on this point, and I must ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

I do not like the statement made at the commencement of the Financial Secretary's speech that the Chancellor cannot afford to be generous. I have known the Chancellor to be very generous when it has been a case of subsidies for the shipping industry, or subsidies for agriculture, or subsidies for beet.

Mr. Galladier:

All sorts of things.

The Deputy-Chairman:

I think the hon. Gentleman is getting a little wide. We are not interested in any way in subsidies on this Clause.

Mr. Gallaeher:

It is possible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, while conserving the finances of the taxpayers as much as possible—although I am quite certain hon. Members on the other side might not be interested in taxpayers if subsidies in some other directions were being discussed—to be generous in his method of applying whatever benefits he is applying. But the Chancellor of this country operates according to the law of parsimony when dealing with ordinary working-class people, and so we get, as in this Bill, every kind of restriction and limitation that causes grievances and reductions that are not necessary at all. It would be far better if the Minister, on behalf of the Chancellor, would face up to the situation and even allow some of them a little more than he might think they are entitled to in order to ensure that all the others are getting what they are actually entitled to get.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out, to 'upon,' in page 2, line 1, stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.

Amendments made:

In page 2, line 1, leave out from "woman," to end of Sub-section, and insert "who has at least one dependant."

In line 9, leave out from "woman," to "or," in line 10, and insert "who has at least one dependant."

In line 17, leave out from beginning to "or," in line 18, and insert "she has at least one dependant."

In line to, at the end, insert: (5) For the purposes of this Section and of the Second Schedule to this Act the expression 'dependant' means, in relation to any pensioner, any person other than the pensioner with respect to whom the pension authority are satisfied that he is wholly or mainly supported by the pensioner and that his total income from any other source does not exceed fifty-two pounds a year, being either—

  1. (a) a person who has not attained the age of sixteen years, or who, if he has attained that age, is receiving full-time instruction at any educational establishment or is undergoing training for any trade, profession, or vocation; or—
  2. (b) the father, mother, brother, sister, child, uncle or aunt of the pensioner, or of the husband or wife of the pensioner, or of the deceased husband or wife of the pensioner; or
  3. (c) the child of any such person as is mentioned in the last foregoing paragraph; or
  4. (d) the stepfather or stepmother of the pensioner;
and in this Sub-section the expression 'child' includes, in relation to any person, a step-child, an illegitimate child and a child adopted by him in pursuance of an adoption order made under the Adoption of Children Act, 1926, the Adoption of Children (Scotland) Act, 1930, or any corresponding enactment of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, or adopted by him in accordance with the law of the place where he was domiciled at the time of the adoption.In calculating, for the purposes of this. Subsection, the income of any such person as is mentioned in paragraph (a) thereof, no account shall be taken of any income accruing to that person as the holder of a scholarship or other educational endowment."—[Mr. Assheton.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Pethiek-Lawrence:

I do not propose to delay the Committee on this Clause. I want to refer to a point which was raised on the Second Reading, namely, the exclusion of certain bodies from the benefits of this Measure. These bodies are closely analogous to other bodies which are included. For instance, the Financial Secretary said on the Second Reading Debate that the Metropolitan Water Board come within the provisions of the Bill and that the Port of London Authority and the London Passenger Transport Board do not. I think the right hon. Gentleman should say a few words as to why that division has been made. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer is quite fixed in his intention to exclude these bodies I would like to ask him whether he can take genuine steps to bring the matter to the attention of those in authority in those bodies with a view to seeing whether they can bring their practice into line with the proposals which the Government are intending for themselves and for local authorities with regard to pensioners and other employees who are, in effect, in a similar position.

Photo of Mr Thomas Burden Mr Thomas Burden , Sheffield Park

I want to reinforce the plea made by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence). It is true that this Bill will apply to a limited number of persons who have served with the London Passenger Transport Board, namely, that section transferred to the Board through the passing of the London Passenger Transport Act. They will be covered by reference. But, as my right hon. Friend has mentioned, there are quite a number of statutory funds where the amounts of superannuation cannot be increased except by the sanction of this House, and we urge the Chancellor to make some provision for the people connected with such funds. The Chancellor has promised to deal with railway superannuated staffs and I suggest that something along the same lines might be considered with respect to the superannuated staffs of public utility authorities. Earlier, I called attention to the position of retired local government officers whose pensions were subject to fluctuations in a similar way to those retired from the Civil Service until their pensions were consolidated in 1935. This Bill does not provide for these retired servants of a local authority. I agree that the number may be limited, but there should be equality of treatment, and I ask the Chancellor to consider an Amendment at a later stage which would put right the position of retired local government servants, whose pensions have been subjected to variation under the cost-of-living index.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I warmly support the plea which has been made from these benches, that those categories of pensioners with whom we cannot deal under the Bill, because the scope of the Measure is restricted, should receive the beneficial attention of the Financial Secretary—if those words are not a contradiction in terms—and that he should do whatever he can with statutory bodies like the P.L.A., to see that something like this is extended to their staffs. There is another category in respect of whom I have made the same plea before, and with whom we cannot deal under this Bill, namely, retired Colonial and Indian civil servants.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

They are right outside this Bill. The hon. Member is getting very wide.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I quite appreciate that, Mr. Williams. I am not endeavouring to bring them in; I am merely suggesting that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might bring this matter to the notice of the Colonial Governments and suggest that they take similar action. I know they are not strictly under the Bill, but they come under the general responsibility of this House. and this seems to be an appropriate way of dealing with the matter.

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

I cannot give any undertaking with regard to this matter, because the Bill deals with State pensioners and with local government servants, and anything beyond that is quite outside its scope. I daresay, however, that other bodies will take note of what has been said by hon. Members and I will report to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. PethickLawrence) has said. On the point raised by the hon. Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden) there are difficulties about these local government pensions. I understand it is true that there were certain local government pensions which were subjected to fluctuations in accordance with the cost of living, but they were not, under the general system and applied only to certain pensioners. Even where there was fluctuation consolidation took place at all sorts of different times and on all sorts of different bases. They were quite different bases from those applicable to the Civil Service, and that means that no single remedy would meet the situation for local government pensioners. There is such an infinite variety of cases. The Government are. not prepared to impose upon local authorities an obligation beyond that of the hardship scheme in Clause 1 We have gone some distance in dealing with the local authorities in imposing upon them obligations which already stand in the Clause which, I hope, the Committee will now accept.

Photo of Mr Robert Tasker Mr Robert Tasker , Holborn

Can we be told why one authority is in and another is out? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) asked why the Metropolitan Water Board was in and the Port of London authority was out.

Photo of Mr Ralph Assheton Mr Ralph Assheton , Rushcliffe

The answer is quite clear. I thought I made it clear in my Second Reading speech, but perhaps I did not. The Metropolitan Water Board is technically a local authority and comes within the terms of the Bill.

Question, "shat the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," and agreed to.