Domestic Heating Appliances and Fuel Costs

Oral Answers to Questions — Pensions and National Insurance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th April 1959.

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Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North 12:00 am, 13th April 1959

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will now take steps to make grants to old-age pensioners and old people on National Assistance for the purchase and operation of heating apparatus and fuel.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

No. Sir. So far as National Insurance retirement pensioners are concerned, such special grants would not be appropriate to a scheme of insurance benefits. So far as recipients of National Assistance are concerned, the weekly scales approved by Parliament include provision for heating as for other needs, and there is also authority in the regulations under which the Board's officers can and do make additional provision where this is needed.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

Is it correct for the Minister to base his answers in the consideration of these problems on legalisms and "Smart Alec" answers rather than looking—

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Kidderminster

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Do you recall that last year a right hon. Gentleman opposite used the expression "Smart Alec" which you immediately ruled to be opprobrious and unparliamentary? Could not this expression again be withdrawn by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I did not hear the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes). What did he say?

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

The Minister bases his answer on what he thinks is appropriate—

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Order, Order. Hon. Members must not allow their irritation to get the better of them. I should have considered that the hon. and learned Member was one of the last hon. Members of this House to use an opprobious expression. I hope that if he has used some such expression which escaped my hearing he will withdraw it.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

I think I am well within your recollection, Mr. Speaker, that my conduct and my manners in this House are generally good. It must be within your very recent recollection that the hon. Gentleman opposite has gone out of his way to prevent me from putting my supplementary question.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The hon. and learned Member should not run off at a tangent on to the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), who is not involved at the moment. If the hon. and learned Member will attend to his own conduct with that scrupulous care which he usually applies and if he feels in his own mind that he has used the wrong expression, he ought to withdraw it.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker; that is the kind of advice I would have expected you to give me. Now may I ask my supplementary question? [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw"] Would it not be better for the Minister of Pensions to base his consideration of these problems on humanitarian grounds rather than on legalism which prevents the pensioners from getting that which they urgently need?

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

Studying my answer during a certain prolonged interval, I came to the conclusion that the only part of it which touched upon law was when I invited the attention of the hon. and learned Gentleman to the fact that the powers of the National Assistance Board were considerable in the very direction about which, on humane grounds, he was concerned, and I ask him to study that point and also to reflect upon the nature of the National Insurance Scheme.