Pensions (Payment)

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th February 1962.

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Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth 12:00 am, 13th February 1962

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider a new system for the payment of pensions which are the direct financial liability of Her Majesty's Government, details of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Tynemouth; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I understand that the hon. Lady has in mind a suggestion that all public service pensions, no matter when awarded, should be raised to the level of those currently being awarded for similar service. Her Majesty's Government, like all previous Governments, are unable to accept such a fundamental and costly change in the principles governing public service pensions.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

Is my hon. Friend aware that I was referring to the creative plan of Air Marshal Sir Gerald Gibbs, who has written to my right hon. and learned Friend and had a very courteous, if non-committal, reply not embodying what my hon. Friend has said? When we are having new ideas about pay, salaries and production, may I ask my hon. Friend why, at some time or other, we should not examine the position of those who have already served their country well? Or do we always have to discard those who have served and look to those who may serve us? Can my hon. Friend answer that?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

Yes, certainly. In answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I do not think that it would be very courteous were my right hon. and learned Friend to answer correspondence in the style of a Parliamentary Answer. Regarding the second part, one has to remember that it would cost as much as £70 million in the first year—

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

It is correct. We are here considering the possibility of a very big change in policy. I make no apology for saying that my right hon. and learned Friend, like all his predecessors, feels that this would be too fundamental and costly a change to make.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

They are all dyed-in-the-wool.

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Accrington

Could not the £70 million be found if the Chancellor cancelled the Surtax concession?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

Unless we have a thrusting and competitive economy I do not consider, that we shall be serving the interests of the pensioners themselves. I think it is great nonsense to suppose that we should have the level of pensions that we wish unless there is sufficient scope for initiative in the tax system.