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I am bound to agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary's reply to this proposal was exceedingly disappointing. The hon. Gentleman appeared to question the proposition that need grows with age. The hon. Gentleman must agree that someone aged 75 is likely to be feebler than someone aged 65; he is likely to be in need of more heat to keep him warm in his home; he is probably on a special diet; after 10 years in retirement the chances are that clothes and household goods are wearing out and need replacing, although they may well have been in good condition on retirement.
At 75, people find it much more difficult to earn and, therefore, to eke out their pensions than people at 65. These are strong pointers to the fact that people are likely to be relatively worse off at 75 than at 65. This is one of the main reasons why we believe that it should be recognised that need grows with age
The second point made by the Parliamentary Secretary was that the discretionary additions can take care of additional needs as age increases. One of the objects of the Bill it has been emphasised time and time again—is that as far as possible inquiries should he avoided. On Second Reading, the right hon. Lady said:
The purpose of this long-term addition is a simple one. It is to remove in these cases the need to inquire into the small day-to-day expenses for which the bulk of the discretionary allowances are now made."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1966; Vol. 729, c. 341.]
The Parliamentary Secretary has said that if people at 75 or at any other age need additions over and above the 9s. they can turn back to the discretionary additions. The right hon. Lady herself emphasised, and I believe absolutely rightly, that we want to avoid detailed inquiries as far as possible. If we want to avoid them at the age of 65, is it not much more important to avoid them at the age of 75 and later?
For those two reasons I am exceedingly disappointed, as are my right hon. Friends, with the Parliamentary Secretary's reply, and unless we can have more satisfaction on these points I hope