asked the Minister of Social Security whether she will introduce a further increase in pensions for retired persons, widows and other pensioners, pending major reforms in the system of social security, together with an equivalent increase in allowances for such people applying to the National Assistance Board.
Will my right hon. Friend give some indication when the benefit of the general reform which is now pending is likely to come into operation? Will she bear in mind the fact that no matter how much we have improved the rate of benefit for retirement pensioners and others in the last year or so there has been a decrease in the value of the pensions that they are receiving, which should be made good at the earliest opportunity?
The action taken by the Government so far has proved clearly to the House and the country that we have not waited until the completion of the review before making improvements. I can assure my hon. Friend that provision is made in the National Plan for increases. As soon as the Government consider that the time is appropriate the increases will be made without waiting until the review is completed. I believe that is what my hon. Friend really wants to know.
Will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility that at one time in the year, around Christmas, people receiving the extra supplement under the new Measure should receive an extra £4 or £5 a week, on the lines of what happened at the end of 1964? Does not she agree that this would be one way of alleviating hardship?
The position at the end of 1964 was very different from what the position will be at the end of 1966—and it will be all to the good of our pensioners, because from 28th November of this year those receiving supplementary pensions will be getting an increase under the Social Security Act. This time there is no need to take the very special measures that, as a Minister, I felt I had to take at the end of 1964.