Details of the increase in retirement pension to take effect from week commencing 21 November were set out in my statement on 23 June 1983.
Will the Secretary of State admit that this, the lowest percentage increase for over 30 years, is not even enough to restore what was stolen from the pensioners by the Tories breaking the link between pensions and earnings? By the time pensioners receive their increase in November, inflation will be up to 6 per cent. The miserable 3·7 per cent. will be a decrease in real terms. How does all that square up with the Tory party manifesto pledge to protect pensioners' interests?
If inflation increases to 6 per cent. in November it will mean that prices have increased by 70·7 per cent. and pensions by 74·6 per cent. since November 1978. That is above the pledge that we gave. Secondly, lower inflation is the other issue which is vital to pensions. I should have thought that it was a matter of congratulation that inflation is now down to a level that has not been experienced since the 1960s.
Does my right hon. Friend recognise that although the Conservative party has a good record on defending pensioners' interests, whether it be those over 80 or by meeting the rate of inflation over the years as we pledged, none the less there is some misunderstanding among pensioners about the increase due this year? Will he take this opportunity to emphasise, and emphasise continuously, how much we care about their needs?
In this uprating we have introduced a new system of uprating pensions which gives a certainty which the old system did not. It is fair and we shall continue to preserve pensioners' interests.