Is my hon. Friend saying that when this new scheme conies into operation, if it does, there is a very good chance that the 1 million pensioners who today could be claiming a supplementary pension but are not doing so will get their full rights?
The evidence suggests that take-up of supplementary pension among potential supplementary pensioners has improved, on the latest, somewhat out-of-date, figures that we have, following the changes that we made in 1980. In my view, this move to an even more clearly regulated system of entitlement should assist further to that end.
Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that of the 7 million people who will have their housing benefit cut, 4 million are pensioners? Will he also confirm that, of the 1·8 million households that will lose housing benefit altogether under the Green Paper proposals, the great majority are pensioner owner-occupiers, especially widows, with a small occupational pension and a total income of only £60 or £70 a week?
Since, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the effects of the housing benefit proposals depend on the income support rates, and as the income support rates have not yet been set, he should refrain from making these wild generalisations.
Yes, indeed. That is a gain, not only for pensioners, who, of course, will have two upratings in a period of 16 months, but in the clarity of the system for all beneficiaries.