§ 3.33 p.m.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
I beg to move,That this House, noting that the Government has felt able to propose tax reliefs amounting to £366 million a year, regrets that it has repeatedly refused to make provision for any increase in the basic rate of retirement pensions and has not used this opportunity to propose increases in the rates of retirement and other National Insurance benefits as well as of war pensions and National AssistanceI see that the Prime Minister referred to this Motion in a speech on Saturday. It was reported in the Manchester Guardian under the heading:Premier tells the young Tories what they want to hear.The right hon. Gentleman described the Motion as "blatant and brazen". If that is what the Prime Minister said, why did he not accept, in the usual way, 35 the challenge which we put down? Why is it that this afternoon we have just gone through the formality of going into Committee of Supply? The Opposition have had to find time for this debate, whereas normally, on all such occasions of which I have any recollection, a censure Motion has been taken by the Government in Government time. The Prime Minister has refused to accept our challenge in the ordinary, normal way. If I may follow his alliterative example, I would describe it as completely contemptible.
If the House truly represents the feelings of the broad majority of the people, when we come to a vote on this matter tonight this Motion will be carried by a large majority. There can be no doubt about that. I certainly have tested it out on Tees-side recently, and the feeling of the ordinary people there accords precisely with the terms of this Motion. If hon. Members opposite do not believe me, I would ask them to accept a piece of evidence in which they will have more confidence than they would in something that I say.
The Daily Mail, a newspaper which, after all, supports them, published on 13th April the findings of a public opinion poll. Of those asked what they thought about the Budget, 68 per cent. said:It gives too much to the rich and does not help the poorer people and pensioners enough.It seems to us that that is an admirable summing up of the Chancellor's Budget.
The Budget, greatly to our disappointment and, I must say, to my personal surprise, follows the pattern of the Budgets presented by all of the Chancellor's predecessors in this Government. Year after year these Budgets have discriminated against the poor and favoured the rich. We all remember so well what was done that I need only go over it very briefly. There were deliberate increases, two of them, in the price of bread and milk. There were increases in the price of children's dinners. They raised the price of the old people's tobacco. They imposed charges for medicines and surgical appliances which most severely and adversely affected old people particularly, culminating in the meanest charge of all, the one that was imposed by the Prime Minister himself when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.
36 The savings made by all these devices in the successive Budgets which the Government have presented to us have been handed over to the taxpayer in such a way that they have benefited most of all the well-to-do and the very rich: £100 million in 1955, £65 million to the Surtax payers in 1957, coinciding with the Rent Act which raised the rents of the working classes particularly, the rents of many people on National Assistance, so that the National Assistance Board and the taxpayer had to come to the rescue and meet the charge.
In the present Budget not one of these previous impositions has been removed. My hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), in his brilliant analysis of the Budget, drew attention to the fact that not even the meanest imposition of all has been removed—the individual prescription charge imposed by the present Prime Minister when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the sole purpose of raising revenue, as he said, in a state of emergency—charge to be imposed for a short time, as we thought; even that has not been removed.
Here again, in this Budget, the Surtax payers get further relief amounting to £40 million. Lest they are inclined to grumble that that is not enough, they are appeased by a big reduction in the price of expensive motor cars. As my right hon. Friend pointed out, a man earning £5,000 a year —and I am trying not to be personal—will save £125 a year, almost exactly £2 10s. a week, a sum on which the retirement pensioner, if he has no other means, is expected to live—a very remarkable coincidence in figures and one which ought to be remembered and which, I think, the country will notice particularly.
The answer to facts like these, which have already been deployed during our Budget debates, was given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day in these words:The Budget and the Finance Bill are not the occasion for dealing with these matters. Changes in National Insurance require separate major legislation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th April, 1959; Vol. 603, c. 768.]The instinctive feeling of the British people when they heard of the Budget was this: when there is so much to give away it is right to think first of those whose needs are greatest. If the Government had thought as the ordinary people think, then they could have announced 37 in the Budget speech what they intended to do. Of course they could. It is quibbling to talk about it not being a budgetary matter.
The Amendment to my Motion which the Prime Minister has put down refers to 1951, In that year, we were at war. We were engaged in doing our part in a United Nations resistance to aggression and, in consequence, the prices of raw materials, on which we live, were rising rapidly, making our economic situation extremely difficult. Yet, in that year, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, although he had to inform the House that it was necessary to raise taxation by no less than £170 million—he was not in a position to reduce it, as the Government are now— announced in those grave and difficult circumstances that there would be £39 million more provided for old-age pensioners.
If that could be done in 1951, in those circumstances, surely it could be done now in the present situation of the country. Whatever hon. Members may say about 1951, in that Budget no less than £410 million was provided by means of food subsidies to keep the cost of living stable. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly. This was a way of fighting the rise of prices which was coming from abroad and which nobody on earth could possibly have prevented.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that pensions legislation and budgetary matters are separate. That is an obvious truism which nobody seeks to deny. But what has happened this time is the exact opposite of what took place in 1951. In my right hon. Friend's day, the Budget made possible improved legislation. During the last two years, pensions legislation has made this Budget possible. A substantial amount of the cost of the National Health Service has been put on to contributions by workers. The whole cost of the last increase in pensions was put on to contributions by the working people. Now we have going through Committee a Bill the sole purpose of which is to shift the burden of the cost of pensions for late entrants on to wage and salary earners in the income band between £9 and £15 a week. It will relieve the Exchequer of a very substantial future obligation.
38 That is why the Chancellor of the Exchequer finds himself today in this very favourable position where he can hand out bonuses to the Surtax payers. The fund to which Surtax payers contribute used to be called the "Woolton" fund. I suppose that today it must be called the "Hailsham" fund. No wonder that the noble Lord became so furious the other day in another place when he heard that the Labour Party was demanding more money for the poor, the aged, the sick and the unemployed.
Hon. Members opposite will say that they have increased the pension quite recently. I will remind the House of what I said just now, that they did that by laying the cost of the increases entirely upon contributors, a burden which is extremely heavy, particularly upon the lower paid workers. I remind the House also that, before we could persuade the Government to make that increase, we had to make two urgent representations, to which we had two flat refusals. On 25th November, 1957, I moved a Motion almost exactly identical with the one I have moved today. It was rejected. On 1st August, 1957, I moved a similar Motion and I had the same old rejection.
Not until the autumn of 1957 did we have a Bill which provided for the increases which came into effect in January, 1958, just over a year ago. Already, in that one year, the basic pension has declined in buying power by 1s. 1d. for the single man and 1s. 8d. for the married couple. In one year alone, 1s. a week has been taken off the pitiful income of only 50s. a week now received by a retirement pensioner.
In view of this continual increase in living costs, what are the old people and all those drawing National Assistance to think of what the Chancellor said a week ago on this subject, something like which is repeated again in the Amendment, which the Government have put down:The best of all helps that we can render in the Budget to the elderly is to concentrate our efforts on stabilising the cost of living. That is one of the aims of this Budget.Then he went on to say the most astonishing thing of all:The reduction… in the price of beer is a real and not a fictitious reduction in the actual cost of living."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 13th April, 1959; Vol. 603, c. 768–9.]In the French Revolution, it was said, "The poor have no bread? Let them 39 eat cake". The Chancellor says, "The old-age pensioners cannot afford to buy enough meat? Why do not they drink beer?" He will go down in history as the "Marie Antionette" of the British social revolution.
In January of this year, during the Second Reading debate on the new National Insurance, in the debate upstairs, demand for an increase in the basic rate of retirement pension, a demand for a basic retirement pension which would be appropriate to the circumstances of today. It was refused. We renewed the request again in Committee. Again it was refused, by one vote only, and I suppose that that is some credit to one or two hon. Members opposite who prudently stayed away from that particular sitting of the Committee.
We still hoped for something in the Budget. The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, in the debate upstairs, said that he was keeping the matter under review. We thought that when the Chancellor came to open his Budget he would, perhaps, be able to tell us what the Government proposed to do. AU we had from the Chancellor was a pious repetition of the hackneyed phrase—" the matter was being kept under review ". It is still open to the Government to change their mind if they wish. Nobody would be more delighted than I if they said so this afternoon. The new Bill is not passed yet. It could be recommitted and the whole scheme could be altered. After all, it is a National Insurance Bill, although it has been described by the Minister very modestly as a mere machinery Bill.
Let hon. Members opposite get all the petty party political capital they can out of the claim in their Amendment that the buying power of the pension is 10s. a week higher than it was in 1951. The Minister told us himself very recently that the present buying power is 5s. 11d. above what it was in 1946, after the Labour Government, despite the immediate post-war difficulties, had increased the pension by 160 per cent.
We say that an increase of 5s. 11d. in real terms—that is the figure which really should be used in this debate—is not a sufficient advance in the circumstances of today. It is the circumstances of today which should be exercising the minds of 40 the House and which, even if hon. Members opposite refuse altogether to pay any attention, will exercise the mind of people outside, the people whom we on this side represent. The Times pointed out in its leader of 9th April that in proportion to wages the present pension is below the level of 1946.
Let us look at the matter in another way. In money terms, the single person's pension is 92 per cent. higher today than it was in 1946, but consumer expenditure per head is 102 per cent. higher. That is the difference. The ordinary man, the man at work earning salaries and wages—not to speak of the profiteer and landlord drawing rent for doing nothing—has improved his position considerably more than the pensioner, who has no means of collective bargaining and very little means of bringing pressure to bear on this House, has been able to do.
To give social justice as we understand it, the poorest should have priority in the national share-out. In view of this history, it is not good enough to give them merely the same proportionate increases that others have obtained. In the present state of our economy and size of our national income, in view of the Budget and our national finances, they should now be getting a larger proportionate share if genuine social justice is to be done. These people have waited too long.
The Times article went on to say:Since pensions are so modest, it can be argued that the nation is now prosperous enough to raise its pension standards faster than its general living standards. But that would be a long-term change of policy needing the most searching examination before it was made ".I quite agree that it would be a long-term change of policy and that it would need careful examination. That is what we and the Labour Party sat down to do at the beginning of 1956. We gave the matter as thorough and careful an examination as we were able to do with the aid of brilliant helpers from outside.
We published our findings in May, 1957. Nearly two years ago, our party conference accepted the findings at which the working party had arrived. We proposed and still propose a definite "long-term change of policy". Our plan proposes a better method of providing pensions to keep them thereafter in step not only with the cost of living, but with an expanding national income. There is 41 provision in our plan for both these things.
We do not, therefore, need to tell the Government today how to meet the cost of doing what we propose; we have explained it in full already. We were even criticised by the right hon. Gentleman for proposing to raise more money than was necessary—not for failing to indicate how the cost could be raised. An immediate increase in the basic pension could have been made this year from the resources available to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If the Minister would then recast the preposterous National Insurance Bill, which is now in Committee, he could establish, with that new basic pension as a foundation, an adequate system of national superannuation which could finance itself for the years to come, with a moderate State contribution. Had he increased the pension he could have been sure that all the money would have been used to increase consumer demand, as he intended in his Budget to do.
Any increases in the basic retirement pension must, in justice and fairness, be accompanied by increases in the pensions and allowances for the unemployed, the sick, the widows and the disabled, as we proposed in our Motion; but I want to refer particularly to the poorest of all, who include more than 1 million retirement pensioners, 107,000 sick and disabled, 52,000 widows, 129,000 non-contributory pensioners and 401,000 others. These are the people drawing National Assistance. These are the poorest people in our land, and they number about 2 million. If their children are included, the number is nearer 2½ million.
More than half of these 2 million are old people. They amount, in total, to more than the population of Birmingham and Glasgow put together, our two largest cities next to London. If these 2 million people could be amalgamated and put in one place, and if they could be seen by the remaining 58 million people of this country, there is no doubt whatever that the Government would have to act quickly—they would have to act this afternoon—because public opinion would be so strong and so deeply moved by the conditions in which these people, living on National Assistance., have to exist in the present state of our nation.
Hitherto, I have been talking about a pension of 50s. a week. To some of those 42 on National Assistance, the amount available is only 45s.
§ The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)
In fairness, will the right hon. Gentleman add rents and rates?
§ Mr. Marquand
Yes, I will. Out of the 45s. for a single person on National Assistance or out of the 50s. for a single pensioner on retirement pension, 25s. goes on food. These are the official figures given by the Government. Average expenditure per head at present is 28s. 6d. a week, but for pensioners' households the figure is only 25s. They are below the average, which is not surprising. From the remaining 20s. for a single pensioner receiving National Assistance or from the 25s. for a retirement pensioner, money must be found for clothing, repairs to clothing, laundry, soap, cleaning materials, the replacement of household linen, furniture, pots and pans, bus fares, perhaps occasionally, if hon. Members opposite do not grudge it to them, a visit to the pictures, or even a radio licence.
If rent is only 5s., that comes out, too. If the rent is above that figure, we know that the surplus is paid. There is no reason why this should be denied or concealed. It is a well-known fact. The point that I am trying to make is that even if the rent is above that absurdly low level, which hardly exists today since the Rent Act was passed, the miserably small amount left after minimum food is paid for is too low. Surely hon. Members opposite will not deny that it is too low in present circumstances.
Twenty-five years ago the nation accepted the ideal that the aged, sick, unemployed and widows should receive an income sufficient to maintain them and their families without recourse to a means test. We had just finished winning a dreadful war and we all meant—I think that the whole nation was united on this point—to build a better Britain. We thought that the essential foundation of a better Britain was a minimum income for all below which no one should fall and that that minimum income should be, if possible, at such a level that it would not be necessary for people to resort to a means test to obtain it.
Do we still adhere to that ideal? At present, we have fallen far below it. In our opinion, we should return at once to 43 the ideal of 1944. The rates of National Assistance, therefore, must be raised to a level commensurate with the wealth of the nation. Two and a half million on National Assistance are far too many by any consideration anyone can bring to bear on this matter. It certainly does not fulfil the ideal which we accepted in that difficult year of 1944. Surely, fifteen years later, we can do better than 2½ million people on National Assistance.
The rates of benefit—retirement, unemployment, sickness and widows'—must be raised as well, because if we raise the National Assistance rates only we shall increase greatly the numbers of people resorting to National Assistance. If we make an increase in National Assistance commensurate with what any decent person could regard as a satisfactory standard of living for the poorest of the poor in our community, we must raise all the insurance benefits as well, in order to ensure that we do not add an enormous number to the load of National Assistance.
We say that a nation which can afford the tax reliefs of the present Budget can afford this, too, and without levying any further poll taxes on lower-paid workers. I know that this involves giving increases to some who do not need them. There are, of course, two nations in old age in this country. We have recognised this for a long time and this was the prominent feature of, perhaps the main reason, for our superannuation plan. So there are some among the 5 million retirement pensioners who are not in any special need.
They have industrial assurance or they have private property to supplement their retirement pensions. That is not denied, but in so far as money is given by an increase in retirement pension to persons who are not in dire need, a great deal of it will come back to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Every one of them who is above the level which is exempt from Income Tax would contribute a great deal of the money back to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. So the right hon. Gentleman need not fear the net cost, nor need he worry very greatly about the small extra income which would in that way go to people not in dire need.
We must remember the other 3 million who are in severe need and we must remember particularly the very old among 44 them. Large numbers of these pensioners are so old that no relaxation of earnings allowance, no increments earned by postponing retirement, are available to them, and the longer they have remained on the retirement pension throughout these years the more difficult it has become for them to make do; the more their clothes, utensils and other possessions have been wearing out, the more difficult it has been to find the money to replace them. So we must remember particularly the very aged when we are considering this question this afternoon.
I do not care what the percentages are; I do not care what per cent, of retirement pensioners may or may not be on National Assistance; I think that the total is far too many. We must reduce it, not increase it, and, if necessary, we must be prepared to pay a price for doing that. I believe that our people are willing to pay a price.
There is only one way to reduce the load upon National Assistance. There is only one way to abolish the need for well over 1 million people continually to go to the National Assistance Board and explain in detail all their circumstances and all their resources, which, whatever we may say, people still find humiliating and which, in any case, uses large numbers of staff for no particularly useful purpose. The only way to do this is to raise the level of the retirement pension and the other insurance benefits, thus reducing the load on the National Assistance Board and setting it free for the real welfare work for the severely suffering which it wants to do.
Therefore, even though it be true that, in doing this, extra money may be given to some people who do not need it, and although all of it may not go back in tax, I say that this is the only way to stop subjecting so many people in our midst to the means test. That is why we utterly reject the proposal contained in the Tory back bench Amendment to our Motion. It can be summarised in a sentence. Back to the family means test. That was the Tory policy between the wars. We want to know this afternoon if it is to be the Tory policy from now on.
It was the attempt to impose a family means test which aroused the nation in the 'thirties. I well remember the circumstances in South Wales in those days, and other hon. Members in the House will remember similar circumstances in other parts of the country. I remember 45 how the crowds poured down the mining valleys. They included not only miners, but shopkeepers and ministers of religion. Almost everybody who was able to leave his work marched in those days. In Cardiff, we held a magnificent meeting in the Cory Hall.
There were similar demonstrations all over the country, and they brought down the Minister of Labour. If that process, the family means test, is to be repeated again, it will bring down the Government.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Dr. Charles Hill)
I beg to move, in line 2, to leave out from "has" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:made substantial improvements in the standards of retirement pensions and other social service benefits giving for retirement pensioners a purchasing power more than 10s. a week above the 1951 level, expresses its confidence in the assurances of Her Majesty's present advisers that they will continue to maintain and improve these benefits to the fullest extent consistent with fairness to all sections of the community and with the avoidance of inflation, and reaffirms its support for a continuation of financial policies which have already achieved greater stability in prices, thus strengthening the foundations of the national economy and safeguarding the interests of pensioners and others living on small incomes".However we may differ inside this House, however fiercely we may express those differences, there are some subjects which arouse our common interest and sympathy wherever we sit and whatever colours we wear. After all, human compassion is the preserve of no political party. This is one such subject; one that we shall all approach with sympathetic understanding and a realisation of what the central problem really is. At the outset of my remarks I want to deal with some of the facts of the situation, reserving the arguments on the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) until a little later in my speech.
First, it would be as well to get clear what precisely the Opposition are suggesting should be done through their Motion, which seeks to condemn the Government for not doing certain things.
The case of the Opposition is that there should be an increase of 10s. in the basic rate of retirement pension. There is no 46 increase proposed for wives. I know that this is consistent with the future envisaged by the Opposition in their document "National Superannuation", namely, that in due course the dependent wife's pension will disappear. It means, however, the same increase for two as for one: in effect, an increase of 5s. each in the case of man and wife if the wife has no pension in her own right. I am advised that such a proposition would of itself cost about £115 million immediately.
But in the Motion on the Order Paper it is, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, also regretted that the Government have not used the opportunity to propose increases in the rates of other National Insurance benefits as well as of war pensions and National Assistance. If, therefore, corresponding increases—corresponding, that is, to the 10s. were made in other National Insurance and industrial injury benefits—still excluding wives and dependants—the cost, I am advised, would rise to about £160 million.
But I suggest that it would be neither fair nor sensible, if the case for this increase is really poverty and hardship, to suppose that the one and the same increase could be given to both single persons and married couples—the same for one persons as for two persons. If there were then proportionate increases for wives and dependants, the total immediate cost would be about £200 million a year.
If this were met by contributions without Exchequer assistance, it would represent about 2s. a side initially. If, on the other hand, Exchequer assistance were given in the proportions obtaining today, the cost being equally divided, the employed man would pay about 1s. 9d. extra. If, on the other hand, the whole cost were to be borne by the Exchequer, it would be, as I have said, about £200 million a year, rising to £260 million in twenty years' time.
For the corresponding increases in war pensions, there would be added to these figures about £15 million annually immediately. That is the order of the figures—about £215 million. Any additional cost to the Exchequer on National Assistance would depend on the size of any increase the Board determined.
The second question to get clear is how the Opposition propose that any such 47 increase in retirement and associated benefits should be financed. The answer has been made abundantly plain by the right hon. Genlteman. It is to be wholly from taxation, wholly from the Exchequer—at least until 1961, when the new scheme will come into operation. This means that if, for good economic reasons, the Chancellor retains his present above-the-line surplus of about £100 million, the cost would need to be met from additional taxation.
I know that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have said that this sum of money, of rather more than £200 million, should have been found by corresponding reductions in the amount which the Chancellor set aside for the remission of taxation. I know that they have made suggestions as to how the Chancellor could have remitted less of this and less of that. Incidentally, it would have taken all the Income Tax remission and more to do what they are now proposing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I will deal with this in due course. That is their argument.
The strange thing is that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite refrained from voting against the Budget Resolutions. They argued on the Floor of the House that the beer remission should have been 1d. rather than 2d., forgetting that when in 1949 they took 1d. off beer and 2s. off wine they ignored the falling value of the retirement pension and did nothing about it. They argued, too, that the Income Tax reductions should not have gone to companies, and so on; but they refrained from voting against any one of the Budget Resolutions. That means that the position that we are now in is that they are maintaining that this sum of more than £200 million should be raised by taxation.
Indeed, it has already been pointed out that the cash value of the steps which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite urged should have been taken by the Chancellor plus the cash cost of this proposal is more than the whole of the tax remissions proposed in the Budget speech. So, if the party opposite meant what it said, there would have been no tax remissions at all. That is a point to which I shall return later on.
The third question is of great importance. Outside this House there is often 48 a tendency to assume that the term "old-age pensioner" invariably means a person on a low income. The right hon. Gentleman has dealt with that point today. We should, and we do, here, of course, speak of retirement pensioners. We know that since last year virtually everyone reaching retirement age is entitled to a retirement pension. Of course, it was not always so, and there are many today without retirement pensions. But from now on everyone will get them when they retire—teachers, doctors, local government officers, office workers, factory workers, Members of Parliament, field marshals, everyone.
Further, there are about 9 million people in occupational schemes, and over 1 million men and women today, not all retirement pensioners, receive occupational scheme pensions. There are, of course, some whose National Insurance pensions are higher because they have earned more by working after the usual retiring age. Over one-half of the men now retiring, and one-quarter of the men now drawing pensions, receive increments which they have earned over and above the basic pension. Also, of course, there are those pensioners whose sons and daughters are helping their parents—not only because their parents need it, but because they want to help them, to do something to repay their debt to them. Old-fashioned, maybe, but there are many hon. Members in the House who will join me in wishing that there were more who were old-fashioned in that respect.
To sum up, there are some who have no private or personal income with which to supplement their pensions. These are the people who command our closest consideration. Today, a retirement pensioner can be anything from a person who is comfortably off to one with his retirement pension plus National Assistance and nothing else.
In fairness to those who have no other resources, those who write and speak on this subject should cease using words which suggest that retirement pensioner is always synonymous with need. It just is not true. However well we may understand—and we do—the attitude of those pensioners who need National Assistance but decline to apply, in this context we simply must not take this minority as typical and blind ourselves to the fact that every retirement pensioner who 49 needs it can and should apply for National Assistance. No one need live on the retirement pension and that only.
Of these people with no more than their pensions, but who decline for reasons of personal pride to apply for the National Assistance they need, I would just say this. One must never decry the spirit of independence which makes people prefer to manage for themselves as long as they can. In this matter everyone has a right to decide for himself. What the National Assistance Board, I think all would agree, has always been anxious to avoid is that people in need should be deterred from applying for assistance from a fear of being exposed to indignities and troublesome formalities.
The Board has done its best to make the procedure as simple and convenient as possible, and, as we all know from our constituency work, the reputation of the Board's officers for kindliness and humanity in their dealing with applicants is another important factor in breaking down the stigma which once attached to the receipt of assistance from public funds. It is our responsibility, I suggest, to do our utmost to persuade such people that the National Assistance administration is humanely conducted and that there is nothing that need be undignified about applying for such help.
This wide variety of income within the retirement pensioner group adds to the complexity of the problem, as, of course, do the wide differences in the circumstances and needs of pensioners, in the amount they need to live on. If the retirement pension were put at a level which wholly ignored these differences, it might well be extravagant in character. What is more important, it might well in time place too heavy a burden, by taxes or contributions, on the producers of this country, the source of the wealth on which everyone lives.
Bearing in mind that the proportion of retirement pensioners in the community is increasing and that the proportion of wealth producers will slowly decline—and even allowing for increases in national income—we must be scrupulously careful to ensure that, while being just and fair to the retirement pensioner, the burden on those who are working is not heavier than sensible, sound and humane considerations require. It is against the background of such considerations as these that this problem should be examined.
50 We want a retirement pension, at as high a level as fair contributions will secure, so reducing the need for a supplement through National Assistance, bearing in mind that there will always need to be National Assistance to stand behind all our social provision, retirement and other. We want to maintain the real value of the pension without having it eaten away by inflation. We want the pensioner to share in the country's prosperity. We want to maintain the insurance basis of the scheme. Both sides of the House are committed to that as a general principle. We want to see that the size of the contributions does not exceed a level that can decently be borne.
May I refer now to the right hon. Gentleman's observations on the number on National Assistance as an indication of the adequacy of the pension. Broadly speaking, of course, that is true, but it is not the whole story. After all, if we were to raise the pension—I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would agree with me, but I think it necessary to point this out—without raising National Assistance we would reduce the number on National Assistance and give the neediest pensioners nothing, because their pension increases would be deducted from the National Assistance allowance. Incidentally, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, we would leave out other needy persons on National Assistance, not being retirement pensioners.
On the other hand, if we raised the retirement pension and the National Assistance rate by equal amounts, we would not reduce the number on National Assistance. Again, if we were to raise the National Assistance rate without increasing pensions, we would raise the number on National Assistance, although we would be helping the poorest in the community in the process. In other words, the number on National Assistance is not the complete story; it is but one of the guides in fixing the level of benefits.
It has been argued that the number of those on National Assistance is rising. For the convenience of the House I will give the figures. Between January and June of last year the number fell from 978,000 to 879,000 in June and rose to 894,000 by the end of December. As the right hon. Gentleman will recall, 500,000 new pensioners were added last year, 400,000 of them being those coming 51 in for the first time after having satisfied the ten-year period. An important figure that the right hon. Gentleman tended to set aside is the percentage. The percentage of retirement pensioners on National Assistance last December—the last time for which figures are available—was 20.4 per cent.
§ Mr. Marquand
If we exclude the 700,000 1948–58 pensioners now on pensions, the percentage would be 23, would it not?
§ Dr. Hill
Quite likely; I have not worked out the figure. I took the actual number of pensioners and did not assume that some should be excluded. The figure, on my calculation, was 20.4 per cent., but in December, 1951—let us face the fact—it was 22.7 per cent. It helps to get it into perspective. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is difficult to make an estimate of the number of pensioners who, because of other means, are living in varying degrees of comfort. The right hon. Gentleman on another occasion put the figure at 2½ million. I do not challenge the figure—I think it is on the low side—but none of us positively knows what the figure really is.
The second, if not the main leg of the argument of the party opposite, is that the retirement pension should not only retain its purchasing power and real value, but the pensioner should share in the increasing prosperity of the community as a whole. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] All right, let us look at what has happened since 1946.
§ Dr. Hill
I am starting at the time that the scheme came into operation in 1946. I am not going to "fudge" the figures by taking a year when the scheme was not in operation.
Taking the 26s. pension of the single man as an example, what happened to its real value in the next five years? It was eaten away by inflation and not a finger was lifted by the party opposite to remedy the situation. Indeed, on 17th October, 1950, the then Minister of National Insurance told my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hunting-donshire (Mr. Renton) that she could not 52 agree that pensioners were suffering hardship. In fact, the real value of the 26s. of 1946 had fallen to 20s. by 1951.
As the House will recall, the 26s. became 30s. for the single man, the 42s. for married couples became 50s. but not, of course, for all pensioners. If a man was 65 on the appointed day, he got it; if he was 65 on the day after, he did not. Incidentally, these modest increases began a few weeks before polling day 1951. And by the time the pensioners in that year actually drew the extra 4s., the real value of the pension they received was over 3s. less than it had been in 1946. The party opposite did not act until the cost of living had gone up over 20 per cent.—
§ Dr. Hill
—and since our last increase, fifteen months ago, the cost of living has gone up 2 per cent.—and they accuse us!
As for comparing with those at work—this point has been made—the real value of industrial earnings between 1946 and 1951 rose by 9 per cent., while the value of the retirement pension was falling by 11 per cent. I hesitate to remind the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) of his statement that, under his Government, the treatment of the old people was "the shabbiest thing" in their whole post-war record.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
The right hon. Gentleman might let me on this occasion—I have not done it before—complete that quotation after the words he has given. It goes on to say that under the Toriestheir situation has gone from bad to worse…. From this Tory prosperity only the old-age pensioners are excluded.… While everybody else grabs what he can, they are told to wait patiently at the fag end of the queue.That is the whole quotation. If the right hon. Gentleman quotes any of it, he might as well quote it all.
§ Dr. Hill
In fact, it is not the whole quotation. It continues:We Socialists fixed the new pension scale in 1946. To our shame, we failed to provide that it should go up automatically if the cost of living rose. As a result, while prices, profits and wages all soared under the Labour Government, the standard of living of our old people went down. They were cheated even of the modest slice of the national cake which they had been promised.53 What has happened since 1951? There have been three increases—
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
The right hon. Gentleman seems to agree that the pensioners should have their conditions improved as the prosperity of the industrial economy rises. Is he aware that in 1946 the proportion of the pension in comparison with industrial wages was 34.7 for the married man and is now 31.2 and that in the case of a single man the figures are 21.5 and 19.5?
§ Dr. Hill
If the hon. Member waits, I will develop in more detail the point he has raised.
Since 1951, there have been three increases of pension, in 1952, 1955 and fifteen months ago, in 1958—and we are told that we have repeatedly refused to raise pensions. The 30s. became 50s., the 50s. became 80s. and, allowing for the increase in the cost of living, the real value of the pension for a single person since October, 1951, has increased by 27 per cent. and for a married couple by 22 per cent. What a contrast in records!
Bearing in mind the wish of everyone that pensioners should share in the national prosperity as well as sustain the value of their pensions, it is significant that the increase in the real value of pensions is more than the increase in earnings since 1951. The single pension has gone up by 67 per cent. and the pension of the married couple by 60 per cent. against a rise in earnings of 55 per cent. for men and 49 per cent. for women.
I know that some hon. Members prefer to take their figures from the London and Cambridge Economic Bulletin. That tells us that from 1946 to the present time, living costs have risen by 79 per cent. but that pensions are up by 92 per cent The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East quoted The Times of 9th April. I will quote it, too.Prices would have to rise by another 7 per cent. before pensions were reduced to the purchasing power which Labour gave them for a few months from the Autumn of 1946—and never succeeded in re-establishing.The right hon. Gentleman referred to the subject of the share in national prosperity and the national cake. If one prefers to answer—
§ Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central) rose—54
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)
If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way, the hon. Member must resume his seat.
§ Dr. Hill
If one prefers to answer the question of the retirement pensioner's share of the national cake by working out his share of the national income, the figures are available from 1949. In that year, the share was 2.45 per cent. In 1951, it was 2.31 per cent. In 1957, it was 2.67 per cent. Because of last year's increases, the 1958 figure, when available, will be higher still—indeed, the highest ever.
Other pensions and allowances have similarly increased since 1951. For example, the real value of family allowances for a family with two children is 22 per cent. up. For a family with three children, it is 37 per cent. up. In the case of the unemployed or the sick man with a wife and three children, it is 44 per cent. up and for the war pensioner, ex-private, with a 100 per cent. assessment, it is 44 per cent. up. These illustrations could be multiplied.
The significance of the history of the last twelve years is that it gives an indication of the incapacity or unwillingness of the party opposite when in power to preserve the standards of the retirement pensioner and others drawing benefit, and of our own record as a Government, not only in sustaining the real value of the pension, but in substantially increasing it.
Now let me say a word about this business of an assignment with an election. We are in this House, when one side is belabouring the other, apt to say that the other party has an eye on the election or that something is being done for party political purposes. So be it. At least, we all understand the language. Will anybody, however, challenge that the Opposition's Motion today is an assignment with an election? The Opposition found little enough to attack in the Budget; at least, hon. Members opposite did not vote against one of the Resolutions. The House approved them without a Division. Hon. Members opposite said, of course, that some of the money 55 should go to the social services, ignoring the fact that expenditure on them will rise next year by £86 million.
The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) said with indignation that he had found that beer had a weighting of 51 in the Retail Price Index compared with bread at 29 and milk at 19. He called it a "fiddle". Had he looked up the list in force when he was Minister of Labour, he would have found that bread and milk were just two or three above the present figures, but that the weighting for beer was then 93. If 51 is a "fiddle", 93 is the full orchestra, wind and all.
It is true that a miscellany of suggestions was made in the Budget debate by the party opposite, even though hon. Members opposite did not back them by votes in the Lobby. No Income Tax relief for companies was one of them, a suggestion which makes nonsense of their contention that investment rather than consumption should be favoured in the interests of expansion. Hon. Members opposite suggested recasting the Purchase Tax proposals, but their proposals would cost the same as, or more than, those of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. No wonder the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) dropped that suggestion. He suggested a capital gains tax, which, quite apart from its merits or demerits, would yield nothing for the first two years. He sought to bolster his case by accusing my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer of having a heart of stone—something which gave great offence to all who know my right hon. Friend, on both sides of the House.
I have no hesitation in saying that those people are really heartless who trade on the hopes and aspirations of the pensioners. It is cold, calculated and unmitigated cruelty to raise their hopes by putting forward proposals without knowing, without thinking, without caring how they are to be paid for. The Opposition's behaviour in saying that this and that should have been done by cutting taxes less, and not having the courage their words into deeds, smacks of political hypocrisy. The Opposition urge for their own immediate purposes that this great sum should be found from taxation and not from contribution, despite the fact that again and 56 again they have asserted their support of the contributory principles embedded in the 1946 Act by its foster-father, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths).
There is one serious consideration which should concern every party which aspires to provide a Government of our country, whatever its colour. There are 5.3 million retirement pensioners today and there will be about 7½ million in twenty years' time.
§ Dr. Hill
The proportion of pensioners in the community is growing. If it should happen that, in an exploitation of our natural sympathy for the old, party should bid against party for vote-catching purposes, regardless of the financial consequences to the country, the burden on the declining proportion of the community which is the workers, who alone can produce what is needed by worker, child and pensioner alike, may become intolerable. In the end, because of the weight of the burden, the wealth produced may be less and the pensioner, as others, will suffer.
In other words,With the best will in the world towards pensioners, and a full appreciation of their difficulties, any suggestion which seriously increases the cost of pensions must of necessity be weighed with the utmost care against the cost to the contributor and to the taxpayer, both present and future."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th November, 1950; Vol. 480, c. 759].To some people those may sound harsh words, but they are the exact words which were used in a letter through the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) to an organisation of old-age pensioners by the then Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, the right hon. Lady the Member for Warrington (Dr. Summerskill).
The Government have a fine record in their care of the rising standards of retirement pensioners. Far from repeatedly refusing to raise pensions, they have raised them three times. The Chancellor has put forward a Budget which, by stimulating our economy, while maintaining its resistance to inflation, will contribute to the welfare of everyone, pensioners and others. As their record shows, the Government have constantly reviewed the scales of retirement pensions. They will go on doing so.
57 The National Assistance Board has its rates continually under review. The rates have been raised six times since 1948. The present rates represent an increase of 90 per cent. over the 1948 rates. What the Government will not do is to join in a Dutch auction with the party opposite in exploiting the sentiment which everyone feels for a proportion of the retirement pensioners.
The difference between the two parties is that the Conservatives vote for real increases in pensions while they are in office, the Opposition do it only when they are in opposition. The country has but to compare the records of the parties to see which of them is more likely to care for the pensioners' interests.
The facts of those records and the confidence that we shall continue to do the fair thing by our pensioners is more likely to weigh with them than the shabby manaeuvres and the nauseating hypocrisy of the party opposite.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)
We all welcome back to the Dispatch Box the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on one of his rare visits. As usual, he has created a bit of hilarity.
I wholeheartedly agree with some of the remarks made during the earlier part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He said that the subject of the old-age pensioners was one that should arouse our common interest and sympathy. He also referred to the work of the National Assistance Board. Whenever an opportunity has presented itself we on this side have paid tribute to the work and the sympathetic approach of the Assistance Board to pensioners throughout the country. I have said before, and I repeat again, that while there are one or two officious people who try to make it awkward for old people who have to present their claims before supplementation, the Board has, overall, performed its function in a thoroughly sympathetic manner, and for that I thank them and shall always be grateful.
The right hon. Gentleman also said that the Government desired to see the old-age pensioners share in the increased prosperity. We agree with him on that. Are they having a share in the country's prosperity? They are not. The right hon. Gentleman also said that the 58 Government wanted to introduce a basic pension which would prevent an old-age pensioner from making application for supplementation. What is that basic pension to be? What figure have the Government in mind as the basic figure?
In the Sunday Express of 12th April there was this statement, which I would like the Government either to accept or deny:The Government are keeping a bold Election-winning plan up their sleeves. It includes an increase of 5s. in the basic pension rate.Is that true? If it is, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will say so; if not, he had better challenge the newspaper which published it.
As a very ordinary man who has spent a great deal of his time, right back to 1919, trying to secure an adequate pension for our old people, I am still at a loss to know why, in the twentieth century, in the midst of our so-called booming prosperity, we must argue the case for the old-age pensioner on the Floor of the House. This is a reflection upon the intelligence of our statesmen, from whichever side of the House they come. Instead of arguing about the basic pension they should be getting together and agreeing that the old-age pensioners form a section of the community which, due to circumstances over which it has no control, is finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet, and they should be asking what can be done for them, and how soon it can be done.
We have to debate these matters as we do because the Parliamentary machine offers no alternative. When we disagree with the policy of the Government we put down a Motion to that effect, and when we disagree with the share-out of a surplus we put down a Motion of censure. The argument goes back and forth, and it has done so for years and years. I have said before, and I repeat with greater emphasis than ever this afternoon. that I am longing for the time when a Minister of Pensions and National Insurance will come to us and say, "Once and for all, I must clear this matter up. I am going to make provision for an adequate pension, without the need for supplementation, so that old people may get their due reward, and not have to rely on charity."
We debated the Budget proposals on 7th, 8th, 9th and 13th April. That was 59 four full days' debate. During that time 61 full-length speeches were made by hon. Members on both sides of the House. The amazing fact is that out of those 61 speeches 33, or more than half, mentioned the case of old-age pensioners. Whatever the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster may say, that is conclusive evidence that something should be done for the old-age pensioners, who now number approximately 5¼ million.
Many people, both inside and outside the House, have been asking themselves why the Government have failed to consider the old people. This question is being asked not by political parties, or individuals, but by the Press and trade organisations. I know that one of the answers made by the Government, and especially the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is that provision for old-age pensioners does not come within the budgetary proposals. There is some substance in that argument, but the Chancellor would have been well advised if, in concluding his second speech during the Budget debate, he had held out some hope that as soon as the Government had disposed of the Finance Bill old-age pensioners would be helped to meet their rising needs, due to the increased cost of living.
The Chancellor failed to do that, but he said that the Government were prepared constantly to review the case of old-age pensioners, as the right hon. Member also emphasised this afternoon. We have heard that said time and time again, but the old-age pensioners' organisations are asking when something tangible will emerge from that review. The right hon. Member gave us a lot of interesting and stimulating figures, but statistics do not cut any ice with old-age pensioners. They cannot eat figures. The fundamental question for them is how much the pension will buy, and what it will put into the shopping basket. The old-age pensioner wants to know if it will give him sufficient to eat and pay for essentials and a decent standard of living.
Much has been said about the insured contributor. I go about the country a good deal, and visit trade union branches and conferences, as well as Darby and Joan clubs, and I have never yet come across any trade unionist who would begrudge paying an extra copper or two by way of contribution if he were sure 60 that that extra money would assist old-age pensioners by giving an increase in the basic rate. If the question of increasing the contribution to meet the dire needs of the old people is correctly approached the workers will readily agree to pay more, if they are sure that the extra they pay will go into the pockets of the old people.
This is the second disappointment which old-age pensioners have experienced this year. They were forgotten in the National Insurance Bill, introduced in January, and they were forgotten again in the Budget. I know that life is made up of expectations and disappointments, but the old-age pensioners get more disappointments than realisation of expectations. Two disappointments in less than six months is more than we may expect them to bear. It is true that during the Committee stage discussions on the National Insurance Bill, in January, we on this side of the House made an attempt to improve the basic pension rate.
This was before the Budget statement. We considered that an opportunity presented itself to the Government, had they responded to our plea, to improve the basic pension rate. My hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) and my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry. East (Mr. Crossman) and other hon. Friends spoke with fervour and eloquence about the importance of the Government accepting an Amendment designed to increase the basic pension rate from £2 10s. to £3 for a single person.
The Government refused point-blank to accept the Amendment. As we say in Lancashire, we ran up against a brick wall. That was not because of what was to appear later in the Budget statement. I know that the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance disapproved of what I said, but in view of what the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said today about hyprocrisy, I think I was right when, on 5th March, I said in the Standing Committee that the Government supporters had manifested a high degree of stupidity. They would not lend an ear to the plea of my hon. Friends to raise the basic rate. The newspapers made great play of the fact that the voting was 18 to 17. The Press had no hesitation in disclosing to the country what happened in that Standing Committee. We have had the Budget proposals and today we come to a Motion of censure, and all 61 these things aggravate a section of the community worthy of a greater reward than this Government—despite all the stuff poured out by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—are prepared to give them.
Why is it that the old folk are the "Cinderellas" of politics? Why, to use a Northern expression, should they be the "shuttlecocks" of politics? It is about time we ceased treating them as Cinderellas and shuttlecocks and realised our duty as a legislative Assembly charged with the responsibility of caring for those who are unfortunate. That is our job, and we have not done it. I do not say that the present Government have not played some part in solving this problem, as have Governments of the party on this side of the House. An examination of the history of this matter would reveal that it is just fifty years ago since we started to travel the long hard road towards providing for the old folks and those overtaken by misfortune. An interesting feature is that we have had nine Bills on the subject presented to this House during that period, at the rate of one every five years.
Despite all the work which has been done, first by a Liberal Administration, then by the Tories, and then by the Labour Party, not one hon. Member, whatever his political philosophy, can say that Parliament has accomplished the duty of providing an adequate pension for the old folk. Fifty years is a long time in the lifetime of any one and it is sad to reflect that all of us, including myself, have failed in that time to prepare a scheme to give a pension to the old people commensurate with a decent standard of life.
I am not unmindful that from the years 1908–09 there have been improvements here and there. But every time legislation has been introduced, instead of facing the situation with courage and producing a bold and courageous policy, we have tinkered with it. I do not underestimate the improvements which have been made, but we must continue with this matter until we are satisfied that we have the right solution, and the old people receive justice, which is long overdue.
The very first paragraph of the Government White Paper, "Provision For Old Age." published in October, 1958, states:Her Majesty's Government's study of the wider problems of provision for old age has 62 now reached a point at which the Government are ready to put forward their views to the country and to state the lines on which they consider future development should be based.The salient words are, "wider problems". If that term does not include the existing old-age pensioners, the wider problems will not be dealt with. The following paragraph states:How best to make proper provision for old age is one of the biggest social problems of our time.I agree wholeheartedly. Anyone who listened to the figures given this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman will realise the implications, and what will have to be done, not now but in years to come. It is one of the greatest social problems of our time. But we have been faced with great social problems and great industrial problems before. There have been great international problems, and every time someone has risen to the occasion and the problem has been overcome. Is it too much to ask that they should rise to the necessary heights in order to face a problem which will confront them in a few years' time?
If I read the signs of the times aright in the industrial, economic, and religious fields, I visualise—I may be wrong—that unless something of a substantial character is done the demand will arise in this country, as it did in the early days of Shaftesbury, that the Government, whatever their political philosophy, should do something to meet the ever-growing needs of the old folk. I think that the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance has a very important function to perform. A few months ago the right hon. Gentleman had the honour to open an international conference at which there were delegates from all countries interested in social reform. When I look at what they have accomplished in social reform in a much shorter period than that in which this country has been engaged in social reform, I hang my head in shame.
From time to time I have made the proud boast that we in this country were at the "top of the league," to use a football analogy, in our provision for the old, the sick and those in need. Much to my amazement I find—again to use a football phrase—that we have been relegated not to the second division, but to the third division. We are in the lowest place compared with every other civilised democratic country in the aid that we give to the aged, sick and infirm.
63 The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance heard at the international conference to which I have referred—I know from the Press reports that he enjoyed his attendance at the conference—that a person in this country earning £10 a week, which is the average wage, receives a retirement pension of £4 a week for himself and his wife. In Yugoslavia, the pension amounts to 73 per cent. of the wage earned prior to retirement. In Russia, it is not less than 50 per cent. of the wage earned, whilst in Poland it is not less than 40 per cent. and not more than 60 per cent. of the wage earned. In a poor country like Italy the pension is not more than 80 per cent. of the average earnings.
In Portugal, the pension varies according to the period of insurability, but the lowest pension paid is 20 per cent, of previous earnings. In the Federal Republic of Germany, which was a defeated country in the last war, the minimum pension received is 60 per cent. and the maximum 100 per cent. of earnings. Taking all these countries together we find that pensioners in the other European countries are in receipt of a pension averaging 40 per cent. of their previous earnings.
Taking a weekly wage of £10 a week, what do the pensioners receive in this country? I am quite prepared to admit that the families of old-age pensioners in the countries which give a higher pension are not so large as in this country. Therefore, it may be said to be an unfair comparison. However, we must examine what is being done in other countries. Our pension rate is less than 25 per cent. of the average earnings—half the amount which workers in other European countries receive.
We know, of course, that pensions cost a lot of money. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pointed out that fact as if we did not know it. Of course pensions cost a lot of money, but other things, also, cost a lot of money. During the Second World War I was present in the House when we spent £70 million in less than a minute. No one asked a question about that. That spending went on day after day and month after month. We were always in a position, so we were told, to find the money for the destruction of life whereas now, apparently, we are 64 not in a position to find the money for the maintenance of life.
That is wrong in principle, and, therefore, we ought to give some consideration to the points of view which have been expressed from time to time. I wish to quote from one or two letters which I received this weekend and which indicate the feeling of the people of the country about the matter. One is from an old-age pensioner. It is dated 16th April, and says:The Government's attitude that the pension buys more than it ever did, and therefore pensioners are better off than they ever were,' is really sickening…When old folk are recognised as being a part of the community"—this is a very important point—just as they always were, then maybe justice will be done. But this Government is, I am sure, engaged in a game to isolate pensioners from the rest, and to drive a wedge between worker and pensioner. They do this by constantly increasing the contributions making the workers believe that the extra contribution is to pay for the present-day old-age pensioner, when, of course, the extra is based upon actuarial figures to provide for the future.The other letter comes from the North of Scotland. I received it today. The writer says:The feeling in Scotland is that of deep resentment at no provision having been made in the Budget for money to give an increase in the basic pension. We feel that it is very mean indeed, and, in fact, is one of the meanest things that any Government has ever done to the most deserving section of the people who are at the very bottom of the social scale.Can anyone challenge that? The old folks are at the bottom end of the social scale whereas their rightful place is much nearer the top.
I hope that when the Minister replies to the debate he will give us an assurance that something will be done, and done quickly, if not to bring satisfaction to the old folks at least to give them a degree of contentment. I could weary the House by giving the domestic budgets of the old folk. I have them here, but it is not my intention to do so. Those who want to know what those budgets are have only to read the recent speech in Committee of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) who gave a list of what the old people had to buy with their £2 10s.
On the best analysis of the figures which I have been able to obtain, and which 65 have been doubly and even triply checked, it is quite clear that is is impossible for the old-age pensioner to live properly on £2 10s. a week. It is about time that we faced up to our responsibility and met the situation courageously. Never let it be said that we in this honourable House betrayed the old people in their hour of need.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
I have a very high regard for the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) and I count it a privilege to follow him in any debate on pensions. I have heard him make his speech in support of old-age pensions on a number of occasions and I do not think that he has ever made it better than he did today. I was glad to hear the hon. Member pay such a warm tribute to the National Assistance Board because, I do not think that the Board gets nearly enough praise for the splendid work it does.
I was a little surprised to hear the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) going back as far as 1946 to 1951. I should have thought that was a period over which perhaps he would like to draw a veil. I wish to refer to one remark he made when he said that the cost of living had been stabilised in 1951. Well, it went up by 12 points and if that is what the Labour Party calls stabilisation of the cost of living, heaven save us from ever having another Labour Government who would count that 12 points as nothing at all.
I cannot imagine any Motion which would be more favourable to us than the one put down by the party opposite for today, because it obviously invites comparisons and repercussions and gives us a chance to state the facts and remind the House of our record on old-age pensions, particularly war pensions, which I was very surprised to notice that the party opposite did not mention, and to say how proud we are of that record. Criticism of the Budget by the party opposite has concentrated the whole time on the fact that a rise in old-age pensions was not included in the Budget.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy, who said that it seemed to savour of a piece of rather blatant electioneering which, to my mind, could have been really effective only if the 66 election had followed immediately after the Budget. Then, of course, we might not have had an opportunity, as we are having today, of reminding the country and this House of our extremely good case.
Having quite obviously mistimed the date of the election, the party opposite is now obviously very frightened that we might even now make a fourth rise in old-age pensions. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) has left the Chamber, because he is the "big noise" in the Labour Party on pensions now and I wanted to address some remarks to him. I am sure that his right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East will pass on those remarks for me. The hon. Member for Coventry, East said that the Tories would raise a humpus and tell the Chancellor to do something about it whatever the economic consequences if they really felt that another rise in old age pensions was justified. All I would say is that if the hon. Member and his Friends had only raised a sumpus between 1946 and 1951 this skeleton would have been buried long ago.
They did not do so. The only thing they did in 1951 was to give a small sop to a certain section of old-age pensioners within a few weeks of the election and they gave no rise at all to the war pensioner. I cannot think why they did not do so. There had been no rise in war pensions since 1946. I can only think they thought that the war pensioners were not numerous enough to make any very great difference in votes at the election.
§ Mr. Marquand
I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member wants to be fair. He will admit that there were increases in the 1951 Budget in the supplementary allowances to war pensioners?
§ Sir J. Smyth
Yes. As the right hon. Member has mentioned that point I should say that I am quite sure the Minister of Pensions at the time—the right hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Isaacs) — and his excellent Parliamentary Secretary, the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons), whom I am glad to see present, were the last people who would like to have seen 1951 pass without a substantial rise in war pensions. I am quite sure that they tried very hard to influence the Chancellor to make that substantial rise.
67 As the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East has said, and as we all know perfectly well, no rise in the basic pension was given at all, but £600,000 was given to the comforts allowance. That was a very valuable little increase to the badly disabled, but, of course, it was not all that the war pensioner wanted and I am quite sure it was not what the Minister of Pensions at the time wanted either. They were not any more happy about it than we were. I think that the party opposite should have realised the moral strength of the war disability pensioners and the place they hold in the hearts of the people. It was a great tactical error as well as being an inhuman error on their part not to make a substantial rise whatever the consequences, as the hon. Member for Coventry, East said, in 1951.
They should have remembered the strength of the Forces votes in the 1945 election. The Forces had a very great influence on putting the Labour Party into power in 1945. It was not just the number of votes they cast for the Labour Government—which was considerable—but the letters which members of the Forces kept writing to their relatives at home telling them to vote Labour. There is no doubt that the Forces, who, of course, were overseas in 1945 in very large numbers, had been entirely sold on the idea that nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange meant a "Britain Strong and Free". They were very soon disillusioned, and they have never forgotten it.
The worst things that happened to all pensions under the Labour Government were the prodigious rise in the case of living, the devaluation of the £ and the general drop in the standard of living generally throughout the country. In 1945, the Labour Government promised the electorate the whole earth and all that therein is. In their manifesto, "Let us Face the Future", they promisedgood food in plenty,…a high and rising standard of living, security for all against a rainy day,…How many of those people who, as a result of that prospectus, voted the Labour Party to power in 1945 with an enormous majority, could have envisaged that it meant that after six years of Labour Government in that one year, 1951, alone there would be a 12-point rise in the cost of living, the meat ration 68 reduced to 8d., Income Tax up 6d., the Purchase Tax, Profits Tax, petrol duty and Entertainments Duty all up and the country on the very verge of bankruptcy? I find the only big differences in the prospectus the Labour Party put forward in 1945 and the one it is putting forward today are these. First, "Let Us Face the Future", cost only 2d. and it did really face the future and said what the Labour Party wanted to do.
The present pamphlet, which we call "The Glossy," costs 6d. I think that its actual cost is a great deal more, but it is sold for 6d. I always feel it could be likened to that rather outworn lady's garment known as "the sack", which was very popular when it first came in and was criticised by the mere male because, when a woman was inside it, one did not know where she was. That is my criticism of the new Labour Party policy known as "The Glossy" and called, "The Future Labour Offers You". I notice that the word "You" is in very bright green, but I wonder if "You" are as green as all that.
How did old-age pensioners and war pensioners come out of the welter of broken promises they were given in 1946? I quoted the hon. Member for Coventry, East once in his absence over an article he wrote the other day. I want to quote again, in his presence, from what he has said. He said some quite prophetic things about pensions in 1949. On 25th September, 1949, the hon. Member said:The people who are going to suffer most from the devaluation of the £ are the old retired people, pensioners, widows and low-paid workers with their families.What a good prophet the hon. Member was, and how those classes of the community did suffer right from 1949 up to 1951 when the Labour Party went out of power. We have already been told that during those years the value of the old-age pension fell from 26s. to 20s. 2d. and not until October, 1951, was there a partial increase. One of the worst things of which I accuse the Labour Government during those years was the actual proportion of the national income which they devoted to retirement pensions because that showed their unwillingness to really give this matter the priority which we think it ought to have had. In 1949, the proportion was 20.45 per cent. in 1950 it was 2.37 per cent.; and, in 1951, 2.31 per cent. It was going down every year 69 and then it started to go up in 1952 after the Conservative Government had come to power.
The war pension basic was raised in 1946 from 40s. to 45s. By 1951, the purchasing power of the pension had fallen to about 35s. What worried me a lot about the war pension at the time was that a single man so badly injured that he was unable to work at all got only 80s. a week. We considered that the war widow was in a bad way, too. I do not believe that anyone on either side of the House was at all happy, to say the least of it, about the situation of the war disability pensioner or the badly disabled or the war widow by 1951.
In February, 1951, we had what I believe was the most important war pensions debate we have had in the House. It was an all-party debate on a Motion moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) and seconded by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). The Motion urged an immediate increase in the basic war pension to compensate for the great decrease in the value of it between 1946 and 1951. It became obvious during the debate that everyone agreed that it was a matter of the greatest urgency, that the war pensioners were in an extremely bad way and that the war pension should have been raised at least twice between 1946 and 1951.
Despite that all-party committee and the tremendous drive which went from it, nothing was done. I know perfectly well how hard the Minister, the right hon. Member for Southwark, and his Parliamentary Secretary tried to prevail upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do something substantial in early 1951 for the war pensioner, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time did nothing about it at all. He was not like the Chancellor envisaged by the hon. Member for Coventry, East, who would be pushed into raising war pensions by the wicked Tories if they thought it necessary. The then Chancellor, the present Leader of the Opposition, did nothing about it at all except to give the little rise, which I have mentioned, of £600,000 as an increase in the comforts allowance.
The economic situation was certainly very bad in 1951. Things were going from bad to worse all that year. Nevertheless, I believe that in like circumstances 70 we should have insisted, with war pensions in that condition, that they must be raised whatever the circumstances. To prove the point, only a few months later, when we came to power and when the economic situation was much worse than in February, 1951, the first thing we did when I went to the Ministry of Pensions, and had to take some responsibility for war pensions, was to approach the Chancellor of the Exchequer and tell him that we could not allow the war pensioners and the badly disabled people to remain in this state for a moment longer. He agreed at once that whatever the circumstances we should have to raise the war pensions, and in fact we raised them in early 1952 with the greatest increase in war pensions which had ever been made. The pension of the badly disabled man was at once raised to 90s. a week and we gave the war widow with two children an immediate rise of 26s. a week.
We did not do that to snatch any party advantage in an election, as the hon. Member for Coventry, East suggested. We had only just come to power. We did it because we thought that that section of the community had had a very raw deal for a number of years. They form a section of the community to which we in the Conservative Party give first priority, and we insisted on making an immediate and a substantial rise in their pensions.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
During his speech the hon. and gallant Member has constantly made the charge that we on this side of the House do things only for party political advantage. He is a very fair man. Having made the point that his Government, just after the election, did something for the disabled ex-Service men, will he not also admit that in 1946 the Labour Party. when an election was over, did something not only for ex-Service men but for all retirement pensioners on a scale which had never been done before.
§ Sir Smyth
I have always admitted that. In 1946, the Labour Government increased war pensions by 5s. and they introduced the welfare scheme, to which I have always paid great tribute. As the hon. Member knows, we supported it whole-heartedly. As far as my memory goes, over their six years in office they spent about £11 million a year on war pensions. We took over the welfare 71 scheme and have kept it up ever since and improved it wherever we could. What I am saying to the hon. Member and what no one can gainsay is that between 1946 and 1951 the value of the war pension dropped by 10s. and that no rise was made over all those years. In fact, the Labour Party went to the country without helping the basic war pensioners at all. Those are facts which no one can contradict.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy quoted the hon. Member for Coventry, East's remarks, in 1954, very much criticising his own party for doing nothing for the old-age pensioner while they were in office. The operative words of that quotation were that they were cheated even of the modest slice of the national cake they had been promised. That is what affects the position today. They had a very big promise in 1945 and it was not fulfilled. What counts to my mind, particularly over war pensions, is not what any party promises when it is out of office. It is very easy to make promises.
§ Sir J. Smyth
As the hon. Member says, it is all too easy. It is what a party does when it is in power that matters to the old-age pensioners. Handsome is as handsome does. I always say that it is not enough in respect of war pensions to be an angry young man with fire in one's belly unless that fire is kept stoked up to fever heat when one is in power and can do something about it. A diet of nationalisation and cold tea damps the spirit of the boldest, as it did between 1946 and 1951.
The Budget has never been the vehicle for pension increases, but our record over pensions and particularly war pensions is good. I am sorry to see the Labour Party introduce war pensions into the Motion, because there is much fellow feeling over it on both sides of the House. Our record is such that I do not believe that the Government could be censured for its lack of consideration for the war pensioners. The country can be assured on our record that those sections of the community—the old-aged and the disabled, to which we give, and always have given, great priority—will never be neglected under a Conservative Government.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. A. V. Hilton (Norfolk, South-West)
I rise to support the Motion so ably moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) and I trust that you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and the House will be as tolerant as possible with the "new boy" making his maiden speech. I understand that it is an unwritten law that a maiden speech should be brief and non-controversial. I can assure you that I shall be brief and I trust that I shall be non-controversial, because I believe that at this time the question of pensions is not controversial.
I have recently come from a constituency, South-West Norfolk, which, less than a month ago, gave a very large majority vote of no confidence in the present Government. I say "a large majority vote", because it was a large vote according to our standards in South-West Norfolk. The majority was 1,354. I believe that this was mainly as a result of the treatment of old-age pensioners by the present Government. Undoubtedly, the question of pensions was the main issue during the by-election campaign. I have come here this afternoon with first-hand information and facts and not, as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster suggested, political hypocrisy. I have come with facts gained by visiting hundreds of old-age pensioners in their homes, and I commend this method of obtaining the facts of the situation to hon. Members on both sides of the House.
Having seen first hand the conditions in which many old-age pensioners are living, I am in no doubt as to the plight of many of them. I visited houses in cold weather where elderly widows were sitting in the cold with hardly any fire. That was at the same time as we were told that there were millions of tons of surplus coal—so much so that mines were being closed and miners were being sacked. Most of these pensioners were unable to buy all the necessities of life.
These are facts. It is difficult to arouse any enthusiasm among these old folk on such issues as Cyprus, Nyasaland, or even nationalisation, when they are sitting in the cold and not properly fed. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster used many statistics, but I suggest that they would not do much to help fill the 73 bellies of the old folk to whom I am referring, or to keep them warm.
It has already been argued that where these conditions apply the old folk can ask for National Assistance. I agree with what the Chancellor of the Duchy said about the kindliness of the National Assistance Board's officers, for I have had personal experience of dealing with them and I know that they are a very kind body of people. Despite their kindness, many of the old folk prefer to go short of the necessities of life rather than visit the National Assistance office, because they believe that it is beneath their dignity to apply for National Assistance. The fact that so many pensioners qualify for National Assistance is in itself evidence enough of the need to increase pensions.
I believe that most hon. Members know that many old-age pensioners were hoping and expecting to receive help from the Budget. As we know, they were disappointed, and, helplessly, they saw the people in the higher income groups get the increase instead. It would appear from recent utterances, some made this afternoon, that the only people who are unaware of the plight of old-age pensioners at present are right hon. and hon. Members on the Government side of the House. It is not very much consolation for the pensioners to be told, as we were told last week, that the Government will watch the position. As I said earlier, in my opinion the most effective way to watch the position is to visit these old folks in their homes.
I said at the beginning of my speech that I should be brief. Although supporting the Motion and criticising the Government for not helping pensioners in the Budget, which in itself is not enough, I would say that we should take positive action and take it now. I hope that the present Government will get the credit for increasing old-age pensions, and I say that because I am hoping that they will agree to increase them now. I appeal to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House to support an immediate increase and not to wait until the eve of a General Election, as happened in 1955. It is too cruel to the old-age pensioners to do that.
I believe that everybody on this side agreed with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he said that we want to share prosperity with our pensioners.
74 We certainly do agree with that, and say that the only positive way in which they can share this prosperity is to increase their pensions. I appeal to the House to agree to increase these pensions now.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Tiley (Bradford, West)
The House has listened to a very good speech and a non-controversial one, at any rate, evidently, according to South-West Norfolk standards, and so much joy did that part of it give us that we look forward with interest to the days when we shall hear the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton) address us on points of controversy.
As a matter of fact, the hon. Member was absolutely true to tradition. When we first come here, we do not talk about the fish that got away, or how we did the third hole at Little Wallop, or even how our wives are. We tell everybody about our large majorities, and the hon. Gentleman took that opportunity. proudly, as he no doubt was right to do, to tell the House of his majority. He will, I am sure, forgive me if I say that we remember with gratitude the man who sat in his place before him—"Farmer" Dye, as I should like to call him—gentle like the lands of his constituency, a creator of things and ideas. On both sides of the House we regret his passing very much indeed.
It is a great occasion, and a great hurdle, as it should be, to make a maiden speech. This House never makes it easy for us to make any progress at all, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I am one of the newer back benchers—I came into the House only four years ago—and I hope that I looked as composed as he did when making his speech, because if he was nervous he did not show it. I can assure him that when he goes from the Bar of the House, having made this speech and his first effective appearance in our debating Chamber, he will feel that he belongs here. We welcome the hon. Gentleman, and we look forward in the future to hearing him very often. I hope that his constituents are made aware of the fine speech which he has made today.
Some of us from both sides of the House have escaped from our prison cell in Committee Room No. 10 for a few moments to discuss, of all subjects, that of pensions. Since last January, we have 75 been sitting there; and we have spent nearly 60 hours discussing this subject. I hope, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that if, from your Chair, you have had cause to ponder over the whole of this year why some of us are not sitting in our accustomed places, you will know where we are. We shall be in Committee Room No. 10; and I cannot see anything to stop the discussion on that Bill except a General Election.
It is not a bad thing, in spite of all the discussion which we have had in recent months, that we should emerge into this wider atmosphere and discuss the subject of pensions again. This is a vital and important subject in our economic life. It is hardly necessary that, in this debate, I should declare an interest in it. The House knows that I engage in insurance, but the topic of insurance has so little to do with the Motion on the Order Paper that I mention it only for the sake of tradition.
The Government are certainly not on the defensive today. The speech of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, at the Dispatch Box, was magnificent in its expression, showing all that old fire and power. We want to see more of my right hon. Friend. How could we expect to be on the defensive in face of this unreasonable Motion, and especially bearing in mind the treatment which the pensioners received during those shabby years from 1946 to 1951?
The plain truth is that the great majority of our old folk do not believe these promises of the Opposition any longer. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite misjudge the intelligence of the older people of our country, as, indeed, they misjudge the intelligence of our present population. So many times during these recent months they have cried "Wolf", and all to no avail. There was the Rent Bill scare, and that about the block grants in education. We have spent a day discussing polio injections, and all for nothing. All these were red herrings drawn across the general progress which the Government are making in preserving full employment, and now comes the turn of pensions. Hon. Members opposite remind me of the slogan of a famous breakfast cereal food—"Snap, Crackle, Pop". We get "snap" from their Front Bench—a little bitter, a little malicious—then "crackle" from the back 76 benchers opposite, and then, at the end of the day, the whole thing has gone "pop".
The Opposition themselves used to have a famous phrase which said to the younger generation "Ask your Dad". They introduced it when all our young people were moving forward to broader, sunlit uplands as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) put it. That was the period after the war and that phrase revived memories of those earlier days of trial.
Like the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West, I have been asking some of the grandfathers. Happily, more of them survive to a greater age nowadays, and they tell the truth about those years—and hon. Members opposite are somewhat mistaken if they think that all the grandfathers and grandmothers are members of the Socialist Party. Those elderly people remember those years: the pennyworths of granity cheese; the pennyworths of sloppy bacon.
They remember the tea. They remember that they could hardly get any tea, and that when they did get it it needed six for the pot. They remember the advancing prices coal, gas and electricity going up all the time, though those were the very things that the country had been told for fifty years would be cheaper when they were nationalised. They remember all that rocketing upward move in prices—and nothing done to help them.
I shall not deal at length with the differences in the treatment meted out by the Governments of the two parties. The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East, (Mr. Marquand) mentioned the years 1946 to 1951, but he did not apologise for them. Indeed, he seemed proud of them. His view is not shared by his hon. Friends the Members for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) and for Ince (Mr. T. Brown)—who made a very sincere speech in the generation-old tradition of speakers from his constituency.
The plain truth is that the purchasing power of the pension has never been higher than it is now. It stands 25 per cent. higher than when the Socialists were in office. That is true, whether it is measured in Middlesbrough, Coventry, Bradford or Timbuctoo, and whether one uses a slide rule, calculus or Pythagoras' theorem. That is a simple matter of fact.
77 Pensioners write to me in great detail on this subject, as they do to all hon. Members whom they know to be interested in it—
§ Mr. B. T. Parkin (Paddington, North)
Is the hon. Member seriously suggesting that the people in Timbuctoo are doing as well as the people in this country?
§ Mr. Frederick Gough (Horsham)
Will my hon. Friend also bear in mind that in Timbuctoo. in the absence of a Socialist Government in that part of the world, they have just struck oil?
§ Mr. Tiley
After that, I shall certainly not arrange for the hon. Member for Paddington North (Mr. Parkin) to go there, because he would certainly want to nationalise it.
As I was saying, pensioners write to me, and the first thing they say is, "Do not let the prices go up as they did during those years of 1946 to 1951". The hon. Member for Ince also made this point; that the question these elderly people ask first is not, "How soon is my pension going up?" but "How much does my money buy? Do not let us return to those awful days of inflation when we got poorer every week."
We in this House have a further duty. We have the duty, and the right, to protect those who save as well as those who cannot. More has been saved in the last few months by the ordinary people than in all the years of Socialist Administration. Where do the ordinary people place their savings. They place them, of course, in the savings bank, in Co-ops in building societies, in insurance policies, in Savings Certificates, and the like. The party opposite has the mistaken idea that only the wealthy save, but the ordinary people are now saving too, and they are saving in those very sectors of the economy 78 about which the Socialists did not do very much to stop inflation.
What is a Savings Certificate or an insurance policy? It is a mere slip of paper—a promise to pay, at the end of a certain number of years, a sum of money, plus interest. Last week my office sent to a man who is now 65 years of age a cheque for about £1,500. His is an ordinary family, and that sum represented nearly a lifetime's savings—at least, from the moment when he had been able to devote money to saving. The policy was taken out in 1938, when he was 45, and matured last week, when he was 65. It cost him about £1 a week throughout the whole of that period.
There was a promise to pay him, at 65, a certain sum of money, with profits, but let us now look at the value of the money when he first began to pay the premiums in 1938. What could he not have bought then with the £52 a year that he saved? When I was married, I furnished three bedrooms on £52. In 1938, in Yorkshire, one could make a down payment on a two-and-a-half bedroomed house. With £50, one could then buy a very good second-hand car.
All that has disappeared. The value has gone. We have honoured our bond, our promise to pay him, and he has received £1,500—but what can he now buy? Over those years the savings markets—the insurance companies, the Co-ops, the National Savings Movement—have honoured their bonds. It is the Governments of those years that have let the people down. What about the value of that man's money? He gets but a shabby imitation of what he expected. This Government have set their faces against inflation, and that is one reason why I shall support them wholeheartedly in the Division Lobby tonight.
As other hon. Members have already done, I want to pay a tribute to the officers of the National Assistance Board in my own city to their tact, to their sympathy, to their courtesy and to the speed with which they go into action. At about 9.45 one morning during a Summer Recess about two years ago I was told of a family in distress because of a sudden accident. An hour later I was given a report on it—help had been given. It was almost as quick as the Fire Service.
Both inside and outside this House we ought to stop talking about those who are 79 too proud to go to the National Assistance Board. When we talk about them in that way we are only being rude to the thousands who go—[Horn. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, we are. We are casting a slur on them. When discussing National Assistance and the ordinary retirement pensions we should remember that even the ordinary pensions are not paid for penny for penny. It is not a contract of indemnity, where one gets out what one pays in. They are all subsidised. Pensions are subsidised in the same way as are National Assistance payments. We should stop differentiating between them, because the one is a mere extension of the other.
We should stop referring to the National Assistance Board, when we are dealing with the old people and the widows, and rather call it, as I do, the pensions office, and speak of the pensions officers. I also wish that we could stop talking about the means test in the terms that we now use. I am on the means test. I disclose to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer every penny that I earn. If I did not, I should be in the "Pygmalion" Tower.
Hon. Members opposite should remember another thing. Whatever they may say in a derogatory fashion of the National Assistance Board—but not of its officers, of course—it will be with us, whichever party is in power, until at least the year 2000, because neither the Socialist pension scheme nor the Government's National Insurance Bill will bring full benefits until about that year.
While on the subject of National Assistance benefits, I feel that there should be a revision upwards of the amount that people can own and retain before they can begin to receive these benefits. There has been a vast inflation since that figure was fixed, and it is a soul destroying thing to see one's capital dwindling to the now small amount with which one is left before one can make a claim.
I should also like to see a wider interpretation of the rules in connection with those people who are not paying rent. Those who have to pay rent are preferentially treated compared with those who in later life are still buying their houses.
Whilst I am on my feet I should like also to make three points to contribute towards the consideration which permanently goes on amongst the Ministers in 80 this Government in connection with pensions in the future. First, we ought to consider some system of higher National Assistance benefits in winter. In the awful months of October, November, December, January and February more food, clothes and heat are required and there is need for more of the little entertainments of which people who lead fairly drab lives can avail themselves. It would be a good thing if winter benefits were instituted.
My right hon. Friend may regard my second suggestion as a little revolutionary. Whatever we do about pensions in the future, the most destroying thing about having to live in a family where the father has gone and the mother, the widow, is keeping the family together—the same is true with the old-aged couple—is to find out every Friday that every penny of the weekly income has gone. It produces a monotony of life and despair. There are two moments in the year when that despair is harsher than at any other. One is August, when everybody is going on holiday, and the other is Christmas, when everybody is having a happier time. Irrespective of any future movement of pensions, even if we increase them, I should like tp see a double pension given for one week in August and one week at Christmas, because we should be relieving the monotony of living in working-class ordinary homes and providing a little extra joy at a time when everybody else, those who are working, are receiving bonuses, holidays with pay, and so on.
Thirdly, I hope that my right hon. Friend—I am sure that he is thinking of this, because his Bill shows it—will bear in mind that the contributions now being deducted from the lower-paid workers are as high as they should be. I hope that we shall not see any increase in the contributions from the lowest-paid workers in whatever reviews are contemplated.
I shall support the Government in the Lobby tonight, first, because we have increased pensions three times, as against the shabby treatment meted out when the Socialists were in power secondly, because we have established the value of the £ and are at the same time safeguarding our jobs; thirdly, because the Government are constantly reviewing this question and ensuring that the present value of the pension is maintained and that any future increase will be made in 81 terms of real money, and, fourthly, because we on these benches support the old folks and the unfortunate people of this country with deeds and not words.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. B. T. Parkin (Paddington, North)
I am glad that in the concluding paragraphs of his speech the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley) drew the attention of his right hon. Friend to a few improvements which he would like to see, introduced into the administration of pensions. Otherwise. I should be very tempted to reply controversially in some measure to part of the election speech that the hon. Member was rehearsing in earlier sections of his speech. One comes into a debate determined to make merely one or two points, but having listened to speeches by hon. Members from the other side, one is always greatly tempted to answer them.
I want to speak seriously to the Minister about one point which I think that the hon. Member for Bradford, West would have been in favour of. I suggest a serious investigation to find out what this problem it. When the arguments are over, when the speeches have been made and the votes are counted up, I do not think that we shall be any nearer to understanding exactly what we are talking about. I am sure that every hon. Member on the other side of the House has an uneasy feeling that there is a problem and that things are not quite right in the administration of old-age pensions. I am sure that they wish that they could think of a way of studying it and solving it.
The hon. Member for Bradford, West called the years between 1946 and 1951 "shabby". I do not share that recollection. I do not think that they were shabby. I think that they were rather adventurous years and we were all working very hard to try to construct the welfare State which the whole population of this country expected us to try to set up.
The hon. Member must not complain if he has spent a little time in Committee Room No. 10. From 1946 to 1951 all the Committee Rooms were open every morning. Hon. Members were working overtime during those years.
Is it wrong if we say that we made mistakes? Is it to the discredit of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, 82 East (Mr. Crossman) that he should have made speeches which the Front Bench are able to tease him with now? I hope not, because many of us have made these speeches. Many of us said at ordinary meetings and during election speeches that we did not pretend that we knew all the answers when we were trying to set up all these schemes at once.
We made bigger mistakes than that. One big mistake we made was that we were all obsessed with our memories of the depression in the 'thirties. We wrote into the scheme, almost without thinking, a condition of retirement before a pension is payable. We insisted that the person receiving the pension must get off the labour market. Part of the object was to get people off the labour market because we had those old recollections of men drawing pensions of 10s. a week who were kept on at work, sometimes at a lower wage, while their own sons were sacked. These are the sort of memories that still have an emotional impact in the Labour Party. These are the things that dad and grandad still remember, and they sometimes darken counsels when we debate the working out of a sensible superannuation and retirement scheme.
Since we all admit that there is a problem, can we not try to find out what it is and where it is? We know that 1 million people are drawing extra money from the National Assistance Boards. I do not think that any of us had in mind when we were setting up the National Assistance Board that it should be a permanent vehicle for adding a fixed permanent amount to a retirement pension. That is why I think that there is a very strong argument for raising the old-age pension immediately, as we have suggested bath in the House today and in other debates. We should take away from the National Assistance Board the duty of bringing the ordinary retirement pension up to subsistence level.
But it does not stop there. I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) did not develop a little more some of his recollections and experiences at the Ministry of Pensions. I should not have thought it was true, as he suggested, and as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said in his brilliant and amusing speech, that the party opposite, meaning the Labour Government, did not lift a finger. I have recollections 83 of a great deal of work being done. True, it was at a time when doctrinal considerations imposed on the Government of the day the obligation that they could not give any increase in money not matched by an increase in productivity. We all knew that phrase by heart. How many times had we to try to explain that the Government had to ask industry not to increase dividends and profits and not to provoke wage increases? So we did neglect the basic rate of the war pensioners, knowing full well what we were doing. That neglect was very largely accepted by them.
But there is another aspect. Whatever we decide as the basic rate for a war-disabled pensioner, we do not compensate him for what he has lost. The basic rate for a war-disabled pensioner can never be more than a token recognition by society of the fact that he has sacrificed something which can never be replaced. Some of the war-disabled pensioners are just as well able to earn their livings as they were before they were disabled, but that is not the point.
Previous Ministers and some of us who spoke to them on these matters are well aware of the ingenuity that was deployed in getting one extra allowance after another. We examined the need for unemployability supplement and the constant attendance allowance. We even got a clothing allowance for people whose clothing was worn out unduly because of their disability. These allowances added considerably to the incomes of those in need. It almost seemed to us that there was not much more to do in this respect. But the then Minister sent out a circular saying, "Are your sure?" He got an astonishing reply from pensioners who were unaware that these extra allowances were available.
That experience, together with the experience of the welfare services, should surely help the present Minister to give us an answer to the suggestion that there ought to be a special cost-of-living index for old people. It is not sufficient to say that we will tie the retirement pension to the general cost-of-living index. I believe that the clue to this malaise, in which we do not quite understand why there is so much discontent and indignation about the present state of affairs, lies in the fact that we have not found where the hard- 84 ship is and what causes it in the sense that we have not made a pattern.
Some of my hon. Friends are perhaps more acquainted with these hardship cases than are other hon. Members because they see more of these cases, perhaps among their own friends and relatives and certainly among their constituents. I have in my pocket—no doubt, many other hon. Members have such documents—a very long record sent to me by an old gentleman who, after the death of his wife, wrote down what he spent every day. I shall not read it out. It is sometimes almost indecent to pry into the intimate nature of such a document. But this is the sort of document which I should like to hand to someone who is trying to estimate the real needs of old people and what, in their expenditure, makes the retirement pension inadequate. I am certain that it would vary a good deal in different parts of the country. A special cost-of-living index would be required in London, whereas in the country there might be other problems.
I came across a problem in the country the other day; it is not possible to buy coal by the bag. A couple of whom I heard had decided to try to make their stock of coal last until the summer when they would then buy some more at the summer prices. They have got one lump of coal left, and it looks as if it is going to continue raining until the end of April. If they ordered a ton they would have to pay the winter price, so that for the 1 cwt. which is all they require they would be paying considerably more than they need to. There are many points like that.
There are little points, like the rather expensive nature of the underclothes that old ladies want. It may be that years ago they were accustomed to wearing a certain form of clothing during the winter and that they catch cold if they do not wear it, and, as there is little demand for it nowadays, the price is high. It is not fair to estimate old people's needs on a cost-of-living index which is based on the cost of ordinary mass-produced clothing.
I have a friend who, before he retired, systematically built up a stock of clothing for two or three years. When he retired he gave up smoking. I suppose that he has eaten too much starch with the result that he is now getting fat and these clothes will not fit him. He tells that story as a joke, but any Member present 85 should consider the cost of renewing his own wardrobe and then consider how difficult it would be to do that out of a retirement pension. Many old-age pensioners do not consider that they will ever get new suits, and certainly they will never get new overcoats.
There is no mention in this document about clothes; there is very little mention of meat, though there is plenty of reference to sausages. On certain days when this old gentleman goes to meet a friend he does not seem to spend anything on food at all. Then there are bus fares. If he knows somebody in Neasden he has to get there and it costs more money. Yet surely he is entitled to see his friends. There are a few strange items in this document, including patent medicines for which he seems to pay a couple of shillings every now and again. I know that we could tell him in a patronising way that he could get this medicine through the National Health Service, but it is no concern of ours if he has been accustomed to taking a certain brand of medicine or pills over the years when he has suffered from indigestion.
It may be said that I have made too much of these points, but I beg the Minister to answer this proposition, that if the value of the retirement pension is to be stabilised at a decent subsistence level one must begin by examining the needs for which provision has to be made—the extra cost of living in certain types of houses; what happens when social conditions change, when there is re-housing in an area and young people move out, leaving the old people without the assistance to which they were accustomed; the difficulties of getting up and down stairs; the difficulty if, for example, one likes sardines and part of the contents of the tin is spoiled because there is no food cupboard.
Perhaps the experience of examining the real needs of the disabled would help the Minister a great deal in examining the needs of the old folk. Such an investigation might take some time, but it would be worth while. Is it not time to consider enlarging the present welfare system and perhaps working it with the National Assistance Board? I do not want to upset anybody's notions about what the National Assistance Board should do, but should there not be cooperation there? Most of the war pensioners from the First World War have now moved into the old-age pensioner 86 category, and so the welfare service will have studied their needs. Could not the Minister consider the possibility of a real link between the old-age pensioners and cost-of-living index based upon the ascertained needs of old people? If the right hon. Gentleman could do that and if there could be all-party agreement on this subject, it would be much easier for him to concede the real need of an immediate increase.
The difficulty is that one feels that this will never be the last increase, that we shall be in trouble again, and that an increase of 10s. now will not satisfy everybody and so there will be another demand. But at least let the right hon. Gentleman look at the situation of the war-disabled pensioners. If any of his colleagues who sat on the Tory benches before the war are now present, they will tell him that that was almost the only type of constituency case which came to the attention of Members of Parliament. The constant worry of Members was to be approached by ex-Service men. But one hardly ever hears of such cases of injustice nowadays. If we do get a case there is not only the willingness but the opportunity, the framework and the machinery to deal with it. That problem has been solved.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in an unbiassed manner and in the best South-West Norfolk, non-controversial sense, to admit that a problem exists. Could he not say that he accepts the position, and that he will do something about it which will justify him in agreeing to an immediate increase for which we have been asking?
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Miss Mervyn Pike (Melton)
I am glad to have this opportunity of following the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin). In his contribution, he demonstrated all that can be best in debates of this kind. With much of what he said we all agree. All hon. Members really want to bring the problem of the old-age pensioners out of the arena of political propaganda. We are all agreed today, I think, that this is not one problem but a complex of interrelated problems. We are grateful to the hon. Member for Paddington, North, for demonstrating how complex the issues are.
Those of us who have the best interests of old people at heart do not want merely the self-satisfaction of giving them a little 87 extra money. We want to do them real service in improving their lot. A similar sort of thing happens in some families. Many people derive a glow of satisfaction from sending home an extra 10s. for the old folk, feeling that they are doing something really good to help them in discharge of their debt. They let everybody know what they are doing. They let everyone see them buying the postal order and sending it home. It is very often, however, the daughter living at home, changing the bedding and washing the sheets, scrubbing the floors and looking after the old people, with service and sacrifice, who is doing more than someone who sends home a little extra money and who feels so good after doing so.
There is much hypocrisy in many of the arguments which can be advanced in a debate like this. If we really want to help the old we must find how much common ground we have, and we must study the complexities of the whole problem. We have all agreed in our hearts that it is not really a political matter. It is a human problem. We want as far as possible to increase the money income of retirement pensioners so that they may have as much independence and as much comfort as possible. We have all agreed, I believe, that we wish to reflect the growing standard of living and the growing prosperity of the country in the living standards and comfort of our old people. We have all agreed that it is a complex matter and there is much we should like to do about it.
We are not agreed on the question of which side of the House can match promise with performance. On this side, we believe that by our deeds we have proved that not only are our promises good but that old people may know for the future that a Conservative Administration can promise them increasing standards and increasing comforts. We do not recognise this as merely a financial problem. Hon. Members have said that there are 1 million retirement pensioners on National Assistance today. I am more worried really about the possible 1½ million who are just above the National Assistance level, but who, for one reason or another, do not qualify for either public or voluntary help. It is these people we must seek to help.
§ Mr. Ross
That is very interesting. The hon. Lady will appreciate that on 88 the last occasion this Government whom she has been praising raised the old-age pension by 10s., raised the National Assistance scale by only 5s. and kept many of those for whom she is now expressing sympathy outside help from National Assistance.
§ Sir Keith Joseph (Leeds, North-East)
Further to that point, does the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) realise that his party, in its suggestion, is proposing to raise the pension without touching the National Assistance scale?
§ Miss Pike
We have done much during the past five or seven years. The position of old-age pensioners and the position of everyone living with the help of National Assistance is considerably improved, although it is certainly not as good as we should like it to be. The recent National Food Survey has revealed some important facts.
Food means a very great deal to old people, not only the amount of food which they can obtain but the kind of things which they can have. Old people really want things like butter, eggs, cheese, milk, bread, jam, tea, with plenty of sugar—food which is easily prepared and digested. According to the National Food Survey, our old people are eating twice as much butter, cheese and eggs as they were in 1951, 75 per cent. more tea, 70 per cent. more bacon, and, I think, drinking 80 per cent. more milk. I think I have my figures right; anyway, if they are wrong they will be corrected. The fact remains that old people are eating considerably more and, what is more important to them, they are having more of the things which they really like. In old age, the saying thata little of what you fancy does you goodmeans more than at any time, possibly, in a person's life.
I am concerned more particularly, as I have said, for those who do not qualify for National Assistance, 1½ million of them, perhaps, who are not covered by many of our voluntary and public 89 schemes. Often, they waver between ill health and disability and fitness. It is these we must seek to help. An increase of 10s. a week will not do that. What they need is to be able to draw more upon the services which can be given by the nation's capital resources.
I mention, first, better housing. Much of the physical burden of old age comes from the very real work of coping with an old, inconvenient, damp house, perhaps with a privy at the back of the garden, with no hot water—possibly a house which, in any case, is too big. We have done as much as we can in that direction, and improvements are continuing to be made. The percentage of one-room council houses built in 1949 was 7.7 per cent. That has risen to 17·7 per cent., an improvement in the right direction, though we still need to go further. It is the same with improvement grants. We have constantly striven to ensure that, in the conditions for improvement grants, the special needs of old people should be taken into account.
Very often, it is good for old people to have to share a bathroom, lavatory and kitchen with other people. The cleaning of rooms is often a great burden. It can be of great value if old people are able to live a certain type of community life so that, while they have independence, they have at the same time the comfort and support of other people around them and, more particularly, the company which they can bring.
One of the great troubles, of course, is loneliness. Not only are old people frightened of ill health, but, more than anything, they are frightened of being ill alone, not ill enough to be taken into hospital but sufficiently ill to know all the fears and terrors of being left alone in illness. One service which we should make available to old people from the nation's resources can be provided at their own firesides, through home helps, home nurses, health visitors, and the like, who can, by their constant attention, ensure not only that old people feel that they are in contact with life but that they are given the assistance they need if they are ill but not so bad as to be taken to an old people's home or a hospital ward.
There are other of the nation's resources which I believe we must extend to old people. It is very easy to talk glibly about raising the old-age pension.
90 We should study more the ways in which we can make their lives easier. We all want to see their standards rise. I believe that, as the prosperity and expansion which we are now witnessing goes on, we can promise old people a better, fuller and richer life. But let us not, while we make that promise—I stress this again—forget that we have an even greater responsibility to see that all the nation's resources are used properly in the best interests of the people we wish to serve.
There is no doubt that many of our resources are being wasted. Because we have not the right degree of co-ordination, it is often impossible to make certain that our resources are being used to the full. Not only do we want to expand the available resources for the old people, but more than anything else we should make certain that those resources are properly co-ordinated.
I congratulate the Government on what they have done not only to raise the standard of living of the people as a whole, but to raise the standard of living of the old people. The Government's task is not complete unless they take on the responsibility of properly co-ordinating these services. There is no point in paying lip service to what we have to do if we do not take concrete steps to build up the efficiency of these services which are fulfilling such a tremendous need in the life of the community.
A chiropody service for old people is needed. The geriatric service is being expanded at present. In the same context, the Mental Health Bill will do a great deal to help many old people. These things can and will be done, but over all is the great need to make certain that the co-ordination is properly fulfilled.
The National Assistance Board has come in for a great deal of praise this afternoon. No praise can justify all the hard work which it does. Its functions could be greatly expanded. It could take on a lot of the responsibility of co-ordinating so many of the services which I have mentioned. Much of this coordination must be done under the Minister of Health, but we must put our minds sincerely and seriously to this problem before we try to expand the services in a piecemeal manner so that the people who need them most can reap the full harvest of the services.
91 We are not arguing about what we want to do for the old people—I believe that all of us in our hearts are agreed on that—but about who can best be trusted with the task of carrying forward this great responsibility in our national life. The speeches which have been made show that the record of the Government can stand up to any criticism. Our record proves that we have striven and succeeded in building up the standard of our people—perhaps not enough, but certainly further than was the case in 1951.
Our promise and performance have matched each other. I do not need to say much about the Socialists' performance. What we can say about it is that it truly matched the conditions between 1945 and 1951. It truly matched the conditions of shortages, restrictions and falling values. When one is old there is not much fun in restrictions and shortages. The black market is not for the old. There is no chance of a little "fiddle" on the side. There is the burden of worry and anxiety in overcoming restrictions and shortages. The only reflection that was evidenced in the pensions between 1945 and 1951 was one of falling money values and falling standards in real terms.
On the other hand, in spite of the sincerity which we know exists in the hearts of many hon. Members opposite, we can see the hypocrisy in much of the case which they are trying to put forward this afternoon. They are like the son who takes 10s. home and leaves it on the table. They are trying to get the self-satisfied blaze and glow of the comfort which they get merely from giving the money. In spite of the fire of their political expediency, they are making a hollow case of this censure Motion. They would do far better to try to help us to build up the services to serve the real needs of the old people.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
I will leave another hon. Member from this side to deal with the closing remarks of the hon. Lady the Member for Melton (Miss Pike). In much of what she said earlier she showed a deep sympathy with and understanding of the problems of the old people. She said, in effect, that all the other services which are required for old people are so important that the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance 92 should not give an increase of 10s. in pension.
I should like to spend a few minutes in discussing the economic side of the matter which has not been touched on by any hon. Member. Some hon. Members on this side of the House referred to the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster as brilliant. I thought that it was quite deplorable. The old-age pensioner seems to have been completely lost in the smoke-screen of the party battle between the two Front Benches. I agree that in that battle the right hon. Gentleman scored some pretty good direct hits. and no doubt there will be some counterblast at dusk tonight in answer to it. All that is fair, but the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was directed along party lines.
We all know that we are dealing with a problem. I was interested in the remarks made by the hon. Members for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley) and Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin), which seemed to bring home a point which the Liberal Party has tried to stress recently, namely, that it would be better if all parties were to devote their attention to the problem of the basic pension and not go off on a wild goose chase after grandiose superannuation schemes, started by the Opposition, which, much to my regret, has been followed in a different form by the Government. This has resulted in the problems of the basic pension being ignored.
The hon. Member for Paddington, North spoke about the necessity of having a cost-of-living index specially for old-age pensioners, which is the kind of thing dealt with by the Liberal Party in its pamphlet on pensions, among other things. It is this part of the problem which should be tackled. The hon. Member referred also to the desirability of removing the earnings limit. Those are matters which the House should bear in mind, together with the question of the level of the basic pension.
In the light of what other people are earning today. do the Government and Tory back benchers suggest that £3 is too much for the basic pension and that £2 10s. is sufficient? It can always be said: is it right that a bus driver should get only £10 a week and should not he have 10s. more? In the context of other people's earnings today, is the House of Commons prepared to go on record as 93 saying that it is satisfied that the basic pension for a single person should be only £2 10s.? I think that many hon. Members, including hon. Members opposite, are very uncomfortable about the present rate. I think that they would have liked to see something done about it in the Widget. I do not see why something could not have been done, either in the Budget or immediately after.
Is the argument that the Government cannot afford to pay something, if not all, towards the increased cost, or if the Government cannot do that, is it that there can be no question of increasing the contribution further, say, up to £1 between employees and employers? Is this considered to be absolutely out?
My own view is that the contributory system needs to be reconsidered. I agree with the hon. Member for Bradford, West that we need to get not only our pensions contributions but the whole taxation system, which provides the basis of the welfare side of Government expenditure, on a sliding scale, probably a percentage of people's earnings. We have made a general suggestion on these lines and we are working out details which would involve amalgamating contributory stamps with the Income Tax system, resulting in a new sliding scale of social welfare tax to cover the social services.
Obviously, such a change cannot be made overnight and we must deal with the immediate problem. In the context of the present Budget, in which the Government have decided to remit some taxation by allowing to remain in the pockets of people £300 million more than last year, various groups are being benefited. It seems odd that the Government should decide to leave out the old-age pensioners completely. After all, they have announced that some other pensioners will have their pensions increased.
I do not see the logic in the Budget of the £100 million surplus. If the idea is to expand credit, and so get the economy moving, why must we have a balance of £100 million I see no reason why there should not be an inroad made into that for the purpose of increasing old-age pensions. I would not have knocked 2d. off beer, though I agree that it would be fair for the Government to argue that nobody voted against it. On the other hand, people usually do not vote against reductions in taxation. There 94 it is, the tax is off beer to the extent of 2d. and cannot be altered.
I suggest, therefore, that the cost of increased pensions should be shared between the Budget surplus and an increase in contributions. As I said earlier, I would raise the contribution to around £1, which would mean an increase, shared between the employer and employee, of 1s. 10d. In that way we would use nearly the whole of the balance left in the Budget. I estimate that an extra contribution of 1s. 10d. would bring £120 million a year more into the National Insurance Fund. If the total figure required for pensions and other benefits, including war pensions, was £215 million, the surplus of £100 million would be reduced to £5 million.
I cannot think that in the context of what the Government have already done this would cause further inflation. In any case that has nothing to do with the Budget surplus. Basically, it is a question of whether the nation will save enough to meet the capital investment which will take place. Some economists have said that the Government have been too bold and are expecting too great savings from the people. The Government will need to borrow for below-the-line expenditure about £700 million. In fact, the Government had no difficulty in borrowing quite a lot last year and there was surplus saving of £500 million which went abroad.
So I do not think there is any danger of inflation being caused by giving the old-age pensioners an extra 10s. and finding half of it from the remainder of the Budget surplus. I hope, therefore, that before final decisions are taken on this subject the Government will look again at the financial side of the problem. There cannot be more than a handful of people in this House who are satisfied that £2 10s. for a single old-age pensioner is adequate today, and in the present context we should make an effort to provide the finance to raise the figure to £3, with commensurate benefit for those who are married.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Fort (Clitheroe)
The hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt) said that he would discuss the economics of the present old-age pensions. I feel scarcely competent to discuss economics. but if he was as faulty in his economic 95 analysis as he was about the basic pension, I cannot be satisfied with his economics.
The problem the Government have faced and which, apart from the hon. Gentleman, has been of major concern to all who have studied the financial side of these matters, has been the great drop in income when a person retires under the present flat-rate pension scheme. That is inevitable under any scheme of this kind, whether it is raised by another 10s. or not. What the National Insurance Bill, now in Standing Committee, is trying to do is to make that break in income on retirement less onerous than it has been in the past by tying pension with earnings.
I noticed, too, that the hon. Member for Bolton, West did what many hon. Members have done, and that was to disguise in one way or another the amount of the present contributions. Some hon. Members have talked about raising pensions and have become vague as to how that would be paid for. Others have talked about contributions being percentages of wages or, in the case of the hon. Gentleman, about an increase of 1s. 3d. in the combined present contribution.
§ Mr. Fort
I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. He said 1s. 10d. and my arithmetic had become unstuck at that point. He suggested that there should be a combined contribution of £1 from employer and worker. What he did not say was that every employed man in this country is paying all but a penny of 10s. a week, which is a lot of money out of anybody's pay packet to provide for the future. At the same time, the women are paying 8s. a week out of their pay packets which, even on the average, are a great deal lower than those of the men, so that at present this amounts to about 6 per cent. of their wages.
The increases requested by the party opposite in its Motion would cost 1s. 9d. a week extra in contributions, bringing them to nearly 12s. a week, as we were told by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Although the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), who has great 96 experience in these matters, said that workers would be prepared to pay such contributions without complaint, it seems to me that his view was not shared by other experts of his party who recently produced their superannuation scheme. For instance, the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) said a little while ago that wages should not be increased in proportion to the heavy contributions under his party's scheme of 1957—
§ Mr. T. Brown
I said that my experience of dealing with industrial workers who pay these contributions was that, if they were sure that the increases would reflect themselves in an increase in the basic rate for the old-age pensioners, they would have no objection to paying them.
§ Mr. Fort
The hon. Member for Coventry, East was at least nervous that a demand would be put in for wage increases to meet the heavy increases in contributions about which he was talking.
Let us consider for a moment the people whom we do not often talk about in the House from the contribution side—the employers. All of us concerned with the textile industry in Lancashire, or at least with the weaving area, know that there are many mills which employ 120 to 150 people, two-thirds to three-quarters of whom are women. Assuming that a mill employs 120 people—to make the sum an easy one for me because the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bolton, West has discovered a weakness in my arithmetic—the total contributions paid by that mill at the present time amount to over £12 a week. That is double what it was ten years ago. For the 90 women, the contributions amount to £30 a week instead of just under £15 ten years ago, a total of £42 a week.
Those of us who know the troubles in which the textile industry is at the present time know what anxiety sums of money like that cause those who are now having a very difficult time indeed in keeping their mills running because so much of the industry is unprofitable. What is true of the manufacturers in the textile industry must also be true of many other manufacturers who are not, by any manner of means, making such large sums as to carry greatly increased contributions.
I turn to another group which often has even smaller incomes and has to pay 97 heavier contributions—the self-employed. Many East Lancashire farmers will be lucky if they are earning £12 a week or £600 a year spending income. Often it is probably less than that. At present they have to find out of that 12s. a week, 5 per cent. of their income in contributions towards their retirement pension. Yet the party opposite has come in with a scheme which will cover the self-employed and which will double that rate of contribution.
This is the first time I have had the opportunity of saying that welcome the refusal of the Government to include in their current superannuation scheme the self-employed who, in the smaller income groups the £12 a week or so—would have to carry intolerable contributions.
What we want to see without any doubt. as many hon. Members have said this afternoon, is the lot of our old folk improved as the gross national product in the financial state improves in this country. I cannot help asking myself whether the spending of additional money on pensions will give the old people all that is needed for their comfort. Of course we want to see pensions increasing. but as my hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Miss Pike) pointed out, and also the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin), there are many more services that ought to be provided and improved, particularly those that deal with the problem of the loneliness of the elderly.
I wonder whether in the terms of the Motion which the Opposition have down and the terms which hon. Members opposite are using, not only in the House but in their newspaper articles and speeches throughout the country, they are trying to do the very easy thing of buying their peace of mind by suggesting that pensions should be increased and then forgetting about the other services which would benefit from some of the money which they are talking about for pensions.
Is it not a fact that what hon. Members opposite are doing is trying, on the votes of old folk, to get returned to power to renationalise the steel industry and road transport again?
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
This is a subject which has the sympathy of everyone throughout the country. What amazes me is that, despite all the sym- 98 pathy expressed on both sides of the House and in the country generally, there seems to be great difficulty in helping the aged people and others in similar circumstances.
The Conservative Party, in dealing with this subject, is continually pointing out that if we compare the cost of living with the increases that we have given to the pensioners we find that they are in a better position than they were. It is not my intention to deny that.
But what does the cost of living mean? Does it mean that at a given period we are doing all that can be expected if we secure a rise in pension benefits and sick pay comparable with the cost of living? We have to consider whether this is so. I think that the guiding factor is this. If purchasing power has increased beyond the cost of living, as the Conservatives say, that is something which we can accept, but does that apply to the social insurance scheme?
No matter how long ago since we introduced the social insurance scheme, are we still to say that the standard is today the highest that we can honestly be expected to try to secure? Are we doing all that we can for the pensioners and the sick? We can say that the general standard of wages and the general economic conditions of people throughout the country have increased a good deal beyond the cost of living? I understood the Minister, when he spoke on this question today, to have sympathy with the idea that pensioners, sick people, the unemployed and the widows should get some increased benefit out of the generally improved conditions in the country, apart from the cost of living. Surely that is what matters.
We can talk about the cost of living and anything else we like, but the National Insurance scheme is of such mighty purpose, so widespread and includes so many millions of people that our prime purpose should be to ensure that it is just. The question, therefore, is whether we can do better. Is the attitude of the public really so apathetic despite all the sympathy that is expressed throughout the country?
The Conservative Party tries to ridicule the Labour Party for what it did in the past. We came into power, however, at a time of the worst economic conditions after the war. Could any party at such a time reasonably be expected to lay down a basis that would be satisfactory for 99 the future? Of course not. No sensible man would expect it.
The cost of living is a standstill principle for wages as well as for pensioners. It is a deadly principle on which to work. What is needed is the aim to improve wages and social benefits far beyond the cost of living. In 1946, the average wage level was 120s. 9d. and the pension payment to married people was 42s., or 34.7 per cent. of the then ruling earnings level. Today, it is much lower. The married pensioner receives only 31.2 per cent. of the current wage level of 256s. 3d. The Tory Party, therefore, is paying a smaller percentage of the current wage rate than the Labour Party paid in 1946, despite the serious economic conditions then prevailing. The same argument applies in the case of the single man, who, in 1946, received a pension of 21.5 per cent. of the level of wages but now gets only 19.5 per cent.
If the Government did no more than apply to pensioners the same proportion of industrial wages as we in the Labour Party did in 1946, the married couple today would be getting 88s. 9d. and the single man would have 55s. instead of 50s. Therefore, merely to achieve what the Labour Party did in 1946 in relation to industrial wages, pensions should be raised at once.
When I consider this matter, I try not to let sympathy and sentiment overrule my intelligence. We talk a lot about the old-age pensioner, but the man who is sick for several weeks or months gets into the same position. Before a widow can get the widow's pension, she must be at least 50 years of age when her last child is dependent. When speaking of widows' pensions, therefore, we are speaking of old women who have had a great calamity in their lives.
No matter what party is in power, we should try to modernise. We talk a lot about modernising industry and giving millions away in investment. Why not try to modernise our ideas of the social security system and bring it up to date? There is no question that it can be changed. I had a Question on the Order Paper today. I was far beyond the general outlook on the position. I asked what would be the balance if pensions were increased 30 per cent. beyond their present level and we introduced a pay-as- 100 you-go principle, with a 5 per cent. percentage payment by employers, 3 per cent. from employees and the usual one-sixth proportion from the Exchequer. The answer was short but emphatic and informative. The Minister told me that the balance would be £200 million.
What would happen if our social security scheme had a percentage basis of contribution? Instead of making the rich man help the poor, however, the Government do the opposite. The £6-a-week man pays 6.1 per cent. These figures do not include injuries and health benefit. The £8-a-week man pays 4.5 per cent., the £10 a week man pays 3.6 per cent., the £12 man pays 3 per cent., and the £14-a-week man pays 2.6 per cent, of his income.
It is generally accepted throughout the country nowadays that when we have to deal with the big problems of the community, payment should be on the basis that those with the greater incomes and getting more from the country in various ways should pay on a percentage basis. Income Tax is based on this principle and is supposed to be justifiable, whether the money is raised to pay for armaments, including guns and hydrogen bombs, or anything else. It is admitted that the money is applied for the purpose of protecting the country and preserving the economic conditions of the various sections of the people and it should be paid for on the general basis of ability to pay.
In social insurance, however, a completely opposite position is followed and the man who has any amount of money pays merely the same amount as the poorer man earning only £6 or £7 a week. It may be said that those who pay the extra money in Income Tax get something out of it; they get the benefit of the general economic and social conditions in which they are living. Why it should be any different to pay for our social insurance system on a percentage basis, I simply do not know. There is as much justification in applying the percentage system of contribution for social insurance as there is for using it for the payment of Income Tax.
I want to give as swiftly and as shortly as I can an idea of what can be done and how much it will cost and whether it would be a serious drain on the individual's income. Having carefully considered the matter, I am satisfied that the 101 policy of the Labour Party for introducing a pensions scheme is the best basis on which to work. Having said that, I differ from the Labour Party in one respect. A lot has happened in the two years since the original scheme was put forward and something better should have been produced in the time that has elapsed since that was done.
The new pensions scheme should not be tied to pensions alone but should cover the problem of dealing with widows, sickness, unemployment, and with people who are in other difficulties arising out of social conditions. I have worked out the figures on the basis of 3½ per cent. from the workers, 5½ per cent. from the employers and the usual Exchequer contribution of one-sixth with 9 per cent. of the self-employed income of £1,824 million.
I congratulate the Conservative Party Its principle of pay-as-you-go contributions. I have advocated this system for two or three years, because it is not necessary to build up a balance on an actuarial basis. The Conservative Party now agrees with that principle and the new Bill is on those lines. It is sufficient if there is a balance in hand with which to carry on. If an unexpected necessity arises, there are ways of meeting such a situation.
Using the figures in Cmnd. Paper 712, namely, £12,522 million, the figures of 3½ per cent. for workers and 5½ per cent. for employers, and 9 per cent. of self-employed income, these give the necessary income to meet the increased benefits. After allowing for an increase in general benefits on the benefits paid in 1958, my calculations show a 20 per cent. rise in future giving a balance of £500 million. If it is to work on a system of graded pensions in the future a balance must be created from now onwards.
Working on the basis of the Labour Party's policy, a man earning £12 a week would get £6 15s. Working on a denominator of 160, if a man worked for ten years he would get one-sixteenth of his wage. After twenty years he would receive one-eighth of his wage. After forty years he would get one-quarter, and in each case the basic pension of £3 added.
I do not want to be like a schoolmaster, because it is a thing I hate.
§ Mr. McKay
I have worked on this problem for a year or two and a solution could be found on these lines. If there was a contribution of 3½ per cent. from the workmen and 5½ per cent. from the employer there would be a large balance on which to work. When the large number of graded pensioners were due to draw benefits there would be a balance of capital giving interest of £300 million per annum to help the scheme when matured.
Can it be done? The economist tells us that if one pays 10s. for a pension only it will cost £140 million. If that 10s. is paid to the unemployed, the sick and the widowed, it will cost £200 million. As the Exchequer pays about one-sixth of that sum, it leaves about 2s. 7d. for the employers and the workmen to pay. If that figure were halved and added to the 7s. 4½d. now paid it would give a total contribution of 8s. 8d. for the workmen. With a 3½ per cent. system a man earning £12 a week would pay 8s. 5d. and those earning less would pay less.
If extra benefits are to be introduced they must be paid for. We can talk as much as we like about the pensioners having another 10s. or 15s. a week, but we must show how that extra money is to be obtained. I am trying to do so. Under the Labour Party scheme the man earning £12 a week pays 7s. 2d. plus 2s. 6d. instead of 8s. 5d. If he pays for ten years he receives £3 15s.; for twenty years he receives £4 10s.; for forty years he receives £6, and for fifty years, £6 15s. This is worth considering, and that is why, if possible, I want to get the whole thing into HANSARD in a shipshape form. It is not easy to do that in certain cases. I have tried to outline the general position. Any hon. Member, whether he be Labour or Conservative, can work out the figures from official documents.
Under the system as I suggest it is probable that the employers and those earning bigger incomes would complain because they would have to pay more. Nevertheless, those who pay more will know that they will receive at least one-third of their income as a graded pension at the end. They will not be throwing money into the sink. They will be doing what they now do under the Income Tax procedure. The scheme I am suggesting is adapted from the Income Tax system.
103 This system would improve the social position of the pensioners, because they would be getting far more than they are now. It would certainly allow us to give them a 10s. rise with ease—and not only them, but widows, unemployed and sick. I like to be logical, and I do not like to be carried away by sentiment. I say that a man who has been absent from work for several months through sickness, or an unemployed man who has great difficulty in getting any work, should receive the same consideration as a pensioner.
Pensions and other social service payments should be raised together. They have been raised together in the past, and I should not like to see any Labour Government make a distinction in that respect. There are other unfortunate people as well as pensioners, and we ought to try to improve their basic income a little. In fact, it is an obligation upon us. In this respect sentiment cuts no ice with me.
Employers may grumble, but they should remember that they have been getting about 45 per cent. of what they have been paying by way of tax relief, and under the recent changes in Income Tax they are still getting about 40 per cent. relief from their payments. On the other hand, the poor fellow earning £6, £7 or £8 a week, possibly with a child, gets no relief. The employers have no case which entitles them to object to a scheme such as that which I am suggesting.
Hon. Members on both sides of the House should get together and think this thing out. If they could reach agreement on it they would be doing something for the country and the poorest wage earners, and that would redound to the credit of both parties. It is worth thinking about. I only ask them to consider the matter and see whether there is something in it. I do not want to tie anybody to any particular aspect of the scheme. I have no special interest at stake; I am not a young man seeking promotion —although I believe that ambition is something to be encouraged. I merely ask hon. Members to think this matter out in a sympathetic manner.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Sir Keith Joseph (Leeds, North-East)
During this debate three different attitudes have so far been adopted towards 104 statistics. Those hon. Members opposite who have been conscious of the weakness of their case have sneered at them; the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), in his usual eloquent speech, did not need to buttress his sincere case by quoting a single figure, but the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) drowned us in figures. He cannot possibly expect us to absorb the detailed argument that he was making. I do not complain about that; I shall study it in HANSARD when it appears. I am sure that the hon. Member has already tried to persuade the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) of the virtues of his scheme.
But the hon. Member does not seem to realise that his scheme involves a transfer of real resources. We are concerned not merely with figures. If people are to be better off in their old age those who are not yet old will have to be less well off. I am sure that the hon. Member appreciates that. I sympathise with his plea that pensions should keep pace with the standard as well as the cost of living. The leading article in The Times today says that pensions have kept pace with the standard of living, even though it has been rising rapidly since the war, and particularly since 1951.
§ Sir K. Joseph
They are not the figures as I see them from The Times leading article.
The hon. Member's scheme will transfer money from those who are not old to those who are old, and I would ask whether this is the right time for such a further transfer, and whether the transfer is to be done only by means of a State scheme. We all know that last February there was a very large transfer from the earners and workers of this country to those who are retired. The pension and other benefits went up 25 per cent. and at that time there was no great concession to taxpayers.
Now this year, it seems to me, it is the turn of those who earn to get some benefit. The cost of living has risen only minutely since last February. The national wealth has not risen in the last year as much as in the past and as much as it will again in the future. We must remember that if, as 105 we all want, we are to have a dynamic society, there must be rewards for those creating the wealth as well as some opportunity to spend for those who in their retiring years consume the savings of the community.
I have been unable to understand what the Socialist Party really wands—
§ Mr. Parkin
Is not that a rather unfair thing to say, that the old people are consuming what the rest of the community has produced? Have not they contributed towards the industrial product?
§ Sir K. Joseph
The hon. Member is most unfair in thinking that I was in any way being offensive to the elderly members of the community. I was using a kind of verbal "shorthand" to save time, because there are many other hon. Members who wish to speak and I wish to go rather fast.
What do the Socialists want? Do they want to help the poorest in the community—in which case everyone sympathises with them—or do they want to transfer a large block of purchasing power regardless of need? The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), in describing the 5,550,000 pensioners, stated that in his opinion there are a large number who are not immediately in need. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned 2 million, but he did not support that with figures. There are no exact figures which he could quote. There are between 2 million and 3 million pensioners who are not in immediate need. But the right hon. Gentleman produced two very serious points for argument. He said that, despite that fact, the time has now come for a transfer of wealth from the earners to the retired.
The second serious argument that he produced was that we as a community should do more for the poorest. I wish to deal with those two arguments. A transfer from the earners to the retired would seem to be the accepted policy of both parties; both in the Government scheme which is at present being discussed in a Bill before a Standing Committee, and in the Socialist Superannuation Scheme there is envisaged—both over a very long period of time—a transfer by way of graded contributions— in the Socialist scheme much larger, in the Tory scheme more modest—from the earners 106 to the same earners when they shall have retired.
It is true that the Socialist scheme offers 10s. now—5s. to each of a married couple and 10s. to single people. But it has been commonly agreed by all economists that it can be done only at the cost of great inflation and it is my contention that the transfer is taken — [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is even admitted on page 92 of the Labour Party document, National Superannuation that prices will rise.
It is my contention that the transfer which both parties want and have arranged for each in their own schemes —and both over a longer period—is, in fact, going on the whole time, because of the record level of private savings and of the growth of occupational pension schemes. Every year more and more people will retire, buttressed in their retirement not only by increments, and higher increments which the Government are providing this year, not only by private savings which were at a fabulous record level this year but by the ever increasing growth of occupational pension schemes.
I believe that the time is not far off when occupational pension schemes will reach the top of the hill. They will reach so high a number that no employer will be able to command employment of good labour unless he offers an occupational pension scheme; and the sooner the trade unions help to persuade employers to formulate occupational pensions schemes the sooner the top of that particular hill will be reached.
I have no doubt that in another twenty or thirty years our successors will be calling for the pity of their colleagues for those with retirement pensions of less than £7, £8, £9 or £10 a week basic as a result of a combination of all these things. We cannot expect basic pensions to keep up with subsistence level if, as we all hope, the economy is a dynamic one, for the community in twenty or thirty years' time, but there will, nevertheless, be no poverty in old age because of the combination of factors already released into the economy. There will be good, solid purchasing power in old age even if it is not half of the very large earnings which we hope and expect the people will then have.
107 It seems to me that we must put up pensions when the gross national product rises and allow for extra transference from earners to those in retirement to be dealt with by occupational pensions schemes and private savings. We must be very careful not to clog the country's dynamism and this chance of having occupational pension schemes for all by permanent pensions in the future which prove to be, because of other resources, too heavy for the subsistence of generations to come.
I am in favour of the right hon. Gentleman's argument that more should be done for the poorest, and so is the whole House, as has been shown by the speeches made by hon. Members. It is a matter for the National Assistance Board. Though, I presume, the Minister can express his wishes for their guidance, I wish to see the National Assistance Board, which is, and must always be, financed entirely by general taxation, given more discretion. I know that there could come a time when the level of National Assistance could be such that it would discourage thrift, but that time is some way away.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I agree, but the hon. Gentleman will agree that we must never allow thrift to go unrewarded. We must never permit a family in which thrift has been exercised to think that life for them is less easy than for a family where no thrift has been exercised. We can raise the level of the family which has exercised no thrift, as hon. Members wish, but not in a way which would make it a matter of envy for those who have exercised thrift.
The real trouble about National Assistance is the odium which seems to be attached to it, I think quite wrongly. There are so many other things, including legal aid, university education and, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley), Income Tax itself which involves people in disclosing their private resources and to which no odium attaches. I wish to see the National Assistance Board use a more objective standard.
I should like to see, as the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) said, consideration of the sort of things 108 that he was mentioning. I should like to see consideration given to a winter scale for assistance in distinction to a summer scale. I should even like to see some consideration given to age itself, although that is a clumsy method. Another perhaps clumsy method which might bring relief is to give more to those who have no family than to those who have, because of the evidence of the survey at Bethnal Green showing the greater need of those who have no nearby relations.
All this comes down to the fact that the National Assistance Board should be given more discretion to help those who most need help. This is not a solution to the problem. As the resources for the retired grow larger from private savings, occupational pensions and graded insurance, we should still raise basic insurance in line with the gross national product. But we should give more discretion to the National Assistance Board. We must help those who need help without limiting our national dynamic by heavier taxation than is necessary. The future will largely look after itself if we encourage occupational pension schemes and savings.
I believe that what we need today is to make sure that the basic pension keeps pace with the gross national product: we should ensure that occupational pension schemes grow: and we should come to the help of the poorest by a more imaginative use of National Assistance.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
I hope that hon. Members on this side of the House misunderstood the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) when he spoke of the problem as one of distribution between the young and the old.
There is a moral aspect to this question, apart from the Ten Commandments, because the old folk have, by their work in the past, made our own well-being possible. Everything we own and possess we owe to the old people of the previous generation. There is no member of the younger group of citizens who started from nothing. Moreover, all the young people and all the taxpayers who are being invited to contribute to the help of old people will expect that kind of help themselves in their old age. So it is not a mere question of redistribution between 109 young and old or taking from the producers something to give to idle consumers. The young have moral obligations to the old.
I want to refer to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth). Nobody minded his making an election speech. There is nothing wrong in making election speeches. Every speech made in the House is an election speech, either as a result of the last election or as preparation for the next.
In this debate, however mild the form, the battle is, as always, a battle between the Opposition and the Government for power. My hon. Friends and I sometimes become a little tired when hon. Members opposite say, "Let us be nonpolitical about this. Let us accept the assumption that everything which the Conservative Party has done since it has been in power is excellent and that everything done between 1945 and 1951 was wicked Socialism. Let us all be united non-party men together."
§ Mr. Frederick Gough (Horsham)
In the unfortunate absence of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth). may I ask whether I am not right in stating that he was merely referring to war pensioners, whom many of us on both sides of the House regret to see dragged into party politics? To my knowledge the question of war pensioners has been tackled on both sides of the House and not as a matter of party politics.
§ Dr. King
The hon. Member should allow me to make my speech before he answers it or even before he anticipates much of what I was about to say. I am not referring at the moment to the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood. I am commenting on speeches which I have heard from the Government benches throughout the debate and making a general observation. I will come to the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood now.
I do not mind the election speeches made from the Conservative side of the House, nor do I mind the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood taunting the Labour Party with the rise in the cost of living which took place in 1951 because of the Korean War and with its failure from 1945 to 1951 to preven 110 prices from rising. The simple answer to the hon. and gallant Member and anyone else on the opposite benches is that in the 1951 General Election the Conservative Party went to the country pledged to reduce the cost of living, but the cost of living has steadily continued to rise ever since the Government have been in power, and all they can boast at present is that the speed at which the cost of living is rising has been decreasing in the last two years.
Nobody minds a general political battle of this type, but I want to refer to the hon. and gallant Member's reference to war pensioners—and I told him that I would refer to it. The hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Gough) anticipated what I was about to say. I had hoped that we should keep war disability pensioners out of the realm of party politics and that we had managed since the war in the House and throughout the country to achieve party unanimity on the broad lines and party unanimity, at any rate, on treating this as a responsibility, a debt of honour of the whole nation.
I interrupted the hon. and gallant Member to point out that in his inadequate portrait of what was achieved under the Labour Government for war pensioners he had failed to include, as other speakers in the debate have failed to include, the point that the first act of the Labour Government, when they came to power, was to look after the old-age pensioners. I will refer to that in a moment. They have also failed to observe that when the hon. and gallant Member went as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry dealing with pensions he was proud to take over a Department which had been built up under the Labour Government, with a welfare apparatus and system of supplementary allowances added to it of a calibre which had never been seen before the war.
While we may argue on little details and fight little battles on various aspects of war pensions, I suggest that one of the glories of Britain since the end of the last war has been that we have treated the ex-Service men far better than we treated them in the years which followed the First World War—and no one on this side of the House holds any responsibility for what happened to the ex-Service men after the First World War. It must also be borne in mind that the Minister who is to reply to the debate has under his 111 control a Department which has been run by a succession of good Labour and good Tory Ministers of Pensions, not the least being the right hon. Gentleman who is to take part in the debate.
We can never do enough for our ex-Service men, however, and when we speak of unemployability and of constant attendance allowances, and when we mention the number of pounds which we pay to a hero of the war, we have only to see one of these unemployable men lying in some corner of his home to realise that nothing we can do for the disabled men who won us this freedom is too great. In case some of my hon. Friends, on both sides of the House, who are interested in ex-Service men are not called in the debate, may I express the hope that the Minister will take note of the plea which the limbless ex-Service men continue to place as the first priority in their claim—the claim of ageing limbless ex-Service men for an extra allowance. I do not want to argue it at length, because the Minister has heard it from many other hon. Members and myself for a long time and he has done great work on this already but I hope that he will concede the whole of their claim.
As we have moved away from the hardship of the war and the years immediately following it, Britain has become increasingly comfortable for those of us with a good income and a regular job, provided that we forget the H-bomb and do not think of those in the country who are less fortunate than ourselves. The recent Budget, to which reference is made in the Motion, has continued the Governments policy, on the whole, of helping those who have and of neglecting those who have not.
Everybody taking part in the debate and almost everybody listening to it has benefited from the Budget, and none of us really needed to benefit financially from the Budget. I refuse to believe that the professional classes required Income Tax concessions to spur them to greater work. I have not noticed any hon. Member working any harder since the Budget than he worked before it. Indeed, I should think very much the less of him if he were working harder as an hon. Member because he had had tax concessions.
During the last few years Britain has started to become a land in which cer- 112 tain technical wealth is coming into almost everybody's possession—cheaper refrigerators, cheaper television sets, more motor cars than the road can cope with, for example. The Budget gives to a group of people who enjoy these amenities Income Tax concessions and perhaps even a little of their post-war credits, but for other people during the same period, for the submerged group, for the bottom 1 million to 4 million people in this country, the picture is very different. At best they have held or slightly improved the standard of living which they had when we came out of the war. At worst, they have slipped back.
When the Labour Party took power in 1945 the very first Act which it passed was an Act to raise the old-age pensions. The fact that we raised them from 10s. to 26s. a week and that the chief Tory spokesman in the debate thought that we were going much too far in raising them to 26s. a week in 1946 will not be mentioned on any Tory platform during the forthcoming General Election.
That dramatic raising of the retirement pension in 1946 was a worthwhile act. It was all that we could afford to do at the time, in a country faced with grim economic problems, having just come out of the war. Since then, all who have to live on the retirement pension or the basic minimum standard of living which is the foundation of the Welfare State, and which we established by a succession of great social Acts in that first Labour Government, have found the going hard. Every increase a pensioner gets comes after a long struggle. When it does come, it has already been largely offset by the further rise in the cost of living.
What is wrong with Britain today is the plight and the living conditions of those millions living on the lowest incomes. We have abolished the bitterness of the poverty that used to exit, which existed in the lifetime of most people in the House at present. People do not die of starvation now as they did in the time when capitalism was unchecked and private enterprise was unrestricted, but plenty of people endure hardship, and hardship that is more severe to bear because they see around them the great improvements in the conditions of most of their fellow-citizens.
The general charge that I make against the Government is that it has steadily 113 widened the gap between the richer people and the poorer people. It has enriched the property owners, the money lenders, the rentier and the holders of capital, when I think that the first duty of any good Government ought to be to the aged, the widowed, the fatherless and the man unemployed. Rent, interest and property have done very well under this Government. At the same time, the trade unionists, by their industrial strength, have secured wage increases which have offset the rise in the cost of living. The salaried classes have not done so badly, though some groups have lagged behind. Rent, interest, property, the strongly organised trade union movement, and the salaried classes have each more than offset the rise in the cost of living.
It is the unorganised groups, the unemployed, who are uppermost in the minds of any of us who come from an industrial town where unemployment is growing, the aged and the widows, and those who face the problem of inflation without any counter instrument in their hands to check it, who have lagged behind. What we are debating today is not a new motor car, not whether we should change the V.H.F. radio which we bought two years ago for a more modern one, not whether we shall have two holidays on the Continent instead of one, not whether we shall go to the Continent instead of to Bournemouth. This debate is about food and clothing and the bare necessities of the poorest people.
To give one example to the House to set the picture, yesterday an ex-Service man who had fought throughout the Second World War came to see me. He is unemployed, getting £2 10s. a week, and he is lucky in that he does not have to pay any rent. If he did, the N.A.B. would meet part of it. He pays 5s. a week for electricity, and, as he cannot afford coal, he has one gallon of oil for his oil stove which costs him 2s. a week. That leaves him with 43s. a week, out of which he has to buy food and clothing and pay for laundry and anything else that he needs. He told me with justifiable bitterness that, having fought for Britain, he felt that he ought to be entitled to have a job in Britain. He foolishly talked of turning to crime, and, while I felt a little immediate sympathy, I did 114 my best to point out how foolish he would be to think that way.
But the position of that man, at any rate, has this comfort. He was not unemployed three months ago, and the hope is that shortly he will be employed again. The worst-off people whom we are chiefly talking about in this debate have that standard of £2 10s. a week for a single person as the permanent condition of their existence.
I want to pay tribute to the Government not only for the increases which they have made in the general pattern of old-age pensioners, but for the promise which the Government made at the time of the Budget about a Pensions (Increase) Bill. We have had no details of it yet. Public service pensioners are one group of unfortunate people in the country. I understand, that on the whole, public service pensioners have had, by various Acts up to the moment, about 35 per cent. increase in their superannuation, as compared with a 100 per cent. increase in the cost of living since 1944. This is some measure of the marching out of step of the pensions of those who are drawing from public service pensions and who have been retired for a long time.
An example is that of a police sergeant who, if he retires now, will receive £500 a year, whereas one who retired in 1944 still receives £300 a year. A police constable who retires today will receive £440 a year, while the constable who retired thirteen years ago receives only £250. The postman who retired in 1945 has had increases in his pension through the various Acts of about 4s. a week. The Post Office tells me that one who retired in 1934 at 30s. a week after forty years' service has had 3s. a week increase in his pension. A teacher who retired in 1932 still has a pension of £282, while the equivalent modern teacher would retire with a pension of £406. This disparity runs right through the public service. This is a group of veterans to whom inflation is an unmitigated disaster and hardship. Through no fault of their own, they see their incomes steadily dwindling.
Worse than that, some groups of public or semi-public service pensioners have had no benefit from any of the Acts passed so far. Reference has been made again and again to the case of the railway super-annuitants. Their pensions were at the start very meagre, and they have had only 115 trivial increases from the British Transport Commission, not even comparable with those of many public service pensioners. If we are to make an attempt to cope with the whole of this problem, I would hope that the Ministers concerned would devise ways and means of bringing this group in; and I know I speak on this matter with the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House.
I know that, from the actuarial point of view, we cannot tamper with any of the public service pension schemes, or with the British Transport Commission's pension scheme, but, in matters like this, humane and human considerations are more important than actuarial calculations. Let us remember that many of the veterans of whom I have spoken so far were too old to come into full benefit under the National Insurance Acts. These groups of worthy aged citizens feel the pinch even harder than those on the single basic national pension—National Insurance plus National Assistance.
I have never been an economist or a statistician. To me, the problem of poverty is always the human one of the people I know who are in real trouble —worthwhile people, not people who merely come and spin a hard luck story —many of them are too proud to—but men and women of character whom, all my life, I have seen in such condition and suffering what I regard as undeserved hardship.
I would echo the tribute which has been paid to the National Assistance Board and to the National Insurance officers and staff. I know that in Southampton we are admirably served in both fields by leaders of ability, by men and women who are doing a great job devotedly. What I said about the spirit of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance, as far as it affects the ex-Service men, runs, I believe, right through the Ministry from the Minister himself, who is present this afternoon, right down to the humblest member of the staff. They have no easy job, especially in what we might call the field-work of National Assistance. It is not an easy job to deal with human beings, but they do everything they can to interpret the provisions of the various Acts and regulations as generously as they can.
116 I know that all my hon. Friends would join in the tributes paid by hon. Members opposite to these great civil servants. What is wrong is not bureaucracy. I doubt whether there is anything like the old evil of bureaucracy in this great Ministry. What is wrong lies in the lines, the figures and the norms drawn up by Parliament. What is wrong is the basic minimum standard that we fix, below which no one shall go.
It has always been too low. It was too low in 1946. Even if it has crept up—and the Minister is right to point with pride to the various advances he has made —it has always been behind what it ought to be for people in their old age. In fact, even if we can persuade the Government to raise the figure to £3, that is not a princely sum to give to them.
I have in Southampton an old-age pensioner friend, and a former Tory candidate for the borough council. I do not know what his politics are now, and I do not care. Like other hon. Members, when I deal with a constituent his politics have nothing to do with our efforts—they do not even matter. He wrote to me over the weekend. In fact, he writes very eloquent and moving letters from time to time, advising me, and even Ministers, how to run the country. This weekend he wrote as follows:Many of those who gave their lives in the war would turn in their graves if they knew how many of us senior citizens who were by their side in two world wars, are now existing on most inhuman pension of £2 10s. a week.This man is an invalid. He states, with gratitude how, last week, a member of one of our humane voluntary services took him by car to the barber. As I say, this man is an invalid, and he and his wife receive £5, plus 6s. 6d. a week National Assistance. He pays a rent of £1 6s. 2d., and I imagine that that includes his rates. I make no comment on rents now. He goes on:Coal, owing to my ill-health 2 cwt. a week is used, costing 18s. 6d. a week.Here, perhaps I may interpose to say that coal is one of the important items in the cost-of-living index of the poor person, and I think that it would be an act of intelligence were we to get some of the present surplus of coal into the homes of the old people who cannot afford it, but where it is so badly needed.
117 My old friend goes on:Gas. The wife has just stated that 6s. 6d. a week is the average, but extra washing means more. Lights. On the average, 3s. a week. This leaves a balance of £2 12s. 4d. for everything else.Let hon. Members note that—£2 12s. 4d. for a man and wife to provide all their food and all the various things that go to make the essentials of life.
I was very much impressed by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin), who spoke about the clothing that old people need; the inability of old people to afford a new suit, or a new overcoat—because a new overcoat would wipe out this surplus for three or four weeks. To people like that, 2d. off the beer, cheaper Purchase Tax on a number of commodities and Income Tax reductions do not mean very much. The fact that their pensions have increased according to the Cost-of-Living Index does not really matter very much to them, either. Coal—warmtheverybody knows, or should know, what a great factor that is in the life of old people.
I know that long before the Liberal Party thought of it, and before it was mentioned from both sides of the House years ago, the National Assistance Board has had its own cost-of-living index for old people. We have been told so by the Minister, but we have never been able to get details of that Cost-of-Living Index from the Minister, so that we might debate it. A very useful service could be done to the old people if we were allowed to debate this, and to establish, in this Parliament, a true cost-of-living index for these folk.
I said that I was no economist, but I believe that one reason for our escaping the full impact of the American recession was that the Welfare State has, to some extent, spread the wealth of England, and that what we have been doing under the Welfare State has cushioned us against some of the unemployment that can come whenever there is a dip in the American economy. Keeping up the standard of living of the old people is a much healthier way of using a surplus at this time than is distributing it to those who can really do without it.
As I said during the debate on the Budget, I have met many workmen who told me that they would willingly have gone without their 2d. off beer if the £40 118 million involved had gone to the old-age pensioners. It would have been better had it gone that way because then, at any rate, it would have been a contribution from the taxpayer, graded according to his capacity to pay, as distinct from the method the Government have used for financing most of their old-age pension increases, by a poll tax levied on everyone.
I hope that as a result of this debate—and no matter when a General Election takes place—this Government will not leave the people of whom we are speaking in the humiliating position in which they now are, when, within the last three weeks, millions of pounds have been given by the Government to those who are better off while nothing has been given to the retirement pensioners. It would be an insult to these people if, at a time when we are distributing some of the nation's wealth, we ignored the most necessitous of our fellow citizens.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Mr. John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Itchen (Dr. King). He speaks with a great deal of conviction and sincerity, and never more so than when speaking of the war pensioners, and of all those who have suffered from the two great wars. I would at once wholeheartedly endorse his plea to my right hon. Friend to give further consideration to the needs of the ageing limbless, which is something we could well support.
I have been interested in noting the number of hon. Members who have been careful to single out particular categories by stressing, as they have done,—not necessarily in the Motions or the Amendments thereunto on the Order Paper—the case of those whom they consider to have the greatest need. I am sorry, as will be understood, that the Amendment standing in my name, and those of my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) and several of my hon. Friends was not called, as it attempts to direct the thinking of my right hon. Friend and others in his Department along the lines on which we think that these people most in need can best be helped.
Before I develop some of my arguments, I must say that the speech of the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, 119 East (Mr. Marquand) was a bit hot—to put it quite bluntly. Really, the record of his party does not stand up to anything in this debate, and his arguments have been well and truly answered by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—
§ Mr. Eden
After all, the hon. Lady and her party are the least able of any to criticise our record here. It is one thing to say, "Let's have a little more, if possible." We would agree there, but to criticise this party for having done nothing at all—as the Motion states—is absolutely unrealistic.
The Labour Government allowed the cost of living to increase by about 20 per cent. before they did anything whatsoever, while my right hon. Friend and his colleagues in the Ministry of Pensions increased pensions by 24 per cent. and the National Assistance scales by 20 per cent. in a period when the cost of living went up by only 12 per cent.
When considering the increases in pensions which have taken place, it is essential not just to think of the amount of increase in the pension itself, but to bear in mind also the rises in the cost of living which have taken place during the period when the increases have been received by the pensioners.
§ Mrs. Slater
Does the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. J. Eden) realise that this Government have increased pensions only when there has been an outcry because the cost of living has risen? Was not the last increase made immediately after hon. Members on this side of the House tabled a Motion to increase old-age pensions? A few months before that the hon. Lady the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Miss Pitt), the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, had said that it was unnecessary and that some old-age pensioners were bad managers.
§ Mr. Eden
In that instance, perhaps for the first time, some of the colleagues of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) showed a little intelligent anticipation. What is important is not that every single increase should be credited to one party or another on the 120 balance sheet. What is important is that the purchasing power of the pension should be maintained.
In that regard this Government can in every possible way stand in a white sheet, for what has happened today is that the purchasing power of the pension is greater than it ever has been since the introduction of the scheme. In any case, I cannot understand why, if hon. Members opposite feel so hotly about this, they did not do something about it when they voted on the Budget Resolution.
§ Mr. Eden
What hon. Members opposite are asking for amounts, on top of the emerging deficit of the existing fund, to a sum equal to Is. on Income Tax. Yet hon. Members opposite recently allowed to go through this House without challenge a reduction of 9d. in Income Tax. Why did hon. Members opposite not call for an increase in Income Tax, instead of supporting a Budget in which there was provision for a reduction of 9d.?
Generally speaking, this is yet one further example of a rather tawdry set of electioneering efforts based on the misfortunes of some old people.
§ Mr. Eden
No. The hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) made a most interesting speech, and I hope to refer to it later.
It is extraordinary that most of the speeches today, apart from the speech from the Front Bench, have been directed mainly to trying to find ways and means of helping those most in need. Yet the Motion on the Order Paper in the name of the right hon. Gentleman for Leeds. South (Mr. Gaitskell) and other hon. Members calls for an increase in the flat-rate pension.
I am not sure—I hope to develop this —that this is the correct way of helping those whom we are most anxious to help. After all, the needs of pensioners generally vary as much as the needs of any other section of the community. As the right hon. Gentleman for Middlesbrough. East pointed out, some of them have adequate private means of their own. Others are fortunate enough 121 to be cared for by relatives. Others have other forms of pensions or other schemes to turn to. For them, at any rate, the present basic rate, provided that inflation is held steady, is adequate. For some of them it is even unnecessary.
We want to see, if possible, that the help and the resources of the State are directed to those most in need. Even so, the conditions and needs of those most in need vary considerably. The majority who are known generally as being on the lower end of the scale, are drawing National Assistance Benefit. There are many borderline cases just out of range of National Assistance. As I think one of my hon. Friends said, probably amongst these even greater hardship is found. There are many, too—this applies especially to constituents of mine—who have no pension, because they were debarred from contributing to the State scheme.
Some of these three categories live by themselves. They live in their own homes. They do not pay rents. They have the difficulty of maintaining their own homes. Some live with relatives, and so in that respect are better off. Others share the expenses of running a house with friends. Still others, perhaps more than some hon. Members appreciate, refuse to draw National Assistance Benefit of any kind. Whilst I agree that it is easy to condemn them, we should realise that they were brought up in days when State aid was not an automatic right. These people are probably amongst the hardest hit of all. Certainly, they are the hardest to help, and the most deserving.
We talk about people being poor, but a poor man is not necessarily one who has less than others have. Equally, a better-off man is not necessarily one who has more than others have. Hardship is relative.
§ Mr. Eden
By far the hardest hit are those who can no longer afford the conditions and things which they used to enjoy throughout their active life, or those who have suddenly had to leave the circle and environment to which they have been accustomed throughout their working days and whose circumstances in old age 122 generally force them to live their days in retirement in little rooms and conditions far below the standards they were brought up to enjoy and in which they were able to live when they were young. These are the people whom I am sure that hon. Members opposite, as well as hon. Members on this side of the House, are all most anxious to try to help.
The total number in these groups seems to be around 2 million. Perhaps it is a little less or a little more, but for the sake of argument let us assume that it is about 2 million. The problem which concerns us now is how we can best help these people. In considering the answer to that question we might as well take the opportunity of reflecting on the trend in our present social welfare services. I read a most interesting article obviously known to a number of hon. Members in this House, written by Mr. Walter Hagenbuch, in Lloyd's Bank Review for July, 1953. I quote two sentences from that article in order to illustrate my point:Without realizing it, we may be drifting into a system in which everyone becomes permanently dependent on the State for certain basic needs and will inevitably become more and more dependent. Not only are the social services no longer self-liquidating; they are self-propagating.Therefore, in considering how to help the people at present most in need we must also bear in mind what we want from our social services and where we can expect them to get to. The existing pension scheme is already pretty well out of favour. It does not direct help specifically to those who need it most in old age. It is already in deficit, and if it is not altered, at the present rate, in twenty years' time it will be in deficit to the tune of £400 million. The insurance principle is, in practice. at any rate, a complete farce. For example, a married couple now drawing a pension of £4 a week could have contributed only as much as would have earned them 6s. a week.
On 6th May, 1957, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), gave further figures relating to a pension drawn by a man with a wife aged 60, which showed that the capital value of his pension was £2,150, and the most that he 123 could have paid in was £90 with an equivalent sum paid by his employer.
So far as contributions are concerned, therefore, pensions are in no sense of the word earned, and in that respect also they differ very little indeed from the National Assistance scales paid out by the National Assistance Board. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), speaking at a summer school at Oxford in 1957, summed up this point when he said:…the contribution is seen to be a form of tax and the benefit to be a universal flat rate payment, regardless of means, liable to tax and inadequate for subsistence.It follows, then, that the existing state of affairs must be changed. In fact, both sides of the House have been feeling the necessity of that for a number of years past and have been putting forward their long-term proposals.
The Government's new scheme goes quite a considerable way to meet the criticisms of the present set-up. It promises a slight but nevertheless very welcome departure from a completely flat service. The Exchequer subsidies are to be concentrated on the lower income group, and the higher wage earners are to some extent drawn into contributing still more from out of their weekly wage packets by the prospect open to them of earning still greater pensions on their retirement.
This scheme, nevertheless, is not so ambitious as to spell the death knell of the private occupational schemes. I hope and believe—certainly all hon. Members on this side of the House hope—that, encouraged by the opting out provisions of the new Bill, and in spite of the difficulties of marrying private schemes to the State scheme, more and more people will come to share in an occupational scheme, and that the present trend, which has already taken half the male working population and one-third of the total working population into private occupational schemes, will so continue as to make it possible for the majority to contract out of the State graduated provisions altogether.
There are also a number of dangers about the Government's new scheme. In the first place, it depends, as must all these schemes, on inflation being checked and held steady, on the readiness of wage 124 earners in years to come to pay the much higher contributions without demanding that those contributions be absorbed or taken into account by the employer when determining new wage rates, which will obviously mean that ultimately the private contributions will be passed on to the consumer by way of higher prices. Thirdly, the new scheme depends to a very great extent indeed upon a steady increase in productivity. Finally, it is essential that the scheme remains modest and that whoever is responsible for administering it in years to come resists the temptation to build on it to make it greater and more pervasive than it already is.
I am one of the fortunate few who have attended for a number of sittings in Committee Room 10 on the Committee stage of the new Insurance Bill. I have voted for a number of its provisions already, but I must be quite frank and say that I am worried and plagued by the question: should we retain the universal basic rate in our pension? Do we want to go on handing out to all regardless of need? This is a thought which has been much in the mind of the Liberal Party, and the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt) referred to Liberal thinking on the subject. I want to quote from something said by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) in March, 1957:The welfare services were created to help the poor and those in need, and not to provide a general dole of pocket money to all and sundry.In the Manchester Guardian of 27th March, 1957, there was a suggestion in a very interesting leading article that those whose Income Tax codes are below a given level should qualify for special cash payments. This is a modification of the proposal put forward by Lady Rhys Williams to the Royal Commission on the Taxation of Profits and Income.
I have one final quotation—I think he must be a Liberal also though I do not know—from Mr. Arthur Seldon who wrote a very interesting pamphlet called "Pensions in a Free Society", published by the Institute of Economic Affairs:Many pensioners with other means draw the national insurance pension, although they have paid for only part of it by contributions. The unnecessary subsidy to them could be withdrawn by reducing their pensions in stages to the actuarial value of their contributions.125 In the example I gave earlier, that would mean that if the married couple could have afforded it, the £4 pension should have been reduced by stages to the 6s. which their contributions could have earned.
§ Mr. Eden
There is a very strong case for doing this now. Indeed, it was Lord Beveridge's original intention that the whole insurance scheme should come in gradually, at least over a twenty years' build-up. Why should we go on subsidising the well off, not only in pensions but also in other branches of social service, in family allowances, welfare foods and school meals? Why go on encouraging people to make use of services which are free when they themselves can well afford to pay for them?
This leads me to a number of possible courses of action which could be taken now, in the light of the Motion put down by the Opposition and the debate which has taken place. First, arising out of what I have just been saying. if the insurance pension itself is of no value or importance to some people at all, why not remove it altogether and replace it by National Assistance throughout or, as some have said, with a special kind of subvention on taxation based on the Income Tax code, the paying out of these provisions being subject to a test of need and financed by taxation? I think that my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South, if he had caught your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, would have developed this theme in a far more spirited and comprehensive manner than I.
There are dangers here, too. The great danger I see in following that line is that it is very easy indeed to improve on the definition of need. As standards increase, as our standard of living improves over the years, as it doubtless will, there will be no limit to the subsistence level or to the poverty line. It would be a very great temptation for those subject to political pressure or who find themselves readily persuaded by it to use this as a means for bringing about a massive redistribution of wealth and property, by placing a heavy burden on the higher rates of taxation and redistributing the income thereby obtained to those lower down the scale.
126 It is a fact, as has been said in a number of speeches, that, while insurance has become acceptable even though it is not earned any more than assistance, means tests and National Assistance as such are not regarded in quite the same light. It may well be that the right course of action is the one which we have sought to indicate in our Amendment to the Motion, namely, that an amalgamation of the two would fill the Bill. Just as the Government, by the new scheme, are making provision at the top for graduated increases subject to sufficient contributions having been paid in, I would like to see them now make provision at the bottom of the existing scale for graduated supplementary pensions subject to the test of need.
The right hon. Lady the Member for Warrington (Dr. Summerskill), as long ago as 1951, when she was Minister, referred to the National Assistance Board in terms which I think would have widespread commendation today. She said:I should just like to say something about the National Assistance Board. I want people to regard assistance as part of the pattern of our social services. That is what we must establish—that it is an important part of the pattern; not something outside.…It must be complementary; it must be integrated with our present social services."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 9th May, 1951; Vol. 487, c. 1995.]It is the closest integration of pension with National Insurance for which I am calling. I think that something along these lines would particularly help those, for example, who refuse to accept National Assistance. It would also help those on the borderline, because if they had a 10s. increase in pension it would not automatically be taken off their National Assistance. It would be a complete fusion of the effort which the country as a whole is making to try to help the older people most in need.
This fusion of effort need not stop with an amalgamation of assistance for the elderly and pensions in the form of some kind of supplementary provision which I have outlined. It could go much further. I read extracts of an interesting speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East in my local newspaper, in which he advocated the setting up of a Ministry of Social Service to act as a kind of co-ordinating department for health, local government, housing, pensions and insurance matters. I do not think that we need go quite so far 127 as that straight away, although it may come to that in due course. I think that the best thing is to start to achieve the maximum degree of co-operation between local authority departments and departments concerned with the care of elderly people at a local level. The Boucher Report had a lot to say on this subject. In October, 1957, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health sent out two circulars which are being acted on in this direction.
The aim should be to secure a comprehensive service for all elderly people. In this way we can direct the effort of all the various Departments and private activities towards helping those in need in our various constituencies or areas. It should be designed to keep as many of them as possible in their own homes; to bring them, where they need it, vastly improved domiciliary services; to allow for more adequate heating provision in the winter; to make a more realistic lodging allowance, and generally to widen the scope of National Assistance.
In doing so, we call for a still greater co-operation with voluntary organisations. We should encourage them to help more than they are now able to do by extending to £1 the charitable disregard, which allows for only 10s. 6d. a week without reduction in State aid. My right hon. Friend should consider encouraging as many charitable organisations as possible to help individuals in need, not just restricting them to a small number. All these proposals will certainly mean more money for those local authorities heavily weighted with an elderly population. It is along those lines that we can find the best opportunities to help them.
Finally, I will quote from an article written by Baroness Wootton in 1953, when she was Mrs. Barbara Wootton. This appeared in the Political Quarterly and was entitled "The Labour Party and the Social Services". She said:Certainly the future design of the social services waits upon some clearer decision as to what these services are supposed to be for. In particular, are they intended to contribute to a policy of social equality? Or are they just part of the national minimum programme enunciated in the earlier work of the Webbs—measures to secure that nobody starves, or is too poor to see a doctor, or lacks a rudimentary education. It is the answers to these questions which must govern the whole future of our social services.128 It is the answer which I have sought somewhat hesitantly to propose and which I think is the best way to help those who most need our attention and assistance. Along those lines and in the direction we have proposed our State effort should be concentrated, and we should make certain that it is not so all-pervasive as to discourage as many as possible from becoming self-providing to an increasing extent.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. Crossman (Coventry, East)
We have had now, for the third occasion in six months, a debate on this issue, and once again there seems to be no sign of any flagging of interest. If I remember rightly, our first occasion was the White Paper, the second was the Second Reading of the National Insurance Bill, and now we have come to what we regard as a censure debate both on the principles of the National Insurance Bill and on their application in this year's Budget.
However, it is only on this occasion that we have been honoured by the participation of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Before I answer the serious contributions, I will deal with his extremely exhilarating speech. I enjoyed it a great deal. I even enjoyed the references to myself, and, if I may quote from the right hon. Gentleman, I regarded his speech as full orchestra, wind and all. If one is to take the right hon. Gentleman seriously, I will say only one thing to him. I think that probably the speech had a greater success here than it will have outside. I doubt whether many of the people outside who are considering this question seriously will take it as a serious speech. I will give one example of what seemed to me to be a certain frivolity in his treatment of history.
One of his themes was that Tories do things for pensioners whereas the Labour Party only talks about doing them. To prove his point, the right hon. Gentleman conveniently began the history of pensions in 1947. It is comparatively easy to prove that the Labour Party does nothing if one leaves out of account altogether the introduction of the 26s. pension in 1946. If that is left out of account —the greatest increase in the history of pensions, the establishment of the modern pension—then, of course, it is not difficult for a Tory to say, "Look, our improvements on the 26s. scheme are the only 129 things which have been done for the old-age pensioner".
Let us take also his allusions to the history of the Labour Government's treatment of the pensioner between the 26s. pensions inception and the coming of the Tories to office. This is a delicate subject He and I were both Members of the House at that time.
§ Mr. Crossman
I am sorry. The right hon. Gentleman was not.
I have been trying to find references to the active participation of the Tory Opposition at that time with those of us who were pleading the cause of the old-age pensioners. If it is true that the Tory Party is so passionately engaged in the concerns of the pensioners it is surprising to find that its concern was so muted during those years when, in retrospect, the right hon. Gentleman finds the conduct of our Government so unsatisfactory.
Lastly, we come to his curious accusations about our conduct as an Opposition. It was at this point that the right hon. Gentleman worked himself up until all the instruments of the orchestra and all the wind were playing full blast. I have never heard a man speak more passionately in denunciation of electioneering.
Whenever I hear a person "tear a passion to tatters" on the subject of electioneering, I suspect that he may be engaged in it himself. It is remarkable that when the Opposition put forward a long-term scheme for reforming old-age pensions, which includes a short-term proposal for a £3 a week minimum, they should be denounced in the most violent terms as a wholly unworthy, utterly vulgar, hypocritical, vote-catching gang.
I had the feeling, during this magnificent orchestral performance, that the right hon. Gentleman was playing his tuba for a very long time to fill in the interval before a more senior colleague arrives on the stage, orders the spot light and says, "Pensions shall, after all, be increased". When the Prime Minister has come to do that, then the right hon. Gentleman will have fulfilled his function of making loud noises while the Prime Minister is making up his mind whether it shall be 3s., 4s., or 5s.—i.e. what is the minimum price the Tory Party will have to pay in order to avoid defeat at the polls. That is my view of the real rŵle of electioneering on this issue.
130 And now I will get down to the serious topic of this debate, which is our Motion and the Amendment moved by hon. Members opposite. I am glad that the Amendment is on the Order Paper, because it enables us to present both sides to the people of this country. For I, too, am very much aware that we are speaking in the presence of our electors who are being interested in what we are saying—and why not? Elections are supposed to be about vital topics, and I see nothing wrong in discussing a subject in which the electors take a vital interest and about which they know enough to tell whether some of us are talking nonsense or not. That seems to me to be an excellent thing.
I know no subject better than pensions for the electors to test out politicians to find out whether parties are putting forward practical working policies and doing something solid or not. I am glad that we have not only the Motion putting forward the policy of the Opposition, but a counter Amendment which, quite ostentatiously, takes the offensive and says, "We the Government are proud of our record, we the Government are proud of rejecting the Labour Party's plans for the old people, and we, the Government, are thoroughly satisfied for the people to judge us on our record on pensions".
To repeat something which I said in one of our earlier debates, the question of how a democracy treats its old people will and should be one of the great issues of the 1950s. We on this side feel that the poverty of which many of my hon. Friends have spoken in moving terms—and I am thinking particularly of the admirable maiden speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton)—the poverty with which we can claim more people on this side are closely related than hon. Members opposite, is now intolerable, occurring, as it does, in the expanding economy of the 1950s.
The reason why we have tabled this Motion of censure is because when we saw the Budget and the Government's decision about how to allocate the surplus we felt that it was not only economically unwise; it was an allocation of resources totally out of touch with the moral conscience of the British people in the 1950s. I speak not only for myself, but according to the polls 131 which have been taken by the Daily Mail and even by the Daily Express Even the Daily Express poll suggested that the subject on which the British people were far more interested than the price of beer was whether justice had been done to the old people. It was a gross miscalculation by the Government to believe that they could get away with a device for distributing £366 million overwhelmingly to the better-off people while finding no room for a single piece of assistance to the aged, to the sick, or to the unemployed.
I want to make one statement about our Motion and to put it in the right perspective. There are some people who believe that the case for increasing unemployment benefit and sickness benefit is only a corollary to the case for raising the rate of the retirement pensioner. By an accident we on this side started our work of research on the social services on the old people and we published our scheme for national superannuation first of all. It was inevitable, therefore, that in recording what should be done about unemployment and sickness we should seem to treat them as auxiliaries to our main purpose of finding a solution of the old-age pension.
Had we started the other way round, however, and begun on unemployment and sickness and then moved to old-age pensions, we would have found as overwhelming a case for relieving the short-term suffering of those who are unemployed often sick, and the widow, as we found for improving the long-term suffering of the old people. That is why I want to make it quite clear that in our Motion the 10s. increase to the £3 basic retirement pension applies equally to unemployment and sickness benefit. The increase of these benefits is not something which is accepted as a corollary to raising the retirement pension. It is something which has as overwhelming a moral case for it as the improvement of the benefits for the old people.
Therefore, when the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster challenges us and says that to the £116 million which the 10s. increase for the retirement pensioner would cost there must be added also the money for the unemployed, for sickness benefit, for the widows and for the consequential increase in National Assistance, 132 of which my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) spoke so movingly, we welcome his saying that. Of course, I accept from the right hon. Gentleman that the sum comes to £160 million and £200 million if the question of wives, which we have left out, were included. We accept the right hon. Gentleman's figures and we say that in a Budget of 1959, which claims to be a prosperity Budget, a surplus Budget and a giveaway Budget, the first priority should have been given to raising by 10s. of the rate of benefit for the unemployed, the sick and the retirement pensioners.
It is not for us to discuss precisely how that is to be done. We are making a statement that that should have been the top priority in the Budget, come what may. If and when we win the next election, one of the first actions of the Labour Government will be to do precisely what the Tory Government have failed to do in this Budget. We shall raise these benefits and create the £3 basic rate which was not created in this Budget.
I am interested to try to put as objectively as I can the real issues which have divided us in this debate. There were, as always, a number of extremely thoughtful and serious contributions to the debate, not only from this side but the other side. I want to try to answer those serious speeches.
What is the Tory case for not making this concession of the £3 pension this year? In order to he non-contentious, I want to consider what Viscount Hailsham. the Tory spokesman, who is, I believe, the party manager as well, said for the Government in another place in laying down Government policy. He said that there were two objections that the Tories had to raising the old-age pension, and continued:Let us examine in a little more detail the merits of this criticism. The object of the Budget is to inject, as we have agreed, £360 million into the economy of the country and so to help full employment. Let me ask the Opposition this question. The cost of raising the retirement pension by 10s. is, with consequentials, in round figures, £220 million. That is approximately the same amount as the value of the relief on income tax.He also said:… unless it were to be done, in effect, by borrowing (which I do not believe is suggested) the net injection into the economy would be nil, and the object of a Budget 133 which is to inject £360 million into the economy would be frustrated"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 15th April, 1959; Vol. 215, c. 674.]This is an extremely interesting statement of Tory economics. It is highly significant that the Chairman of the Tory Party believes that to raise the purchasing power of old-age pensioners, the unemployed and the sick, by £200 million is not an injection into the economy. The only injection into the economy in which he believes is an injection into the pockets of the backers of the Tory Party. When we propose to raise the purchasing power of the masses, he replies that that is not the kind of injection into the economy that he, Lord Hailsham, has been referring to.
Having heard this remarkable exposition of Lord Hailsham's economics, let us examine the second reason why he feels that one should not raise the old-age pension. This is even more choice.It is perfectly true that this year tax reliefs and other benefits amounting to £360 million have been granted, and it is also true that the Budget itself has contained no general increase in retirement pensions. But I would say this. One reason, at least, for that is that we put the old-age pensioner at the head and not at the base of the queue."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 15th April, 1959; Vol. 215, c. 670.]I hope every old-age pensioner hears this quoted to him as Lord Hailsham's view of what they have done. By "putting the old-age pensioner at the head of the queue" is meant that the Tories increased the pension the year before last and to such an extent that "now the pensioner has never had it so good".
This is the first serious issue which divides the House. It is not quite a party division, because a good many Government supporters below the Gangway were not convinced. The hon. Lady the Member for Melton (Miss Pike), for example, after making an extremely searching examination, discovered that a large number of old-age pensioners do not have it so good after all. But the prevailing Tory doctrine is that they should feel proud that the pensioners are at the head of the queue, and that two years ago, long before the Surtax payers received any benefits, they had a premonition and gave the pensioners their present magnificent standard of living.
This view is held not only by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but 134 by nearly all the top people. The Times, the Manchester Guardian, and the Economist have the same view. The Times had a most powerful passage on 9th April, which read:Whatever price index is used, the same conclusion emerges…Pensions have in fact shared in growing prosperity since 1948.It is fair to say that The Times added:…periodic readjustment has been somewhat spasmodic.Is this estimate right? Can we rest content and say that destitution and grinding poverty have been abolished by seven years of Tory Government; that they can be proud of their record, and that apart from minor adjustments we now simply have to maintain the magnificent living standard which the Tory Party has given to the pensioners?
On this issue, I prefer the first thoughts of The Times to the second. Although The Times has been writing leaders this year telling us that everything is perfect, I took the trouble to look up a leading article which appeared in it in November, 1957, when the new pension rate was first introduced, and when it said:The purpose is not to secure for the retired a share of the improved living standards…but, more modestly, to vouchsafe them pensions of the real purchasing power promised in 1946.The Times then makes a deliberate calculation and says:An index of 'working class' living costs, allowing for big rent increases, suggests that pensions of the 1946 value would have to amount to 47s. (single) and 76s. 6d. (couple) in 1958. The rates proposed are 50s. and 80s.I agree that The Times in 1957 slightly underestimated the increase. It may well be that the real purchasing power of pensions is now between 4s. and 5s. more than the 26s. pension in 1946.
What divides the House is the Government's complacency with a pension which, in 1959, is between 4s. and 5s. higher than that which was created in the first year after the war, when rationing was worse than in any of the war years. In the worst austerity year, we had the courage to give what seemed to be a very great deal. But now after seven years of free enterprise prosperity, with everybody getting rich as quickly as possible, it is a little cruel to say, "Look how wonderful we are. We have insured that the pensioner in 1959 is slightly better off than he was in 1946."
135 Our first reason for moving the Motion of censure is that we believe that is not good enough. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), said—and we are putting this to the country; we hope that it will be one of the great issues at the next election—we believe it is necessary that the pensioners, the sick and the unemployed should be guaranteed by our community a substantial increase in their share of national income. That is our case, and we put it forward saying, "Whatever the history of the past has been"—[Laughter.] Yes. I say that in all seriousness to hon. Members opposite. It is about time they were prepared to learn from their mistakes. I believe that the British public prefers politicians who have the courage to learn from experience and to say, "Right; we have learnt about inflation. We shall cope with that problem", to those who smother their mistakes under the loud-voiced noise that we heard from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster this afternoon.
On this question I should like to add one other thing. We on this side find it difficult to be content with those who talk as though poverty had been abolished in our country. I was very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) asked for more information. It is a striking fact that we know virtually nothing in detail about the condition of old people in this country except in the Boroughs of Salford and Bethnal Green. It is a striking fact that about the condition of the unemployed and the chronic sick there is the same appalling lack of precise information.
Only last week there was brought to my notice a remarkable survey carried out in Bristol in 1958—"Study of families in which earnings are interrupted by illness, injury or death." This study of people in Bristol corresponds to what was done in Salford and Bethnal Green. But it deals not with old people but with the families of the sick and the unemployed.
I will read out one passage which is not in favour of my argument. This survey was done by the Bristol University with a subsidy from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. In the author's remarks at the end it states:No family was in physical want. No family had lost its home because the rent could 136 not be paid. Housing standards were on the whole all right and the children clothed and shod. The bare-foot child of a generation ago was not encountered.I suspect that when they read that many right hon. and hon. Members opposite will say, "You see, it is all right. There is no more destitution, there is nothing to worry about." But poverty is not something absolute. Poverty is relative. Poverty is comparative. If we improve the general level of society, even from a radio society to a television society, or from a bicycle society to a motor car society, then the nature of poverty changes.
What was discovered here, as in all the other reports, is that whereas mass destitution has been abolished in this country —and thank heaven that it has—what has survived and is actually growing is pockets of grinding poverty. These are psychologically as painful, if not more painful, than the mass destitution of the pre-war years, because those who suffer are now isolated from their neighbours. At least before the war people shared in their suffering as a community. Now, on a modern housing estate in Bristol or in Coventry, one often finds a chronic sick man with no hope of ever working again, or an unemployed young man who is too proud to admit defeat, or old people who are too proud to receive National Assistance.
They are lonely people—people who have to conceal their poverty from their neighbours. They do not make much impression. It is one of the troubles of the prosperity of the 1950s that poverty is concealed and one can easily omit seeing the social problem which we have to face if one wishes. Our indictment of the party opposite is their readiness to omit seeing the suffering existing among unemployed, the sick and the old.
The Conservative Party holds the view that for the sake of stopping inflation some responsibility for creating unemployment must be assumed by the State. But if a party creates unemployment, it should at least make sure that it makes the conditions tolerable for those who are, as we hope, only transitionally unemployed as a result of its policy. That a Government should give away £366 million in its Budget and yet refuse 10s. to the unemployed whom they have deliberately thrown out of work reflects a curious sort of social conscience. I 137 will say another word about widows with children, because every survey shows that they have the hardest battle in this country. In many cases they battle best, but with a terribly low standard of living.
We believed that it was essential that all those people—the unemployed, the sick and the widows—should be helped in the Budget. The amount of money required for this would have been relatively small. I cannot help looking back to a remarkable Answer which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury gave to one of my hon. Friends who asked for the breakdown of the Budget concessions. These are striking figures. They show that 200,000 people with £3,000 a year or more received £3 a week out of the Budget, whereas 6,400,000 people with under £500 a year received less than 1s. a week out of the Budget. That is the kind of Budget it is even for the active earners.
But consider the chronic sick and the aged sick, who had been charged prescription charges because there was an economic crisis two years ago. The Government did not even think of providing the £5 million which would have been required to abolish those iniquitous prescription charges. I am glad that the people will soon be able to judge between the two sides of the House as to who is in earnest about looking after the old, the sick and the unemployed.
I come to the reasoned objections to the Motion which have been made by Tory speakers in the debate. One most powerful objection was argued ably by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) and the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. J. Eden). Both of them put forward a new, arresting kind somewhat alarming argument, and we should very much like to hear from the Minister how far he agrees with it. Both indicated that we should not waste taxpayers' money on anybody who does not need it but that we should concentrate the aid where the shoe pinches hardest. They said that the best way to find out where the shoe pinches hardest is to have a test of hard-pinching shoes, although whether for the family or individually is not clear. What a tempting argument it is for the administrator! Would it not be sensible, instead of increasing the flat-rate old-age pension they asked to increase National Assistance or to extend 138 the functions of National Assistance so that everybody who was proven poor could be helped while all those wealthy pensioners would not be helped at all.
This was put forward by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East in one of his graphic and graceful speeches. He described the elasticity and flexibility with which he would do it. He told us how wonderful were the National Assistance Board and all its officials. But there are three major objections to his plan. First, it is hard for me to listen to Members of a Tory Party which believes in individual enterprise and in freedom saying that they believe at the same time in the extension of National Assistance, which requires the subjection of those who take it to a means test. It seems to me almost intolerable to hear hon. Members opposite saying that it is kinder to do that when all the evidence of everybody who studies the problem shows that one of the things from which people suffer most in the 1950's is the sense of isolation and separation from the community which receiving National Assistance implies.
I shall pay my own tribute to the National Assistance Board. I believe that its officials do a miraculous job and do everything possible to avoid causing offence, but the fact remains that the decent, ordinary Englishman, or any man who has any pride, wants his benefit as of right—something which he has earned—not as something for which he qualifies by his need as ascertained by the gentlemen in Whitehall. These young Conservatives evince a keen interest that the gentlemen in Whitehall should be more and more active about the poor and less and less inquiring about the rich. We shall reverse the process we shall increase their inquiries into the rich taxpayer and resume their inquiries into the poor by raising the standard of living of the old-age pensioner as far as we can above the National Assistance level.
We can say from our side that we reject altogether any idea of extending the activities of National Assistance, and we hope we shall hear from the Minister that he fully agrees with us and that any idea of saving money by raising National Assistance scales and leaving the scales of the old-age pensions steady is something which he repudiates altogether, now another Tory objection.
139 It is true enough that in the case of the old-age pension an increase of 10s. in the flat rate does benefit a great number of people who do not need it whereas this does not apply to unemployment or sickness or widow's benefit. With the growth of private pension schemes the division of the country into the privileged minority on superannuation and the unprivileged majority who rely on National Assistance has created a situation in which merely to increase the flat rates does not solve the problem of the two nations.
This is precisely why, over two years ago, we put forward our plan for national superannuation. This is precisely why we urged that as a long-term policy we should seek to superimpose on the flat-rate pension another pension. Our plan ensured that everybody should draw from the private employer, the public employer or from the State a graded pension earned by his own savings and those of his employer, in addition to his social service pension. The whole essence of that was to try to whittle away the difference between the two nations in old age by building up a national superannuation for those who are excluded, and always will be excluded, as most of them will, for any private pension scheme. This is a long-term plan, and we have introduced the £3 a week pension as a short-term interim measure.
Let me tell the Minister why we did that and why we hope for approval from the Government. The right hon. Gentleman, as we well know, is now engaged upstairs in putting through Committee a very complicated National Insurance Bill introducing very complex machinery for superimposing on the flat-rate pension certain limited graded pensions and contributions. We said to him that if we are to improve the lot of the future pensioner, the first thing we must do is to give justice to the 5 million existing pensioners. The essential basic fundamental of any pension reform must be justice to the existing pensioners written into the actual Bill. That is why we insisted on trying to write £3 minimum pension into his Bill as well as a guarantee against inflation.
The Prime Minister, in a speech on Saturday last, said that he thought that the Government had done better than we had. I think he missed the point. There are two things we can do. We can decide 140 to raise the real value of pensions, in which case we do not deny that an Act of Parliament will be required. Alternatively, we can create machinery for automatically adjusting the value of the pension if it has been whittled away by rising prices. This "inflation guarantee" would render it unnecessary to introduce a Bill in Parliament every time the pension has been whittled away. We had hoped that the Prime Minister, with his background of interest in social problems would have seen the point.
For example, since the Pensions Bill was introduced on Second Reading the value of the pension has fallen, not by a lot but by 1s. 3d. a week. Why should a pensioner be cheated of 1s. 3d. a week? Because it is not worth introducing a Bill? If we write into the Bill an automatic adjustment, we could ensure that pensioners would not be cheated in this small way year after year.
I should now like to say a brief word about the Government's scheme. The Government have now revealed their plan to keep everyone earning under £9 a week on a flat-rate pension and to give those earning from £9 to £15 a week a graded pension, but the Minister himself does not deny that of the graded contribution only 42 per cent. will go for pension, the rest being "swiped" by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make up his liability. That is the kind of great reform the Government are introducing.
Quite bluntly, it means that the Government accept that there will be in the future, as there has been in the past, a division between the privileged in old age —the fortunate ones who are in the private schemes or have private incomes and the unprivileged. The benefits of the Government graded scheme are so pitiable that even in the year 2005 the young man who has been earning £15 a week for all his working life will be getting only £6 a week in pension. That is the sort of princely sum envisaged in the Government's scheme.
We say to the Government, "Your scheme is not a pension scheme at all. It is a scheme for transferring the burden of paying the cost for existing pensioners from the taxpayer to the contributor and, as such, we must reject it altogether. Your short-term plan, also, is cynically wrong. You intend to "keep the situation under observation, until nearer to an 141 election, you can judge whether or not some increase of pension is electorally profitable."
So much for the charge that it is we who are playing politics with pensions! On this I agree with the Minister of Labour, who ended a previous debate by saying that the argument would not finish then but would go on to the General Election. All I say to that is, "The sooner the better."
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)
I have listened, as I always try to do when it falls on me to conclude a debate, to virtually the whole of this debate. I must say that, except at its beginning and in the last few minutes, it has been very far from having the atmosphere of a Motion of censure. Indeed, I thought that the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr Marquand), in his somewhat uncharacteristic attempt to create that atmosphere—and with, if I may say so, his very uncharacteristic violence and unfairness— [HON. MEMERS: "Oh."] —really gave the impression of a classical pianist who is compelled by his manager to play rock 'n roll, and disliking it very much.
As soon as he had finished, we had a debate which, though it was certainly very far from having an atmosphere of a Motion of censure—because I think that many hon. Members opposite know, in their heart of hearts, that a censure Motion on such a subject is wholly unjustified—nevertheless contained some most interesting contributions to many of the practical problems that affect us in connection with what the White Paper rightly called the greatest social problem of our time.
We had most interesting and thoughtful speeches from my hon. Friends the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort), for Bournemouth, West (Mr. J. Eden) and for Melton (Miss Pike), as well as from the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin). If I may say so, we also had an extremely agreeable maiden speech from the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Holton). Some hon. Members on this side of the House would have borne it with stoical fortitude if the hon. Member had not been here to deliver it, but, as it was, he did so in a manner which 142 was both agreeable and effective. I very much hope that his manifest interest in social problems will cause him to take part very frequently in our debates on this subject.
I will follow up, first, the suggestion of the hon. Member for Paddington, North. He made the point, which has often been made in the course of these debates—the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East has made it more than once—that there is insufficient information on these subjects and that we ought to make special inquiries into the needs of those concerned.
I do not rule out the desirability, in particular circumstances, of special inquiries, but the House probably does not fully appreciate the great mass of information which is available—through my Department, with its hundreds of local offices spread throughout the country: through the National Assistance Board, whose staff, as its annual report points out, makes 6 or 7 million visits to people's homes in the course of the year; the very detailed information as to the dietary of old people which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food collects in his Food Survey; the information from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and, not least, the extremely useful information which flows regularly into my Department from hon. Members on both sides of the House. The suggestion that any Minister of Pensions and National Insurance can live in an ivory tower, unaware of the needs of the situation, will, I think, be repudiated by right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have held comparable positions.
It is implicit in the Motion, and became finally explicit in the speech of the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Cross-man), that National Insurance matters are matters for the Budget. With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, that is not only wholly wrong, but also inconsistent with much of the history of National Insurance. Changes in National Insurance, which, I remind the House, is a contributory system with benefits dependent upon contributions, require a separate Bill. In point of fact and as a matter of history, the change which operated, not as the hon. Member for Coventry, East said, the year before last, but in January of last year, and the change which operated in 1955, were announced and carried 143 through at totally different times of the year to the Budget. It is perfectly true that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary foreshadowed National Insurance changes in his Budget speech in 1952, but that was for the very special reason that he was announcing changes in food subsidies and compensating increases in the social services.
The most unhappy precedent is perhaps that of 1951, to which the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East referred with such approval. He said that his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in the Budget of that year, announced an increase in benefits costing, I think he said, £39 million. He did not mention that his right hon. Friend had available the 4d. increase in contribution which came into effect in that year under the 1946 Act. Nor did he mention that his right hon. Friend's original proposal was to reduce the Exchequer contribution to National Insurance from the one-fourth laid down in the 1946 Act to the nominal figure of 6d., in other words, to one-seventeenth, and that it was only the efforts of my noble Friend Lord Ingleby and those of my right hon. Friends and hon. Friends that forced the right hon. Gentleman to readjust those proposals. Therefore, on his argument that these things are best dealt with in a Budget, that is a very unhappy precedent.
There is, in fact, a link with the Budget, not in regard to National Insurance, but in regard to the wider question which the House has been discussing of the treatment of the elderly. The treatment of the old by way of tax reliefs to those within the zone of taxation has been a feature of the Budgets which my right hon. Friends have introduced. There we are dealing with a matter which I suggest to the House is legitimately within the compass of budgetary treatment. There has been the age relief, which, the House knows, gives the full two-ninths allowance appropriate to earned income to people over retirement pension age in respect of their investment income. That figure has been consistently raised, from £500 a year, where it stood in 1951, to £800 a year now.
Then there is the age exemption which exempts altogether from Income Tax the income of an elderly person up to £275 a year single, or £440 married. May I 144 give one very striking example which the House will appreciate. An elderly person, in 1951, living on savings bringing in £8 a week, would have paid back £32 16s. by way of Income Tax. Today, thanks to Conservative Chancellors, he pays no tax at all.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster made it clear that the problem of the treatment of the retirement pensioner is nothing like as simple or as over-simplified as certain speeches would suggest. We are here dealing with 5,330,000 people who, particularly since the late-age entrants came into benefit last summer, include every section and level of our society and of income. It is a completely misleading and confusing way of dealing with this problem to equate, as several speakers did, the words "retirement pensioner" with the words "those in need". In truth and in fact, it would be astonishing if, in a community whose standards over recent years have steadily risen, anything like that total of people should be in anything like the degree of need which has been suggested.
The problem is much more diverse and, for that reason, much more difficult both to understand and to deal with. I would. none the less, ask the House to reflect for a moment upon the nature of the problem. This vast total of our fellow countrymen contains those who have savings of their own, and I am bound to remind the House that those savings have increased substantially during the last few years. It includes people who draw an occupational pension on top of their National Insurance pension. There are over 1 million people with occupational pensions today. It includes those who draw not the basic National Insurance pension, but the basic pension incremented as a result of continuation at work. Half the men now retiring have earned those increments, and they average 9s. for the single man and 13s. 6d. for the married man.
Failing all else, there is resort to National Assistance. The House has heard the figures already, but I will repeat them. It is interesting that the proportion of retirement pensioners drawing assistance has fallen from 24.7per cent. a year ago to 20.4 per cent. Let me remind the House that there would be a reduction, even if one excluded altogether consideration of the late-age entrants.
145 I was extremely glad to hear what I thought was a much more wholesome handling of this question of National Assistance than I have heard in our earlier debates. It is immensely important that nobody should be deterred from resorting to National Assistance because of the suggestion that there is a lack of self-respect or of dignity in so doing. Indeed, it has been urged that there is something almost shameful in mentioning that National Assistance was available, because it was thought—as, indeed, it is thought by, I believe, a diminishing number of people—that some indignity was involved. The truth of the matter is that money drawn in National Assistance comes from the taxpayer, who is the source of so many social benefits, and who, as I understand it, would be the source of the benefits proposed in the Motion which is before the House.
As I listened to the debate, I heard a good deal which strengthened my view of the value of National Assistance. Case after case was produced of what one can describe as special need. The hon. Member for Paddington, North, quite naturally. spoke of the difficulties of those in London. Other hon. Members spoke about individual cases among their constituents. These special and peculiar needs are difficult to deal with within the framework of contributory insurance, but when it comes to supplementing that system, as is done in the case of the 20.4 per cent. to which I referred, the National Assistance Board's powers for meeting particular and special cases enable it to deal with them with considerable flexibility.
I do not know whether the House knows that, of the retirement pensioners who receive a supplement from the Assistance Board, 63 per cent. receive not merely the scale rates, but also get discretionary additions which the Board is able to make to deal with particular and special circumstances. That is an indication of the flexibility of the system.
It is clear in this House, therefore, whatever may be the position outside, that the remark, "How do you expect a single pensioner to live on 50s., or a couple to live on 80s.?" is completely away from the truth. In the absence of those other resources, which the great majority of them have, as the House knows, there is resort—proper, legitimate, self-respecting 146 resort—to this particularly flexible system of supplementation which provides, as it were, the long-stop for our social services and prevents real hardship being suffered.
I stress that because what is said in the House can do a great deal of harm and, indeed, do much to create an impression that there is something wrong and degrading about resort to National Assistance. It can cause people to impose upon themselves hardship which is, in truth, unnecessary. That is why I welcome the fact that, even against the background of a diminishing proportion of retirement pensioners requiring such supplementation, there has been much less criticism in the House of the fact that retirement pensions are supplemented than in any previous debate in which I have taken part.
The hon. Member for Coventry, East said a remarkable thing. He said, in effect, "Whatever the past, let us do this and that". I can understand his saying that, but what he and his right hon. Friends must address themselves to is that what they have put down is a Motion of censure. When people come forward to censure someone else, it is at least material for that someone else to point out that it is the admitted basis of the discussion that they themselves did worse. The right of the Opposition not to discuss the matter—there are frequent opportunities for that—but to put down a Motion of censure against Her Majesty's Government, must, in the eyes of thinking and objective people, be vitiated by the fact—as I understand it, the now admitted fact—that their record on this matter is nothing like as good as ours.
At the moment they selected for putting down a Motion of censure on Her Majesty's Government, the actual level of the benefits referred to is higher than it was at any time before the increase in January, 1958, and higher than at any time during the term of office of right hon. and hon. Members opposite. It is true not only in cash terms, but in real terms.
In cash terms, the retirement pension for a single person is worth 20s. more, and in real terms it is worth 10s. 7d. more —27 per cent. better than the level at which right hon. Gentlemen opposite left it when they went out of office in 1951. I take for the purpose of that calculation 147 the figure most favourable to the Opposition, the 30s. to which they raised some of the pensions. I say nothing about those which they left at 26s.
The hon. Member for Coventry, East referred to the problem of the unemployed. He did not recall that, whereas the benefit paid to an unemployed man with a wife and three children was 67s. in 1951, it is now 127s., an increase in real terms of 39s., or 44 per cent. He referred, if I may say so rightly, to the widow with children as having perhaps the hardest time of anybody. He will recall that the Government recognised that in 1956 by an increase, which was proportionately maintained in 1958, making better provision for widows' children than is made for the child dependents of other beneficiaries of National Insurance.
The net result is that a widow with three children who received 55s. in October, 1951, now has 112s., an increase in real terms of 39s. 9d., or 55 per cent. The provision for the children is even better than that. In real terms, provision for the first child is 52 per cent., for the second child 103 per cent. and for the third child 124 per cent. higher than the level at which the right hon. Gentleman left it. Let us take industrial injuries benefit and disablement benefit at the 100 per cent. rate. It is now 44 per cent. in real terms above the level at which the right hon. Gentleman left it.
I am sorry—and I share the regret of the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King)—that war pensions were dragged into this debate. As the House knows, over the last three and a half years I have done my best to keep the war pension provisions out of political and Parliamentary controversy, but as it has been dragged in I must remind the House that the 100 per cent. rate has been raised in real terms by 25s. 11d., or 44 per cent.
The improvements to which I have referred do not stop there. In October, 1951, family allowances were 5s. for the second and subsequent children. The allowance is now 8s. for the second and 10s. for the third and each subsequent child. An age allowance has been introduced for war pensioners at 65 and elderly war widows are to get an extra 10s. at 148 age 70. Substantial increases have been made in other war pension allowances. Provision of 17s. 6d. a week has been made for the totally incapacitated workmen's compensation cases who had their injuries before the Industrial Injuries Act was passed. Relaxations were made in the earnings rule in 1956 and a further relaxation comes into effect today. Guardians allowance has been more than doubled—from 13s. 6d. to 27s. 6d. Substantial proposals to improve the increments which can be earned by remaining at work are, as the House knows, in the Bill which is at present going through the Committee stage upstairs.
I now come back to the main rates to which undoubtedly the Motion particularly refers. The increase in September, 1951, was made against an increase in prices since 1946 of 27.9 per cent. In itself, it amounted only to an improvement of 15.4 per cent. as against the 27.9 per cent. increase in prices. Let us contrast this with the changes for which my right hon. Friends are responsible. By October, 1952, there had been a 7.7 per cent. increase in prices; the increase in pensions amounted to 8.3 per cent. In April, 1955, when there had been a 6.6 per cent. increase in prices since the last change in pensions, there was a 23.1 per cent. increase. Finally, in January, 1958, there was a 12.9 per cent. increase in prices with a 25 per cent. increase in pensions. The difference between the changes that we have made, and those for which right hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible is that in their case the increase was about half the increase in prices. Each of our three increases was bigger than the intervening increase in prices, in the last two cases conspicuously so.
In a letter to The Times, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) took the point that we could not expect in the first two months after the war—that was his phrase—to attain as good a standard as one would like. That is an argument which commands respect, but it becomes a little curious when one reflects that that standard, which the right hon. Gentleman says was affected by having been made a few months after the war, was not maintained and that as year followed year the standard was, in fact, reduced. It is legitimate to argue that in 1946 the shadow 149 of the war lay upon us, but after five years of Socialist planning the result was not better than immediately after the war but worse.
The Motion of censure uses the words "repeatedly refused". I should have thought that they applied with far more accuracy to the action of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Perhaps some schizophrenic, Freudian instinct caused them to put them on the Order Paper. Let us look at the facts. In 1948, there was a 7 per cent. increase in prices. Nothing was put on the pension. In 1949, there was a 3.6 per cent. rise in prices. There was nothing on the pension. In 1950, there was a 2.5 per cent. increase in prices. There was no increase in the pension. Then we come to 1951, the year in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East said, "We used subsidies to keep prices stable". In that year, prices rose 11.9 per cent.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
The hon. Gentleman asks, "What about Korea?" Is he really saying that the effort involved in maintaining a brigade group and a squadron in Far Eastern waters overbalanced our precariously based Socialist economy?
We come to 1951, and we will complete the story, because then the pensions moved for some pensioners, but not all. They increased by 4s. for some. The House must note that this increase provided nothing for the future, nothing for the plainly continuing rise in prices. It did not even restore the original value. To have restored the original value, the increase, even for those who got it, would have had to be 7s. 3d. and not 4s.
We recall these matters because it is right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have put a Motion on the Order Paper referring to repeated refusals. If, by repeated refusals, they have in mind the fact that, whenever it has suited the political convenience of the Socialist Party to put forward a demand of this
§ kind, we have not responded, it is accurate. If, however, it is based upon what they know to be the realities of National Insurance, of decisions taken on a variety of grounds, as the Phillips Committee have recommended, but decisions which have produced a steady improvement in the value of the benefits, then I think we can reject that, and reject it out of hand.
§ It is sometimes suggested that, despite increasing development, expansion and prosperity, we have sloughed off the burden of providing for pensions. That is not true. The total provision for pension benefits in 1947 was £213 million. At the end of 1958 it was £705 million, If the House wants to know the provision for National Insurance pensions alone as a proportion of the gross national product, the figure is 2.60 per cent. for 1947 and 3.51 per cent. for 1958. It is, therefore, not fair to suggest, as has been suggested in speech after speech by Members opposite, that there has been a lightening, a sloughing off by the Exchequer of its liabilities. On the contrary, there has been a steady and constructive improvement.
§ It is, of course, a matter of judgment, and of infinitely difficult judgment, to decide at what time, and by how much, to make advances in this matter. It is not a matter that is helped by Motions of this kind, still less by publicised proposals to make a specific increase of 10s. at some unknown time and in some unknown circumstances.
§ I would suggest that to dangle that figure as a pledge to millions of people, a pledge to be carried out in circumstances that right hon. Gentlemen have no idea about, no knowledge of what prices may be, and no knowledge of what the state of the national economy may be, is an attempt to buy votes which dishonours those who attempt it and which will recoil upon them.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 256, Noes 319.155
|Division No. 84.]||AYES||[9.56 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Allen, Arthur Bosworth)||Balfour, A.|
|Ainsley, J. W||Awbery, S. S.||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.|
|Albu, A. H||Bacon, Miss Alice||Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Baird, J.||Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)|
|Benson, Sir George||Hoy, J. H.||Peart, T. F.|
|Beswick, Frank||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pentland, N.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hughes, Entry (S. Ayrshire)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Blackburn, F.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Popplewell, E.|
|Blenklntop, A.||Hunter, A. E.||Prentice, R. E.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Probert, A. R.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Pursey, Cmdr, H|
|Brockway, A. F.||Janner, B.||Rankin, John|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Redhead, E. C.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Reeves, J.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Jeger, Mrs.Lena (Holbn & st.Pncs.S.)||Reid, William|
|Burke, W. A.||Jenkins, Roy (Stetchford)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Rhodes, H.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefleld)||Roberts, Albert (Nomtanton)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Ross, William|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Royle, C.|
|Cliffe, Michael||Kenyon, C.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Clunle, J.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Short, E. W.|
|Coldrick, W.||King, Dr. H. M.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Lawson, G. M.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Ledger, R. J.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|man, R. H. S.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Snow, J. W.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lewis, Arthur||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, Rt.Hn.Clement(Montgomery)||Lindgren, G. S.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lipton, Marcus||Sparks, J. A.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Logan, D. G.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Deer, G.||McAlister, Mrs. Mary||Stonehouse, John|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||McCann, J.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Diamond, John||MacColl, J. E.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. d.|
|Dodds, N. N.||MacDermot, Niall||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||McGovern, J.||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Mcinnes, J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Edelman, M.||McLeavy, Frank||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Edwarde, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mahon, Simon||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Thornton, E.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Timmons, d.|
|Finch, H. J. (Bedwellty)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Tomney, F.|
|Fitch, A. E. (Wlgan)||Mason, Roy||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mayhew, C. P.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mellish, R. J.||Viant, S. P.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Messer, Sir F.||Wade, D. W.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mikardo, Ian||Warbey, W. N.|
|George, Lady Megan Lioyd(Car'then)||Mitchison, G. R.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Monslow, W.||Weitzman, D.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Moody, A. S.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Morrison, Rt.Hn.Herbert(Lewis'm, S.)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mort, D. L.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Grey, C. F.||Moss, R.||Wigg, George|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Moyle, A.||Wilcock, Croup Capt. C. A. B.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hale, Leslie||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Willey, Frederick|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Hannan, W.||Oram, A. E.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Orbach, M.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Oswald, T.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Healey, Denis||Owen, W. J.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Herbison, Miss M,||Padley, W. E.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Paget, R. T.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hilton, A. V.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Hobson, C. R. (Kelghley)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Holman, P.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Woof, R. E.|
|Holmes, Horace||Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Holt, A. F.||Pargiter, G. A.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Parker, J.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Paton, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Lagden, G. W.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Errington, Sir Eric||Lambton, Viscount|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Erroll, F. J.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Fell, A.||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Finlay, Graeme||Leavey, J. A.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Fisher, Nigel||Leburn, W. G.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Fletcher. Cooke, C||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E, A. H.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Forrest, G.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.|
|Ashton, H.||Fort, R.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Foster, John||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)|
|Atkins, H. E.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Linstead, Sir H. N.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. d. M.||Freeth, Denzil||Llewellyn, D. T.|
|Baldwin, Sir Archer||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G.(Sutton Coldfield)|
|Balniel, Lord||Gammans, Lady||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Banks. Col. C.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Barber, Anthony||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Barlow, Sir John||Gibson, C. W.||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Barter, John||Glover, D.||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby|
|Batsford, Brian||Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Godber, J. B.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford&Chiswick)|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Goodhart, Philip||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Gough, C. F. H.||McAdden, S. J.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, 8.)||Gower, H. R.||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Graham, Sir Fergus||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Green, A.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Gresham Cooke, R.||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Bishop, F. P,||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||McMaster, Stanley|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Gurden, Harold||Macmillan, Rt. Hn.Harold(Bromley)|
|Body, R. f.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Maddan, Martin|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Braine, B. R.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Bralthwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Brewis, John||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Marples, Rt. Hon. A, E.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Marshall, Douglas|
|Brooman-White, R, C.||Hay, John||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Mawby, R. L.|
|Bryan, P.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr, S. L. C.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Medilcott, Sir Frank|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hesketh, R. F.||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Butler, Rt.Hn.R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Carr, Robert||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hill, John (8. Norfolk)||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Hirst, Geoffrey||Neave, Airey|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth. W.)||Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)||Nicholls, Harmer|
|Cole, Norman||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hope, Lord John||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Cooke, Robert||Hornby, R. P.||Noble, Cmdr. Rt. Hon. Allan|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Noble, Michael (Argyll)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Horobin, Sir Ian||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim(Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Crosthwalte-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Osborne, C.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.)||Page, R. G.|
|Crowder, Petre (Rulsllp—Northwood)||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh.W.)||Panned, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Cunningham, Knox||Hyde, Montgomery||Partridge, E.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Peel, W. J.|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Iremonger, T. L.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Deedes, W. F.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. MCA.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pott, H. P.|
|Doughty, C, J. A.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Drayson, G. B.||Jones, Rt- Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Joseph, Sir Keith||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kaberry, D.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Keegan, D.||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Eccies, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Redmayne, M.|
|Elliott, R.W.(Ne'castle upon Tyne.N.)||Kimball, M.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Remnant, Hon. P.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Renton, D. L. M.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Ridsdale, J. E.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Rippon, A. G. F.||Storey, S.||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Robertson, Sir David||Studholme, Sir Henry||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Summers, Sir Spencer||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Robson Brown, Sir William||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)||Wall, Patrick|
|Roper, Sir Harold||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Teeling, W.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Sharpies, R. C.||Temple, John M.||Webster, David|
|Shepherd, William||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, w.)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Spearman, Sir Alexander||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Speir, R. M.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Spence. H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)||Turner, H. F. L.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Stevens, Geoffrey||Tweedsmuir, Lady||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Heath and Mr. Legh.|
§ Question put, That the proposed words be there added:—156
§ The House divided: Ayes 319, Noes 257.159
|Division No. 85.]||AYES||[10.10 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Aitken, w. T.||Cole, Norman||Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, 8.)||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr.R. (Nantwich)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Cooke, Robert||Green, A.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Cooper, A. E.||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albanc)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Corfield, F. V.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Gurden, Harold|
|Ashton, H.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Astor, Hon. J, J.||Crosthwalte-Eyre, Col. C. E.||Hare, Rt. Hon J. H.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Baldwin, Sir Archer||Cunningham, Knox||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)|
|Balniel, Lord||Currie, G. B. H.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Dance, J. C. G.||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macolesf'd)|
|Barber, Anthony||Davidson, Viscountess||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Barlow, Sir John||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Barter, John||Deedes, W. F.||Hay, John|
|Batsford, Brian||de Ferranti, Basil||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||D odds-Parker, A. D.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. MCA.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Doughty, C. J. A.||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Drayson, G. B.||Hesketh, R. F.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||du Cann, E. D. L.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Duncan, Sir James||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Bevins, d. R. (Toxteth)||Duthie, W. S.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Bingham, R. M.||Elliott, R.W.(Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.)||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Errington, Sir Eric||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Erroll, F. J.||Hope, Lord John|
|Body, R. F.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Hornby, R. P.|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Fell, A.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Finlay, Graeme||Horobin, Sir Ian|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Fisher, Nigel||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Braine, B. R.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Forrest, G.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.|
|Brewis, John||Fort, R.||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Foster, John||Hum, Sir Anthony|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Freeth, Denzil||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)|
|Browns, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Hyde, Montgomery|
|Bryan, J.||Gammans, Lady||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Gibson-Watt, D.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A. (Saffron Walden)||Glover, D.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Carr, Robert||Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)|
|Gary, Sir Robert||Godber, J. B.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Goodhart, Philip||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Cough, C. F. H.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Gower, H. R.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Kaberry, D.||Moore, Sir Thomas||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Keegan, D.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Speir, R. M.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kcns'gt'n, S.)|
|Kimball, M.||Nairn, D. L. S.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Lagden, G. W.||Neave, Airey||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Lambton, Viscount||Nicholls, Harmar||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan||Storey, S.|
|Leavey, J. A.||Noble, Michael (Argyll)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Leburn, W. G.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Oakshott, H. D.||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Lindsay, Martin (Sollhull)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian (Hendon, N.)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Osborne, C.||Teeling, W.|
|Liewellyn, D. T.||Page, R. G.||Temple, John M.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Simon Coldfield)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Partridge, E.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Peel, W. J.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Peyton, J. W. W.||Thompson, R (Croydon, S.)|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. p.|
|Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Thornton- Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Lucas, P. B, (Brentford & Chiswick)||Pitman, I. J,||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Pitt, Miss, E. M.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|McAdden, S. J.||Pott, H. P.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Powell, J. Enoch||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Profumo, J. D.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Ramsden, J. E.||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Rawlinson, Peter||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Redmayne, M.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|McMaster, Stanley||Remnant, Hon. P.||Wall, Patrick|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Renton, D. L. M.||Ward, Rt. Hon. C. R. (Worcester)|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Rippon, A. G. F.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Maddan, Martin||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Webster, David|
|Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Robertson, Sir David||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Robson Brown, Sir William||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Roper, Sir Harold||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Marshall, Douglas||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R,||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Sharpies, R. C.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Mawby, R. L.||Shepherd, William||Woollam, John Victor|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Medlicott, Sir Frank||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Heath and Mr. Legh.|
|Abse, Leo||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Albu, A. H.||Callaghan, L. J.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Champion, A. J.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Chapman, W. D.||Fernyhough, E.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Chetwynd, G. R.||Finch, H. J. (Bedwellty)|
|Baird, J.||Cliffe, Michael||Fitch, A. E. (Wigan)|
|Balfour, A.||Clunie, J.||Fletcher, Eric|
|Beilenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Coldrick, W.||Forman, J. C.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Benson, Sir George||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||George, Lady MeganLioyd(Car'then)|
|Beswick, Frank||Cronin, J. D.||Gibson, C. W.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Grossman, R. H. S.||Gooch, E. G.|
|Blackburn, F.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Cordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Greenwood, Anthony|
|Blyton, W. R.||Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement(Momgomery)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Grey, C. F.|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)|
|Boyd, T. C.||Deer, G.||Hale, Leslie|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Diamond, John||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Dodds, N. N.||Hannan, W.|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Donnelly, D. L.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Hayman, R. H.|
|Burke, W. A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Healey, Denis|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Edelman, M.||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Hilton, A. V.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Holman, P.||Mason, Roy||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Holmes, Horace||Mellish, R. J.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, 8.)|
|Holt, A. F.||Messer, Sir F.||Snow, J. W.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Mikardo, Ian||Sorensen, R. W,|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Mitchison, G. R.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Monslow, W.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Hoy, J. H.||Moody, A. S.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Morrison, Rt.Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm.S.)||Storehouse, John|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Mort, D. L.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Moss, R.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Moyle, A.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Near, Harold (Bolsover)||Stress, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Oliver, G. H.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Oram, A. E.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Janner, B.||Orbach, M.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Oswald, T.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Owen, W. J.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn&St.Pncs.S.)||Padley, W. E.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Paget, R. T.||Thornton, E.|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Timmons, J.|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Tomney, F.|
|Jones, Rt.Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Usborne, H. C.|
|Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Pargiter, G. A.||Vlant, S. P.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Parker, J.||Wade, D. W.|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Parkin, B. T.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Paton, John||Watkins, T. E.|
|Kenyon, C.||Peart, T. F.||Weitzman, D.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Pentland, N.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Lawson, G. M.||Popplewell, E.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Ledger, R. J.||Prentice, R. E.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wigg, George|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Wiloock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Probert, A. R.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Proctor, W. T.||Willey, Frederick|
|Lewis, Arthur||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Williams David (Neath)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Rankin, John||Williams Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Redhead, E. C.||Williams Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Logan, D. C.||Reeves, J.||Williams W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Reid, William||Williams W. T. (Barons Court)|
|McAlister, Mrs. Mary||Reynolds, G. W.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|McCann, J.||Rhodes, H.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|MacColl, J. E.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|MacDermot, Niall||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|McGovern, J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Woof, R. E.|
|Mclnnes, J.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|McLeavy, Frank||Ross, William||Zilliacus, K.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Royle, C.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mahon, Simon||Short, E. W.||Mr. Bowdeo and Mr. Pearson.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
§ Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That this House, noting that the Government has made substantial improvements in the standards of retirement pensions and other social service benefits, giving for retirement pensioners a purchasing power more than 10s. a week above the 1951 level, expresses its confidence in the assurances of Her Majesty's
present advisers that they will continue to maintain and improve these benefits to the fullest extent consistent with fairness to all sections of the community and with the avoidance of inflation, and reaffirms its support for a continuation of financial policies which have already achieved greater stability in prices, thus strengthening the foundations of the national economy and safeguarding the interests of pensioners and others living on small incomes.