§ 1. Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby)
If he will estimate the cost to public funds of the 75p increase in the basic state pension in the current financial year. 
§ The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Andrew Smith)
Three hundred and seventy million pounds.
§ Mr. Robathan
I suspect that, like me, the Minister is just old enough to remember the 1959 general election, when Hugh Gaitskell promised to give every pensioner an immediate rise of 10 shillings on the old age state pension. After some 41 years of Labour rhetoric and a certain amount of inflation, is the Minister ashamed that this Government can manage only a 15 shilling rise? As an heir of Gaitskell and the Labour movement, is the Minister surprised that pensioners are increasingly disillusioned with this Government?
§ Mr. Smith
I do not recall the 1959 election—the relevant one for our purposes is the 1997 election. The hon. Gentleman would do well to recall that we shall spend, in real terms, £6.5 billion extra on pensioners during this Parliament, compared with what they would have got from the Conservatives.
§ Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham)
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the great concern expressed to me by pensioners in my constituency that if the Conservatives win power, pensioners will have their £150 winter fuel allowance taken away, as well as the free television licences for the over-75s and even the little sum at 436 Christmas that helps them to buy presents for their grandchildren? That is the Conservatives' policy, with Portillo the pickpocket of pensioners' purses.
§ Mr. Smith
My hon. Friend is right. Pensioners have been appalled to discover that under the Conservatives they would lose the winter fuel payment, the free television licences and the Christmas bonuses. Not only that, 140,000 more pensioners would pay tax and that would hit those on the minimum income guarantee. The Conservatives' policy would not help pensioners; instead, it would hit the poorest pensioners hardest.
§ Mr. Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks)
Why should the pensions increase be based on last year's inflation when the motorists tax increase is being based on future inflation? While the Chief Secretary is thinking of an answer to that, could he tell us how many Labour Members have made representations about the 75p increase?