asked the Minister of National Insurance whether, in respect of applicants for national assistance, she will consider applying the same principle of disregarding small savings of a fixed amount invested in co-operative societies and other banks as is applied to savings invested in National Savings, Post Office and trustee savings banks for the purpose of computing the income of the applicant.
I assume my hon. and learned Friend has in mind the special provisions about war savings. I do not think it would be appropriate to extend these to investments in cooperative societies and other banks as he suggests. In any event, legislation would be needed.
Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that, particularly in respect of old age pensioners, the present arrange- ment is a great cause of dissatisfaction? One person may have £375 invested and another may only have £50; the £375 is disregarded, while anything over the £50 in, say, co-operative society or other banks, must be brought into account in assessing income.
I am sure that my hon. Friend will recall the special circumstances in which this decision was made—old people were asked to invest in war savings—and realise that it would have been very inconsistent to have penalised them when the time came for them to apply for assistance.
In view of the savings and investments of these people and their need of assistance, will the Minister discontinue the practice of assuming that their savings have attracted interest at 5 per cent., whereas, in many cases, it is restricted to 3 per cent.?