asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he is yet in a position to reply to the representations made to him by the Old-Age Pensioners' Association for an immediate increase in the old-age pension.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, owing to a steady increase in the cost of living since this Government took office, the old-age pensioner is suffering acute hardship, and as official representations were made to him by the Old-age Pensioners' Association last December, is it not callous and discourteous not to reply to those representations?
In reply to the first part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question, I shall be giving the exact figures for which she asks in answer to the next Question on the Order Paper. With regard to the second part, the statement which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made on 26th February, that he will make a statement about the review of pensions to the House in due course, still holds good.
Will the right hon. Gentleman inform his right hon. Friend that any increase in old-age pensions which does not take account of the cost of living increase which has already taken place, and is merely in respect of any proposed increase in the cost of living which the Government are planning through a reduction in the food subsidies, would be quite inadequate?
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the position of old-age pensioners is the cause of just as much concern on this side of the House as it is on the other side?
asked the Minister of National Insurance by what amount the present scale of old-age pensions would have to be increased to compensate for the reduction since 1st November last of the purchasing power of the £; and what the cost of granting such an increase would be.
On the basis of the Official Index of Retail Prices introduced in June, 1947, the increase in retirement pensions that would be necessary to give them the same purchasing power as on 1st November, 1951, would be about 7d. on 26s., 8½d. on 30s. and 1s. 2d. on 50s., the pension for a married couple. The cost would be of the order of £7 million a year.
Will the Minister bear in mind that he still has time to send these figures to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for appropriate action to be taken in tomorrow's Budget?