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Allowances (Scale)

Volume 530: debated on Monday 19 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what representations he has received in the past 12 months from the National Assistance Board on the inadequacy of the present scale of allowances for those in need; and what action he will take.

Is the Minister aware that many people will regard this as a dereliction of duty on the part of the Board? Is it not the Board's statutory duty to advise the Minister about these things? Will he, therefore, now ask the Board to give immediate consideration to the scale of allowances in relation to the expenses of those who are applying to the Board, and the knowledge which the Board has in its possession?

No, Sir. It is not for me to give insructions to the National Assistance Board. The Board is an independent authority and it is for the Board to take the initiative in a matter of this kind. I would remind the hon. Member that the new scales brought into force in 1952 give recipients of National Assistance a more generous standard than at any time hitherto.

Is the Minister aware that we do not need representations from the National Assistance Board, the report of the quinquennial revaluation or a Royal Commission to let us know that the old-age pensioner is now in a bad position and that the right hon. Gentleman ought to do something about the matter forthwith?

This question is concerned with National Assistance, not insurance benefits.

Does the Minister say that the National Assistance Board can increase the scales of allowances to recipients each week as the cost of living goes up, as we know has been the case with all foodstuffs in the last 12 months—especially meat and butter?

I must refer the hon. Member to Section 6 of the National Assistance Act, passed by the Government which he supported in 1948.