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Old People (Coal Supplies)

Volume 531: debated on Monday 26 July 1954

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25.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will consider making a winter-time allowance for old-age pensioners for the purchase of coal, beyond any increase that may be made in the pension.

As the Minister has power to make an allowance for the purchase of tobacco, could be not secure power to make this very necessary grant?

No, I can assure the hon. Member that it is quite beyond my power to interfere in that way with the working of the National Assistance Board. There used to be a special winter-time allowance for fuel which was abolished by general consent in 1944 because it was found to be unsatisfactory.

As old-age pensioners find it impossible to lay in stocks of coal during the summer, could not the right hon. Gentleman ask the Minister of Fuel and Power to ensure that stocks are put aside especially for them?

27.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he has yet considered the comments of the National Council of Social Service in their recent report on the difficulties about the coal supplies of people over 70 years of age; and if he will discuss with the appropriate authorities before the winter the problems involved with a view to finding a solution.

I have not yet had an opportunity of examining this report which, I gather, was only published on 23rd July.

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, by the time the House reassembles after the Recess, he will have studied this report? May I take it that then, as heating fuel of all kinds is most important to old people, he will, after he has read the report, consider the proposals which it makes and ensure that action is taken? If I put down a Question by the time we return, will my right hon. Friend have an answer for me?

I will certainly take an opportunity of reading this excellent report during the summer Recess—[An HON. MEMBER: "Excellent?"] I gathered from Press reports that it was well worthy of careful consideration—but I hope that I shall not come to a conclusion on it quite as quickly as my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Miss Ward).

In view of the fact that some of these people will be limbless ex-Service men, could the Minister tell us when he hopes to have the report of the Rock Carling Committee?

I think I should be right in saying that I hope to receive this report before many months have gone by.