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Tea Prices (Old Age Pensioners)

Volume 531: debated on Thursday 28 October 1954

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21.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the rising price of tea, he will introduce concession price tea coupons for old age pensioners pending an adequate increase in the basic pension.

I am afraid not, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to the explanations of the difficulties in the way of such a scheme given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and by my predecessor on 16th and 15th February, in answer to Questions by the hon. Lady the Member for the Gorbals (Mrs. Cullen) and by the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd).

Is not the Financial Secretary aware of the special place that tea takes in the budget of old-age pensioners? Since he is unwilling to apply a control to the price of tea or to grant this sort of alleviation, will he at least ask his right hon. Friend to stop making imprecise promises about the increase in the basic pension, treat this as a matter of urgency, and give an undertaking to this House now that an increase in pensions will be granted to our old folk in time for Christmas?

I fully understand the importance of tea to old people, but this Question. I think, is based partly on a supposition that the tobacco duty relief scheme could easily be extended to tea. I should explain to the House that tobacco duty relief operates because there is a heavy duty on tobacco. There is no duty on tea. It would not be possible, therefore, even were it thought to be the right thing to do, to operate a similar scheme in regard to tea.