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Minister Of Pensions And National Insurance

Volume 649: debated on Tuesday 21 November 1961

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Q5.

asked the Prime Minister, in order to further the policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding assistance for old people, as announced in his recent speech at Guildhall, if he will consider appointing the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance to the Cabinet.

I am confident that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance will be fully able to forward the Government's policies for old people, whether he is a member of the Cabinet or not.

Does my right hon. Friend realise that it would mean a great deal to the older folk to have someone with a specialised knowledge inside the Cabinet rather than outside, and would it not underline the words in the Queen's Speech about maintaining the strength of sterling because no one has a greater interest in preventing inflation than the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, since he knows the cost to the pensioner, to the Government and to the country if inflation is not stopped? Also, would it not allay the growing concern in the country about the resolution of the Government in maintaining the strength of sterling following the wage pause?

Of the 21 member of the present Cabinet, 14 are in charge of Departments, and there are nine Ministers outside the Cabinet also in charge of Departments. We try to work as a whole, and I do not think that the power and authority on a special subject of a particular Minister is affected by any question of his membership of the Cabinet.

Does not the Prime Minister realise that, while it might help to have a Minister in the Cabinet, what the old people want is a practical demonstration of help, and the inference to be drawn, apparently, from what the Prime Minister said in his speech is that old people must wait for that practical demonstration?

As regards a practical demonstration, the value of the pension now is higher than it has ever been at Christmas in the past. It is 16s. 6d. higher for a single person than it was at Christmas, 1951. What I was appealing for was not only for things on the material side but for the personal interest that people might take in old people to help them in other than purely material ways.