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Elderly People (Assistance)

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 23 November 1961

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asked the Prime Minister whether he will instruct all Ministers concerned with elderly people to take such special measures as are within their power to give them assistance at Christmas time.

I imagine that my hon. Friend has some specific measures in mind. I should be happy to look into any suggestions which she likes to put to me, or to those of my right hon. Friends concerned.

While much appreciating the kindly thought behind the Prime Minister's statement at the Guildhall and the response evoked as evidenced by the Daily Mail campaign, may I ask him, on the general theme of loneliness, whether he is aware that a great deal of it arises from the increase in charges for telephone calls, the in- crease in rents, the increase in cost of travelling, and also, of course, from the depreciation of the War Loan? May I am him whether, now that he has been able to make this comment which has evoked such a wide response, he is now in a position to consider what will be done for those living on small fixed incomes?

I think that I made it clear that while the ordinary systems under our Welfare State arrangements for taking care of old people have, I think, steadily improved in the lifetime of this Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—what we were discussing then is a matter on which, I think, there is common agreement in the House, that, apart from whatever may be the level at any given moment of that form of assistance, there is still great room in any highly organised society for human, personal effort by individual people in giving comfort and friendliness to their neighbours.