asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what progress has been made in the formulation of proposals for the introduction of the income guarantee scheme.
As my hon. Friend knows, the introduction of an income guarantee scheme has had to be deferred. Meanwhile, I am doing what I can to make known the improved National Assistance benefits and to emphasise that they can be drawn as of right.
Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the administrative problems connected with this are being pursued and that the financial problems and others connected with it are being considered so that, when the time comes to introduce it, everything will be ready and in order?
I can give that assurance to my hon. Friend.
Is it not a fact that the proposal for the income guarantee scheme would cost about £700 million?
No, that is not a fact.
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what priority Her Majesty's Government now gives to the introduction of a half-pay on retirement scheme.
Work on this scheme is proceeding as part of our long-term reconstruction of social security, but priority has been given to the needs of existing beneficiaries and to the development of a scheme of earnings-related short-term benefits.
In the meantime, can the right hon. Lady suggest what I am to say to my constituents, many of whom are convinced that they will be dead and buried before this Labour election pledge is fulfilled?
Perhaps I can help the hon. Member. He may assure his constituents that it will not take us eight years to introduce our new pension scheme as it took his own Government to introduce the half-baked graduated pension scheme.
In view of the very unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, not only to this Question but to Question No. 3, I give notice that I propose to raise the matter on the Adjournment.