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Benefits

Volume 901: debated on Thursday 20 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many means-tested benefits are now available; and how many different qualifying schemes there are.

I shall publish the answer in the Official Report as soon as possible.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will publish her long-term plans for improving social security benefits of all kinds to bring them up to the best standards in the EEC.

The Treaty of Rome places no obligation on member States of the Community to increase their levels of social expenditure. Legislation placed before the House since the Government took office has, however, already provided for substantial improvements in levels of social security benefits. Our White Paper "Better Pensions" and our recent Social Security Pensions Bill contain long-term proposals which will further raise the level of pensions and relate them to the contributor's previous earnings—as is the common pattern within the EEC. Nevertheless, it is not appropriate to judge either our present rates of benefit or those which will arise under our new scheme by means of a simple comparison of money rates with those paid by other EEC member States: any fair comparison must take account of other factors which vary from country to country, such as levels of social security contributions, costs of living, including housing costs, levels of income and taxation, occupational provision and benefits in kind.