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Incomes Policy Discussions

Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1977

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Q3.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list those categories of persons other than Ministers and Government officials whom he has met to discuss the next phase of his Government's incomes policy.

I received advice on this matter from a wide cross-section of people.

Has the right hon. Gentleman yet received the advice of the Liberal Party on this matter? If not, how does he imagine that he will keep his coalition going through these difficult waters of seeking their support?

If the Leader of the Liberal Party has any statement to make on this matter, I am sure that he will do so. However, as it is a matter of inter-party discussions, with respect to the hon. Gentleman, I would not propose to make announcements about it on the Floor of the House.

Is it not a fact that in the social contract, on which the incomes policy is based, the trade unions have always laid particular stress on the claims of the pensioners? Can my right hon. Friend say why the date and amount of the next uprating have not yet been announced, and will he give an assurance that pensioners will be fully covered against the inflation that they have suffered and will continue to suffer?

I regret that on this supplementary question, since the original Question was concerned with incomes policy, I am not in a position to give my right hon. Friend the date or the amount. However, I assure her that an announcement will be made in due course and that there will be a substantial improvement in the position of the basic pensioner. As she knows, since this Government came to the office, the married couple's pension has pretty well doubled in amount, and this is a record. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about inflation?"] It remains ahead of the increase in prices. There has been an improvement in the real standard. We shall be considering this matter with every sympathy to try to give justice to the old people.