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Pensions

Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1977

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6.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will introduce an interim increase for retirement pensioners in the summer.

No. As my right hon. Friend has already made clear, pensions and other social security benefits will be uprated in November.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that in this year, when we have two transition periods as a result of our entry into the EEC—which has resulted in greater increases in food prices, which particularly hit old-age pensioners—there is a cast iron case for having two pension increases instead of one? Will he tell us whether pensioners will get the £35 put forward by the TUC when he makes his announcement for the autumn increase?

I am aware of my hon. Friend's concern about this matter and, indeed, the concern of the whole House about pensioners. I remind my hon. Friend that there has been a net increase of 15 per cent. in the purchasing power of the pension since we came to office. I give him an assurance that the uprating in November will more than cover the rise in inflation.

Will the Minister confirm that even with the 12 per cent. uprating widows and women who retire at 60 are still paying tax even though they have no income except the pension? Does he have any plans to talk to the Chancellor about this disgraceful state of affairs?

The hon. Lady knows that the Chancellor is aware of tax levels. He referred to them in his Budget and he has already done something about them.

Will the pension uprating be based on what inflation was or what the Government would like to think it might be?

There is a later Question on the Order Paper on that point. The uprating will be on a November-to- November basis and will be based on whichever is higher, inflation or wage increases.