asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will list those factors in the cost of living index for pensioner households which have been most responsible for that index increasing at a faster rate than the general index of retail prices since the second quarter of 1974.
A full comparison of the effect of rising prices on pensioner households compared with households in general cannot be made because housing costs are not included in the pensioner indices on account of the difficulty in collecting the information in this area where special provisions often apply. Over the period from the second quarter 1974 to the third quarter 1978, the indices for one and two-person pensioner households increased faster than the general index exclusive of housing at an annual rate of 0·9 per cent. and 0·6 per cent., respectively. The reasons for these differences are, firstly, items which occupy a greater proportion of pensioner expenditure, and which went up faster in price than prices in general, include butter, milk, tea, coffee, sugar, coal, electricity, newspapers and periodicals, postage and soda, polishes, etc.; secondly, items which occupy a smaller proportion of pensioner expenditure, and which increased in price more slowly than prices in general, include wines and spirits, furniture, radio and television, etc., men's outer clothing, women's outer clothing and children's outer clothing.