asked the Minister for Finance whether, in view of the continued rise in prices, and the hardships which are being suffered by State pensioners who are in receipt of small State pensions, which were granted when the cost of living was substantially lower than at present, he will take power by legislation or Emergency Powers Orders to grant an increase in pensions to such persons to compensate them for the rapid rise in prices.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Position of Pensioners.
As I have already indicated in replies to questions on this subject a general pensions increase of the kind which the Deputy has in mind would involve so large an addition to the existing heavy burden of pension charges that I can hold out no hope of being able to grant it.
Arising out of the Parliamentary Secretary's reply, is he not aware that the type of answer that was given in the first instance had reference to the fact that the cost of living then was substantially lower than it is at present; and would he not consider that, in the present circumstances, the time is overdue for an increase in the pensions rates to be made, especially in view of the fact that the pensioners concerned are not able to meet their obligations as a result of the higher cost of living? I might point out that this refers particularly to the case of the lower-paid pensioners.
I am sure that the Minister would he glad to do whatever he could in connection with that matter, but I think it is impossible, in present circumstances, to increase the rate.
Does the Parliamentary Secretary not realise that within the last 12 months the Minister for Finance made a statement to the effect that there was an abundance of money for any worth-while scheme that could be put forward; and does the Parliamentary Secretary not consider that it would be a worth-while scheme to grant such people as are mentioned here and who served the State for long periods, a sufficient pension to meet their obligations, in view of the high cost of living?