HC Deb 02 July 1925 vol 185 cc2903-8

The first Amendment on the Paper, in page 6, line 5, to leave out the word "sixty-five" and to insert instead thereof the word "fifty-five," is outside the scope of the Bill. The next three Amendments—in page 6, line 14, to leave out from the word "person" to the end of the paragraph; in page 6, line 14, to leave out from the word "person" to the end of the Sub- section; and in page 6, line 168, at the end, to insert new paragraph: (d) if he or she attains the age of sixty-five after the appointed day and has ceased to be an insured person before attaining the age of sixty-five, he or she shall be entitled to a reduced old age pension depending in amount on the number of years of insurance in accordance with the table in the Fifth Schedule. This reduced pension shall not diminish his or her rights after attaining the age of seventy to a pension under the Old Age Pensions Acts. —are contrary to what was done on Clause 1. The next two Amendments —in page 6, to leave out lines 17 to 24 inclusive, and in page 6, line 18, to leave out the word "sixty" and to insert instead thereof the word "seventy"— refer to the question of what I may describe as the elderly susceptible bachelor or widower, which comes on another Clause.


On a point of Order. The point raised on the last two Amendments which you have mentioned, Mr. Hope, is very different from that raised in Clause 3, which was concerned with the case of deathbed marriages in order that a woman might have a widow's pension. This is the case of a marriage in order that a woman may have an old age pension, the case of a man marrying a woman when he knows he will have to live with her for the rest of his life, which is a very different proposition, involving different arguments and different considerations, and surely we might have a few moments' discussion on that point. May I further point out that on Clause 3 there was an Amendment made in this very provision?


I was going to call that Amendment.


Certainly the discussion on that Amendment will cover the point.


I beg to move, in page 6, line 23, to leave out the word "five," and to insert instead thereof the word "two."

8.0 P.M.

We have passed from widows' pensions, orphans' pensions, and children's allowances, and we now come to old age pensions. This Clause establishes the payment of an old age pension at the age of 65. That, of course, is a pension payable to an insured person who falls within this new scheme. Sub-section (1) of the Clause contains this proviso: Provided that the wife of a man who had attained the age of sixty at the date of the marriage shall not, if the marriage takes place after the twenty-ninth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-five, be entitled to an old age pension under paragraph (c) of this Sub-section unless she was immediately before the marriage in receipt of a widow's pension, or unless or until five years have elapsed since the date of the marriage. I am open to correction, but I understand the position is this. It does not follow that a woman in this case would receive a pension at 65 years of age. She must qualify for that pension at 65 by the fact that she must have been married for five years to her husband who is insured under the scheme. This Amendment, if carried, would make, it possible for a woman to secure a pension merely on the fact that she had been married to her insured husband for two years. I know the reply of the Minister will be that this involves actuarial calculations, but I do not think it requires very much pressure upon the Minister to give us a concession of this kind. He has been in rather a better mood in the last few hours than he was in the earlier part of the day, and I feel sure, now that he is in such a mood, he will meet us. Therefore, without any more ado, I beg to move the Amendment.


This is an analogous provision to that in the proviso to Sub-section (1) of Clause 3. An Amendment was there moved to substitute two years for five, and I undertook to accept another Amendment to insert three years instead of five. I am quite content to accept an Amendment here if the hon. Gentleman will alter his Amendment in the same way.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In page 6, line 23, leave out the word "five," and insert instead thereof the word "three."—[Mr. R. Davies.]


The next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Major Hore-Belisha), and other hon. Members—in page 6, line 28, at the end, to add a new Sub-section: (3) Any person who, having attained the age of sixty years, has been employed for at least five years in the service of the Crown and has been superannuated by the Crown on reaching the customary age for the termination of his services shall, notwithstanding anything to the contrary elsewhere in this Act, become entitled to an old age pension as from the date of the termination of his employment, and shall be entitled to the benefits which this Act confers, in respect of himself and his wife, in the same manner, as a person of sixty-five years of age, is not relative to this Clause, and should be moved on Clause 15.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."


I would not like the Committee to pass this Clause without having some discussion on its provisions. I regard this Clause as one of the most important in the Bill. It deals with old age pensions at 65 years of age. and we are beginning, of course, a new era on the question of old age pensions Old age pensions are now payable at 70 years of age, and there is no contribution of any kind to entitle a man of 70 and over to the old age pension. But, under this Clause, the insured person who qualifies by the necessary number of contributions will become entitled to an old age pension at 65. The only point I desire to make on the Clause is that the reduction in the age of the pensioner is too small when we remember that he will have paid for his pension at 65. On this side of the House we have pleaded for old age pensions at an earlier age even than 65, and I am prepared to say that a man or woman who has done his or her duty, an honest working man or working woman, faithful to the State and the community, ought to be entitled to an old age pension at 60, especially when we remember that they are called upon to pay for that pension.

I wish the Minister had given us an explanation on the point I raised the other evening, but, perhaps, he will take note of the questions I am about to put, and let us have that information. Under the National Health Insurance Acts, the State provides a given proportion of the benefits payable under that scheme. I want to know what is the difference in the percentage of the contribution of the State under the National Health Insurance Act, and the contribution of the State under this scheme. I trust we shall get that information before we part with this Bill. I am not going to delay the passage of this Clause We have had a very good discussion, and the Minister has given one or two concessions. I hope and trust, as we proceed with this Bill, we shall be able to secure further concessions from the Minister. I feel positive we shall be able to convince him that this Bill is still deficient, and I am not so sure that when we come to deal with the Clauses in their final form, we shall not have something to further say on them.

We have objected, as strongly as ever we could, to any contributory basis for this scheme at all. We thought it was unfair to call upon people to pay for their old age pensions, and I see, according to the Actuary's Report and the White Paper issued on this Measure, that all persons who fall within this scheme will be called upon, ultimately, to pay for the whole of their old age pensions. We have objected to that principle, and I am hoping some day that a more humane Government will come into office to alter fundamentally some of its provisions. We dislike them, but, having amended the Clause, and secured one or two concessions, we are prepared to allow the Clause to pass to-night.

There are just one or two further observations I desire to make. I could never understand some of the Sub-sections in this Clause, and I am not satisfied even now. The Minister has given us a concession by altering five years to three. But I am still in a quandary as to what will happen to the woman under the amended part of this Clause. It seems to me, that if a woman marry at 65 years of age, even although we have secured a concession from the Minister, she will still have to wait till 68 before she can draw her old age pension. In fact, I think the Committee ought to understand very definitely that, although 65 years of age is specifically stipulated in this Clause, it does not follow that all persons will get a pension at 65 years of age.

As an illustration, take the case of a man who will come under this scheme next year. A man of 65 years of age in January, 1926, unless I am gravely mistaken, will not receive a pension under this scheme next January, but will be compelled to pay contributions for at least two years. Therefore, it is not correct to declare in this Bill that all men will be entitled to an old age pension at 65 years of age. The man who is now 68 years of age will also be called upon to pay for two years, and then will jump on to the old age pension ordinary scheme. He will not get any benefit at all, so far as I understand, from the contributions paid under this scheme, except, of course, that he will secure old age pension under the old scheme without any of the income qualifications. I feel sure the Committee will now allow the Clause to pass, but we shall have something to say on the whole of this Clause when we come to the Third Reading of the Measure.

Ordered, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Mr. N. Chamberlain.]

Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.