HC Deb 14 July 1925 vol 186 cc1148-62

I beg to move, in page 19, line 6, to leave out the words "second day of July," and to insert instead thereof the words "fourth day of January."

This Clause confers upon an old age pensioner a pension irrespective of his income, and, as far as the principle of the Clause is concerned, it has the support of the party to which I belong. In fact, we are so enamoured of the virtues of this Clause that we want the Minister to bring it into operation six months earlier than is provided in the Bill as it stands at present. That is the only point that there is in this Amendment, and I hope it will commend itself to the Minister, and that he will make this concession.


I feel sure the whole Committee would like, if possible, to expedite these payments as the hon. Gentleman desires. There are, however, two reasons, one administrative and one financial, why it cannot be done. The Committee will remember that the payment to existing widows is to begin on the 4th January, 1926, and it was arranged, and is suggested in the Bill, that the payment to old age pensioners should begin on the 2nd July, 1926. One of the reasons for that is that, of course, the administrative machine which will have to work this scheme will undoubtedly be very much taxed during the next few months. A good many hon. Members have said to me, "When you have passed this Bill, will everything be right, and have you taken every step that can possibly be taken to see that the provisions, especially with regard to payment, will be duly carried out?" Undoubtedly, it will be a very big undertaking, but I am glad to think that such steps as can be taken are already in contemplation. It does, however, obviously involve a division of the work, and, if all these payments had to begin as the hon. Gentleman suggests, the machine undoubtedly would be strained very much indeed, if it did not break down altogether, because the difficulty of the task of ascertaining the widows and old age pensioners who will be entitled to these free gifts will, of course, be very considerable indeed. We hope to have the assistance of approved societies, of Members of the House of Commons and of everyone else, in order that we may ascertain the people who are entitled and have been able to qualify, and I have no doubt that we shall receive that help.

The second reason why we cannot accept this Amendment is that it would, in fact, add a considerable financial burden to the scheme. The Actuary advises that in the first year it would mean a payment of another £600,000, and in the following year a payment of a similar amount—in all a payment of £1,200,000. I need not, this afternoon, further dilate on those figures and the consequences which would follow if we had to make a further payment of that kind. It would be impossible on financial grounds also, and, much as we should like to expedite the payment, I cannot advise the Committee to accept the Amendment.


The hon. Gentleman, in reply to the Mover of this Amendment, has used two arguments, and I am a little surprised that he thinks we shall be convinced by either. In the first place, he declares that the administrative machine will not stand the investigation in respect of these individuals. He knows well, and the Minister knows also, that the investigation with respect to the persons covered by this Clause will be very much easier than the investigation with respect to the widows and their children who will come under Clause 1. He then proceeds to use his second argument, and, if I might respectfully say so, I think it is the second argument that counts first with him. It is the financial argument. There is no argument at all against this Amendment except that the hon. Gentleman is afraid to spend money to provide these pensions under Clause 20. He says that the actuary says so. The actuary says this, and the actuary says that, but, if I understand anything at all about the actuary's work, he provides an argument just in the way that the Government desire. I take it that if I were to go to any actuary and tell him it was desired to spend not more than £10,000,000 next year and £15,000,000 the following year, the actuary would provide mo with exactly the arguments that I desired to support my case.


That would be your own Welsh actuary.


As a matter of fact, financial considerations are never based upon national tendencies. I have heard the same arguments coming from Scotsmen, Englishmen, and Irishmen, and, in fact, from some Welshmen, but not from these benches. I think it can be said quite confidently that the hon. Gentleman has not made out a case on the administrative point, and his whole case rests upon the cost. Surely, it must be obvious to him that he is deceiving and deluding old people when he brings forward a Bill on these lines, and then provides in this Clause that the pension shall not be payable to them at all until six months after the Act conies into operation. All the speeches that have been delivered by Government Representatives would lead the old people to think the pension is payable in January next, and now we are told that it is impossible because of administrative difficulties. I feel sure that my hon. Friends behind me will go into the Division Lobby on this issue. Of all the deserving cases that have been mentioned in connection with this Bill, I venture to say this is the most deserving of all. We on these benches are pledged, and hon. Members opposite also, that the age of 70 ought to be reduced to 65. That provision is made in this Bill. Then we say we have a splendid argument against waiting till July, because, if widows and their children can come under this Bill in respect of the insurance in past years of the husband and father, surely these people, who are qualified by the payment of contributions, ought to come under the scheme at once. I trust, therefore, that, as the Parliamentary Secretary has not been able to give us a better answer, the Minister will try his hand.


I would like to ask the Minister to reconsider his decision in this matter. I am quite aware that there may be some financial difficulties, and that the Government have to go somewhat carefully, but, at the same time, I would like to put it to the Minister that, if he is prepared to weigh the comparative advantages that will accrue to the old age pensioners. these advantages should outweigh any difficulties that might accrue to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in finding the amount. The Minister for some time has not been as accommodating as we should have hoped he would be, but I hope, seeing that we have got along so harmoniously thus far, that he is going to make this concession, which is going to mean a great deal to so many of the old people in the country. One of the things about the legislation that passes through the House of Commons is that it seems almost impossible for a Bill to become an Act of Parliament without getting into a most complicated condition that is difficult of understanding. In this Clause of the Bill I think we are adding to the complications, and are also going to debar many of the old people from ever entering into the enjoyment of a right which would mean a great deal to them at the present time. I think that in this connection the

Minister of Health might for once take a strong line, and it would be very good business from his own point of view. It would mean that we on these benches would regard his scheme ever so much more favourably, and also, I think, it would be a good lesson to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he imposes upon the Minister of Health the burden of carrying this Measure through. I would ask the Minister, in the name of these old folks, to meet the plea that has been put forward from these benches, and give them this concession.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 275; Noes, 136.

King, Captain Henry Douglas Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Storry Deans, R.
Kinloch Cooke, sir Clement Perring, William George Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Lamb, J. Q. Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Strickland, sir Gerald
Lane-Fax, Colonel George R. Peto, G. (Somerset, Frame) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Pielou, D. p. Sugden, Sir Wilfred
Loder, J. de V. Plicher, G. Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Looker, Herbert William Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Lougher, L. Preston, William Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Lowe, Sir Francis William Price, Major C. W. M. Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell.
Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Raine, W. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Mac Andrew, Charles Glen Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel Turton, Edmund Russborough
Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Rawson, Alfred Cooper Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Rentoul, G, S. Waddington, R.
McLean, Major A. Rice, Sir Frederick Wallace, Captain D. E.
Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford) Ward, Lt.-Cot. A.L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Ropner, Major L. Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Mac Robert, Alexander M. Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Maitland, Sir Arthur D. steel. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Watts, Dr. T.
Making, Brigadier-General E Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Wells, S. R.
Margesson. Captain D. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Sandeman, A. Stewart White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple
Meller, R. J. Sandon. Lord Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Merriman, F. B. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Meyer, Sir Frank Savery, S. S. Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Milne, J. S. Wardlaw. Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby) Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew, W.) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Shaw, Capt. W. w. (Wilts, Westb'y) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Moore, Sir Newton J. Simms, Or. John M. (Co. Down) Wise, Sir Fredric
Moreing, Captain A. H. Sinclair, Col T. (Queen's Univ-, Beilst) Wolmer, Viscount
Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Skelton, A. N. Womersley, W. J.
Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Staney, Major P- Kenyon Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Murchison, C. K. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W.R., Ripon)'
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Smith-Carington, Neville W. Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Newton, Sir D, G. c. (Cambridge) Smithers, Waldron Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'l'd.) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Spender Clay, Colonel H. Wragg, Herbert
Nuttall, Ellis Sprot, Sir Alexander
Oakley, T. Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sdsn, E.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Orsmby-Gore, Hon. William Stanley, Hon. O. F. G-(Westm'eland) Captain Douglas Hacking and
Penny, Frederick George Steel, Major Samuel Strang Mr. F. C. Thomson.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pentypool) Montague. Frederick
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Groves, T. Morris, R. H.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Grundy, T. W. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Ammon, Charles George Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Oliver, George Harold
Attlee, Clement Richard Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.) Owen. Major G.
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Baker, Walter Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Ponsonby, Arthur
Barnes, A. Hardle, George D. Potts, John S.
Barr, J. Harney, E. A. Rees, Sir Beddoe
Batey, Joseph Harris, Percy A. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Ritson, J.
Broad, F. A. Hastings, Sir Patrick Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)
Bromley, J. Hayday, Arthur Robertson, J. (Lanark. Bothwell)
Buchanan. G. Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burniey) Robinson. Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)
Charleton. H. C. Hirst, G. H. Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)
Clowes, S. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Rose, Frank H,
Cluse, W. S. Hore-Belisha, Leslie Sakiatvala, Shapurji
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Sexton, James
Compton, Joseph Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Connolly, M. John, William (Rhondda, West) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Cove, W. G. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness).
Dalton, Hugh Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Sitch, Charles H.
Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh) Kelly. W. T. Smith. H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Kennedy, T. Smith, Rennie (Penlstone)
Day, Colonel Harry Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Snell, Harry
Dennison, R. Kenyon, Barnet Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Duncan, C. Kirkwood, D. Stamford, T. W.
Dunnico, H. Lawson, John James Stephen, Campbell
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lee, F. Stewart, J. (St. Rollex)
Edwards, John H. (Accrington) Lindley, F. W. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Weish Univer.) Livingstone, A. M. Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)
Forrest, W. Lowth, T. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Lunn, William Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Gibbins, Joseph MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Thurtie, E.
Glilett, George M. Macdonald. Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Tinker, John Joseph
Gosling, Harry Mackinder, W. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Viant, S. P.
Greenall, T. March, S. Wallhead, Richard C.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Maxton, James Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)
Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda) Whiteley, W. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney Wiggins. William Martin Windsor, Walter
Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah Wilkinson, Ellen C. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Westwood, J. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Warne and Mr. T. Henderson.

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


Before this Clause is added to the Bill, I should like to offer one or two observations upon its limitations. The hon. Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) referred to some of the (curious anomalies that had arisen under Clause 19, but under Clause 20 there are some still more curious anomalies. Henceforth, insured persons of any kind are no longer to have their old age pensions restricted or stopped because of a. means limit. They may have whatsoever income they like provided they have been insured persons. But persons who are outside this class do not have the means limit abolished. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot suggest any means, even at this late stage, whereby, before the Bill is through the House, this blot—because I am sure he recognises it as a blot—can be removed. It has been stated to be the intention of the Government to abolish this means limit altogether. As the Bill now stands, the means limit is only abolished for some classes and still obtains for others, and some of the other classes are the poorest of the poor. The Minister has previously expressed his regret at the long list of exclusions, and I trust he will be able to assure the Committee, before the Clause is ordered to stand part, that he will find some means whereby the classes I have enumerated shall, as well as the insured persons, have the means limit abolished and be enabled to get their old age pensions like the other classes who are obtaining other benefits under the Bill.


Before the Clause is passed, I think one thing wants to be made clear. The basis of our old age pensions scheme hitherto has been that it is a non-contributory scheme. The State recognised its obligations to its old people by giving out of national funds an old age pension with certain conditions as soon as a man or woman reached the age of 70. Now, under the Act, undoubtedly the old age pension is going to be associated with a contributory system of insurance. It is quite clear that this Clause, at any rate as regards the means limit and the contribution paid into the Insurance Fund, will be the basis of certain rights to old age pensions. How far that will bring old age pensions under the contributory scheme wants to be made clear. Certainly, the impression outside is, somehow or other, that sooner or later the right to an old age pension is going to be based, at any rate in some of its phases, on the condition of having paid a contribution into the Insurance Fund under this contributory Bill. There is, naturally, a good deal of suspicion owing to this fact. I think the Minister should state the policy of the Government in reference to the whole system of old age pensions. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced his Budget, he seemed to indicate that under this Bill some saving ultimately would come to the State through old age pensions because of the contributory scheme provided by this Bill, and I think the nation is entitled to have the position made quite clear, so that it should be certain that the great charter of the old people which was passed in 1908 by the Liberal party is in no way infringed by this Bill.


I think there is hardly a man in the Committee who does not agree that this means limit presses exceedingly hard upon the very old and the very poor. It was one of the great points of the Bill that we were told a restriction of the means limit would take place. It is not only that the means limit itself bears very hardly on the poor, but the way it is administered bears more hardly still. It is in the power of one inspector, man or woman, to declare that an old man has been guilty of fraud in minimising his income or incorrectly stating his age, and then he is not only obliged to pay back to whatever the age is, but he is not allowed to compound for what he honestly thinks is due. I have a case of a man of 81 who has to pay back £95, and it is impossible for him to do so as he is in a state of starvation. I hope the Minister will be able to see his way, if not now later, to make this what we all want it to be.


I should like to echo the appeal that has been made from other quarters of the House, that, before the Clause is passed, the Minister should make it clear that the Bill does not take away any existing right to an old age pension under the 1908 Act, that it does not make them contributory pensions, and the contributions required under this Bill are in respect of the new benefits conferred by the Bill—removal of the means disqualification, old age pensions at an earlier age, and pensions to the widow and orphan. I do not think that can be too clearly understood, particularly in view of the inuendoes that are being put about in the country with regard to the real purpose and the real operation of the Bill.

7.0 P.M.


I should like to make one or two observations in reply to questions addressed to me by various Members of the Committee. The first one was raised by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston). It really was an appeal for universal old age pensions without any test as to means or residence or nationality. The hon. Gentleman will no doubt remember the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late Government was faced with a request of the same kind during his year of office, and I think the best reply which can be given now is the reply which he gave then, namely, that he had not the money to do it. I am informed, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will remember himself, that the cost of universal old age pensions would be £14,000,000 a year additional. It rises to about £19,000,000 a year in 20 years. Therefore, I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman was not able to put that matter forward then. It is simply a question of cost, and we are not in a position to find the money either.


May I ask the hon. Gentleman if he could not compromise by bringing in the non-insured categories of workers?


That again would be a very heavy class. The right hon. Gentleman himself was not able to do that. Anybody standing at this Box to-day would say he was not able to bring in a universal old age pension of that kind on account of the very large sums involved. I do not want to detain the Committee, and my remarks will be brief. We certainly must not overlook the very considerable benefits which have been conferred by this Bill upon a section of the old age pensioners. Do not let us, in voicing our grievances about the people whom we would like to see made much better off, forget the considerable benefits which we are conferring by the Clause to-day. The hon. Gentleman for Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) raised a question which has been raised several times in the course of the discussion. I remember the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) took an interest in the same matter, and that was the question of the contributory principle being adopted with reference to old age pensions and exactly what the effect was. My best reply would be to refer him to the very careful statement which appears on page 9 of the Actuary's Report, where I think it sets out very clearly and specifically exactly what is involved; the particular ages when the contributions do cover the cost of contributory old age pensions. They are set out in great detail. I do not think there is any reason to describe it or endeavour to minimise the principle which has been set up under this Bill with reference to old age pensions.


May I ask a question for the purpose of getting clarity? Page 9 to which he refers, when it speaks about the cost of old age pensions, does it mean just the cost of old age pensions to insured persons, or does it in any way refer to the cost to persons who are not insured?


All the reference that I have seen in the Report as I read it, has in contemplation the cost of pensions under this Bill and the cost of future pensions in respect of the people mentioned in the Report. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will see by referring to this Report that persons who enter in 1926 at all ages over 18 will pay no part of the cost of the old Age pensions to which they will become entitled. The other reference of which I think he would like to hear more is The effect of the decennial increases of contribution is to place upon the contribution paid for future entrants into insurance at the ago of 16 the whole cost of the benefits up to the ago of 70. I would draw his attention to the part which refers to the effect of the decennial increase. That does not take place until that decennial period arrives, and no doubt the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who I hope will still be in the House then, will be able to press this matter more closely than he does to-day, because that is the time when it comes into operation. It should be plainly understood that the effects of this Bill, at any rate so far as the existing old age pensioners are concerned, are, in the first place, that it takes nothing away from them, and, in the second place, that it confers very considerable benefits upon a very large section of them. It cannot be too much emphasised that under the provisions of this Bill, in respect of a very large number of those old people to-day, all those humiliating tests and inquiries which have to be made under a scheme such as that at present are wiped away, and they will have their old age pension without any further test or inquiry. I should have liked to have devoted more time to this matter but a mass of work confronts the Committee, and the Committee will pardon me just briefly replying.

Captain BENN

I am sure we all sympathise with the feeling of the hon. Gentleman in desiring that we should not ponder too long over this aspect of the Bill, because the more people understand these features of the Bill the less they will like it. It appears that the criticism levied at the Bill is justified. He threw a doubt upon whether the decennial increase will ever take place or not. That was not the language of the Chancellor of the Exchequer who spoke about "dependent people" and a "fettered Parliament" and referred to freedom for both coming from these decennial increases. That is in passing. The plain fact is this. Whereas a person, whether insured or not insured to-day, looks forward to a pension at 70 as a gift from the Exchequer, by this Act he or she is going to be compelled to pay for the thing themselves. That is the point that we criticise, and that, as the hon. Gentleman frankly admits, is the case. This is a commercial scheme of course, and in the end will run on its own heels without help. It might be put into force by any statutory company. The hon. Gentleman admits that these people will not only have to pay for the abolition of the means inquiry, but the people who to-day are expecting to receive a pension at 70 without any payment on their part, in future will be put upon a contributory scheme under which they themselves will ultimately bear the whole cost of the burden.


Is it in order to discuss this matter upon this Clause which deals entirely with the persons who are already 70 or will be 70 by the 2nd of July next? I am not at all challenging the hon. and gallant Member the right to discuss the question he is discussing, but I submit that it does not arise on this Clause.

Captain BENN

On that point of Order. I presume that the ground covered by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health may also be traversed by those who are criticising what was said.

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain FitzRoy)

It, obviously, would not be in order to discuss the merits of the 1908 Old Age Pensions Act on this Clause. It certainly does deal with persons over 70 and it is rather a narrow dividing line to separate the two. I should be rather loath to strangle discussion unless it was clearly out of order.


On a further point. May I point out that the hon. and gallant Member was not discussing the Old Age Pension Act at all. He was discussing the revision of contributions dealt with in Clause 42. and I submit to you the proper place to discuss that is on Clause 42 and not on Clause 20.


I had overlooked that point. I think the hon. Member will not be in order.

Captain BENN

I am not surprised that every device in the Standing Orders should be resorted to by the Government to burke this very important matter. I certainly do not intend to abuse the latitude which you have extended in the Debate by any lengthened remarks, provided it is made clear and remains unchallenged by the various spokesmen of the Government that under this Bill people who would otherwise receive a pension as a gift of the State are now being asked to contribute the total cost of that pension themselves.


I think it just about time the Government gave up legislating by reference to their predecessors. The Parliamentary Secretary has pointed out that he is not doing certain things now because the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year found himself unable to do things now asked for. I would like to point out that the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year, in dealing with this question of old age pensions, did so in the course of the formation of his Budget, but the Government are introducing a new Bill, and they are getting money from the people. The situation is not at all on all fours with what it was last year. We have asked for one or two very reasonable Amendments, and it is curious to note that the era of concessions appears to have come to an end. We had been getting along fairly comfortably and the Government had made certain concessions. But these have now ended. That, I take it, is on account of the by-election in the Forest of Dean drawing to a close, and the Government's chance of winning an election in a mining constituency has passed over too. That is how I should read it. I want to protest against these rather mean electoral methods in trying to gull the people of this country into believing they are getting something which they are not. This question which we are debarred from discussing now will be raised again on Clause 42, but I just want to protest against this method of refusing concessions on the ground that they could not be passed last year. The electoral methods adopted by the Government are bound to reap their own award.


There is just one question I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary, namely, whether the old age pensioner who is not insured gets the advantage of exemption from the means limit?


If he is entitled to medical benefit, yes; if not, no.


I said if he was a non-insured person.


He may be deemed to be insured for the purpose of this Bill.