HC Deb 25 March 1926 vol 193 cc1365-6
35. Mr. TAYLOR

asked the Minister of health how many persons it is estimated Will become eligible for old age pensions at 70 or over on 2nd July next as a result of the abolition of the means limit in Section 20 of the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act; and whether a person aged 67, who has been in an insured occupation since the commencement of the Insurance Acts but is not now in employment, will receive the advantage of the abolition of the means test for an old ago pension on reaching the age of 70?


As regards the first part of the question, the estimated number of persons eligible for the full old age pension of 10s. is 87,000. As regards the second part of the question, title to an old age pension without a means test on attaining 70 will, in the circum stances mentioned, depend on whether the man will be qualified for a contributory old age pension on 2nd January, 1928. The fact that he is at present out of employment will not of itself prevent him from satisfying the qualifying conditions on 2nd January, 1928.


If a member has left his approved society and has not remained a contributor, will he be able to qualify at 70 without a means test, if his last employment was an insurable occupation?


That will depend upon what happens on 2nd January.


asked the Minister of Health under what circumstances men inspectors arc required to ask questions of widows making claims under the Pensions Act relating to their moral character; and whether he will give instructions that such inquiries shall be undertaken in future by women inspectors?


It is not necessary for investigating officers to satisfy themselves that a claimant is not leading an immoral life. Section 21 of the Act does, however, provide that a widow is disqualified from obtaining a pension, if and so long as she and any other person are cohabiting together as man and wife, and an officer must obviously make inquiry in any case where it comes to his knowledge that cohabitation may be taking place. The hon. Member will appreciate that such information may reach an officer only at a late stage of the investigation, and, in the circum stances, it would be impracticable to give any undertaking that inquiries in such cases should be made only by the women investigating officers.


Where there is no such evidence, and it is simply an inquiry because the woman has not been living with her husband at the time of his death, does not the right hon. Gentleman think it undesirable that men officers should put questions to women?


No, Sir; I can not give any such general opinion.