HC Deb 02 June 1927 vol 207 cc530-2

asked the Minister of Health the number of additional persons that are now in receipt of old age pensions as a result of the abolition by the Act of 1925, in the case of insured persons, of the means disqualification?


On the latest figures for England, Scotland and Wales, 159,146 new pensions have been awarded by virtue of the Contributory Pensions Act, 1925, to persons of the age of 70 and upwards. It is estimated that in about one-third of these cases the claimant would have been entitled to a pension under the Acts of 1908–1924. Exact information on this point is not, however, procurable since no investigation of the circumstances of the claimant is required in a case where a title to pension under the Act of 1925 has been established.

22. Mr. BATEY

asked the Minister of Health, seeing that Section 1 (1) (c) of the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1925, provides that pension shall be paid to the wife of an insured man who has attained the age of 65, such wife having attained the age of 65 but not having attained the age of 70, and that Section 2 (2) provides that for the purposes of this Act a person is deemed to be insured during any period during which he is entitled to medical benefit, if he will state why it is proposed not to issue pensions to the wives, aged between 65 and 70, of insured men who are 70 prior to 2nd January, 1928?


I would refer the hon. Member to the introductory words of Section 1 of the Contributory Pensions Act, 1925, "Subject to the provisions of this Act relating to the payment of contributions … and otherwise," which qualify the general provisions of the Section. The specific provision in the Act which confers an old age pension on a woman, whil between the ages of 65 and 70, who is the wife of an insured man, is contained in paragraph (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section 7 and that paragraph requires, as a condition of her qualification, that her husband should have been entitled to an old age pension while between the ages of 65 and 70.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a great deal of misunderstanding in the country about this Section, and is there any simple explanation people can have so that they may know what their rights are? Members of Parliament are receiving letters about this.


The inspectors of my Department have been requested to give any information they can to persons requiring it, and their addresses are to be obtained at all post offices.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that a circular would be of great advantage, because Members of Parliament are receiving a number of letters on the subject?


I am rather afraid the issue of a circular might perhaps tend to complicate matters rather than to clarify them. I think really oral explanations are the most useful where it is a matter of understanding the meaning of perhaps a rather difficult Section of an Act of Parliament.

Colonel DAY

Are the addresses pasted up in post offices or must applicants go to the counter to inquire?


They are pasted up.


asked the Minister of Health whether, in the case of an insured person who has been disallowed unemployment insurance benefit, but has continued to sign on at the Employment Exchange, the person would be considered to be genuinely unemployed and contributions be deemed to have been paid, so that pension would he payable under the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1925, if the person was aged 65 on or before 2nd January, 1928?


The disallowance of a claim for unemployment benefit would not of itself defeat the title to an old age pension on 2nd January, 1928, nor on the other hand would the fact that the insured person continued to sign on at the Exchange alter such disallowance be conclusive evidence that he satisfied the requirements of the Contributory Pensions Act for the grant of contributions in respect of weeks of genuine unemployment. Before a decision on this point is arrived at in connection with a claim for an old age pension, all the relevant circumstances will be investigated by my Department.


Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me if, in any publication or Circular of his Department, there are any rules or facts laid down that may guide unemployed men?


I will send the hon. Member the literature which has been issued on the subject.