HC Deb 28 January 1937 vol 319 cc1065-7
57. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Health the figures of those who are drawing old age pensions who are also getting assistance from Poor Law relief; and will he say if they are increasing or not?

Sir K. Wood

The number of persons in England and Wales drawing old age pensions under the various Acts who were also in receipt of poor relief was 202,438 on 1st January, 1936, the latest date for which complete figures are available. Most of these persons were in receipt of relief on account of sickness. Although the numbers have increased somewhat during recent years, they represent less than 10 per cent, of the total number of old age pensioners.

58. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Health the present number of wives who have not reached 65 years of age whose husbands are drawing the pension under the Widows, Orphans and Old Age Contributory Pensions scheme; and will he say whether these figures are on the increase or not?

Sir K. Wood

The precise information asked for by the hon. Member is not available, but it is estimated that there are at present 250,000 wives of this class and that the number is slowly increasing.

Mr. Tinker

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a very serious defect in the Act, and will he take steps to remedy it by putting man and wife on pension?

Sir K. Wood

The hon. Member has asked me a question about figures. He is now asking a question about a matter of policy—

Mr. Tinker

Are you afraid?

Sir K. Wood

I am not afraid, but the matter, obviously, is one involving large financial considerations. If the hon. Member desires me to give him a reply, perhaps he will put the question on the Order Paper.

Miss Ward

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the strong feeling there is in support of the suggestion in all parts of the country?

76. Mr. Tinker

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that there are cases where an old age pensioner has had his pension stopped when he has entered a hospital or Poor Law institution, and on leaving, through not being aware that it would only be renewed on application, has lost a period of payment in between leaving and making the application; and what steps he intends to take to make the pensioner aware of the position so that these mistakes will be prevented?

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Lieut.-Colonel Colville)

I have been looking into this matter, and am arranging for the notice sent by the pension officer to the pensioner on raising a question to include a statement drawing attention to the fact that the pension cannot be renewed on the cessation of disqualification or disentitlement unless a fresh claim is made and allowed.

Mr. Tinker

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation, there are a few cases of which I know where people have lost their old age pension, and will he consider those with a view to remedying the defects?

Lieut.-Colonel Colville

I cannot promise to consider retrospective cases, but I will look into any present cases which the hon. Member may bring to my notice.