HC Deb 15 July 1943 vol 391 cc362-3
35. Mr. Cluse

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the objection amongst contributory pensioners to the three-monthly limit to the payment of arrears; and whether he will alter the Regulation so as to allow pensioners to draw all money to which they are entitled?

Mr. E. Brown

The limitation of the payment of arrears of pension to a period of three months is governed not by Regulations, but by a specific provision of the Contributory Pensions Acts. Very few objections to this limit have been brought to my notice and I could not undertake to introduce legislation at the present time to extend it generally. I may mention however that under the emergency powers conferred upon me by Section 8 of the National Health Insurance, Contributory Pensions and Workmen's Compensation Act, 1941, Regulations have been made enabling me to pay arrears for more than three months in any case where I am satisfied that by reason of circumstances arising out of the war there has been a reasonable excuse for not obtaining payment of a pension within that period.

Mr. Cluse

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the circumstances which I sent him on which the Question is based? An elderly gentleman working as a caretaker thought he was doing something good for the country by not drawing his pension. His position worsened until he had to apply for it, and he found the three months' limit. Is it not unjust that a man cannot draw what he would have been entitled to draw if he had not been patriotic?

Mr. Brown

I have pointed out that if arrears were allowed to be drawn for unlimited periods it would be very difficult if not impossible to satisfy ourselves that there had been no disqualification during the period the arrears were accruing, but I am quite willing to have another look at the case and discuss it with the hon. Member.

Mr. Cluse

If a depositor has money in the bank, he can draw it. It is not a question of arrears.

38. Mr. Summers

asked the Minister of Health whether he has finally decided to introduce a Regulation making it necessary for old age pensioners to draw their pensions on a stated day each week; and whether he is aware that such a Regulation would entail both hardship and inconvenience?

Mr. Brown

My hon. Friend appears to be under a misapprehension. I am not contemplating the introduction of any legislation or fresh Regulations to amend the existing arrangements for the payment of old age pensions. Those arrangements have been in force, in the case of noncontributory pensions from 1911, and in the case of contributory pensions from the commencement of the statutory provisions governing those pensions. The last part of the Question does not arise.