HC Deb 15 November 1945 vol 415 cc2298-300
15. Mr. George Brown

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he will inquire into the case of Mrs. George, of Riddings, Derbyshire, who has been refused a widow's pension on the grounds that her husband's contributions were wrongfully accepted and at the same time has been refused a refund of those contributions; and will he remedy this in justice.

The Minister of National Insurance (Mr. James Griffiths)

Mr. George died in 1935 and his widow's application for pension was rejected by the independent Referee in January, 1936. The question of a refund of wrongly paid contributions, less benefit received in respect of them, would normally have been dealt with at the time, and my hon. Friend will appreciate that it is difficult to re-open it after so long an interval, but I am having some further inquiries made.

Mr. G. Brown

While thanking my right hon. Friend for the latter part of his reply, may I ask him whether he does not feel that a very severe injustice is being done here, and will he speedily come to some conclusion about it?

Mr. J. Griffiths

I will do my very best to expedite the inquiries we are making.

17. Mrs. Jean Mann

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he will state the number of persons qualifying and drawing the maximum benefits of the supplementary old age pension; the number whose benefit is reduced because of means test; and the amount by which pension for a couple is reduced because of a working son or daughter whose earnings do not exceed£3 per week.

Mr. J. Griffiths

As supplementary pensions are adjusted to the need of the individual there is no amount which can be said to be the maximum benefit, but in rather less than two-thirds of the 1,400,000 supplementary pensions payable at the end of September, covering the needs of about 1,600,000 pensioners, the supplementary pension was assessed on the basis that the applicant had no resources, other than the main pension, to be taken into account. In the remaining one-third there was some reduction on account of such resources. Where one of a couple is the householder an earning son or daughter in the household will be assumed to be making a contribution towards household expenses of not more than 7s. a week; which will be reduced to 5s. for earnings between 30s. and 55s. a week; to 2s. 6d. for earnings between 20s. and 30s. a week and to nothing for earnings of 20s. or less.

18. Mrs. Mann

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he is aware the Area Assistance Boards are paying 47½ per cent. increase on the standard rent on houses of old age supplementary pensioners which have been listed as un fit for human habitation; and if he will advise them to pay the legal rent and leave the surplus with the tenant.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I understand that the fact that a house is listed as unfit for human habitation does not in itself justify the withholding of the increases to which my hon. Friend refers and that if the tenant wishes to withhold part of the rent he must apply to the local authority for the necessary certificate. I am, however, bound to point out that if the amount of rent is reduced in this way, the Board would have no alternative but to make a corresponding reduction in the rent allowance.

19. Captain Prescott

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he is aware that there is considerable delay by his Department in dealing with applications for the grant of widows' and old age pensions; and what steps are being taken to remedy this position.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I am aware that owing to an increased number of claims, coupled with loss of temporary staff, the time taken to settle applications for widows' and old age pensions has recently been longer than under normal conditions. Measures have been taken to meet the situation by recruiting new staff specially for this work.