HC Deb 04 March 1947 vol 434 cc217-8
9. Mr. Randall

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether those who have fulfilled the conditions of age and insurance are able to earn up to £1 per week regardless of whether it be in regular or occasional employment without prejudicing their entitlement to the full rate of increased pension.

Mr. J. Griffiths

It is a basic condition for the receipt of the increased rate of pension that a person shall have retired from regular employment. If he has so retired he may be awarded an increase of pension, and may thereafter earn up to £1 a week without affecting the rate of his pension. A person may be treated as having retired notwithstanding that he is engaged, or intends to engage, in a gainful occupation if he does, so only occasionally, or to an inconsiderable extent, or otherwise in circumstances not inconsistent with retirement. The question whether the retirement condi- tions are fulfilled in the individual case rests with the statutory authorities—in the last resort the umpire, who now has before him a number of cases raising issues upon the interpretation of these conditions.

Mr. Randall

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is considerable confusion about this matter, and that it calls for a clearly defined statement as to where casual employment ends and regular employment commences?

Mr. Griffiths

I realise that this is a very important problem, but my hon. Friend must realise that it does not fall to me as Minister to decide that; it falls to the statutory authority. The umpire has before him cases which have been raised on this issue, and as soon as I receive a decision from him I will take steps to put it before the House.

Mr. Butcher

As this requirement about claims for pension being made after retirement was brought in in the days of unemployment, will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether it is really necessary to maintain that now, when everybody is asked to work to the maximum?

Mr. Griffiths

We discussed this question on the National Insurance Bill, and Members of all parties agreed that the new pension should be a retiring pension. We must consider carefully whether we should wipe out that condition because of any temporary situation.

Mr. Jennings

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the present manpower position, according to the Government's own statement, is critical and, that being so, will he not take immediate steps to get into touch with his colleagues on this matter?