§ 1. Mr. Niall Macpherson
asked the Minister of National Insurance why, in view of the provisions of the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1936, Mr. Thomas R. McMath, of Churchhouse, Auldgirth, Dumfries, who has been a contributor to an approved society for interrupted periods totalling some 30 years and has been registered as unemployed since 24th October, 1943, when he was discharged by the Air Ministry as redundant, has been refused a pension on attainment of his 65th birthday after having been instructed by the Assistance Board to apply for one.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National Insurance (Mr. Steele)
As explained in my right hon. Friend's letter of 21st November last to the hon. Member, Mr. McMath's insurance under the Contributory Pensions Acts ended nearly two years before he reached the age of 65, and accordingly it was decided that he did not satisfy the principal condition for the award of a pension. This decision was confirmed by the independent referee who considered his case on appeal. Mr. McMath was advised by the Assistance Board to make a claim to pension in order that his position under the Statute could be formally tested.
§ Mr. Macpherson
As under the Act it is not necessary for a person to pay contributions when he is unemployed, would 798 the Minister agree that as this man has been unemployed since 1943, he should now be entitled to a pension?
§ Mr. Steele
Of course, we have to administer the Act as laid down in 1936. In this case, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that due investigation was made, that it went before the independent referee, and that he decided that the applicant was not entitled to a pension under the 1936 Act, and that, of course is the final decision.
§ 3. Mr. Granville Sharp
asked the Minister of National Insurance whether his regulations provided that all insured contributors who are in full benefit on reaching the age when they are qualified for the retirement pension of 26s., provided they retire from work, may draw the old rate of pension of 10s., even though they continue working.
§ The Minister of National Insurance (Mr. James Griffiths)
Persons reaching pension age before next July will be able to claim old age pensions at the 10s. rate, irrespective of retirement. Persons reaching pension age on or after that date will become entitled to pensions only on retirement, but they will have the benefit of the full provisions of the National Insurance Act. They will be able to earn increments of pension rate for continuance at work beyond minimum pension age, and unemployment and sickness benefit as appropriate to their class will be available to them up to the date when retirement pension becomes payable.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Yes, we will do our very best to make these provisions known to everyone between now and next July.
§ Miss Bacon
Will the amount of the increment be received by those who are now receiving 10s. a week?
§ Mr. Griffiths
No, the increment provision applies only to those who reach pensionable age after 5th July next.
§ 5. Sir Patrick Hannon
asked the Minister of National Insurance whether in view of the urgent need of productive effort, he 799 will waive or modify the rule whereby old-age pensioners who undertake work have their pensions reduced by one shilling for each shilling earned in excess of 20 shillings, in view of the fact that the limitation of pensioner's earnings places an automatic stoppage to incentive and is therefore contrary to the national interest.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I have no power to modify the National Insurance Act, 1946, in this respect. As I have said on previous occasions, the relevant provisions, which will become fully operative in July next, were expressly framed so as to provide special inducements to old people to remain at work and postpone retirement beyond minimum pension age. I have good hopes that they will prove effective for this purpose.
§ Sir P. Hannon
In a case of this kind, would not such a concession be very helpful in keeping these old people employed in light industries?
§ Mr. Griffiths
As I have already indicated, we are much encouraged to find from our experience of the last six months that over 60 per cent. of the men who received pensions did not retire from work. After July next, those who postpone their retirement will earn an increment to the pension. We think that this increment is an inducement to them to stay at work.