30. Mr. De la Bère
asked the Minister of National Insurance whether, during the harvest, she will consider making provision by which the permitted earnings of men of 65 and 69 years of age can be raised from £1 to £3 a week without incurring any deduction in existing pensions.
§ The Minister of National Insurance (Dr. Edith Summerskill)
Legislation would be necessary if 'the hon. Member's proposal were to be adopted, but it would be very difficult to have a special rule for agriculture.
Mr. De la Bère
Is the Minister aware that there are many efficient and able people who are being penalised for doing useful work as a result of these deductions? Why should they not be encouraged to do work which is urgently needed by the country? Does the Minister realise that this matter cannot be lightly dismissed; indeed, it cannot be dismissed at all; and that this is thoroughly unsatisfactory?
§ Mr. Harrison
Will my right hon. Friend consider the suggestion made in the Question, without limiting it to agricultural workers?
§ Dr. Summerskill
My hon. Friend must realise that that would undermine the basic principle of the scheme, which was intended to provide compensation for those who are unable to work, and was not intended as a subsidy to wages.