HC Deb 03 December 1951 vol 494 c1996
2. Mr. Douglas Houghton

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he will take steps to simplify the rules and conditions of the needs test for the non-contributory pension, and meanwhile publish a simple explanation of the present conditions, together with examples.

Mr. Peake

No, Sir. I cannot under-take to introduce legislation for this purpose. As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave last week to the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Vaughan-Morgan).

Mr. Houghton

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that I am asking for something rather more than was contained in the Question asked by the hon. Member for Reigate? I am asking whether the Minister will give some examples of the complicated exercises in arithmetic which people must comprehend to know where they stand under the Old Age Pensions Act, 1936.

Mr. Peake

There is an explanatory leaflet, which is as clear as we can make it, and of which the hon. Member has no doubt seen a copy, and for further information on this complicated subject I would refer him to the second chapter of the Report of the Assistance Board for 1949.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Will my right hon. Friend look again at the so-called explanatory leaflet? Does he feel that for the sort of people the benefits are intended a sentence like the following is intelligible: … the means of each partner are reckoned as half the combined means of the two, and each partner is allowed the benefit of the £39 deducted from means other than earnings.

Mr. Peake

Well, I think I can understand that—

Mr. Norman Dodds

But the right hon. Gentleman does not need it.

Mr. Peake

—but this is necessarily a very complicated subject.