HC Deb 19 March 1951 vol 485 cc2073-5
2. Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

asked the Minister of National Insurance what is the total amount received during the last convenient period in respect of employers' contribution for men and women drawing retirement pensions but continuing at work.

The Minister of National Insurance (Dr. Edith Summerskill)

It is estimated that National Insurance contributions paid only by employers amount to £4½ million, but it is impossible to say how much of this is paid in respect of pensioners actually drawing retirement pensions.

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

As it is impossible for the right hon. Lady to give accurate figures would she investigate this further with a view, if possible, to waiving the contribution from employers so as to encourage them to retain older people at work?

Dr. Summerskill

I would remind the hon. Gentleman that there is a danger there. If employers were relieved of their contribution there would be a danger that they might discriminate against the employment of young workers.

11. Mr. Steward

asked the Minister of National Insurance the number of non-contributory old age pensioners and retirement pensioners, aged 70 years and over, receiving regular weekly grants of assistance, either directly or as a wife dependent on her husband, at the end of each of the months June, September and December, 1949 and 1950, respectively.

Dr. Summerskill

As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, if I may, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The numbers are estimated as follows:—
1949 1950
June 535,000 600,000
September 545,000 640,000
December 560,000 670,000

13. Mr. J. N. Browne

asked the Minister of National Insurance the number of retired pensioners in Scotland and the number in receipt of supplementary pensions.

Dr. Summerskill

There are 397,000 retirement pensioners in Scotland, of whom some 61,000 are receiving, supplementary allowances from the National Assistance Board.

Captain Duncan

Is the right hon. Lady aware that a large number of pensioners still do not like going to the Assistance Board to get supplementary pensions; and will she bear that in mind in considering the question of retirement pensions?

Dr. Summerskill

I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said that, because we try to encourage people to go to the Assistance Board. My experience is that once they have been they are never reluctant to go again.

15. Mr. Steward

asked the Minister of National Insurance what would be the total increased cost per annum to raise the weekly amount payable to old age pensioners from 26s. to 30s. in respect of single persons, and from 42s. to 50s. for married couples.

Dr. Summerskill

The cost of such an increase in National Insurance retirement pensions would be about £40 million a year at present, rising to about £82 million in 1977.

Mr. Steward

In view of the smallness of this amount compared with the cost of other schemes, and the relief and happiness it would give to old people, would not the Minister seriously consider increasing the amounts to 30s. and 50s., respectively?

Dr. Summerskill

In spite of the hon. Gentleman's blandishments, I cannot commit myself.

Mr. Wyatt

Will the Minister bear in mind that if maximum want is to be relieved it is more important to increase the scale rates payable by the National Assistance Board than to increase the basic rate of old age pensioners?