HC Deb 15 July 1952 vol 503 cc2042-4
Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)

I beg to move, in page 5, line 8, at the end, to insert: Subsection (5) of section one of the said Act of 1944 shall have effect, in its application to this Act by virtue of the last foregoing subsection, as if for the words "fifty-two pounds" there were substituted the words "one hundred and four pounds. This is a small Amendment which may be said to be consequential upon another change which was made in the Bill during the Committee stage. Section 1 (5) of the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1944, defines, among other things, the modifications for a dependant in respect of whom the higher rate of pension may be payable to the pensioner. It says that, among other qualifications, his total income from any other source must not exceed £52 a year.

This limit on a dependant's income of £52 a year, which is the basis of qualification for the higher rate of pension for a pensioner who has such a dependant, was in line with the disregard of other income in the case of pensioners themselves for the purposes of the ceiling under previous legislation. In Committee the disregard of other income in the case of the pension itself for the purposes of the Bill was increased from £52 to £104, and we now submit that a corresponding adjustment should be made in the provisions of Section 1 (5) of the 1944 Act in so far as it is applicable to the provisions of the Bill.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)

The Amendment, as has been accurately said by the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), would have the effect, for the purposes of this Bill, of providing that a person whose income does not exceed £104 should be eligible to qualify as a dependant for the purposes of the increase granted to the pensioner under the Bill.

The arguments in favour of and against the Amendment are somewhat neatly balanced. On the one hand, it could be argued that, if we so amend the Bill, the effect will be that somebody whose income is in the zone between £52 and £104 could be a dependant for the purposes of this Bill but not a dependant for the purposes of the previous legislation. On the other hand, as the hon. Member for Sowerby has said, the change effected by a Government Amendment during the Committee stage in the amount of income of the pensioner to be disregarded for the purposes of the income limits raises fairly clearly the question as to whether a similar amount of income should be disregarded in the case of a pensioner's dependant.

The arguments are fairly equally balanced, and, so far as we can ascertain, remarkably few people would be affected either way. As there are very few people concerned, the cost of the Amendment would be trivial. I have considered the position which arises and the somewhat neat balance between the conflicting considerations, and, on balance, it seems that it would be better to have the same income limits for both the pensioner and his dependant under the Bill, and, consequently, if the Committee so desires, I shall offer no objection to the Amendment.

Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)

I should like to express, on behalf of my hon. Friends and myself, our pleasure that the Government has seen fit to accept this small Amendment. We were well aware that it amounted to very little but, nevertheless, it amounts to something, and in these days, with the Government that we have, we must be grateful for what we can get.

Between us in the Committee stage we improved the Bill as far as we could within the limits of a very tightly drawn Money Resolution. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this makes the Bill a little tidier for one thing and, remembering the deterioration in the value of money, it is a tardy act of justice, too. Therefore, for what it is worth—we do not want to look a gift horse in the mouth and appear not to be thankful for small mercies—we are grateful for this and only wish that the hon. Gentleman had had an opportunity to go further with other Amendments which we should have liked to move had it been possible, which would have been much more acceptable to thousands of people who, even under these provisions, are suffering great hardship.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, with Amendment; as amended (in the Standing Committee and on re-committal), considered.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

Mr. Anthony Marlowe (Hove)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Might I draw your attention to an Amendment which I had down for consideration on the Report stage?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)

That Amendment is out of order, because it increases the charge.

Mr. Marlowe

I appreciate that there may be some difficulties about the Amendment, but is there not some misapprehension—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. and learned Gentleman cannot argue that on Third Reading.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.