HC Deb 01 November 1954 vol 532 cc22-3
19. Brigadier Clarke

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if be will now consider allowing old-age pensioners to earn over 40s. without loss of retirement pension.

22. Miss Ward

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether, in view of the fact that the earnings allowance is imposed to encourage persons to remain at work and earn increments on retirement pensions, he will take steps to protect the interests of these persons who cannot remain in full-time employment by altering the law to remove the earnings allowance limit in respect of these people.

Mr. Peake

I think we must wait for the report of the Phillips Committee before considering questions of this kind.

Brigadier Clarke

Does my right hon. Friend not realise that these old people have paid for their pensions and should be allowed to earn what they like? Will he remove from the Statute Book this scandalous piece of Socialist legislation?

Mr. Peake

No, I cannot accept that.

Brigadier Clarke

It is Socialism.

Mr. Peake

We adopted by general agreement in 1946 a new principle of giving a pension by virtue of retirement. There must be some test of retirement. This earnings rule has been the subject of inquiry by and of evidence given before the Phillips Committee, and the report of that Committee will be available very shortly.

Miss Ward

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that this earnings rule imposes a great hardship on women, particularly on widows, who find it very difficult, quite often, to get back into employment? Will he bear that particularly in mind so that we can have some amelioration of the present earnings rule?

Mr. Peake

Yes, I will certainly undertake to bear the point that my hon. Friend has raised particularly in mind.

Mr. Gibson

In view of the admitted pressure that there is these days on all pensioners, and the public support there is for them not only from these benches but in the newspapers, why must the right hon. Gentleman wait until the Phillips Committee reports? Is there any hope of the Phillips Committee's reporting and of the right hon. Gentleman's making a statement before the end of the year?

Mr. Peake

Oh, certainly. I am hoping that the report will be available by the end of this month. I certainly promise a statement before the Christmas Recess.

Air Commodore Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, as there is practically full employment in the country, he would, by allowing pensioners to work and earn more, benefit both industry and the country?

Mr. Peake

Yes, but we must be careful not to induce people to retire prematurely and to depend upon part-time earnings and pension rather than continue in their regular jobs and earn the higher pension by their so doing.

Mr. S. Silverman

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there is no superannuation scheme applicable to professional or official classes which demands retirement or permanent unemployment as a condition for paying the benefit of the scheme? Why cannot the same principle be applied to workers generally?

Mr. Peake

That may be so, but there was general agreement, I think, in all parts of the House in 1946, and we must try out this new retirement principle and provide higher pensions to be earned by virtue of deferred retirement.