HC Deb 14 November 1955 vol 546 cc20-2
26. Mr. McKay

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he is now in a position to state when the Report of the National Insurance Advisory Committee on Widows' Pensions is likely to be published; and if he will give an undertaking to implement the recommendations of the Report without delay.

32. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will invite his National Advisory Committee to speed up their Report on the position of widows.

34. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance when he expects to receive the Report of the National Insurance Advisory Committee regarding the position of the widow receiving a pension of 10s.

Mr. Peake

I cannot add to the reply given to the hon. and learned Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) and the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth, West (Brigadier Clarke) on 31st October. I certainly cannot undertake to implement a Report which I have not yet received.

Dame Irene Ward

Why has not my right hon. Friend answered my Question, which asks him if he will kindly convey to his National Advisory Committee the feeling of this House that the Report is being too long delayed? Why did he not answer that Question?

Mr. Peake

I thought I had answered it, by implication, at any rate.

Dame Irene Ward

Oh, no.

Mr. Peake

I have already said that the Committee is engaged on preparing its Report, and I am sure that it will be a very good Report when we get it.

Mr. McKay

Is the Minister aware that there are two sorts of widows, that in one section there is the widow who gets 10s. a week, and in another section the widow who gets 20s. per week, and that those sections have not had an increase for ten years? Will not the Minister, knowing the long time that these people have been waiting, use his influence to hasten the findings of the Committee? I cannot understand how a Committee can take so long over such a matter.

Mr. Peake

I must remind the hon. Gentleman that the Committee is comprised of amateurs—ordinary men and women with other jobs to do. When they reviewed maternity benefits they produced a most excellent Report which was a great improvement on the scheme in force up to then, and I am sure that, as far as widows are concerned, something of the same sort will occur.

Mr. Thomson

Since the Committee has informed the Minister that the Report is now in preparation, can he tell us whether the Committee has given him an estimated date when he may receive the Report?

Mr. Peake

No, I am afraid I cannot give the date.

Mr. McKibbin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I got into trouble with some of the 10s. widows in Belfast for not bringing them along to see him on the occasion of his recent visit? They thought he looked so kind and handsome in his photographs in the Press. They thought that if I had taken them to see him they could have "blarneyed" him into doing something for them. Is my right hon. Friend aware that they are now more difficult than ever, because they consider that, with the increased tax on household articles, they are entitled to an increase in pension more than they ever were before?

Mr. Peake

I sympathise very much with my hon. Friend in his difficulties with those widows, and I hope that when the Report appears the difficulties will be fully resolved.

Mr. Fort

Has my right hon. Friend pointed out, not only to the Committee but also to the printers, that there is no subject upon which the House is more deeply concerned at present than that of National Insurance and widows' pensions? Will everything possible be done to speed up the Report so that we can consider it here?

Mr. Peake

It is because I attach great importance to these matters that I announced in March of last year that this question was to be referred to the Advisory Committee.