HC Deb 19 March 1956 vol 550 cc810-2
15. Mr. Collins

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what rate of pension will be payable under the proposed scheme to women aged over 50 years, widowed after 27th February, 1956, who have been married for more than three but less than ten years.

The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)

Forty shillings a week, assuming the contribution conditions to be fully satisfied. This applies, in fact, to all such women widowed since 5th July, 1948.

Mr. Collins

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask him whether a similar retrospective arrangement will apply to the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee when they become law?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I would like notice of questions with respect to particular recommendations.

17. Mrs. Jeger

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the present purchasing power of the 10s. widows' pension in terms of its value when first introduced.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Five shillings and sevenpence on the basis of changes in the cost of living index and the Interim Index of Retail Prices between January, 1926, and January, 1956.

Mrs. Jeger

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that these widows are having to pay more than 5s. 7d., which is the total value of their original pension, as the National Insurance contribution to maintain their qualification for insurance? Surely that is an argument for making some change in the present regulations relating to the 10s. widows?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I follow the hon. Lady's point, but she will appreciate that the fall in the value of money is also reflected in the real value of the contributions. She cannot just subtract 5s. 3d. from 5s. 7d. and make it 4d.

Mrs. Jeger

But surely there is a contractual obligation involved here. Would the Minister not agree that these women, as a result of their husbands' contributions, were entitled to a 10s. pension? Cannot he take some steps to ensure that they do get an equivalent 10s. pension at today's value?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Lady will recall that on 27th February I went at some length into the reasons why it did not seem right to place a further burden upon the National Insurance Fund in respect of increasing these pensions. I know the hon. Lady will not think me discourteous when I say that I cannot really mobilise all those arguments in reply to one supplementary question, at any rate within a reasonable length of time.

18. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the difference between the purchasing power of the widow's pension of today and that of October, 1951.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

On the basis of the Interim Index of Retail Prices, the purchasing power of the National Insurance widow's pension is 9s. more than that of the rate current in October, 1951.