HC Deb 20 May 1957 vol 570 cc923-5

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Marquand

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance has been attending our debate very assiduously indeed. It would be a very dull day for her if she did not have an opportunity to speak, and I hope that on this Clause she will be able to give the Committee some guidance, at any rate, because the Clause deals with the consequential reduction of National Insurance contributions.

This is the only part of the Bill which deals directly with National Insurance contributions. The idea behind it is that as there is now to be a separate National Health contribution, the amount formerly paid by the National Insurance Fund will go into that National Health contribution, and the contributor who in the future pays for a separate stamp for National Health contributions will have the increased charge included in that stamp and will, in consequence, find that the National Insurance contribution stamp will cost less.

The contribution may be relieved by that. He may say to himself, "I have a new contribution to make, but at least the old contribution is to be reduced." The Clause says that …the weekly rates of contributions payable under the National Insurance Acts shall be reduced in accordance with the next following subsection. I should like the hon. Lady to tell us how long she thinks this reduction will last. How long will it be before the National Insurance contribution will again be increased to the old level, or beyond it?

We had a debate not long ago on the social policy of the Government, which was wound up by the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance in his very best debating style. In almost a crescendo of fury he gave a long list of improvements which he said the Government had made in our social services. About five out of eght of those improvements consisted of improvements in the National Insurance system.

We agree that there are improvements. We accepted and supported the improvements in the conditions relating to widows and other dependants of National Insurance contributors. But the right hon. Gentleman told us during the debate on the Bill which implemented the recommendations of the National Insurance Advisory Committee on the improvement of the conditions of widows and dependants that the cost one day would have to be made up by increased contributions. So one day we shall have another Bill put before us by the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance asking for an increased National Insurance contribution. It seems to me that this is the fair time at which to give the House of Commons warning of that.

This Committee ought to be aware, when it is passing a Clause which purports to reduce the National Insurance contribution, that at some time in the future, probably a very short time ahead, the National Insurance contribution is to be increased, that these new improvements of which the Minister was so proud are not to be financed, through the Treasury, by the taxpayer but are to be financed, once more, by the contributors themselves.

I ask the hon. Lady to give us some indication of the amount of increase that we may expect after these decreases have taken place, and of the time when her right hon. Friend is likely to present them to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.