HC Deb 09 December 1958 vol 597 cc186-8
9. Mr. Gower

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to pay interest at 5 per cent. per annum in respect of post-war credits not repaid after 1st January, 1959.

Mr. Amory

I regret that I cannot see my way to adopting my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. Gower

Is not this a reasonable suggestion, in view of the fact that these forced loans have now subsisted for about 17 years, and would not it be fair to these people who have had to wait so much longer than those who have already been paid?

Mr. Amory

I will continue to take into consideration my hon. Friend's views.

20. Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider authorising the purchase of the right to post-war credits within five years of their maturing by the banks or by other authorised financial institutions.

Mr. Amory

No, Sir. I could not undertake to introduce an arrangement of this sort.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that is a rather disappointing Answer for some people? What would be the objection to an arrangement of this nature, bearing in mind that in France, for example, similar debts of individuals are sometimes paid in the form of post-dated bonds?

Mr. Amory

It would be very difficult to do administratively. Every one of these claims before it is effective has to be checked in detail. It would create more rigidity and make it more difficult for the Government to change the conditions for repayment if we found ourselves able to do so, for example, by advancing the age for repayment.

22. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that £9 million has been paid out in cases of hardship to doctors in advance of their retirement under the National Health Service scheme for compensating doctors for the loss of the right to sell the goodwill of their practices; and if he will adopt similar criteria for judging hardship in order to repay post-war credits in cases where such hardship exists.

Mr. Amory

I regret that my hon. Friend's suggestion would not provide a satisfactory basis for repayment of postwar credits.

Mr. Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members are trying to help him in his difficulty of defining hardship? Would he say in what way the standards adopted by his Department differ from those adopted by the Ministry of Health and by the National Assistance Board?

Mr. Amory

In the case of doctors the circumstances are very different. It is a question of interpreting hardship in a very much narrower field than in these cases. I think that summarises the difficulties.

23. Mr. Fitch

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the fact that the expectancy of life of women is greater than that of men, whether he will consider paying post-war credits to men at the age of 60 rather than at 65 years.

Mr. Amory

I will bear the hon. Member's suggestion in mind.

Mr. Fitch

Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer agree that the present position is illogical? In view of the fact that men are generous by nature, would not both men and women benefit by reduction of the age of payment?

Mr. Amory

I certainly subscribe to the attribute that the hon. Gentleman applied to men, but I would remind him that the qualifying ages are not based on expectancy of life.

24. Mr. Fitch

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now reconsider his decision not to pay Mr. T. Yates, 83, Victoria Street, Newtown, Wigan, his post-war credits.

Mr. Amory

No, Sir. Mr. Yates has not reached the qualifying age, and I have no power to authorise repayment in his case.

Mr. Fitch

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a very distressing case, that this man has worked in the mines for 36 years, has contracted lung disease and has been unable to work for the last 11 years? Does not he think this is the sort of case where repayment is due?

Mr. Amory

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this clearly is a distressing case. The difficulty that all Governments have found is that of drawing the line. There are so many distressing cases that it is difficult to define when a case ceases to be distressing. I have explained how unhappy I am not to be able to meet cases like that. I am once again looking into the position to see whether it is possible to devise any system where lines can be drawn sensibly and satisfactorily, but I am not hopeful.