§ 26. Mr. Beswick
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what is the appropriate means standard above which a parent's pension is not payable, though other qualifications are met; and, in particular, what was the net income figure above which the widow of a Royal Air Force squadron leader, about whom the hon. Member for Uxbridge wrote to his Department, and whose sergeant pilot son was killed in 1942, was held not to qualify for a parent's pension.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Richard Wood)
The basic means standard used in calculating the need of a parent who lost a son as a result of the 1939 War was raised last January from 60s. to 70s. a week. To this may be added the amount by which the son's net contribution exceeds 15s. In the case of the lady to whom the hon. Member refers, the appropriate means standard was assessed at 70s. a week when the application was considered last year; her income was considerably more. The means standard would now be 80s. a week.
§ Mr. Beswick
I cannot believe that the Parliamentary Secretary thinks that the lady can really live on £3 or even £4 a week. Her rent and rates alone amount to £2 16s. In view of the fact that her son, who had a promising vareer before him as a surgeon would undoubtedly have been making a contribution to his mother in these circumstances, surely if we are serious about a parents pension we should make a pension in a case of this kind?
§ Mr. Wood
As the hon. Member knows, the difficulty is that it is impossible for us to take into consideration factors such as rent. I do not think it would be completely fair if we did so, because many other people who pay comparatively lower rents might have other items which we could not take care of. As for the calculation of a hypothetical contribution from the son had he lived, it is difficult to take that into consideration, and all we can base our calculations on is the kind of contribution which the son was making during his lifetime.
§ Mr. Beswick
May I press the Parliamentary Secretary about this? Surely it is not denied that the lady is in difficult circumstances? Surely it would not be denied either that her son would be making some contribution? Is there not some way in which this matter may be examined again?