HC Deb 31 March 1958 vol 585 cc837-40
24. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will amend his regulations so as to avoid the payment of family allowances and maternity benefits to members of United States forces in this country who receive such benefits from their country of origin.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

No, Sir. But I understand that the United States Third Air Force authorities do what they can to discourage those United States Service men who stay here long enough to qualify for family allowances from claiming them. So far as maternity benefits are concerned, no question of such a claim arises as these are National Insurance benefits, and members of the United States forces do not pay National Insurance contributions.

Mr. Hurd

Will my right hon. Friend take the matter of family allowances further with the United States Air Force, because there is some anxiety and doubt in the minds of some of my constituents as to the rightness of families of American Service men being able to draw family allowances from the British taxpayer?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I understand my hon. Friend's point of view. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air has been in touch with the United States authorities in the last few days with a view to seeing whether some reinforcement can be provided of the discouragement which my main answer indicated is given to their men to claim these allowances.

Dr. Summerskill

Does not the Minister think it wise to draw the attention of the public to the fact that many of the women who draw these family allowances are English women married to American men and that these women have often paid taxation in this country before their marriage?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The right hon. Lady is in substance right. I understand that the vast majority of the very limited number of cases which exist relate to wives who were British girls before their marriage. I had a spot check taken in the last few days and, of the five cases in which allowances had been claimed, four were British girls born here, and one came from Bermuda, and it so happened that in three cases the husbands were not in this country.

26. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether, with a view to ascertaining the number of United States Service men who are entitled to draw family allowances, he will request the United States authorities to supply details as to the number of married Americans with two or more children who have been resident in Great Britain for three or more years; and further, as a means of ascertaining the actual number of United States Service men drawing family allowances, if he will request the United States Service authorities to collate this information and supply the same to his Department.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

No, Sir. The information referred to in the first part of the Question would serve no useful purpose, and I do not think the suggestion contained in the second part of the Question would be appropriate or helpful.

Mr. Lewis

When this matter was raised previously, even this afternoon, the Minister said that he had not the information. Unless he finds out the information, how can he say that there are not many of these cases? How can he say that they are English girls, when, in fact, many of them are American girls who are paying no taxation or making any contribution whatsoever? Surely the best way is for him to find out the facts and to let us know whether there are hundreds or dozens of women drawing these payments.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

If the hon. Member will recollect, I did not say that I had no information. I told him that I could not give him the precise figures. The particular method of inquiry which he suggests in his Question does not strike me as at all useful.

30. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many foreign diplomats in London draw family allowances.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I have no information as to the number, if any, who do so.

Mr. Lipton

Is the Minister aware that any diplomat with a family who has been here for three years can start drawing tax-free family allowances which, in the case of British subjects, are liable to tax? Will he follow the precedent of the case of the American Service men, and ask the Foreign Secretary to have a word with the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in London with a view to seeing that those diplomats, if they are drawing any family allowance, desist from that practice.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

These matters are regulated by the normal rules governing the Diplomatic Corps in all capitals, and I know of no reason whatever why it should be necessary to take the initiative suggested by the hon. Gentleman.

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