HC Deb 17 November 1958 vol 595 cc815-7
9. Mr. Wade

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance why Mrs. Haighton, 11a, Mountjoy Road, Huddersfield, whose husband was a voluntary contributor for many years prior to 1947, and was a contributor under the present National Insurance Scheme until the time of his death, has been awarded a widow's pension at less than the standard rate, whereas she would have been entitled to benefit at the full standard rate if her husband had made no voluntary contributions and had been a new entrant into insurance at the start of the present National Insurance Scheme on 5th July, 1948.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Miss Edith Pitt)

The rate of widow's benefit depends on the husband's yearly average of contributions. Where a person was insured under the Contributory Pensions Acts immediately before 5th July, 1948, his contribution record before that date has to be linked with that under the present scheme. Although Mr. Haighton had a full record of contributions from 5th July, 1948, his previous record was deficient and his yearly average was thereby reduced to 48 instead of the 50 or more required for payment at the full standard rate.

Mr. Wade

While I wish to make it clear that this case is raised as a matter of principle rather than one of hardship, may I ask the hon. Lady whether it is not anomalous and unfair that this widow should receive less than her full benefit simply because her husband happened to have been a voluntary contributor for a number of years before this scheme came into effect?

Miss Pitt

As my right hon. Friend explained in reply to the previous Question, the principle was to benefit the majority. There may be certain cases where the individual has not gained in benefit, but in this instance I would explain to the hon. Member that the contributions paid before 1948 and continued over 1948 covered this lady for widow's benefit had her husband died within three years of 1948. Happily that eventuality did not arise, but she was, in fact, so covered.

Mr. H. Hynd

Is this not quite contrary to the normal policy of the Government, which usually benefits a minority at the expense of the majority?

Miss Pitt

Not to Conservative Government policy.

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