§ 9. Mr. Wade
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance why Mrs. Haighton, 11a, Mountjoy Road, 816 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?