HC Deb 09 November 1959 vol 613 cc18-9
27. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many widows in the City of Dundee are in receipt, respectively, of a 10s. pension, a widowed mother's allowance, a standard widow's pension and National Assistance grants.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

As these pensions and allowances are paid from a central point, my right hon. Friend regrets that no separate figures for Dundee are available. However, the number of widows receiving supplementation of any of these benefits at the National Assistance Board's two offices in Dundee on 30th September was about 160.

28. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will grant an increase in pension to widows at present in receipt of a 10s. pension.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I have no proposals to make on this matter.

Mr. Thomson

Does not the Minister think that the time is long overdue to give widows on the 10s. pension some modest share in the present prosperity of the country?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Gentleman no doubt knows of the considerable discussions we have had in this House on the matter; how it went to the National Insurance Advisory Committee in 1956, how that Committee recommended that if we treated these widows as being fully paid up for sickness and unemployment benefit it would deal with the question of hardship, and how, in fact, we did so deal with them and gave them that full entitlement. The hon. Gentleman will also remember that as recently as last June his right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), in winding up for the Opposition, said he did not think these ladies had a fully justified grievance.

Dr. King

Could not the Minister at least give these widows what everybody in the House, I am certain, thinks they are entitled to, the value of the pension as it was when awarded; in which case, without going into any question of the principle of new pensions for this group of widows, their 10s. could be a real 10s.?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, because he studies these matters closely, that the majority of these widows receive 10s., whereas widows in identical circumstances, whose rights are only under the National Insurance Act, receive no pension. To increase this 10s. would, therefore, widen a disparity which can only be justified at all on the basis of preserving a pre-existing right.