§ 36. Mrs. Castle
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will amend the regulations on the repayment of post-war credits so as to enable them to be repaid to married women who would have qualified under the existing regulations if they had not exercised their right as married women to opt out of National Insurance.
I assume that the hon. Member has in mind married women who are sick but do not qualify for sickness benefit because they have opted not to pay National Insurance contributions. Repayment of post-war credits in these cases would raise a number of practical difficulties to which a satisfactory solution has not yet been found.
§ Mrs. Castle
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, as in the Blackburn case which I recently sent to his Department, it is possible that women who have been sick for two years and longer and who, if they opted into National Insurance, would be classified as hardship cases under the new regulations are left without any help although their hardship is exactly the same? Surely this sort of case enables the Minister to make a clear and objective test of hardship which is the one which he has said he has chosen for his new plan. Will not he reconsider the matter?
No. The hon. Lady wrote to me and I considered the matter very carefully. But, as I explained to the House before, in deciding the degree of hardship which would justify the early repayment of post-war credits we have to depend on clearly definable categories. I am aware that among the chronic sick 242 there are many people whom we cannot cover because we cannot bring them into a clearly definable category. I have looked at the matter very carefully and I am afraid that what I have said holds good. We should depend here on the rendering of medical certificates which vary very much, and we could not get the necessary uniformity.
§ 37. Mrs. Castle
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will arrange for claims for the apportionment of post-war credits between husband and wife to be entertained outside the time limits laid down in the statutory regulations in those cases where the wife is later separated from her husband.
§ 61. Mrs. Emmet
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make arrangements whereby claims to apportionment of post-war credits made outside the prescribed time limit will be accepted in cases where the husband and wife have been divorced or are legally separated.
In future, claims to apportionment of post-war credits will be accepted outside the time limit from wives who are divorced or legally separated from their husbands in cases where the full credit has not already been paid before the apportionment is made. They will then be able to obtain repayment of their part of the credit when they satisfy the conditions.
§ Mrs. Castle
I think that I can thank the right hon. Gentleman for that rather complicated Answer. May I ask him whether it covers the two Blackburn cases which have been submitted to his Department in Which wives who have been separated from their husbands for four years and are now trying to get their share of post-war credits made over to them have been refused repayment even after appeal to the Minister? In view of the very important evidence which I have put before the right hon. Gentleman, does this mean that he has now changed his mind and that they will get their money?
I should like to assure the hon. Lady that there is no snag in this. I think that she has reason to thank me, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Mrs. Emmet) will also thank me. I should 243 like to underline that this is a change in procedure. It will apply to wives who are divorced or legally separated where the post-war credit has not already been paid to the 'husband. If it has been paid already, there is nothing more we can do about it.
§ Mrs. Emmet
While thanking my right hon. Friend for the change, which will be very helpful, may I ask him whether he can do something about the very outrageous case which occurred in my constituency where the post-war credits earned by a woman were paid to the woman her husband ran away with and subsequently married after a divorce? In this lady's words, the Treasuryhas paid out my money…to someone who, both on moral and legal grounds, has no right to it".Surely this is an outrageous situation and the Treasury should not be able to allocate someone else's post-war credits in this way.
This is just like ladies. I have been nice to my hon. Friend, but she wants me to be nicer still. I am afraid that I cannot help her in the case which she has mentioned, as I understand it, because I believe that the amount has been paid to the husband and, therefore, there is nothing more to pay. Otherwise if a case is covered by the phrase "divorced or legally separated" it looks as if a payment will be due. Perhaps my hon. Friend will get in touch with me again on this matter.