HC Deb 13 December 1961 vol 651 cc454-87

A widow's basic pension payable by virtue of the National Insurance (Pensions. Existing Beneficiaries and Other Persons) (Transitional) Regulations, 1948, shall be increased to twenty shillings weekly.—[Mr. Houghton]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.45 p.m.

Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

This Clause deals with the somewhat familiar case of the 10s. widow. In the speech I made on Second Reading of the Bill, on 9th November, as reported in column 1202 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of that day. I said that we on these benches would be returning to this matter if opportunity arose during the course of consideration of the Bill. It was referred to last year on the Second Reading of the Bill of 1960, and in a speech I made on Second Reading of that Bill on 15th November, as reported in the OFFICIAL REPORT for that day. On 24th November, 1960, as reported in col. 1411, my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, lichen (Dr. King) moved an Amendment to the Schedule to increase the 10s. pension of the so-called 10s. widow to 20s. weekly.

The debate then was somewhat abbreviated, because time was pressing on that day. What I am about to do now can be said to be a continuation of the debate which took place on 24th November, 1960. I need scarcely recall that the 10s. widow is a woman who was married before 5th July, 1948, and has since been widowed, but who, under the new scheme, is not entitled either to a widow's pension or a widowed mother's allowance. Under the 1948 scheme, she had reserved to her in those circumstances the benefit which she would have drawn had the old scheme continued. That is how she comes to draw the 10s. a week pension—the same amount as the widow's pension before the new scheme came into operation in 1948.

When he speaks to the House or to the Committee on this matter, the Minister reminds us that these are the widows who get 10s. a week in circumstances in which other widows governed entirely by the new scheme get nothing. That is true. There was, however, in the 1948 scheme a specific reservation to this type of widow of the old benefit of 10s. a week. That is in contrast with the removal of the 10s. a week old-age pension to persons insured under the old scheme because in their case the new benefit, the new retirement pension, replaced the old-age pension.

Nevertheless, after the new scheme came into operation there were some persons who would have been entitled to the old-age pension under the old scheme who were not entitled to a retirement pension under the new scheme. Therefore, it could be said in their case that they were deprived by the change to the new scheme of a benefit which they would have had under the old scheme.

No one complained about that, at least not very much, because the new benefit, in most cases, would supersede the original 10s. a week old-age pension. But, for reasons which seemed good and sufficient to Parliament at the time, this type of widow on whose behalf we propose this new Clause was specifically given as a reserved right the 10s. a week which she would have drawn under the old scheme notwithstanding the fact that she was not entitled either to a widow's pension or a widowed mother's allowance under the new scheme.

All that is common ground. The issue before the House today, as on previous occasions is: what do we do about a reserved benefit which has been reduced in value by the fall in the value of money? Do we leave it as it was, or do we restore something of the real value of the benefit concerned?

There will be no dispute that 10s. a week in 1948 was worth a great deal more than 10s. a week is today. In fact, last year the Minister said that to restore the real value of the 10s. a week pension it would have to be increased to about 16s. a week. Possibly it would be a little higher than that today because of the change in the value of money in the intervening period.

I think that it is common ground that the 10s. a week at the 1948 level would have to be increased by some shillings a week to restore its real value in 1948 terms.

The question is: do we do that? Is there any need to do it? Is there any case for doing it? The Minister says, "No". We say, "Yes". What the Minister has said is "This is a reserved benefit, a legacy from a scheme which is now obsolete. While Parliament thought it just that this benefit should be reserved there was no obligation upon Parliament to maintain its real value; 10s. it was and 10s. it should remain until the end of time".

We do not look at it in that light. If it was thought proper that these widows should have 10s. a week under the provisions of the 1948 scheme, we believe that it is the duty of Parliament to maintain the real value of the reserved benefit, or, at any rate, to keep the value of that benefit in harmony with the increase in other benefits under the National Insurance Scheme.

Those who were drawing their retirement pensions immediately the 1948 scheme came into operation have paid no contributions since then. They have had their benefits improved on several occasions in order, as the Prime Minister once put it, to give the National Insurance beneficiaries a share in the rising prosperity of the country. We have fully supported that view. Our only criticism is that the Government have not yet gone far enough. They have not given the National Insurance beneficiaries a big enough share in the country's rising prosperity.

The 10s. widow has not yet received any improvement in the money value of her pension since it was first granted. We hold the view, therefore, that we cannot dismiss this case on the ground that the 10s. benefit to this type of widow is not an integral part of the 1948 scheme. It was part of the bargain of the 1948 scheme. It was part of the conditions in which the 1948 scheme came into operation. We believe that an obligation rests on Parliament and on the Government to deal fairly with this position.

Another thing the Minister said is that if the value or if the amount of the 10s. pension is increased that will widen the gap between the widow with reserved rights and the widow without reserved rights who, under the new scheme, would get no widow's benefit at all. In a sentence, the Minister says that it would be unfair to widen the gap between the 10s. widow and the "no-shilling" widow. We take the view that we should not be widening the disparity between the 10s. widow and the no-shilling widow if what we did was to restore the real value of the 10s. That does not widen a gap. It seems that it cannot widen the gap to restore the gap to what it was in real terms, and that is the issue.

The Minister also said, on 24th November, 1960: It seems unfair when there are two women living alongside each other, both widowed and childless at the age of 30 or 35, that one should have to pay to improve the position of a lady who is already receiving 10s. more than she is. As Minister of Pensions and National Insurance I should find it very difficult to impose National Insurance contributions for that purpose. I would not have the feeling that I was doing the fair thing."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 24th November, 1960; Vol. 630, c. 1418–9.] But Parliament decided, under the 1948 scheme, to give 10s. a week to certain widows living alongside other widows who were getting nothing at all. This was the basis of the reserved right and, if anomaly there is today, anomaly there was to begin with. Parliament decided that it was not an anomaly to preserve the right to the 10s. a week widow's pension in cases where a widow would have been able to claim that under the old scheme but was denied any benefit at all under the new scheme. I cannot see that we are imposing any injustice on the National Insurance contributor by preserving the real value of the 10s. than we were originally imposing to provide the 10s. in the first place.

The Minister referred to two other matters which weighed against making the concession which we seek. First, he said that 20s. is too much if it is the restoration of the value of the 10s. of 1948 in terms of current value. If that is the Minister's difficulty, we can meet him. If he is willing to restore the value of the 10s. a week to the real value of 1948, that is our case. Twenty shillings seemed to us to be a nice round figure. What is more, it would probably save further adjustments in this respect for several years to come. It has been a long time since 1948, and, if experience is anything to go by, it will take a long time to get any further adjustment.

4.0 p.m.

Finally, the Minister said that the total cost would be about £4 million, which was a lot of money, and that if he had £4 million to give away he could think of other and better ways in which to spend it. There is nearly always a better way of spending money than that sought. It is merely an evasion of the issue to say, "If I had the money, I would spend it elsewhere". In this very Bill the Minister is recouping some of the expenditure by taking from 50,000 or 60,000 parents of apprentices the family allowances which they now draw. I am sure that the House will be interested to examine afresh the significance of Clause 8 when we discuss it later on Third Reading.

That is the case for doing something for the 10s. widow. I understand that there are about 100,000 of them. This is not an increasing group of beneficiaries. Some are passing into the qualification for the retirement pension on reaching the age of 60, and there is normal wastage. We make no apology for returning to this subject. Hon. Members opposite have sometimes supported the plea for the 10s. widow and I am sorry that the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) is not in his place, because he has been a staunch supporter of this case. Some of my hon. Friends have been pressing the Minister at Question Time for some time.

When, on 24th November last year, my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen moved his Amendment, the Committee was moved as well as impressed by the case he put forward. He has deep feelings of compassion for the neglected or ill-treated members of the community who do not always enjoy the full fruits even of the National Insurance or Industrial Injuries Scheme. We have no doubt that this is a deserving case and we hope that the Minister will try to meet it frankly and honestly. Last time we discussed the matter he seemed to be burking the real issue of making an advance.

The simple issue is whether the House is prepared to restore the current value of a benefit which it decided in 1948 should be part of the conditions of the introduction of the new scheme. Surely the Minister will not ride off, as he did a year ago, by saying that we do not restore the real value of interest payable on investments, we do not restore the real value of savings.

There are some things which people cannot have restored to them in a complex economy such as ours. These are not savings and they are not investments. We are here dealing with National Insurance benefits and we should bring them into harmony not only with the higher cost of living, but with the higher living standards as well. We regard this benefit as something quite distinguishable from annuities or savings or other forms of investment, which are admittedly suffering in present circumstances.

However, we must not get the grievances of the small investors in gilt-edged securities mixed up with the problems of the 10s. widow. That is a separate issue on which Parliament may do something at some time. This issue stands alone in the general fall in the value of money in other directions, and it must be linked in our consideration with the new and higher level of National Insurance benefits generally.

Mr. Harold Finch (Bedwellty)

I support the new Clause which has been so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton). He has already reminded us that we are dealing with a class of widows who came within the provisions of the pre-war legislation. Their husbands contributed to the old scheme and they were, therefore, entitled to the pension of 10s. a week, which was the pension paid to the vast majority of widows at that time.

When the 1946 scheme came into operation in 1948, the conditions applying to widows' benefit were different from the earlier provisions. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) therefore had to consider the position, and it is clearly established that he felt that these widows should not have their circumstances worsened by the new legislation. It was provided that 10s. a week should be paid to them. However, since then there has been no kind of increase in their benefit.

There have been increases in almost every other respect—National Insurance, industrial injuries, and so on. Widows who come within the provisions of the new National Insurance Scheme have had four increases since 1948. The disregards for National Assistance have been increased and there have been increases for the disabled and for the pensioners and for other widows. What justification can there be for excluding these widows? It is said that their husbands did not contribute to the new scheme. That argument could be applied to pensioners but the pre-war pensioner enjoys the same rights as the post-war pensioner. There have been increases in National Insurance in the same way. So that is not a sufficient argument. It is said that many of these widows are in employment, but I remind the House that many are not and that many are now 50 or 55 or getting on for 60 years of age, and many of them became widows many years ago.

Is it a matter of cost? My hon. Friend said that at one time it was estimated that the cost would be £4 million, but I understand that it would now be about £2 million. What is that compared with the happiness and security which would be given to many widows, many of whom have to seek National Assistance? Why should they be treated differently from other widows? I hope that the Minister will seriously consider this case, for it might appear that he had a grudge against these widows and was excluding them deliberately. What is the trouble?

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will agree to this Clause, which seeks to increase the pension to only 20s. a week. We are asking for a reasonable sum. The figure should, in fact, be more like 30s., but it shows what a reasonable lot we on this side of the House are to put forward a figure of 20s. If the Minister does not accept the Clause there will be a great feeling of dissatisfaction at the non-inclusion of these widows in this legislation. I am glad to support the Clause which, I think, will receive the support of the House generally.

Commander C. E. M. Donaldson (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

It is nice to hear the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) acknowledging that there have been four increases in pensions to other categories of pensioners since 1948. I do not wish to make a political point of this, but it is frequently not in the minds of the public that these increases have been made.

The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter)

The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) under-stated the matter. There have been four increases since 1951.

Commander Donaldson

I did not wish to go into the dates, nor to raise this as a political issue. I want merely to emphasise that these increases have been made. That therefore puts me in sympathy with the new Clause now before the House. The 10s. widow ought not to be considered by my right hon. Friend as a matter of a statistical unit, or something associated with the National Insurance Fund on an actuarial basis.

We all realise that the 10s. widow is in a peculiar position, separate from all other types of pensioners, and that these 100,000 people—if that be the number as put by the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton)—feel that they have been very hardly done by. My right hon. Friend is well aware that of the 100,000 there must be a high proportion in my three counties on the borders of Scotland, because I have many occasions to write to him, or to officials in his Department, pleading that something should be done for these people.

I rise merely to make it clear that the House is viewing this new Clause not as a party matter, but as one of human considerations in respect of people who feel a sense of injustice. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to accept this proposition today. If he does not accept it, I hope that he will make it abundantly clear why, so that those who are faced with the difficulty of meeting these people who feel that they have a sense of injustice can make it clear to them why there should not be an increase in their pensions. It is in this spirit that I have intervened in the debate.

Mr. R. E. Prentice (East Ham, North)

We on this side of the House are grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Commander Donaldson) for his intervention in support of the Clause. I hope that he will carry his support to the logical conclusion, if necessary. I think that it is fair enough today to say that we are not likely to have any interventions from the other side of the House, except from the Front Bench, in opposition to the Clause. It would be difficult for any hon. Member on either side to speak against the simple point of justice contained in the Amendment, and we are all aware, or we should be, that public opinion would overwhelmingly support this modest reform.

We have all had experience, at public and other meetings, of hearing this point raised, and being convinced, as I have been, first, that there is a real sense of injustice on the part of these widows that they have been left behind for so long, and, secondly, a sense of shock amongst other people when they discover that in 1961 we are, still paying by way of National Insurance benefit a miserable rate of 10s. a week. It is an unworthy payment for a great nation at this point of time.

We are entitled to say to the Minister, or to the Parliamentary Secretary, that the stock excuses which have been used from that Box in the past, which have never been very good, are becoming less and less reasonable as time goes by, and that we hope that the Government will do better this afternoon. After all, what is the theory behind these excuses? It is that the 1948 Act did not provide pensions for all widows. It provided pensions for widowed mothers, for widows over 50, and for widows incapable of self-support, and otherwise it said that widows should not qualify for a pension. Therefore, these widows whom we are discussing are, in a sense, in a privileged position compared with others who are not getting any pension at all.

That might have been an argument for excluding them all in 1948. It might have been, and it would have been the logical thing to do in a way, although, on balance, I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) did not exclude them. In the special circumstances I think that he was right to include them.

The decision having been made in 1948 that it was right to include them. surely it is insupportable that we should allow years to go by, in which the real value of their pension has been steadily eroded by rising prices, and not do anything to increase the purchasing power of that pension. Surely, once a decision has been made that a certain group of people are entitled to a certain level of pension in our National Insurance Scheme, there is a duty to see that the purchasing power of that pension is maintained over the years?

As my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) said, other groups have had increases since 1948. The Minister proudly asserts that they have had a number of increases since 1951. The hon. and gallant Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles said that he did not wish to make a political point of this. I do not think that he could. I think that the increases have been far too few and far too late. Most other civilised countries pay higher benefits by way of social insurance. There have been increases to other groups, but there have not been increases to this group, and there is no logical excuse for making this distinction.

4.15 p.m.

If the Minister says, "After all, this is not a group for which the main National Insurance Scheme is intended", I think that we should remind him that in Clause 1 of the Bill we propose to make increased supplementary allowances to old cases under the Workmen's Compensation Act which are not within the main scope of the National Insurance or Industrial Injuries Schemes. In other words, we are recognising their claim to some increase in their allowances, and it seems to me that if we do that we should equally recognise the claim of the 10s. widow. I put it as strongly as I can to the Minister that 10s. a week in 1961, after the continual increases in the cost of living. is a silly amount, and an unworthy one, and that he ought to think in more generous terms than he has been prepared to do up to now.

Mr. J. A. Stodart (Edinburgh, West)

I add weight to the remarks of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Commander Donaldson). I confess that from a logi- cal point of view the position seems absurd. It may be a fact that it can be said that the 10s. widow might well have had no pension at all, and that she is therefore to some extent in a privileged position. All the same, it appears to me that if in 1948 it was decided to bring these widows into a scheme and give them a pension, it is utterly illogical that after all these years, when the cost of living has gone up, they should still receive the same amount of pension.

It would be very much better either to give them an increase to keep them in line with the rise in the cost of living, or—and I think that this would be more honest and even more respectable—to drop them altogether. Instead of attempting to apologise for the 10s. pension, which, frankly, I feel obliged to do when I meet these widows, I would feel very much happier if there was no pension for them at all. That is how I regard what I consider to be a considerable anomaly in this whole situation.

Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)

I cannot understand the point of view expressed by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart). He said that he would be happier if the 10s. pension was dropped. Yet he previously stated that he would be quite pleased if the Clause were accepted. In that event, I should have thought that he would have been very unhappy if the Government ceased paying the pension. The whole position is very peculiar. This is a very small item in the affairs of the nation.

The fact that the Clause has been allowed to appear on the Notice Paper, and can be thoroughly discussed today, indicates that it is in order, and that we are not asking the Government to do anything illegal. The matter is one for free discussion and free judgment. My hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) really covered the whole point, and there is little any one can add to what he said. But if the Minister does not make a move in the direction of the Clause he will make us feel that he is not adopting a fair attitude in this matter. His arguments have been based on the gap that was created in 1948 between the 10s. widow and the widow who received nothing. He has said that he does not wish to see that gap increased. But what about the gap between the 10s. widow and the widow who receives the ordinary widow's pension?

Today, the pension of 10s. buys about the same amount of goods as could have been bought for 6s. in 1948. If we increased the 10s. pension to 20s. the gap between the pension of the 10s. widow and that of the ordinary widow would still be greater than it was in 1948. It would be 37s. 6d., whereas in 1948 it was 16s.—the difference between 10s. and 26s.

I am sure that the Minister is not under any pressure from the Government to resist the Clause. Nobody can imagine any pressure being brought to bear in respect of a small matter like this. We must, therefore, come to the conclusion that our inability to influence him is due to his individual outlook. He must take the whole responsibility. He cannot hide behind the Government, or any influence within the Government. Perhaps it is his conscience which will not allow him to take this step. If so, his conscience is quite different from the consciences of his two hon. Friends who have spoken today, and the consciences of hon. Members on this side of the House. We must, therefore, come to the conclusion that the Minister is a very peculiar character.

He is a free agent in the matter. There would be no criticism from the Government or from any of his colleagues if he accepted the Clause. Surely, after thirteen years, there is some case for an increase in this pension. Every other beneficiary under the National Insurance Act has had his or her allowance increased. The pension of the ordinary widow has been increased by 118 per cent., as has that of the dependent wife. But we are doing nothing for the 10s. widow. The Minister must try to make a judgment without prejudice. He must not think that we are bringing any pressure to bear upon him in the matter. He is fairly well liked as an individual, and he comes to fairly reasonable conclusions on most occasions. He should try to do so on this.

Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent, North)

The Minister ought to relent on this occasion. I know the attitude that he has adopted in the past. He thinks that this class of widow is particularly lucky to have received 10s. under the 1948 Act, and that no pension should have been awarded at that time. Therefore, he says that we must not make any change now. But two of his hon. Friends have explained how difficult they find it to make the 10s. widow understand why she should not have an increase when everybody else is having one. It is not only difficult but embar-rasing to try to explain this matter to these widows.

The Minister should try to consider the question from the point of view of the widows themselves. They feel very aggrieved every time anybody else receives an increase. They feel that they have been unjustly treated. They have to buy their food in exactly the same markets. Their 10s goes no further than that of anybody else. They cannot understand why they have been left out of all the arguments which the Minister puts forward when he explains how generous the Government are being to all the other people under the National Insurance Scheme.

These widows are left out of all the calculations, and are told "A mistake was made once, and we must not make another". At one time we regarded these widows as eligible to benefit under the National Insurance Scheme, but we are now telling them that they cannot benefit any further. Even the Government agree that since the 10s. pension was granted prices have risen considerably. Any woman who goes out shopping today knows how prices rise. They will certainly rise during the next two weeks. They have been rising continually, especially for basic necessities. The 10s. was a pittance when it was given and it is even more a pittance now.

Another factor which the Government should take into consideration is that this is a gradually diminishing group of people. Some of them have died, and the others are growing older and going on to old-age pension. In a year when the Government have given Surtax payers a substantial relief, could not the Minister make a special plea to the Treasury for these widows? The Treasury is the nigger in the woodpile, deciding the pauses which are to be imposed both on benefits and on wages. Cannot the Minister show more initiative in relation to this group and a greater willingness to remove the feeling which they have that they have been dealt with unjustly? It is irritating to them that they never share in the increased benefits which are given.

Let the Minister ask the Treasury to face up to this issue and this year to grant increases to the group of 10s. widows, too.

4.30 p.m.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

I should like to join the chorus of support for the new Clause, which seeks to increase widows' pensions from 10s. to 20s. weekly. Much has been said about the conditions under which these pensions were introduced, and I have often heard the Minister hang his case on the fact that these widows cannot expect to be better off than those receiving benefits under the Act of 1948 and that the 10s. pension was offered as a form of pre-1948 compensation. That argument has been adduced so often that one might think that the widow's 10s. pension was a charitable gift from the Minister and his Administration. In fact, the 10s. widow's pension, as it is popularly called, is not charity. It is a benefit which widows receive on the death of their insured husbands. It is well known that the deceased husband must have fulfilled the necessary contribution conditions before his widow became eligible to receive a pension of 10s. per week.

This means that we must look at the problem in a different light—not in the light of charity, but in the light of the fact that this pension was awarded having regard not only to the cost of living and the value of the £ at that time, but also to the fact that it was an insurance benefit which the widow receives in respect of the contributions of her deceased husband. In any event, it is very poor compensation for the loss of a husband.

The Minister and his Department, who are so much concerned with pounds, shillings and pence and legal enactments, are inclined to overlook this important human aspect. If the Minister examined the reason for the introduction of this pension and the background to its introduction he might find that there are persons today receiving a much bigger pension under the present Act for less insurance contributions than those paid by the deceased husbands of widows who only receive 10s. weekly.

Let the Minister examine two points—first, the position of the insured person who died and who left a widow prior to 1948, his widow qualifying for the 10s. pension; and, secondly, the element of the contribution which that deceased person paid so that his widow could enjoy that pension, compared with the element paid for a much higher pension today. He would discover that the proportion paid, in many instances, by the deceased husband of the 10s. widow was much more than the proportion paid during the post-1948 period by a man whose widow is today receiving a much higher pension, due to the fact that the former paid insurance contributions years for the latter's months.

After hearing the compliments paid to the Minister, and the remarks about his being so courteous a person, it is difficult to understand his obdurate attitude. My hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) said that he liked the Minister. I do not think that many 10s. widows like him. Here is an opportunity for him to capture their felicitations, too, by accepting the Clause. If he is so prejudiced against the 10s. widows that he is unwilling to give them the modest increase suggested, at the very least he is duty bound to take some account of the fact that 10s. given in 1948 has not the same value in 1961.

This week I asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT figures showing the internal purchasing power of the £, taking it as 20s. in 1951 and showing the value for each subsequent year. The answer was that, accepting the £ as worth 20s. in 1951, its purchasing power in 1960 had been reduced to 15s. 10d. If we add the reduction in its purchasing power in 1949 and 1950 and take into consideration the loss in purchasing power during the past year, we see that the reduction is much mere than 4s. 2d. in the £. It is reasonable to say that since 1948 the purchasing power of the £ has fallen by much more than 4s. 2d.

The very least that the Minister could do would be to restore the purchasing value of the 10s. pension, which the widow receives to its purchasing value of 10s. in 1948. That is a reasonable request to make to the Minister. It is difficult to understand why it has taken so long to prevail on his sense of justice, and I beg of him that he will at least promise from the Dispatch Box this afternoon that he is willing to review the attitude which he has adopted towards this widows' pension.

There is no need for any right hon. or hon. Gentleman to explain that a person cannot be expected to survive on 10s. a week. The hon. and gallant Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Commander Donaldson) made that abundantly clear to the Minister. We have only to look at the family allowances; some members of the family are receiving 10s. a week. Yet we expect a grown-up woman who has lost her husband to be content with a pension of 10s. a week.

I believe that the Minister's unwillingness to face up to the problem is due to political cowardice. I am sure that he agrees with each and every one of us that 10s. a week is a disgracefully miserable pittance to offer to any adult in the United Kingdom, having regard to the fall in the purchasing power of the £ and the rise in the cost of living since the 10s. pension was introduced. The festive season is near, and I hope that the Minister will accept the new Clause and ensure that all the 10s. widows in the country can look forward to an increase of 10s. weekly and a brighter Christmas than they have had for many years.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

I apologise to the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) that I was not present to hear him move the new Clause, but I have listened carefully to subsequent speeches. The hon. Members for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) and Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) supported the new Clause in most persuasive terms. It is difficult to oppose a new Clause which is set out and supported in such terms. On the face of it this is a very reasonable case, but, in effect, the hon. Member for Sowerby is asking us to move these widows into the other group of widows.

Mrs. Slater


Mr. Gower

I will justify what I am about to say, and I will give way in a moment to any hon. Member who wishes to contradict me.

The intention is to move them into that group which enjoys the full widows' pension. After all, if the new Clause were accepted, we could not hold the position there. The widow who received 20s. would ask, "Why should we receive only 20s. while others who are over 50 receive so much more?" That would be a logical and reasonable thing for them to say.

Mr. Houghton

The hon. Member said that he did not hear my speech and it is, therefore, a little difficult for him to know what I am asking. Had he been here he would have heard me say that all we were seeking was the restoration of the value of 10s. in 1948 terms, and that we were not asking for these 10s. widows to be brought into the new benefits. As he knows, these widows are not entitled to the new benefits, either the widow's pension or the widowed mother's allowance, and it would be unreasonable to ask for them to be included. It is simply a question of the restoration of the value of the pension.

Mr. Gower

I accept that. I was informed that that point had been made by the hon. Gentleman. But one of his supporters asked, "How can a woman live on 10s. a week?" He would be just as entitled to ask, "How can a woman live on 20s. a week?"

Ministers from both parties have refused to increase this award. The value of 10s. has been progressively reduced ever since the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), for reasons which were probably entirely valid, decided against including this group of widows in the new scheme. Not only the supporters of this new Clause, but also the widows, would be entitled to say that it is iniquitous—I forget the word which was used by hon. Members—that a widow should receive only 20s. a week—just as entitled to say that as they are to say that it is iniquitous that a widow should receive only 10s. a week. I agree with hon. Members who have asked, "How can anybody live on 10s. a week?" It is impossible. How could anybody live on 20s. a week? That would be equally impossible.

Mr. Dempsey

They would be able to live better on 20s.

Mr. Gower

Not in the sense of living, because no one is able to live on such a sum.

There is another group of widows. If their husbands die when they are under 50 years of age, they receive the full widow's pension under the current scheme. Another group of widows under that age who have certain dependants receive an additional pension. But there is a third group of widows under that age who do not receive the 10s. pension. Hon. Members will be aware that there is a large group of widows under 50 years of age who do not receive a widow's pension, not even the 10s. Their sense of grievance would be increased if the 10s. widows' pension were increased to 20s. a week. I accept that the present widows' pension may be given at slightly too high an age, but that is a different point.

4.45 p.m.

I should like my right hon. Friend to tackle this problem in a different way, namely, to refer the question of widowhood once again to his National Insurance Advisory Committee. I realise that that has been done several times, but hon. Members on both sides must have discovered that a woman whose husband dies when she is just under the qualifying age, for instance, a woman of 49 years and 9 months, is often in the same position as a woman of 53 or 54.

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman is going outside the new Clause.

Mr. Gower

I shall not enlarge on that point, Sir Gordon.

If we wanted to give a benefit to widows covered by this Clause, it would be more reasonable and logical to do it in some other way. I cannot see that it could be held at this figure, or that the acceptance of this Clause would establish a position in which people would say, "This is reasonable and satisfactory". We must take a much larger decision. We must say that it is reasonable that all the widows who receive this pension should receive the full pension. That is a much bigger step than the Opposition are asking us to contemplate. It would be a big departure, and I should like to hear what my right hon. Friend has to say about it.

Although I find it difficult to say anything against the objectives of the hon. Member for Sowerby and his hon. Friends, I hope that they will reflect that we are here considering a difficult matter which has baffled, not only my right hon. Friend and his predecessors on this side, but also Ministers of their own party. It has been a baffling problem. There is something so helpless about the expression "10s. widow". It is a phrase which has an appeal. As has been said, it is terribly difficult to explain to these people why they are in this group.

Mr. G. Elfed Davies (Rhondda, East)

They are worse off under this Government.

Mr. Gower

I do not think that that is a fair comment.

The hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie said that my right hon. Friend would not accept the Clause because of political cowardice. It would result in political popularity, not political cowardice, if the new Clause were accepted.

Mr. Dempsey

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the widow in receipt of the 10s. pension at least should receive the value of that pension, as she did in 1948? Is there anything unreasonable about that?

Mr. Gower

No, if it comes out of some other fund. But it is not easily reconciled with the National Insurance Act, or with our system of contributory pensions. If my right hon. Friend could pay this proposed increase out of some other fund on the lines of the National Assistance principle, I would agree with hon. Members opposite.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) said, this is a matter which the House as a House and as a Committee has discussed an very many occasions. However, it remains true, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Commander Donaldson) said, that there is still a great deal of misunderstanding about it. As my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) said, there is something evocative about the phrase "10s. widow".

The picture is conjured up as the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie tried to conjure it up, of someone trying to subsist in 1961 on 10s. a week. I think that the hon. Gentleman realises that that is not an argument which has any relevance to this matter. It would be relevant if we were talking about a pension on which anyone is expected to live. It might be relevant to a proposal to put the women about whom we are speaking on the modern National Insurance level. But it cannot be relevant to a proposal which would move them from one level on which no one is expected to live to another level on which no one is expected to live.

I had much sympathy with my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) when he referred to the illogicality of the situation. There was much force in what he said. It may be that the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has reflected over the years on whether he was wise to make this provision. But there is certainly no logicality in fixing this figure at 20s. or at any figure which does not begin to be a subsistence figure unless one accepts the quite extraordinary argument of the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice).

It is wrong to describe this as a National Insurance provision, as the hon. Member for Sowerby did. It is simply an old provision preserved by the National Insurance Acts. It is not part of the National Insurance Scheme. The hon. Member for East Ham, North said that, when something has been fixed by one Government years ago, there is an automatic duty on successive Governments at least to maintain its value. I cannot accept that argument as sound either constitutionally or, still more, from the point of view of social policy.

Many of my hon. Friends will remember—we discussed this in the sunshine of Bournemouth earlier this year—that it was said that our social services ought to move on to a more selective basis and should deal more with cases of need and that there should be less spreading of benefits regardless of the need for them. We should not get anywhere with that if we accepted the thesis of the hon. Member for East Ham, North, that once a benefit has been fixed, then, however circumstances change, however obsolescent, out of date or out of tune with modern social thinking it may appear, it must be preserved. He is almost going as far as the Marquess of Salisbury, the grandfather of my noble Friend Lord Salisbury, who once said, in another place, "Heaven forbid that I should ever touch a vested interest".

That is the situation into which the hon. Member for East Ham, North is getting. I cannot accept his argument. If we are to apply the very large sums of money which all Governments provide for the social services so as to make them of most use, we must be free, as money becomes available, to apply it in places where it will, in fact, be of most use. We should not find ourselves automatically bound by the wisdom or un-wisdom of our predecessors.

The hon. Member for East Ham, North supported the thesis of the automatic revaluation of all benefits by referring to Clause 1 in which, as he pointed out, we are making an additional provision for those whose benefits came under the old Workmen's Compensation Acts, but, as the hon. Gentleman will recall, on the ground, which he himself urged, of the hardship of the people concerned. I suggest that that is the right approach. We should look at the facts of the case and decide whether on grounds of hardship, need and humanity it is the right way to apply such money as becomes available. It is wrong to say that we must automatically preserve benefits which were laid down years ago.

Mr. Prentice

The right hon. Gentleman is being a little unfair to my argument. First, he says that he does not follow me, because I am not in sympathy with what was said by some of the most reactionary elements in his own party at Bournemouth. Of course I do not accept their point of view. Secondly, he refers to Clause 1. Neither my hon. Friends nor I have argued that the benefits should be increased on the ground of hardship. We say that they should be increased on the ground of justice. We claim that if Parliament laid down that there should be a modest pension for these widows, it seems logical that that pension should maintain its purchasing power unless there are special reasons against it. Those reasons against it have not been forthcoming.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

On the first point, the hon. Gentleman confirms my analysis of his argument, the automatic maintenance, regardless of circumstances, of the value of a pension fixed years ago by another Government. On his second point, he underrates the speeches that his hon. Friends made, giving the most moving accounts of the hardship of those affected. The hon. Gentleman must not overrate the moving and, as the event proved, effective speeches made from both sides of the House on that issue which caused this Government to feel that hardship must be remedied. He cannot throw that overboard and adopt this argument now.

If we are to consider this matter sensibly, it is essential that we should be clear in our minds about who are the ladies in question. All of them, without exception, are widows receiving a widows' pension at the 10s. rate whose circumstances, apart from their reserved right under the old Act, are indistinguishable from those of widows who today receive no pension at all.

The hon. Member for Sowerby indulged in some neat dialectic in which he said that we would not widen the gap between those two women by taking a step to restore the value of the 10s. pension. He would widen the gap if he paid them 20s. instead of 10s. The argument that by increasing the pension from 10s. to 20s.—in fact, 20s. represents in value substantially more than the original 10s., but that is by the way—we should not widen the gap is not one that the House can be asked to accept. It would be widened in current terms by precisely 10s.

In a social system, which has been very carefully worked out and accepted by both parties, to pay widows' pensions on a selective basis broadly concentrating by way of a much higher widows' pension resources on the widows who need them and leaving other widows without pensions, how can we justify taking out of the contributions of those people something to up-rate the benefit of widows whose circumstances, apart from this reserved right, are identical with those whom society has said should have no pension at all?

Mr. Finch

The 10s. widows are those whose husbands contributed to the National Insurance Scheme. The husbands of the other women who are not in receipt of a pension did not contribute to any scheme. We are here considering contributions under the old Act and under the present Act.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that. The husband of the widow under the new scheme, who, because she was under 50 when widowed or has no young children, receives no pension, has been contributing very much more than the husband of the widow under the old scheme who gets 10s. contributed for on the much lower levels of that time.

5.0 p.m.

As I was saying, the difference is that under the new scheme all widows do not receive permanent pensions, although all widows do receive the widow's allowance for 13 weeks at the high rate of 80s. Widows are not given permanent pension under the new scheme unless they have young children, are over 50 or—and this has now been translated into sickness benefit—they are sick and unable to work. Under the old scheme widowhood as such was pensionable.

That is the reason for the difference between the two schemes. I know that I carry the right hon. Member for Llanelly with me here, because he was responsible for carrying through the change. I am certain that that change was absolutely right, because it enables a concentration of benefit to be made on those who need it, and gives a much more satisfactory pension than otherwise would be possible.

Secondly, I do not believe that, socially, it is a good thing that a young, fit childless widow should regard herself as being in a permanently pensionable position. I think that the right hon. Gentleman was right in making that change, and it is simply because of the preservation by him of the old pension for widowhood as such at the 10s. rate that we have the 10s. widow surviving alongside and in comparison with—and only in comparison with—the no-shilling widow of today. With the working through of the transitional provisions, we now have the position that any woman with a 10s. right, whose circumstances would approximate to those which would give a pension under the new scheme, has, in fact, been brought on to the new scheme rates. We are dealing, in effect, with the younger childless widow.

The argument is adduced that because the value of the 10s. pension has been eroded we ought to increase the amount. If the provision that one was concerned with was part of the current social provision of the day I would broadly, subject to finance and the rest, agree. But it is not. It is quite inconsistent with current thinking. Therefore, it is much more a reserved right, like many other rights, to money payments which have unhappily diminished with the years.

The hon. Member for Sowerby took me to task for having on a previous occasion made a comparison with those people who have invested in National Savings certificates, or even perhaps in Daltons, who have bought an annuity, who have cashed savings of one kind or another, all of whom, of course, have suffered from the change in the value of money. I think that the hon. Gentleman can only distinguish this case from those if he can show us that this is a real, live, valuable social provision. If it is not, I suggest that the case is analogous to other rights for payment of money, honourably and properly acquired rights, in respect of which people have undoubtedly suffered loss of income by reason of the change in the value of money, but which do not come within the category of the social provisions which the State feels it is its duty to provide and to increase with the changes in the value of money.

It is interesting that that is a point which hon. Members opposite have intermittently taken. The hon. Member for Sowerby became quite moving when he referred to this as a binding obligation, and said that this is part of the deal. His colleagues did not take that view in 1951 when they increased the retirement pension by a certain amount. This 10s. had already fallen in real value to 8s. 5d. but there was no belief then in the obligation; there was no reference to this being part of the deal. The right hon. Member for Llanelly who made the deal, if there was a deal, did not apparently take that view at that time. It is a little late for the hon. Member for Sowerby to come back with it now.

Mr. Houghton

After ten years?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Let us come to more recent times. Let me refer to the National Insurance Act, 1959, and to what was said by Mr. Hilary Marquand. Incidentally, I am sure that we are all sorry to realise that we must now refer to him as the former right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East. When winding up for the Opposition on the Third Reading of that Measure, he said, of the 10s. widow: … I do not think that they have a fully justified grievance, although they think that they have."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th June, 1959; Vol. 606, c. 836.] At this time it does not lie in the mouth of the hon. Member for Sowerby to take the high line that this is an absolute obligation, that this is part of the deal and that we are in honour bound to implement it. The matter is much more difficult. It is a matter which we have to consider on its merits.

As I have said, this Clause—I make no great point about it—goes substantially beyond what would be needed even to restore the value; 6s. 5d. would be enough, but it proposes an increase of 10s. It is a substantial sum. It is not one which this House will wish to dispose of lightly, particularly at this moment. Although I put no great weight on this fact, the Clause is framed with exactly the same defects as the hon. Gentleman's proposal was in 1960. It does not do anything like what it sets out to do. It bites only on those who were already entitled to pension on 5th July, 1948. It does not touch the others. As I pointed out that fact to the hon. Gentleman, and as he has tabled the Clause again in the old form, one is left in some doubt as to what his intentions are.

Mr. Houghton

The right hon. Gentleman must stop making that point against us. He knows full well what we want to do. I beg him to stop picking holes in the Clause merely because it does not satisfy all the technical requirements. If he will give us on this side of the House the benefit of the services of the civil servants which he enjoys, we will get it right. But until then we shall have to do our best. I therefore beg of him to drop this approach and to deal with the merits and substance of the matter, instead of worrying the guts out of our proposals merely because they are not 100 per cent. accurate.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Gentleman must not get so excited. If we had not had this before, I would not have reminded him of it. But we had this proposal before, and, therefore, he does not suffer from the advantage which he previously did. When he again puts down a much more limited new Clause he must take some responsibility, and not refer to me as picking out, as I think he so eloquently put it, the guts—if there are any—of the Clause.

Coming to the merits, I must not leave the hon. Gentleman with the impression, which he appears to have and which appears to be shared by his hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch), that we have not given careful consideration to the position of these widows. On the contrary, I referred the whole position of widows to the National Insurance Advisory Committee. That Committee reported in 1956, after full consideration, that any real grievance that these women had could be met if we were prepared to provide them with what colloquially I may call the flying start—in other words, that they should be treated as fully paid up for sickness and unemployment benefit. If, when their widow's pensions ended after 13 weeks, they were unfit to work on grounds of health or unable to find suitable employment, they would be provided with benefit at the same rate as the widow's pension. I accepted that recommendation on behalf of the Government, and in that same year, in the Family Allowances and National Insurance Act, I made that provision. I have no reason at all to doubt from experience that that advice was wise and right, and dealt with the substance of the matter.

Hon. Gentlemen have mentioned the question of hardship. One hon. Gentleman referred to supplementation from National Assistance. In fact, the proportion of 10s. widows in receipt of supplementation from the National Assistance Board is not much more than half the proportion of other National Insurance widow beneficiaries who receive that supplementation; and that, indeed, is what one would expect. These are the women without the commitment of young children, who, if ill, are now provided with sickness benefits for themselves up to the full rate, and who, if unemployed, can draw unemployment benefit and in whose case one would not expect, particularly at a time like this of high employment and good earnings, that there would be hardship in their case. There is the fact that the supplementation figures are only half of what they are for the National Insurance widow beneficiaries generally.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

Is it half the figure, or the proportion?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Half the percentage. The percentage in the case of National Insurance beneficiaries is about 15 per cent., and in the case of the 10s. widows it is about 8 per cent.

Therefore, we are not dealing with a class that is in difficulties. I must risk incurring the hon. Gentleman's disapproval, but the cost of his Clause as it stands, confined, as it would be, to those drawing pensions in 1948, would be, very roughly, £1 million a year. The cost of what he says he intends to do would be not much short of £3 million a year.

I rest my main objection to this proposal on the objections of principle that I have put, and on the basis which I hope the House will accept, that we have honestly tried, with the advice of the Advisory Committee, to do what was right in respect of these widows, and that we have, in fact, done so. Even if hon. Members do not accept that view—it is my own view, to which I have given considerable thought—I hope that they will equally accept the view that, particularly at this moment, an expenditure of this order, additional to any existing social provisions is not one which it would he responsible to contemplate. Nor, would I say, is it one to which I should give priority.

The hon. Member for Sowerby made some play with the argument of priority, but he knows, as everybody who has been in office knows, that the nub of a ministerial job is very often deciding just that—which provision should take the money that is available; and we all know, though I should be out of order to go into them, that there are many directions in which we should like to see improvement and expansion.

I honestly could not suggest to the House that, if one accepts to the full the arguments that have been put, and accepts them at their full face value, a case has been made out, in 1961, at a time of stringent economy in public expenditure, requiring that we should give a preference to a section of society that has not been demonstrated to be suffering hardship over all other claimants in our social services system. Therefore, I must, on that ground as well as on the others, ask the House to reject the new Clause.

Mr. Ross

I think that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) who said that the Minister had a reputation for being very courteous and very nice, and that he wondered at it. I do not wonder at it at all. I do not think there is anyone who can say "No" more courteously, with more conviction or with more irrelevance to the argument. The right hon. Gentleman has answered arguments that just have not been put up.

My hon. Friend did not speak about hardship; he spoke about injustice. He spoke about a right that was there, and which ought to be maintained. I thought it a little unfair of the right hon. Gentleman to quote a former colleague of ours, Mr. Hilary Marquand, when he implied that, when dealing with this kind of new Clause that we are putting forward, he said that he thought that the 10s. widows had not fully justified their grievance. The grievance of these 10s. widows is that they want to be raised to the full modern rates, so there is nothing inconsistent with what he said there and what my hon. Friend said today.

Let us look at the facts. There is one that people seem to forget in this matter, and the right hon. Gentleman certainly did, and it concerns the changing value of money. He seemed to think that my hon. Friend had put forward a new principle which we were demanding that the Government should accept. He knows quite well that in giving these pensions on retirement, they are pensions that were earned pre-1946, as well as others. He proclaimed that we were raising the pensions not only as much as the change in the value of money merited, but beyond it.

I remember the right hon. Gentleman when he was a Minister at the Treasury, and dealing with pensions paid to old public servants and the rest under the Pensions (Increase) Act, declaring, for the same reason, that the change in the value of money justified those pensions, to which there was no statutory right. It was just a little unfair of him, when we apply to widows the same principle which he has accepted for other, and in many cases better off, sections of the community, to say "No". Even with all the courtesy and conviction which he produced, he did not convince me.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the sunny skies of Bournemouth and changes in considering hardships. When we consider the interpretation of hardship and the priorities placed by the Government side of the House—the hardship of the £5,000 a year man struggling to raise and educate a family, the prior needs of the Surtax payer to the tune of £80 million or so next year, can he wonder that we rather resent the argument which he has put forward here? It will cost only between £1 million and £3 million to give this measure of legal justice to the 10s. widow. The right hon. Gentleman is not likely to be the "pin up boy" of the 10s. widows tonight.

5.15 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman almost painted a picture of affluence among; he 10s. widows. He suggested that there is nothing to worry about here, and that he is placing no hardship upon them. But these 10s. widows, to earn retirement pensions at 60, have to pay the full insurance, and the amount of insurance they have to pay is 8s. 8d. per week, which itself practically erodes the whole of the 10s. When the right hon. Gentleman talks rather learnedly about 'he value of money, I think that it would be only fair to say that with some people the burden of the National Insurance and National Health Service contributions, which he has placed upon them by his own actions, certainly brings it near to the figure which we suggest here as meeting the case.

I am very glad that two Scottish Unionists—I must not call them Conservatives—not only had the courage to speak, but had the courage to oppose the Minister. I hope that they will show an even greater measure of courage than some hon. Members have done in the past. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) said that he was tired of apologising for the Government in the case of the 10s. widow. I agree with him, and I hope that he will have no cause to apologise for what he does when the vote is taken, because a Tory in the Labour Lobby is worth far more than Tory speeches from back benchers. It carries far more conviction in relation to what they are doing.

I think that the hon. Members' speeches were well worth while. I believe that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) who, before he noticed that the two hon. Members opposite were present, said that he did not think that anyone on the benches opposite would rise and support the Minister. He must have forgotten the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower).

Mr. Dempsey

He was not here at the time.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Member for Barry is Wales's gift to the Tory Front Bench. One day he will make a mistake and will oppose his Front Bench. On this occasion I did not think that he did even himself justice.

The fact is that this is not a gift which we are seeking to give these people. This is an entitlement which was earned for them by their late husbands, by the contributions which they paid during their lifetime. There is always the dilemma of new legislation in relation to the transition from the old to the new. I do not think that it was a dilemma that faced my hon. Friend. I think that the dilemma was probably whether the amount should be 10s. or whether we should bring these people up to the new rate. Let us remember that most of those who already had the 10s. were, for one reason or another, brought up to the rate of 26s.

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

If I may take the House back to those days, the position was that we introduced a new kind of widow's benefit under our scheme. I found that by introducing a widow's benefit of a new kind, the 13 weeks' allowance, the children's allow- ance and the disability benefit some widows would be left without the pension—the widows whose husbands had contributed under the old scheme for a widow's pension of 10s.—at the age of 60, without any qualification whatsoever. I did not fix the 10s., nor did my party. The party opposite fixed it years ago. I undertook, under the new scheme, that if these people would not enjoy the new benefit, I would reserve and pay to them the benefits for which their husbands had paid under the old scheme.

Mr. Ross

We are grateful to my right hon. Friend for taking us back as he has done. It gives me an additional argument to put to the Minister. I wonder that the Minister himself did not seek to remove the 10s., because, while it remains, it must be a constant reminder to the nation of the standard of benefits which the Labour Government inherited in 1945. It was then 10s. for the widow and 10s. for the pensioner. It was from that low standard that we made our improvements in 1946.

I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has once again adopted the attitude which he has shown today. I think that he has tried as hard as he could to cover the shame of his party in relation to the 10s. widow with as many words as possible, though quite unsuccessfully. The 10s. widows will retain their grievance. I think that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) who said that every time a change is made in the rate of widow's pensions that grievance is renewed and that bitterness is again expressed.

These widows represent a diminishing number of people. They tend to be between the age of 50 and 60 and most of them are forced out to work because they have to pay their contributions in order to earn their retirement pension. It would have been only fair had we faced up to the fact that a decision was taken in 1946—a decision which came into force in 1948—that the 10s. should be kept up to date. Simple justice is enshrined in the purpose, if not in the words, of our new Clause, and I sincerely hope that we shall be joined by those two Unionists from Scotland who expressed themselves in favour of the Clause as well as by every other hon. Gentleman and hon. Lady on the benches opposite who feels a that this is the least that we can do for these widows.

Question put, That the Clause be read Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 174, Noes 246.

Division No. 34.] AYES [5.25 p.m.
Ainsley, William Herbison, Miss Margaret Plummer, Sir Leslie
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hill, J. (Midlothian) Popplewell, Ernest
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Hilton, A. V. Prentice, R. E.
Bence, Cyril Holman, Percy Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Holt, Arthur Probert, Arthur
Benson, Sir George Houghton, Douglas Randall, Harry
Blackburn, F. Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Rankin, John
Blyton, William Hoy, James H. Rhodes, H.
Boardman, H. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Bowles, Frank Hunter, A. E. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Boyden, James Hynd, H. (Accrington) Ross, William
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Janner, Sir Barrett Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Brockway, A. Fenner Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Short, Edward
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jeger, George Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Callaghan, James Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Jones, Dan (Burnley) Skeffington, Arthur
Cliffe, Michael Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Collick, Percy Jones, T. W, (Merioneth) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Kelley, Richard Small, William
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Kenyon, Clifford Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Spriggs, Leslie
Darting, George Lawson, George Steele, Thomas
Davies, G. Elfred (Rhondda, E.) Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Logan, David Stones, William
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Loughlin, Charles Strachey, Rt. Hon. John
Deer, George Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Dempsey, James McCann, John Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Diamond, John MacColl, James Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Dodds, Norman McInnes, James
Driberg, Tom McKay, John (Wallsend) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Dugdale, Rt Hon. John Mackie, John (Enfield, East) Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. McLeavy, Frank Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) MacPerson, Malcolm (Stirling) Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Thornton, Ernest
Fernyhough, E, Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.) Timmons, John
Finch, Harold Manuel, A. C. Wade, Donald
Fitch, Alan Mapp, Charles Wainwright, Edwin
Fletcher, Eric Marsh, Richard Warbey, William
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mason, Roy Watkins, Tudor
Forman, J. C. Mendelson, J. J. Weitzman, David
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh Milne, Edward J. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Galpern, Sir Myer Mitchison, G. R. White, Mrs. Eirene
George, Lady Megan Lloyd(Crmrthn) Monslow, Walter Wilkins, W. A,
Ginsburg, David Moody, A. S. Willey, Frederick
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Morris, John Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Greenwood, Anthony Moyle, Arthur Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Grey, Charles Mulley, Frederick Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Oliver, G. H. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Griffiths, W. (Exchange) Oram, A. E. Winterbottom, R. E.
Gunter, Ray Owen, Will Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, w.) Paget, R. T. Woof, Robert
Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Pargiter, G. A.
Hannan, William Pavitt, Laurence TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hart, Mrs. Judith Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Mr. Charles A. Howell and
Hayman, F. H. Peart, Frederick Dr. Broughton.
Healey, Denis Pentland, Norman
Agnew, Sir Peter Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Aitken, W. T. Bidgood, John C. Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry
Arbuthnot, John Biffen, John Brooman-White, R.
Ashton, Sir Hubert Biggs-Davison, John Brown, Alan (Tottenham)
Atkins, Humphrey Bishop, F. P. Browne, Percy (Torrington)
Barber, Anthony Black, Sir Cyril Bryan, Paul
Barlow, Sir John Bossom, Clive Buck, Antony
Barter, John Bourne-Arton, A. Bullard, Denys
Batsford, Brian Box, Donald Bullus, Wing Commander Eric
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. Burden, F. A.
Bell, Ronald Boyle, Sir Edward Butler, Rt. Hn. H. A. (Saffron Walden)
Berkeley, Humphry Brewis, John Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)
Cary, Sir Robert Hollingworth, John Pilkington, Sir Richard
Channon, H. P. G. Hopkins, Alan Pitman, Sir James
Chataway, Christopher Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P. Pitt, Miss Edith
Chichester-Clark, R. Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives) Pott, Percivall
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Prior, J. M. L.
Cleaver, Leonard Hughes-Young, Michael Pym, Francis
Cooke, Robert Hulbert, Sir Norman Ramsden, James
Cooper, A. E. Hurd, Sir Anthony Rawlinson, Peter
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hutchison, Michael Clark Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Corfield, F. V. Iremonger, T. L. Rees, Hugh
Costain, A. P. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Renton, David
Coulson, J. M. James, David Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Ridsdale, Julian
Craddock, Sir Beresford Jennings, J. C. Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Critchley, Julian Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Robertson, Sir D.(C'thn's & S'th'ld)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Roots, William
Cunningham, Knox Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Russell, Ronald
Curran, Charles Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Scott-Hopkins, James
Dalkeith, Earl of Kerby, Capt. Henry Seymour, Leslie
Dance, James Kerr, Sir Hamilton Sharples, Richard
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kimball, Marcus Shaw, M.
de Ferranti, Basil Kitson, Timothy Shepherd, William
Digby, Simon Wingfield Leather, E. H. C. Skeet, T. H. H.
Doughty, Charles Leburn, Gilmour Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Drayson, G. B. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Smithers, Peter
Duncan, Sir James Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Lindsay, Martin Spearman, Sir Alexander
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Linstead, Sir Hugh Speir, Rupert
Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.) Litchfield, Capt. John Stevens, Geoffrey
Emery, Peter Longbottom, Charles Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Longden, Gilbert Storey, Sir Samuel
Errington, Sir Eric Loveys, Walter H. Studholme, Sir Henry
Farey-Jones, F. W. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Farr, John MacArthur, Ian Tapsell, Peter
Fell, Anthony McLaren, Martin Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Finlay, Graeme McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Taylor, F. (M'ch'ter & Moss Side)
Fisher, Nigel Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)
Forrest, George Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Teeling, William
Foster, John MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Temple, John M.
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) McMaster, Stanley R. Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Freeth, Denzil Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Gammans, Lady Maddan, Martin Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Gardner, Edward Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter
Gibson-Watt, David Marshall, Douglas Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Gilmour, Sir John Marten, Neil Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Glover, Sir Douglas Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Turner, Colin
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Goodhart, Philip Mawby, Ray van Straubenzee, W. R.
Gough, Frederick Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Vane, W. M. F.
Gower, Raymond Maydon, Lt. Cmdr. S. L. C. Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Grant, Rt. Hon. William Mills, Stratton Vickers, Miss Joan
Green, Alan Montgomery, Fergus Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Gresham Cooke, R. Moore, Sir Thomas (Ayr) Walder, David
Grimston, Sir Robert More, Jasper (Ludlow) Walker, Peter
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Morrison, John Ward, Dame Irene
Gurden, Harold Nabarro, Gerald Webster, David
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Nicholls, Sir Harmar Wells, John (Maidstone)
Harris, Reader (Heston) Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Whitelaw, William
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Nugent, Sir Richard Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Harvie Anderson, Miss Osborn, John (Hallam) Wise, A. R.
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward Page, Graham (Crosby) Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Hiley, Joseph Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Woodnutt, Mark
Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Partridge, E. Woollam, John
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Worsley, Marcus
Hobson, John Percival, Ian
Hocking, Philip N. Peyton, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Holland, Philip Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Mr. J. E. B. Hill and Mr. Noble.