HC Deb 17 July 1961 vol 644 cc856-7
2. Lord Balniel

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is yet in a position to announce the result of,his consideration of the recently published Report of the National Insurance Advisory Committee on pension increments for wives and widows.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Yes, Sir. I should like, first, to express the gratitude of the Government, and, I am sure, the House, to the National Insurance Advisory Committee for its Report on this intricate subject.

The Government accept the Committee's recommendation, which, in their view, offers the best solution for this problem and will have the further advantage of bringing the incremental provisions of the flat-rate pension scheme more into line with those of the 1959 Act in respect of graduated pensions. The ultimate cost to the National Insurance Fund will be of the order of £2 million a year. Legislation will be required to effect this change, and I can, of course, make no statement as to when this will be possible.

Lord Balniel

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a widespread impression that the existing provisions for wives under the age of 60 and for those widowed before the age of 60 are unfair and that his decision will be warmly welcomed by those people? On behalf of back benchers, may I echo my right hon. Fiend's thanks to Sir Ifor Evans and his Committee.

Mr. Houghton

Is the Minister aware that there is some disappointment with the Report of the National Insurance Advisory Committee, whose recommendations deal with widows, concerning the position of younger wives? Will the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to that element in the Report when he introduces legislation, or does he propose to follow quite strictly the recommendatons of the Committee?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Committee had before it the position of wives on the remit which I made to it. It gave full consideration to the position of wives in respect of the earning of increments, particularly when taking into account the position of single people, in coming to the conclusion to which it came. In announcing the Government's acceptance of the Report, I am accepting it in toto and as it stands. In my view, as in the Committee's view, this is a very apt solution of what I think the hon. Gentleman knows to be one of the most teasing problems in this sphere.