HC Deb 03 December 1962 vol 668 cc927-8
37. Mr. Houghton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is aware of the hardship suffered by those who, on becoming a widow for the second time, are denied widow's benefit because they have been married to their second husband for some weeks short of three years; and whether he will take steps to end the three-year rule in such cases.

Mr. N. Macpherson

Widow's allowance is always payable in such cases and so is widowed mother's allowance where there are children. Nor does the rule apply where the second marriage links with an earlier marriage. This is in accordance with the relaxations recommended by the National Insurance Advisory Committee in 1956, when provision was also made for payment of unemployment or sickness benefit to widows not qualifying for a long-term pension. I appreciate however that wherever a line has to be drawn difficulties arise for those who fall just on the wrong side of it.

Mr. Houghton

Is the Minister aware that a woman wrote to me and asked how many times she had to be widowed in order to get the widow's pension? She was widowed first at the age of 47 and was given a widow's pension of 10s. a week and told to go to work and try to find another husband. She did both. She married a retired pensioner who died within three years of the marriage and she gets nothing. Does she have to get married again and be widowed a third time before she gets anything?

Mr. Macpherson

I think one has to draw a line somewhere and the line drawn now is very much more favourable than it used to be. The qualifying period, if I may put it that way, has now been reduced from ten years to three years.

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