HC Deb 26 November 1962 vol 668 cc20-2
26. Mr. Wainwright

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will give the number of contributors, at the latest available date, in the graduated pension scheme.

Mrs. Thatcher

I regret that the numbers paying graduated contributions will not be known until the records of the first year's contributions on the P.A.Y.E. forms have been fully recorded and analysed.

Mr. Wainwright

Is the hon. Lady aware that less than 50 per cent. of the workers are members of the scheme? Does she not think that that condemns the scheme? Will she take steps to improve it?

Mrs. Thatcher

Our estimate of the number of people who pay graduated contributions is about 11 million, and I do not agree that that number condemns it. Many other people are covered by occupational schemes which it is our policy to encourage.

Mr. Ross

If the hon. Lady cannot give the information sought by my hon. Friend in one way, can she give it another? How many people have contracted out compared with the number the Government originally estimated?

Mrs. Thatcher

The number is just under 4½ million. The estimate at the time of the Bill was 3 million.

27. Mr. Wainwright

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will give the total amount of contributions paid into the graduated pension scheme up to the latest available date, and the total amount of benefits paid out during the same period.

Mrs. Thatcher

It is estimated that up to 17th November, 1962, about £261 million was paid into the National Insurance Fund by way of graduated contributions. Over the same period the Fund paid benefits amounting to about £1,800 million, though of course only a very small part of that can have been by way of graduated additions to retirement pension. The precise amount is not available.

31. Mr. Houghton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will give an estimate of the total number of persons contracting out of the graduated pensions scheme which would create a deficit in the National Insurance Fund.

Mrs. Thatcher

The material for any such estimate will not be available until the returns made by employers for the year 1961–62 have been fully analysed.

Mr. Eden

Will not my hon. Friend welcome the largest possible number contracting out under this arrangement and give what encouragement she can?

Mrs. Thatcher

We are delighted that more and more people are covered by progressively good occupational pensions schemes.

33. Mr. Lawson

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will estimate by how much the current annual contributions to the graduated pension scheme exceed or fall short of the original estimate of such income for this year.

Mr. N. Macpherson

The income from graduated contributions is currently rather less than £20 million a year below the original estimate.

Mr. Lawson

Does this not suggest that more and more people are coming to appreciate that this is not an insurance scheme at all but that it is merely a way of relieving the Exchequer of a national liability which should be its own? Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that more and more people appreciate the nature of the scheme in order that they can get out, and get out quickly?

Mr. Macpherson

I think the hon. Gentleman will find that the nature of the scheme is very well understood. The bulk of the contracting out was done during the early stages. There has not been very much lately, but, as my hon. Friend said earlier, a good many more people have contracted out than was originally expected.

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