HC Deb 26 November 1962 vol 668 cc28-9
38. Mr. Small

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will abolish the earnings rule as applied to widowed mothers.

Mr. N. Macpherson

The earnings rule as applied to widowed mothers is kept under continuous review, but I have no proposals to make.

Mr. Small

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise that it is time that there was a review and a decision was taken on the earnings rule? There are no spivs in these cases. The practice of using widowed mothers as revenue raisers is generally regarded as objectionable.

Mr. Macpherson

It is not a question of using them as revenue raisers. What it really amounts to is that the widowed mother's benefits form part of the National Insurance Scheme benefits and it would be very difficult to treat them altogether as a special case. Widowed mothers are given special treatment in as much as the earnings limit is very much higher for them than it is for others, and, of course, it applies only to their own allowances and not to the allowances for their children.

Dame Irene Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his answer is entirely and absolutely unsatisfactory? Does he pay any attention to what hon. Members on his own side of the House say? Is it not possible to find some way of examining the whole position which would have nothing to do with his Department, which is very obstinate and biassed in this connection?

Mr. Macpherson

I would tell my hon. Friend, as I have said in the answer already, that this is a matter which is under review, but we must adhere to the general principles of the Act.

Dame Irene Ward


Mr. Ross

Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this matter? He is making a terribly disappointing debut as Minister of Pensions. If he does not listen to what is being said by this side of the House or by his own back benchers, will he read the impassioned pleas that used to be made by the hon. Member for Dumfries?

Mr. Macpherson

I do not often reread my past speeches, but I shall do so at the instance of the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Fell

Surely my right hon. Friend will not be upsetting the general principles of the Act if he raises the earnings rule considerably further than it is now?

Mr. Macpherson

We have an extremely good record on the raising of the limit, and we intend to maintain our record.