HC Deb 17 June 1963 vol 679 cc6-8
7. Mr. Hannan

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will state the total weekly insurance contribution, including graduated contribution, today of an adult male worker earning £17 per week, and the weekly insurance contribution payable by such a worker in June, 1951.

Mrs. Thatcher

The weekly contribution payable for National Insurance and Industrial Injuries by an adult male worker earning £17 per week and participating in the graduated part of the National Insurance scheme is 15s. 10½d. Of this, 6s. 11d. is the graduated contribution. In June, 1951, when there were, of course, no arrangements for graduated pensions, the contribution payable for insurance was 4s. 2½d.

Mr. Hannan

Does not the Minister appreciate that these figures show the swingeing increase that has taken place in indirect taxation and that her Department is being used as a tool by the Treasury to pursue its financial policies? Is it not time that the Government recognised that the graduated scheme is a fraud perpetrated on the population? When are they going to review the circumstances?

Mrs. Thatcher

The only thing which would be a fraud would be if we were to try to persuade the population that large increases in benefits could be had without large increases in contributions.

9. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will state the weekly insurance contribution paid by an adult male worker in 1951, 1955, 1959, and in June, 1963, assuming that he is now contracted out of the graduated pensions scheme.

Mrs. Thatcher

The weekly contribution paid for National Insurance and Industrial Injuries by an adult male worker was 4s. 2½d., 6s. 0½d., and 8s. 0½d. in June, 1951, 1955 and 1959, respectively. The present insurance contribution paid by such a worker contracted out of the graduated pensions scheme is 11s. 4½d.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the hon. Lady not realise that this is a very swingeing form of regressive taxation? Does she not further agree that these low income groups have lost much more by this form of regressive taxation than they could possibly have gained by any Income Tax concessions which the present Government have conceded? Will the hon. Lady undertake to produce these figures in graphical form as part of the Tory propaganda in the coming election?

Mrs. Thatcher

I will leave the hon. Gentleman to do his own homework. I am sure he is capable of doing the graph himself from the figures. I do not agree that it is a swingeing form of taxation. Our present system of insurance means that those with lower incomes pay less while those with higher incomes pay more for their retirement pensions. Those with higher incomes, again, pay more towards the Exchequer contribution. That seems to be sensible.

Sir C. Osborne

Will not my hon. Friend confirm that the average industrial wage in 1951 was £7 10s. whereas today it is nearly £16 a week? Therefore, with increased wages, is it not reasonable to expect the worker to pay more for the social benefits that he gets?

Mrs. Thatcher

Average earnings when the first contribution was fixed in October, 1946, were 120s. 9d. Average earnings for October, 1962, the latest date for which figures are available, were 317s. 3d.

Mr. Ross

Can the hon. Lady say what a man earning £7 10s. in 1951 would have paid and what he would pay today?

Mrs. Thatcher

There is a Question on the Order Paper later. I have just given these figures, including the present contracted-out contribution.

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