HC Deb 27 May 1963 vol 678 cc894-5
7. Mr. Curran

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will seek powers to enable him to make the discretionary payment of a widow's pension to a woman who has lived with an insured contributor without being married to him.

Mr. N. Macpherson

No, Sir. I do not think that such a provision could reasonably be added to the National Insurance Scheme.

Mr. Curran

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that when he is making rules that cover the lives of so many millions of men and women there ought to be some elasticity about them? Does he not think that it is very hard indeed that when a woman has lived with a man perhaps for forty years she should find at the end of this time that she has no claim at all on his funds? While I recognise that hard cases make bad law, does he not think that there is room for a little more humanity in the administration of his Ministry?

Mr. Macpherson

My hon. Friend will realise that although a woman has been living with a man for forty years he may still have a legal wife for whom he is providing in his contributions and that when he dies it may be the legal wife who may get the pension and not the woman with whom he has been living. This is a very difficult matter in which to apply discretion, and under the National Insurance Act there is no scope for discretion in this matter.