HC Deb 29 June 1964 vol 697 cc930-1
29. Mr. Johnson Smith

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how much of the weekly National Insurance benefit now paid to a widowed mother can be kept by her irrespective of earnings; and how this compares with the position in October, 1951.

Mr. Wood

At present £ 3s. 6d. of a widowed mother's National Insurance benefit is not affected by her earnings if she has one child, and £4 13s. if she has two children. In October, 1951, the corresponding amounts were 10s. and 12s. 6d.

Mr. Johnson Smith

I appreciate my right hon. Friend's answer. To what extent would he agree that during the next five years of that Conservative Administration further relaxations of the earnings rule ought to be made in this particular category, according to need?

Mr. Wood

I suggest to my hon. Friend that he might be wise to base his expectations of the future on the happenings of the past, and in the past, as my Answer makes perfectly clear, there have been progressive relaxations in the earnings rule which have led to very satisfactory results.

Miss Herbison

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it plain to all hon. Members that besides the increases in benefits, which everybody welcomes, there have also been very great increases in contributions, even by the lowest paid workers? Would he also tell the House what proportion of benefits are now paid by the Exchequer compared with that paid by the Exchequer in 1951? In case this is something which he does not have written down for supplementary answers, will he tell the House that the Exchequer is now paying the smallest proportion ever paid since National Insurance began?

Mr. Wood

As the hon. Lady seems to know the answer, I do not think that there is much need for me to give it. I do not have it among my supplementary answers because hers was an entirely different question. The answer to her question about contributions is that contributions have increased considerably, but, as I pointed out to one of her hon. Friends last week, they would have to be increased even more if the Labour Party's proposals, which would cost a lot, were brought into effect.