HC Deb 01 February 1965 vol 705 cc708-9
20. Mr. Blaker

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether she will seek to amend the earnings rule so as to remove the disadvantage at present suffered by those retirement pensioners who are only able to obtain seasonal employment.

Miss Herbison

The present rule does not always work disadvantageously and careful consideration of the question has not revealed any alternative which would be free from difficulties and anomalies. But I appreciate the hon. Member's concern and will keep the point under review.

Mr. Blaker

I thank the right hon. Lady for that reply, but may I ask her to examine what is done in other countries to deal with this problem of seasonal workers, and in particular to examine the example of New Zealand where they allow people of this kind to spread their earnings over a period to avoid hardship? Secondly, will she give the House an assurance that this whole question will be considered sympathetically in the course of the review which she is now conducting?

Miss Herbison

In answer to the first part of the Question, may I say that I certainly will examine what obtains in other countries. The hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that in 1956 the National Insurance Advisory Council examined this very question, and that the advice given to the then Administration was not to alter the present method, but I am always willing to look at these matters again to avoid any hardship.