HC Deb 12 July 1965 vol 716 cc15-6
9 and 10. Dame Edith Pitt

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (1) what representations she has received from widows now in receipt of 30s. pension, formerly 10s., on learning they are subject to the earnings rule on retirement; and what replies she has sent;

(2) why the removal of the earnings rule for widows was not extended to the former 10s. widows.

Miss Herbison

The earnings rule has never applied to the 10s. widow's basic pension, and the position has not been altered now that that pension is payable at the rate of 30s. A retirement pension payable to a widow basic pensioner on her own insurance is subject to the earnings rule like any other retirement pension, but in no case would the pension be reduced below the amount of the widow's basic pension.

I have had a few letters suggesting that the earnings rule should not apply at all to retirement pensions in such circumstances, and in reply to these letters I have explained the distinction between an earnings rule where retirement is a condition of benefit, and an earnings rule where the benefit replaces the late husband's earnings.

Dame Edith Pitt

Does not the right hon. Lady realise that this distinction is not understood by widows, or, indeed, by members of her own party who repeatedly claimed that all widows have been exempted from the operation of the earnings rule? Will she make a full statement in order to make quite clear that some widows are more equal than others?

Miss Herbison

I think that the answer which I have given today makes perfectly clear what is happening. It is very difficult for me to understand the attitude of the hon. Lady on this question today when during the proceedings on the National Insurance Bill she was making complaints in the very opposite direction from the one she is making today. I think that the important thing for all of us to remember is that the widows about whom she is questioning today are £1 better off under this Administration than they were under the previous Administration.

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