HC Deb 21 November 1966 vol 736 cc928-9
33. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Minister of Social Security how many widows out of employment receive no National Insurance pension.

Miss Herbison

I regret that this information is not available.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Should not this information be available to the right hon. Lady? Are there not certain anomalies in this regard which are most unjust to those widows, and will she not look into this matter and arm herself with the necessary statistics?

Miss Herbison

There certainly are a great many anomalies in connection with widows' benefits. If the information could have been obtained I would certainly have given it. I can tell the hon. Member that it is estimated that 40,000 widows under the age of 60 are not receiving a pension from my Department, but it is impossible for us to know how many of them are permanently outside employment or are self-employed. We know only that it is a very small minority.

41. Mr. Hamling

asked the Minister of Social Security what further steps she will take to provide pensions for all widows.

47. Mr. Holland

asked the Minister of Social Security what proposals she now has for modifying the age barrier of 50 years which prevents many widows from qualifying for a National Insurance widow's pension.

Miss Herbison

The conditions for widows' benefits are being considered in the general review of the social security provisions which the Government are conducting.

Mr. Hamling

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that promise, may I ask whether she is aware that the present arbitrary rules about widows' pensions cause poverty to a large number of widows, and, bearing in mind the concern that she expressed on a previous Question, does she not think that poverty among widows ought to be looked at urgently?

Miss Herbison

I agree with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Holland

If the right hon. Lady has no immediate proposals for doing something about widows under 50, will she use her influence to facilitate the Private Member's Bill sponsored by my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Pink) and supported by myself and other hon. Friends when it comes before the House?

Miss Herbison

I certainly could not give that promise. There have been so many things left, particularly in regard to widows, for this Government to attend to. As to what we have already done, a widow who has become widowed since 5th July this year is paid the temporary widow's allowance not for three months but for six months, and a widow who has been widowed since 5th October will also have not only this temporary allowance for six months but the £7 supplement. I think that we have shown that we are concerned about widows, and we shall continue, with our review and what comes from it, to show the country the results of that concern.

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