HC Deb 01 May 1967 vol 746 cc65-6
15. Mr. Berry

asked the Minister of Social Security whether in the case of retirement pensioners' benefits, she will enlarge the period in which late claims for benefits can be made.

19. Mr. Murray

asked the Minister of Social Security whether she will now alter the rule which prevents a person who claims late from getting more than six months' arrears of benefit.

Miss Herbison

I have today referred this and related National Insurance time limits to the National Insurance Advisory Committee for consideration and report. For the convenience of hon. Members, I will, with permission, circulate the terms of reference to the Committee in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Berry

Does the right hon. Lady realise that in the case of retired pensioners there is quite a difference from the sickness claims? Would she bear in mind that there are many people, despite all the publicity which she rightly gives to their entitlement to make claims, who do not realise this? Will she deal sympathetically with this problem?

Miss Herbison

The number of retirement pensioners affected is very small. But it does not matter how small it is: it can cause hardship to individuals. The whole question must be examined by my Advisory Committee.

Mr. Murray

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this news will be widely welcomed. How long will the Advisory Committee take to report?

Miss Herbison

The Advisory Committee will be advertising and people who have any views on the matter will have three months in which to make their representations. I always find that the Advisory Committee works as speedily as possible.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Does not the hon. Lady agree that the best practical answer for these retirement pensioners is to increase pensions generally? Will she be able to tell the House soon when she intends to do this?

Miss Herbison

That is a completely different question. If the hon. Gentleman would understand what Questions are being asked me, he would realise that what he suggests would not help the man who fails to make his application.

Following are the terms of reference: To review those provisions of the National Insurance Act 1965 and regulations made under it which, subject to certain limited exceptions, prevent benefit being paid retrospectively for more than six months, and extinguish the right to benefit if payment is not obtained within six months: and to report.