HC Deb 08 April 1968 vol 762 cc869-70
19. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the Minister of Social Security whether she will now end the present ruling which prevents a widow with children whose husband died without paying at least 156 insurance contributions from getting any widow's benefit.

Mr. Pentland

Contribution conditions are necessary in an insurance scheme and the rule that 156 contributions shall have been paid has been a common condition for prolonged sickness benefit, retirement pension and widow's benefit since 1948. This rule, is of course, being looked at in relation to our proposals for a wage-related scheme.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

If what I am asking cannot be given in full, will the Minister seriously consider allowing these unfortunate widows to aggregate, with their late husband's contributions, any contribution which they themselves made before they were married, thus preserving the insurance principle but at least giving some of the widows some relief?

Mr. Pentland

I take the point, but, as I said, the provision to be made for women is being studied in the context of work on our wage-related pension scheme.

Lord Balniel

Will the Minister take very seriously the specific point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke)? Does he not agree that it is a very hard anomaly that, irrespective of the date of marriage or of age, some widows receive no pension whereas other widows receive a pension? May we have an assurance that that will be dealt with in the White Paper in the autumn?

Mr. Pentland

I said that I took particular notice of the point made by the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke). Everything which was said by the noble Lord is being considered as part of our review at the moment.