HC Deb 15 July 1968 vol 768 cc1009-11
10. Sir B. Rhys Williams

asked the Minister of Social Security whether in order to end the hardship caused to people with low incomes by the cost of the flat rate National Insurance contribution, she will now introduce legislation to substitute an insurance contribution related to earnings.

23. Mr. Worsley

asked the Minister of Social Security when she will publish her White Paper on proposed changes in the National Insurance Scheme.

31. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Minister of Social Security what progress has been made towards the production of a comprehensive scheme of social security based on graduated contributions and graduated benefits; and when she expects to introduce legislation.

Mrs. Hart

As I have previously made clear, we hope to publish by the end of the year a White Paper setting out the Government's proposals for a new scheme in which both contributions and benefits will be related to earnings, and to have the necessary legislation on the Statute Book within the present Parliament.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

Would the right hon. Lady give an undertaking that the National Insurance contribution will be related to people's capacity to pay, so as to end the present situation in which it has become so high as to be actually a contributory cause of family poverty?

Mrs. Hart

As I have said a number of times in the House in the last few months, the White Paper will put forward a scheme by which contributions will be related to earnings.

Mr. Worsley

Will the right hon. Lady give an undertaking that, before she publishes this scheme, she will discuss it with those responsible for occupational pensions in the private sector, so that there shall be no disincentive effect on those pensions?

Mrs. Hart

The hon. Gentleman need not be concerned about any failure to consult. We shall be and are very much aware of the need to have the right kind of consultation on this.

Mr. William Hamilton

Would my right hon. Friend not consider the desirability of publishing a Green Paper rather than a White Paper, so that the House may be consulted before the legislation is introduced? Will she further undertake that this Government scheme will be very different from the Tory swindle which was introduced to finance the existing pensions?

Mrs. Hart

I can give my hon. Friend a total and complete assurance on the last point which he raised. On the first, we envisage that there will be time between the publication of the White Paper and the actual preparation of the detailed legislation for full consideration to be given in the House, and I would suppose that the House will certainly wish to consider and discuss the White Paper very fully. It is a little difficult to envisage a Green Paper on the subject because, as my hon. Friend will appreciate, many of these are highly technical matters and it is not so easy to cover that kind of subject in Green Paper style.