HC Deb 12 May 1969 vol 783 c961
34. Mr. Donald Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now reconsider the position of widows under 50 years of age so as to allow a pension right to be determined in accordance with the number of years a deceased husband has contributed under the National Insurance Scheme.

Mr. Ennals

The hon. Member will see from paragraphs 79–81 of the White Paper (Cmnd. 3883) that the Government share the concern about the age 50 condition for widow's pension. It is therefore proposed that existing widows who were aged between 40 and 50 at widowhood will qualify for a scaled-down flat-rate pension under the new scheme arrangements.

Mr. Williams

While thanking the Minister for that Answer, may I ask whether he realises that a big problem is involved in this matter since a number of hubands firmly believe that, by paying a contribution to National Insurance, they are providing a pension for their widows? Could he not give such people hope that in the near future they will helped over their problem in regard to pensions?

Mr. Ennals

This is precisely what the White Paper does. It gives not only hope but confidence to the widow that she will benefit in widowhood as well as in retirement from contributions paid by her husband. This is one of the great achievements of the new scheme, which will soon be on the Statute Book.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Could the Minister say whether when the scheme is introduced it could be retrospective, and if so, how far back it could go in order to take in widows even as far back as 10 years and up to the present time?

Mr. Ennals

It will not be possible to introduce a retrospective scheme but, as I said, it will apply to existing widows aged between 40 and 50 at widowhood so that they will get some benefit.