HC Deb 09 March 1970 vol 797 cc894-5
12. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will now make a further statement as to the proposed date of operation of the National Superannuation and Social Insurance Bill.

Mr. Crossman

I have nothing at present to add to previous statements on this subject. The target date remains April 1972.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is it not clear that the immense amount of work remaining to be done in industry, in the pension funds and in the Department makes that date completely unrealistic? Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that by appearing to stick to an unrealistic date he is merely confirming the suspicion, which he well understands, that the scheme will never operate at all?

Mr. Crossman

I find it difficult to understand the form of logic in the last part of that question. The facts are that within my Department there are at present no reasons to postpone the date. All the organisation and preparation is proceeding according to timetable and we can work to April 1972. It is true that I have received from the outside private schemes requests for a postponement. I am examining them very carefully, not least because of the political atmosphere injected into the debate by the Opposition.

Lord Balniel

As it is clear to everybody connccted with pension funds and with public service pensions that even if a Labour Government are returned to office the scheme will not come into operation in 1972, will the Secretary of State extract from the Bill the non-controversial parts dealing with the disabled, the sick and the widowed and bring them into operation immediately?

Mr. Crossman

Again, I think that the hon. Gentleman is guilty of an inaccuracy. There is no evidence before me from the public sector of any great feeling that the Bill could not come into force in 1972. Nobody has suggested that. The representations come first from the life offices, who have written to me about it, and then from the National Association of Pension Funds. I have taken these seriously and I have replied to each of them asking for specific evidence why they feel that they cannot complete their labours by 1972. As I have a great respect for both those organisations, I am quite sure that despite all the efforts of the Opposition, they will reply to me objectively and non-politically.