HC Deb 23 February 1971 vol 812 c282
1. Mrs. Shirley Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what will be the estimated deficit on the National Insurance Scheme, assuming no changes in benefits or contributions, in the calendar year 1971.

The Secretary of State for Social Services (Sir Keith Joseph)

The present estimate is that the income of the National Insurance Fund would exceed outgo by about £30 million in 1971.

Mrs. Williams

In view of the fact that, as I am sure the Secretary of State will agree, there will be very large sums to be raised in order to meet the urgent need for a substantial increase in old-age pensions in the autumn, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that this will be necessary through earnings-related contributions? Also, would he regard it as just that any earnings-related contributions should be associated with earnings-related benefits?

Sir K. Joseph

Those questions go far beyond that on the Order Paper, but certainly the balance of contributions is now swinging towards earnings-related, as brought in by the last Government.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

Is it not time for the Government to recognise that the National Insurance system based on flat-rate contributions must soon come to an end?

Sir K. Joseph

We already have a contributions system based only partly on flat rate.

Mr. O'Malley

Will the computer complex at Newcastle be ready in April, 1973, in order to introduce earnings-related contributions?

Sir K. Joseph

The hon. Gentleman should put down a Question about that.