HC Deb 11 January 1977 vol 923 c1239
7. Mrs. Chalker

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what trends he anticipates in the number of persons deferring retirement beyond normal pensionable age over the next five years.

Mr. Orme

The number of people deferring retirement beyond the minimum State pension age will be affected by the level of unemployment and by changes in the earnings rule. But, these factors apart, we expect a very gradual reduction over the next few years.

Mrs. Chalker

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why, on the figures published so far, there has been a complete turn around? Rather than a decrease, there has been an increase in the number of people deferring retirement. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what gain he anticipates to the National Insurance Fund, through contributions, if this goes on?

Mr. Orme

The economic situation has affected retirement and the desire of people to maintain their earnings. However, I still believe that it is the desire of most people on reaching retirement age, to retire on a decent pension, and that is still our objective.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Will the Minister tell us why he finds the argument of his right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) unconvincing? This argument is that more people should work longer as more are living longer.

Mr. Orme

I do not quite follow the hon. Member's argument. In actual fact, on arguments about retirement, there is a genuine desire in some quarters to retire earlier and in other areas to work longer. The question of flexibility of retirement will come into the general discussions that we have over the next few years.