§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (LORD MARLEY)
My Lords, This is a very brief Bill, designed to deal with two unintentional omissions or faults in the Act of 1929. The first was in connection with the case of a man who died before January 4, 1926, when the pensions scheme was started. Under the Act of 1929, one of the conditions under which a widow was put to obtain the pension was that her husband should have been at some time within three years before his death paying contributions, or should have been in a normally insurable occupation. It was found that certain men had been unemployed or ill for three years before their death, and therefore had not been, in fact, in insurable employment. While it was considered at first that the normal occupation might be considered to extend into the three years, yet subsequently, owing to a case being taken to the High Court, it was discovered that there was a definite doubt in this matter. The first intention of this Bill is to rectify this by ensuring that the normal occupation during that three years may be considered an insurable occupation. This will affect some ten thousand widows, of whom a considerable number are already drawing their pensions, while the remainder are awaiting the decision of your Lordships.
The second point is a pure error in the Act of 1929. In the case of a widow whose husband died after the Act of 1925, it was laid down that he must have been an insured person, but those who framed the Act failed to realise that there might have been men who attained the age of seventy before 1912, when the Insurance Act came in, and the widows of such men, who could not, therefore, have been insured persons under the old Act, have been deprived of pensions. The number involved is very small. It is estimated that some 500 or 1283 600 widows have been deprived of pensions by reason of their position under the Act. Of course, a man who was over seventy before 1912, and therefore could not be an insured person, would be about 90 now, so that there are not very many involved. I may say that the cost of these cases is not a new cost, because in the first case I mentioned the cost has already been provided for in the provision made for the Act of 1929, and in the other case, in which very few additional widows are involved, the cost is based on the fixed Exchequer contribution to pensions. Accordingly no new money is involved. I trust that this Bill will receive a Second Reading without any difficulty. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.— (Lord Marley.)
§ On Question Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.