HL Deb 24 February 1977 vol 380 cc360-2

3.10 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of people in the private and in the public sectors who have retired prematurely.


My Lords, I am afraid that the latest available information on this matter relates to 1971 and does not distinguish between people in the private and public sectors. The 1971 Census indicated that in Great Britain about 120,000 men aged 55 to 64 and about 40,000 single women between 50 and 59 considered themselves as retired. Meaningful information about married women cannot, I am sorry to say, be deduced from the Census returns. In addition, there would be a number of people in those age bands to which I have made reference who would remain in-capable of work until pension age. In May 1975 212,000 men aged 55 to 64 and 24,000 single women aged 50 to 59 were in receipt of invalidity pensions payable for long-term incapacity. Of these 236,000 people, 196,000 had been incapacitated for over a year.

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for the trouble he has taken to find a number of figures on this matter, would he not agree that it is of importance to know the numbers who do take premature retirement, not only in order to calculate the effect this would have on the earnings rule in regard to pensioners, but also because it could well conceal large numbers of the unemployed who have become unemployed because they have been obliged to retire early?


My Lords, I would accept that. I think that more information—and by that I mean not only more information, but more up-to-date information—on the numbers of people retiring prematurely should be available at the end of this year as a result of a survey into the reasons for retirement which is currently being carried out by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord when the 1976 Census is likely to be available and published?


My Lords, I just do not know.


My Lords, is the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, in a position to give the House any indication of the numbers of unemployed who have found employment as a direct result of the job release scheme? Further, would he confirm that many of those who have taken advantage of the job release scheme and obtained retirement at 64 were in fact people who were already off sick and unlikely to work again in any full sense of the word?


My Lords, I have come to your Lordships' House this afternoon hoping that I could deal with the question of premature retirement. I did not come prepared for anything other than that.


My Lords, would the noble Lord indicate whether the survey that is being carried out will distinguish between those who have retired with pensions related to their earnings in the private and public sectors, other than National Insurance benefits, and the others?


My Lords, all I know about the survey is that the terms of reference will be the reasons for retirement and that that may, in the course of the collection of information, bring up a number of other factors.