§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
asked the Minister of Health whether he will con- 1449W sider notifying approved societies, who collect the contributions from insured members for widows', orphans' and old age contributory pensions and who are required to certify the form giving particulars of membership, when pensions have been granted, so that the registers in the possession of the societies may be checked to ensure that all qualified persons do in fact receive pensions?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) on the 11th February and would point out, as regards the last part of-the question, that other considerations, besides those to which the society's certificate relates, have to be taken into account before it can be decided that a title to pensions is established.
§ Captain C. REID
asked the Minister of Health if he will consider the claim of small tradesmen, such as watch and clock repairers or boot and shoe repairers, to be admitted into the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act by paying the full contribution, as at present they are ineligible through not having qualified by two years' payments under the National Health Insurance Act?
My hon. And gallant Friend's suggestion seems to imply the entrance of these persons into the scheme as voluntary contributors at the fiat rate of contribution. For reasons fully stated to the House on the 13th July. 1925, in Committee on the Bill, it would be impossible to graft a voluntary scheme at the flat rate on to the compulsory system without upsetting the finances of the system. For financial reasons a voluntary scheme would involve a scale of varying contributions on a much higher level than the flat rate now in operation.
§ Mr. DUCKWORTH
asked the Minister of Health if, taking the different unions of the country, he can state whether the operation of the Old Age Pensions Acts and the different Insurance Acts has contributed to the decline of the various poor rates concerned; and, if so, whether he ' will give the instances where the effect of this legislation in the direction suggested has been most pronounced?1450W
I am afraid that statistics to illustrate the points to which the Member refers are not readily available. I may, however, refer him as regards Old Age Pensions to a Return issued in 1911 (Command Paper 5612) which showed the number of persons in each union who received old age pensions and ceased to be chargeable to guardians within a period of four weeks after the removal of the poor relief disqualification for the receipt of old age pensions; from this Return it appeared that the consequent saving to the poor rates amounted to £21,953 a week. As regards pensions and allowances under the Contributory Pensions Act, the latest information relates to the period ended 27th March, 1926; returns from boards of guardians in England and Wales showed that the direct saving to poor rates up to that date by reason of the operation of this Act was at the rate of £1,768,000 per annum. I regret that similar figures are not available as regards the effect of the other Insurance Acts.