HC Deb 15 December 1958 vol 597 cc139-40W
57. Mr. N. Nicolson

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many persons are not now in receipt of a retirement pension, because they were over retirement age in 1948, and were excluded from pre-1948 State old-age pension schemes on the grounds of their occupation; what would be the present annual cost of granting such persons the full basic retirement pension; and by how much it is estimated that this cost will have been diminished by death five years hence.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I regret that precise information is not available, but it is estimated that the cost to the National Insurance Fund of giving retirement pensions at the standard rates to those persons who were over minimum pension age in July, 1948, and are not now receiving retirement pensions would be about £90 million a year, declining to about £50 million in five years' time.

61. Mr. Hale

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the established criterion for a self-employed writer or author to satisfy the authorities that he is retired and is qualified to claim a retirement pension.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Under the National Insurance Act, 1946, anyone who is more than five years over minimum pension age is treated as retired. Those over pension age who are younger than this can also be treated as retired from regular employment, despite the fact that they still have a gainful occupation, if they engage in that occupation only occasionally, or to an inconsiderable extent, or otherwise in circumstances not inconsistent with retirement.

64. Mr. Gough

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will now state when arrangements to pay retirement pensions in a form suitable for payment into a bank will be made; and what steps should be taken by pensioners who wish to use this method.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Yes. The new arrangement by which retirement pensions can be paid quarterly in arrear by crossed postal drafts which can be paid by the pensioner into his or her bank will come into effect at the beginning of February. A form of application and leaflet explaining the arrangements can now be obtained from all local Pensions and National Insurance offices. Pensioners who wish to have their pensions paid in this way should apply now to their local office if they have not already done so.

66. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will consider introducing legislation to enable him to purchase goods, including coal, for annual distribution to old-age pensioners at Christmas.

69. Mr. G. Jeger

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will take powers to enable him to make purchases of commodities, including coal, in order to make free Christmas distributions each year to old-age pensioners and those in receipt of National Assistance.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

No. I share the view of my predecessors that any such benefits in kind would be quite inappropriate to our social services.