HC Deb 17 May 1976 vol 911 c414W
Mrs. Knight

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the social security and national insurance pension entitlements of the second wife of an immigrant who already has one wife under Muslim law, and is living with both women; and what are the child allowance benefits entitlements for such a family.

Mr. Orme

This is a complex area and the entitlement in individual cases is a matter for the adjudicating authorities. The following is a general, though not exhaustive, account of the rules applicable in the circumstances specified. Where an immigrant has a marriage which is actually currently polygamous, the marriage does not have the normal effects of a marriage for national insurance and family allowance purposes. Thus for national insurance purposes his wives are treated as single women and may qualify for benefits under the same conditions as any other unmarried woman. If the husband claims benefit, he can also claim dependency increases for his children and for one of the women as a "housekeeper". For family allowances purposes, the children of such marriages may count either in their father's or in their mother's family. In the case of supplementary benefit, the requirements and resources of both women and of any dependent children would be aggregated with those of the man in any claim to supplementary benefit made by him; and the women concerned would not be eligible to claim in their own right.

If the hon. Lady has any particular point in mind, perhaps she will let me know.