HC Deb 12 October 1976 vol 917 c108W
34. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, in view of the fact that a person who has contributed to the National Insurance Fund is entitled to benefits for his one wife and children, whereas a person who has not contributed can claim supplementary assistance for all his wives, married and common law and the children there-from, and that such benefits can total £100 or more per week making it virtually impossible for him to obtain work without financial loss he will take steps to change this system to treat both contributors and non-contributors on the same basis.

Mr. Orme

Payment of means-tested supplementary benefits and contributory national insurance benefits is based on fundamentally different principles; and a man with more than one wife and entitled to both types of benefits would be treated differently under the separate schemes. It is neither necessary nor appropriate to make changes of the kind suggested. A man can be paid supplementary benefit for all the wives and dependent children for whom he is responsible, but there would be no saving of public money if—as would probably be her right—a second wife and dependent children claimed supplementary benefits separately; and where a man is in full-time work he must support all his dependants without supplementary benefit.