§ Mr. Hannam
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is his estimate of the number of persons who paid full national insurance contributions from the start of the scheme in 1948 until they reached retirement age, who are currently receiving reduced retirement pensions because they reached retirement age before they were able to make sufficient contributions for a full retirement pension;
(2) for how many years an individual who started paying national insurance 38W contributions in 1948 had to pay contributions before reaching retirement age in order to qualify for a full retirement pension.
§ Mr. Orme
The contribution conditions for a standard-rate retirement pension were changed in April 1975. Prior to that date, a person who entered insurance at the start of the new scheme in 1948, and who could complete 10 years' insurance before reaching pensionable age, was required to have a yearly average of 50 weekly contributions, paid or credited, over the complete contribution years between 1948 and pensionable age. Those who were within 10 years of pensionable age when they entered insurance in 1948 could continue to pay contributions after pensionable age so as to complete a minimum period of 10 years in insurance and qualify for a standard-rate retirement pension at the end of that period.
Since 6th April 1975, when the present earnings-related contributions were introduced, the contribution conditions for pensions have been related to the number of tax years in a person's working life up to pensionable age in which contributions have been paid on a qualifying level of earnings. Such a year is called a reckonable year. In the case of a person who entered insurance in 1948, and reaches pension age after 5th April 1975, about nine-tenths of the complete tax years between 1948 and pensionable age have to be reckonable years for him to qualify for a standard-rate retirement pension.
People who do not fully satisfy the appropriate conditions may be entitled to a reduced-rate pension.
No one who entered insurance in 1948 and paid full contributions from that date was, therefore, precluded from satisfying the contribution condition for a standard-rate retirement pension solely by reason of the date on which he reached pensionable age.
I have no information as to the number of people within 10 years of pensionable age in 1948 who did not take advantage of the provisions enabling them to pay contributions after pensionable age to complete the minimum period of 10 years contributions and who, as a result, received a reduced-rate retirement pension 39W The number is, however, probably very small.