HC Deb 18 April 1978 vol 948 cc83-4W
Mr. Kenneth Clarke

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what estimate has been made of the total number of employees who will have to pay unnecessary extra national insurance contributions because of the lateness of their employer's application for a contracting-out certificate; and whether the Government propose to take any further steps to assist employees in such cases.

Mr. Orme

In order to benefit from the special arrangements enabling national insurance contributions to be paid provisionally at the contracted-out rate while the Occupational Pensions Board (OPB) process an application to contract out, an employer must have sent his application to the OPB by 23rd March 1978.

It is not possible to say how many employees might be involved in applications sent in after 23rd March. I am advised by the OPB that it had received some 21,000 applications by 5th April 1978. The OPB does not have statistics of the number of these applications which were submitted by 23rd March but its estimate is that 2,000 or so might have been sent in after that date; the OPB emphasises, however, that this estimate could be too high. Those employers who applied after 23rd March and their employees are initially liable to pay national insurance contributions at the higher, not contracted-out rate. When the OPB issues the contracting-out certificates, they will normally be back-dated to 6th April 1978 where the application was for the certificate to be effective from that date. This will mean that the extra contributions may then be refunded. The OPB expects to cleat the vast majority of the applications by about the end of May.

I have on proposals for further steps.

Mrs. Chalker

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will introduce a new voluntary national insurance contribution class for United Kingdom citizens who spend part of their working life in a non-European Community country, but who are members of their United Kingdom employer's occupational pension scheme, and thus covered by the Pensions Act 1975.

Mr. Orme

We are already looking at the implications for these employees of the provisions of the Social Security Act 1975 and the Social Security Pensions Act 1975. It is clear, however, that there are considerable difficulties inherent in any arrangements of the sort suggested by the hon. Member.