§ Dr. M. S. Miller
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he proposes to make regulations under Section 19 of the Social Security Pensions Act 1975 prescribing the circumstances in which a person can be regarded as precluded from regular employment by responsibilities at home and thereby have his pensions rights protected.
§ Mr. Ennals
I have today laid before the House a draft of the Social Security Pensions (Home Responsibilities and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 1978. These regulations provide that a person can have his basic pension rights protected without the need to pay Class 3—voluntary—contributions in any tax year from 6th April 1978 throughout which he has received child benefit as the main payee; has regularly and for at least 837W 35 hours a week cared for a person in respect of whom an attendance allowance or constant attendance allowance is payable; or has received a supplementary allowance to enable him to stay at home to look after an elderly or incapacitated person. This protection will not be available in respect of any year during which a married woman or widow has retained the right to have reduced liability for national insurance contributions. A woman in the qualifying categories who now has reduced liability must apply to the Department to change to full liability before 6th April if she is to be covered from the beginning of the scheme.
The protection of pension rights during periods of home responsibilities is one of the main points of the Government's new pension scheme. For example, it will enable a married woman to have up to 20 years out of the employment field bringing up her family, while still qualifying for a full basic retirement pension in her own right.