HC Deb 16 April 1985 vol 77 c157W
Dr. Twinn

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will abolish the married women's half-test; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Fowler

The half-test is an additional contribution test for retirement pension purposes, formerly applying to all married women, which required them to fulfil, in addition to the standard conditions for receiving a pension in their own right, a condition that they must have full-rate national insurance contributions paid or credited up to a minimum level in at least half the number of years between their marriage and their 60th birthday.

This additional condition was abolished in 1979 for married women reaching the age of 60 after 5 April 1979. It has, however, continued to affect those who were already 60 by that date. Following a review of the European Communities' equal treatment directive, which came fully into effect in December 1984, the Government have decided that it would be right to abolish the residual effects of the half-test as from 22 December 1984. I have therefore tabled an amendment to the Social Security Bill now before the House to achieve this end.

I estimate that there are currently about 25,000 married women who may gain from this step, mainly married women whose husbands have not yet reached the age of 65. If Parliament agrees the proposed legislation, my Department will seek to contact them as soon as possible to invite claims. The additional benefit expenditure involved is expected to be about £25 million in 1985–86, and to decline thereafter.