§ Mr. Churchill
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when Her Majesty's Government last took steps to negotiate a reciprocal pension agreement with a foreign country; what criteria have been used in selecting the countries in respect of which agreements have thus far been concluded; and if he will now take steps to conclude agreements with all those countries with which no agreement exists, to which significant numbers of United Kingdom pensioners have retired.
§ Miss Widdecombe
The United Kingdom most recently concluded a social security agreement with Barbados which came into force in April 1992. It fulfils a commitment given to the Government of Barbados in 1974.
In order to enter into an agreement with the United Kingdom the other country's social security scheme had to be sufficiently similar to provide for reciprocity. Increasingly, there had to be sufficient movement of workers between the two countries to justify the outlay of resources to negotiate, operate and maintain the agreement. Above all, any additional costs had to be affordable.
The majority of United Kingdom pensioners overseas live in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. The United Kingdom already has social security agreements with Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which, in general, allow residence or insurance in one country to be used by the country where the pensioner normally resides to satisfy its qualifying conditions for a pension. They do not allow for United Kingdom pension increases to be paid in those countries. There is no agreement with South Africa. We have no plans to revise the agreements with Australia, Canada and New Zealand, or to negotiate an agreement with South Africa.