§ Mr. Devlin
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he expects to pay invalidity benefit at the same rate to men and women between the ages of 60 and 65 years.
§ Mr. Hague
After state pension age, currently 60 for a woman, 65 for a man, the weekly rate of invalidity benefit is based on a person's retirement pension entitlement. We have no plans to change this at present. It has been the position since invalidity benefit was introduced in 1971, and a feature of the national insurance scheme since July 1948.
There is a case before the European Court of Justice concerning the rate of invalidity benefit payable to women on reaching state pension age. A ruling is not expected before July 1995.
From 13 April 1995, invalidity benefit and sickness benefit will be replaced by incapacity benefit. When a person reaches state pension age payment of incapacity benefit will normally cease as retirement pension is the appropriate benefit.
§ Mr. Hague
The hon. Member is referring to the case of Mrs. Rose Graham, which has been appealed to the Court of Appeal. At a hearing on 18 January 1994, the Court of Appeal decided to refer questions of European law arising in the case of the European Court of Justice. The questions to be referred were agreed by all parties. The court's procedure involves inviting all member states to submit observations on the points at issue. A ruling is not expected before July 1995 at the earliest.