§ Mr. Webb
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will estimate the effect on gross expenditure on the basic state pension in each of the five financial years from 1999–2000 onwards if, with effect from April 1998, employees who paid national insurance contributions on earnings above the national average over the course of a given year after April 1998 were regarded as having satisfied the contribution conditions for half a year instead of a full year in respect of that year. 
§ Mr. Denham
The effects on gross expenditure in the fist five years would be negligible1.205W1 Less than £50 million gross expenditure on the basic State pension in 1999–2000 is estimated at over £31 billion.
§ Mr. O'Hara
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what(a) number and (b) proportion of pensioners did not claim their state pension at age 60 years for women or age 65 years for men in 1997 because they (i) deferred claiming it or (ii) failed to make their claim. 
§ Mr. Denham
The information requested is not available. People are not required to inform the Department that they wish to defer claiming their pension, although some 6,000 people in 1995/96 did let the Department know that they were doing so. Increments are earned in all cases where someone puts off receiving their pension for at least seven weeks during the five years starting on the day they reach pensionable age.