HL Deb 27 March 2002 vol 633 c57WA
Lord Lester of Herne Hill

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in the light of the settlement of the case of Fielding v United Kingdom before the European Court of Human Rights, they will make bereavement benefits available to widowers without sex discrimination. [HL2859]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham)

Our reforms to bereavement benefits introduced in April 2001 mean that for the first time these benefits are available equally to both men and women. We have concentrated help where and when it is needed most—on immediate needs and on families with children.

Litigation currently in the European Court of Human Rights does not affect the rights of men or women to claim bereavement benefit today.

Immediate help with costs arising on bereavement is provided by a lump sum bereavement payment of £2000—double the old widow's payment of £1000. There is a weekly benefit for widowed parents who satisfy the qualifying conditions. A bereavement allowance is also available for 12 months, to give widows and widowers aged 45 or over without dependants time to adjust to their new circumstances.