Contributory Pensions.

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance. – in the House of Commons on 21st February 1935.

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Photo of Mr Edward Mallalieu Mr Edward Mallalieu , Colne Valley

40.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the total cost of paying at the age of 65 years a pension of £1 a week to all persons now receiving contributory pensions; and what would be the weekly contribution necessary to be paid by the worker on the basis of one-third of the cost being borne by the State, one-third by the employer, and one-third by the worker?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

As non-contributory pensions to persons over 70 could not be separated from contributory, I cannot give the hon. Member exactly what he asks. The cost of doubling all old age pensions, on the latest figures available, would be an additional £62,500,000 a year. This cost would steadily increase with time. There would be a further additional cost of £5,000,000 a year if it were necessary to increase the pensions of widows over 65. The contributions necessary to cover this extra cost could only be worked out at the expense of considerable time and labour, and in view of the fact that I have in reply to questions already given estimates of the cost of six different schemes based on somewhat similar hypotheses, I trust the hon. Member will not press this part of his inquiry.

Photo of Mr Edward Mallalieu Mr Edward Mallalieu , Colne Valley

Does not the answer show that there is an immense need for an inquiry so that all the relevant facts can be known to the public, and does the right hon. Gentleman not think that it is the duty of the Government to make further provision for the security of workers in their old age?

Viscountess ASTOR:

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the Labour party are now saying that they are going to raise the pensions of all old people, and that therefore it is very important to know before the next General Election how much it would cost the Government?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I have already given figures for most of the permutations and combinations which are possible, and they are not very encouraging.

Photo of Mr David Kirkwood Mr David Kirkwood , Dumbarton District of Burghs

Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer admit that it is possible for this country to carry all the pensions suggested in the question?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

No, Sir.

Photo of Mr James Guy Mr James Guy , Edinburgh Central

42.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can give an approximate estimate of the additional annual cost of providing, within the ambit of the national health insurance scheme, a contributory old age pension for unmarried insured women at the age of 55 instead of 65 as at present?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I estimate that the cost of granting contributory old age pensions at 55, instead of at the present age of 65, to unmarried insured women would be an additional £4,500,000 a year. I could not without prolonged calculations indicate what increase of contributions would be necessary to cover this extension of pension rights, and I hope that in the circumstances my hon. Friend will not press this part of his inquiry.

Photo of Mr James Guy Mr James Guy , Edinburgh Central

Has my right hon. Friend based his estimate upon an aggregate calculation of the number of insured unmarried women over 55 years of age?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I take the best information that I am given.

Photo of Mr David Kirkwood Mr David Kirkwood , Dumbarton District of Burghs

Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that it would be another humane act to pension unmarried women at 55 years of age, and, apart from that, does he not think that it would also help in the unemployment problem by allowing women of 55 and over to be taken out of employment?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I do not know that it would have that effect.

Viscountess ASTOR:

Would my right hon. Friend bring to the notice of the Cabinet the fact that it would be wiser now to help these maiden ladies instead of the sugar-beet growers?