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Old Age Pensions.

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport. – in the House of Commons on 27th May 1937.

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Photo of Mr Tom Smith Mr Tom Smith , Normanton

asked the Secretary to the Treasury the average aggregate annual cost over 20 years of providing increased pensions of £1 a week to all insured persons and to the aged over 70 benefiting under the Old Age Pensions Acts, 1909 to 1924, with 35s. a week for married couples; the average annual cost of providing pensions of £1 a week to all persons within the scope of the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory, Pensions Acts, 1925 to 1936; to widows of 55 years of age and over; and to widows of 65 years of age and over. respectively?

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

I am not clear what classification of costs the hon. Member desires as regards pensioners under 70. On 4th May I informed the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. G. Griffiths) that the additional cost of increasing pensions at 65 to all old age and contributory pensioners (including widows) to £1 a week (35s. for a married couple) would be about £75,000,000 a year at the present time, rising to about £95,000,000 a year in 20 years time. Of the figure of £75,000,000, about £42,500,000 is in respect of pensioners of 70 and over and about £32,500,000 in respect of pensioners between 65 and 70. Perhaps the hon. Member will consider whether these figures are sufficient for his purpose, and, if they are not, no doubt he will communicate with me.

Photo of Mr William Dobbie Mr William Dobbie , Rotherham

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, having regard to the increasing prosperity of the nation, the Government will consider granting the old age pension to wives over the age of 55 years at the date their husbands qualify for pensions under the National Health Insurance Act?

Photo of Mr George Hardie Mr George Hardie , Glasgow Springburn

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how soon the Government will alter the present Act relating to contributory old age pensions, giving to the wife, irrespective of her age, the pension at the same time as her husband?

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

As the hon. Members are aware. similar proposals have been made from time to time, but it has not been found possible to accept them.

Photo of Mr William Dobbie Mr William Dobbie , Rotherham

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the Government have given any consideration to the question of granting pensions of 10s. per week to spinsters on attaining the age of 55 years under similar conditions to those which apply to the granting of the old age pension at the age of 70 years; and what is the estimate of the cost of this proposal?

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

As regards the first part of the question. I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which my right hon. Friend gave on 18th February last to the hon. Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Leach). The cost of granting a pension of 10s. a week to all unmarried women at 55 would be about £13,000,000 at the present time, as regards the period up to the attainment of the age of 70, plus the further cost (which I am unable to estimate) of old age pensions at 70 to single women who are not at present entitled to them. This figure would rise steadily in future. I am unable to estimate by how much this cost would be reduced by the application of a means test, as the necessary data are not available.