asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what advice he has received from the National Insurance Advisory Committee on whether a man who continues at work after the age of 65 should be able to increase his wife's ultimate retirement pension even though she is under 60 when he is earning his increments.
If the hon. Member studies this matter, as I am sure he has, he will see that it is nothing like as simple and straightforward as that. Having referred this question to the National Insurance Advisory Committee, I think that the right thing is to see what the Committee says.
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is aware of the concern felt by old-age pensioners at having to wait until next April for their increased pension; and whether, as a means of overcoming the administrative difficulties regarding earlier payment of these increases, he will arrange for the post offices to pay on existing Pension Order Books by means of overstamping on payment of the increased amounts received by the recipients.
The hon. Member's suggestion is not, I am afraid, a practicable one, and in any event the wider issues involved can, I think, be dealt with more conveniently in the course of tomorrow's debate.
Why is it impracticable? All these pensioners have to go to the Post Office to draw their pension. Is it not possible for the Post Office to stamp on the receipt form "X amount received"? Every hon. Member agrees that these old-age pensioners should receive the money now instead of having to wait until April. There would be no difficulty at all. What are the objections?
I do not think that the hon. Member appreciates that a great many retirement pensions are paid at above the standard rate because of the earning of increments, and some are paid below the standard rate because of a deficiency in contributions. It would not be possible for the Post Office to do this, as his right hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Dr. Summerskill) said as long ago as 1951.
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will take early steps to inform people whose National Insurance benefits are being supplemented by the National Assistance Board, as to the net effect of the proposed changes in National Insurance benefits and National Assistance rates, due to take effect in April, 1961.
The National Assistance Board inform me that they will follow the normal procedure in these cases. The effect of these changes, which will vary, will be notified by the Board on revised order books which will start going out, with a covering note, as soon as bath sets of proposals are law.
Is the Minister aware that at the moment a number of old people are expecting to get the full increase of 7s. 6d., or 12s. 6d. if they are married, but in fact they will not get it if they are on National Assistance? If the Government cannot find their way clear to give these poorest pensioners the full share of the increase, which is modest enough, will he not at least take special measures to explain to them personally, by personal letter, exactly how much they will get?
No one would be authorised to inform a pensioner what he has to receive until, as I said in my Answer, the whole of the proposals are law. If the hon. Member studies my Answer he will see that the National Assistance Board, as far as variations in assistance are concerned, will inform the recipients not only by means of revised order books but also by means of a covering note.