New Clause. — (Widow's Extended Benefit.)

Orders of the Day — Family Allowances and National Insurance Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th January 1964.

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Section 17 of the National Insurance Act 1946 (Widow's Benefit) shall be amended by the addition of the following words, "and in the case of a widow's deferred pension, if (subject to the conditions in subsection (1) (c) and subsection 2 of this section) at the husband's death she was over the age of forty she shall be entitled to this benefit on attaining the age of fifty".—[Mr. P. Browne.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr Percy Browne Mr Percy Browne , Torrington

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

I feel rather dubious about speaking after being told that no man knows how widows think. I accept that my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) knows a great deal more than I do about what widows and women think. Nevertheless, I would point out that many of the pensions Bills that I have seen go through the House have been steered through all their stages quite successfully by men.

The Clause is designed to help those women who are widowed between the ages of 40 and 50 and who are not in receipt of the widowed mothers' allowance. The position of these widows was mentioned twice in the Second Reading debate. The hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) and I both referred to it. Her idea was that there should be a graduation between the age groups, and I thought that that was a good idea. Nevertheless, my Clause provides for a straightforward figure for the lot. I was interested to notice that after we two had mentioned these widows one of my hon. Friends put down a Question on the subject, and the day before yesterday the Daily Mail also mentioned them. I should like to mention the history behind the present position in which these widows find themselves. A woman who is widowed when she is below the age of 50 is automatically entitled to receive a widows' allowance for 13 weeks. If she has children under a certain age she also receives the widowed mothers' allowance. If she was married before 1948 it is possible that she will be in receipt of 10s. per week.

7.15 p.m.

Her sister, who was widowed when she had passed the age of 50, had certain alterations made in her conditions by the Acts of 1946 and 1956. There was a certain amount of horse trading. In a way, widows over the age of 50 were better off, although widows between the ages of 40 and 50 who had previously benefited were cut out. One alteration was that the previous condition of ten years' marriage was made a condition of three years' marriage, and what we called running starts were introduced, which enabled a widow, after drawing the allowance, to benefit from her husband's contribution to the extent that she could draw unemployment and sickness benefit. She can now draw unemployment benefit up to the normal limit of 19 months, after which she will have her cards stamped in the normal way without collecting any more benefit, and she can be sick indefinitely.

In the Second Reading debate I referred to the fact that in my constituency there were some widows who, quite understandably, could not adjust themselves during the 13 weeks' period and that if they were under 50 years of age they would often obtain a certificate from a sympathetic doctor and would perforce go sick until they were able to find themselves a job and to readjust.

When the new regulations were introduced in 1956 the age limit was raised from 40 to 50. The hon. Lady quoted from a speech made from the Government Front Bench in January of last year which pointed out that this had happened. The object of the Clause is to retain the beneficial results of the 1956 and 1957 Acts, while providing that a woman who is widowed between the ages of 40 and 50 will automatically qualify for the widows' benefit at the age of 50.

Hon. Members may ask why I want this changed. My right hon. Friend has just mentioned that we are moving towards a general selectivity in pensions, and I think this is a good thing. It is a subject on which I have spoken with various degrees of success, and have experienced a certain amount of ridicule, in the past five years, although I have been delighted to find that during the last year or so hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have agreed that this is something that we shall come to in due course.

I want to give two additional reasons why I believe that widows between the ages of 40 and 50 should be helped. When this legislation was framed women generally were marrying, and were having families, later in life than they are today. The age of marriage has fallen. People are marrying and having children at a younger age. The result is that, if they are widowed when they are 40, 45 or 47, it is likely that they will have left their jobs a good deal earlier in life. They may well not have got as far as university, should they have had the brain, nor may they have achieved proficiency in a skilled occupation to which they can return.

Secondly, in certain parts of the country—I am sure this applies to the constituencies of my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth and the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North, just as it does to mine—the openings for women are comparatively few, and rehabilitation is difficult at that age. Although, by choice, I would like to see the age limits for widows' benefits reduced, I have not asked for that. But I believe that we have here a group of widows who should now be helped selectively, and the Clause is a halfway house to this. It recognises that these people have not been able to learn skills because they married young—the general trend today—and it recognises the difficulties of obtaining jobs in many parts of the country and also of rehabilitation.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will consider the Clause sympathetically. On the last Amendment I voted for the Government. I would have given different reasons for doing so, but I should be out of order if I went into detail about them. Nevertheless, in the Second Reading debate I referred to the fact that I believe in selectivity. I believe that it would be fair to say that those who have unearned income are probably paying tax on it. I have always disagreed with the pension principle—that the money that people pay taxes on, in so far as it is pension money, should not be put back into the pension fund. That has been one of my main arguments for selectivity in the past.

I have explained my reasons for disliking any increase in the present benefit for the 10s. widow—another point touched on by the hon. Lady—because the widows with whom we are dealing now are much more worthy of help. I hope that my right hon. Friend will accept the Clause and that I shall have the support of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee.

Photo of Mr Norman Cole Mr Norman Cole , Bedfordshire South

As was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne), this is not the ideal solution, and a lot of us would have preferred a return to an earlier age than 50. Both my hon. Friend and the Daily Mail have indicated that in many cases a woman widowed when over 40 has been "out of circulation", as it were, from the point of view of employment for 20 years or more. That will become increasingly the case as the age of marriage is lower. In the competitive employment market—it is still a competitive market despite the fact of high employment—she will not find it easy to get a suitable job, and that will become even more difficult as her age increases. This is recognised by the fact that we give a full widow's pension at the age of 50. The only difference between the policy of the Government and this new Clause is the stage at which employment becomes a super-difficulty and the question of pension arises.

This new Clause indicates a happy compromise in our efforts to promote suitable legislation in this matter. I will not adduce the argument about the position of those people who may miss the full benefit because they are within a fortnight of the appropriate age. Wherever the line is drawn that sort of thing will always happen. But if someone misses the qualifying age of 50 by a year or 18 months, that means that it is missed for the next eleven years or so, and this Clause would obviate that state of affairs. It does not represent a complete panacea for all the widows under 50. But whatever job they may be doing at under that age they may find it increasingly difficult, as their 50th birthday approaches, to continue with that work. But always they may be buoyed up by the thought that on passing their fiftieth birthday they will get the full benefit. That is the principle that is enshrined in other pensions legislation where, as one approaches the age of 60, there is the knowledge that when the time comes it is possible to retire and not work but get a full retirement pension.

My hon. Friend has tried to meet the problems which face the Government. Some of these problems arise from the sort of administrative jungle which inevitably surrounds pension legislation and I am certain that the anomalies result from this. I do not think that the acceptance of this Clause would result in a feeling of satisfaction by every widow in the country but it might be considered that a move forward had been made. I hope that my right hon. Friend will discern some virtue in this proposal. I beg him not to tell us again about the administrative difficulties. In most cases it will be some years before it is necessary to pay a pension at 50. I consider this a good Clause and I am glad to support it.

Photo of Mr John McKay Mr John McKay , Wallsend

I am happy to support this Motion. During the Second Reading debate I referred to the reduction of the age from 50 to 40. Here we have a compromise. At that time I suggested that widows at 40 should be allowed to contribute to a pension until they reached the age of 50 and then receive a pension in the same way as widows of 50. This is a little better than that idea. It suggests that the widow should not pay any contribution if she is over 40 but that she should receive a pension at 50.

Photo of Sir Spencer Summers Sir Spencer Summers , Aylesbury

I hope that the Minister will remind us why Parliament changed the age from 40 to 50 and what would be the approximate cost of returning to the age of 40. This proposed new Clause represents an attempt to assist the position of a particular type of widow without "putting the clock back" as much as previously. One may agree with the motive behind this idea, but I cannot help feeling that there is a flaw in the argument.

If it be true, as I believe it is, that a widow who is over 40—here we are not dealing with the widowed mother—finds, for reasons which have been advanced, that it is difficult to get a job, she may, at the age of 42 or 43, have to manage as best she can, perhaps for seven years. That is the time when her need is real and when she requires help. It is a poor consolation to her to be told, "Do not worry too much. In six or seven years' time benefit will be coming to you because of a proposal made in the early part of 1964. All you have to do is to fight for your existence for the next six or seven years." If a widow can overcome her difficulties during that period she may well be able to manage for considerably longer. It seems to me, therefore, that if the need of a widow under the age of 50 is as real as has been argued by my hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne) she deserves more generous treatment than is proposed in this Clause, and that it is not enough to try to meet the needs of such people in this way.

I am not qualified to comment on whether we should go back to the age of 40. I do not remember the arguments which prompted the Government to raise the age to 50. Perhaps finance had something to do with it. I ask that the Minister remind us of what was said in the past, about which he will be far more familiar than some hon. Members on the back benches.

7.30 p.m.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I am very glad to be able to support this new Clause, although of course I agree with the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers). I wish to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne) for what he said about the varying opportunities in different parts of the country for women to obtain employment. This has always been one of the problems which arise in a Bill which covers a general legislative problem. I should have thought that, with all the difficulties arising in various parts of the country over unemployment and the finding of jobs for school leavers, this proposal, although, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury said, it is limited, would have been a way of helping the young as against the older women.

I always find great difficulty in Bills produced Departmentally, because there seems a tremendous lack of co-ordination. In my part of the world, the North-East Coast, there is generally heavy industry, but in Whitley Bay, which is part of my constituency, we get the benefit of the rate distribution because we have no industry. The problem of women wanting employment adds to the difficulty of the area I represent. There is no general employment available to women in my part of the world. It is not a textile area.

We are indebted a great deal to the Minister, but I should have thought that a progressive Minister would have seen that it would be very helpful if we were allowed to have the general inquiry for which we asked before this Bill was conceived. There are tremendous human problems. In Government Departments there is lack of co-ordination. While it is generally accepted that in London there is no shortage of jobs, I well remember in my part of the world a woman who had very good qualifications as a secretary and who had the greatest difficulty in finding a job because young people naturally at the beginning of their lives have a right to be considered.

This is a tremendously difficult problem. I hope that when he replies my right hon. Friend will not merely negative this new Clause. I hope he will say that the speeches made on it have drawn his attention to the fact that we are not only asking for something for widows. We are seeking something which would vitally affect the employment problem as related to school leavers who have their way to make in life and also widows who find themselves without a job struggling to pay high contributions to keep in line for a proper pension when they reach the age of 60.

I do not know how we can make an impression on my right hon. Friend. Of course he may have argued very much in favour of having an inquiry. If so, I apologise for being so jolly hard on him. But the rest of the Cabinet must have been unaware of the difficulties which arise in areas such as mine. I, therefore, hope that when he replies he will not negative this new Clause, but will give some hope that proper and appropriate action will be taken.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

I hope, as the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) does, that the Minister will not negative this new Clause. I hope that the hon. Lady will not mind my reminding her that she voted for the Bill which increased the age from 40 to 50, as did all hon. Members opposite.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I also remember, going back to 1950, that we all wanted to increase the retirement pension, and I remember the selectivity of hon. and right hon. Members opposite when they were in Government. So, tit-for-tat, I cut that out.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

I am glad that the hon. Lady does not deny what I said—that they voted to increase the age from 40 to 50.

We all realise that this very difficult problem surrounds the whole question of widows' pensions and that there is need for an inquiry. Once we departed from the old system of insurance by which a pension was provided for widows—of 10s. a week as it was in 1945—and brought in a new system in which we tried to relate the widow's pension to the different circumstances of widowhood, we provided not one kind of widow's pension, but a number.

They began with the widow's allowance for 13 weeks. That conformed with an international convention. It was regarded as essential from the standard of health that a woman should be able to remain away from work for 13 weeks. We provided a pension for widows with children. The question was whether the pension should continue after the children had ceased to be dependants. That was in keeping with the kind of general selectiveness for widows.

Then the question arose, at what age should we regard it as too difficult to ask the widow whose child had grown out of the dependent stage to go to the labour market? We decided in our Act of 1946 that the age should be 40. If a widow was widowed at the age of 40 and without children it was regarded as too much to ask her to go back to the labour market after she had been out of industry for perhaps 20 years. Similarly, in the case of the widow with children we decided that if she were 40 or over when the eldest child ceased to be dependent, she should have a widow's pension for the rest of her life.

I think that has worked as well as any of the previous provisions. None of them gave difficulty, and none of them will give difficulty unless we go back to a general widow's pension. This age was regarded at that time by the whole House as being very fair. There was no argument or discussion about it. There was a general realisation that beyond 40 years of age it would be too much to ask a woman who had been out of the labour market for many years to seek to go back to it.

Then the Government, for some reason which I have never heard explained, raised the age from 40 to 50. Was that based on experience? Was it based on the experience of the Ministry of Labour, for example? It is not an easy matter for men who lose their jobs at the age of 40 to find other jobs. I have had ample evidence of this in my own area. There has been a change from the old industries like steel to new ones. It is much more difficult for women. On the whole, when the age was 40 the system worked well.

I was not here when the hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne) moved the new Clause. I understand that its effect will be, not to restore the age of 40, but to provide a kind of half-way house. Whatever compromise is provided, it will be anomalous. Everybody in the Committee would be pleased if the age were put back to 40. What are the arguments against doing that? When the age was raised to 50 and pushed into that Bill, it was the bitter pill in the sugar.

I see no reason why we should not restore the age to 40. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee agree that a change should be made. They agree that the age of 50 is too high. If it is too high, let us fix the age. Let us have no half-way house; if we are to fix an age, why not fix 40? I do not think that it would cost a great deal. I should like to know the experience of the Ministry of Labour. What does that Ministry think of the chances today, with unemployment at half a million, of a woman entering the labour market for the first time at 40 or 45? Is it fair to ask a woman of that sort of age to enter employment, perhaps in an industrial district, for the first time? As we are all agreed that 50 is too high, we should do the straightforward thing and put the age back to 40, where it was before this Government increased it to 50.

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne), not only for giving us the chance to discuss this matter, but also for giving us a very clear picture of the situation as it exists at the moment. The picture my hon. Friend gave us was supplemented by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths)—and who better, because he had the responsibility for these matters in those days.

I should like to round off the picture as to why this change was made and what the effect has been. During the passage of the 1946 Bill the concession was made that the pension should also be given to the widow who ceased to draw widowed mother's allowance after the age of 40. The right hon. Gentleman asked why the change back to 50 had been made. The reason was that the concession made during the passage of the 1946 Measure created the anomaly that the widow who was widowed after the age of 40 did not then get the pension, unless she could qualify for widowed mother's allowance. Therefore, the title for pension depended on the age of the widow, and also on the age of the child, at the time of the father's death.

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman remembers that this became very anomalous and that the National Insurance Advisory Committee recommended that the widowed mother's allowance should continue until the child was aged 18, and with higher rates. At the same time the Committee suggested that the concession—which I have just described—at the age of 40 should disappear, but only for women who were widowed after that. The Committee also said that there was no evidence—on this we could argue for a long time—that the age of 50 was wrong in relation to employment prospects.

7.45 p.m.

I want to take this point further, because it is a serious point made by the right hon. Gentleman and by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers). I want to point out to the Committee the provisions which exist to deal with it. The test at the age of 50 exists because the woman who is widowed, or ceases to draw widowed mother's allowance, when she is over 50 is likely to find it difficult to get back into work. I am leaving aside for the moment the question whether widows under 50 might also find it difficult. I think that we all realise that the age of 50 by itself would be a very crude instrument, if one merely drew a line and said that widows falling on one side would get the benefit but those falling on the other would not. It would not only be crude. It would be cruel.

Therefore, one of the provisions is what we have just been discussing, namely, that the widow over 50 gets benefit but subject to an earnings rule. I need not go over some of the arguments we have had about that. At the same time, younger widows without children are assumed to be able to earn their living. Therefore, they get no pension, unless they happen to have a reserved right to a 10s. pension under the old scheme.

My hon. Friend the Member for Torrington was very fair, but I think that these provisions assume an even greater importance than he attached to them. If widows who are younger—the younger widows, to use a shorthand expression—cannot work because they are ill, they then can qualify immediately for sickness benefit, which is at the same rate as the widow's pension. As my hon. Friend fairly pointed out, this goes on, or unemployment benefit with continuing title continues, if necessary until 60, when she gets retirement pension.

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will make his point later. In fact such a widow gets her unemployment benefit. Then she gets credits to continue her title for retirement pension when the time comes. If she is unable to get work, or to work, she gets benefit at the same rate as the widow's pension. This was a valuable concession which was introduced by the Government in 1957 after the Report of the National Insurance Advisory Committee to meet the problem of the widow under 50 who cannot work.

Therefore, the issue becomes this in relation to the Clause. As sickness benefit is available for widows who are continuously nable to work, my hon. Friend's proposal would give benefit only to the women who are widowed between 40 and 50 who are fit to work and therefore probably working. Those are the women whom he would benefit. What be would he doing, in effect, is to give to those widows what would be equal to a retirement pension at a specially early age.

Photo of Mr Norman Cole Mr Norman Cole , Bedfordshire South

I appreciate my right hon. Friend's point that once the children have left the age of dependance and the woman is over 50 she should qualify for a pension, but under the present legislation a childless widow over 50 also draws the pension. What is the difference between the two, particularly if both are having to return to the labour market?

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

That calls in question the whole dividing line—if there is to be a dividing line. The older widow, the one over 50, gets her pension, subject to the earnings rule. The widow under 50 does not get benefit, but, if she is unable to work and to support herself by her earnings, she qualifies for sickness benefit, which is at the same rate as the older widow's benefit. I would be happy to give my hon. Friend a longer answer on this topic if he cares to raise it again at a later stage.

The question of giving a retirement pension to widows at an especially early age would be difficult to justify because I find it difficult to see that the woman between 40 and 50 is so clearly in greater need than a single woman or a woman widowed before reaching the age of 40. As I see it, it is necessary to have some dividing test. We can argue at length about whether it should be 50 or younger, but what we have done with the age 50 test is to try to temper its effects by firstly subjecting the older widows who get the benefit to an earnings rule and, secondly, by giving cover to the younger widows for benefits which are, in fact, exactly equal to the widow's benefit. We could argue about this for a long time. With the test we now have at the age of 50, and with the modifications which I regard as important, I believe that we in have secured something better than is contained in the proposed new Clause.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

The Minister has again called in aid the Advisory Committee of his Ministry and has said that it advised that the age of 50 did not present difficulty in finding employment. The hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) has clearly shown that in her constituency it is difficult, often even at the age of 40, for a widow to find employment. The hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne) made exactly the same point.

The Minister's reply to that is that if a woman in the category covered by the proposed new Clause is sick and unable to work she gets sickness benefit—the same amount, £3 7s. 6d., as the widow's benefit. If she is without work and cannot find work, the Minister tells us, she gets unemployment benefit. According to the right hon. Gentleman—because this was his whole case—these widows would be drawing either sickness or unemployment benefit.

Questioned about this, the right hon. Gentleman said, in effect, "If these widows are not drawing unemployment benefit and they cannot find work they will get their credits." It is small comfort to such a widow to be told, after she has struggled to find a job and has been told that she has no right to unemployment benefit, "Do not worry, at least your credits are being paid for you". What must happen to her? Her only recourse is to National Assistance. I will not develop this point because in other debates and on Second Reading we have made our feelings clear on this issue.

There may be difficulties in accepting the proposed new Clause, and I do not think that it represents the best change that could be made, but I support it because it is an improvement on the present position. I am convinced that almost everyone in the country feels that there is something wrong when there should be this absolute dividing line—50 or over, or just under 50. It is true that we would be creating a dividing line, an arbitrary one, but at least it would be 10 years earlier in a woman's life than the present one and it is for that reason that I support the proposed new Clause.

I have told the Minister what is the policy of the Labour Party, having given great thought to this matter and realising that widowhood of itself should not give a right to pension. That was in our 1946 Act. We in the Labour Party still believe that that is the case, but, accepting that, we still believe that the age of 50 is too high. We now take the view, after giving the matter careful examination, that there should not be an arbitrary age. Our policy is to have a sliding scale, beginning at a certain age, when the widow would get full pension, reducing according to age until the stage when the widow is sufficiently young to go on to the labour market—after 26 weeks and we are changing it from 13 to 26 weeks—with a chance of getting a job. As I have said, since we believe that the proposed new Clause represents an improvement on the present position, my hon. Friends and I are ready to support it.

Photo of Mr Norman Cole Mr Norman Cole , Bedfordshire South

I appreciate my right hon. Friend's views on this subject now, but there are still two points which worry me. Firstly, for the life of me I cannot see, despite the unemployment and sickness benefit, why there should be a distinction affecting the case of a woman aged 46, 47 or 48 who wants to get a job but cannot get one. I realise that she may receive unemployment benefit for 19 months, but what happens after that? Why is she supposed theoretically to be in a measurably better position from the point of view of getting a job than a woman aged 52 or 53? This is the crucial dividing line. The age of about 50 is sometimes a crucial age for women and, for this and other reasons, it seems a peculiar age to choose for this dividing line.

Secondly, this whole system appears to be somewhat of a lottery. A childless widow aged 50½ receives the widow's pension and at 60 the retirement pension if she so elects and if the necessary contributions have been paid. A widow aged 47—with three years to go until she is 50—has to wait not just three years, until she reaches 50, but 13 years, until she is 60. I cannot understand this argument that a widow aged 47 is still young enough to get a job which, theoretically, she must hold for the next 13 years.

If what I have said is the case, why should not a widow aged 52 who gets a job not perhaps hold that job for eight years? This seems a most odd and arbitrary administrative position. There appear to be anomalies and I hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider this matter.

8.0 p.m.

Photo of Sir Spencer Summers Sir Spencer Summers , Aylesbury

I, too, think that we should look at the age at which full benefit should be paid to the widow. I do not blame my right hon. Friend for not accepting this Amendment, because I do not think that it would do what should be done or help those whom it is designed to help when they need it most. My right hon. Friend said that the lot of the widow over 50 is not as bad as all that, because of sickness benefit and unemployment benefit for a specified number of weeks; and that, therefore, the younger widow, as he called her, is not too badly off.

On the other hand, if benefits are being paid in certain circumstances to these younger widows, the cost of going a step further and paying them to those who cannot find work cannot be very great. There cannot be all that number of people who would be content—or could be content—to rely at that age on the widow's benefit, even if they had not any children, as an alternative to finding work. I am sure that, if they could find work, they would. We are dealing with people who are entitled neither to unemployment benefit nor sick benefit, and who want work but cannot get it. I therefore hope that the Government will, if not now, at some other time, see if something cannot be done far these people.

Photo of Mr Percy Browne Mr Percy Browne , Torrington

I am surprised that my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) did not put down a Clause of his own to do what he wants, instead of carping at mine. I agree with the hon. Member for Lanarkshire,

North (Miss Herbison) that all my right hon. Friend has said is that if a widow is under 50 she has a right to sickness benefit ad infinitum, or can get unemployment benefit. But as I pointed out, and as was echoed by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), she cannot draw unemployment benefit indefinitely and, after a maximum period of 19 months, only gets credits.

I should have thought that rather than rely on the N.I.A.C. Report of 1956, the very least my right hon. Friend could have said was, "I accept the anomalies, I accept the fact that people get married younger, and I accept the difficulties existing in certain regions. I will therefore refer the matter again to the N.I.A.C. to see if it has ideas different from those in 1956." I thought that my right hon. Friend's reply was awfully negative. I hate saying that, because he is so courteous. He was so very pleasant in his reply, but he did not say anything.

Photo of Mr Norman Cole Mr Norman Cole , Bedfordshire South

What worries a lot of us is this lottery to which I referred; that if a woman is widowed before 50 she may have to wait another 10 years and more. Could not my right hon. Friend consider making the same kind of right apply earlier so that if the widow is able to show that she cannot get employment, she may on application qualify for a widow's pension at 50 even if widowed before 50? That compromise might be considered for the future.

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

I assure my hon. Friends that I will carefully consider the arguments that have been put forward, but I cannot now go as far as to suggest that it will be possible to make any concession like that. I will consider the arguments.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 120, Noes 152.

Division No. 14.]AYES[8.5 p.m.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Diamond, John
Barnett, GuyCarmichael, NeilDoig, Peter
Beaney, AlanCastle, Mrs. BarbaraEde, Rt. Hon. C.
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Chapman, DonaldEdwards, Robert (Bilston)
Blackburn, F.Cliffe, MichaelEdwards, Walter (Stepney)
Blyton, WilliamCollick, PercyEvans, Albert
Boardman, H.Corbel, Mrs. FredaFinch, Harold
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Cronin, JohnFitch, Alan
Bowden, Rt. Hon. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)Cullen, Mrs. AliceFletcher, Eric
Bray, Dr. JeremyDalyell, TamFraser, Thomas (Hamilton)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Galpern, Sir Myer
Browne, Percy (Torrington)Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Ginsburg, David
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon, P. C.Lubbock, EricReynolds, G. W.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Mabon, Dr. J. DicksonRhodes, H.
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)MacColl, JamesRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Hamilton, William (West Fife)McKay, John (Wallsend)Robertson, John (Paisley)
Hannan, WilliamMallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)
Harper, JosephMallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Ross, William
Hayman, F. H.Manuel, ArchieSilkin, John
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)Mapp, CharlesSnow, Julian
Herbison, Miss MargaretMayhew, ChristopherSorensen, R. W.
Hill, J. (Midlothian)Mendelson, J. J.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Holman, PercyMillan, BruceSpriggs, Leslie
Houghton, DouglasMilne, EdwardSteele, Thomas
Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)Mitchison, G. R.Stonehouse, John
Hoy, James H.Moody, A. S.Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Morris, Charles (Openshaw)Symonds, J. B.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Morris, JohnTaverne, D.
Hunter, A. E,O'Malley, B. K.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Hynd, H. (Accrington)Oram, A. E.Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Hynd, John (Attercliffe)Oswald, ThomasThornton, Ernest
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Owen, WillWainwright, Edwin
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Padley, W. E.Warbey, William
Jones, Dan (Burnley)Paget, R. T.Ward, Dame Irene
Kelley, RichardPavitt, LaurenceWilkins, W. A.
Kenyon, CliffordPearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)Willey, Frederick
Ledger, RonPrice, J. T. (Westhoughton)Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Lee, Frederick (Newton)Probert, ArthurYates, Victor (Ladywood)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Randall, Harry
Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)Redhead, E. C.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Loughlin, CharlesRees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)Mr. Ifor Davies and Mr. Grey.
Agnew, Sir PeterGoodhew, VictorOakshott, Sir Hendrie
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)Gough, FrederickOsborn, John (Hallam)
Allason, JamesGrant-Ferris, R.Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Anderson, D. C.Green, AlanPage, Graham (Crosby)
Atkins, HumphreyGresham Cooke, R.Partridge, E.
Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham)Grosvenor, Lord RobertPearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Barber, Rt. Hon. AnthonyGurden, HaroldPercival, Ian
Barlow, Sir JohnHall, John (Wycombe)Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Barter, JohnHamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)Pitman, Sir James
Batsford, BrianHarris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)Pitt, Dame Edith
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Pounder, Rafton
Berkeley, HumphryHarvey, Sir Arthur Vera (Macclesf'd)Proudfoot, Wilfred
Biffen, JohnHarvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)Rawlinson, Sir Peter
Bishop, F. P.Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelRedmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Black, Sir CyrilHenderson, John (Cathcart)Rees, Hugh (Swansea, W.)
Bourne-Arton, A.Hiley, JosephRidsdale, Julian
Box, DonaldHill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)Roots, William
Braine, BernardHirst, GeoffreyRopner, Col. Sir Leonard
Brewis, JohnHolland, PhilipSharples, Richard
Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Hollingworth, JohnShaw, M.
Bryan, PaulHope, Rt. Hon. Lord JohnSmith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Buck, AntonyHopkins, AlanStainton, Keith
Bullus, Wing Commander EricHornby, R. P.Stodart, J. A.
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Hughes-Young, MichaelStudholme, Sir Henry
Carr, Compton (Barons Court)Hulbert, Sir NormanSummers, Sir Spencer
Cary, Sir RobertHutchison, Michael ClarkTaylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Chataway, ChristopherIrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Chichester-Clark, R.Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)Kerans, Cdr. J. S.Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Kerr, Sir HamiltonThomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Cooper-Key, Sir NeillKershaw, AnthonyThomas, Peter (Conway)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Lagden, GodfreyThompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Cordle, JohnLilley, F. J. P.Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Corfield, F. V.Litchfield, Capt. JohnTouche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Costain, A. P.Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Courtney, Cdr. AnthonyLongden GilbertTurner, Colin
Curran, CharlesLoveys, Walter H.van Straubenzee, W, R.
Dance, JamesLucas-Tooth, Sir HughVosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.MacArthur, IanWalder, David
Digby, Simon WingfieldMcLaren, MartinWalker, Peter
Eden, Sir JohnMaclay, Rt. Hon. JohnWall Patrick
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Marshall, Sir DouglasWilliams, Dudley (Exeter)
Elliott, R. W. (Newc'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)Marten, NeilWilliams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Emery, PeterMathew, Robert (Honiton)Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Errington, Sir EricMaude, Angus (Stratford-on-Avon)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Farey-Jones, F. W.Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Wise, A. R.
Farr, JohnMaydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Finlay, GraemeMills, StrattonWood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)Miscampbell, NormanWoodhouse, C. M.
Freeth, DenzilMore, Jasper (Ludlow)
Gardner, EdwardMorgan, WilliamTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)Heave, AireyMr. Peel and Mr. Pym.