New Clause. — (Increase of Basic Pension of Certain Widows.)

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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A widow's basic pension to which a woman has become or becomes entitled by virtue of paragraph (2) of regulation 7 of the National Insurance (Pensions, Existing Beneficiaries and other persons) (Transitional) Regulations 1948 (which paragraph confers a right to pension on widows who had a prospective right to a widow's pension under the Fourth Schedule to the Contributory Pensions Act of 1936) shall be at the rate of 30s. a week instead of at the rate of 10s. prescribed by paragraph (2) of Regulation 9 of the said Regulations.—[Mr. Mitchison.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

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

This is a matter about which we know, or ought to know, and in the absence of the Prime Minister I assume that we do know. It is the 10s. widow, The 10s. widow is the widow of someone who had accrued rights under the Contributory Pensions Act, 1936. She had a right to a widow's pension when she reached it. She was given a pension of 10s. in certain circumstances into which I need not go now because she had that vested right, and for no other reason. There she is. There are many of her. She has had this now, one way or the other, ever since the 1946 Act was introduced, and I am not here to discuss whether she is an anomaly or not. There was a perfectly good defence for what was done. It was rightly done.

However that may be, the question raised by the Clause is this: she has been given 10s. She was held by Parliament, and has been held by the country, to be entitled to that 10s. When it was awarded it was worth a great deal more than it is now, and all that we propose to do is to give her something like the equivalent of what that 10s. was worth when it was awarded.

This jungle of National Insurance is peopled by anomalies—and a nasty lot they are. It is a jungle haunted by widows, and one of the most aggressive is the 10s. widow. She has a sister—the 20s. widow, who comes under the Industrial Injuries Act. She has had the compliment, at any rate, of being referred to the Industrial Injuries Advisory Committee for an opinion, and presumably for some action, but the 10s. widow has had nothing, and it is about time she was given something like the real value of what she was intended to have.

This is the simplest possible question and I hope that the Committee will allow us to test it in the Lobby as quickly as possible. I know what the Government will do. They do not give a penny. That jungle is thick with stinking pinchwort.

Photo of Mr Norman Cole Mr Norman Cole , Bedfordshire South

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) said that the 10s. widow has been aggressive. I do not agree, although I agree with the rest of his speech. But she has not been at all aggressive. I would remind my right hon. Friend that some hours ago he said that we were not trying to compensate widows for the loss of their husbands, because that could not be done; we were trying to make up to them something of their earning power, to enable them to look after themselves for the rest of their lives. No one in his senses would suggest that this 10s., given under the residual powers of the 1936 Act, helps to any great extent in making up for a widow's loss of earnings as a result of her husband's death.

Secondly, if it was right when the 10s. was given—whether purely gratuitously or legally, under the Act—it is right that we should make the figure commensurate with the present-day cost of living, whether it be 30s., or more or less. I feel very strongly about this matter, as the hon. and learned Member does. This is not the first time that I have raised it. I know most of the arguments that are produced in reply, from the days when my right hon. Friend's predecessor was in office, but I do not think that we should give up the fight. If not now, then one day we should do something about it. At any rate, we should tell the 10s. widows that their cause is not forgotten by many of us.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher , Finchley

As hon. Members know most of the arguments, I will not detain the Committee by repeating them. I merely point out that the vast majority of the 10s. pensions now in payment have come into payment since 1948. They are still coming into payment this week, and they will go on coming into payment for the next 20 years or so, although the scheme under which they were pay-

able ceased on 5th July, 1948. That scheme set out to compensate widowhood, of itself, and to pay a pension of 10s. because a person was widowed, whether she was 21, 25 or any other age. It was replaced by another scheme which had a different concept.

Nevertheless, although the old scheme has ceased, new pensions are still coming into payment. They are an anachronism, and the right comparison is between the 10s. widow and her modern sister, who would get nothing under similar circumstances after 13 weeks' benefit. The Clause would cost roughtly £7 million. I hope that the Committee will reject it.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

All I say is that if these widows became entitled to 10s. under the Act of 1946 they should get 30s. now, and I invite my hon. and right hon. Friends to support that argument in the Lobby.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes 103, Noes 148.

Division No. 16.]AYES[10.15 p.m.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Herbison, Miss MargaretOswald, Thomas
Barnett, GuyHill, J. (Midlothian)Owen, Will
Beaney, AlanHolman, PercyPaget, R. T.
Houghton, DouglasPavitt, Laurence
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Hoy, James H.Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Blackburn, F.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Blyton, WilliamHughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Probert, Arthur
Boardman, H.Hunter, A. E.Randall, Harry
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Hynd, H. (Accrington)Redhead, E. C.
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)Hynd, John (Attercliffe)Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Bray, Dr. JeremyIrvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Reynolds, G. W.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Janner, Sir BarnettRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Carmichael, NeilJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Robertson, John (Paisley)
Castle, Mrs. BarbaraJones, Dan (Burnley)Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)
Cliffe, MichaelKelley, RichardRoss, William
Cronin, JohnKenyon, CliffordSilkin, John
Dalyell, TamLee, Frederick (Newton)Snow, Julian
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Sorensen, R. W.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Diamond, JohnLoughlin, CharlesSpriggs, Leslie
Doig, PeterLubbock, EricStonehouse, John
Edwards, Walter (Stepney)MacColl, JamesSymonds, J. B.
Evans, AlbertMcKay, John (Wallsend)Taverne, D.
Finch, HaroldMallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Fitch, AlanManuel, ArchieThomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Fletcher, EricMapp, CharlesThornton, Ernest
Galpern, Sir MyerMayhew, ChristopherWainwright, Edwin
Ginsburg, DavidMendelson, J. J.Warbey, William
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Millan, BruceWilkins, W. A.
Grey, CharlesMilne, EdwardWilley, Frederick
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Mitchison, G. R.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Morris, Charles (Openshaw)Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Hamilton, William (West Fife)Morris, John
Hannan, WilliamNoel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harper, JosephO'Malley, B. K.Mr. Charles A. Howell and
Hayman, F. H.Oram, A. E.Mr. Ifor Davies.
Agnew, Sir PeterGrant-Ferris, R.Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)
Allason, JamesGresham Cooke, R.Partridge, E.
Anderson, D. C.Grosvenor, Lord RobertPearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Atkins, HumphreyHall, John (Wycombe)Peel, John
Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham)Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)Percival, Ian
Barlow, Sir JohnHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Barter, JohnHarvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)Pitman, Sir James
Batsford, BrianHarvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonHeald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelPym, Francis
Berkeley, HumphryHenderson, John (Cathcart)Rawlinson, Sir Peter
Biffen, JohnHiley, JosephRedmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Bishop, F. P.Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)Rees, Hugh (Swansea, W.)
Black, Sir CyrilHirst, GeoffreyRidsdale, Julian
Bourne-Arton, A.Holland, PhilipRoberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Box, DonaldHollingworth, JohnRoots, William
Braine, BarnardHopkins, AlanRopner, Col. Sir Leonard
Brewis, JohnHornby, R. P.Sharples, Richard
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir WalterHughes-Young, MichaelShaw, M.
Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Irvine, Bryant Gorman (Rye)Shepherd, William
Browne, Percy (Torrington)Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Buck, AntonyJones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Stainton, Keith
Bullus, Wing Commander EricJoseph, Rt. Hon. Sir KeithStodart, J. A.
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Kerans, Cdr. J. S.Studholme, Sir Henry
Carr, Compton (Barons Court)Kerr, Sir HamiltonSummers, Sir Spencer
Cary, Sir RobertKershaw, AnthonyTaylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Chataway, ChristopherLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryTaylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Chichester-Clark, R.Lilley, F. J. P.Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)Litchfield, Capt. JohnTeeling, Sir William
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Longden, GilbertThomas, Peter (Conway)
Cooper-Key, Sir NeillLoveys, Walter H.Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughThornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Costain, A. P.McLaren, MartinTouche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Courtney, Cdr. AnthonyMaclay, Rt. Hon. JohnTurner, Colin
Curran, CharlesMarshall, Sir Douglasvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Dance, JamesMarten, NeilVosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.Mathew, Robert (Honiton)Walden, David
Digby, Simon WingfieldMaude, Angus (Stratford-on-Avon)Walker, Peter
Eden, Sir JohnMawby, RayWall, Patrick
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Elliott, R. W. (Newc'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Errington, Sir EricMills, StrattonWills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Farr, JohnMiscampbell, NormanWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)More, Jasper (Ludlow)Wise, A. R.
Freeth, DenzilMorgan, WilliamWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Gibson-Watt, DavidNeave, AireyWood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)Oakshott, Sir HendrieWoodhouse, C. M.
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)Osborn, John (Hallam)Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Goodhew, VictorOsborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Gough, FrederickPage, Graham (Crosby)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Finlay and Mr. MacArthur.

Schedules 1 to 4 agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

10.25 p.m.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

We on this side of the House welcome the improvements contained in the Bill. We feel that some widows—widowed mothers—will receive substantial benefits under the Bill, and we welcome this. I would be less than frank with the Minister if I did not say at this stage that we are very disappointed that he did not see fit to accept any of our Amendments. I am particularly disappointed that my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) did not have the chance to move his new Clause, because we all believe, not only that there are some hardships which have been to some extent ameliorated by the Bill, but that there are other serious hardships being suffered by the unemployed and the sick, and particularly by their dependants. I hope that the Government will give more serious thought to these matters. I know that they have very little time now in which to make good all their defaults of the last twelve years, but they may have a little time. We should be most willing, as we have been on this Bill, to help to hurry things through the House.

I wish that the present Leader of the House had sat in his place today when my hon. Friends from mining constituencies were making their case, as the previous Leader of the House once did. The previous Leader of the House was so impressed with their case that he advised the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance to do something about it. If the present Leader of the House had listened to the almost unanswerable case advanced by my hon. Friends from mining constituencies, perhaps he also from a Cabinet point of view would have advised the Minister to do something about it.

However, we were not able to convince the Government. We wish the Bill a speedy course through the other place, and hope that very soon we shall have a Bill which will contain provisions to meet the points contained in the Amendments, which we failed to get accepted today.

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

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) for the welcome that she has given to the Bill. She is entirely right that we shall not have a great deal of time before the General Election to do other things that we should like to do. We look forward to having several years after the election in which to carry on the good work.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.