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.]
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.
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.
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-
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.
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.
|Division No. 16.]||AYES||[10.15 p.m.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Oswald, Thomas|
|Barnett, Guy||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Owen, Will|
|Beaney, Alan||Holman, Percy||Paget, R. T.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Hoy, James H.||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Blackburn, F.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Blyton, William||Hughes, 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. Jeremy||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Janner, Sir Barnett||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)|
|Cliffe, Michael||Kelley, Richard||Ross, William|
|Cronin, John||Kenyon, Clifford||Silkin, John|
|Dalyell, Tam||Lee, 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, John||Loughlin, Charles||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Doig, Peter||Lubbock, Eric||Stonehouse, John|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||MacColl, James||Symonds, J. B.|
|Evans, Albert||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Taverne, D.|
|Finch, Harold||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Fitch, Alan||Manuel, Archie||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mapp, Charles||Thornton, Ernest|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mayhew, Christopher||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Ginsburg, David||Mendelson, J. J.||Warbey, William|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Millan, Bruce||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Grey, Charles||Milne, Edward||Willey, 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, William||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Harper, Joseph||O'Malley, B. K.||Mr. Charles A. Howell and|
|Hayman, F. H.||Oram, A. E.||Mr. Ifor Davies.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Grant-Ferris, R.||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Allason, James||Gresham Cooke, R.||Partridge, E.|
|Anderson, D. C.||Grosvenor, Lord Robert||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Peel, John|
|Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham)||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Percival, Ian|
|Barlow, Sir John||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Barter, John||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Pitman, Sir James|
|Batsford, Brian||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Pym, Francis|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Rawlinson, Sir Peter|
|Biffen, John||Hiley, Joseph||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Rees, Hugh (Swansea, W.)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hirst, Geoffrey||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Holland, Philip||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Box, Donald||Hollingworth, John||Roots, William|
|Braine, Barnard||Hopkins, Alan||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Brewis, John||Hornby, R. P.||Sharples, Richard|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Hughes-Young, Michael||Shaw, M.|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Irvine, Bryant Gorman (Rye)||Shepherd, William|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Buck, Antony||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Stainton, Keith|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith||Stodart, J. A.|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Kershaw, Anthony||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Taylor, 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. John||Teeling, Sir William|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Longden, Gilbert||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Loveys, Walter H.||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Costain, A. P.||McLaren, Martin||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Turner, Colin|
|Curran, Charles||Marshall, Sir Douglas||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Dance, James||Marten, Neil||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Walden, David|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Maude, Angus (Stratford-on-Avon)||Walker, Peter|
|Eden, Sir John||Mawby, Ray||Wall, 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 Eric||Mills, Stratton||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Farr, John||Miscampbell, Norman||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Wise, A. R.|
|Freeth, Denzil||Morgan, William||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Neave, Airey||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Gough, Frederick||Page, Graham (Crosby)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Finlay and Mr. MacArthur.|
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.
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.