Clause 51 — Period of entitlement to contributory allowance

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 1:15 pm on 1st February 2012.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 1:15 pm, 1st February 2012

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: 12 months is simply not long enough for a very large number of cancer patients—or other patients, in fact—to get back to work.

Lords amendment 18 was moved in the other place by Lord Patel, the Cross-Bench peer who was formerly president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. He quoted a man with renal cancer who had had a kidney removed and who started claiming ESA in March last year. His partner earns £160 per week, but if the Government win, that man will lose all his contributory benefit in April. He says:

“We have used up virtually all our savings already. I have worked all my life and paid into the system but this doesn't seem to mean anything”.

Is that really how the Government want their system to work? Of course, it is not just cancer patients who will be affected.