Mr Thomas Steele: First, I should like to say that we recognise the great interest which the hon. Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) always shows in these matters particularly relating to ex-Service men, and I should like to pay tribute to the knowledge he has shown in connection with these Regulations, because, frankly, of all the regulations that have come before me in the Department, these are the most...
Mr Thomas Steele: I know that the hon. Member dealt very fully with that matter, but I am leaving it until a little later.
Mr Thomas Steele: All in good time. I want to deal with the matters in some sequence. So far as dependency is concerned, my first point is that we must recognise that the increase is for dependency. The principle is clear. For instance, under the National Insurance Act, if a dependant is earning then the person receiving the personal benefit does not get the dependency benefit, and so one might say, why not...
Mr Thomas Steele: And we would certainly not want to take that hope from him. If a man has a dependant and that dependant is working, he does not attract the dependency benefit. The pensioner is in exactly the same position. I would now like to deal with the question of the unemployability supplement. The first thing that I would like to try to make clear is that this supplement is only provided where for...
Mr Thomas Steele: I will deal with it in this way. It is linked up with the 13 weeks. So far as the re-qualifying period is concerned, once the 90 per cent. to 100 per cent. disability pensioner has had his 13 weeks requalifying period—many of these people will have had the re-qualifying period under the old scheme—once that has been obtained, then, naturally, of course, full re-qualification is also obtained.
Mr Thomas Steele: So far as that is concerned, there are hardly any cases where this could apply.
Mr Thomas Steele: No, Sir. The provision of such a pension to married women not them selves insured would be contrary to the principle of the National Insurance Act that a married couple should be treated as a team. Any pension payable to a wife in right of her husband's insurance must depend directly on her husband's pension position.
Mr Thomas Steele: That is, of course, the basis of the new principle adopted in the pensions scheme.
Mr Thomas Steele: Explanatory leaflets are at present printed on standard sizes of paper. The most economical standard size available is used. I appreciate the convenience of having leaflets of the same size and uniform with that of regulations, and the point will be borne in mind when new or reprinted material is to be issued.
Mr Thomas Steele: At 5th July, 1948, there were in payment about 4,150,000 contributory old age pensions and 450,000 non-contributory old age pensions, at an estimated weekly cost of approximately £5 million. I regret that separate figures for the boroughs of Edmonton and West Ham are not available.
Mr Thomas Steele: At 25th October, 1948, approximately 2,850,000 families were receiving family allowances in respect of 4,530,000 children in Great Britain. This represents a weekly payment of rather over £1,100,000. I regret that separate figures for the Boroughs of West Ham and Edmonton are not available.
Mr Thomas Steele: As regards the first part of the Question, I have no information as to the number of women so situated. As regards the second part, my right hon. Friend has no power to reduce the rates of contributions set out in the First Schedule to the National Insurance Act, 1946.
Mr Thomas Steele: I presume the reference is not to the family allowance which would normally be payable where there was more than one child, but to the provision made for the first or only child in conjunction with a widow's pension under the old scheme or as part of a widowed mother's allowance under the new. In the class of case mentioned there is no widow and neither scheme gives me power to pay an...
Mr Thomas Steele: Well, I appreciate that a lot of odd things happened under the old scheme. So far as the present position is concerned, it is a widowhood benefit, and where there is no widow, there can be no widowhood benefit.
Mr Thomas Steele: A new process has been adopted in the manufacture of these stamps, and under the test of experience certain difficulties of the kind mentioned have been encountered. Modifications in the method of production have been introduced which will, I hope, remove the grounds for complaint.
Mr Thomas Steele: I presume the reference is to variety artists. Whether they are employed or self-employed persons depends on the terms of the engagement in the particular case. In illustration of this I may mention that artists who perform independent turns under weekly or seasonal contracts would, generally speaking, be self-employed persons. A number of points have been raised with my Department by...
Mr Thomas Steele: That particular point is under consideration by my Department, and I will see what I can do to speed up the thing.
Mr Thomas Steele: As the answer is necessarily rather long and contains a number of dates I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Mr Thomas Steele: The fact is, I cannot say briefly because this is a very technical subject, and I want to see that the proper information is given.
Mr Thomas Steele: I shall do my best to answer the questions which have been raised. I certainly agree with the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) that the regulations are fairly complicated and technical. It should be borne in mind, of course, that my right hon. Friend appreciated the difficulties and the problems involved in integrating the staffs of the approved societies into the Civil Service....