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National Insurance

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 17 May 1949

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Form And Leaflet

30.

asked the Minister of National Insurance how many forms C.F.(N). 68 have been sent out; and how many copies of leaflet N.I. 38.

The figures are 9,000 and 271,000, respectively.

In view of the fact that this Government have brought the country to bankruptcy why, in order to advertise the Socialist policy, do we offer free services to the whole world?

The purpose of these leaflets is to explain to British persons leaving the country how they can maintain their insurance in this country, which would be to their advantage.

Office, St Neots (Opening)

31.

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he is aware that his Department's local office at St. Neots is open on Thursdays only and that one day per week is insufficient to meet the needs of the people of St. Neots and the large rural area which surrounds it; and whether he will take steps to have that office opened more frequently, preferably each weekday.

The office at St. Neots is linked with that at Huntingdon. I am not aware that the provision made at St. Neots by opening the office on one day a week is inadequate.

Is the Minister aware that there are at least 20 villages whose bus services are centred on St. Neots but whose people cannot get to Huntingdon, which is eight miles from St. Neots, and that it is a great inconvenience to these people to have only one day of the week on which to go to the office; and will he look into this matter further?

The highest number of callers on any one day has been 13, which proves, I think, that our provision is quite adequate.

Retirement Pensions

33 and 34.

asked the Minister of National Insurance (1) how many men and women, respectively, in receipt of retirement pensions on 5th April, 1949, were also receiving supplementary assistance from the National Assistance Board;

(2) the numbers of men and women, respectively, who were in receipt of retirement pensions on 5th April, 1949.

The numbers of men and women in receipt of retirement and contributory old age pensions on 5th April, 1949, were approximately 1,550,000 and 2,600,000, respectively. I am informed by the National Assistance Board that, of these, about 205,000 men and 425,000 women were receiving supplementary assistance. In addition there were 445,000 men and women in receipt of non-contributory pensions (including blind pensions) numbering 140,000 and 305,000, respectively. Of these 40,000 men and 65,000 women were in receipt of supplementary assistance.

Do the figures show any evidence of an increasing tendency for people to remain at work beyond retirement age?

Yes. If my hon. Friend will put down a Question I will give him the exact figure.

Contributions (Payment)

35.

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he is aware that Keith Brougham, of 17, Ramsey Road, St. Ives, Huntingdonshire, reached the age of 15 on Saturday, 30th April; that he worked for four and a half hours on that day; that the local office of his Department have insisted that he and his employer should pay their insurance contributions for the whole of the week commencing Monday, 25th April; and what is the reason for insisting on payment of the contributions for that week.

I am having inquiries made and will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Will the Minister bear in mind that this young man voluntarily worked for four and a half hours on his birthday, which was a Saturday; and will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether it was a favourable entry into the great National Insurance scheme that he should have a deduction for the few hours he worked on that one day, which was the only day of the week for which he was liable?

I have made inquiries from the local office. The hon. Member's Question is the first we have heard about this case. That is why I am having further inquiries made.

Family Allowance

36.

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether, in view of the fact that the 5s. family allowance may not be spent in the interests of the child, he will introduce legislation providing for this to be issued in tokens which can only be exchanged for articles, clothing or food which are for the benefit of the child or children concerned as intended by this grant.

The Family Allowances Act provides that the allowances shall be paid for the benefit of the family as a whole. I have no evidence which would justify me in seeking to remove from parents the responsibility of deciding for themselves how the money can best be used.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the children are benefiting so much that it is impossible to distinguish them in appearance from children of the highest station in the land, and will he consider sending a message of congratulation to the mothers for the splendid work they are doing on this small allowance?

All our evidence shows that the family allowance has been a boon to mothers and I think it has been a very great advantage to the nation, for the health of the children, by all statistics, was better last year than at any time in history.