asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is aware of the distress of many persons in receipt of 100 per cent. Industrial Injury Benefit at 55s. per week; and whether, in view of the fact that the Industrial Injuries Fund now stands at over £93 million, he is prepared to introduce proposals for an increase of benefit.
No, Sir. My right hon. Friend has not bad his attention drawn to any distress among the persons referred to.
That is a surprising statement. Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the income of this Fund—and there is no reason to anticipate additional payments for industrial injuries—was over £40 million, that only just over £20 million was paid out in benefit, and that £3,750,000 was charged for the cost of administration? Is he aware that the Fund is building up year after year? Surely the money is there. Why does he not do something about it instead of arguing about Jones' Saddle, when there is £90 million of money stored up there?
The hon. Member's next Question deals with that supplementary question, and, if he wishes, I will answer his supplementary question then.
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is aware that the annual amount of benefit paid from the Industrial Injuries Fund represented in 1951–52 less than 45 per cent., and in 1952–53 less than 53 per cent. of the revenue of the fund; and whether he will reduce the contributions or increase the benefit.
I would remind the hon. Member that the Government Actuary pointed out in his First Report on the finances of the Industrial Injuries Scheme, published in 1950, that expenditure on disablement benefits would increase automatically for many years to come and that if the Fund is to be self-supporting when this mature position is reached contribution income must substantially exceed outgoings in the early years.
As the Government Actuary's forecast has not proved correct and the comparatively small increase this year compared with last year was made up very largely by amendments in legislation; and, further, as the Parliamentary Secretary now has in the "kitty" 2½ years' contributions, has not the time come for an immediate revision of this matter?
In 1951, the percentage of the total revenue taken up in benefit was 42. In 1952, it increased to 53 per cent. That was the time when insurance benefits were put up, while the contributions were increased. Since that date, there has been no Government Actuary's report, but, during that time, this Government has made a great number of improvements in the Industrial Injuries Scheme and has not put up the contributions at all. While the Government Actuary is going into these matters and has yet to give his report, I think it would be inadvisable to come to the conclusion suggested by the hon. Member.
If the anticipated increase in the number of recipients was an argument for not increasing the benefit, would not the decrease in the number of recipients of war pensions be an argument for increasing war pensions?
I think the two subjects are entirely dissimilar. I am dealing with an insurance scheme, and I am saying that, in the interests of the whole of the insured population, the Industrial Injuries Scheme should be based on an actuarial basis. War pensions are an entirely different matter, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is not doing his own cause any service by trying to compare the two.
In view of the fact that the quinquennial review is being carried out, will my hon. Friend ask the people who are carrying it out to give particular attention to the matters raised by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale)?
I replied earlier to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) saying that, under Section 59 of the Industrial Injuries Act, the Government Actuary has to review the finances of the scheme and report thereon. This is quite a different review from the review under the National Insurance Scheme, with which I think my hon. Friend is conversant.