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Retirement Pensions

Volume 640: debated on Monday 8 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will make a statement, giving the number of persons and the amount of money involved, about the position of persons who paid their full insurance contributions and thereby become entitled to retirement pensions while in Great Britain and who later went to the Republic of Ireland and were there-for no longer eligible for the increases made in the rate of retirement pensions; why they were made ineligible; and in what circumstances such persons can become entitled to retirement pensions at the present rates.

I have no statement to make or figures to give on this subject. In general, under arrangements starting from the beginning of the scheme, pensioners leaving the United Kingdom to take up residence elsewhere have taken with them pensions payable at the rates current at their departure; these have always exceeded substantially the level of pensions earned by their contributions. But pensioners continuing to reside outside the United Kingdom do not, except in cases where reciprocal agreements so provide, receive increases in pensions made subsequent to their departure.

I am obliged to the Minister for that detailed reply, but is it not a fact that pensioners of the type mentioned in my Question paid their full insurance contributions and thereupon became entitled by Statute to full pensions of the same category and type as other pensioners, and that to discriminate against the pensioners mentioned in my Question is unfair, unjust and illegal as far as the Statute is concerned? Will the right hon. Gentleman look into this matter again with a view to seeing that the discrimination is avoided and that justice is done to this class of person?

These pensioners receive in full the pensions for which they contributed and, as I said in my main Answer, they receive very good value for money indeed. Concerning the hon. and learned Member's suggestion of illegality, this procedure has been followed since the original increase under the National Insurance Act in 1946 and, if the hon. and learned Gentleman is right on the law of the matter, I should have thought that it would have been challenged by someone before now.

The fact that murder has existed from the time of Cain does not mean——

Order. These illuminating interventions occupy time which is not at the disposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman.