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Prisoners (National Insurance)

Volume 644: debated on Monday 10 July 1961

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asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will discuss with the Secretary of State for the Home Department the desirability of ensuring that men and women serving sentence in Her Majesty's prisons are given regular weekly National Insurance credits so as to permit them, when freed, to resume normal civil life more easily.

While I sympathise with the object, which the hon. Member has in mind, I do not think it would be justifiable to give National Insurance credits to prisoners, since to do so would be to subsidise them at the expense of other contributors to the fund, and to favour them unduly in comparison with other classes of people who are not able to, or do not, contribute.

Will the Minister bear in mind the great difficulty which faces any prisoner when he presents himself at the employment exchange to look for a job and is asked for his books, when it immediately becomes known that he has been in prison? Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that that completely damns a man's chance of getting back into civil life? Will he not think again about this very small matter of giving these credits so as to enable men to fit into civil life more easily? Is it not worth thinking about?

No, Sir. Granting credits is no help, because either the credits given have to be entered on the card, indicating that they were credits given in prison, or not noted on the card, in which case the position would be precisely as at present. In point of fact, the presentation of a card with no contributions shown for some period is not necessarily an indication that the person presenting it has been in prison. He may have just come out of the Forces, or have been abroad, or have spent a long spell in hospital.