asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will arrange for the total earnings of an employee in any one week to he aggregated for purposes of assessing this right to participate in the graduated pensions scheme.
Aggregation of payments made in the same tax week is already provided for unless the earnings are from different employers, where aggregation would involve both practical complications and the disclosure of the employee's earnings with one employer to another.
Does not the reply mean that a number of people who would like to take part in the graduated pensions scheme are denied the right to do so? Is not this just another example of the many flaws in the scheme? If an employee earning from two different employers wants those earnings aggregated and is willing to have them revealed, why should he not be allowed to do so?
Because it would involve one employer knowing at the time what the employee was also getting in that week from another employer, and from the practical point of view that really does not make sense. However, I appreciate the hon. Lady's enthusiasm for the scheme.
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this suggestion has been put forward by the Blackburn Chamber of Trade, which, being an employers' organisation, is aware of the difficulties? Is the Minister aware that the Chamber of Trade still thinks that his arguments are invalid and that this point ought to be met?
I note the views expressed, but I must say that I should find it difficult in general to come to the Dispatch Box and justify a general system under which I disclosed a man's earnings from one employer to another.
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will consider the possibility of remission to retiring workers of their contributions under the graduated scheme, where the aggregation of their contributions does not qualify them for any addition to their pensions.
Does not the Minister admit that this feature of his scheme is the one which causes the greatest grievance to the retiring worker, who has to pay for the last three, four or five months something for nothing?
No, Sir; I do not. It is the essence of this part of the scheme that if one has contributed half a unit or mare it counts as a whole unit, and if one has contributed less than half it does not count. All in all, I think it is pretty fair.
Surely the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that a person whose aggregate payments do not come to half a unit is still paying something for nothing?
That person is also, as a matter of definition, drawing a first-rate pension towards the total value of which, if he has contributed from the beginning of the scheme, he can hardly have contributed one-tenth. In those circumstances, I do not think that a nugatory contribution of at most £3 14s. 6d. is a very high price to pay.