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Volume 654: debated on Monday 19 February 1962

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asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what is the policy of his Department with regard to Christmas and other bonuses paid to working widows as regards deduction of their pensions.

Could the Minister be a little more specific than that? Is he aware that one of the unfortunate consequences of the earnings limitation rule is that very often a Christmas bonus can be swallowed up by a reduction in the pension? Is he aware that many pensioners do not feel that the spreading of their Christmas bonuses is done in the most fair way? Would it not be fair to spread any bonus back over the period from the payment of the previous bonus, and will the Minister see that that is done?

I answered in that form because decisions in these matters, as the hon, Gentleman knows, are made by the independent statutory authorities in individual cases, and not by me. The question of spreading is difficult, because it could sometimes be helpful and sometimes it could be singularly unhelpful. The case law on the subject indicates a clear distinction between bonuses related to a specific period of service, which can be spread, and ones related solely to the good will of the Christmas season, which, in general, cannot.