asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance why Miss M. J. Byrne, of 722, Borough Road, Birkenhead, has been paid no sickness benefit by the Government for the period 16th to 28th July, 1965.
Miss Byrne was disqualified from receiving British sickness benefit because she was outside the United Kingdom, but, under our reciprocal agreement with the Irish Republic, she qualified for disability benefit in that country by virtue of her British record of contributions.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the rate of benefit which Miss Byrne received is lower than the United Kingdom rate? Is my hon. Friend further aware that this lady went abroad to Eire for a few days' holiday to convalesce on the advice of her doctor? Is it not possible to have some scheme under which people who go abroad for a short period for these perfectly good reasons are not deprived of sickness benefits at the United Kingdom rate?
I am aware of Miss Byrne's case, but, so far as sickness benefit is concerned, under our present reciprocal agreements the main purpose is to enable an insured person to qualify for benefits from the country in which he—or she—is working if he falls ill, even if he has only recently come from the other country. None of our agreements covers Miss Byrne's type of case.