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Volume 972: debated on Monday 22 October 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will change the situation which penalises married pensioners who receive a joint pension as against two single pensioners who live together and receive two single pensions.

The national insurance scheme is a contributory one and a personal retirement pension based on a person's own contribution is paid at the same rate, whether that person is single or married. A married couple who have both paid contributions will therefore receive the same pensions as two single persons with the same contribution records.I assume my hon. Friend has in mind that a married woman who relies on her husband's contributions for her retirement pension is entitled to a lower rate of pension than a married woman who has maintained a full contribution record. I do not regard this as an anomaly and my right hon. Friend has no proposals to change the existing provisions.