Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Margaret Thatcher

HC PQ [Pensions and National Insurance]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [685/27-31]
Editorial comments: Timings uncertain. MT spoke at cc29-31.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 1118
[column 27]


New Cards

39. Sir B. Janner

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance why new cards issued to people after the rise in contributions still give the amounts to be paid under the old rate; and if he will arrange for local offices issuing new cards to amend the rates on them before doing so.

The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Richard Wood)

It would be uneconomic to reprint cards already printed before Parliament approved the new rates. Wherever a card is issued showing the old rates, a leaflet should accompany it showing the new ones.

If the hon. Member will tell me of any case where this has not happened, I will examine it.

Sir B. Janner

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the placing of a small [column 28]sticker on these cards would be sufficient to indicate the change? Is he aware that the present situation is causing a considerable amount of difficulty, particularly among cashiers in offices already overburdened with the difficulties created by P.A.Y.E.? Will he see that something is done to prevent this confusion, which afterwards leads to numerous inquiries and to very little result?

Mr. Wood

My information is that the issue of the leaflet has removed all doubt and, in fact, has been just as efficient in removing doubt as a stick-on stamp.

Mr. Mitchison

Would the right hon. Gentleman, in this instance only, consider the intelligent use of a rubber stamp?

Industrial Injuries, North Staffordshire

37 and 38. Mrs. Slater

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (1) in how many appeals made by him against the decisions of medical boards on industrial injuries in North Staffordshire he was successful; and whether he will give the figures for all cases when the appeal came from the injured worker in 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1963;

(2) how many appeals were made by him against the decisions of medical boards on industrial injuries benefit in North Staffordshire for the years 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, and to the end of September, 1963.

Mr. Wood

I assume that the hon. Lady has in mind my power, which is exercised in the interests both of claimants and of other contributors, to refer decisions of medical boards to the medical appeal tribunal.

Records are not kept in a form which enables this information to be given for particular counties or parts of counties, but I am circulating in the Official Report some figures relating to the Midland Region as a whole.

Mrs. Slater

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is regrettable that this information is not available in North Staffordshire, in view of the prevalence there of pneumoconiosis? Is he further [column 29-30]aware that there is, particularly among the trade unions, a very strong feeling that the number of these cases, in respect of which the Minister uses his powers, is increasing to the detriment of the injured worker?

Mr. Wood

The only reason for my referring these decisions is that there is any doubt about the correctness of the medical board's decision. I think that when the hon. Lady sees the figures she will see that a very high proportion of these references had results favourable to the claimant.

Following is the information:

Pensioners (Payments)

40. Mr. John Hall

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if, in view of the high cost of fares on country bus services, he will find some way of remitting pension payments to pensioners living in rural areas who have to travel some distance to a post office.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

Arrangements already exist for a pensioner, in in appropriate cases, to appoint a friend or relative to cash his pension orders for him, and these arrangements have, over the years, proved satisfactory for pensioners.

Mr. Hall

May I first, ask my hon. Friend whether she is aware that hon. Members on both sides of the House are delighted to see my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) back again in the House?

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

[column 31]

Mr. Hall

May I ask my hon. Friend whether she is aware that many pensioners living in remote rural areas have to travel considerable distances to draw their pensions and that this takes too high a proportion of their pension? Could she not, through her right hon. Friend the postmaster-General, ask that facilities may be made available so that on a given day and hour post offices shall be open in outlying hamlets for the payment of pensions?

Mrs. Thatcher

I will certainly make representations to R. Bevinsthe Postmaster-General, but I think that the supplementary question is more one for him than for me.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the hon. Lady not now consider whether post offices in some of these rural villages should be authorised to pay pensions?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am not responsible for post offices.

Mr. Cole

Is my hon. Friend aware that not only is there a question of financial hardship involved, but also a question of the physical difficulty of travelling long distances, especially in rural areas where many of these retirement pensioners are situated?

Mrs. Thatcher

There are many more post offices than there are pensions offices. We usually find in cases such as these that someone has to go and get the food and weekly requirements of these pensioners, and when doing so such people can also make arrangements to cash the pension forms.

Miss Herbison

Is the hon. Lady not aware that where an old person is in receipt not only of the basic pension, but also of a supplementary pension, very often such a person does not want anyone else to know about the supplementary pension? Therefore, the hon. Lady's suggestion would rule out anyone else collecting the pension for the pensioner?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have no information about such cases as the hon. Lady has mentioned.