13 DECEMBER 1963, Page 17


SIR,—I do not know what Mr. O'Hanlon hopes to gain by being personally offensive.

He asks why it would not have been satisfactory to offer men over sixty-five and women over sixty entry into the 1948 'scheme on the terms given to late-age entrants below pension age at the time. I will .reply : because the qualifying condition of ten years' contributions would have been a mock- ery to many people in the late sixties, seventies and eighties. If those over pension -age were to be brought into the scheme at all it would have been quite improper to ask them to come in 'on the same terms as other contributors.' Mr. O'Hanlon

apparently disagrees, but surely some modifica- tion of the contributory conditions would have been unavoidable if they were to make sense to those over pension age when the scheme began.

I shall not argue at length on the contention that the Labour Government's 1948 scheme was a 'violation' of the Beveridge Report. It was in some respects better than Beveridge and was acknowledged at the time to be a big step forward.

Finally, about the non-contributory pension. It must not be completely derided for it helps many people over seventy who are disqualified for National Assistance on account of savings. Whereas capital resources of more than £600 (National Savings excepted) usually disqualify a person from National Assistance, a single person over seventy with £750 in capital can qualify for the full non- contributory pension of 28s. 4d. a week. A married couple (both over seventy) with £1,500 can qualify for I6s. a week extra.

The pension is graduated downwards according to resources. A person with £1,500, and a married couple (both over seventy) with £3,000 in the bank can get the minimum amounts of 2s. and 4s. a week respectively.

I regret as much as anyone else the failure of successive Governments to keep the non-contribu- tory pension in line with the contributory pension. We did begin at parity in 1948 and I have criticised every Minister since for not keeping it so.

DOUGLAS 11000111-ON