HC Deb 03 August 1916 vol 85 cc481-5

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he will direct the Statutory Committee to indicate what special circumstances within the meaning of Section 2 (1) of the Naval and Military War Pensions Act, 1915, the Committee have had regard to in considering offers of assistance as local committees from boroughs of a population of less than 50,000, and in what respect, or respects, these special circumstances were absent in the cases of the following boroughs whose applications have been refused: Bromley, Chesterfield, Dover, Folkestone, Glossop, Guildford, Harrogate, High Wycombe, Hove, Leamington Spa, Llanelly, Mansfield, Reigate, Richmond (Surrey), Scarborough, Shrewsbury Taunton, Torquay, Tunbridge Wells, Worthing, and Winchester?


I would point out to the hon. Member that my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board is not empowered to give directions to the Statutory Committee of the kind desired. I understand, however, that the Committee think that a hard and fast rule cannot be laid down as to what should be regarded as "special circumstances" within the meaning of Section 2 (1) of the Act, and that the question whether special circumstances exist in any particular case must be determined by a consideration of all the facts of that case.


Have the Regulations been issued?


Not all the Regulations; some of them.


asked the Secretary to the Local Government Board whether the Treasury has yet given its approval to the scale and Regulations governing the award of supplementary pensions by the Statutory Committee of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation; and whether he can now inform the House as to the general financial position of the Statutory Committee in relation to the Treasury?


Yes, Sir. A letter containing the approval of the Treasury to the Regulations (including the scale of pensions) was sent to the Statutory Committee yesterday afternoon, and is now before, them. The general financial position of the Statutory Committee in relation to the Treasury may be stated as follows:

  1. 1. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will ask Parliament to place six millions (including the million already granted) at the 483 disposal of the Committee, so as to provide the full estimated cost of supplemental pensions to widows and dependants of non-commissioned officers and men and "to totally disabled non-commissioned officers and men, and a provisional sum for partially disabled non-commissioned officers and men who have received a permanent pension from the Chelsea Commissioners, or the Admiralty, and the cost of administration. The Chancellor had already agreed (apart from the six millions) to bear the cost of supplementary separation allowances given in accordance with the Kegulations previously approved.
  2. 2. The sum of six millions is based on an estimated number of deaths amongst non-commissioned officers and men not exceeding 250,000. If this-number is found to be larger, the six millions will be increased proportionately.
  3. 3. An additional Grant will be made for the supplementary pensions in respect of commissioned officers and of men whose general and financial circumstances are like those of commissioned officers.
  4. 4. The Chancellor of the Exchequer estimates that out of the £6,000,000 a sum of between £1,000,000 and £2,000,000 will be available, which, after providing for the expenses of the Committee's administration, will more than cover the cost of the permanent partial disability pensions on the numbers awarded hitherto, and will be available towards temporary allowances in the cases of partial disability, in which pensions are awarded conditionally.
  5. 5. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes that the estimate of number and cost of partially disabled men should be revised before the end of 1918 in the light of the facts then ascertained, and that the financial provision should then be placed on a permanent footing.
I desire to draw special attention to the fact that the calculation upon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer's estimate is made is based upon a smaller number of deaths than had been submitted to the Actuary by the Statutory Committee, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is willing that his estimate should be revised, should it be found that the number is too low.

The promises now made by my right hon. Friend show a substantial advance upon his previous announcement, and should cover the supplements to all permanent pensions, assuming that the Actuary's figures are borne out by the facts.

I hope that the Statutory Committee will feel justified in putting their Regulations into immediate operation, and that in doing so they will receive the cordial co-operation of the local committees.

Colonel YATE

Will these Regulations apply equally to commissioned officers as well as to non-commissioned officers and men?


Another estimate is to be submitted to meet the case of officers, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised to consider that estimate and find a further some of money, and special Regulations will be issued hereafter to meet the case of officers.


Will these provisions be embodied in a Bill, or how else will they be laid before the House? [HON. MEMBERS: "They must be."]


The House will have an opportunity for debating the scale of Regulations on an early date next week, when the Vote which covers the salary of the Vice-Chairman of the Statutory Committee will be put down for discussion. Then afterwards a Bill will be required to cover the £6,000,000 of money which is to be advanced to the Statutory Committee for this purpose and on that again another debate can take place.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman when in future he has such a long and important statement to make to try if possible to make it in Government time or circulate it with the Votes. I am sure he will see that by his long statement he is cutting out a great number of questions to-day.


I am very sorry. I had to make it at short notice indeed, and it was a statement greatly desired. A meeting took place this morning. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept my apology for taking up so much time.


How was the question down?


Will the capital as well as the interest be available for the supplementary pensions?


The £6,000,000 are given for supplementary pensions.

51. Major HUNT

asked whether the Government have definitely settled what pensions non-commissioned officers and men are to receive for the loss of arms or legs and for total disablement, and what pensions the wives and dependants of men who have been killed or died of disease in the Service are to receive; and, if not, when the Government are likely to be able to publish their decisions on these matters?


The rates of pension for a private soldier who has lost an arm or a leg vary from 10s. 6d. to 25s. a week according to the nature of the amputation and the degree of incapacity, 2s. a week is added for a corporal, 4s. for a sergeant, etc. The general rates and conditions for the grant of pension to disabled soldiers are published in Army Order 212 of 1915, and for widows and children in Army Order 213 of 1915. The Regulations for gratuities or pensions for other dependants of deceased soldiers are contained in Army Order 85 of 1916.

72. Mr. BYRNE

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty what steps the Admiralty propose to take to prevent William Connor, 117, Foley Street, Dublin, a naval pensioner now almost blind, from becoming destitute; and if he will request the Admiralty to award this man who has had ten years' service in the Navy, a permanent pension sufficient to enable him to live without appealing to charity?


I am having inquiries made into this case.