§ Resolution reported, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will 1589 come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1917, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Pensions, and for sundry Contributions in respect of the Administration of the Ministry of Pensions Act, 1916."
§ Resolution read a second time.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
I propose to offer some further remarks in view of the interesting Debate that we had on the Committee stage of this Estimate with special reference to the Royal Warrant. Everyone of us recognises that this Royal Warrant makes certain very valuable concessions beyond what obtained in previous Warrants, and while I am delighted that those concessions have been made, my concern is that this House of Commons should not deceive itself into the belief that they meet all just requirements. If the House will examine the details of the Royal Warrant they will find that what has been done is to meet certain of the more clamant necessities that arose under the old Warrants and under the White Papers issued since the War began. If Members will look at the catalogue of the concessions they will find that what they amount to is this, that so far as disabled soldiers are concerned, one half crown has been added to the progressive rate of pensions. So far as the children of these men are concerned, there is a better pension allowance, and the same obtains in respect of widows and their children. But beyond these two material concessions the other concessions in the War-pants are on small points. I am glad, for example, to see that the illegitimate child is provided for, supposing the father is killed in the War, and, of course, that is a concession which is valuable and for which the House will be grateful. But, after all, this deals with a very small number of people, and may lead this House into believing that the Warrant does all we hoped it would do. Therefore I want to warn the House that although this Warrant is a considerable advance on anything that has yet appeared, in many respects, and in two respects in particular, it does not yet meet the case which the House ought to meet with regard to our soldiers and sailors. On a previous occasion I put certain questions to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions, some of which were not answered on the Committee stage. I pro- 1590 pose, with the approval of the House, to repeat some of those questions, in order that we may know exactly where we stand before we part company with this Supplementary Estimate.
First of all, I am greatly concerned, as every Member of the House must be concerned, with the administration at Chelsea. My right hon. Friend informed us during the Debate on the Committee stage that his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to the Pensions Ministry had been put in charge of the administration at Chelsea. I have no doubt at all that, as a result of that personal attention on the part of the Under-Secretary, the machinery at Chelsea may be very con-siderably improved. I want to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend to the wages that are being paid to the staff that is working at Chelsea now. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend, who was and is still a prominent member of the Labour party, is aware that at Chelsea wages are being paid to whole-time male clerks at the present time to as low an amount as 21s. a week. [Mr. BARNES: "That is not true!"] If it is not true, I am very glad to hear it, but I happen to have in my hand now a letter from a man who is in receipt of 21s. per week for work he is doing at Chelsea, and I have also a letter from another member of the staff at Chelsea who is working from twelve to sixteen hours a day for a wage of 32s. The reason I raise that point is that, so far as we are concerned, at the moment the bulk of our work must go through Chelsea. They had to meet art extraordinary avalanche of work. No hon. Member is prepared to over-criticise the method in which Chelsea attempted to meet that avalanche of work, but, at the same time, we have the right to demand, if we are to secure efficiency of administration at Chelsea, that the employés under the Chelsea Hospital administration shall be paid a reasonable wage for a reasonable amount of work each day.
Another point to which I wish to draw attention, and with which the House-ought to concern itself much more than it has done in the past, is this: my right hon. Friend has assured me—I think he agreed when I put the point last time—that a great deal of the success of this Royal Warrant depends upon administration. With regard to the point of administration, I would remind the House that, in addition to the documents which are issued to us 1591 as Members of the House dealing with pensions, there are other documents which we do not see. There are documents issued by the Army Council—Army Council instructions—which are not public documents, which are not circulated outside, but which appertain to the administration of pensions. I have one of those private documents in my hand. There is a paragraph which refers to the administration of pensions. I will read the paragraph:The ordinary pensions and the compassionate allowances also cease to be issuable whenever the private income of the family passes beyond a certain limit. Confidential—fixed by the Army Council. Great care should be taken to state accurately on the pensions declaration the amount by which the income of the widow or children may from time to time be increased.Then follows, in brackets:Failure to comply with this requirement may involve serious consequences.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Army Council instructions are open to members of the Cabinet. They know what I am talking about perfectly well. Other instructions are issued by the Army Council which interfere with what appears both in the Warrant and in the White Paper. That is an impossible position. That is why I emphasise the fact that so much depends upon administration. Those of us who have handled cases —I think I have handled as many as most people—know the difficulty that arises in trying to find the explanation when a case is turned down, why, on the rules, it should be turned down. I only want to say, with regard to Army Council Instructions, that there ought to be no instruction issued by the Army Council which is not made public to the House of Commons, so that we may see whether or not it interferes with the rules that we have laid down for the administration of pensions. That is the only point I put on that. I do not want to put it higher than that. I want to warn the House that it is possible in other ways to interfere, and I will show, before I have done, how in further particulars the same thing obtains.
The third question which I ask my right hon. Friend, which he did not answer in Committee, and upon which the House wants and ought to have information, is with regard to the relationship of the Statutory Committee to the Pensions Minister in view of this Royal Warrant. If the House will look at Articles 3, 6, 11, 14, 20, and 22, they will find that those six 1592 Articles deal specifically with points of administration under the Statutory Committee which have obtained up to the publication of a new Royal Warrant. My right hon. Friends know enough about the administration of pensions to know that when a pensioner has got a scale pension he is entitled, in certain circumstances, to appeal to the Statutory Committee for a supplementary pension and other advantages. I. want to know whether that appeal to the Statutory Committee goes by the board, and whether the provision in the Statutory Committee's Regulations is now supplanted altogether by what appears in the new Royal Warrant? The House is entitled to know that. I would remind the House that the Statutory Committee was set up under a separate Act of Parliament, an Act which was not repealed, but which, I think, ought to have been repealed when the Ministry of Pensions was set up. The House gave the Ministry of Pensions power over the Statutory Committee to co-ordinate its work as far as possible. I have pointed out that at least six of the Articles in this new Royal Warrant—Nos. 3, 6, 11, 14, 20, and 22—all deal with important subjects, and subjects which were already covered by the Statutory Committee's regulations which are, as a matter of fact, suggested to this House and to the public as being concessions which have been made in the new Royal Warrant. You may, so far as concessions are concerned, wipe out those articles, because they existed already and there was an appeal to the Statutory Committee. I want to know who administers now and to whom should the pensioner have the right to appeal if he wants the concessions which are set forth either in the Royal Warrant or in many cases in the. Regulations of the Statutory Committee?
There is a fourth point which is not provided for in the new Royal Warrant upon which we are entitled to have some kind of explanation. During the progress of the War it has been the practice of the War Office, before these pensions were taken over by a Pensions Minister, to stop for the period of the War the practice of commuting pensions. There is nothing in this new Royal Warrant about the commutation of pensions. On the commutation of pensions depend a great many things. I will mention one only to illustrate what I mean. There is the question of emigration. There are Committees sitting in connection with the Government and also outside Committees sitting con- 1593 sidering the question of emigration, that is, the position of a man who has been disabled and who wants to emigrate, the possibility of which depends upon the amount of money he can raise either for his passage or for what he cares to do in the new country to which he goes. Is there a provision under the new Royal Warrant, or is there going to be a provision now under the Warrant by which the Minister of Pensions will be able to consider the application of any disabled soldier in receipt of a weekly pension for a commutation grant of money which will enable him to use it, say, for the purpose of emigration or for any other purpose in this country? Such purposes will be in the minds of hon. Members, and I need not enlarge upon them. There is no provision for the commutation of pensions in the new Royal Warrant, and I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to deal with the point in any reply he gives to my speech.
There is another point which affects the question of the Supplementary Estimate. My right hon. Friend has said that there is to be another new Royal Warrant for officers and nurses. I am glad to hear that. We have a right to expect it, but before we agree finally to the form of this new Royal Warrant for the ordinary soldier and sailor, we ought to have in front of us the Warrant for the officer and the nurse. We are entitled to compare the ratio of the pension awarded to an ordinary soldier with that of the pension awarded to an officer and a nurse, before we commit ourselves to the terms of the new Royal Warrant for soldiers. That is not an unreasonable request to put before the Minister of Pensions. We ought not to be asked to agree to the Warrant piecemeal, but we ought to have a general conspectus of what the Government proposes to do, not only for the men in the rank and file, but for the men who command and for the women who look after these men in hospital. There is a sixth point in regard to these preliminary observations, which I raised before, but to which I do not think we had a reply. At the present moment, when a soldier comes before Chelsea or a sailor comes before the Admiralty for the determination of his pension on the grounds of disability, he has to take what is given to him, within, of course, the scales which are laid down for the disability. If that man considers that he has not been awarded a fair pension, all he can do is to ask for reconsideration; 1594 he has no right of appeal. I want to put the point that the soldier or the sailor who may be turned down by an Invaliding Board who do not know him is entitled, if his pension is not satisfactorily settled, to an appeal to an independent board of medical referees, before whom he can lay the state of his health, backed up by evidence of local medical men who know a great deal more about him than the Army doctor knows before his case is finally disposed of. I think the least that a soldier or sailor is entitled to is this appeal to an independent Committee.
I want now to deal more particularly with the Warrant. On the Committee stage I asked my right hon. Friend a very specific question about what I consider the crux of the whole of this question, and that was whether No. 1162 of the Pay Warrant of 1914 still remained in existence. I wish to draw attention to this pointedly, because there-is a practice in connection with the administration of pensions by which a man may be assessed on what the authorities call a more favourable assessment to him in certain circumstances, and the usual repository for a man in that position is. 1162 of the Pay Warrant of 1914. One thousand one hundred and sixty-two makes no provision at all for children, so that a man who has been in receipt of a total or partial disablement pension may on revision be put back to 1162 of 1914 and get a small pension for himself, usually what is known as the 4s. 8d. or 5s. 3d. pension, without getting a single farthing for his children. I am very concerned that up to the age of sixteen, which is the age laid down in the Warrant, whatever happens to the soldier, for the benefit of the State we ought to take very special care that the children are adequately provided for, and this paragraph in the introduction to the Royal Warrant, which states that a soldier may have his pension reassessed to his advantage, I think wants to be enlarged to include not only the soldier but the children of the soldier, and it ought to be a reassessment which is favourable to the man and his family as a composite unit. I should be very glad to know whether that is in existence or not.
I mentioned in Committee that I was concerned about the paragraph in Article I which dealt with the question of Service pensions, and I want to draw my right hon. Friend's attention to this, because if I am right in my interpretation of the 1595 Army Orders, I do not think this paragraph carries out what they wish to do. The paragraph reads as follows:A warrant officer or non-commissioned officer entitled to a Service pension may, if more favourable to him, receive a disablement pension as in the Schedule, according to rank, in place of a disablement pension on the lowest scale, and a Service pension in addition.Army Order 443 of 1915 deals with exactly the kind of soldier who would come under this paragraph. It deals with re-enlisted soldiers in receipt of a pension, or who after re-enlistment are granted a commission. The words of the Order are as follows:If, lafter the promulgation of this Warrant, No. 10, 1915, a soldier re-enlists, or joins the Navy, or is granted a commission, the extent of his disability may be reviewed and the pension awarded may be cancelled or reduced from the date of re-enlistment.The only exception to this Regulation is that of a man who when awarded a pension had completed eighteen years' service or more. In this case he may continue to receive under Article 1158 of the Pay Warrant of 1914 a rate of pension not less than the rate which our Commissioners of Chelsea Hospital would have awarded him for service when he was discharged for disability. The Article 1158 referred to provides that a pensioner re-enlisted during a time of national emergency may draw his pension in addition to his pay during the period of his service, but he shall not receive any addition to his pension in respect of such service unless he becomes entitled to a higher rate under either the provision of Article 1162 or 1166. Army Order 443 of 1915 amends Article 1158 by taking away any portion of the man's pension awarded for service and continues the issue only of the amount which would have been awarded had there been no payment of pension on account of service. This paragraph appears to me to mean, in view of Article 1158 and Army Order 443 of 1915, which are not specifically expunged, that a non-commissioned officer who is under eighteen years' service and has re-enlisted or been granted a commission loses his service pension under Army Order 443, and only receives a disablement pension on the lowest scale. That may be a mare's-nest, or it may not. I invite my right hon. Friend's attention to it. If a man is deprived by the Army Order of his service pension by this portion of the Warrant he is compelled by the wording of the Warrant to accept a pension on the lowest disablement scale. That, of 1596 course, is not the intention of my right hon. Friends by any means. It is not what they mean to do, and it may be that it is simply a slip in drafting in view of the many Orders which exist which have not yet all been collated and coordinated.
The next point I want to draw attention to in connection with the Warrant itself is Article 2, which deals with children's pensions. Under Article 2 the pensions of soldiers—and it applies also to sailors in the Sailors' Warrant—are reduced proportionately to the degree of disablement for which the man is assessed for pension. The figures for children are 5s., 4s. 2d., 3s. 3d., and 2s. 6d. These are awarded on the basis of total disablement, when the rate would be for a man 27s. 6d. But supposing a man is not in receipt of 27s. 6d., then the children's pensions obviously, according to this Article, are reduced in such proportion as whatever is awarded bears to the total disablement pension of 27s. 6d. The policy may or may not be right, but the point I want to put is that of assessing a man according to his earnings or his earning capacity. I understand that my right hon. Friend has attempted all through the Warrant to get rid of the practice which exists of taking into consideration a man's earnings or his earning capacity. It certainly puzzles me how you can determine the lesser disability of a man except through his earnings or his earning capacity. I do not think you can do it on the Schedule. I should like to know how in determining the children's proportionate decrease they actually arrive at the man's disability.
The next point I address myself to is one which has led me to put down this reduction in the Vote. We have several times had discussions on what are known popularly as the medically unfit or the broken soldiers. A hundred thousand of these men have already been discharged from the forces of the Crown, and if that is anything like the ratio in which those who still remain in the Army may be discharged, the House may take it that they will be faced before the end of this War with something approaching a quarter of a million of these men. If, in the short time that the Military Service Act has been operating, these few have been discharged from the Army, I think it reasonable to assume that a very much larger number will be discharged. The point of conflict between my right hon. Friends and myself 1597 lies in this: my right hon. Friend maintains that these men are not entitled to a pension, and I maintain that they are. I have always taken up the attitude that if a man is fit to fight he is fit to pension, and that the onus of accepting a man either for the Army or for the Navy lies upon the medical authority who accepts him. There are a great many men lying dead in Flanders and France who would be in the same category as these 100,000 men to-day if they had not had the misfortune to be in the fighting line. The Army and the Navy would not hesitate, and have not hesitated, to use these men for every purpose, and to use them in the fighting line, and it has been a good fortune for their widows and children that they have been killed in active service, because that has brought them within the scale of pension which is denied to the man who has been in the Army but who is denied admission to the pension scheme because the Army doctor has made the mistake of admitting him with certain disabilities. I wish to draw attention to the case of a personal friend of mine who is still in the Army, and whom I know perfectly well the Army is destroying. He has gone through the hands of Army doctors. He was an attested man, and in November, 1915, he was rejected absolutely by the medical board at Edinburgh as being unfit even for Home defence. Ten months later he was again called up and attested, and was then passed as a B 1 one, fit for garrison duty at home. That was ten months later. On the 3rd October, 1916, a month after he had been accepted as a B1 man, he was examined at Norwich before another medical board and put back to C 2. He was unfit for Home defence in 1915, accepted ten months later as a B1 man, and a month later classed as a C 2 man. On the 3rd January of this year he was transferred to the Royal Scots Fusiliers, and put again before a medical board at Pierce Hill Barracks, in my own Constituency, where he was passed for active service as an A1 man. That is a record of the intelligence of the medical service of the British Army so far as this man was concerned. This man is now in the Seaforth Highlanders, and as an A I man in the Seaforth Highlands he may to-morrow or next week be in the trenches in France or Flanders, as so many Seaforth Highlanders have been. Supposing he never gets there. Supposing the strain and stress of exposure to a man who was not fit even for Home 1598 defence breaks down the man's health in this country, is there or is there not a State responsibility?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
Yes, if it was aggravated by service.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Aggravated by service! Your medical boards do not say that. It is all very well to say that, but in nine cases out of ten—and I am speaking from experience, because I have passed thousands of men through my own hands—the medical defence of the authorities would be that this man suffered from these things before he was admitted to the Army. Is it not ridiculous for the right hon. Gentleman to maintain anything else? You have got the men you are compelling into the Army classified in categories A, B 1, 2, and 3, and C 1, 2, and 3. You know when you take the men in the later categories that they are suffering from physical disabilities. You know that they are not able to stand exposure like the ordinary Regular soldier, or like the lithe, active man who goes into the Army, but you take them, and when these men break down, all that is offered by this Warrant is a gratuity, which will be provided on scale. Incidentally, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will show us the scale. The maximum gratuity is £100, but the right hon. Gentleman has told us they have a scale of gratuities. How many men are going to get £5, how many men, £10, how many men, £20, and so on? I want to see the scale. These men are going to be "disposed of," to use the phrase of my right hon. Friend, on the basis of a gratuity with a maximum of £100. Should that man die as the result of this his widow would be entitled to 10s. a week for the period of the War, and twelve months afterwards, but there is not a halfpenny for any children by this Warrant. A year after the War is finished that widow, whose husband was scrapped by the Army or the Navy, has got to face the world without a single halfpenny in her pocket, and to fight her own way and the way of her children. That is not going through this House of Commons without my registering my vote against it. I would remind hon. and right hon. Gentlemen of our grave responsibility in this matter. Everyone of us, I feel sure, recruited hundreds of men voluntarily into the Army before we ever thought of Military Service Bills, and on every platform 1599 we promised these men who joined the Colours that we would see them through, and see their wives and families through.
§ Mr. HOGGE
So we will, says the right hon. Gentleman, but at £100 at time, or less. That may be a Front Bench way of seeing it through, but it is not a Back Bench way of seeing it through, When the voluntary system was over, this House by a large majority—if I remember rightly there was only a minority of thirty or forty against the Military Service Acts—we compelled every man to go into the Army. We lifted every man by compulsion from his trade or profession. We destroyed his home life and his civilian life, and we compelled him into the Army, and now under certain conditions we propose to scrap those men because Government officials have failed to prevent them getting into the Army. I want to put this point to the House with serious responsibility because what I am going to say is true, and that is that on more than one occasion the medical officers who have admitted men into the Army have been instructed in such a way by the War Office as to compel those men to put men into the Army who were not physically fit. I have seen letters to medical officers from the authorities at the War Office saying, "There have been too many exemptions in this Command, and they must be stopped." What does that mean? It means that the medical men were compelled by the duress of the War Office, and against their own better judgment, to put men into the Army who had no right to be there. When that has been done in our name, I feel, and I hope the House will feel, that whatever it costs—and, after all, the cost of this is a mere bagatelle compared with the total cost of the War—we, at any rate, are going to foot the bill. It is the first part of the bill for the War that we are most willing to pay. This part of the bill we will pay every time we are asked. And I warn my right hon. Friends on that Front Bench that if they persist in this Article in the Royal Warrant which will dispose of men on that gratuity basis, they are going to have men who have fought in this War—
§ Mr. HOGGE
Yes, fought. I can produce cases of men who have fought in 1600 this War for my right hon. Friend who turns round to interrupt me—men who have fought in the War, and have nothing now—not even the hundred pounds gratuity. I have appealed in regard to cases of sailors, who have been sixteen and seventeen years in the Service, and in the North Sea, suffering from consumption, and my right hon. Friend has told me that that was not attributable or due to service.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Yes. The cases can be produced. The right hon. Gentleman will agree, I think, that I have dealt quite fairly with him in all the cases I have put before him, and to come here and raise a point of that sort is not the thing. When he knows that a man who has been in the Navy for sixteen years, and is now suffering from consumption, how can that man have got this consumption anywhere else than in the Navy?
§ Mr. HOGGE
"Aggravated" has been there all the time. What is put in the Warrant now is the word "substantially." Therefore, instead of being able to prove that the disability has been aggravated by service, you have to prove that it has been substantially aggravated by service. The difficulty is intensified. It is one of the great difficulties I have had, to get hon. Members and the public to understand what is the real meaning of these tomes of paper which are being issued in regard to pensions. I did not intend to take this matter up when my attention was first drawn to it, but I have been compelled to do so by the large number of letters I have received from my own Constituents primarily, and from other people, and because when I went into the cases I found that they were true. My only concern in the matter is a concern which affects every Member of this House. We want to look our soldiers in the face. We want to look the widows and children of our soldiers in the face, and we do not want to hurry through any Warrant which does not amply provide for them. The case of the broken man is not amply provided for, and cannot be amply provided for by any gratuity. It must be provided for by pension. Here is another letter, from a boy who is only eighteen years of age. He joined the 4th Norfolks, and was 1601 passed for general service in April, 1915. In October, 1915, he was sent to Chelsea Barracks for a course of instruction. He passed through that course, which is a very stiff thing, without feeling any bad results, and he says that that should prove that he was then in a fit condition. He rejoined his battalion at Wendover, and spent another twelve months there. In October, 1916, he was discharged as being medically unfit for further service, the complaint being valvular disease of the heart. He served one year, 161 days, but he has not one halfpenny worth of claim. He has been turned down by the genii who preside over the administration of these cases. I am dealing with actual facts. If I were a sensitive man—thank goodness I am not!—I could not sleep as a result of the, letters I get from men.
What this House has got to do is to think of this problem less in terms of the Debates and conditions of this House and to think of the problem in the terms of the house from which the man comes. You must think of the man's house as it was before the War. You must think of the man going out daily to his work and coming home on Saturday with his regular wage. You must think of the wife and children round the table in a small house. Then you must think of the father being taken away to the Army by compulsion; by the fiat of this House. We have gone into that house and we have taken that man away. We have broken him in service, and we have sent him back not able to go to his work regularly and not able to go back to his home at the week-end with a regular wage for his wife and children, and if the man dies the widow and children are left to fight for themselves in the best way they can. What do they get under this Warrant? They get what I have stated. I hope the House will not agree to it. At any rate, I am going into the Lobby with as many hon. Members as will follow me, in order to show that we disagree with the suggestion that these men and their wives and families are not provided for. My right hon. Friend (Dr. Macnamara) has interrupted me on the question of producing cases. Here is another case, and I should like to know what he thinks about it. This is the case of a man who had a pension of 4s. 6d. for twelve months. He is dying now of consumption. I do not think he will live another month. Here is the man's certificate, 1602 signed by the medical officer who admitted him into the Army:This is to certify that Michael Tuohy, private, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was tree from disease when recruited by me on 21st August, 1914.That is the first month of the War; the first fortnight of the War.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HOGGE
It is an Irish name. I do not know whether he is an Irishman, but whether he is an Irishman, an Englishman, a Scotsman or a Welshman, he was a soldier; one of our soldiers, and a volunteer too. He had 4s. 8d. pension for twelve months, and this wise, beneficent Administration cannot give the poor fellow another penny. He is not in a sanatorium. When he dies there is no pension for the widow, and no provision for the children. Is that man's case to go without anything? Is that the type of man you are going to deal with under your £100 gratuity? If so, I say this deliberately, you shall never hear the end of this question, and if the General Election, which has been suggested as a possibility and not as a threat from that Front Bench, comes along, you will get it on every public platform in the country. You will get it when the soldiers come back from the front. When they remember the wives and children of the men who drilled with them, lived with them and sometimes fought with them, they will see if this Ministry will not see that justice is done. There is another case to which I should like to refer for a special reason. We remember that at the beginning of the War a great number of young boys told a lie about their age and managed to get into the Army. In fact it required Army Orders to get them out of the Army, though they take hold of everyone now, whatever his age. This boy joined, and was discharged on 21st March, 1916, after one year, 155 days Army service, under paragraph 392 (6) of the King's Regulations—the kind of thing every soldier wears round his neck as a mascot. His mother applied for his discharge as he was under seventeen years of age. There was no mention of any disability in these papers. He has been examined by a board of medical officers, who report that he was suffering from appendicitis, which originated, they say, after his discharge from the Army, and was neither caused nor aggravated by his military service, and a further medical 1603 examination had the same result. In these circumstances Private Grews is considered by a grateful country to be entitled to nothing.
I have got my pockets full of similar cases, and I could produce hundreds of them. I say deliberately that this House of Commons ought not for a single moment to entertain Article 7, Subsection (2) of the Warrant, and we ought not to put any soldier off with a gratuity, but every soldier ought to be entitled to a pension. If the man has only been shirking, assuming for the moment that there is anything in the arguments advanced by my right hon. Friend, it is possible for the medical board to pension him on a smaller amount, and, if his disability is increased, to increase his pension or, if his disability is removed, to get rid of his pension altogether. That is an easy enough thing to do, but it gives the man the legal right to a pension. These pensions are only required as an award of service. Every soldier and every sailor who has fought in this War ought to be entitled as a right to a pension. Civil servants who have stayed at home have a legal right to a pension. Even our Cabinet Ministers, when they have served five years, if any pensions are open, have a legal right to one of them; but men who have fought for them have no legal right as an award of service. Now there is the question of the time limit within which those pensions are finished. I believe that my right hon. Friend is going to give way on the question of the seven years' time limit, and I am glad to hear that, and will therefore leave that question alone.
I come to the question of the pension to dependent parents. We have discussed that in the House before, as to whether when a lad was killed and left a parent or parents either wholly or partially dependent on him, and those parents were incapable of self-support through infirmity or old age, a certain pension the maximum of which was 15s. for one, two, three, or any number of sons, was to be awarded. The point that we raised then was that it was obviously impossible, in the maximum number of cases, for the parents to be incapable of supporting themselves, through old age or infirmity when the lad was killed, and that the life 1604 of the parent might in many cases last for even thirty or forty years longer. The suggestion was made that the least that could be done in this case was to amend the provision so as to read "If and when the parents become incapable of self-support." I do not know whether that will be done or not; I hope that it will be done; but I think that, after all, it is not the best way to do it. I think that a better way to do it is that there should be some estimate of the potential value of the contribution made by those parents to the training of their sons as apprentices or articled students, or any kind of professional student, and that there ought to be a pension paid to the parents. That is a much better thing than allowing the parents to claim thirty or forty years afterwards, because, after all, a large number of them will be people in the lower middle-classes of society. Therefore I hope that some difference will be made there.
The last point to which I wish to draw attention is that before allowing the Warrant to go we should be clear as to the Schedule on page 11. The cases are put into categories. I do not for a moment complain of that because I have always advocated it, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions, in replying in Debate, said that this First Schedule had been given to the Ministry by medical advisers. If you let this Warrant go this will be the payment for those disabilities according to the Schedule, and you will not be able to alter it until you get another Warrant. I object very strongly to some of the categories in this Schedule. I would put this point; other Members may put others if they wish. Take the first category, which is 100 per cent. disability. You will find that for very severe facial disfigurement a private soldier is entitled to a pension of 27s. 6d. per week. That increases up to a warrant officer, who gets 42s. 6d. But I take it on the basis of a private In the second category, 80 per cent. disability, if he is totally dumb as the result of wounds or shell shock or service he only gets 22s.; and in the third category, which is 70 per cent., the man who is totally deaf only gets 19s. 3d. Here you have three men, all of whom have fought in the War. One has his face severely disfigured. That is a pity, of course, because I can conceive a man suffering very severely, from the point of view of 1605 the economic industrial conflict to which he returns, owing to a disfigurement of that kind. But that man, at any rate, has all his faculties. He can see, he can hear, he can walk, and use his hands. The man who has lost his speech has lost one of his five principal senses, and so has the man who has lost his hearing. Yet, according to the Schedule, you give the man with the severely disfigured face 27s. 6d., you only give the man who is dumb 22s., and the man who is deaf 19s. 3d. This requires some explanation.
I do not know whether right hon. Members agree with the argument which I am putting, but it does seem to me that it is a large power to hand over without some real discussion and examination a Schedule of categories which permits of such an example as I have given. If hon. Members will look into the Schedule they will find other examples with regard to other categories of disabilities. Therefore, I suggest very strongly that we should not allow that Schedule to go without more consideration. I am sorry to have kept the House so long, especially so soon after I had made a speech on this question of pensions, but I feel very strongly on this point. I have given it, perhaps, as much attention as most Members in this House, and I want the Government to do justice to these men. I do not think for a moment that the country will grudge the money, and I do not see why that should hold my right hon. Friend back. He may think, as most Ministers think when they get on that Front Bench, in terms of the Treasury and what he can do with a proposal that is put up to the Treasury. I can assure my right hon. Friend that the people of the nation will be glad to pay this, and that in this matter the Treasury can go to blazes—I do not mind saying it. This country is not going to be deprived of the opportunity of doing justice to these men because of the Treasury. Make economies elsewhere if you like, but do not economise upon the men who have been fighting our battles. In this morning's paper, for whatever reason—I take the facts as printed—these men have brought more satisfaction into this country than they have for many months past in the magnificent results which have been achieved in France. Whatever the future may hold for us, those men are going forward. These men have been supplied from this country by men 1606 who may or may not be in the condition which I have indicated in the discussion which we had about the gratuity men. Therefore I beg my right hon. Friends to take their courage in both hands and to put every soldier and sailor on the basis of a pension, and not in any way to attempt to unload the responsibility which is theirs by means of a gratuity.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I have great pleasure in seconding the Amendment.
We are deeply indebted to my hon. Friend for having brought this matter before the House on, perhaps, the last occasion, after a series of efforts in which we have done our best to bring about a more generous system of treatment for soldiers' and soldiers' widows and dependants. These efforts have at last produced a Royal Warrant, which is a great improvement upon that which existed in the old days. That has been very largely due to the pressure brought to bear by my hon. Friend and other Members of this House. But even then I do not consider that this Warrant, as drawn at the present moment, will be satisfactory, and I feel convinced that when it is in operation we shall find, not perhaps as many, but a very large number of hard cases arising which will be a source of grievous complaint and which could be remedied if the Warrant were now made rather more generous and rather less stringent. One must remember that when this Warrant becomes operative it will be like an Act of Parliament, and it will be necessary for a Government Department to construe the Order strictly, and I regret that so much has been taken away from the Statutory Committee, as is the case in practice by the very operation of this Royal Warrant, and by the fact that a great number of cases which would have come before the Statutory Committee will now be dealt with by the Ministry of Pensions. In that respect I believe that the Ministry of Pensions will will find itself far more bound up by the strict letter of the Royal Warrant than the Statutory Committee has been in trying to apply its Regulations which had the approval of the Government up to the present time.
We who have been working practically in this matter during the last year or two know that one cannot lay down an absolutely strict rule for every case. I do not want to go over the whole field, and will call attention to only one or 1607 two branches, especially those with which I have been more closely connected, the pensions of widows and dependants. I would like to know what is really the reason why, in the case of a soldier who may have misconducted himself during his service, the pension of the widow or dependants should be refused. That is the rule which runs through all the obligations under this Royal. Warrant. I hold that to look upon the granting of a pension as a reward of good behaviour on the part of the soldier is not the real and true reason why a pension should be granted to the widow or dependants', though that is the reason which runs through this Royal Warrant. I submit that the true reason why we are called upon to pension widows and orphans and others is because the country, for its own purposes, has taken away the breadwinner from the family. That is the sole reason why you have to provide means for the dependants—the widows and children of the men who have been taken to serve their country. I go so far as to say that, in my opinion, nothing the soldier himself has done ought to prejudice the right of the widow and children to maintenance. The House will see why I raise this point of principle. Let me first refer to the conditions contained in the Royal Warrant upon which the dependants can receive the pension. Article 11 says:The widow of a soldier who in consequence of the present war either (a) is killed while ill the performance of a military duty, or (b) died as a result of wounds or injuries received in the performance of such duty within seven years of receiving such wounds or injuries, or (c) dies of disease, certified as contracted or commencing while on active service, or as having been substantially aggravated by active service within seven years of his removal from duty on account of such disease, may provided the soldier's death has not been caused by Ins serious negligence or misconduct, he granted a minimum pension—And so on. I can give the House three instances which came before me, and in each of which no pension was granted. In one case, in which a pension was refused, the soldier died of Bright's disease. He was quite well when he was called up, so far as anybody knew. He was vaccinated, and the result of that was—I believe this is well known in medical practice—that it developed Bright's disease, which was in his constitution. He was sent to hospital, and was then discharged and brought back to his wife in a state of unconsciousness, and died. No pension was granted, and no pension could be granted, because 1608 his death was due to his having Bright's disease in his constitution, notwithstanding the fact that the Army had taken him and had him vaccinated, with the result that it undoubtedly developed the disease. But it was held that his death was not due to active service, or any military service, strictly speaking, and in a ease such as that it is doubtful whether under this Warrant a pension could be granted. These are the words used in the Article, "substantially aggravated by active service." I venture to say that no Government officer construing those words would give the woman the pension to which she was entitled on the ground of the country having withdrawn from her the breadwinner on whom she and her family depended. The second case which I have in mind, I believe, has already been referred to in this House. It was that of a man who was serving in the Army at Rouen, and in order to attend a football match he went to a tramcar, and in jumping on or jumping off he was killed. I do not know whether that case was settled?
§ Mr. DICKINSON
If it was, the Statutory Committee had to spend months in getting the pension of this woman, and I congratulate my hon. Friend very much upon it. At any rate, here, again, we have a case in which it is perfectly clear that on the strict construction of this rule in the Warrant the widow and dependants would not get a pension. You could not say that death was caused while on active service, or that he had been killed in the performance of military duty. Attending a football match could not be held to be in the performance of military duties. I think there can be no doubt that no permanent pension could be given to the widow of that man under Article 11, to which I have referred. The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt call my attention to Clause 15, which says:The widow of a soldier who, during the present war, has died from wounds, injuries, or disease, neither attributable to military service nor certified as substantially aggravated by such service, but not due to the serious negligence or misconduct of the deceased man may be granted a temporary pension of 10s a week for the period of the War and for twelve months afterwards.That is the class of eases which the Minister of Pensions recognised to be hard ones, and said they must be dealt with in some way or other, and so the allowance of 10s, a week 1609 is to be made for the period of the War and twelve months afterwards. I submit that such a provision is not only shabby, but absolutely unjustifiable. If the woman is entitled to anything she is entitled to maintenance for her children and herself, and she ought to be placed in precisely the same position as any other woman whose husband has had the misfortune to die in the War in some other way than did this particular individual. The third case has been referred to before in the House. I am not sure whether the Minister of Pensions has considered this particular point, but the House will see that under both these Articles, II and 15, the soldier's death must have been caused by serious negligence or misconduct to disentitle the widow from getting any pension at all. There was a case not long ago, in which the widow's pension was refused, and when the circumstances were investigated, it was discovered that the reason of the refusal was that her husband had unfortunately been shot because he ran away. It was a disgraceful thing to do, but it must be recollected that in such circumstances a man might easily not be himself, and might not be quite responsible for his actions; but why, because he did that, should you double the tragedy to the poor woman by saying that she is not to have the pension, especially when others are receiving the pension in cases where men who have died in the War probably may have done something just as cowardly. Why should the woman be cruelly punished by the War Office refusing the pension, because, in the words of this Warrant, of "serious negligence or misconduct of the deceased man"?
These are things which appear so harsh to the qutside world that it is better to put into your Royal Warrant some loophole by which you can escape from these very harsh results. I should like to see something put into the Royal Warrant which would leave some general discretion to the Minister of Pensions, so that he might deal with those cases. I believe that would be the wisest thing to do, to insert some Clause whereby the Minister shall have to deal as he thinks wise with such cases, or that the discretion should be vested in some Committee or body to deal with this description of ease They will not be very numerous, nor will they be very costly, but I think it is better that 1610 you should have some provision by which you can meet these cases, rather than let them come up one after another as a sort of running sore in our social administration. This Warrant is not absolutely final, I believe; I think it is only a draft, and I submit that, if it can be done, a Clause should be inserted which would give the Minister of Pensions power and discretion to meet these cases as they arise.
§ Mr. BARNES
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh will not think me at all discourteous if according to prearrangement I leave the answering of detailed points to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. Before passing on, I may say that I rather regret the tone adopted by the hon. Gentleman throughout his speech. He referred to the Front Bench in disparaging terms several times, as if those who do not sit on the Front Bench had a monopoly of the desire to help the soldier and sailor, and the dependants of soldiers and sailors. I should like to say that, to my mind, it is altogether uncalled for, altogether unjust, and, in the light of my experience of the last three months, is, I know, absolutely untrue.
§ Mr. BARNES
I say it again. There is a point I should like to put to the hon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson) in regard to the hard and tragic cases of widows of men that have been dealt with for desertion or some other cause at the front. He pleads that pensions should be given to the widows of those men the same as to widows of ordinary soldiers who died in the War. I can only say that is impossible, but I believe that some means ought to be taken to deal with those cases, and it does seem to me that the place to do so is by some body such as that of which my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Sir H. Craik) is a member, and if they are able to deal sympathetically with it nobody will rejoice more than I will myself. My object in rising is to make a brief statement as to the points upon which we have decided to propose to the House certain alterations in the Warrant. Those alterations arise from a re-examination by ourselves, in the light of the Debate which took 1611 place a week before last as well as arising out of a Report by the Solicitor to the Treasury, who has examined the Warrant from the legal and draftsman's point of view. On page 4 there are some little verbal amendments which I need not worry about. On page five we have the continuation of Article 6, which deals with the man who has his pension suspended, and who has a temporary allowance given to him equalling his pension while he is under treatment or training. Sub-section (3) of that Article says that any fees payable in respect of So-and-so shall also be paid in respect of that man. That goes a little further than we had intended, as was stated by me in my recent speech. A soldier returning from the War may be, as a resident of a town, entitled to certain rights as a resident of that town, and amongst them may be the right to obtain technical training at a fee which would not be inclusive of capital charges which are already contributed by the Government in Government Grants. Therefore, we do not propose that the Government should be asked to pay twice over, and to insert the words "not otherwise provided for" after the word "fee." On the other hand, there may be some little railway affair or something of that kind connected with the attendance at classes, and it is proposed to make provision for those, and therefore Subsection (3) will now read, "Any fees charged or expenses not otherwise provided for will be paid," and so on.
§ Mr. BARNES
By the Government, "Not otherwise provided for" being capital charges covered by Government Grant, I understand it is suggested that the man may be called upon to pay. What we propose is that the Government shall pay everything in respect of the man except otherwise provided for by Government Grant in capital expenditure for a technical school. In regard to the same Article, we propose a new Sub-section altogether, and that Sub-section is to deal with the man who is no longer totally disabled or on the highest degree of pension. I refer to the case of the man who, when he gets sufficiently better, starts to work. His pension may not be on the highest degree of disability and may be smaller. His family no longer gets a separation allowance because he is no longer 1612 separated from them, but the man may be attending a hospital or something of that kind, and although at work nominally or normally he may have to attend that hospital. We propose to insert a new Subsection which is rather long. I will not read it now, but the sense of it is that if a man has to attend hospital one or two days a week, and loses time thereby, we shall have to pay that man up to 10s. per week in respect of that loss of time or railway fare or other expenses that may be involved. On the same page in Article 7, Sub-section (2), we propose to strike out the words "from contributing to his own support." That has reference to the gratuity man about whom the hon. Member for East Edinburgh has had so-much to say. We strike out those words in general conformity with the principle that we should make no inquiry as to the man's earnings or his earning capacity. If a man is incapacitated—that is to say, in contradistinction to diseases aggravated, he may be a man who is mentally or physically weak, and who, after a few days' or weeks' service, is found to be unfit, or, to use the description of military people, "not likely to be an efficient soldier." That is the sort of man we had in our minds as the man entitled to £l00 gratuity or less.
§ Mr. BARNES
There will be no Third Reading. I have left my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to answer in detail, but there are two pleas which no doubt he will answer but to which I wish to refer. They have been put in respect of the gratuity man, one by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh and the other by the hon. Member for North-East Lanarkshire (Mr. Millar). The hon. Member for East Edinburgh says that these men ought to have pensions. I feel sure that those who applaud that statement and argue that really have not read the Warrant. What does the Warrant say? I wish hon. Members would read it. The Warrant says that the man who has a disease neither attributable to nor aggravated by war service shall get a gratuity of £100 or less. At present he gets nothing. That is the man covered by this Warrant as the man entitled to a gratuity —no other man. My hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh shakes 1613 his head. He has engaged in a good deal of rhetorical language in reference to this particular provision. I cannot think that he is serious.
§ Mr. BARNES
The man we had in our mind is the man who may have been certified to an asylum, but in a lucid moment he offered himself for service and is soon afterwards found to be unfit to be a soldier, or he may be a man who is afflicted with syphilis and who develops very soon some after-effects by reason of which he has to be discharged. That is the sort of man we had in mind. All this rhetorical language of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh is absolutely eyewash. The man who has fought in the War, the man who the House has been told has been badly treated because he has not got a pension, is under this Warrant, in any sensible interpretation of it, entitled to a pension just the same as the man who has fought for a year or more.
§ Mr. HOHLER
What about the case of a man put into the Artillery who dies of valvular heart disease which he may have had before he joined?
§ Mr. BARNES
The answer is perfectly simple. In any such case, is it not obvious that the man's heart disease was aggravated, and that he died as a result of that aggravation?
§ Mr. BARNES
I am not talking about what happened six months ago. My hon. Friend has dealt out to the House a great many documents, nine out of ten of which have no relevance to the present position. I asked him the date, but he had not the courtesy to tell me. If he had told me, I think the House would have found that the date was prior to the 15th of last month; and if it was so, we have absolutely nothing to do with this. Chelsea and all the other branches of the pensions system, apart from service pensions, were taken over by the Pensions Ministry on the 15th day of February, and no document of the sort mentioned by my hon. Friend has been issued and none such will be issued by us. I wish hon. Members to understand that the man such as 1614 that pictured by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, who has fought in the War—or, to use his own phrase, has been broken in the War—that man will be entitled to a full pension under the terms of this Warrant.
§ Mr. BARNES
Chelsea under the control of the Pensions Minister. The hon. Member for North-East Lanarkshire says that there may be exceptional cases where a gratuity of £100 is not sufficient. I was very much attracted and influenced by that plea which he put the week before last, and I am candid enough to say it still has considerable weight in my mind. I should be disposed to say it would be a good thing from the Treasury point of view to put that £100 up to £200, and I will tell you why. It is for a different reason from that mentioned by the hon. Member for North-East Lanarkshire. These cases of "aggravated, by" and "attributable to," and the other cases of non-attributable and non-aggravated are not in water-tight compartments. They, so to speak, rail off into one another, and as between the two, in what I may call the No Man's Land, there are a number of doubtful cases. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh mentioned some of them. Human nature being what it is it seems to me that the awarding officer in considering one of those doubtful cases will have regard to the difference as between pension and gratuity. If I were awarding in one of those cases I should think to myself, can I gave this man a pension or drop him down to £100. I think if it were a doubtful case I should be more disposed to drop him down to the gratuity if it were £200 than only £100, and therefore it does seem to me that a good deal can be said for it from that point of view. But in the interests of the men themselves, taking them as a whole at this moment, I can only say my advice has been in the direction of retaining this £100. I cannot hold out any hope of any alteration being made except this, that this £100 will have to bear a certain relation to the money to be granted to the corresponding classes of men in the officers' ranks. If we find it impossible to keep the amount at £100 it may be altered, but otherwise no alteration will be made.
The hon. Member for East Edinburgh has rightly divined what we had in our 1615 mind as to the seven years provision. We are going to drop the words "within seven years." We do that in deference to the hon. Member for East Edinburgh and the hon. Member for Aberdeen and Glasgow University and others who put forward the plea that the seven years limitation should be dropped and we are going to drop it. Then we are going to strike out the words "for other reasons than medical unfitness." These words are redundant and might be construed as restrictive. A man might be discharged from the Army for some medical reason altogether unconnected with the War, and then he might develop afterwards a disease contracted in the War, and that man, with the retention of these words, would be cut out. We have no intention of cutting him out, and therefore we propose that the words should be deleted. As we go over the next six or seven pages there are only one or two verbal alterations, and then we come to the provision for widows on page 8, Article 21, and the first alteration there is that we insert the words "at any time" at the end of the second line of the second Sub-section of that Article. That is to clear up a point raised by the hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Sir H. Craik) and others, who thought that the parents would have to be incapable of earning a living by reason of infirmity or age at the time that the man was actually killed. We had no idea of that at all, and we are much indebted to him and to others for pointing out the faulty wording of the Warrant. The Warrant really means that the parents will at any time after the decease of the boy be entitled to the pension set forth in the Warrant. We also propose to strike out the words, in the second line of Subsection (b) of the same Article, "from that age," so that it will provide that a lad is not intended to attend school from the age of sixteen onwards, and if there is a break after sixteen and a lad goes out to work and saves up sufficient money to enable him to go back to school or college, that lad comes under the benefit of the scheme.
Then we propose to add a very important Sub-section to this Article. It will follow after Sub-section (3) and will cover the case of the widow whose husband has died during the War and whose son has also been killed in the War. This is digging another hole into the principle of 1616 pre-war dependence. We have already dealt with that to some extent in the provisions already in this Article -that is to say, the parents of a student or an apprentice will have a pension notwithstanding that there has been no pre-war dependence on the lad. But there are cases of a woman who, before the War, was dependent upon her husband. The son goes to the War, the husband dies, and the son also gets killed. If the husband had survived of course there would be no dependence of the mother on the son, but the husband having died, we propose to put that woman in the same position as the mother or father of the student or apprentice. We propose to insert:
"The mother of a soldier who has died in the circumstances set forth by Article 11 of this Our Warrant may, if by reason of the death of the soldier's father during the War, she becomes at any time wholly or partially incapable of self-support through infirmity or age, be granted a pension not exceeding 15s. per week."
There are some consequential alterations upon that, but nothing that I need detain the House about. On page 9, in the definition of pre-war earnings, it is set out that the apprentice is to have his pension assessed at the standard rate of wages of his trade. We propose to put in the words "in the district," so that it will be less troublesome to assess that boy's wages. Then I come to the schedule. We tried our prentice hand at the construction of a schedule, and it has not been at all satisfactory. These schedules are largely left to the doctors, but on our own initiative we did drop the man down from 100 per cent. to 80 per cent. who had lost both feet. That seemed to us to be a less grievous injury than the loss of both arms or both legs, but it has been pointed out to us by Roehampton that that would be a considerable hardship to many men, and therefore we have put the loss of both feet up again into the 100 per cent. category. I should like to say a word in passing in regard to the plea of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) about the man who suffers from facial disfigurement. I thought, as he thinks, at first, in regard to that man, that he suffers from a grievous hurt, but all the information that has been conveyed to us is in the direction of indicating that that particular man is as much entitled to the highest disability pension as any man possibly could be. There are many of these cases where 1617 a man's disfigurement is such that he must remain in the house and cannot go out into the daylight. He is deprived not only from earning his living but of all the ordinary amenities of life, and therefore, as the result of further information, we thought there was every reason to put that man into the highest category.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I do not for a moment disparage the 27s. 6d. In fact, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman about facial disfigurement; but the two cases I am keen on are the loss of speech, the dumb man, which is put at 22s., and the deaf man, which is put at 19s. 3d., and I put in a special plea as to whether, in the case of men who lose one of the five essential senses, they should not go higher up in the scale.
§ Mr. BARNES
No, I think if my hon. Friend will look into that a little more closely, he will find that there is not much demand for it. After all, both the deaf man and the dumb man are suffering very severely as the result of the War, but on the whole the man who is in the highest degree of disability is, I think, entitled to that amount more of pension. As a matter of fact, I have found a man playing football who was deaf. On page 14 there is a slight alteration suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Holder). After the word "medal," we propose to put inand men who have completed time for long service pension with very good character throughout their service.We understand that that is necessary owing to the Admiralty Regulations, and we are much indebted to the hon. and learned Gentleman for bringing that to our notice.
I think I have gone through all the alterations which we have proposed. Many of them are verbal, and, so far as they are not verbal, they are improvements. I want to mention two points before I sit down. One of them I mention because it was mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Blackburn (Sir H. Norman) last week. He stated then that, according to his information, there were 4,000 soldiers waiting for treatment at Roehampton, and, of course, he very rightly said that if that were true it was a very serious state of affairs. I ventured to correct him at the time, and said that on my information, obtained when I was there a month or two ago, 1618 there were 1,100 cases waiting for treatment. I had a letter from the secretary of the Roehampton Institution, and he told me that, as a matter of fact, at that time, two days after our Debate, the numbers waiting were 799. Four hundred and ninety-eight passed through the hospital the month before, so that you see they were about six weeks behind their cases. I do not say that that is satisfactory, but at all events it is not nearly so bad as was stated by the hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn; and I am told by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport that they are struggling to get that 799 reduced in the near future.
The only other point I want to mention is the case of the blind man. We have an appointment to meet the Edinburgh Blind Asylum people in a week or two, and therefore it would be improper for me to say anything to close the controversy which has raged about the treatment of blinded soldiers in Scotland at this moment, but I quite frankly say to the House that my information at this moment leads me to regard the provision for the blind soldier as one that should be made by a centralised authority. We have a splendid institution in St. Dunstan's, and I believe St. Dunstan's can deal better with these men than any other institution in the country. At the same time, who much appreciate the desire of the Edinburgh Blind Asylum folks to do what they can for Scotch blinded soldiers if we can fit them in consistently with our organisation and with the idea of doing the best for the blinded soldiers, as I believe by centralised effort, and then, of course, we shall be very glad to avail ourselves of their services. Otherwise, at this moment I believe the best that can be done for blinded men is to have them all on one central registry and to keep a control over them not only during their training, but in their after life, and that, I believe, will ultimately be what will have to be done. I have nothing more to say. I will leave all the say to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. I can only thank the House for the kind things which were said about the Royal Warrant a week or two ago, and about my colleague and myself, and also for the helpful suggestions made in the course of the Debate. For all that has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), I still believe that this Warrant is not only a great step forward, but is a Warrant that 1619 will meet the ease of all the men who have fought for us, in contradistinction to those men who have been taken in by mistake who, I believe, will be adequately dealt with by this Warrant. I commend it to the House.
§ Mr. HUGH LAW
I think the House may be very well satisfied with the results of the various Debates which have taken place during the past few months in relation to the pensions question. Little by little the various serious difficulties which originally marked the dealing of the Government with this question are disappearing, and though the present Warrant is not wholly free even yet from blemishes, I think we may reasonably hope that as persistent and consistent pressure is continued, as it certainly will be continued, from various quarters of the House, that which still remains to be done in order that real justice may be wrought to our soldiers will sooner or later be done, and I take it "that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Edinburgh—
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LAW
My hon. Friend has always such an appearance of learning, and is, in fact, so entirely learned, so learned beyond all other persons whatever in this House in this particular matter, that I was led into a very natural mistake; but my hon. Friend, at any rate, will not, I think, perhaps altogether regret even the lecture which part of the speech of the Pensions Minister somewhat inclined to read him, more particularly since, if I interpret the. Pension Minister's speech correctly, it means this, that no matter what doubts may appear on the face of the Royal Warrant, and no matter what decisions may have been given in the past by anybody whatsoever, the cases such as my hon. Friend brought forward in the House will as a matter of fact be dealt with and put right. If that be so—and I so understood the Pensions Minister—I am quite sure that my hon. Friend will not, from any little feeling on his part, begrudge the right hon. Gentleman the last word.
§ Mr. LAW
I for my part do not in any sense pretend to the learning of my hon. Friend opposite. I do not certainly rise to bring forward acrid criticisms to 1620 bear upon the Pensions Ministry. I think we all recognise, whatever 'small deficiencies there may still be in this Warrant, that the Warrant itself bears on the face of it the mark of the kindly and generous spirit of the Pensions Minister: the impression of the right hon. Gentleman's spirit will be, I think, an indelible mark on the Royal Warrant; and whatever its defects the better portions will be a monument to him of which he will in future years have the right to be proud. There are, however, certain obscurities to a person like myself who cannot pretend to the exhaustive knowledge possessed by certain other hon. Members. I want to ask some questions which perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry will be able to give an answer to later. I ask them, not for advertisement, but literally for information. The first part of the Warrant deals, of course, with the question of disabled soldiers. The matter has already been referred to, and I do not want to go further into the aspect which has already been dealt with by other hon. Members and by the Pensions Minister The point I would like the Parliamentary Secretary, in replying, to address himself to is rather—and I take it it will be in order for the Parliamentary Secretary to give us some further information on it—the actual institutional treatment which is proposed in relation to these men. We have had a very remarkable and most interesting report drawn up by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackburn (Sir H. Norman) as to the treatment accorded in France to disabled soldiers. It would be interesting to know how far the Government propose to follow in the footsteps of the French. Perhaps, also, the hon. Gentleman can tell us—I shall be glad to have the information—as to what is intended to be done in Ireland? I am not going into details about that, because one of my hon. Friends here has, I know, some information which goes to show that, at present, at any rate, there is a singular lack of any proper provision in that country. I hope, when the Parliamentary Secretary comes to reply, that he will be able to give us a more encouraging account than I have been able to gather yet in certain correspondence I have seen. Then I should like to ask a question about Section 8; the point, I think, has not yet been dealt with. The Warrant says:8. (1) A soldier discharged as medically unfit for further service may be granted a temporary allowance of 14s. a week for any period that may 1621 elapse between the date of his discharge and the announcement of a decision as to the award of pension or gratuity in his case.I take it that that is intended to meet the great grievance of discharging a man from the Army months before his pension may come to be settled, with the result that, as we know in the past, it has often happened that long periods have elapsed during which the man has been getting no pay, nor his wife any separation allowance. Section 8, I take it, is intended to prevent that in future, but it is not clear to my mind, and perhaps the Under-Secretary will make it clear, as to whether it is or is not intended that the payment of this 14s. temporary allowance shall, as a matter of fact, or as a matter of course, begin to be paid immediately upon discharge? On the face of it, there is nothing to prevent the payment from accumulating.
§ Sir J. WALTON
May I call the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that the Section distinctly says from "the date of his discharge."
§ Mr. LAW
Well, I thought the point sufficiently important to be mentioned. Another point I should like information upon is in Section 11. The Pensions Minister has told us that it would not be possible to deal with such a ease as that put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for East St. Pancras—the case of the widow of a man who has met his death in circumstances such as being shot for, I think, desertion. The right hon. Gentleman said that while undoubtedly it might-be a very hard case he could not hold out any hope of it being put upon "all-fours" with that of the widows of other soldiers. At first sight that does not seem unreasonable, but I am not so sure that it is really so reasonable as it looks. Take such a case. The widow's needs in the future are just as great, are precisely the same, as would be the case if her husband had met his death under other circumstances. Do not let it be imagined that you can get rid of a case of that sort by saying: "Oh, the man was a coward and was not worthy to be a soldier. He had no claim to be called 1622 a soldier, and his widow had no claim to benefit as a true soldier's widow." Unless my information is quite wrong many of the very saddest cases that have occurred in this War are those which have taken place somewhat as follows: A man, it may be, went out with the Expeditionary Force, fought all through the retreat from Mons, bore the very greatest hardships of the campaign, was severely wounded, and subsequently was returned to the front before he was better. I have been told of cases of men who, having been wounded, owing to the pressure of necessity in which the battalion found itself for drafts, have been sent out again to the front thoroughly shaken in nerves long before they were really fit, and then, under those circumstances, have shown, it may be, a momentary cowardice and have suffered the inevitable penalty. I suggest. to the Pensions Minister that such cases as these might reasonably be taken into consideration, and I trust we have not heard the last word upon this subject. The next matter I want to inquire about relates to the case of the parents of a soldier. I ask that in connection with the definition of dependence in Part III. of the General Provisions. I should like to know—for I am very far from clear even yet—how dependence is to be ascertained. The definition says:'Dependant' weans any person (other than at widow or child as defined above) who is found as a fact to have been wholly or in part dependent upon a soldier for a resonable period immediately before the commencement of the War, or before enlistment if subsequent to the commencement of the War.I want to put to the right hon. Gentleman this: that does not, at any rate, cover one class of case—a rather hard case. I have-in my mind the particular instance of a man who joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers about four months before the outbreak of the War. I have absolutely satisfied myself that he contributed quite regularly to the support of the family, his mother in particular, previous to enlistment. He was sent out in September, 1914, and was killed in action about six weeks later. I have put that case forward again and again, and so far I have never been able to get anything for that woman. It appears to be for this reason—and I have had a long controversy in this matter—I think it is admitted that she was dependent upon her son before his enlistment and that he had regularly contributed. I have, however, been informed there were two difficulties in the way; the 1623 first was that the man never made any allotment. That is not so astonishing as it seems when you have regard to the 'Circumstances of September, 1914, when, I imagine, the last thing anybody thought of was to fill up forms. It must, too, be borne in mind that there was no regular separation allowance payable for dependants other than the wife. The second point is that the man did not seem to have made any contribution out of his pay during the four months referred to. The reason for that, I think, is this: it was the case of a man, not having been in receipt of regular wages, but having always been accustomed, like other migratory labourers, to contribute money in comparatively large lump sums from time to time, and he had done so. Therefore, there is nothing at all surprising in the suggestion that he did not contribute—no real presumption that he did not intend to continue to contribute.
What I want to call the attention of the Pensions Minister to is that as I read the Warrant that case is still out of court, because of the words "immediately before the commencement of the War." It was not immediately before the commencement of the War, there was the four months' interval. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that we do not want for the sake of saving a few shillings here and there to leave unnecessary loop-holes of this kind. I would suggest that there might be some room for emendation of the wording here. Another point is in relation to the First and Second Schedules. I do not quite understand why there is no provision in the First Schedule for cases of disease other than in two categories. We get "disease resulting in disabled man being permanently bedridden." That is estimated, I think, at 100 per cent. Also, we get "advanced cases of incurable disease." There may be some excellent reason with which I am not familiar, but I do not understand why these two specific cases are included in the Schedule, and no other case of disease. I think the case requires some explanation.
Finally, I want to draw the attention of the House to what I think is rather an important fact. The Second Schedule includes Article 1210—"Pensioner quitting British Dominions." My right hon. Friend will correct me if I am wrong, but, as I understand, a man's pension is settled in many cases subject to periodical 1624 revision and medical examination. If the man quits the United Kingdom for any reason without the special leave of the Army Council, to be obtained in a certain manner, he forfeits all right to a renewal of pension. What I want to put to the Minister of Pensions is that it results very often in a great hardship. I know of a case, for example, of a man who was passed into the Army, certified by the doctor as medically fit. At the end of a very few months he was passed out of the Army a complete wreck, spitting blood, and in a state of almost complete physical collapse from pulmonary disease. For various reasons, into which I will not go a very long controversy took place over that case. It was one of those cases in which there was the long quarrel as to whether a man's disease was attributable to or aggravated by his service. The second winter was coming on, and the doctor told him and his friends that if he spent another winter in this climate he certainly could not live, and so some friends got together some money and sent him to America. Ultimately the authorities repented and fixed his pension at 4s. 8d. for some weeks, and then 15s., which, I think, is terminable this month. The man went out in despair, finding he could get nothing, but I am quite sure he did not apply for leave of the Army Council, because at the time he went there was no question, so far as I know, of his getting a pension at all. I do suggest that those in authority ought to look a little further into this matter, and consider whether it is in every case necessary to enforce the rule that a pensioner who quits the United Kingdom should forfeit his right to the renewal of pension. I do not know whether the points I have raised are points of real importance or substance, but I am an ignorant Member of the House, not having the knowledge some have on this subject, and I should be very much obliged for the information.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I have one or two points to bring before my right hon. Friend from the point of view of the Statutory Committee. I have listened to the whole of these Debates with very great interest. I entirely share many of the views put forward by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, and I am sure he need not be in the least afraid that the House does not appreciate his motives, or is not grateful to him for the care and elaboration with which he has studied this subject. I am certain that, as a member of 1625 the Statutory Committee, I have found his speeches useful to me in my work. I wish I could in all respects say as much for some of the speeches that are made. We listened just now to a speech from an hon. Member who really showed in almost every paragraph of the speech that what he himself said was perfectly true, that he knew very little of the working of this subject. One of the things that makes us despair in the practical work of the Statutory Committee is that we find over and over again cases are brought before us which, if they had been mentioned to us as concrete facts, would have been easily settled. I receive letters about case after case from various Members. I have not found one case in which, on examination, the facts have not been to a considerable extent misrepresented. I have no complaint with regard to the hon. Member for East Edinburgh. He really knows his facts, and every contribution he makes to these Debates is of practical use.
There are one or two points I would like very briefly to notice. The first is that very disagreeable and very difficult point which was touched on by the hon. Member who has just sat down, and also the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson), with regard to those most tragic cases of men who suffer the death penalty. I would much rather not enter into that subject. Cases of that sort have come before, us. They are matters of very great delicacy. I do not think the House will suppose that the Statutory Committee deals with them without sympathy, but, after all, we must not forget that honour, respect, and reverence go with a pension that is earned by our soldiers and sailors. Who must be careful that we do not connect these pensions with anything which is the very opposite of reverence and of honour. That help might be given in such cases, that help has been given in such cases, I am quite prepared to admit. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, knows how we have tried in some cases to help, and if he, through the Treasury, would give us additional powers, I think it would be a great assistance. But I hope the House will discuss these cases as little as possible. They are tragic, they are sad, and the less said about them the better. The other case that was raised was the frequent one as to injuries caused when not on military duty. We have heard a great deal from first to last of a soldier who 1626 met with an accident in Rouen. Let it be remembered that this man was for the first time taken to France, and did not know the rules of the road. He probably thought the rules of the road were the same as in the old country. It was, therefore, owing to his service in the Army that he came into this danger, and on that ground we did allow a claim.
Over and over again cases of that sort occur, where there has been—and I am not the least ashamed of saying it—a little breach of discipline which we have overlooked, and I am sure that my colleagues on the Statutory Committee will not be altogether angry for avowing that we have met some of these cases. A man has been on a railway where he ought, not to have been, or in some other place where perhaps he ought not to have been. The man was not only not on duty, but a very strict interpretation might hold that he was absolutely not doing his duty,. and the claim is turned down by the official mind. It comes to us as a Statutory Committee, and we can exercise a little discretion. I will tell the House a curious story, proving how narrow the official mind may be. A man got very seriously injured in trying to put out a fire which was very close to a gunpowder magazine. He greatly helped in putting that fire out, but it turned out that he had moved from his proper position before the officer had been informed, and before the officer gave the order that he and his squad should move forward to help put out the fire. On that very ground the official mind decided that he was not doing official work, and he was not doing it under official orders. But it took very little time on the Statutory Committee to widen rather the decision given by the official mind in that case.
The other case is much more difficult. It is a case which the hon. Member for East Edinburgh dealt with very fairly, and it has occupied all of us a long time. It is the case of those men who, by some oversight, it may be, but, at any rate, who are admitted into the Army, and, after a short or a longer time, are proved to be absolutely unfit for military service. The Statutory Committee has gone as far as it possibly can in extending the Regulations, when we believe there is fair ground for thinking that illness has been aggravated by war. I think we have carried that a good deal further than in the old Warrant. Let the House remem- 1627 ber that we in the Statutory Committee are under strong temptation—perhaps we ought to restrain ourselves—to interpret these rules and regulations, not only generously, but even almost beyond generosity. That is our inclination and our desire, and I think we are acting in accordance with the wishes of the country in doing so. There are certain cases in which I am certain hon. Members will see the difficulty if they would only examine the subject. What would be said of a case where a man presents himself for enlistment with no symptom of outward illness? He is accepted by the medical officer, but very soon after joining shows symptoms of morphia, and it turns out that he had previously acquired morphia habits and had been in a very serious state and this developed again after his enlistment. He never served abroad, and he was only about three months in the Army and he actually resigned his position. That is a case where nobody could have told this habit existed before he joined, and it was only afterwards that we found out that it did exist. Now is that man or his dependants really deserving of a life pension?
There are other cases arising out of unfortunate diseases, and there may be no possibility of detecting those complaints which develop afterwards. We have done our best in cases where any evidence gave us the least ground for holding that these dreadful cases of paralysis were due to the hardships of campaigning or military services, but in a good many cases we have been unable to do so. Those are cases of aggravation, and I cannot understand the case brought forward by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) of a man who had served sixteen months and had been abroad and developed consumption and yet was refused a pension. Let the hon. Member just think what has happened before that was possible. I admit the narrowness of the official mind in interpreting the old Warrant, but we are asked to believe that the Committee turned down this claim for a pension of a man who had served sixteen months. In the ordinary course this man should have brought his case before the local committee, but did he do so? The hon. Member has not really followed the ordinary course of things. I am sure the local committee would have looked at it 1628 with every sympathy and interest, and they would then have made a representation to the Statutory Committee.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
We send down large sums to each local committee, and it is for them to investigate the cases in their locality and to state what grants they propose to make in each case. The applicant has an appeal to us if the local committee is unduly narrow or ungenerous, but I do not think any local committee would have any motive for being too narrow, although in one or two cases we have had before us the local committee certainly made too small pensions. That any local committee would, in the case of a man who has been sixteen months in the military service, who had been abroad and had fought in the trenches, have turned down his claim for a pension on some narrow interpretation of the old Warrant I refuse to believe without strong evidence. I am perfectly certain that if they had presented that case to the Statutory Committee and had asked us to sanction such a grant we should have leaned to the generous side, and I may say that the Statutory Committee has not refused a supplementary pension in a single case where a man suffering from tuberculosis had been sixteen months in the Army. If such a case had come before us we should not have taken any narrow view, We have common sense just as much as other hon. Members, and I ask any hon. Member would they, if they had heard of a man who had been sixteen months in the Army, have refused to say that this allowance should have been granted?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would be very quick to rebuke them if he heard of any such case. We have every encouragement from the Pensions Minister on the Statutory Committee to be generous, and we have not curtailed our generosity. Consider just 1629 what this Warrant means. The appointment of a Ministry of Pensions deprived the Statutory Committee of some of its functions, but it was a good thing because the various authorities required some supreme authority to appeal to. If they differed from the official interpretation often there was absolute confusion, and there was no one to set matters right. Now we can appeal to the Pensions Minister, and I am quite prepared with an easy mind to leave the judgment of these cases to that Minister. Before his appointment we had only these one-sided narrow old Warrants which were narrow in extent in their conditions and narrower still in the way they were interpreted by some of the authorities. The Act of 1915 established a Statutory Committee, and gave to it a certain discretionary power. We did the best we could, and I think we did some good. Mow, what is the position? Instead of the old Warrants you have this new broad Warrant, enlarged in one or two particulars, and it is an enormous improvement on the old Warrant.
I ask some credit for the Statutory Committee for that because I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that a good many of the new Regulations embodied in the new Warrant were recommendations which the Statutory Committee put before the Treasury for sanction because we felt the need of them so much that we were only awaiting the sanction of the Treasury to the extension of our rules. Nothing could be more satisfactory to us than to see that the Minister of Pensions in many respects has adopted our suggestion, and has embodied in this new Warrant several of the recommendations which we strongly urged. We are not going to quarrel as to who is to have the credit, because all we want is that the thing should be done, and I do not care whether it is done by the Statutory Committee or the Pensions Minister. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) asks where the Statutory Committee comes in now that we have got this new Warrant, and he asks if that Committee shall be overturned altogether and have no discretionary power? I can tell the hon. Member that the Statutory Committee will exercise its discretionary power and will, where it is necessary, act more generously than the new Warrant, and we shall have the sanction and the consent of the Pensions Minister in doing this. Whereas before we had certain discretion in the old narrowly interpreted Warrant, we 1630 have now a discretion to enlarge this new Warrant and recommend further grants if the Pensions Minister sees proper to entrust the cases to us. I think the hon. Member is unduly afraid of the hard-and-fast terms of the new Warrant, and I am sure the Pensions Minister does not wish to tie our hands in this respect. I do not think the Statutory Committee has formed any such idea of their powers, and we have had every encouragement to deal leniently and generously with such cases. But you cannot deal with individual cases with all their various peculiarities in a general way.
If you are to deal with individual cases and meet individual necessities and investigate the circumstances of each case you must have some body with discretionary authority which looks at the circumstances, which says that while this is a very good rule for general application, and while such and such regulations are sufficiently generous for ordinary cases, they may decide that particular cases are entitled to further and exceptional grants. I think that is a sound basis and arrangement. It is the arrangement that I understand is contemplated by the Pensions Minister, and he has explained that over and over again. I am certain that there will be a better understanding between the Pensions Minister and the Statutory Committee than some hon. Members are inclined to think. As a member of the Statutory Committee, I think that the new and more generous Warrant, with a certain discretionary power which I am not afraid will be taken away from us, will enable us with an adjustment to individual cases to treat them with that ample and I would almost say lavish generosity which it is the desire of the House and the determination of the country the soldier should be dealt with who come under this Warrant.
§ Colonel YATE
I would like to congratulate the Minister of Pensions most heartily on this Warrant, and to thank him for the clear and lucid statement he gave us on it to-day. I also especially desire to thank him for the statement he gave us the other day that he has a new Royal Warrant for officers' pensions under consideration at the present moment. The Royal Warrant on which pensions for wounded and disabled officers and pensions for their widows and orphans are based has come down to us from pre-Crimean days. As a matter of fact, I believe the Warrant, with 1631 few alterations, dates from the year 1834. That is eighty odd years ago, and I appeal to the whole House whether any proper pensions to meet present-day conditions can be made under a Warrant issued so long ago. Only to-day I got a letter from a young doctor telling me that he had had a large part of his face and one of his hands blown away. Under the present Warrant it is impossible to give that man proper compensation for those injuries. I therefore appeal to the Minister of Pensions to speedily introduce the new Royal Warrant for the pensions of officers and their wives and families. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) has to-day raised the question of the commutation of soldiers' pensions, and I would ask the Minister of Pensions if he has had brought to his notice a resolution passed last year on this subject by various boards of guardians. It may not have come before him, and I would like to call his attention especially to it. The wording of the resolution is to this effect:To draw the attention of His Majesty's Government to the abuse of the practice of the commutation of pensions. We are of opinion that a very great proportion of vagrants of the Service type are men who have squandered their commuted pensions, and later have become a menace to town and countryside. We suggest in future, if the practice cannot be entirely abolished, that more stringent care should be taken in administration, so that only men of excellent character shall be permitted to commute, and then only after full inquiry into the nature and soundness of any proposed investment.That is the considered opinion of a large number of boards of guardians in the country. Any such inquiry into the nature and soundness of such investments is a difficult thing for any Department; in fact, it is impossible, and I would ask the Pensions Minister to consider the matter and see what can be done to put a stop to this source of danger. I look at the Warrant as it is at present, and I see that a soldier can commute all of his pension over 1s. a day. I think we should bear in mind that the pension is not given to start a man in life, but to give him a competence upon which to live for the rest of his life, and, however sound any proposal for investment that a man brings forward may seem, we know how sadly such investments often turn out, leading to the ruin of the man himself. We see pensioners in all grades of society who have commuted their pensions and been reduced to penury. I would therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman especially to 1632 consider this question, and to think whether it would not be advisable to stop the commutation of pensions for soldiers altogether. It is safer and more reasonable on the whole to put a stop to it than to allow men to waste their money and to become vagrants.
I would also ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the question of the commutation of officers' pensions. It is a difficult question, and I have been raising it continuously for three years. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman does not know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has acnowledged to me that owing to the exorbitant and unfair rates demanded by the Government for the commutation of officers' pensions, the profit made by the Government out of those who have partially commuted their pensions has been no less than £200,000, and, though I have not got the exact figures, it has been calculated that no less than£750,000 has been made by the Government out of those who have wholly commuted their pensions. Permission to commute the whole of a pension is now limited, so I was informed in July, 1916, to naval and military officers in respect of pensions for wounds. This is important, considering how many officers will be receiving pensions for wounds after the War. I have also studied the Warrant, and I find that any officer now can commute his pension to the extent of half of it, provided that a sum of £80 per year is left uncommuted. That is far too small a sum to leave un commuted, and it should be doubled at. least. The least sum that should be left to an officer on which to maintain himself and his family is £3 or £3 10s. per week, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to issue an Order that no officer should be allowed to commute more than one-third of his pension, and that the minimum to be left uncommuted should be at least £160 per year, or, say, £3 10s. per week. The Indian Regulation limits the amount to one-third of the pension, and I would urge that Regulation should be followed by the Pensions Minister. I would also like to point out that the Pensions Minister himself has full power in the matter. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer informed me on 12th May, 1916. that the question of the proportion of the pension which a naval or military officer is allowed to commute is one for the Admiralty or the War Office. Legislation was not required to alter the proportion; it was a matter for Departmental Regula- 1633 tion. I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman to arrange for the issue of this Regulation in the new Warrant.
§ Mr. WARDLE
I would like to say a word or two about the limbless men to whom reference was made on a previous occasion. It was said that there were 4.000 odd cases waiting for admission to Roehampton or other hospitals. If those 4,000 were ready and waiting to be fitted, it would be a very serious state of things indeed, and would call for very drastic action on the part of this House to see that it did not continue any longer. The problem is a very difficult one, but it has been dealt with probably as satisfactorily as any problem has been dealt with during this War. Already over 6,000 cases have passed through Roehampton, and the actual number of men who are ready to be fitted at this moment, according to the statement of the Secretary, is about 700, or between 700 and 800. We are now dealing with nearly 500 cases a month. The last record was 498, and it was the highest number we have reached. It is a very great improvement on anything which has hitherto been done, and when it is recollected that the whole of the arrangements in connection with this hospital and the question of limbless men have practically had to be improvised and created during the progress of the War, and that we have had to build workshops and extend them and enlarge them, I think it will be seen that so far from the problem being out of hand it is indeed, as things stand at the present time, well in hand. I wanted to make that perfectly clear, because I think the House will naturally think that men who have lost their legs or arms ought to be provided with new limbs at the earliest possible moment at which it can be satisfactorily done. I believe the problem is so well in hand that the House need have no further anxiety for the present that men are being kept unnecessarily long without being provided with limbs.
Everybody must agree that great progress has been made during the past twelve or eighteen months with the question of pensions and with the whole question of our treatment of disabled soldiers. I do not think there is any Member of Parliament, whether he sits on the Front Bench or the Back Bench, whose whole heart and desire is not that the whole of the men who can be really held to be chargeable to the State should be satis- 1634 factorily and promptly and generously dealt with both in the matter of pensions, of separation allowances, of dependants' allowances, of training for trades, and, as far as it is possible, of bringing them back to normal health and strength. That is the general desire, and so far as this Warrant goes a long way towards the realisation of that desire it will give general satisfaction not only to this House, but to the country. I am quite sure my right hon. Friend the Pensions Minister deserves all the encomiums which have been passed on him for the services he has rendered in this connection, and, I believe, if he retains his present position, ho will coninue to deserve them. Theoretically I agree absolutely with the view that if the Army do take any men they should be responsible for them. I do not think that, in ordinary circumstances, any Law Court would hold that if an employer accepted a man he was not legally responsible for what happened to that man during his time of employment. And therefore, although we cannot exactly put this in terms of legal liability or under the same terms as the Workmen's Compensation Act, and although it is true there are border-line cases which it is very difficult to determine, yet I hope that, as a result of what has fallen from my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh, and from other hon. Members, as well as what may result from the generous impulses of the Pensions Minister himself, we shall have a wide and generous interpretation given to this Warrant when it comes into operation. I am not sure that cases of gratuity should be ruled out altogether, but at any rate they should be reduced to the lowest possible limits, and pensions should be given whereby any possibility of liability exists for the payment of them.
I want to get one thing clear. Is it going to be possible under this Warrant that men who have actually fought in this War, and have once been awarded a pension may have that pension taken away? Only the other day a case was brought to my notice of a young lad who went out. He was wounded on the 1st July on the Somme, and he lost an eye. There is no doubt about that, for he is wearing a glass eye, and therefore there can be no question about the injury and disablement. Under this Warrant he is to have 50 per cent. of the pension; yet only last week, after he had been drawing 1635 the pension for some time, he went before a medical board, and they have taken his pension away from him. If that is possible under this new Warrant, then I think the House will not be satisfied that such things should be allowed. It is these hard and special cases, some of which have been quoted by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, these special individual cases which produce discontent and agitation in the country, and if it were possible to do away with such cases, and they are few in number, there would be much more general satisfaction.
§ Mr. WARDLE
I cannot do that. The case was only mentioned to me last night, and I have no details. All I know is that the young man, a personal friend of my own, is working at his old occupation and is probably drawing his old salary. But that does not alter the fact that he has lost an eye, that he has served his country in the War, and that he was awarded a pension, and if his earning capacity is to be taken into account, all I can say is I do not think it ought to be so, and I repeat it is that kind of case which makes people discontented, and makes the iron enter their souls. If we want to have patriotism rewarded—of course, we do not want to make it a mere matter of money—but if we want to reward it, when a man comes back having lost an eye and draws his pension for a time, then it ought not to be taken away on the ground of his earning capacity, because that earning capacity may be seriously interfered with in the future by reason of the loss of that eye. It is such treatment as that which brings the whole pensions question into disfavour. I appeal to my right hon. Friend, in putting this Warrant into execution, to make it possible for everybody who really ought to have a pension to have a pension rather than a gratuity.
§ Mr. CURRIE
Without calling into question the wisdom of my hon. and gallant Friend who spoke regarding the commutation of pensions and the dangers attaching thereto, I should like to be quite sure that the commutation is to be within proper limits. As I understand the present position the authorities are to be entitled up to £100 to assist men in the form of a capital sum. Would it not be more in their interest—in the interest of 1636 the discharged soldiers as well as of the Treasury, to allow a larger sum than £100. There may be cases where it would be real economy to grant a larger sum, and I would like to know from the Pensions Minister whether the authorities, for instance, might not deal with families partly by way of pension, and partly by way of a capital grant. I am not sure that that is provided for in the Royal Warrant, and I should like to have the point elucidated, because I feel if there were a little discretion allowed in the matter we should be able to treat the soldier better and at the same time save the taxpayer a considerable sum of money. I wish to pay a tribute to, and to express my appreciation of, the very successful work done by the Pensions Minister.
§ Sir JOSEPH WALTON
I have very often urged in this House the necessity of practising the most rigid economy in connection with our huge national expenditure. But as I have been unable to go and fight for my country on account of age, I do feel I would only be doing my duty by those who have gallantly gone if I support any financial scheme by which they will receive a generous pension for themselves and generous allowances for their wives, families, and other dependants. The Royal Warrant is an immense step in advance of anything which has preceded it. But I had a most interesting case in my own Division brought under my notice last week, and it is in connection with that case that I feel possibly there ought to be some alteration in Clause 21 of the Warrant. The case to which I refer is the case of a widow who had six sons, and the whole of those six sons volunteered to serve their country. Five were married, and naturally their separation allowances must go to their wives and families. The sixth son lived with his widowed mother. Before he enlisted he was earning 20s. a week, all of which he-handed over to his mother. The other sons, some of whom were earning high wages, contributed towards the mother's support, and thus her little home was kept going. The one son who was the main support of the widowed mother was only nineteen years of age. He volunteered for the Navy and was killed at Gallipoli, and the result has been that the widowed mother has been obliged to give up her home and to go and live in the house of one of her daughters-in-law.
I think the House will be astonished to hear that all this widowed mother of six 1637 sons has been granted by a grateful country is a pittance of 5s. a week, and therefore the daughter-in-law with whom she is living has practically to maintain her out of the separation allowance which she receives from her husband. I should be ashamed of my country if this were the last word in a case of that sort. It must be obvious to everyone that it ought not to be the last word. But I see no provision in Clause 21 which will cover such a case, and I submit that either under the Clause or under some Regulation there surely ought to be power to make special Grants in a case of this nature. If this lad had not gone to serve his country, the widowed mother would still have been living in her cottage home, and, what is more, the potential value of the boy's assistance to his mother ought to be taken into calculation. When only nineteen years of age he was earning £l per week, and surely his wages would soon have increased, and he would have been able to supply his mother with additional comforts. I want to know from the Pensions Minister whether the potential value of this boy's work ought not to be brought into consideration in fixing the pension for his widowed mother? I would also like to know whether a special case like this, where the six sons of a widowed mother have unhesitatingly come forward to serve their country, ought not to receive special consideration? Here we have a splendid example of patriotism, and surely the granting of a generous pension in such a case would be a great encouragement for the exhibition of equal patriotism by other people. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend's sympathies will be with that mother, and that he will feel that the allowance of 5s. a week is wholly inadequate in the circumstances I have described. I am also sure that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, under whose Department this lad was serving when he was killed in Gallipoli, will feel the same sympathy and agree that by some alteration of the wording of Article 21, or some other means, something more worthy of the nation and of the sacrifices this family has made should be capable of arrangement.
§ Sir WILLIAM BEALE
I desire to put one short but serious point to the Minister of Pensions with regard to Article 21 and the provision which is made for the cases of apprentices. Everybody throughout the country will be grateful that the claim has been recognised of a person who has 1638 made great sacrifices in the reasonable hope that expenditure made upon the education or apprenticeship of a child would be a provision for their own wants in old age. There are cases exactly analogous where you cannot define the person who would be entitled in this way exactly as a parent. There was a case in my own Constituency which occurred at the beginning of the War, where an aunt, who is a mere relation, spent her all upon the education and apprenticeship of a young man who enlisted at the outset and was killed. This lady is now subsisting, solely upon charity. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to give the matter consideration and see whether he cannot extend Article 21 by adding words to the effect that a mere relation who has provided at his or her own expense for the apprenticeship or education of such soldier may be recognised as a parent within the meaning of this Clause. That is entirely permissive. There would be very few cases in which the question would arise, and it would be very easy to see whether it was a proper case in which to make the concession to the person. It would cover a case of very great hardship, and would add practically nothing appreciable to the expense of the scheme of pensions.
§ Mr. H. P. HARRIS
I desire to thank my right hon. Friend for the concessions he, has made as a result of the Debate in Committee. It may be that we shall have to ask for more, but at any rate we have now a pensions system which is on a sound foundation. I do not go so far as my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) when he maintains that every man who has been passed in to the Army as fit should receive a pension if it is subsequently discovered that he was, in point of fact, unfit, but at the same time, as chairman of a local committee, I have come across a large number of cases of men who have been refused pensions, but who would not be refused a pension under any just and generous system. Those cases must be dealt with. I understand my right hon. Friend to say in reply that there is going to be a more generous and just system or administration in the future. Well, we shall see! I can only give him this warning, that unless it is so, he will certainly find that the hon. Member for East Edinburgh will have a very strong case. I hope that a generous and reasonable construction will be given to the words "attributable to or aggravated 1639 by" on the part of the War Office, having regard to the fact that these men have been passed into the Army as fit by the medical officers of the State. I know a case where a man was twice passed in as fit, but who, nevertheless, was refused a pension. I would take this opportunity of getting a little information. My right hon. Friend, when speaking in Committee, said he had made arrangements with the War Office by which local committees would have facilities for getting into touch with disabled men who might need treatment before they were discharged. He said:The War Office agree that if a man has been invalided by an invaliding board as no longer fit to be a soldier, they will keep that man another three weeks, and, during that three weeks, facilities will be given to the local committee's representatives to see the man and to see the hospital authorities.I want to know how those representatives are to be appointed. Is the Ministry of Pensions or the Statutory Committee going to arrange for the appointment of local representatives in all the hospitals throughout the country? I take it that it would be impossible for each local committee to send its own representatives all over the country to see the men who are going to be discharged. Possibly the right hon. Gentleman proposes that each local committee should undertake to act as agent both for itself and for all the other local committees as regards the hospitals in its own locality. If that is so, the sooner we know it the better, because there is no time to be lost. The right hon. Gentleman himself pointed out that men are floating about the country and not getting into proper touch with the authorities who are able to supply them with treatment. If the local committees are to provide representatives in all the hospitals in order to see the men, the sooner they set about it the better. It will be a very large task in London, where there is a large number of hospitals. It will not be easy to get men with the necessary qualifications. You must have people who will be able to gain the confidence of the men, they must be able to give them the necessary information as to the facilities which are open to them for treatment and training, they must be able to persuade them as to the desirability, in their own interests, of taking the necessary treatment, and they must be able to pass on to the local committee all the necessary information to enable them to deal with the cases.
1640 The right hon. Gentleman referred to a card. He said that as soon as a man is invalided a card is to be made out indicating the sort of treatment the man needs after he leaves, and that a duplicate card is to be sent to the district committee in the locality in which the man intends to reside. I assume that the man is to have one card and that a duplicate is to be sent to the local committee. Will the man be required to retain that card, because, possibly, he might remove from one district to another, and the local committee of the district into which he moves may not have the necessary information. Might not we have something better than this wretched little employment card given to the men when they are discharged? I asked this question in Committee, but did not receive any answer. Cannot the men be given some booklet which will give particulars of their disablement, the treatment they need, their qualifications, the employment desired, the address of the local committee where they should apply, and information as to facilities for treatment and training? These are matters which my right hon. Friend needs to look into. If the War Office are not able, as apparently they are not, to keep these men and give them the treatment they require, I hope they mean to invite other help, possibly that of local committees, and that they will exercise their influence and give, advice to the men before their discharge, in order to persuade them to take the treatment which is really essential for their health.
I also want to know how we stand with regard to Article 6 of the Warrant? The hon. Member for East Edinburgh pointed out that it is difficult to ascertain how the Pensions Ministry stands in relation to the Statutory Committee. I confess I do not know which of the Regulations of the Statutory Committee stands. I desire to raise a point which directly bears upon this. Does Article 6 cover the case of men temporarily unfit who do not need a special course of medical treatment and do not need to be sent to sanatorium, but who nevertheless do require rest and medical care, which may be given either by a panel doctor or somebody else, and who need allowances while they are receiving that care and taking the necessary rest? Will a disabled man who is not awarded a pension because his disablement is not attributable to or aggravated by service be eligible to receive maintenance allowance under 1641 Article 6? Under the Statutory Committees Regulations local committees can give allowances to men in cases where the pension has been refused if the disability is due to circumstances arising from service during the present War. Those are much wider words than those appearing in this Warrant. I want it to be quite clear that these men will be entitled to treatment, training, and to allowances. It is not at all clear that the powers of the Statutory Committee are not cut down by Article 6. I should like to know, for the information of local committees, when the Royal Warrant will be available for them and when the Instructions, which I suppose will be issued under that Warrant, will be available? It would be a great convenience to local committees to have these documents as soon as possible, because it takes a good deal of time to learn all this new matter. As the chairman of a committee with forty-six local committees under me, I find there are many inquiries for information coming in, therefore we shall be very glad to have the new Instructions as soon as possible.
§ Mr. MILLAR
The House will welcome the alterations which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to make upon the draft Warrant in response to appeals which have been made to him from different quarters of the House. I have listened carefully to his speech, and I do not think he has quite succeeded in satisfying the House that everything has been done which ought to be done in order to make the Warrant entirely satisfactory. I feel sure there is no one who is more sympathetic than the right hon. Gentleman, and I have still faith in making an appeal to him even at this stage, particularly with regard to one point which has been already discussed this evening and also on a previous occasion. I refer particularly to the provisions of Section 7 of the Warrant, relating to soldiers who are discharged as medically unfit for further service. I sympathise very much with the view expressed by my hon. Friend (Mr. Hogge) that they should in certain cases be made pensionable. I have suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that he should, in any case, increase the gratuity which is to be provided to meet such cases and which now stands at £100, and the answer he has made is that he might be glad to make that increase in order really to save money, because he has told us that in cases which are just on the margin at present it 1642 is very likely that the pension might be awarded if the maximum gratuity is only £100, but if it were £200 this might possibly be dealt with by means of a gratuity. That explanation did not please me because it suggested that there was a sort of haphazard way of dealing with these cases on the border line. I admit the difficulty, but I think it is most desirable that any case which is doubtful at all should receive the benefit of the doubt and get a pension. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will say that whatever happens he will undertake to give the benefit of the doubt. Then, again, while I have great confidence in the right hon. Gentleman and the sympathy which he would show in such cases, there is nothing in this Warrant which 'will give us security that those who follow him will take the same view, and I think it is for the House of Commons to say that these things should be made perfectly clear in black and white, that we shall have them in the Warrant, and that it-shall not be left to Ministers, however sympathetic they may be, to construe the Warrant. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman would give the most benevolent construction himself to the terms of the Warrant, but we are anxious to see that these cases are perfectly safeguarded. He has told us it was only intended to deal with such cases—to use his own words—as men who are weak, mentally or physically, who had been a few days or weeks in the Service and who had been found unfit, and he referred to men who were mentally unfit and bad offered themselves in a lucid moment. I do not think the Warrant, as I read it, is by any means limited to the cases of these men. This is the class of case which the right hon. Gentleman thinks would be dealt with, and which he has in view, but there are a great many, men who did not offer themselves at all, but who were taken although they said they were unfit, mentally it may be and physically as well, and who were certified as fit in the first instance owing to the fault of the doctors, and who have served in the Army, not for a few days or weeks, but for a very long period.
§ Mr. BARNES
It may save misapprehension if I say I did not mean the oases I have mentioned to be in any sense inclusive. I simply mentioned them on the spur of the moment as types.
§ Mr. MILLAR
I have no doubt whatever that the right hon. Gentleman's intention was to mention these as illustrations, but his speech rather left the impression upon my mind, and possibly on the minds of others, that he thought all the other cases were really covered by aggravation, and that it was a limited class of case which the Warrant was intended to cover of this particular description. I think the Warrant goes a great deal further. Subsection (3) runs:In exceptional circumstances the gratuity may amount to a sum not exceeding £100, and generally it will depend on the extent to which the man is incapacitated and on the length and character of his service.That obviously has in view the cases of men who may have been seriously incapacitated, who may have been in the Service for a considerable period of time and who deserve well of their country, as well as the oases of men who have come forward suffering from disease, and had to be treated in hospital for a considerable time. I think he will agree that a great number of cases which he has had to deal with have been cases of men who have really been taken into the Army against their will in this sense, that they thought they were unfit, and made representations to that effect, but the doctors passed them, and they have done excellent service in the Army and deserve well of the country. In such cases I think he should reconsider his maximum. I think that is the very least he can do. He told us on a previous occasion that his policy was to put men back again exactly in the same place in which he found them. Those were the words he used. That is not conditional upon any limited sum being paid to these men. He may have to pay a good deal more than £100 to put them back exactly where they were. If that is the standard which he would apply, let him carry out his own suggestion, and let him put men back in the place in which he found them by being willing to pay up to any sum which is reasonable. I hope he will reconsider this point, and be prepared yet to give us a little further security, because after all this is a question really of the doctor's views. If a man goes to a medical board and is examined again, what security have you got that one doctor may not take one view as to his condition and another a different view altogether? We have had that difficulty all along. Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared in such cases to allow an independent doctor to state whether 1644 the disability was caused by aggravation or not, and if caused by aggravation would he accept that certificate as evidence, so as to give the man the benefit of the doubt? I sincerely hope we shall have a statement to the effect that the benefit of the doubt will be given in every case, so that the man will get a pension, and that where he is not going to get a pension he will, in exceptional circumstances, be awarded a larger gratuity than the maximum of £100 provided in the Warrant.
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the alteration which is to be made in the case of parents and to the insertion of the words "at any time" in Article 21, and to the provision being made for mothers of soldiers who were dependent upon husbands who have died, in which case the provision is now to be made up to 15s. May I ask whether he will not reconsider the question of the amount where both parents are concerned? Is that matter perfectly closed? Why should the pension or pensions be the same whether both parents are concerned or whether there is only one parent? There are many hard cases which might arise where it would be very difficult indeed for "both parents, if dependent, to live upon a limited sum of 15s. I do not know whether it is too late to press that point, but I should like to bring it before him again.
I wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the undertaking he has given to visit Scotland and arrange for an interview with the local authorities with a view to forming a possible national committee with regard to the treatment of disabled soldiers. I also thank him for undertaking to visit the sanatorium and farm colony. A request has gone out for the use of this sanatorium for the treatment of soldiers suffering from tubercular disease. I hope he will be able to combine with the treatment of soldiers who are suffering from tubercular disease the training of disabled soldiers in this farm colony, and that he will take the opportunity when in Scotland of conferring with all who are directly interested in this and other schemes for the treatment of disabled soldiers. We in Scotland have been feeling the delay which has taken place in dealing with this matter and he will find the local authorities anxious to start the scheme as soon as possible, and they will be prepared to co-operate with him in making it a complete success.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I should like to offer my congratulations to the Pensions Minister and to the Parliamentary Secretary for the able manner in which they have drawn up this Warrant. I am not merely paying an empty compliment. Representing, as I do, a naval port of which four-fifths of the men of military age are fighting either in the Army or in the Navy, I think it will be allowed that in saying that I am paying them a compliment on behalf of the Navy and Army which they well deserve and which the men know they deserve. The right hon. Gentleman and I and one or two other Members pressed very hard for amendments to be made in the last Warrant. Since then the Wax has come on and we have had an entire alteration in military service and a great alteration in naval service, and these alterations have brought with them great changes with regard to pensions and allowances. But the Committee which was set up some two years ago did not, in our opinion, go far enough and we now have a Warrant which I think we may say very fairly covers all the points which it should cover. I should, however, like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to raise the £100 at least to £200. He must have had a great number of cases brought to his notice, as many hon. Members have had brought to their notice, where men who have fought in the War are not eligible for pensions and whose cases, although they have been considered, have been dismissed on the ground that their illness is not attributable to or aggravated by the War. They did fight. They were admitted into the Army, not by their own fault, but by the fault of the medical officer who examined them, and inasmuch as they have fought in the Army I think it is only fair to them that they should have some gratuity for the service they have rendered, and that that gratuity should not be limited to £100, especially as the Warrant says "exceptionally to £100."This gives the Minister of Pensions power to provide gratuities of perhaps only £2, £3, or £5 in the majority of cases, and only to give £100 in a very extreme case. I think the £100 should be raised to £200, and I hope we shall have very generous treatment in regard to the scale on which these pensions are based. Paragraph 11, of Part III., of the explanatory Note says:The widows of men who have died of disease substantially aggravated by active service are to 1646 be given the same pensions as the widows of men who have died of disease contracted on active service.Are we to understand from that that it is only the widows of men who have died from disease substantially aggravated by active service who are to receive pensions?
Notice taken that forty Members were not present; House counted; and forty Members being found present—
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Does it mean that only the widows of men who have died of disease substantially aggravated by active service are to be given the same pensions as the widows of men who have died of disease contracted on active service, or are the widows of men who die of disease aggravated by such service to be given pensions? If there is to be distinction, will the right hon. Gentleman say what that distinction is. The case of the widows of men who die from injury or disease not attributed to their military service are to be met by a temporary pension of 10s. for the period of the War and twelve months afterwards. This provision is entirely new, and I think it is a very useful provision. I take it that in this connection military service means also naval service. Does the term "injuries or disease not attributable to their military service "include a certain class of disease which has been mentioned more than once during this Debate? It is very important to know this, because so many men die of this particular disease, and if it is not attributable to their military service their widows are not eligible for military pension. I see it is proposed to reduce the re-marriage gratuity from two years' pension to one year's pension. The re-marriage gratuity has been very useful in a great number of cases to the widows, and I should like the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider that point and come back to the two years' pension. Take the case of a widow who migrates to Canada or Australia. If she has her two years' pension when she marries, she is not entirely dependent upon her husband, and it is of great assistance to her in buying her clothes and other things and does not place her exactly in the same position as she would be if she had only one year's pension allowed. Another important point is the commutation of pensions. This question is of far greater importance than the House realises and than a great many people in this country realise. The hon. and gallant Member for Melton Mowbray 1647 (Colonel G. Yate) desires to see the abolition of commutation of pensions, and he read a resolution passed by a board of guardians. I have some knowledge of boards of guardians, and I do not think in every case that boards of guardians sufficiently understand the genesis of the resolutions they pass. The resolution read by the hon. and gallant Gentleman is a most unfortunate one, because it affects the question of migration.
After the War we shall have a large migration from this country of ex-soldiers and ex-sailors, and I regret that in the Debate on the Pensions Act we have had very little said about migration. The questions of migration and commutation of pensions are very closely connected. As the House knows, a Committee has been set up called the Land Settlement Committee. No doubt the Minister of Pensions and representatives of the Army Council will be called before that Committee, and they will be asked very important questions in regard to the commutation of pensions, because the question of settling men on the land overseas depends to a very great extent on the contribution which the man is able to provide from this side. The Government will naturally say, "You have your pension. You wish to migrate, and you are, under the present Warrant, able to commute a certain portion of your pension." If the suggestion made by the hon. and gallant Member for Melton Nowbray is adopted, there would be no possibility of that course being taken. I think it would be very useful if greater powers were given under this Warrant, and that, instead of the pension of 1s. a day or less being the limit, the whole pension might in certain circumstances be commuted. Of course, there must be proper examination into the character of the man, and that is done already; but when you come to the question of migration you will have to consider the question of the commutation of pensions very much more minutely than you do now. I cannot help thinking that to reintroduce without any alteration whatever Section 1210 of the old Warrant into the now Warrant is an unfortunate error. I would ask the Minister of Pensions to reconsider that matter and endeavour to give a more liberal interpretation of the commutation of pensions with regard to the assistance to be given to the migration of ex-soldiers and ex-sailors.
§ Mr. BRADY
I do not rise for the purpose of traversing the ground covered by previous speakers, but for the purpose of getting information from the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Sir A. Griffith -Boscawen), who will answer for the Pensions Department. The point upon which I wish some explanation is this—there seems to be some misunderstanding as to the case of those whom I may describe as incurable soldiers. This is not a mere Irish grievance, and I do not wish to discuss it merely from the Irish standpoint. I take it that this is a matter which concerns all parts of the Empire, as one of the results of the War. There is an institution in Dublin, of which we are very proud, known as the Royal Hospital for Incurables. It is my privilege to have been associated for some years with that institution, which is carried on exactly on the same lines as the hospital of the same name in Putney. A little while ago the authorities of the Royal Hospital for Incurables in Dublin-got into correspondence with the Army medical authorities in Dublin, in view of the fact that day by day we were being approached by incurable soldiers for admission into the hospital. We naturally desired to ascertain under what conditions it would be possible for us to afford relief to these unfortunate men. The secretaries of the hospital communicated with the Deputy-Director of Medical Services, Irish Command, and, to our astonishment, the reply we got was a suggestion that paralysed or incapacitated Irish soldiers or sailors, or other sufferers from incurable disease with a claim on their country, may be sent, if they desire, to the county infirmary nearest their home, and that the Red Cross Fund should grant in such case a subsistence allowance of £1 a week for maintenance. That information came to the authorities of the Royal Hospital for Incurables as a matter of great astonishment. We can hardly believe that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government that soldiers or sailors permanently incapacitated, whether it be in England, Scotland, Wales, or Ireland, should be sent to workhouses, for the term "county infirmary" is only a euphonious way of describing the workhouse. If there is one institution which stinks in the nostrils of Irish people it is the workhouse, and I should be very sorry if my hon. and gallant Friend says that that is the last word for these unfortunate men. To be quite just to the Department which I 1649 know the hon and gallant Member so admirably represents, I cannot help thinking that it is not their intention, because if one analyses the Warrant itself I think there is ground for assuming that under Clauses 4 and 6 it is never intended that men who become permanently incapacitated as a direct result of service in this terrible War should be treated in the manner I have described. Clause 4 provides:Half the pension and allowances (if any) awarded under the preceding articles may be subject to the condition that the disabled man shall undergo medical treatment in a sanatorium, hospital, convalescent home, or otherwise for any period during which it may be certified that such treatment is necessary in his interests.Clause 6 provides thatIn any case where it is certified that a disabled man should, in consequence of his disablement, undergo any special course of medical treatment or be treated in a sanatorium, hospital, convalescent home, asylum, or other institution.8.0 P.M.
these may be specially provided for in addition, as I understand it, to the pension which the man receives. To carry the matter up to date, I had on the Paper today a question relating to this point, and the Pensions Minister was good enough to inform me in the course of a somewhat lengthy reply that if the case is one that calls for special treatment or for constant personal attention—and surely an incurable soldier or sailor would come under that definition—this will be provided either in the man's home or in an institution if that will ensure his better care. I would like to know what institution means in that connection. We have heard of institutional treatment in this country, and I do not assume for one moment that there will be any differentiation made between different parts of the United Kingdom. Is the institution pensionable? Will Grants be contributed towards its upkeep and maintenance by the Government? Those who have considered this question in Ireland are of opinion that on its being shown that there are a sufficient number of cases to be dealt with the authorities will, as they have already done in regard to orthopaedic cases, establish suitable hospitals or homes for incurable and paralysed soldiers and sailors. Speaking with some know ledge of this hospital on the board of which I am proud to be privileged to sit, I say that it is absolutely impossible to take into the institution all the soldiers who apply for admission. The elections, which take place every three months alternately for males 1650 and females, remind one sometimes of a Parliamentary election, so keen is the contest for admission to the hospital. I take it that this is quite as true of Putney as it is of Donnybrooke, where the Dublin hospital is situated. It is absolutely impossible to take all the soldiers who have been seeking admission as incurable cases I think that this problem should be dealt with in a broad, generous way, and the only solution of the difficulty will be the establishment in Ireland of an institution solely for these unfortunate men.
The hon. Member for East Edinburgh, in his admirable statement in moving the Amendment, suggested that it was unfortunate that we had not an opportunity of discussing to-day the second Warrant which I believe will be taken in a day or two, and which deals with officers and nurses. I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I do not know whether it is possible, without being out of order, to discuss the case of hospital-trained nurses who have given, their services to this War. But I submit that it would be in order to discuss it on this Warrant. I have had brought to my notice an extraordinarily hard case of a lady, a hospital-trained nurse, whose services were accepted by the War Office. I assume, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong, that if this lady was taken into the Army medical services she must at that time have been medically fit. I can give the right hon. Gentleman the name and particulars privately if he wishes. This lady joined the Queen Alexandra Imperial Nursing Service on 27th January, 1915. She was posted for duty to South Wales until September, 1915. when she was sent to the Dardanelles in a hospital ship. She did heroic work night and day on board that ship, plying between Suvla Bay and Malta and other stations. Ultimately she came back to London. When she came back to London, as one would not be surprised to learn, she was suffering somewhat from her nerves, from shell shock, and every other shock as a result of her professional experience in the Dardanelles. She went before an Army medical board "and was informed by the board that she was suffering from slight heart trouble, and that they would recommend her for three months' leave. The House will be surprised to hear that two weeks later this gallant lady received from the War Office a notice to the effect that, owing to the military report on the state of her health her services were dispensed with, and she 1651 got £7 10s. as a bonus. I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the facts as supplied to me, and if this be the type of treatment which these ladies are receiving I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman who so worthily presides over the Pensions, Department will not stand over it for one moment. I shall be glad to get from him or his coadjutor before the Debate closes an undertaking that this lady's case will be considered, and also that some means will be taken of dealing with the problem of incurable soldiers on the lines indicated by the establishment of a separate institution for Ireland.
§ Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY
I listened with interest to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Pensions in which he explained the scale of pensions under the new Royal Warrant. It was a very able, clear, and sympathetic speech, and I am sure that everyone in Ireland who is interested in this matter will appreciate it. I have a case which I wish to put before him with a view to its being dealt with satisfactorily. It is in reference to a private soldier named Joseph Cosgrove, of the Irish Guards who was wounded in the "battle of Mons, and, as a result of his wounds, one leg was amputated and he is suffering in the other leg. At first he got a pension of 25s. a week. Suddenly it was reduced to 12s. 6d. a week. He comes from my district, and one day I met his mother, and she spoke to me about the pension being reduced, and I told her that I would ask a question. On the 14th February I asked the Minister of Pensions the following question:Whether he is aware that the pension of 'No. 3690, Private Joseph Cosgrove, No. 1 Company, Irish Guards, at present in Red Gross Hospital, Bray, county Wicklow, who was wounded in France, causing amputation of his leg, thereby rendering him helpless, has been reduced from 25s. a week to 12s. 6d., and whether, as he is unfit for employment of any kind, the former pension will be restored?I received the following reply:Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen: Private Cosgrove was invalided on account of wounds involving amputation of the left leg above the knee, and has been awarded a permanent pension of 12s. 6d. a week for life, the rate of State pension for this class of disablement according to the existing scale. Private Cosgrove, who was provided with an artificial limb, has been admitted to hospital for its readjustment, and has been awarded 25s. a week for two months from the 8th January to take the place of his permanent pension. If, on discharge from hospital, he should be in need of further assistance it is open to him to apply to the Local "War Pensions Committee.That is an incorrect answer, because first he was given a pension of 25s. for some 1652 months, then it was reduced to 12s. 6d., and then he went into hospital again and got 25s. a week from the 8th January last. The hon. Gentleman, in his reply, said nothing about the fact that the man first got 25s. a week. The answer about the leg being amputated above the knee was not entirely correct. The hon. Gentleman should have stated that the leg was amputated 1 in. from the hip, which meant, I believe, a much larger sum in his pension allowance. Instead of getting 25s. a week under the old scale, he should have got a larger sum. I sent a copy of the answer to Cosgrove. It is only fair to him to say that it was his mother and not himself who brought the matter first before me. In his reply, dated the 17th February, from the Red Cross Hospital, Bray, he said:Dear Sir,—I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter. I am very thankful to you for your kindness towards me. It is altogether wrong about my leg being amputated above the knee. It is amputated 1 in. from the hip, and the artificial limb maker said that it was practically no use to me. You must remember that I am wounded in the right leg also. I hope they will do something for me. I wrote to the Pensions Committee several times, and got no answer from them. I wish you would look them up. I never got a cent. from them. I always had to pay my own expenses.I hope that the Minister for Pensions, who, I confess, is very sympathetic with disabled soldiers, will see that this disabled soldier, who is quite helpless will have his case dealt with in a satisfactory manner. I would also like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, Was 12s. 6d. a week the proper pension under the old scale to which this soldier was entitled, and if he finds that he was entitled to a larger pension than this 12s. 6d. will he pay the difference that he was entitled to up to the present time. I also want to know what will be the pension under the new scale? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will deal satisfactorily with this soldier who has suffered so much for his country. Having regard to the fact that this man's leg was amputated so high up, and that he was wounded in the other leg also, and as the doctors to whom he goes state that they cannot deal with him, because his leg has been amputated so high up, in the unhappy circumstances of this man, I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to giving his case careful and sympathetic consideration.
§ Mr. BILLING
I think it right to take this opportunity of thanking the Minister of Pensions for the generous way in which he has met suggestions which have been 1653 put forward from, many quarters of the House. I think he will appreciate what I say when I tell him that all that this House has been trying to do is to strengthen his hands by giving him more power, so that when he comes up against the officials—and a good many of us here know what that means—he will be in a position to get done what he really wants done. There are several debatable points in this Royal Warrant. I know it is customary when two people make an agreement for one or the other to say, "Oh, that is all right; we will never quarrel about that; still we might have a clause put in." And in this instance of the Royal Warrant we may perhaps in a few months or years have these men returning to the country, and, in view of that, it is the duty of every Member to do his best to see that this Warrant satisfactorily provides pensions, and to ensure that the Minister of Pensions has such powers that if there should turn out to be any serious grievance or cause of complaint he may be enabled to deal with it, and that the House will not be called upon to blame him for not doing that which he had not the power to do. I should like to call attention to the speech of the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge). I was exceedingly grieved, when I sat in the House during the whole of that speech, to find so few Members present, especially in view of the fact that I think we have to thank the Member for East Edinburgh for the majority of the improvements which have been effected in the Royal Warrant. As every Member knows, the hon. Gentleman has given this matter his most serious and laborious attention, and I really think that if more Members had been present when he spoke his speech, he would have afforded them great satisfaction, while the hon. Member would probably have had more supporters of his views.
As it is, we cannot expect the opinion of the House to be adequately taken by some twelve, thirteen or fifteen Members, who have cared to listen to this Debate. I am sure, should there be a General Election before very long, that a number of those Members who have not been present will regret very much that they are not able to answer from their platforms truthfully that they not only attended the Debates on this Royal Warrant, but that they lent their assistance wherever they could to see that it was as understandable as it was possible to make it. There are one 1654 or two points I should like to raise. One is as to what is known as cowardice in face of the enemy. I quite appreciate the feeling which is held in regard to a man who has been guilty of cowardice, and possibly it cannot be expected that the widow and dependants of such a man can be dealt with in the same way as the widow and dependants of a man who has fallen without exhibiting' cowardice. At the same time I would appeal to the Pensions Minister to deal very carefully with these cases in which cowardice is charged, and that he will see that each such case is dealt with thoroughly on its merits. For it should be remembered that there are men whose nervous system is such that they are rendered very impressionable; and it should be further recollected that many of them have already undergone great exposure and hardship. It may be that a man is suffering from shell shock, or from a series of shell shocks received previously, and the effects of which he feels before starting over the parapet. It is quite probable that he has continued to struggle against these effects when others would have succumbed, and were not therefore called upon to face the fresh ordeal that was before this man that has been dealt with as a coward. Had he done as others have done, taken longer to recover from the effects of shell shock, had he given his nervous system a longer period in which to regain strength, he might have avoided the brand of coward, which has left his widow and dependants under the stigma which follows, though, possibly, they would understand him better than could any system, and appreciate what he must have gone through to reach a stage where his nerves gave way, and could not be held as altogether responsible for what occurred.
It is to such instances as that, in which there may well be doubt, and in which examination might disclose causes which had led up to the man's failure, that I ask the Pensions Minister to give his full attention, going carefully into the circumstances of each individual case. Often a man fails at the psychological moment, and it may well be that he has reasonable excuse in the fact that he has suffered from shell shock, or, possibly, had been badly wounded and had returned too soon, his nervous system not properly restored. I hope, indeed I feel sure, that the Pensions Minister will deal with those cases not only justly but generously, and even err on the side of mercy. Another point is 1655 as to the training of men when they return to this country unfit to enter into the competitive side of commercial life. There are many voluntary organisations which offer to take and train these men, and those organisations have different schemes and methods. For myself, I think that the Ministry of Pensions might well have a branch or department to deal with the training of these men. I have many instances in my own Constituency, and many out of it which have been brought to my notice, where men have done their best, with the aid of voluntary societies, to augment their pension, which was totally inadequate to meet their needs. Instead of the authorities encouraging such a determination on the part of a man, they have reduced the amount of his pension, having satisfied themselves, by a later examination by the medical board, that he had an income which was greater entirely owing to the fact of his own self-sacrifice and his own determination to work, than it was on the occasion when he was previously examined. I would ask the Pensions Minister whether it would not be possible to have one complete scheme for dealing with all men when they leave the Services run on comprehensive principles, rather than leave the matter to patchwork voluntary efforts. We all know—I will not say in 90 per cent., but, anyhow, in 75 per cent. of these voluntary organisations which start out with the best intentions—after the novelty has been removed a great many of the ladies find other means of occupying themselves and the general keenness drops out, with the result that injustice occurs to some of those cases.
I would like also to draw attention to the case of those men on whose behalf the hon. Member for East Edinburgh has made such strong efforts and for whom he made such a passionate appeal: I mean those men in whose case the medical board say that their illness is not directly attributable to their service with the Colours. We all respect the medical profession, but we must recollect the enormous load that has been put on their shoulders and the duress, of which the hon. Member spoke, sometimes brought to bear on them in exercising their judgments. When we remember the mistakes that have been made in drafting those men into the Army every hon. Member must agree how likely mistakes are to have occurred in drafting those men out. I 1656 would suggest that a court of appeal be set up for the purpose of dealing with those cases. It might not be purely medical, but representative of the Minister of Pensions and the medical profession where there is any difference of opinion between the applicant and the medical board. I am sure there is no occasion to bring forward any cases in support of the point I am putting as I am quite sure the Pensions Minister appreciates it. It is most important on the question of whether the administration will give cause for general satisfaction or produce many cases of injustice. There was also the question of mothers who are not now dependent on the sons, and I would submit to the Pensions Minister to give that case his serious consideration and to treat such cases on their merits and not necessarily to wait until the mother has to prove herself infirm or in her dotage before some action is taken to reimburse her for the loss she has sustained. The feeling which at least I have towards the Pension Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary is that, provided we give them powers enough, and that they will remain in office, the men who return broken from this War will have very little just cause for grievance.
§ Mr. BYRNE
I have been trying for over four and a-half hours to catch your eye in order to put forward a case which I hope will be favourably considered. I refer to a case where it can be proved that a soldier met his death by accident, and in which I submit that his wife and children should not be the sufferers. I endeavoured by question and answer to put the case some time ago of a driver in the Royal Field Artillery. I do not think it is desired by any Member that the widows or children of any soldier should be compelled to go to the Poor Law authorities for means to exist. I think it would be unworthy of this great British Government to allow it to go outside to the general public that they will not provide for the widow and children of a soldier. The case is one where a soldier who was for some time in the trenches or in the firing line, chanced to be relieved by some of his colleagues. Two of them went to a restaurant somewhere behind the firing line to take some dinner. Whilst there he was given some French wine to take with his dinner; the wine went against the man's breath, and he fell on the floor, and before medical aid could arrive he was found dead. That 1657 man's wife and children to-day are living on the Poor Law authorities of the City of Dublin. On the 20th of December I put the following question:Mr. Byrne asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he can state what steps, if any, the Government will take to provide for the widows and orphans of soldiers whose death was caused by accident whilst in the service of their country; if he is aware that in one case in Dublin a soldier's widow and children are in receipt of Poor Law relief, and that the wife, who is in a delicate state of health, has to leave her three children, all babies, in the hands of strangers in a penny nursery whilst she goes to work, where she earns from 4s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. a week; if he is aware that her husband left his employment to answer his country's call and died whilst on active service, and if he would cause instructions to be issued to provide such dependants with the necessary means of existence without the aid of Poor Law relief?Mr. Forster: My hon. Friend has informed me that his question refers to the case of Mrs. Flatman, widow of the late Driver J. Flatman, Royal Field Artillery, as to which he has already been in correspondence with me. I have already explained to him that Driver Flatman's death was caused by his own fault, and no pension or gratuity can be paid from Army funds."—(.OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th December, 1916, Vol. LXXXVIII.]I think that case is one of many, because I know of another case of a man who was sent to get water, and who in doing so slipped on a rock and fell into the place where the water was, and he was drowned. That man's wife and family are to-day in receipt of Poor Law relief in Dublin, and is it honest or fair that the children of men who joined at the request of some of our Members on these benches should to-day be branded with receiving Poor Law relief? I think the hon. Member on the Treasury Bench should take notes of this case, because when the War is over and the bands cease playing "Rule, Britannia" and the crowds cease cheering, there will be very little sympathy for the soldiers when their gallant deeds are forgotten. [An Hoy. MEMBER: "Oh!"] An hon. Member behind me says "Oh!" but I ask him to remember what happened in the South African War and the Crimean War. We have soldiers in the infirmaries in Dublin to-day who served in the South African War and were discharged without a proper pension. It is very easy to cheer your soldiers when the War is going on, but experience proves, in Ireland at any rate, that our soldiers, when they have given all that was best in them, are discharged and thrown into the union, and if the hon. Member opposite requires names I will give him names later on.
In regard to the case of Flatman, I would appeal to the hon. Member to consider it seriously, because his poor unfortunate widow is in very delicate health and 1658 is only able to go out one or two days a week and earn from four to five shillings. I myself within the past fortnight had to send this soldier's wife and children free, coal from the Mansion House Coal Fund, and yet you talk of protection for small nationalities! I would ask what are the feelings of this widow and children towards the great British Empire that allows her to live so deplorably? In the case of Kelly, the man who was drowned, the family are not in such poor circumstances, but they are also deprived of a pension, and I think some Clause should be brought in to enable soldiers who meet with accidents, whether on active service or not, or their widows and orphans or dependants, to receive some relief from the country that they have served. The Financial Secretary to the War Office told me six weeks ago that the case of Mrs. Flatman was a very deserving case, and he hoped it would have the attention of the Statutory Committee. All she got from the Statutory Committee was sympathy. When she wanted bread to eat she had to get it from the rates of the City of Dublin, and coal to burn had to be subscribed by the people outside. This is one of many cases that will occur in. Ireland, and it is an intolerable state of affairs that they should be allowed to exist.
§ Mr. WATT
I think the House is indebted to the Ministers responsible for this Warrant, and the country is indebted to them for having brought it forward, it being a great advance on the old Warrant. The House is also indebted to them for the fact that they have accepted many of the suggestions made to them in Committee for improving this Warrant. There are, however, two or three points that I desire to put before them. The first has been very ably put by my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge). It deals with the unfit men who have been discharged from the Army and are given no pension. I agree with the hon. Member for East Edinburgh that the men who are fit to fight are fit to pension. The medical men who have examined these men are the agents of the War Office, and the War Office is responsible for the actions of their agents in admitting these men as fit, and therefore it does not lie with the War Office, or with the Pensions Minister, having taken these men as fit, to throw them over at a later stage, and to say they were really unfit when they were proclaimed fit by the 1659 agents of the War Office. I therefore hope that the point will be reconsidered by the Minister for Pensions, and that a man when so discharged, with an ailment that has at any rate got more serious while he was serving in the Army, and in many instances has arisen while he was serving in the Army, will receive a pension, and should death ensue, that at any rate his widow and children will get better treatment than they are getting under this Warrant. I think it is a scandal that the children of such a man are in no way looked after by the State.
Another point that I wish to call attention to is the treatment of the disabled soldiers. We have gathered from the Minister of Pensions that this treatment is to be centralised in London. I regret that very much, and I regret that he has not made up his mind to start the treatment of Scottish soldiers in Scotland. I am certain that these soldiers would much rather be treated nearer home, and seeing that our soldiers from Scotland have so distinguished themselves in the War, I think the least they can expect is that when they are disabled by the War they should be treated near home and in their own country. There are several schemes already afloat in Scotland. There is one for the training of soldiers at Niddrie, and then there is the gift of the Duke of Sutherland, which will be utilised for small holdings, and there is a scheme for the treatment of the blind at Newington House. That makes three schemes already set up, and more will undoubtedly follow, and these I think should be united into a national scheme, the local pensions committees being joined together in some united scheme and made to deal with the whole of Scotland in treating these soldiers. The St. Dunstan's Institution is certainly an admirable one for dealing with blind soldiers. I think, however, it is an unwise method to bring all the blind soldiers up to this centre from the various parts of the United Kingdom. It would be much better to distribute them amongst the various nationalities.
The last point to which I wish to direct attention is one which was dealt with by the Pensions Minister in his opening speech. It is the case where there has been no pre-war dependence on the part of the father or the mother of the soldier. Therefore, as the matter at present stands, there will be no pension due to the mother 1660 or the father. My right hon. Friend said that that was to be dealt with, and he read out words to be inserted in the Warrant to meet the case. I think, as has been said by my hon. Friend (Mr. Billing), that these words will not satisfactorily meet the case. So far as I make out, the mother must be incapable of earning her own livelihood before she can claim any pension from the State. That is an unwise arrangement. She ought to get a pension through the death of her son whether she is or is not capable of earning her own livelihood. She has been deprived of her son by the War. An instance was mentioned where the husband had died during the War, and though there had been no pre-war dependence, the Pensions Minister had seen it wise to put in the Warrant that the case should be dealt with. But the woman here is not dealt with satisfactorily. I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will in his reply make it clear that the woman is not to be debilitated or broken down in health in any way, or incapable of earning her own livelihood, before she is dealt with fairly by the State.
§ Mr. FIELD
I do not propose to deal with any particular cases, but as I represent Dublin, which has furnished some 21,000 recruits to the Army, I desire briefly to take part in this Debate. I have sent several pensions cases on to the War Office and the Pensions Committee. In some of these cases I received no reply whatever. In one case that I have in my mind I made three applications, and I received the usual reply that the matter was under consideration. "Under consideration" will not keep a family alive. Sympathy is probably one of the most expressive words in the. English language; but sympathy is not help. I trust, therefore, that when the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary replies he will give us some definite statement on the points which have been raised. We in Ireland want to know what is the meaning of institutions? Is there an institution to be started there? If so by whom, and by whom will it be supported? How is it proposed to carry it on? Secondly, I agree with the hon. Member who spoke last. There is no reason why Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotsmen should all be brought to London for treatment. The three nationalities—or perhaps the fourth—I suppose. Wales is a nation 1661 also? Considering the Prime Minister is a Welshman, you can scarcely ignore that nationality.
§ Mr. FIELD
I doubt whether he is a Nationalist or not; that is a matter of uncertainty. To return, however, to the point. I believe the proper way to treat these soldiers is to send them to their own country. In that way you will have a decentralisation of effort, more sympathetic treatment, and the men, being nearer to their homes, the result will be in every way more satisfactory. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary in his reply will make some definite statement in reference to those extraordinary cases of hardship which have been brought forward by various Members. In Ireland the word "pensions" is almost regarded as a farce. For this reason; I personally am aware that in the South Dublin Union, which is situated in my Constituency, and which I frequently visit, there are several men who have fought for Britain and who are putting in the end of their existence under the auspices of the union. What the House wants to know, and what I want to know, is how is this? What those in charge of this important question ought to remember is that these cases are discussed among the class from whom you expect recruits. They say, and naturally: "If this is the treatment I and my family are going to receive after the War I am not going to enlist." If you want to have recruiting carried in the three kingdoms you must treat the soldiers well in regard to pensions, and not only the soldiers but their families. You must not allow these complaints to be made inside or outside the House. The Government will consult the best interests of all concerned by taking in hand liberally, generously, and justly, those cases which come before the pensions committees In conclusion, I would emphasise the desirability of each nationality taking care of its own people in regard to the administration of this Pensions Warrant.
§ Colonel Sir H. GREENWOOD
In the first week in September of last year, when the Ministry of Pensions Bill was before the House, I raised the question of employment by the Pensions Ministry. I received an undertaking from the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board that 1662 any increase in the staff of the Pensions; Ministry should be given, so far as possible, to soldiers and sailors who had served in this War and who had been broken in the War, or to the womenfolk dependent upon the soldiers and sailors who had been killed in the War. I want to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman on the Front Bench now in charge of this Warrant if that, which was tantamount to a pledge to me, has been carried out? I know, and we all know, that there has been a large increase in the staff of the Ministry of Pensions, and also in the staff of the local committees. My question to him is: Has the pledge been carried out, and preference given to those men and women who, I think—and who, I think, the House thinks—are deserving of the first consideration? I congratulate, as many hon. Members have done, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions, and his hon. and gallant colleague, on the great advance they have made in this Royal Warrant. But there is no question of finality about pensions even as they are set out in this. Royal Warrant, and, among other reasons,. this is the great reason: You always have before the British soldier, whet-ever he is soldiering, the generous parallel of his Colonial kinsman. At the moment the British soldier is the worst paid and the worst pensioned of all the soldiers of the white-speaking part of the Empire. These Colonial kinsmen are fighting and dying side by side with the British soldier, and the British soldier is bound, when the time comes, to resent a difference in pay and a difference in pension both to himself and his dependants which, in my mind, are not justified by the facts of the case.
Therefore, I myself think that the Minister of Pensions and the Government generally should take good care to meet many of the grievances that have been raised in this Debate, and to make up their mind that we have only made one stride forward towards a generous goal, in so far as we can ever repay the soldiers and sailors and their dependants, and that year by year, especially as these men comeback to this country, the demand for pensions will grow, and the demand for pensions must be met. I myself think that, after the peace is declared, it will take from three to five years before all the soldiers and sailors now fighting are demobilised and return to their homes Even if the Army is demobilised at the 1663 rate of 100,000 a month, it would take over four years, and each returning 100,000 would speak with greater emphasis in demanding a better pension for himself and for his dependants. Whatever the future may have for this Royal Warrant, and I certainly think it is a great step in advance, the Minister, the Government, and the House may be sure we are only beginning to hear the word "pension," and that the demand for pensions on behalf of the now voiceless millions will be the loudest voice in our domestic politics for the next generation.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I intervene for a few minutes to express a view which has been conveyed to me in very many letters and resolutions received since the House discussed the terms of this Royal Warrant only a few days ago. I have said before, and would like to repeat now, that the Ministry of Pensions is to be congratulated upon the terms of this Warrant, as compared with any provisions previously made by the State to acknowledge and cover the services of the men who are serving the country in this its sorest hour of need. It is, indeed, an immense advance upon anything which Parliament in previous years ever thought of doing, and, indeed, a great advance on anything public opinion in previous years ever thought of doing. All that is to the good, and is the outcome, one may say, of the united desire of this House and of the natural growth of public opinion which is formed in its favour in the country. But this is all the more reason why a complete job should be made of the Royal Warrant on this occasion. The sense of injustice in the mind of a considerable number of people, particularly the 50,000 or 60,000 men who are prejudiced in their claim by the terms of the Royal Warrant, is serious enough to justify reconsideration on the part of the Government. Some 50,000 or 60,000 men are already declared to have been disabled, not by a wound, but by some one of the many other causes which give rise to disability, as the result of military training or of war service, and this Royal Warrant lays it down that the recompense of the nation to these men is to be different in principle from the recompense of the nation in regard to the men who are wounded actually in active service. I have not read, I suppose, all that has been said on behalf 1664 of the Government in respect to what is being done to justify their policy, but I confess that I have not read nor have I heard any argument which appears to me to justify this very serious distinction. The Warrant itself is silent, and does not offer any argument to justify this distinction. I ask, Is the distinction one of real principle that can be justified or is it one of terms? Does the distinction of treatment, as between the man who is to have a pension for life because of his degree of disability, and the other, who is to be sent off with a lump sum, arise upon some settled principle which can be justified? If so, then I would certainly like to hear the reason. A distinction is claimed, and I would ask the Government to remember that the very idea of lump sums for disabilities in the case of those who belong as nearly all private soldiers do, to working-class families, has been looked upon by the Government as undesirable, and there is the further and stronger reason on that account why there should be equality of treatment as between the two classes of disabled soldiers to whom I refer. A lump sum is undesirable for two reasons. For one reason, into which I need not go, a lump sum does not go as far, is not as useful and serviceable and, one may candidly say, is not as properly spent in the hands of a great many men and women as would be sums received week by week. The other reason, plainly, is that the man who receives a lump sum is certain that at some time—probably some very early period—it will be exhausted, and he looks forward to a condition of poverty, of serious want it may be, and that is a fact which deepens the sense of injustice to which I refer.
So far as I have heard any argument yet put forward, it is that this is an extremely costly scheme, and the line must be drawn somewhere. Compared with the enormous cost of this War, this section of the nation's business is, after all, to be covered at a comparatively cheap rate. The figures which have been given to us indicate that, as year follows year, and going from now right to the point when there will be no pensions payable at all, the cost will be somewhere in the region of £15,000,000 a year. In face of what we are now having to meet, and in face of what will be for a considerable time the national Budget—a Budget that, I suppose, we may contemplate will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of £400,000,000 or £500,000,000, a 1665 sum I am putting at the lowest, so far as we can estimate at this moment—that sum of £15,000,000 is not an appalling amount for the discharge of such a national obligation as this one we have to meet. The fact is that the soldier has had to undertake national service of a far more dangerous and onerous kind than any other class of service which any man has had to undertake in this country in the national interests. We have heard a good deal about National Service, and we find many people are favouring the idea of compulsory National Service. Just for a moment compare the pay for that service with the pay offered to the soldier for service in the trenches, for he is offered only 1s. or 1s. 2d. a day, in fact, the soldier is offered one-third of what is the minimum offer to those who will undertake industrial service even as an agricultural labourer. Of course, the skilled mechanic, the tradesman, and the ordinary industrial labourer who works at home, sleeps in a decent bed, and enjoys the ordinary amenities of domestic life, and those men are offered several times as much as is offered to the soldier.
If a man is injured in National Service, or if he meets with an accident in industry and is disabled, he is certain to receive many times more than the State is offering at the present moment to the soldier. Upon what ground can we justify these distinctions? I know there are a great many people who serve their country in time of war who are very well paid for it. I do not say that as an argument or a taunt against them, but I merely point this out as one of the incidental disparities of the War. You cannot have evenness of sacrifice or evenness of service either under a voluntary or compulsory service system. Very many people are doing very well out of the War, in fact, they are doing so well that some of them do not care how long it lasts. Fortunes are being made rapidly out of the War, and if you are afraid of applying the same treatment to men who are disabled in the War as to other men, if you are afraid of the cost of applying the same principles, let us make those men pay the cost out of the great profits they are now making out of the War. The Government ought not to shirk any means of finding the necessary money to treat equally the soldiers whether they are disabled by a bullet or by disease.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
We have had a good many arguments, and I do not think there is anything can be said which is likely to add to them.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I will endeavour to reply as well as I can to the many questions which have been put to me. First of all, I will deal with two or three of the last speeches. One hon. Member spoke about the men receiving a gratuity, and his main point about the reason why there is any differentiation I will deal with in a moment. One of his objections was to there being a lump sum paid, but I may point out that by the Regulations we are drawing up to carry out the new Warrant we have inserted a provision that in every case where the gratuity is more than £25 it should be left to the local committee to administer in whatever way they consider is best. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Sir R Greenwood) asked whether the Pensions Minister was making the fullest possible use of pensioners. I may say that both in the Pensions Ministry and on the local committees wherever possible we are making full use of the services of pensioners. I know there was a case where one local committee inserted in their advertisement, "No pensioners need apply," but we took notice of that case and the advertisements were withdrawn.
The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Watt) asked whether the new concession which had been made in the Warrant in Clause 21 went far enough, and he said that in a case where there had been no pre-war dependency, where the son had been killed in action and the husband had died the widow would get no assistance except in cases where she was incapable of self-support. I do not think my hon. Friend quite heard all the words read out by the Pensions Minister. We have made provision for that case which was omitted before and now even though there are no pre-war dependency in a case where the son is killed and the husband dies after the War, in every such case where the woman is 1667 wholly or partially incapable of self-support she will get a pension limited to 15s. a week. That is a great move forward, and I think it meets a hiatus in the previous Warrant. I come now to some of the points made by that great authority on pensions my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I say great authority, and I am prepared to admit the Pensions Ministry, the Statutory Committee, and even this House is indebted largely to my hon. Friend in regard to this question of pensions, but I do deeply deplore the attitude he has taken up towards this Warrant. After all this Warrant contains a great many things which the hon. Member has asked for, and he admits it is a great improve-on anything we have had before, and yet his speech this afternoon was largely niggling criticism on a number of small points. I think my hon. Friend would have done better if he had patted himself on the back, and said, "Look how splendidly I have done. I am really responsible for this new Warrant." Take some of the points he made. He told us that really there was very small addition in money to the present Warrant under our new proposals, and he said that it is only 2s. 6d. extra and that it is only 27s. 6d. instead of 25s. I think it is minimising our proposals in a very unfair way when the hon. Member leaves out of account that alternative pension based on pre-war earnings.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Only in exceptional circumstances and the proposals of the Ministry are much wider than the Regulations of the Statutory Committee for this reason: we base the new pension on pre-war earnings; they took into account pre-war income. We do not care in the least what the private income of the man is: we base our pension on what the man was able to earn, and that is a great step forward. I think I have a right to claim for the Ministry that we have done that, and my hon. Friend failed entirely to allude to it when he told us that we were only going 2s. 6d. better. His next point of complaint was with regard to the wages paid at Chelsea. I do not quite know what his complaint is, but if he brings to the notice of my right hon. Friend and myself any case of injustice in 1668 the wages paid to our staff at Chelsea we will do our very best to put it right. Since the Ministry took matters over from the Chelsea Commissioners the whole scale of wages has been largely increased, and, that being so, I do not think we are really open to any complaint on that ground. He next complained of an Army Council Instruction lately issued. He did not tell us the number or the date of it. If an Army Council Instruction was issued it must have referred either to service pensions which remain under the War Office or to separation allowances. It could not refer to the scale of pensions for men, which is solely under the Pensions Ministry. My hon. Friend asked if we could give him some account of the relations of the Ministry and the Statutory Committee? He knows perfectly well that the Statutory Committee work under the instructions and under the control of the Minister of Pensions. What more does he-want?
§ Mr. HOGGE
I will tell you, and I think the House is entitled to know. It is not a point of criticism at all. All I want to know is how the Statutory Committee now stands with regard to the Pensions Ministry. Are we going to have new Regulations under Part T. or Part II., or are you going to do it off your own bat, as I think you ought to do? I am only, as an ignorant individual, asking for information.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
There are certain parts of the work which up to date have been done by the Statutory Committee and which we have asked them to continue. There are other parts which we are taking into our own hands. The Regulations of the Statutory Committee are now being amended in order to bring them into accord with the terms of the new Warrant. Generally speaking, there is perfectly harmonious working, and we think that we can find a very useful place for the Statutory Committee in our new scheme. Of course, the work of the Statutory Committee is to some extent curtailed by the fact that so much is now put into the Warrant which before was a matter of discretion left to the Statutory Committee. Its work to that extent is reduced. On the other hand, its work to some extent will be increased. There is plenty for both of us to do; in fact, too much. There is room for both of us, and we are working harmoniously together. I come now to another point which I confess. 1669 I do not know how to answer, because I have been approached from two different points of view. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh was very anxious that there should be power to commute pensions.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The hon. and gallant Member for the Melton Division (Colonel Yate), and I think the hon. Member for Devonport (Sir C. Kin-loch-Cooke), were opposed to the commutation of pensions.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I am strongly in favour of commutation. The hon. and gallant Gentleman for the Melton Division is opposed to it.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Speaking generally, we think that commutation is a pity except in exceptional circumstances. There may be cases in which a man can buy a business or where he may want to emigrate and where it may be desirable to have power to commute the pension. We provide for that; Article 1215 of the Warrant of 1915 remains in force. If my hon. Friend will look at the Second Schedule of the new Warrant he will see that is one of the Articles which remain in force, and under that Article, subject to proper safeguards, a man may commute with the consent of the Pensions Minister.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Certainly; the whole circumstances are reviewed and the consent of the Army Council (i.e., now the Pensions Minister) obtained. Under those circumstances we can give permission, subject only to this, that he must retain a pension of at least 1s. a day.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
It refers to both. While we wish to discourage the commutation of pensions as much as possible, we do retain the power to allow it in exceptional circumstances. The hon. Member then asked when we were going to have the new Warrant for officers, and he suggested that we should 1670 postpone putting this new Warrant for the men into operation until we had the officers' Warrant before the House.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I am in the memory of the House. I only hope that my hon. Friend did not say so. These things cannot be done in a day. It would take us time to bring out a fair and proper revision of the officers' Warrant, and I am most anxious to get this new Warrant for the men into operation. Therefore, I very much deprecate any attempt to postpone it for any purpose whatsoever. The hon. Member said, and I think other hon. Members have also said, that it is a great pity there is no appeal. He said that a man goes to Chelsea, or, if he is a sailor, to the Pensions Ministry, to have his pension fixed, and he may get a pension which he thinks too small or no pension at all, and there is no appeal. There really is an appeal. There is an appeal to the Minister of Pensions.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Not precisely. A man goes before the ordinary awarding officer, who deals with his case according to the findings of the medical board and his discretion. If there is any grievance the Minister of Pensions hears of it pretty quickly. I can assure my hon. Friend that at Chelsea now every doubtful case is put on one side. It goes before an Advisory Board, of which I have the honour to be chairman. We go through these cases most carefully, and I can assure the House that we always give the man the benefit of the doubt. We think we have to, and that is our policy. There are many cases where medical boards have decided there has been no aggravation by or that the disability was not attributable to military service, and if our decisions in those cases did not give satisfaction what has happened? The dissatisfied man probably wrote to his Member of Parliament. The Member of Parliament tackled my right hon. Friend in the Lobby, and as a matter of fact I believe he has been tackled by two or three M. P.s this afternoon. [An HON. Mr. MEMBER: "Why not?"] I am not complaining, but I say there is plenty of provision for an appeal for full consideration. When this sort of thing happens my right hon. Friend asks me for particulars of the case, and he judges it on its own merits.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
There are lots of people who think they will do as well by writing to the Pensions Minister direct as through Members of Parliament, and we get many cases brought before us in that way. I can assure the House that these cases are dealt with most considerately, and I do not see there is anything to be gained by setting up anything in the nature of a Court of Appeal. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh expressed himself very doubtful about a certain article in the old Warrant, Article 1162. The hon. Member did not hear my answer on that point on the last occasion. What we say is this: that where it is more favourable to a man to proceed under the terms of the old Warrant than under the terms of the new Warrant, we give him the choice of proceeding under the old Warrant, and if it is favourable why should he not have that choice?
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
And if we did we would make it worse for the man. He only uses it if it is better for him to do so.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I may mention a case where it is more favourable for a man to come under the old Warrant—a man whose disablement has neither been caused by nor is attributable to, nor has been aggravated by military service. That man under our new Warrant gets a gratuity for himself, but if he happens to have had fourteen years' service, if he had served before the War, and had put in fourteen years' service, then, under the old Warrant, he would be entitled to a pension of 4s. 8d. per week for disablement—a pension for life. That being so, why on earth should he not have that opportunity? What object could there be in scrapping the Warrant in his case?
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
My hon. Friend misunderstands me. A man with fourteen years' service is not entitled 1672 to a Service pension unless he is disabled. If we allow him to come under the old Warrant he will get the pension.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH - BOSCAWEN
Article 7 (2). A man invalided out of the Army, where his disablement is not attributable to nor aggravated by military service, may get a gratuity under Article 7 (2), but if he has had fourteen years' service, and is disabled, he is entitled to a pension of 4s. 8d. In that way the provision is in his favour, and again I ask why scrap it? The hon. Member expressed another great fear. He said that a man who had got a Service pension would lose that pension under the new Warrant.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I think the hon. Member is entirely wrong. That does not apply, under the new Warrant, to re-enlisted men who have got a Service pension for more than eighteen years' service.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
If he had only seventeen years' service, he would not have a Service pension, and he would only have a pension after fourteen years if he happened to be disabled. Therefore that case does not apply, and, in this instance, I am sure my hon. Friend has got hold of a marc's nest. The hon. Member also asked how is the disability to be arrived at? We have boasted that in this Warrant we have cut out all reference to earnings and earning capacity. We say that if a man has suffered a certain physical disability he shall have a pension for that impairment. How is it to be arrived at? It is arrived at by the medical examination. That examination tells us whether the disablement amounts to 100 per cent., 80 per cent., 70 per cent., 50 per cent., or whatever it may be, and according to that the man gets a pension, and the matter of wages or of earning capacity does not enter in any degree.
Now I come to what is by far the most contentious point of the whole argument, the question of the man under Article 7 (2) 1673 whose disability is neither attributable to, nor aggravated by, military service. My hon. Friend makes a great point of that. He said that "if a man is fit to fight he is fit for a pension." He talks about "broken men." He says that "these are men who have been broken in the War." I beg to assure the House that the hon. Member, in using such language, is simply begging the question from beginning to end. These men never were fit to fight. These are the men whom we took into the Army no doubt, but many of them never did a single day's training. It was seen that a mistake had been made in admitting them, and so far from being fit to fight or being broken in the War they never had a chance of doing any fighting and never went near the War at all. I gave the House on the last occasion a list of sixty men from one battalion, not one of whom had ever done a single day's training.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
They never did a day's training. It was discovered they were not fit, and without doing a day's training they had to be invalided out of the Army. Does my hon. Friend say that these men are to have pensions for the rest of their lives?
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
My lion. Friend used some rather threatening language He said, "You will hear about this when the soldiers come home." I venture to say, if we gave these pensions, when the fit men do come home—the men who have been in the trenches—we shall hear a good deal about it. I cannot imagine greater indignation than will be expressed by the men who have been fighting at the front when they find that men who never did a single day's training are getting pensions for life, while those who have served are getting none. Let me give an example. Here is a case which came up the other day at Chelsea. A man was discharged for chronic synovitis of the knee. The extent of his incapacity was one-half. He had served three months and had done but one day's drill, and the origin of his disability was an accident in civil life before he enlisted. Can it be contended that that man ought to have a life pension? Here is another case of a man who did seven months' training, who was invalided for the loss of the right 1674 thumb, due to an accident with a steam saw in civil life five years before he enlisted. Why on earth should that man have a pension for life for an accident that took place five years before he enlisted in the Army?
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
We give him a gratuity. He is not eligible for a pension because he is not qualified, that is all. Let me give another case. Here is a man who did three months' service and, altogether, five days' drill. He did better than some of them. He was invalided for injury to the knee five years ago which was not the result of military service. He was permanently disqualified for work for the Army, and the remark is made:An operation that might have put him right had been unreasonably refused.Is that man to have a pension?
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I will take another case which is, perhaps, the most remarkable of all. Here is a man who did about nine months' service. He was invalided for insanity. On inquiry, it was discovered that he had been in a lunatic asylum four times before he enlisted and only came out of one eight days before he did enlist. That, again, is a man who, according to my hon. Friend, should be eligible for a pension for life.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
All I claim is that we have done something for these men. We have recognised the principle that as they were passed into the Army fit, or nominally fit, we should endeavour to do something for them. We have therefore dealt with them by means of a gratuity, and we believe that a gratuity is the best and the proper course to adopt. We do not think that they ought to have pensions for life. We think it would be a scandal if some of them did have pensions. But I can assure the House that wherever it can be proved that there is anything in the nature of aggravation—my hon. Friend quoted one or two cases 1675 of men who had been passed in category A and had served at the front, but whose health had broken down—if that is the case, there would be aggravation, and the men would be eligible for pensions. In every single case where there is the slightest idea of aggravation by military service there will be a pension, and I can assure the House that we shall deal with the matter in the most sympathetic spirit.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
In the first instance, the medical board. It could be revised by the awarding officers at Chelsea. It could be further revised by the Advisory Board at Chelsea, and, finally, it could come under the purview of the Ministry.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
If there is any question of any injustice being done, we have the outside power of the Statutory Committee to come in with a more humane view to deal with these cases.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Every possible precaution is taken to see that these men are fairly treated. There is one other point to which I should like to refer. Several hon. Members have spoken very strongly in favour of raising the maximum limit from £100 to £200. The hon. Member for Leith Burghs (Mr. Currie) also raised that point. I can only say this: I can make no promise, but we are willing to take further advice on the matter. It may be decided to do it, but I cannot promise that. We have the whole matter under consideration, and what has been said in the House this afternoon will weigh with my right hon. Friend and myself. One or two other questions have been put by hon. Members with which I should like to deal. One or two hon. Members from Ireland have spoken, and I will endeavour, as far as I can, to answer the points they have brought forward. The hon. Member for West Donegal (Mr. Hugh Law) referred to Article 8, which deals with temporary allowances, and he spoke of the long delays that took place after the man was discharged before he got a pension. He asked whether that 1676 Article was intended to cover that period. Let me assure my hon. Friend that, though I admit there were long delays at one time, those delays have been reduced considerably; in fact, at the present moment Chelsea is absolutely up to date with its work. In order to meet the very awkward period after Army pay and separation allowance stop and before the pension is definitely settled—it may be two or three weeks, it may be a month; as a rule it is not more than two or three weeks—we give a temporary allowance of 14s. a week. That is the present rule. It is subject also to this, that if it amounts to less than the pension ultimately awarded, the man may claim back pension up to the full amount from the date of his being invalided; but if, on the other hand, it is more than the pension awarded, we do not claim anything that has been overpaid.
My hon. Friend also alluded to the provisions of Article 11. Those are the provisions which qualify a widow for a pension under the Warrant. He said that a great amount of misunderstanding has arisen because the wording of that Article is rather different from the wording in Article 1, which deals with a disabled man. Husband whose woman the about speak we Here service. Military through disabled is who man a of speak we 1 Article In has been killed in the performance of military duty or whose disease has been substantially aggravated by active service. The question is asked: Why do we speak of active service here and of military service in the other Article? I can assure the House that there is no snag there. We are merely using the words of the existing Warrant. Active service in this War is exactly the same thing as military service, because everybody is under active service conditions, whether at home or abroad. I do not think that hon. Members need be afraid that we intend to treat the widow in any way unfairly by the use of these words.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
The point I made is why the word "substantially" is put in before "aggravated." Why should it be "substantially aggravated" in the case of a pension for a widow and only "aggravated" in the case of a pension for a man?
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The reason is this, "substantially aggravated" refers to the case of a man who dies of a disease which had been contracted or substantially aggravated in 1677 the War. The death may take place some years after his discharge from the Army, therefore we want to be perfectly certain that there was real aggravation, and for that reason the word "substantially" has been put in. It means that the disease really was aggravated by service. However, I entirely agree that the word may be open to misconstruction, and I have the authority of the Minister to say that we are perfectly prepared to take further advice upon it. The hon. Member raised a rather small point of the definition of a dependant as a person wholly or partially dependent on the soldier for a reasonable period immediately before the commencement of the War, and he instanced a case where there has been dependence but not absolutely immediately before the commencement of the War. That again is a difficult point which we have to notice, and we are prepared to take further advice. The hon. Member also spoke of a matter which is perhaps of much greater importance, and that is the whole question of the training and treatment of disabled soldiers in Ireland. The hon. Member (Mr. Brady) asked if the Minister of Pensions really expected and intended that these poor fellows broken by the War should end their days and be treated by the workhouse.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I quite understand. Let me put the point quite straight. The very last place we want to see the disabled soldier to go to, whether it be in England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, is the workhouse. But the whole question is one of the organisation of the after care of the soldier in different parts of the country, and my right hon. Friend is trying very hard to get that put upon a systematic basis in every part of the United Kingdom. He has has already formed a joint committee for the whole of Lancashire for the purpose of pooling facilities for treatment and training and making it available for the whole county. To-morrow he and I are going to Leeds to try to set up the same system in Yorkshire. We are going very shortly to Scotland for the same purpose. I am at present engaged with the hon. Member for Monmouthshire in trying to 1678 arrange a similar scheme for the whole of Wales, and we are quite prepared to take any steps we can to see that some sort of national system for the treatment of disabled soldiers is formed in Ireland whereby all the different facilities for the treatment of those who require it and for training those who can be re-educated in a new way when they are no longer able to carry on their former vocation shall be pooled and placed at the disposal of the broken soldier. There are many cases of men discharged from the Army who cannot go to work immediately—some will never be able to go to work—who can be treated in institutions—advanced cases of phthisis, epileptics, and so forth. We are prepared, wherever facilities can be found for treating these people in institutions, to pay for the maintenance of the men in those institutions. We do that by the very clauses of this Warrant.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I hope in those parts of the country generous voluntary societies, and rich people will come forward and provide the capital expenditure for these institutions, as is being done in many parts of England, notably by the Red Cross Society. It is the duty of the State, if these institutions cannot be found voluntarily, to actually set them up themselves. We do not shrink from that obligation, but we put this forward, that if the rich and generous persons and voluntary agencies will find the initial cost we are quite prepared to find the money for the maintenance of the men in these institutions, and on these lines I hope we may be able to cover the whole country, and that every disabled man will find facilities. When the hon. Member asks if we can build these places none of us can build except by permission of the Ministry of Munitions, and therefore we deprecate the setting up of new buildings. Apart from that, this is quite a temporary business, and we do not want to land the country with a large number of new buildings which will not be required a few years hence, but we will do all we can to encourage the adaptation and equipment of existing buildings, and if hon. Members opposite will join the 1679 Minister of Pensions in trying to set up a Disablement Committee for the whole of Ireland and pool these facilities we will do all we can to help support them.
The hon. Member (Mr. Wardle) asked whether men who have fought and been awarded pensions will have them taken from them, and he instanced several cases where men have been awarded pensions on account of various disabilities, and afterwards, apparently because they had gone to work and were earning wages, the pensions had been taken from them, or at all events, reduced. I know that in awarding pensions up to the present time it has been the habit, when what is called a conditional pension has been given and it has come up for renewal, to take into account whether the man was at work or not, and if he was at work, if he was earning large wages, to reduce the pension.
§ Mr. BILLING
The point I wanted to receive attention was where soldiers are working in Lord Roberts' Home and receiving a payment of about 18s, to £ 1 a week.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
That is practically the same ease, though I was really quoting the words of the hon. Member (Mr. Wardle). Under this new Warrant that practice is swept away altogether. The flat or minimum rate is a certain definite money compensation for a certain physical impairment. Whether that impairment is the loss of a limb or some illness he gets the money as of right in accordance with the terms of the Schedule, and after that we make no inquiry as to whether he is at work or not. It belongs to him as a right, and because of the suffering he has undergone. That, I think, is perhaps the most noticeable feature of this new Warrant. I claim for this new Warrant that it introduces new principles which will be of the greatest importance to those poor fellows, and among those new principles there is nothing better than this, that the pension is the man's right as compensation, and so far from reducing it because he is at work we would rather increase it if we could, because we want to get the men back to work as soon as possible, so that they may become useful members of society. I think hon. Members will agree that though this Warrant is not perfect it is a vast improvement on the old one, and although the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) does not agree with every word of it—
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
If there is only one point of difference there must be at least thirty or forty points of agreement, and I hope my hon. Friend will remember that the points of agreement far outnumber the points of disagreement.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I put a question to the hon. and gallant Member with regard to the cases of widows of men who died from injuries or disease not attributable to the military service. Under the Warrant these widows are to have temporary pensions. I want to know whether the widows of men who die from a certain class of disease which has been mentioned very freely this afternoon come within that Clause?
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The whole question depends upon whether the case was aggravated by military service. If it was aggravated by military service the widow would be entitled to a pension; if it was not, she would not be entitled.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I propose to deal with the one point of difference which divides the hon. and gallant Member from my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge). Neither my hon. Friend nor any other hon. Member will seek in any way to disparage the spirit in which the hon. and gallant Member has replied to the criticism which has been addressed to him in this Debate. He has, I think, met nearly every point which has been raised in a spirit of the utmost fairness, and the Department, following the principle which on a former occasion it has already displayed, has once more made a concession which ought rightfully to be made to reasonable criticism in this House. If, therefore, my hon Friend the Member for East Edinburgh, instead of following the course suggested to him by the hon. and gallant Gentleman of congratulating himself on the results of his labours which are embodied in the new Royal Warrant, had dispensed with criticism, he would have failed to obtain the rewards which have been granted as a result of discussion in this House. The one point of difference arises from the position of men who under the terms of this Warrant, are only to be entitled to a 1681 gratuity. This is really an old controversy. Nearly two years ago the position of the man whose disease or disability was not solely attributable to service was first raised from this quarter of the House. At that time we were met with a non possmnus from the representatives of the Government, but after many efforts to influence the Front Bench we eventually obtained from them what we believed to be a very important concession, which amounted to this, that the soldier or sailor was entitled to a pension not only in respect of disease which was directly attributable to service, but also in respect of disease which had been aggravated by service. That was embodied in the White Paper which was issued some time ago as an Army Order, and a change to the same effect was made by a document issued by the Admiralty, for which we are indebted to my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary (Dr. Macnamara).
§ Mr. PRINGLE
My right hon. Friend says it was not necessary. But at any rate the fact that it came from the Admiralty shows that some change was required. What is the position under the new Warrant? We have really no improvement under the Warrant in respect to this matter. Instead of improvement we find that so far as the widow of such a man was concerned her position was absolutely worsened, because in the case of the widow it had to be proved that the disease from which the deceased soldier died was not only aggravated but had been substantially aggravated by the soldier's military service. I am glad to observe that in my hon. and gallant Friend's reply he has indicated that the Pensions Minister is willing to take further advice in regard to the objectionable word "substantial." I hope that that further advice will lead the Department to withdraw the word altogether. If it is allowed to remain it will simply be an inducement to the doctors to withdraw the pension from these women on the ground that a substantial cause of exaggeration has to be made out, and consequently the position of the widow will be much worse than if this new Warrant had not been issued. I come now to the real point of difference. The Minister of Pensions, in the speech he made earlier to-day, said that all the cases brought forward by my hon. Friend the 1682 Member for East Edinburgh were cases that have occurred before the beginning of the new and happy régime over which he presides.
The point which my hon. Friend makes, and on account of which he adduces all his illustrations, is that these cases all happened under a system substantially the same as that now presided over by my right hon. Friend, and under Regulations exactly identical in character. You are going to have the same words regarding aggravation. You are going to have the medical board at Chelsea as the sole authority to decide. Therefore, my hon. Friend is entitled to infer that the results will be the same under the new régime, and that if under the former system, with the same words to interpret, and with the same tribunal to interpret them, you got these results, you will equally have the same unfortunate results under the system of my right hon. Friend. It is true that my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Secretary endeavoured to lead the House to believe that there was some sort of appeal. He was dealing, I think,. with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Lanark (Mr. Millar) as to the necessity for an appeal. He said in effect that there is an appeal, that in the first instance any of these people who are refused pensions can write to their Member of Parliament who will bring the matter to the notice of the Minister of Pensions, or if they do not write to the Member of Parliament in a great number of cases they send letters direct to the Minister of Pensions himself, so that they shall have, if not in form, in reality an appeal. But would it not be better to have the system of appeal regularised? Why should the appeal of a man who is refused a pension depend upon the influence which his Member of Parliament has with the Minister of Pensions, or his skill in writing letters direct to the Minister of Pensions, or on the mood which the Minister of Pensions may happen to be for the moment? If it is to be allowed that an appeal is necessary and that even this irregular appeal is to be sanctioned as part of the practice of the Minister of Pensions, then it would be far better, from the point of view of the Minister and of his Department, to set up a regular machinery of appeal.
My hon. Friend (Sir H. Craik) who represents me in this House, the Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities, tells me that there is such an appeal to 1683 the Statutory Committee, but that is only a partial appeal. The Statutory Committee can give relief only for a certain definite period. It has no right to grant a pension. We are dealing here with the desirability of granting pensions from the Ministry of Pensions, and the point is not one that can be decided by the Minister of Pensions or by an official in his Department. In the great majority of cases it is a question for medical men. At the present time the decision as to pensions is determined entirely by the view of the medical men at Chelsea as to whether the disease has been aggravated by ser--vice. It is only fair to ask that there should be some independent tribunal to which an appeal can be made. It is the only outstanding point, the only substantial question which has really arisen on this Royal Warrant. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman and the Minister of Pensions should take into consideration the question of a further appeal they would do much to meet the criticism which is now being made. I am very anxious to see a settlement. The hon. and gallant Gentleman does not dispose of this matter by reading out the details of a few ridiculous and absurd cases in this House. These are not the real cases. If they were there would be no agitation at all. It is because many hon. Members have had brought to their Attention the cases of men whose disease has been really aggravated by service, but who have been turned down by the medical authorities that he is being faced by this criticism, and will continue to be faced by it until the situation is dealt with. I am endeavouring to show the Pensions Ministry a way out. That is the method of appeal. I do not ask the Government to commit themselves to any particular form, but undoubtedly the case made today in the course of this Debate is clear, and it is impossible to leave this matter to the unchecked, unsupervised and uncontrolled decisions of the medical authorities at Chelsea. That system has been tried and found wanting in the past.
I think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman or his chief should indicate that a proposal for some form of appeal would be entertained by his Department. The method of meeting the criticism proves that that they themselves see the desirability of it. They try to meet it by suggesting this irregular form of appeal through Members of Parliament, through letters to the Department, or in the 1684 Lobby. These things are all unsatisfactory. They are not to be settled in the Lobby of the House of Commons. They are questions to be determined by independent medical men who are not the servants of the Chelsea Committee. If the right hon. Gentleman now will say that such a proposal will be considered by the Government—we only ask for consideration—then I think that the appeal made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman to my hon. Friend not to divide on this Vote tonight is a reasonable appeal. I am offering a way out of a difficulty —that is a statement from the Government that this form of regularised appeal will be considered by the Government. If they are willing to make that announcement now there will be no Division. We have mat the appeal made in a fair spirit, and if the Government meet us by an equally fair response, then a Division on this Vote might easily be saved.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I desire to associate myself with the eloquent appeal which has been made by my hon. Friend (Mr. Pringle). I am sorry, in view of the moderate character of the demand which he has made, that the representative of the Pensions Ministry did not see his way to accept the suggestion. Perhaps I may be permitted, in view of the fact that this is my only intervention in a Debate on this question, to congratulate the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) upon the triumph of his great work and his unceasing labours in connection with this scheme. I think that, apart altogether from the irresistible case which has been made on behalf of the Amendment by the hon. Member who has just sat down, considering the very modest demand that has been made by one who has done so much to bring this pensions scheme into existence, his request should be acceded to. I have some experience in regard to other pensions, which strengthens me in the conviction that some authority of this character ought to be set up. Some time ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer consented, in view of the insistent demands made upon him, to the grant of an additional half-crown to old age pensioners but he put in words that this half-crown should be given in case of special circumstances. The result of these words has been that old age pensioners by the thousand have been robbed of the half-crown which we understood would be Riven to them. Pensions committees have 1685 recommended the half-crown and pension authorities have refused to give it. Pensions officers, thinking themselves the appointed custodians of the Treasury, have taken away from those old people over seventy years of age the right to which they were entitled, as we understood the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman made this concession to the universal demand of all Members of this House. In my opinion those words are put into these schemes, and into this Warrant, and into the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, not perhaps with the intention on the part of the Minister, but certainly with the interpretation that was put upon it by the officers of the Government, to withhold this money from people entitled to it. If a person gets 5s. a week old age pension, it stands to reason that he is entitled to the extra half-crown without any "special circumstances" being at all concerned. There is one distinctive special circumstance, and the only one, and it is that the 5s. given at the time the Old Age Pensions Act was passed requires the extra half-crown in order to make the 7s. 6d. go as far as the 5s. went then. Yet an entirely false interpretation has been put upon the words "special circumstances" by these pensions officers, notwithstanding the fact that the pension committees have sanctioned this additional half-crown for old age pensions. I think, in view of the experience we have had in regard to old age pensions, this appeal ought to be allowed, and if it is not granted we shall be glad to go into the Lobby with my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
I rise to support the appeal which has been made to the Pensions Minister to make some concession to the unanimous demand of the House with regard to provision for the medically unfit. I have listened to practically all the speeches that have been made on all sides of the House to-day, and the one point of significance and of substance which stands out in dispute between the Pensions Minister and the House is the treatment of the medically unfit. In regard to the scheme of this Pensions Warrant, it is agreed by the House, I think generally, that in so far as provision has to be made for the soldier or sailor who has been wounded, my right hon. Friend the Pensions Minister has been fairly generous in his treatment, and has done what was expected of him when he was appointed to his most important office. I think, 1686 generally, the right hon. Gentleman deserves to be congratulated on the success he has achieved, and I think I can say, without any attempt to flatter him, that the House has confidence in him probably above any other man on the Treasury Bench, not only in respect of his impartiality and fairness, but in the friendliness with which he enters into the needs of soldiers and of their dependants, and I believe the House is satisfied that he will carry out the great task which has been assigned to him with that thoroughness which has characterised him during the whole of his Parliamentary experience.
If I may have the attention of the Pensions Minister for one moment, I would like to point out to him that the one blemish on his scheme is that which has been so ably pointed out by the Member for Blast Edinburgh, to whom I venture to say the House is not less indebted than it is to the Pensions Minister himself for the advance which is represented by this Pension Warrant above the Pension Warrants previously in existence. What is the position in which it is at present proposed to leave the disabled soldier? Take the case of a man who joins either the Army or the Navy. He is not taken into the Army on his own version as to his health and his fitness for service. In the case of the Navy they appoint their own medical officers. An examination is made of every individual man who is admitted to the Army or Navy. If he is admitted to the Army it is presumable, after those medical examinations, that he is fit for the Service. If after a period of service his health has broken down and he is ruined in his future prospects, I think the State should accept responsibility, and that it is absolutely-unfair to put the man off with a mere gratuity of uncertain amount. I submit the Warrant cannot be accepted by the House as satisfactory unless the Government is prepared to say in the case of such men that they are to receive a pension and not a gratuity, and placed in the same position as those who have been wounded fighting or in any other way entitled to a pension. I am sure the House will look upon the scheme in this particular as absolutely unsatisfactory unless my right hon. Friend will agree on an Amendment. He has already met with a great measure of success, but I believe the great majority of the House are against him on this point. Everybody recognises the thoroughness with which he has gone into the question, and that no man in intention could be 1687 fairer or better disposed to do justice to the soldier and sailor and dependants. I ask him not to have a blemish left upon the scheme by retaining this unsatisfactory provision and to give an assurance that the Government will reconsider or alter it so as to make the position of the medically unfit secure.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Bonar Law)
The House I am sure is fully in possession of all the arguments in connection with this scheme, and though I should be sorry if it were necessary to take a Division, yet if a Division is to take place I hope the House will be willing to come to a decision. As regards the desire that has been expressed for an appeal court being set up I am sorry to say that the Government cannot agree to it. We have discussed the matter long before it came to this House very fully. If I may, I should like to say what is the fact, that in dealing with this Warrant the Treasury have not been influenced by any desire to keep down expenditure, but to meet the needs of fair-play and justice to the men who are serving at the front. We have tried to make this Warrant very generous and it is much more generous than anything of the kind which has ever been done in any country. I do not say that that settles the question. As regards this question of a court of appeal, I really think if hon. Members will consider the matter they will agree that it would not be possible to set up a court of appeal. Already the Pensions Department have decided 300,000 of these cases, and every one of those would have the right of appeal, supposing that this proposal were carried through. It is not as if you were starting with the assumption that the Pensions Minister had as his object to keep down expenditure and not give fair play. It is entirely different. Some hon. Members may divide, but I do think the general sense of the House ought to be that the Government have tried to meet those who are fighting both fairly and generously. There is another point on which I am prepared to make a concession, and that is with regard to the amount of the gratuity. It is limited in the Warrant to £100. The point was brought to my notice before the speech of my right hon. Friend, and on behalf of the Government I am prepared to say that we will make it £150.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
No, we cannot do that. That whole subject has been discussed in the House many times, and really it is not possible to do that. I hope, therefore, the House will now come to a decision in this matter, and I shall feel very glad if they do not feel it necessary to divide.
I am really very sorry to hear what the Leader of the House had to say, because he really gave the House of Commons no solid reason why the Government should not reconsider the position regarding an appeal. I think that if the Government would take the House into its confidence where there is a difference of opinion, and put forward any solid grounds that would convince the House, they would find them absolutely reasonable, and not desirous of pressing a, point like this any further. The Leader of the House said that this country is treating the men who have fought and are fighting for us more generously than any other. But that is not the point. The point is that there are one or two grave blots in this scheme, and the Government is not attempting to deal with them. From what the right hon. Gentleman said, I would gather the impression that although the Treasury is not being called in to veto the financial proposals involved in a scheme of this kind, his real objection to an appeal is a financial objection, and, if that is so, I venture to think that the small extra amount that would be involved is this act of justice ought not to stand in the way of the Government making this concession. I want to say a word or two with reference to the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary. He certainly made an attempt to meet the points that have been put forward in the Debate, unlike many Under-Secretaries who sit on that bench. There was one important point put by the Leader of the Labour party this afternoon that he entirely overlooked, however, and that was the case of a man who was given a pension for permanent disablement, and from whom that pension had been arbitrarily withdrawn. My hon. Friend, in his short speech, gave an illustration to the House of a friend of his who had lost an eye, and who was given a pension, but whose pension had since been withdrawn. What I would like to know is, does this new Warrant enable the man in circumstances of that nature to get back his pension again?
§ Mr. BARNES
If he sustains a claim to a pension, of course he will get it, and he will get his arrears.
I am glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that, and if the Government would only approach the whole subject in that spirit I think they would have a much easier passage through this House and would meet with far more success in the administration of this scheme. During the course of this discussion there has been a considerable amount of time spent in reference to Section 7 (2), which is really one of the vital matters of concern in this Warrant. I want to give the Secretary to the Admiralty and his colleagues an illustration that came under my own personal observation in Ireland. It relates to a man in the Navy. I brought it to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and he absolutely refused to do anything. The circumstances are that there was a man in the Navy from the county of Louth. In the course of his service he met with an accident which brought on certain attacks, as a result of which he had to be invalided out of the Navy. Would the House believe that although he had many years service he was not only given no pension, but the gratuity given to him amounted to the magnificent sum of £l. What were the grounds for that decision? The grounds were that this man's attacks were not brought on by the accident on board ship. He got doctors afterwards to assert that he was not subject to these attacks before he went into the Navy. Although questions were asked in this House, although the case was so convincing, although strong representations were made to the Admiralty, this man got no further pension and no further gratuity than this £l. I say that unless you alter the wording of Section 7 (2) that sort of thing is very like to happen in the future, and provision ought to be made against it. I suppose, although the Government has taken up an attitude on this occasion of refusing to meet us on these points that 1690 the last word has not been said upon the subject. Public opinion and their experience of the working of this Warrant will convince them that they will later have to meet the view that has been urged upon them to-day. A great deal of graciousness, however, and a great deal of the goodness, by the action which will ultimately have to be taken, will be lost because they have not met those points reasonably and in the spirit in which they have been pressed upon them by the House of Commons.
§ Mr. FLAVIN
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Pensions Ministry should have avoided a good deal of this discussion if he had extended a little more courtesy to two or three of the Irish Members who wanted to ask a few questions before he rose to make his reply, and so give the impression that he desired not to hear those questions, but wanted to suit his own convenience. The result is that this discussion has been lengthened by at least an hour. I desire to ask information upon one or two points. I should like to offer congratulations to the Minister of Pensions for the good work he has done. I understand that this Royal Warrant takes effect as from 1st April, 1917. I should like to ask: Will the widow or dependants of a soldier or sailor who has lost his life fighting either on land or sea since the War began and who have received no pension in any shape or form, and have only received a very small gratuity of £15 or £20, would the mother, being of such an age that she now cannot make application to receive an old age pension of more than 5s. per week owing to the administration of the pensions officers in Ireland—who have a serious objection to increases of old age pensions—be entitled to make further application in this matter? Her son was killed in the Battle of Jutland, going down gallantly in his ship in fighting for the freedom of small nations. He was an Irishman with eighteen years' service, and I know from personal knowledge that he joined the Navy as an Irish Nationalist, and believed he was fighting for the freedom of Ireland when he went out in the Battle of Jutland. I know that from correspondence between him and me. I want to know whether the mother is entitled to make an application for a pension. She only got a gratuity of £30, and that was not until after a serious Parliamentary struggle here. Lord Charles 1691 Beresford was then an honoured Member of this House, and gave me a great deal of assistance in connection with it, and I would say that the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty very kindly considered it. But my experience of all these cases in the past has been that, no matter what great service is rendered by a man in the Army or the Navy, both the Admiralty and the military authorities, while they appreciate the services of the men when they risk their lives, take any amount of hammering before a pension or a gratuity is obtained. I know in this case there was back pay belonging to this man which was kept for over three months, and it was not until there was Parliamentary agitation that it was given to the mother of this poor man. After a good deal of agitation she got a gratuity of £30. What I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman is whether the mother is entitled to make an application for the pension, and, if so, is she entitled to receive it?
There is another case I should like to bring before the Minister of Pensions. I should like to know what is going to be done in connection with the dependant of a soldier, because the rules and regulations of the Army have been that when a man joined the Army, if he did not sign a document giving allowance either to a mother or father dependent on him, the War Office had no power whatever to make any deduction from the soldier's pay. I want to know now whether, in the case of those soldiers who have lost their lives in battle, the dependent father or mother, or the dependent relatives, are entitled under this Royal Warrant to make an application for a pension, in the absence of any signed agreement to give dependent allowance, and, if so, will they get a pension?
§ Mr. CRUMLEY
I wish to raise the question of the widowed mother. I know of a case of a woman who had two sons in the War. One was killed in France, and the other was sent home as fit for a hospital. He was sent to the depot and died there. Strange to say, the generosity of the British Government gave to this woman a pension of 2s. 6d. a week. An Englishman should be ashamed of a country that will provide a widowed mother who lost her two sons by giving her 2s. 6d. per week for the remainder of her life. Another case which came to my 1692 notice was a pension for a mother whose son was killed in France, of 5s. a week. When a son has been supporting his mother in her old age it should be treated the same as if he had a wife to support and such a mother should get as much as a wife whose husband has been killed. Many of these cases have occurred in Enniskillen, where many battalions bearing that name have been raised. Many of these men have sacrificed their lives for their country's sake, and their dependants should not be treated in this way. It is a disgrace to the British Government to give a woman 2s. 6d. a week for the loss of her two sons. Any little way in which the military authorities can get out of a claim by saying a person was sick before the War or had some disease before he entered the Army, they will readily adopt. They are dealt with by medical officers who have not the sympathy of human nature, and they are only too ready to report that these men have lost their lives owing to some other disease than that which has naturally been caused on the field of battle. I quite agree with what my hon. Friend (Mr. Devlin) said in regard to old age pensioners. I think it is most cruel the way these pension officers are refusing the extra 2s. 6d. which has been granted by the Treasury. They seem to think that the more they can deprive these poor persons of the extra money the more they are becoming the heroes of the Treasury. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to make further inquiries in regard to the conduct of some of these officers who have the granting of this extra money to these poor people. These officers think if they can deprive those poor people of their extra money they are making themselves prominent before the officials here. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer only knew the conduct of these people I am sure he would not approve of it, and would say that this extra money should be granted. I sent three cases lately to the Local Government Board in Ireland, and they promised to send down officials to inquire. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the conduct of these officials, and grant to these poor people the pensions they deserve.
§ Question put, "That '£1.000' stand part of the proposed Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes. 150; Noes, 51.1693
|Division No. 15.]||AYES.||[10.47 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster).|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Nield, Herbert|
|Astor, Hon. Waldorf||Gretton, John||Norton-Griffiths, Sir John|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.J||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Barnett, Capt. R. W.||Haddock, George Bahr||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glos., E.)||Hanson, Charles Augustin||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Look)|
|Bathurst, Capt. Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Harris, Rt. Hon. Leverton (Wor'ster, E.)||Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Haslam, Lewis||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Bliss. Joseph||Higham, John Sharp||Radford, Sir George Heynes|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Hills, John Waller||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Boscawen. Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith||Hinds, John||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Boyton, James||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arton)|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Horne, Edgar||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Howard. Hon. Geoffrey||Robinson, Sidney|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bryce, J. Annan||lllingworth, Herbert H.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood}|
|Bull, Sir William James||ingleby, Holcombe||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Johnston, Christopher N.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Carew, C. R. S.||Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)|
|Cator, John||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Stanley, Rt. Hen. Sir A.|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Stirling, Lieut.-Col. Archibald|
|Cawley, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Swift, Rigby|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Clyde, James Avon||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Tickler, T. G.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Wardle, George J.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Craig, Colonel James (Down, E.)||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Whiteley, Herbert J|
|Craik, Sir Henry||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Currie, George W.||Macpherson, James Ian||Wilson. Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wilson, Lt.-CI. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn, SW)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Malcolm, Ian||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.|
|Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Millar, James Duncan||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Fell, Arthur||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L.||Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza||Younger, Sir George|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Morgan, George Hay|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Forster, Henry William||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr. Primrose.|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Newman, John R. P.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Goldstone, Frank||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Billing, Pemberton||Hackett, John||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Boland, John Pius||Hazleton, Richard||Reddy, Michael|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Jowett, Frederick William||ScanIan, Thomas|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Sheehy, David|
|Byrne, Alfred||Keating, Matthew||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Clynes, John R.||King, Joseph||Shortt, Edward|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allesbrook|
|Cosgrave, James||Law. Hugh, A. (Donegal, West)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Crumley, Patrick||McGhee, Richard||Taylor, Theodore C, (Radcliffe)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Mac Neill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Dillon, John||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Wiles. Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Doris, William||Molloy, Michael||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Field, William||Nolan, Joseph|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nuttall, Harry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.Hogge and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||O'Dowd. John|
§ Resolution agreed to.