HC Deb 13 June 1918 vol 106 cc2372-4

asked the Pensions Minister whether men who are discharged from the Army as surplus to military requirements or to take up employment in civil life are entitled to any allowance while a decision is being reached in the Awards Branch as to whether they are entitled to a disability pension or gratuity; and, if so, what is the amount of such allowance per week, and for how many weeks is it payable?


As I have already explained to the hon. Member, men discharged as surplus to military requirements fall into two distinct classes, namely, those who have suffered impairment in the service and those who have not. The former class are primâ facie pensionable; the latter are not. The pensionable class are entitled, like men discharged on medical grounds generally, to a temporary allowance of 27s. 6d. a week until their claims are decided by the Awards Branch. The other class await no decision from the Ministry of Pensions, and consequently the question of temporary allowance does not arise.


Does this really depend upon whether these men are discharged under paragraph 25 or 25 a of the King's Regulations?


I do not know what those paragraphs refer to, but if the men, on examination by the medical board, on which there is a representative of the Pensions Ministry, are found to have been impaired, presumably they are pensionable and get the pension allowance, but, if not, they are not entitled to any award from us, and the question of temporary allowances does not arise.

66. Mr. JOWETT

asked the Pensions Minister if he will take steps to get Article 14 (1) of the Royal Warrant of 29th March, 1917, amended, with the object of granting gratuities to widows of soldiers in cases where death occurred before 1st July, 1916, similar in amount to the gratuities paid to widows of soldiers in cases where death occurred on or after 29th March, 1917, and thus remove a grievance which is causing discontent and disaffection to those widows whose husbands joined. in the early part of the War, and were killed before the Royal Warrant of 29th March, 1917, was issued?


In reply to a question put to me on the 4th instant by the hon. and gallant Member for North Lancashire, I explained that the great majority of widows whose husbands were killed before 1st July, 1916, obtained the gratuity from the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation. It is doubtful whether any widows who were genuinely in need of the gratuity failed to obtain it. Possibly there were some whose claims did not come to the notice of the Corporation, but that there is any substantial grievance causing discontent and disaffection such as the hon. Member alleges I cannot admit, nor can I assent to the suggestion that this matter should now be reconsidered.


asked the Pensions Minister if he will at once consider the appointment of a Committee in each district in Wales who shall be empowered to hear and deal with all cases of hard ship affecting our discharged soldiers and sailors regarding their pensions, back pay, and other matters of urgency to these men and the nation; is he aware that many of these men whose nerves are shattered are at present in a hopeless condition, that they have no friends, no home, and do not know what Department to write to in stating their case; and will he, therefore, take steps immediately to alter this state of things in the best interests of these men and the national reputation?


If I rightly understand his question, the hon. Member is ignoring the activities of the thirty-one local war pensions committees which have already been formed in various districts to cover the whole Principality of Wales. These committees are charged with the duty of looking after the discharged disabled soldiers and sailors and of presenting their claims to the Ministry.

The committees have also very extensive powers of assisting the men on their own responsibility. Every disabled man is informed at the time of his discharge that if he is in any difficulty he should apply to his local committee, the address of which he can obtain at his post office.


May I inform the hon. Member—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]


The hon. Member may seek information, but. not give it.


May I point OUT—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—who happens to be on the pensions committee in Aberdare, the place of which I am a native and for which I am the Member.


The hon. Member had better give notice of that question.


All right, I will.