HC Deb 15 May 1918 vol 106 cc366-8
98. Mr. HOGGE

asked the Pensions Minister whether his appeal for funds in the public Press to assist disabled men in re-establishing them in business is a personal or public appeal; whether the money is being raised by the Minister of Pensions or the right hon. Member for Gorton; and whether, in either case, it means that what is now publicly provided by the Treasury is inadequate for the needs of the situation?


The appeal for funds to set up in a business or occupation for which a disabled soldier or sailor who has been trained by the Ministry of Pensions was, to begin with, purely voluntary on my part and took shape from a visit paid to a workshop where disabled men who could not resume their pre-war occupation were being trained, on which occasion a miner who had lost a leg had the ambition to set up in his native mining village as a hand-sewn boot and shoemaker as well as repairer. As the result of that statement, and being the principal guest at a dinner at a London club, I made an appeal to them, which resulted in the contribution of over £300, and I was enabled in consequence to give effect to that man's ambition. Since then, as a result of the generous notice the Press has given of that, I have obtained the sum of almost £90,000, and I have been able to set up in a similar way or re-establish in their former businesses men to the extent of nearly 1,000. Not only this, but I have also been enabled to help many widows to establish themselves, so that they can now make better provision for their families.

It is my intention to make an enlarged appeal as Minister of Pensions, and I may remind the hon. Member that by Section 6 of the Naval and Military War Pensions (Administrative Expenses) Act, 1917, the Minister of Pensions is empowered to receive gifts and to expend them for the benefit of disabled men. This affords a clear indication that Parliament has approved the principle that my State provision can properly be supplemented by private effort, and is in itself sufficient justification for any appeal that the Minister of Pensions may make. I cannot admit the suggestion conveyed in the last part of the question, for the reason that what is being done could not be properly done by means of the Royal Warrant, as the sum necessary to set our disabled heroes up in this way varies so much that what can be done by voluntary funds in this way would, because of the differences in the money given in individual cases, lead to a great deal of dissatisfaction that one man was receiving more than another.

I hope, therefore, that in my efforts I shall not only receive the support of hon. Members of this House, but of every man of generous mind and fat purse in the country.