§ 20. Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER - SHEE
asked the Pensions Minister whether, seeing that widows of officers who were killed in the War and who applied for an alternative pension a few days after the 12th February, 1919, have not been allowed to have their alternative pension antedated to the date from the date upon which it became due, i.e., the date of their husbands' death, and that considerable hardship has been experienced by some of these widows, who are deprived of the money due to them solely by a Departmental rule of the Ministry of Pensions, he will have inquiry made into this matter?
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON EVANS
Delay in claiming an alternative pension greatly increases the difficulties involved in ascertaining pre-war earnings, and therefore Borne limit must be fixed for the period during which arrears may be granted. Ordinarily, the limit is three months from the award of the flat-rate pension. In November of last year the basis of the alternative pension of officers' widows was extended, and as a result a large number of widows became eligible in respect of officers who had died some time previously. A period of three months was allowed to enable these widows to acquaint themselves with the new provision, which was announced in Parliament and in the Press, and at the close of that period those who had not applied were treated in the same manner as widows who do not apply within three months of the award of flat-rate pension—that is, they are awarded alternative pension only from the date of application.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER-SHEE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the exceptional cases of officers' widows in the Indian Army, who are suffering great hardship because they had not the same opportunities of applying for the alternative pension? Is he also aware that there are many widows living in England who were not aware that the pension could be ob- 1604 tained; and can he see his way to extending the time, so that widows who are entitled shall get the alternative pension whether they applied in proper time or not?
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
I cannot make any general extension. I cannot believe that widows in England were not fully cognisant of their rights. They were advertised on the food cards, which they must have had, in the Press, and in Parliament. If there are exceptional cases arising from absence from this country, I am prepared to look into them, but I cannot alter the general rule.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
Cases where there is a possibility they could not have had the knowledge, yes; but not cases which would involve breaking the general rule.