HC Deb 03 July 1919 vol 117 cc1136-9

asked the Pensions Minister whether he is aware of the delay in the acknowledgment of letters sent to his Department, quite apart from the handling of the cases, which is equally delayed; whether he is aware that these methods are causing much unrest in the country; and whether, seeing that a registered letter, sent on 2nd May, applying to his Department for a pension for the widow of Private Horace Sykes, No. 201280, l/4th Duke of Wellington's Regiment, who was recommended for a bar to the distinguished conduct medal, has not even been acknowledged, he will have inquiries made into this case?


I regret that there was delay in the settlement of this matter. The entitlement to pension has now been admitted, and the necessary formalities leading to the grant of pension will be completed as quickly as possible.


Has the hon. Gentleman read the evidence of Sir Douglas Haig on the question of delays?


Of course I have read it, but I do not think any point arises out of that on this question.

8. Colonel ASHLEY

asked the Pensions Minister whether he can yet make a statement as to the possibility of increase of pensions being allowed to those who have been granted disability pensions in consequence of former wars?


asked the Pensions Minister whether the plight of old pre-war Army pensioners has been brought before him; and whether he is taking any steps to secure the increase of the awards they receive?


I am glad to be able to inform the House that the Government decided last week to increase the pensions of officers and men disabled through service in former wars, so as to bring them generally to the level of the pensions given for disabilities sustained in the present War. I would remind the House that steps in this direction were made last year, when increases were approved in the pensions granted to seamen, marines, and soldiers totally incapacitated by war disabilities from earning a livelihood, and to those partially disabled by specific wounds and injuries. It has now been decided to extend the concession to officers, naval warrant officers, nurses, and men disabled, whether wholly or partially, through wounds, injuries, or disease due directly and wholly to war service, and actually in receipt of disability pensions on that account, and to increase their pensions to the rates for which they would now, under the present Warrants, be eligible in respect of the same disability. To the revised rates will he added the temporary bonus of 20 per cent. approved for cases arising from the present War under the same conditions.

The House may also remember that the pensions of widows of men dying in former wars were, by the concession of last year, increased to the rates for the present War. It has now been decided that any increases in the scales of pensions for widows of officers and naval warrant officers allowed in the present War shall be extended to cases of past wars. This will affect widows of subalterns in receipt of the highest rate of pen- sion, and widows of officers of all ranks in receipt of the intermediate rate for war service, and the widows of naval warrant officers who died on war service.

Further, the bonus of 20 per cent. will be added to these increased pensions and also to any existing pensions not so increased of the widows, children, mothers, and sisters of officers who died through war service. All these concessions will have effect from the 1st April, 1919.

Steps are immediately being taken to give effect to these decisions, but the process of investigation must take a little time, and I must ask that pensioners and their friends will exercise patience. In the case of officers, nurses, and naval warrant officers, and their relatives, it is anticipated that most cases can be traced through the records of the Admiralty and War Office, but it is open to any pensioner, officer, or nurse who has a claim to increase under these conditions to apply to the Ministry of Pensions (Officers' Awards Branch), New North Street, London, W.C.

Army warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men's cases cannot similarly be identified from records at Headquarters, and any men who therefore consider that they are entitled to the concession should apply to the Ministry of Pensions.

Full instructions as to application will be issued in the public Press, and will also be communicated to local war pensions committees, who may be able to assist the men to make their claims.

Colonel ASHLEY

May I congratulate the hon. Gentleman and the much-abused Treasury?


Does the statement include the pensions of those sailors who have not fought in the War?


I think I must refer my hon. Friend to the actual answer.


Are we to understand that these concessions apply only to those who are in receipt of pensions, or will officers and men who are not in receipt of pensions have the ordinary rights of appeal which the pensioners or non-pensioners now have?


They refer to officers and men and the other classes I have mentioned who are in receipt of disability pensions due to service in previous wars; no others. If the hon. Member thinks the matter out he will see that it would be impossible to establish a case in the other cases.