HC Deb 11 November 1920 vol 134 cc1336-7
4. Sir H. HARRIS

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that the Ministry in a recent letter informed the London War Pensions Committee that, as regards the payment of treatment allowances, the question to be considered is whether a man is prevented from following his occupation in consequence of the amount of time taken up in obtaining the treatment ordered by the Ministry, and that if he is so prevented treatment allowances are payable, but not otherwise; whether he is aware that in 1917 the Ministry's instructions to local committees under the Royal Warrant stated that treatment allowances were payable to disabled men undergoing a course of treatment if it was considered that during the period of the treatment the man was not reasonably able to work, and that such interpretation of the Royal Warrant has been in force up to the present time; and whether he will state the reasons of the Ministry for adopting this new and restricted interpretation of the Royal Warrant, which has the effect of denying treatment allowances to men who during a course of treatment are unfit for work unless the amount of time occupied in the treatment would prevent the man following his occupation, and why instructions on the subject have not been circulated to local war pensions committees generally?


I am not able to identify the precise letter referred to by my hon. Friend, but from the terms of the letter I gather that it related to cases of men in receipt of out-patient treatment at hospitals or clinics, or of treatment in their own homes. I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to the terms of Article 6 of the Warrant, which clearly provides that allowances at the maximum rate of pension are only payable where, in consequence of the course of treatment deemed necessary in the man's interests, he is unable to provide for the support of himself and family. The condition for payment of such allowances, referred to by my hon. Friend in the first part of his question, is only one, though an important one, of the conditions which would entitle the man to full allowances; but clearly also a man may be actually prevented from working, not by the length of time occupied in treatment, but by the fact that the treatment, coupled with the condition for which treatment is being given, is such as to render it undesirable, or even impossible, in the doctor's opinion, for the man to work, and in such a case full treatment allowances would be payable. This is not a new interpretation of the Royal Warrant, but, as it was found that misapprehension had arisen as to the terms of the instructions, and considerable abuse of the provisions of Article 6 had occurred, the attention of local committees and others concerned was drawn to the matter by a circular issued in the early part of the present year.

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