HC Deb 23 February 1922 vol 150 cc2070-1

asked the Minister of Pensions whether the changes recently announced affecting pensions to parents after 31st March next are dictated by the need for economy or are consequent upon a decision that the relevant provisions of the Royal Warrant of I6th December, 1919, are more favourable than is just to parents; and, if so, whether he can state the grounds for such a decision and the justification for drawing a distinction between claims made before and claims made after 31st March?


The answer to this question is a very long one, giving a full explanation, and, with the permission of the House, I propose to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The following is the answer supplied:

I am glad that my hon. and learned Friend has given me an opportunity of explaining to the House the meaning of the announcement recently made by me regarding parents' pensions.

There are, in the present Royal Warrant, three classes of pension which may be claimed by parents. The first class of pension is awarded solely on the ground that the deceased son contributed to the household expenses of his parents before enlistment; the second gives a pension to a parent solely on the ground that the son was under 26 years of age when he enlisted and was unmarried; and under the third class, a pension may be awarded if the parent is in pecuniary need and incapable of self-support. At the present time, a parent may claim, and he awarded, pension on any one of these three grounds.

The decision recently announced does not affect the title of any parent to claim and be awarded a pension if the claimant can show that his or her circumstances justify the grant of a pension. All it does is to withdraw the right after the 31st March to claim a pension solely on one or other of the first two grounds named. The decision to put a time limit to all fresh applications to the first two classes of pension was based strictly on the merits of the case and on the recommendations contained in the Report of the Select Committee of this House on Pensions in 1919. That Committee recommend that all three classes of parents' pensions should be assimilated on the basis of need, broadly interpreted as the amount of support which the deceased son would have given to the parent had he survived.

In adopting this recommendation, I made it clear that, in my opinion, awards of the first two classes of pension referred to, which have already been made, could not, without breach of faith, be reviewed and cancelled simply because the recipients were not pecuniarily in need of them, and the Government agreed with me. At the same time, it was decided to put a time limit to fresh grants of pension based on either of the first two grounds mentioned where no pecuniary need was shown. The time limit for fresh applications for the first two classes of pension was fixed so as to allow of any claimant, who considered that he or she had a just claim to be considered for either of these classes of pension, to make such claim, and full publicity has been given to the announcement.