HC Deb 31 July 1923 vol 167 cc1251-3
30. Mr. PALING

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he is aware that Ernest Mason, of Woodlands, Doncaster, joined the Army in 1919, served a few years in India, and, after having undergone an operation for appendicitis, was discharged as suffering from ventral hernia and sciatica; that Mason's application for a pension was refused on the ground that his disability was not due to military service; that, since the date of discharge, his condition has got gradually worse to such an extent that a recent X-ray examination has revealed that he is suffering from a curved spine, which has deformed his body and prevents him being able to walk except with the utmost difficulty; and, seeing that the possibility of Mason being able to contribute anything towards his own support is exceedingly remote, and that he is meanwhile dependent upon his parents, will he have further inquiries made into the case with a view to rendering some assistance?


This case has recently been fully and carefully reconsidered by the medical authorities at the War Office, who are unable to find any grounds for departing from the finding of the Medical Board, held on 3rd April last, namely, that the man's disability was due to constitutional causes and was in no way attributable to his service in the Army. In these circumstances, as I informed the hon. Member on the 18th July, there are no Regulations under which an award of pension can be made.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this young man was passed into the Army as being thoroughly and physically fit and that his own medical advisers, who have looked after him for years, ever since he was a boy, are emphatically of opinion that this disability has been caused through his service; and, further, is he aware that since he has been treated for this deformity to his spine, he has been sent by the infirmary to the military authorities, because they say the case really belongs to the military?


Is there not an appeal from the decision of the medical board of the War Office, just as there is from the medical board of the Ministry of Pensions?


It is because of the representations made that the case has been thoroughly reinvestigated, and the medical authorities of the War Office are quite clear that they are unable to state that this man's disability was due to his service.


Is there not any Regulation or any way whatever by which the medical officers attached to the War Office and the medical men who have had charge of any particular patient for years are able, when their evidence differs, to be brought together to see whether any conclusion can be reached?


The hon. Member has just pointed out that this man has been under medical attention for years, and that does not quite bear out his former statement that he was perfectly fit all his life, but this case has been fully considered. The man has been before a medical board, and we have no power to go behind that board's decision.


If I can bring the hon. Gentleman evidence from the man's own medical advisers, under whom he was brought up, will be give attention to it?


The hon. Member does not seem to realise that this has already been done. The case was reconsidered, and this man had an opportunity of bringing evidence to refute the medical report.


If this man enlisted in 1919, when there was no urgent call for soldiers, he must have been absolutely physically fit, or he would not have been accepted, and does that not imply that this man's physical deterioration set in during his service in India?