HC Deb 22 March 1923 vol 161 cc2725-7

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the concessions recently published in the Press with respect to the seven-years' limit for widows, he will grant all widows who come under these concessions the right to appeal to the House of Lords tribunal, or will he remove the time limit entirely, as many ex-service men may, in years to come, die from disability which may be directly due to war service and their widows and children may otherwise become chargeable to the parish?


The time limit of seven years in Article 11 remains an integral part of the Royal Warrant, and cases barred by that limit do not come within the terms of Section 8 of the War Pensions Act, 1919, which confer the right of appeal on widows. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-day the particulars of the concessions recently made with reference to the seven-years' time limit.

Following is the statement referred to:

The Minister of Pensions announces that a decision has been come to in respect of claims to pension by widows of men disabled in the Great War who die more than seven years after discharge or removal from duty, and certain important concessions in modification of the terms of the present Warrants have been allowed.

The time limit of seven years in Article 11 of the Royal Warrant runs, in a case where the man was removed from duty for a disability, from the date of the first removal from duty. It has now been decided that the widow's claim to pension under Article 11 will be open to consideration by the Ministry in cases where, although the man was removed from duty for a war disability in the course of his military service he subsequently returned to full duty, and the subsequent service materially aggravated or brought about a recurrence of the disability for which the man was first removed from duty. In such circumstances the date of removal from duty under Article 11 may be reckoned as the date of removal leading to discharge, or if the man was not discharged, the date of demobilisation.

Apart from these cases, the Minister is advised that only in exceptional cases can death occurring more than seven years from discharge be regarded as directly and obviously connected with active service. But it is recognised that such cases will occur, and accordingly it is conceded that, notwithstanding the time limit, a claim will be considered for the maximum rate of widow's pension where the death is clearly shown to be due to the nature or condition of the disability as resulting wholly and directly from war service. Subject to these important concessions in practice, the seven years' time limit in Article 11, which has been embodied in the Warrants approved by Parliament, is maintained. The State could not reasonably, or without very heavy addition to the cost of war pensions, be required for an indefinite period to award the same maximum rate of pension as it gives to widows of men killed in action or dying on service, to widows of men who die, many years after discharge, of a disability which may have been only slightly aggravated by service, or one which may not have been due to service although commencing on service; or to widows of men who die from disabilities for which the man himself had never claimed during his lifetime though he had lived more than seven years after his demobilisation or discharge.

For the majority of cases of death occurring more than seven years after discharge Article 17 of the Warrant in an amended form will be recognised as the proper medium of compensation. As amended that Article will provide that in the event of the death of a disability pensioner occurring in circumstances and under conditions which appear to the Minister to justify the grant, a pension may be awarded to the widow equal to half the man's actual disablement pension together with children's allowances (instead of as at present half the man's pension at the rates of the 1918 Warrant without allowances). Eligibility for pension under the amended Article 17 will, as in the past, be governed by the extent to which the man was recognised during his lifetime to be disabled by war service and the minimum limit of 50 per cent. has been laid down.

With suitable adjustments, the foregoing Amendments and other concessions will apply to widows of officers also.