§ 1. Brigadier-General SPEARS
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will consider the payment of travelling and subsistence expenses of the representatives accompanying appellants to the Appeal Courts, in order to make it easy for ex-service men to secure help in presenting their case to the House of Lords independent tribunals?
§ The MINISTER of PENSIONS (Mr. F. O. Roberts)
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough on the 28th February, of which I am sending a copy. I may add that I am in consultation with the Lord Chancellor on the matter.
6. Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware of the great disabilities suffered 1566 by certain ex-service men and their dependants when appearing before appeal tribunals owing to their inability to do justice to their own cases; will he therefore reconsider the decision of his predecessor in refusing to allow such assistance to be given; and will he permit local pension committees to exercise their discretion and allow one of their members or an official to accompany dependants and assist them in laying their cases before the appeal tribunal, when the committees are satisfied that the appellants would otherwise be unable to have their claims adequately presented?
§ Mr. ROBERTS
I would remind the hon. Member that the procedure at the hearing of cases by the pensions appeal tribunal is governed by Regulations made by the Lord Chancellor. These Regulations provide, inter alia, that an appellant may be assisted at the hearing by a member of a war pensions committee, and expressly enjoin the tribunal itself to assist any appellant who, through ignorance, or otherwise, is unable to make the best of his case. I may add that full opportunity is given at the local offices of the Ministry for an appellant who so desires to enlist the help of a member of the war pensions committee.
Will the Minister consider this point further in view of the fact that these committees are not giving financial assistance to enable cases to be put forward where the pensioner himself is not able to state the case fully?
Will the hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of assisting men to bring their own medical attendants to help them before the tribunal?
§ Captain BERKELEY
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it has been publicly stated, that in cases where the appellants do not receive assistance, 90 per cent. of the appeals fail, whereas in cases where they have been assisted by the British Legion, 60 per cent. are successful?
§ Major TRYON
Is it not the fact that the British Legion review their cases and pick out certain cases for appeal?
§ Captain Viscount CURZON
Does not the hon. Gentleman consider there is great chance of grave injustice being done to these claimants in the circumstances 1567 indicated; and in such cases should not the appellants receive assistance?
§ Mr. ROBERTS
I shall be very happy to consider the points raised if hon. Members furnish me with specific information as to the questions put by them.