HC Deb 11 March 1926 vol 192 cc2556-7

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that Mr. Charles Cook, of 25, Hollydale Road, Peckham, a blinded ex-service man, has been refused a pension on the ground that his blindness was neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service; and whether, having regard to the fact that Mr. Cook has now been admitted to St. Dunstan's benefits and that the St. Dunstan's ophthalmic advisory board has decided that his blindness is due to military service, he will reopen this case in view of this new medical opinion which is at variance with that of the Ministry's advisers?


The claim of the man referred to, which was first made in February last year, was most carefully considered by the Ministry, with specialist advice, in the light of all the facts and the history of his case, and his defective vision was found not to be attributable to or aggravated by war service. This decision was confirmed on appeal of last year by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal in July, who also took independent specialist opinion. The fact that any voluntary fund has been independently-advised that it is entitled to take a view of a case which appears to differ from that both of the Ministry and of the statutory Appeal Tribunal cannot determine the action which my Department should take.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that the medical opinion available at St. Dunstan's is perhaps the highest opinion of the kind in the country, and does not the fact that this opinion is at variance with that of the Ministry raise a strong presumption in favour of reopening this case?


I think it is obviously the decision of Parliament that in all questions of doubt the decision should rest with the Appeal Tribunal. It is quite clear that in this case there was a doubt, but the Special Appeal Tribunal decided that what the Ministry had done was the right course.