HC Deb 14 February 1933 vol 274 cc816-8

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will have inquiry made into the case of Mr. F. W. Hill, formerly No. 375,307, Royal Army Service Corps, who was wounded in action while holding the substantive rank of corporal, but who later reverted to private because of the effects of his wounds; and whether he will arrange for the pension in issue to Mr. Hill to be paid at corporal's rate instead of private's rate?

The MINISTER of PENSIONS (Major Tryon)

Mr. Hill is correctly paid at the rate appropriate to his rank on demobilisation, and is not entitled to the benefit of a higher rank from which he reverted at his own request, not because of his wounds, but because he wished to obtain a transfer to the Army Service Corps 2½ years after he was wounded.


asked the Minister of Pensions if his attention has been drawn to the case of Mr. E. A. O. Rogers, of Chichester (No. 11/F/259,248), who has been refused treatment allowances on the ground that he has not followed any remunerative employment since October, 1928, although in October, 1928, he was in employment; that until April, 1929, his firm paid him £6 per week; that he has not been able to remain in employment because he has been under treatment on account of his disability since that date; that his employers are willing to take him back as soon as he is fit again and whether he will grant him treatment allowance?


I have inquired into the facts of this case, but I regret that the man is not eligible for the special allowances referred to. These, as my hon. Friend will be aware, are not a form of sickness benefit payable whenever a, pensioner is in hospital, but are designed to meet the temporary loss of his normal earnings suffered by a pensioner in consequence of undergoing a course of remedial treatment which, for a time, necessitates his absence from his usual occupation. The case referred to is no longer of this character. Mr. Rogers' condition unhappily deteriorated some years ago, and his pension has in fact been increased during the past three years to 100 per cent. on the ground that he has become totally incapacitated by his War disability, as is shown by the fact that he has not been able to work since 1928. He thus draws a sum of £2 4s. 3d. a week, whether or not he receives treatment in any form. During his stay in sanatorium the entire amount is drawn by his family, the patient himself being maintained free of cost.


Is it not the case that some decision has been arrived at which has affected the allowances of unemployed ex-soldiers receiving treatment?


I am glad that the hon. Member has asked that question, because the practice is exactly the same as that of the late Government, and the answer which I gave in the House the other day repeated the words of the Minister of Pensions in the late Government. There is no foundation for any suggestion that there has been any change whatever.


Is not the Minister now aware that there has been considerable dissatisfaction throughout the Ministry's hospitals on the part of unemployed ex-soldiers in the hospitals who have for- merly received their allowances and are now refused them?


No, Sir; it is not the case that there is any general dissatisaction on this question, nor that there has been any change of practice whatever. Both I and my predecessor have been questioned on the matter, and we have followed the same policy and have given the same answer.


Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman think that it is good practice to follow slavishly the same procedure as the Labour Government?


The policy of the Ministry has been continuous for many years past, under successive Ministers and successive types of Government.