HC Deb 25 March 1935 vol 299 cc1567-8

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that, owing to the restrictions of the Royal Warrant, the pension allowance that was in issue to Clara Mary Thorpe, daughter of the late Chief Petty Officer Robert William Thorpe, No. 181,149, His Majesty's Ship "Vanguard," who was killed in action in July, 1917, ceased at the age of 21, although she has suffered from mental deficiency since infancy and is unable to contribute to her self-support; and whether he will consider amending the Royal Warrant with the object of ensuring that allowances are continued to totally incapacitated war orphans for so long as such incapacity exists?

The MINISTER of PENSIONS (Major Tryon)

I am aware that an allowance was continued in this case for a time, but ceased over 4½ years ago, in 1930, in accordance with the provisions of the Royal Warrant. I am not prepared to recommend so far-reaching a change in the principles of pension for dependants which have been approved by Parliament and maintained by successive Governments.


Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the fact that in the case of mental deficients who are residing at home and are a charge on the parents, the charge does not become any less when those mental deficients reach maturity, and may indeed increase, and that the need for a pension being continued is quite as great as during childhood?


No, Sir. By the decision of this House, it is the function of the local authority, under the Mental Deficiency Act, so far as is necessary to look after this woman, who is now 25 years of age.


Does my right hon. Friend not consider that to a certain extent the Ministry of Pensions is in loco parentis when a parent has been killed? Do the Ministry accept no responsibility?


Would not my right hon. Friend, knowing the feeling of the House, bring forward a Bill giving him power to continue the pension in such cases?


No, Sir, I think that the House must agree with the action which has been taken by all Governments in this matter.