HC Deb 04 February 1937 vol 319 cc1771-2
63. Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that many persons who are suffering from defective vision, so serious as to render them totally incapable of earning their own living, are in many cases denied allowances on the ground that they are not totally blind; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this injustice?

Sir K. Wood

No, Sir. The benefits for which provision is made under the Blind Persons Act are available to those persons who are so blind as to be unable to perform any work for which eyesight is essential, and I am not aware of any case in which such benefits have been refused on the ground that the applicant was not totally blind. If the hon. Mem- ber has any case in mind and will communicate with me, I will make inquiries.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

Is the Minister aware that a great many of the local authorities hand over the care of these people to voluntary organisations and that this arrangement between the local authorities and the voluntary organisations does tend to the result to which this question draws attention?

Sir K. Wood

No, Sir, I am not aware of that. If the right hon. Gentleman will let me know of particular cases I will see what I can do.

72. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the hardship caused to blind persons by the rigid application of a means test to their claims for blind persons' pensions, he will consider placing these pensions on the same basis as old age pensions without any means test?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Chamberlain)

No, Sir. There does not appear to the Government to be any adequate reason for exempting these particular pensions from the test of means which applies to all pensions granted under the Old Age Pensions Act.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that blind people are very heavily handicapped and that the pension grant means a very great deal in helping them to overcome the handicap, and that it should not be subjected to a means test?

Mr. Chamberlain

Those considerations might apply to many other people.