§ 42. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will take steps to see that all men serving in the Army who have to be discharged through illness or accident other than through their own criminal acts shall receive maintenance or compensation until they have recovered?
Soldiers discharged from the Army through illness or accident attributable to military service are already eligible for disability pensions which continue in issue as long as their disablement persists, unless that disablement is of a minor nature. If the illness or accident is not attributable to military service, the soldiers are, as a general rule, eligible for gratuities only and not for pensions.
§ Mr. Sorensen
While thanking the Secretary of State for the information he has given, does he realise that there are large numbers of men who have been discharged from the Army through illness or accidents, and who, in fact, have no gratuity or compensation; and does he not agree that that leaves a very bad impression on the public mind; and further, does he not agree that the Army would set a great example to the rest of the country if it made every man who was discharged entitled to some kind of compensation?
The hon. Member will not expect a different system to exist in the Army from that which exists in other Departments of State. While I appreciate the view he has expressed, we are bound to take into consideration whether a man's illness or disability incurred while he is in the Service is in any way attributable to his service. If that is not so, according to the system which exists throughout Government Departments and civil life, the State cannot undertake to pay a pension on account of that disability or accident.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Will not the right hon. Gentleman take some steps to try to revise the system and to set an example to other Departments?
§ Mr. Thorne
Does the right hon. Gentleman think that the new Secretary of State will make any alteration?