HC Deb 01 November 1937 vol 328 cc521-4
25. Mr. Lawson

asked the Minister of Pensions how many applications for pensions or revisions of pensions have been made during the year ended July, 1937; and in how many cases were new pensions granted or revisions made?

Mr. Ramsbotham

For the year ended in June last 5,378 new claims in respect of disablement or death were received and 1,394 were accepted for pension, or necessary treatment. The net result of review in the case of existing awards which came up for review in the period was that 2,154 were increased, the revision in the case of disability pensions having resulted in an average increase of 20 per cent.

Mr. Lawson

Is the Minister aware that there is great dissatisfaction with these decisions, irrespective of party, both in this House and in the country, and will he not consent to set up a committee of inquiry to go into the serious charges which have been made in connection with these decisions?

Mr. Ramsbotham

As to the latter part of that supplementary question, there is a question on the Paper later addressed to the Prime Minister. As to the first part of the question, I think the figures which I have given should do a great deal to allay any dissatisfaction.

Mr. Lawson

Is the Minister aware that some of us have cases which we should be very pleased to submit to an impartial committee, because we feel strongly that the Treasury are bringing pressure to bear and are a more important factor in this matter than they ought to be?

Mr. Ramsbotham

If the hon. Member has any cases I shall be only too delighted to go through them with him and try to satisfy him as to the decisions.

26. Mr. Kelly

asked the Minister of Pensions the number of meetings of the Special Grants Committee held in 1936 and up to the latest date in 1937?

Mr. Ramsbotham

The meetings of the Special Grants Committee, including the Sub-Committees by whom the bulk of the work is transacted, numbered 59 in 1936 and 42 in 1937 up to the present date.

Mr. Kelly

Will the House be given any report on the business done by this Special Grants Committee, the number of cases dealt with and the number of those who have been deprived of pensions by reason of those decisions?

Mr. Ramsbotham

That appears to be a different question, and perhaps the hon. Member will put it down.

46. Mr. E. Smith

asked the Prime Minister whether he will move to appoint a Select Committee to investigate the administration of the Ministry of Pensions, with particular reference to war pensions, applications for war-service pensions and allowances for widows, and giving the Committee power to receive evidence from ex-service men, widows of ex-service men, and to send for persons, papers, and records.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Simon)

No, Sir. I am not aware of any grounds which would justify the appointment of a Select Committee for the purpose indicated. Any matters arising on the administration of War pensions can be dealt with under the ordinary procedure of the House, by way of question and answer, or on the Vote for the Ministry.

Mr. Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Prime Minister to reconsider this reply, in view of the resolution that was passed at the Conservative Conference, with loud cheering, and in view of the speeches that have been made by members of the medical profession?

Sir J. Simon

The hon. Gentleman may take it that the reply I have just given has been given in consultation with the Prime Minister, and represents the Prime Minister's views.

Mr. Lawson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is grave doubt about many of these decisions, and great disturbance in the minds of many of us, on both sides of the House, on this question? Is he aware that within the last day or two I have received a case in which a man was shot through the arm, which I dare submit to a committee of gentlemen behind the Government and accept their decision upon it?

Sir J. Simon

Earlier this afternoon I heard the Minister of Pensions, in answering a question on a similar point, say that he would be very glad to hear details of any case which the hon. Gentleman put before him.

Mr. Bellenger

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of the decisions regarding ex-service men by the Ministry of Pensions are having prejudicial effects on recruiting?