HC Deb 25 April 1939 vol 346 cc963-4
55. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the fact that limbless ex-service men suffer grave economic loss from war disablement and the consequent industrial handicap, and in many cases are made solely dependent upon public assistance, he will introduce special legislation making provision for these men?

The Minister of Pensions (Mr. Ramsbotham)

I would remind the hon. Member that such economic loss as is suffered by ex-service men of the class referred to is not only already compensated in the war pension—which for a man and wife is on average about 35s. a week—but is also met in the great majority of cases through the Unemployment Benefit and Assistance schemes on specially favourable terms and through National Health Insurance. The proportion of cases seeking public assistance according to all the information in my possession is very small. In the circumstances, while I have every sympathy with these cases, I should not be justified in recommending special legislation for the benefit of this particular class of disability.

Mr. Gallacher

Is not the Minister aware that this is a very serious handicap and not only represents a difficulty in itself, but means an extra liability in the maintenance of the sufferers, and will he not take into consideration the position of the dependants?

Mr. Ramsbotham

All the men in this category are in receipt of a high rate of pension, and I should be sorry to think that any pensioner was in financial difficulties; but it is very difficult to devise a pensions scheme which would guarantee the financial independence of every pensioner in all circumstances, and in any conditions.