HC Deb 30 May 1940 vol 361 cc646-8
25. Sir T. Moore

asked the Minister of Pensions what is the approximate weekly amount now being paid to the dependants of men who lost their lives as a result of the sinking of merchant vessels since the outbreak of war?

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

Approximately £850 a week is being paid in pensions and allowances to the widows and other dependants of members of the Mercantile Marine who have lost their lives as a result of enemy action since the outbreak of war.

27. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Minister of Pensions whether it is the practice to inform applicants for assistance that, under the War Assistance Allowance Committee, Form 21, in cases of rejection of claim in the first instance they have a right of appeal against such decision, and if such information is not given to them, will he consider giving the applicants such information when the decision of rejection is conveyed to them?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions (Miss Wilkinson)

Any person whose application to the War Service Grants Advisory Committee is rejected, may at any time renew his or her application, and the case is then reconsidered in the light of the information supplied. The committee has no reason to doubt that this is appreciated, but any general invitation to appeal would not only heavily increase administrative difficulties but would be likely in the majority of cases to give rise to false hopes. My hon. Friend, however, fully appreciates the point and will consider what he can do to meet it.

Mr. Hicks

Will the hon. Lady see that the Government get a move on in this matter?

Miss Wilkinson

I am glad to say that my hon. Friend and I are doing that now.

28. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Minister of Pensions what is the basis of assessment taken into consideration when a claim is made for assistance for dependants of the Armed Forces owing to hardship when the member of the Forces has been unemployed previous to being called to the Service, or where the man in the Service has been an apprentice in industry and would have finished his apprenticeship in the ordinary course shortly after the time of his being called up for Service?

29. Mr. Mort

asked the Minister of Pensions whether the principle has yet been settled of pay to the families of men nearly out of their apprenticeship time, on the date of enlistment, with the grants taxed on their journeyman's wages in stead of apprentice pay?

Miss Wilkinson

Each case is judged on its merits but I may say, generally, that in the case of a man who was normally employed but happened to be unemployed when called up, the basis of assessment of any grant on account of hardship for the benefit of his family would be the wage he would have been expected to earn if he had been employed. As regards the second part of the Question the basis of assessment would normally be the wage the man would have been earning if the apprentice hip had terminated before the calling up.

Mr. Tomlinson

Will the hon. Lady explain why enlistment in the Army previous to calling-up is looked upon as a disadvantage from the applicant's point of view?

Miss Wilkinson

Perhaps I may answer that question by asking my hon. Friend whether he means the regular Service man?

Mr. Tomlinson

The question which I wish to ask is why an unemployed man who joins the Army before being called up, is, because of having joined, denied this dependant's pension?

Miss Wilkinson

Those are regulations which are concerned with another Department.

Mr. Liddall

Would the hon. Lady have been satisfied with that reply if she had been sitting on the other side of the House?

Miss Wilkinson