HC Deb 07 August 1941 vol 373 cc2093-6
44. Mr. Jewson

asked the Minister of Pensions why relatives of special constables killed by enemy action receive pensions on a smaller scale than dependants under the war injuries scheme; and whether he will take steps to remedy this injustice?

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

The anomaly referred to by the hon. Member has already been brought to my notice and I am considering, in conjunction with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, how it can best be removed.

65. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that ex- Lance-Sergeant D. E. Parberry was passed Al four times when he joined the Territorials in November, 1938, and the colours on 1st September, 1939, in May, 1940, and again in October, 1940, when he passed the strict medical examination for a temporary commission; that he was discharged on 20th March, 1941, because of heart trouble and was refused a pension on 18th July on the ground that his disability is neither directly attributable to his war service nor materially aggravated by it; and whether, as this decision is contrary to a recent undertaking, he will arrange for a pension to be granted to Mr. Parberry?

Sir W. Womersley

I am arranging for a further medical examination of Mr. Parberry, in the light of which his case will be reconsidered.

Mr. Lipson

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether there is any reason why there should be any delay in coming to a decision in the case of a man who has been passed Al four times, and has been released after two years' service as suffering from a weak heart?

Sir W. Womersley

There was no delay. The man will be examined, and a decision will be taken in the light of what happens at the examination.

66. Mr. Burke

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has given further consideration to the payment of an allowance to all mothers of serving men as a recognition of their sacrifice and contribution to the present war effort?

Sir W. Womersley

I presume the hon. Member is referring to the suggestion of a flat-rate pension for the parents of deceased members of the Armed Forces whose deaths are attributable to war service. The Select Committee of 1921 took the view that to justify the grant of a parent's pension the test of need broadly interpreted should be satisfied. This principle was incorporated in the 1940 Warrant, the provisions of which were fully considered by my Statutory Advisory Committee. I regret that I am not prepared to waive this requirement.

Mr. Burke

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of these mothers receive no grants from the boys while they are alive, and that after they have been killed in action or have died in the service of their country the failure of the Government to recognise even in a small degree the sacrifices which they have made causes very widespread and great bitterness throughout the country, and will he reconsider the matter again?

Sir W. Womersley

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's statement at all. If he had studied this question as carefully as I have, he would not have made that statement. In every case where a parent is in need—and we interpret that very broadly—compensation is granted. This method has enabled me to give far greater compensation to those who really need it than if I had handed over 5s. a week to people who would have had to include it in their Income Tax returns.

Mr. Burke

There is a difference between the attitude of the Government in this war and in the last, and it is causing great dissatisfaction.

67. Mr. Mathers

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that pensions and allowances to members of His Majesty's forces are not all paid on the same ratio to the cost of living figure in keeping with the undertaking given to this House on 25th June, 1940; and when he intends fully to implement this undertaking?

Sir W. Womersley

The undertaking regarding pensions and allowances to members of His Majesty's Forces to which the hon. Member refers was fully implemented in the Royal Warrant of 29th June, 1940.

Mr. Mathers

Has not the right hon. Gentleman received a complaint from the Scottish Legion to the effect that this undertaking has not been given effect to, and what reply has been made to that charge?

Sir W. Womersley

I have made a very adequate reply, and if my hon. Friend will refer those who have corresponded with him to it, they will find that it is, at any rate, a fair statement of the case. If he wishes, I will let him have a copy of the reply.

Mr. Mathers

When was the reply sent, for I have not understood it to have been received?

Sir W. Womersley

I reply to all communications I receive either from the British Legion or from the Scottish Legion.

Mr. Mathers

But when?

69. Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been called to the resolution passed by the Welsh National Memorial Association recently, urging him to make provision for men discharged from the Forces suffering from tuberculosis; what provisions exist to provide such treatment; and what further steps he is taking in the matter?

Sir W. Womersley

I have not received a copy of the resolution to which the hon. Member refers. Residential treatment for tuberculosis in ex-service men falls to be provided by the local health authorities under their general tuberculosis scheme and where such treatment is provided for a man in whose case the need for treatment is due to war service, the local authority concerned is entitled to submit to the Ministry a claim for reimbursement of the cost of the treatment. These arrangements have worked and are working satisfactorily. In Wales the arrangements for residential treatment of ex-service men are made through the Welsh National Memorial Association, and so far as I am aware there has been no difficulty in arranging any residential treatment required by our pensioners.

Mr. Griffiths

Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that in the report of this Association, presented last week, it is indicated that there is a deficiency of 400 beds, and if there is no room for ex-Service men, will he reconsider the position?

Sir W. Womersley

If this Association will inform me of any ex-Service man who cannot find a bed, I will find him one somewhere else.

70. Mr. Kennedy

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has considered the petition signed by 550 members of the Kirkcaldy and District Business and Professional Women's Club protesting against the inequality of the Personal Injuries Act, whereby men receive 7s. more compensation per week than women under the Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme; and whether there is any likelihood of an early amendment of this inequality?

Sir W. Womersley

I have received the petition in question. For the reasons which I gave in the Debate on 1st May last, His Majesty's Government have not in contemplation any amendment of the Personal Injuries Act on the lines suggested.

Miss Cazalet

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all of the women of England and most of the men are against him on this question?

Sir W. Womersley

I am aware that there is a large number of men and women in this country with me, as my correspondence will show far more letters in favour of what I have said on this matter in this House than against.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. Gentleman say why a woman's arm or leg is not of the same value as a man's?