HC Deb 11 December 1941 vol 376 c1674
62. Mr. Mathers

asked the Minister of Pensions the amount of the King's Fund at his disposal for meeting the needs of the dependants of service men who have lost their lives in this war, and who find themselves unable to meet their obligations on their pension allowances; how many grants have been made from this fund during this war; what is the total amount granted; how many such grants are now in being and what is the weekly cost?

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

The amount at my disposal in the King's Fund is £16,237, and I should be very glad to see this sum increased. The Fund is available for temporary help in cases of need and distress, not only to the dependants of those who have lost their lives in war service, but also to war-disabled officers and members of the defence services and Mercantile Marine. The number of grants authorised during this war is just over 1,000, and the total amount so far expended is about £6,000. Continuing weekly grants are only payable in cases of sickness requiring special nourishment. Approximately 80 such grants are in payment at a weekly cost of £20.

Mr. Mathers

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the amount at his disposal and the grants that are made are totally indequate to meet the cases of these widows with dependants who are the victims of the war, and that there is great perturbation in. the House and the public mind about the fact that what amount to charitable funds have to be used in order to meet what are looked upon as Government obligations?

Sir W. Womersley

My hon. Friend has a wrong conception of this matter altogether. This is not a charitable institution in the accepted sense of the term. No Act of Parliament or Royal Warrant can cover every possible case. This fund is available for the exceptional cases.

Mr. Mathers

In view of the inadequacy of the Royal Warrant allowances, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to have them improved?