HC Deb 06 February 1941 vol 368 cc1067-9
35. Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the habit of responsible authorities to discharge Air-Raid Precautions or Auxiliary Fire Service men injured in the course of their duties if they have not recovered within the period of 13 weeks; that great hardship is thereby entailed; and whether he will take prompt steps to remedy this injustice?

Mr. H. Morrison

Members of Civil Defence organisations receive, in addition to the injury allowances and pensions provided by the Personal Injuries (Compensation) Scheme available for civilians who are injured by enemy action, additional payments which, in cases of injury, provide the volunteer with the equivalent of full pay for a period up to 13 weeks before discharge from the Service without prejudice to his subsequent reinstatement. In this respect the treatment of injured Civil Defence personnel corresponds closely to that of military personnel. For obvious reasons there must be some limit to the period during which an injured Civil Defence volunteer may remain on full pay, and, taking into account the fact that he will continue to be eligible for free medical treatment for his injuries, I do not think that the rule of a maximum of 13 weeks' full pay before reverting to the normal scale of compensation or pension for a civilian can be regarded as ungenerous.

Sir J. Lucas

Is the Home Secretary aware that I have here cases of men who have had their thighs broken, or have lost their eyesight, who have now been thrown on the streets because their 13 weeks have expired? Is he also aware that as a result there is a strong tendency among married men to say about a building which is on fire, "Let it burn. There is no one inside. We do not want to take risks if our families will suffer"?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think that is so. It will be remembered that the payment was for a very limited period, I think it was for three weeks, and we got it extended to 13 weeks. There must be a time limit, but any suggestion that these men are thrown on to the Poor Law or on to the streets is really not true.

Mr. A. Bevan

Although it may be reasonable to give no more than 13 weeks' full pay, is there any guarantee of reemployment in the event of recovery?

Mr. Morrison

In the event of recovery men will be eligible for re-employment.

Mr. Bevan

Eligibility is not the point; is there a guarantee?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir, I will not say there is a guarantee. It is a matter for the employing authority, but I should be surprised if there were any cases of fit men not being re-employed. Certainly if there were, and they were brought to my notice, I should take up the matter.