HC Deb 12 June 1941 vol 372 cc326-9
23. Mr. Parker

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that the case of Mrs. Bones, of 155, Howard Road, Barking, who was refused a pension under the Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme in respect of her husband, who was killed by enemy action, owing to the fact that he was a permanent invalid, and, therefore, not a gainfully-occupied person, has caused a good deal of feeling in that district; and whether he will make some modification in the scheme to enable widows of permanently-incapacitated persons to receive a pension?

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

The Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme, 1941, does not provide pensions for the dependants of persons not gainfully occupied who are killed by enemy action, because in such cases the normal income of the household is not as a rule affected by the death. Provision is, however, made in Article 21 of the Scheme for pension in the exceptional case where the widow or orphan is in need by reason of the cessation of a pension, superannuation allowance, annuity or similar income. As the case to which the hon. Member refers does not fall into this category, no pension can be awarded under the scheme, but I understand that a contributory widow's pension has been awarded. I should not feel justified in recommending a modification of the scheme to provide pensions in cases in which death does not result in loss of support.

Mr. Parker

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that a good many cases of this kind will arise during the war? Could not some modification be made to meet hard cases of this kind?

Sir W. Womersley

This is the first case of the sort that I have had to deal with. The deceased man was drawing 8s. a week National Health Insurance benefit, and his widow gets 10s. a week pension in place of that. That does not seem to call for an alteration of the whole scheme.

Mr. Shinwell

It does not call for an alteration, when she has only 10s. a week, and is in need?

Sir W. Womersley

The point is that she has other income.

24. Major Lloyd

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has any further information to give the House with regard to applications for disability pensions from men who have been passed by medical boards as physically fit for military service and who are found within a few months not to be fit for such service and consequently discharged?

Sir W. Womersley

This is a matter which I am discussing with my Central Advisory Committee, and I hope soon to be able to announce my decision.

Dr. Summerskill

Would the Minister agree that many of the cases would not arise if the recruit were examined at the first stage by a specialist in nervous diseases as well as by the medical board?

Mr. Speaker

That is another question.

26. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of hardship experienced through the refusal of supplementary grants to dependants receiving a continuing allowance, he will secure power to make such supplementary grants and enable dependants to be in the same position as those able to receive a grant supplementing the normal allowance?

Sir W. Womersley

I understand that the hon. Member's Question relates to the families of men posted as missing. In these cases it is the practice to continue any supplementary allowance (war service grant), where such is in issue, for 17 weeks after the date of posting. At the end of that period in all cases, whether a war service grant is in issue or not, the Service Department concerned makes payment of an allowance equivalent to the pension that would be payable if the man were presumed dead. A war service grant is not issuable in supplementation of any such allowance at pension rate; and I am not prepared to advise any differentiation.

Mr. Sorensen

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that this practice causes certain hardships in individual cases? Would he, therefore, consider a specific case if I send it to him?

Sir W. Womersley

1 am always prepared to consider any specific cases. But there is no hardship caused in this way.

Mr. R.J. Taylor

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many cases of hardship arise in this way, and that the commitments which lead to a war service grant being paid are still there when the pension is paid at the end of the 17 weeks?

Sir W. Womersley

I am not aware that there are a large number of cases of hardship. I judge by the number of cases brought to the attention of my Ministry. The hon. Member has made a wide, sweeping statement, without justification.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Are the arrears made good if the man who has been presumed dead is found later to be living?

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