HC Deb 11 September 1941 vol 374 cc279-83
16. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton Pownall

asked the Minister of Pensions how many applications for War Service Grants have been received from officers up to the last available date, and how many have been sanctioned?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions (Mr. Paling)

Up to 25th August the number of applications received from officers was 1,527. Grants were made in 577 cases, 42 cases have been withdrawn or lapsed, and 98 cases are still under investigation.

Sir A. Pownall

Could the hon. Gentleman say whether more publicity could be given to the fact that officers, as well as other ranks, are eligible for special grants, as the general impression appears to be that it is only other ranks which are covered by these grants?

Mr. Paling

Yes, we are of opinion that the small number of applications is perhaps due to the lack of publicity, and we are considering ways and means of giving it. We have already approached the welfare officers and the three Service authorities, and we are considering ways and means of using the Press and the radio.

Mr. Lipson

Are not officers discouraged from applying owing to the fact that only one-third of the applications made have been granted?

Mr. Paling

That may be true; whether it is so or not, I do not know. We shall have to make inquiries.

Mr. Ness Edwards

How are claims made by officers investigated?

Mr. Paling

They are investigated by officers of the Ministry.

18. Major Procter

asked the Minister of Pensions whether the principles embodied in the recent Determination of Needs Act for unemployment assistance will be applied to the assessment of parents' need pensions; if not, what difficulties exist; and what, in simple language, is the procedure to be adopted?

22. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has yet applied the principles of the latest Determination of Needs Act to awards of pensions to parents; and has he reviewed the principle in regard to the award of pensions in all cases of bereavement resulting from the war?

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

Parents' need pensions have always been assessed by reference to personal needs, and no change is therefore necessary to conform with the principles laid down in the Determination of Needs Act. I have, however, made several modifications in the rules for the assessment of parents' need pensions, of which the major one is to disregard the following items of income which, by Statute, are disregarded for the purposes of Unemployment Assistance or Supplementary Old Age Pension:

  1. (a) Disability Pensions—the first £1 a week.
  2. (b) Friendly Societies sick pay—the first 5s. a week.
  3. (c) National Health Insurance benefit—the first 7s. 6d. a week and the first £2 of any maternity benefit.
  4. (d) Workmen's Compensation—one half of any weekly payment.
  5. (e) Superannuation—the first 7s. 6d. a week.
  6. (f) Sickness payments under the Old Age and Widows' Pension Act, 1940—the first 7s. 6d. a week.
  7. (g) The first £375 of "War Savings."
Any income received from the British Legion by way of a Prince of Wales' Pension will also be disregarded. The new arrangements will be applied as cases come up automatically for review or on application on the part of the individual concerned.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the whole of the hardship grant is fully taken into account for the purpose of a supplementary pension, so that any decision of the hardship committee is entirely overridden by the Assistance Board?

Sir W. Womersley

I am concerned only with my own Department. I will leave the hon. Member to deal with the other Ministries.

19. Major Procter

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has reached any decision, and can make any statement, on the pensionable position of dependants of a serving man whose death is due to accident unconnected with enemy or our own action; and what, in such circumstances, is the position of the victim if he is only injured?

Sir W. Womersley

The question of "off duty" accidents of the kind referred to is still under consideration, and I regret that I am not yet in a position to make a statement. With regard to the second part of the Question, a member of the Forces so injured would be treated for his injury by the Service in which he is serving.

20. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has been able to make any of the improvements in the provisions of the Royal Warrant for the present war which he foreshadowed on 31st July?

Sir W. Womersley

Yes, Sir; I am glad to announce that I have obtained authority—

  1. (1) for making up to the full rate the reduced allowances at present paid for the first two weeks of home treatment in cases in which the treatment continues beyond that period;
  2. (2) for granting constant attendance allowance to totally disabled women members of the Forces under the same conditions as for men; and
  3. (3) for increasing the pensions of orphan children of women members to the rates payable to the orphan children of men, where they have hitherto been less.
One or two other points are still under consideration.

21. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Minister of Pensions the date on which his Central Advisory Committee last met; whether any future meetings have been arranged; and whether he has now given consideration to the question of regular meetings of this body?

Sir W. Womersley

The last meeting of my Central Advisory Committee was held on 18th June last, and I am arranging for the Committee to meet again at an early date.

23. Mr. Burke

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that ex-Private Greaves, 13000197, Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps, having served as a sergeant in the Lancashire Fusiliers from 1914 to 1918 was invited to rejoin in 1939, and, after passing seven doctors, fought in France, was in the retreat, and is now discharged suffering from tuberculosis, without pension, and that owing to his illness he cannot obtain employment and, being homeless, cannot obtain public assistance or admittance to hospital; and will he investigate this case with a view to bringing it within the scope of the Royal Warrant?

Sir W. Womersley

I am looking into this case and will communicate with the hon. Member.

Mr. Burke

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain how it is that in all. cases like this we must take the medical testimony when the man is discharged, even if it conflicts with the medical testimony, seven times as great, when the man is admitted into the Army as being fit?

Sir W. Womersley

The hon. Member is evidently not aware that I have already announced in the House that where a man is passed into the Army A 1, and is afterwards discharged on account of sickness, I can take into account that fact in dealing with his case.

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