HC Deb 30 July 1942 vol 382 cc669-71
30. Mr. Hewlett

asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been called to the lack of adequate treatment in hospitals and sanatoria for men discharged from the Services; and what measures he has in hand to remedy this state of affairs?

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

There is no lack of adequate hospital treatment for medical or surgical cases; and there is ample accommodation both in the hospitals of my Department and in those of the Emergency Medical Service for which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health is responsible. The provision of sanatorium treatment for cases of tuberculosis is the responsibility of the local health authorities, and I would refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health on 30th June regarding the provision of sanatorium beds and nursing staff.

21. Mr. Mathers

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will now take steps to implement the statement he made on 3rd July, 1941, and make awards for material aggravation of condition retrospective to the date at which the aggravation can be proved to exist instead of merely to the date of his announcement?

Sir W. Womersley

All the previously rejected cases brought to the notice of my Department have been reviewed and pension where admissible has been awarded, in accordance with the usual practice, from the pay day nearest to the date on which the announcement was made. I gave no undertaking to depart from this well-established practice, and I see no sufficient reason for doing so.

Mr. Mathers

Does the Minister recollect that when this new arrangement was made, he promised that the effect of it would be retrospective, but that the practice is to make it retrospective only from the date of his announcement? Is he aware that the arrangement was looked upon as a belated piece of justice, and why does it not go back to the time when the aggravation can be proved?

Sir W. Womersley

My hon. Friend has misunderstood the whole position. I made it quite clear that claims would be taken retrospectively, but that the payments would start from the date of my announcement.

23. Sir Robert Young

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is yet in a position to reply to that part of the communication sent to the Admiralty on 2nd June and referred by the Admiralty to his Department concerning the disability, etc., of Chief Engine Room Artificer Alfred Hazelhurst?

Sir W. Womersley

Inquiries are still proceeding in this difficult case and on their conclusion I will communicate with the hon. Member.

Sir R. Young

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me the value of medical examinations in cases of this kind, when this man was recalled to the Navy he was passed as Ar, in Cairo he was sent home with rheumatism, and on arrival in England it was Paget's disease? Why are there these differences of medical opinion?

Sir W. Womersley

I think we had better wait until I get the full report and then discuss the matter.

24. Mr. Hewlett

asked the Minister of Pensions how many applications for pensions he has received from men of the Fighting Forces suffering from gastric trouble; and in how many cases pensions have been granted?

Sir W. Womersley

The cases of all members discharged from the Forces as invadids are considered by my Department without any application from the member concerned. Up to the end of last month pension had been awarded for disabilities in the gastro-intestinal group in slightly over 10,000 cases.

25 and 26. Miss Rathbone

asked the Minister of Pensions (1) whether he is aware that many Service men's wives are finding difficulty in paying doctors' bills, even for a sum of less than £2, the present Service grants being only obtainable for bills exceeding this amount; and whether he will consider lowering the limit to cover such bills in suitable cases;

(2) whether he is aware that the present War Service grant, limited to £7 10s. for an adult funeral, is insufficient to cover at present charges the cost of a funeral, even the Poor Law cost for, internment in a public grave being £9 10s.; and will he consider revising this regulation?

Sir W. Womersley

Both these Questions relate to the emergency grants for which provision is made in Command 6318. As indicated in paragraph 7 of that Paper, these grants were not designed necessarily to meet the whole costs of illness or death, but were intended to provide a substantial contribution towards the heavier expenses. I see no ground for any change in the matter.

Miss Rathbone

Is the Minister aware that the present rates of separation allowance for Service peoples' wives are such that the payment even of a charge of 30s. for a doctor's bill is very often beyond their means, and is it reasonable not to give help in such cases where need is proved? Further, cannot the right hon. Gentleman reduce the exorbitant charge of £9 10s. for a pauper's funeral?