HC Deb 22 October 1942 vol 383 cc2087-90
40. Mr. Mainwaring

asked the Minister of Pensions how many men have been discharged from the Armed Forces, during the present war, on account of tuberculosis; how many of these were held to have contracted the disease prior to joining the Forces; and how many have been granted some amount of pension?

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

It would not be in the public interest to give the figures asked for. But I am able to say that of the total number of men invalided out of the Armed Forces from the outbreak of war until the end of September last, 5.8 per cent. were discharged on account of tuberculosis, and of the claims made in respect of this disability rather more than 70 per cent. have been allowed.

Mr. Mainwaring

Is it not clear that the condition of any man suffering from this disease must of necessity be aggravated by entering the Forces and being deprived of the ordinary care and attention that he previously had?

Sir W. Womersley

No, it does not follow at all, if you take into account every circumstance of the man's service and everything that he gains in the way of medical advice, as the fact that over 70 per cent. have been accepted shows?

Mr. Mainwaring

Nearly 30 per cent. are rejected.

Mr. Montague

If a man has tuberculosis, ought not the Government to take the responsibility, whether the doctors find it out or not?

Sir W. Womersley

That is not a question for me at all.

41. Mr. Messer

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he proposes to take steps to deal with the position of the widows of Service men killed in this war who are compelled to seek assistance from public assistance committees owing to their pension being lower than public assistance committee scales?

Sir W. Womersley

A widow's pension is in the nature of a life annuity and cannot be compared with payments made by public assistance committees which are of a temporary nature, liable to fluctuate according to means and other circum- stances and based on differing scales throughout the country.

Mr. Messer

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it a disgrace that a widow with three children should be compelled to seek public assistance because pension and allowances are not big enough to keep her?

Sir W. Womersley

I do not think it ought to be necessary. The pension and allowances should be sufficient.

Mr. Messer

If I submit a case to the right hon. Gentleman, will be consider it with a view to increasing the pension?

Sir W. Womersley

I will consider any case that the hon. Member, or any other hon. Member, sends me.

42. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Pensions why a pension has been refused to the widow of Private Arthur Bryn Howell who died in hospital at the age of 42 on 20th September, seeing that Private Howell, who served for two years in the last war, was passed A1 when he volunteered in November, 1939; has he considered the effect of this refusal not only on the widow but on her two sons serving with the Forces; and will he grant a pension forthwith to Mrs. Howell?

Sir W. Womersley

Private Howell's death was due to cardio-vascular degeneration associated with stone in the right kidney. I am medically advised that neither the stone in the kidney nor the cardio-vascular degeneration was caused or aggravated by any condition of military service and I regret that I am therefore unable to award a pension to the widow.

Mr. Lipson

In view of the Service record of the family, if the Royal Warrant will not allow my right hon. Friend at present to grant a pension, is it not time it was so amended as to bring in cases of this sort?

43. Mr. Mander

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will consider the advisability of arranging with regard to all increases in pay given to the Armed Forces, that half or some other reasonable proportion shall be disregarded by the War Service Grants Committee in considering the position of dependants?

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

It has already been made clear that the recent increases in the pay of non-commissioned ranks are entirely disregarded for the purpose of war service grants, and, as my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal announced on 15th October, the method of dealing with the increased family allowances is under consideration.

Mr. Mander

How soon will a decision be arrived at?

Mr. Paling

I cannot say that.

44. Sir Herbert Williams

asked the Minister of Pensions on what basis compensation will be paid to the relatives of those who were killed and to those who were injured in the aeroplane crash at Ruislip?

Sir W. Womersley

Persons killed or injured in this unfortunate incident will be regarded as having suffered war injury, and claims will be considered by my Department under the appropriate Instruments.

Sir H. Williams

Does that decision apply to all accidents where Government aeroplanes kill civilians?

Mr. Speaker

That is a different question. This deals with one particular case.

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