HC Deb 03 August 1944 vol 402 cc1586-9
24. Mr. Douglas

asked the Minister of Pensions what are the diseases which are regarded by him as not caused or aggravated by war service; and what are the respective causes giving rise to such diseases.

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) on 29th July, 1943, a copy of which I am sending him, and to my remarks on this subject in the course of the Debate on the 25th July last.

As to the second part of the Question, my hon. Friend will doubtless be aware that in the majority of these diseases the cause is still the subject of medical research.

Mr. Lipson

Will the right hon. Gentleman give further consideration to this matter?

26. Mr. Thomas Fraser

asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware that a disabled ex-Service man may be disallowed supplementation for unemployability even though he is so seriously disabled by his pensionable disablement as to be unemployable for a period of years; and what steps he proposes to take to remove this anomaly.

Sir W. Womersley

As I recently announced, a new provision has been introduced to meet the case of the married man who, though he cannot and in his own interest should not, be regarded as unemployable is nevertheless likely after a course of hospital treatment to be unfit for work for a lengthy period because of his pensionable disability. Such a man, in addition to a treatment allowance equivalent to pension for total disablement and allowances for his wife and family, will receive a supplementary allowance of 9s. a week if he is not eligible for National Health Insurance benefit.

Mr. Fraser

Surely the Minister is aware that there are still many cases of men who are unemployable because of their pensionable disability who are not admissible for general social service schemes and who still are not covered? Was not the answer the right hon. Gentleman gave me last week to the effect that if ever it was believed a man would be fit for employment again, he could not draw this grant?

Sir W. Womersley

I am afraid my hon. Friend is confusing two issues. By the Royal Warrant I have to award a supplementary allowance to a man who is declared to be totally unemployable by reason of his pensionable disability. That I am doing. The other point is that where a man is not going to be permanently disabled by reason of his pensionable disability, but is not likely to be employable for some time, under these new arrangements I have now made, I can make this supplementary allowance.

Mr. Fraser

If a man has been discharged for three years, and been unemployable for three years, and he is still unemployable, the Minister in reply to me—taking up a case individually—could only say that ultimately he would be employable. Surely that case should be covered?

Sir W. Womersley

It is difficult to generalise on a particular case. If my hon. Friend will call my attention to the case he has in mind, I will look into it.

Mr. Foster

What period has to elapse before the man in a case of this kind is considered to be totally unemployable? Is there any period?

Sir W. Womersley

No, the method is first to have a medical opinion. If the medical opinion is that a man is not likely to be employable, he is admitted for extra benefit. If the medical opinion is that after a course of treatment the man will be able to resume work, we deal with that under the new arrangement I have announced. If, after that, he is handed over to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour to go to a training centre, and it is decided by the officials in charge there that he is not likely, even after training, to be employable, we admit that. I can assure hon. Members we do everything we possibly can to meet these cases.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether cases in this category now have to make application to have this benefit?

Sir W. Womersley

If we know of them we deal with them, without application; but there will be cases of which we do not know, and we welcome applications being made. I can assure the House that we shall deal with them sympathetically.

27. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Pensions how many children there are who have lost their fathers in war service, who are receiving the allowance of 11s per week; and what is the estimated annual cost if they were placed on the same basis as other children, who are getting 12s. 6d. a week.

Sir W. Womersley

Somewhat over 70,000 children are at present in receipt of allowances at the 11s. a week rate. The immediate annual cost of raising this rate of 12s. 6d. would be about £275,000.

Mr. De la Bère

Then why not do it?