HC Deb 07 December 1944 vol 406 cc707-9
31. Mr. T. J. Brooks

asked the Minister of Pensions if he will give further consideration to the question of giving, if not a pension then a gratuity, without means test, to a parent or parents who may lose a son or daughter by death whilst on military service.

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

The Government do not accept the view that parents in general wish to be given a small grant automatically as compensation for the loss of a child, but believe the majority prefer to know that reasonable provision will be made for them should they at any time be in need. My right hon. Friend is not prepared to recommend the adoption of my hon. Friend's proposal.

Mr. Brooks

Is my right hon. Friend aware when a boy is killed in industry, if it is proved that he has made any payments or allotment to his parents, compensation is paid; and is he also aware that there is no means test for wives?

Mr. Paling

Yes, Sir, but even under compensation, some dependency has to be proved before anything is paid; and as to wives, the position is rather different from that of parents.

Mr. McEntee

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in cases where a mother loses a son in that way, and she is compelled, because of the delay of my right hon. Friend's own Department, to go to work, the fact that she goes to work is then used against her?

Mr. Paling

I have no information of that sort, and if my hon. Friend will give me a case I shall be glad to look into it.

Mr. McEntee

I will do that.

Mr. Graham White

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind, in considering this matter, that, while there are many hard cases, there are also a large number of parents who would regret very much if an automatic value were placed upon their sons?

Mr. Gallacher

Would it not be better that the Government should make some recognition in these cases and not simply forget those fathers and mothers who have lost their children?

Mr. Paling

They are not forgotten.

32. Mr. Loftus

asked the Minister of Pensions if he will now allay the discontent among many families of Servicemen by ensuring that the recent increase in family or dependants' allowances does not in any case lead to a decrease of the family income, through the war service grants being reduced by a greater amount than the increase in these allowances.

Mr. Paling

I have no reason to think that difficulties are arising on the grounds suggested by my hon. Friend. It is only exceptionally that the reduction in a war service grant exceeds the increase in the regulated allowance. Where this happens it is due to the fact that since the grant was last reviewed there have been other increases in the family income, in regard to which no adjustment had been made in the intervening period.

Mr. Loftus

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is widespread, bitter and justifiable discontent among Servicemen owing to these cases in which what is given with one hand is more than taken away, unhappily, with the other?

Mr. Paling

I am not aware of that. Our experience is not to that effect. The number of letters we have about this matter is very small indeed and in most cases, after an explanation has been given, we hear nothing more about it.

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