HC Deb 08 June 1944 vol 400 cc1508-10
56. Mr. T. J. Brooks

asked the Minister of Health if he will consider amending the National Health Insurance regulations to ensure that no person shall forfeit any degree or percentage of benefit by reason of service in any of His Majesty's Forces; to make it obligatory upon approved societies immediately to restore such persons, on discharge, to the same degree of benefit to which they were entitled before such service, or such greater degree of benefit as he may direct and to ensure that Service men and women are fully informed, upon discharge, as to their position under the regulations.

Mr. Willink

As the answer is somewhat long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman take good care that no liability will be thrown on friendly societies and approved societies which ought to fall, in respect of ex-Servicemen, on the Ministry of Pensions?

Mr. Brooks

Why should they not be paid national health benefit even though they are in receipt of pensions? They are paying their contributions even though they are in the Service. Are they not entitled to the benefits?

Mr. Willink

It would appear from these supplementary questions, that this is a controversial matter. Perhaps the hon. Member will look at the long answer which will be circulated.

Following is the answer:

Persons discharged from His Majesty's Forces are in general entitled to National Health Insurance benefits under the normal conditions, and there is special provision to ensure that they shall suffer no loss of benefits on account of arrears of contributions which may have been outstanding when they joined the Forces. Where, however, a war disability pension or allowance is in payment, sickness or disablement benefit may be subject to reduction or suspension until certain requalifying conditions have been satisfied since discharge. These modifications were imposed by Sections 6 and 7 of the National Health Insurance and Contributory Pensions (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1939, the object being to safeguard National Health Insurance funds from risks which those funds were not designed to cover, and which were not taken into account in fixing the rates of contributions. Experience has shown, however, that the provisions of Section 6 of the Act of 1939 (which relates to the postponement of sickness and disablement benefits in cases of war injury) sometimes operate with harshness in relation to persons discharged from the Forces, and steps are being taken to make a Regulation under the emergency powers conferred by Section 8 of the National Health Insurance, Contributory Pensions and Workmen's Compensation Act, 1941, which will have the effect of excluding such persons from the operation of Section 6. All persons discharged from the Forces are supplied with special leaflets explaining their position under the National Health Insurance and Contributory Pensions Schemes.