HC Deb 14 March 1946 vol 420 cc1264-7
21. Major Wilkes

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, when a disabled soldier's first marriage has taken place within the statutory period of 10 years from the incurring of the disability, wife's maintenance allowance will be payable in respect of the wife of a second marriage when the first marriage has been dissolved by death or a divorce in which the disabled soldier was the innocent party.

The Minister of Pensions (Mr. Wilfred Paling)

If the second marriage took place within 10 years of the end of the pensioner's war service an allowance in respect of the wife of that marriage would be payable.

24. Mr. Scholefield Allen

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the moderate amount necessary to remove the 10 years restriction on allowances in respect of pensioners wives, he is prepared to take steps with a view to removing such restriction.

27. Flight-Lieutenant Beswick

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the fact that the rescinding of the regulation restricting the payment of family allowances to pensioners who marry within 10 years of the termination of their war service would cost less than £ 500,000, he will now abolish this regulation.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

As stated in the answer to the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. George Thomas) on 31st January, His Majesty's Government consider that the claims made on behalf of ex-Service war pensioners who marry after discharge have been generously met by the existing provision for wife's allowance, and I regret that I am unable to recommend any extension of that provision.

Mr. Allen

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his reply — [Hon. Members: "Why?"] —and for the substantial advance contained in the recent White Paper, may I ask if he is aware that this restriction penalises those who have had to wait longer for the blessings and joys of matrimony, and if he is unable to go the whole way will he remove the restrictions in respect of those who have suffered 100 per cent. disability?

Mr. Paling

The general argument put forward for the removal of this restriction was that men who deferred their marriage because of the war were put in a bad position as compared with those who married before, and the Government thought that to give 10 years grace was generally interpreting that fact.

Flight-Lieutenant Beswick

Is the Minister aware that there are cases in which men have had to wait more than 10 years because of certain physical disabilities, and that after that time they are being grossly penalised by being refused a wife's allowance?

Mr. Paling

I do not think I can add to what I have already said.

Major Wilkes

Does not the greatest hardship arise when, although a first marriage qualifies for the wife's maintenance allowance because it takes place within the 10 years period, if that marriage comes to an end through no fault of the disabled soldier, no wife's maintenance allowance is payable in respect of any second marriage?


If it were given in that case it would create hardship in the other cases also.

20. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Minister of Pensions on what grounds a war widow is prohibited from receiving a pension if her husband died before 3rd September, 1939.

25. Mr. Popplewell

asked the Minister of Pensions if he will give further consideration towards extending the scope of Cmd. Paper 6714 to cover pensions to widows of men who died prior to 3rd September, 1939.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

The widow of a man who died before 3rd September, 1939, as a result of service in the 1914–1918 world war is entitled to pension if her marriage took place before he sustained his disability. In applying to widows of that war the relaxation announced in Command 6714 it was necessary to fix an operative date which would be practicable in application. The hon. Member will appreciate the great difficulty in the majority of cases in attempting to determine, when death occurred more than six and up to 30 years ago, whether there was or was not any causal connection between death and war service. For this reason I am unable to recommend any extension of the new provision to cases of death before 3rd September, 1939.

Mr. Popplewell

Would the Minister be prepared to consider providing pensions to cases where there is conclusive proof of death arising from injury in the First World War?

Mr. Paling

I do not think I can go beyond the terms of the White Paper itself.

26. Mr. Collins

asked the Minister of Pensions if men with a disability resulting from war service may qualify for an allowance in respect of a wife, married after the 10-year period had elapsed, in cases where they had been formerly married within the 10-year period.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

A pensioner who is undergoing treatment which prevents his working, or who is classified as permanently unemployable through his pension-able disablement, may receive an allowance for a wife irrespective of the date of marriage, but otherwise such an allowance is payable only for a wife married before the expiration of the 10-year period.

Mr. Collins

But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his answer means that a pension is denied to a man who has already qualified for it if his first wife dies and he remarries? Can he tell us what justification there is for such an extraordinary position?

Mr. Paling

The argument is the same as it is in the case of the 10-years limit — that the 10-years limit was thought to be a generous interpretation of the argument put forward that a man who deferred his marriage should have the same treatment as a man who married before the war.

Flight-Lieutenant Beswick

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that pensioners do appreciate the generosity that was implied in the new regulations, and that because of that generosity they are convinced that if he will only look into the anachronisms that have arisen he will be able to make the desired adjustments in these various particulars?

Mr. Benn Levy

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain how the mystic figure of 10 years was arrived at, and what good reason there is for penalising a man financially because he is thoughtless enough to fall in love, say, 24 hours later than the State prescribes?

Mr. Paling

If a man deferred his marriage before the war, and the war lasted about six years, and 10 years is given to make up for those six years, it is a fairly generous interpretation.