HC Deb 04 March 1947 vol 434 cc234-5
44. Mr. Champion

asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware of the hardship caused to widows of men whose death resulted from war service if they have physically infirm children who are incapable of earning their living, who have reached the age of 21 years and, as a result, are not eligible for an allowance; and if he will amend the provisions governing such awards in such a way as to enable widows to maintain these children without having to seek public assistance.

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

The arrangements made after the 1914–18 war enabled an allowance to be granted to the widow of an ex-Serviceman in respect of a child up to but not beyond the age of 21. After that age it was held that the person concerned should be dealt with under any appropriate social service provision. I am afraid that having regard to the long lapse of time there would be insuperable difficulties in now reviewing these arrangements.

Mr. Champion

Is the Minister aware that the number of cases is so small and the cost to the Exchequer so slight that it would be justifiable to look at them again having regard to the fact that it presses hardly on widows who have this type of child?

Mr. Blenkinsop

I am conscious of the difficulties in these cases but we have no knowledge of the number that might be involved. It is a matter which ought clearly to have been dealt with at the end of the last war when the cases arose.

Mr. George Wallace

Is the Minister aware that this is not the only type of case causing hardship and that I have a constituent aged 68 with a mentally defective child of 42, and since this does give an instance of unexampled mother-love does he not agree that these cases deserve the sympathy and interest of the country?