HC Deb 28 October 1947 vol 443 cc665-7
1. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Pensions whether in connection with the disabled ex-Servicemen's basic pension and other matters calling for review, he will now consider appointing a commission to review and revise the Royal Warrant, so as to ensure the practical changes necessitated by the changed conditions which have arisen during the past two years.

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

A comprehensive review of the war pensions code was undertaken by the present Government two years ago, and many improvements were made. Further improvements have been announced during the last 12 months, and in the view of the Government there is no need to set up a commission to review the whole field of war pensions.

Mr. De la Bère

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that this matter cannot be lightly dismissed; indeed, it cannot be dismissed at all? Is he aware that since 1919 the basic pension has risen by only 12½ per cent., and that the standard pension-income for the family unit of a man, child and wife has been increased by only 9 per cent.? Surely, these increases are utterly inadequate in view of the increased cost of living today?

Mr. Blenkinsop

The hon. Member should realise that that states only half the situation. In point of fact, over 20 or 30 improvements have been made benefiting the whole range of our war pensioners. The statement made by the hon. Member is not by any means complete.

Mr. W. J. Brown

In view of the fact that the rise in the cost of living since 1919 is probably of the order of 100 per cent., does the Parliamentary Secretary think that any number of revisions which amount to an increase of only 12½ per cent. is anything like adequate to the situation?

Mr. Blenkinsop

I can only repeat that the increase in the percentage mentioned is not a correct representation of the improvements which have been made.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the service pensioners had a very raw deal when their pensions were stabilised, and that in view of the increase in the cost of living there is a great deal of leeway to make up? Surely, they should be treated just as well as other pensioners?

Mr. Blenkinsop

I agree that the pensioners had an extremely raw deal, and that it has taken us a considerable time to try to make up some of the leeway.

Mr. De la Bère

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

3. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Minister of Pensions if, in view of the increased cost of living, he is taking any steps to increase the pensions of disabled ex-Service men.

6. Mr. Carson

asked the Minister of Pensions whether there is any intention of increasing war pensions in respect of the 1914–18 war.

8. Commander Maitland

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is satisfied that the present basic rate of pensions payable to disabled ex-Service men is sufficient in view of the rise in the cost of living; and whether he proposes to adjust the rate.

Mr. Blenkinsop

The basic rates of war pension for pensioners of both world wars were reviewed and increased less than two years ago as part of a complete survey of the war pensions code, when many other improvements were made. In the view of the Government the rates now in payment do not call for further general revision at this time.

Mr. Gallacher

Although one recognises that the Government have made improvements as compared with what was done by the Tories, may I ask the hon. Gentleman if he is aware that many Members are getting communications from disabled soldiers who are finding it difficult to make ends meet on the pensions they are receiving, because of the greatly increased cost of living? Cannot something be done?

Mr. Lipson

If a general review is not possible would the hon. Gentleman look into the question of allowances for children, which are quite inadequate?

Mr. Blenkinsop

The general increases affected the whole of the war pensioners, and it is quite untrue to say that the percentage increase is as small as some have suggested. In some of the more severe cases the increase has amounted to 50 to 100 per cent.

Mr. E. P. Smith

Is the Minister optimistic enough to believe that the cost of living will come down?

Mr. W. J. Brown

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us by what percentage, on the average, the war pensions for 1914–18 have increased, and how that percentage compares with the percentage increase in the cost of living?

Mr. Blenkinsop

If the hon. Gentleman will put down that question I will see what I can do to answer it.