HC Deb 17 February 1948 vol 447 cc961-2
1. Mr. Geoffrey Cooper

asked the Minister of Pensions what proportion of 100 per cent. disabled pensioners are in full employment in jobs governed by trade union rates of pay and not in work specially devised for disabled men; and whether he will cause to be made a cross-sectional inquiry to show approximately what proportion of pensioners over 50 per cent. and less than 100 per cent. disabled are in full employment in jobs governed by trade union rates of pay.

The Minister of Pensions (Mr. Buchanan)

I regret I have no statistics showing the proportion of pensioners whose disablement is assessed at 100 per cent., or between 50 per cent. and 100 per cent., and who are in full employment in occupations governed by trade union rates of pay. In assessing the degree of disablement for war pension, no account is taken of earnings, a principle which is jealously guarded, and I could not, therefore, undertake to make inquiries on the lines suggested. I shall, however, be pleased to discuss with my hon. Friend ways and means of obtaining any information which may be of use to him.

Mr. Cooper

Since considerations of earning capacity seem to be the chief ones used in the Minister's argument against increasing the basic rate, does he not feel that it is a reasonable request, even if it causes some trouble, to obtain the figures for which I have asked, as it might prompt a fresh review on this matter?

Mr. Buchanan

The point is that I am sure the House would resent my beginning to examine people's individual earnings and wages, and I am not anxious in these days, when we have enough inquiring into people's affairs, to start a new inquiry.

Sir William Darling

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many disabled pensioners are quite willing to place the information which he wants at his disposal and would not resent an inquiry because they feel that such an inquiry would be to their advantage?

Mr. Buchanan

I think the hon. Member wants to have it both ways. If I started to probe, he would make an American broadcast attacking me. If I do not make a probe, he attacks me. I am sorry I cannot please the hon. Member.