HC Deb 15 June 1948 vol 452 cc239-40
29. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Pensions how many applications for a pension have been refused in respect of ex-Service men suffering from cancer; and will he arrange for all these to be automatically reviewed in the light of the recent judicial decision.

Mr. Buchanan

The number of applications in respect of cancer which have been rejected is estimated to be about 5,500. With regard to the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) on 8th June, to which I would add that pensions have been granted in respect of cancer in about 1,000 cases.

Mr. Lipson

Is my right hon. Friend referring to the cases that were granted before the recent judicial decision?

Mr. Buchanan

I answered a Question on this last week and I made it plain to the House that, although the learned judge had arrived at that decision, we were operating that plan before he came to that decision. In the judge's case there was a conflict of facts, but we have been operating it for some time. Where-ever a person suffering from cancer could link that disability up with another disease and it could be proved that that was as a result of war service, my instructions were to exercise the new proposals to the greatest possible extent.

Sir T. Moore

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that at one critical moment this disease ceases to be innocent and becomes malignant, and that that is the time the Ministry's medical officials do not seem able to define? Will the right hon. Gentleman also take the opportunity of having these cases reviewed?

Mr. Buchanan

We may not be doing as much as some hon. Members would like, but compared with anything done in the past we are miles ahead. In the past it used not to be possible to allow cancer applications in any way, and now we are doing it to the extent I have outlined. If my hon. Friends want me to grant pensions without a doctor's certificate, I will soon do it, but none must grumble at the money that has to be found if that is done. As long as I am bound by medical evidence and learned judge's decisions in court, then I must rule out cancer in most cases, but whenever we can link it up to any other circumstance it can be taken that both my officials and myself try to do it in the most kindly and humane way possible.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Already 45 minutes have gone and we have not yet reached Question No. 30. We must get on.

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