HC Deb 22 June 1948 vol 452 cc1113-5
26. Mr. Manningham-Buller

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will make a statement as to the action it is proposed to take with regard to disablement pensions, allowances and grants payable to members of His Majesty's Forces, their widows and dependants where damages have been recovered by them in the civil courts.

Mr. Buchanan

I will, with permission, answer this at the end of Questions.

At the end of Questions

Mr. Buchanan

I promised to answer Question No. 26 at the end of Questions. As promised in the House on 28th May, I have discussed this matter with my Central Advisory Committee. As a result a new practice has been agreed and will, apply as from 5th July. This is as follows:

  1. (a) In the case of the disablement pensioner the present practice is to abate the pension by an amount representing the annuity value of 75 per cent. of the damages. In future only 25 per cent. of the damages will be taken into account for the abatement of pension.
  2. (b) In the case of the war widow, the present practice of disregarding 10 per cent. or £50 of the damages, whichever is the greater, will be continued, but in taking account of the balance, the pension will not be reduced below 30s. a week where the widow is over go years of age, or is incapable of self-support or has children, or 20s. in any other case. The present minimum is 10s. a week in all cases
  3. (c) In the case of children, £150 of the damages in respect of each child will still be disregarded, but the minimum allowance for the first child will be 7s 6d. a week instead of 5s. as at present.
In all cases, of course, the disabled man or widow retains the damages in full.

These arrangements will, I believe, secure that the war pensioner who obtains damages for the injury for which pension is also being paid will ordinarily receive at least parity of treatment with the industrial injury pensioner.

Mr. Tolley

May I ask the Minister, in view of the tremendous importance of the answer which he has given, to give the widest publicity to it so that those affected can make fresh applications?

Mr. Buchanan

No one needs to make a fresh application in this case. The matter is one which will come to us automatically. I am certain everybody who is entitled to receive benefit will receive it.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Is it quite clear that the courts in assessing damages, will not take into account the war pension or any other pension?

Mr. Buchanan

The courts will not take into account any income received by way of war pension.

Mr. Charles Williams

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure me that in no case will an ex-Service man be worse off now in the way of pension than the industrial worker?

Mr. Buchanan

It is difficult to get an exact arrangement. We have achieved broad parity. On the whole, about 70 per cent. of the ex-Service men stand to gain slightly. There may be a small number who will lose slightly but, taking the position by and large, ex-Service people gain considerably. They will be much better off than they were before.