HC Deb 02 March 1948 vol 448 cc191-2
27. Mr. Granville Sharp

asked the Minister of Pensions what is the approximate number of claims for disability pensions made by Service men of the I939–45 war on account of diabetes melitus; what proportion of these he has rejected; what proof there is that men, classified as Ai who have fought through the hardest campaigns but later discharged as medically unfit with diabetes melitus, must trace their condition to an inborn weakness of the pancreas; and whether he will review the position and reconsider the claims he has rejected in the past.

The Minister of Pensions (Mr. Buchanan)

The answer to the first part of the Question is 3,600, of which about 3,000 have been rejected. As regards the second part, ex-Service men are not required to trace the cause of their disablement. On the contrary, the onus of proving that their condition is not due to war service rests on me. The recent dismissal by the High Court of some appeals in cases of diabetes shows that in those cases the learned judge's view was that this onus had been discharged. In the circumstances, it is difficult for me, in face of the High Court decisions, to review all past cases, but I am, of course, always willing to examine any particular case in which fresh evidence becomes available, and would also be prepared to look at the general question in the light of any modification of the existing medical view in this type of case.

Mr. Sharp

In view of the fact that many of these men were considered to be fit to fight through the hardest campaigns, will the right hon. Gentleman agree that, having lost their health in war service, they should be considered to be fit for pensions?

Mr. Buchanan

The hon. Gentleman raises the general issue that, if a man was A.I, he should get a pension. I do not mind that becoming the view of the Government, but the House of Commons must make a decision of that kind. Under the Royal Warrant I have to deal with medical evidence, and the medical evidence in this case, even with the best will in the world, is against taking them in, and the High Court has upheld that decision. In the meantime, I have to administer the Act, and if my hon. Friend or any other person can bring evidence to show that the doctors are not right in this matter, nobody will be better pleased than I am.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Sharp

In view of the need for further consideration of this matter, and for enabling the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider it, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment.

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