HC Deb 21 September 1948 vol 456 cc685-7
33. Mr. Douglas Marshall

asked the Minister of Pensions how does the basic rate of disability pensions for ex-Service men and women today compare with the basic rate in 1918 taking into account the rise in the cost of living between these two dates.

Mr. Marquand

The basic pension rate was 27s. 6d. a week in April, 1918, increased to 33s. a week in November, 1918. By reference to the cost of living index figures in 1918 and today, the present basic rate corresponding to the 1918 rate of 33s. a week would be about 36s. a week, whereas it is actually 45s. a week.

35. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Minister of Pensions how many cases there are of pensioners whose only income is the basic 100 per cent. pension of 45s. per week.

Mr. Marquand

As my Department has no knowledge of the income of war pensioners other than their pension, I cannot give the hon. Member the information he seeks. So far, however, no individual case such as he describes has come to my notice.

Mr. H. Hynd

In view of the unfortunate impression that is getting abroad owing to the campaign now being pursued by ex-Service men's organisations, is the Minister satisfied that the scales of allowances available to disabled ex-Service men are sufficiently well known?

Mr. Marquand

I am not quite satisfied. I have come across cases where pensioners have not known what they were entitled to. I have found that my welfare officers, in conducting their interviews, have discovered sometimes as many as 20 per cent. who were not aware of the various supplementations. I am considering whether it may be possible somehow to convey this information to all pensioners, and I hope that all hon. Members who know the facts will make them known.

Mr. Quintin Hogg

Is not this the point—that, quite irrespective of any question of supplementation, all war pensioners, whether 100 per cent. disabled or less, have their basic pensions calculated by reference to this 45s. rate or the appropriate rank above it? In view of the very small weighted increase which has been made since 1918, to which the Minister has just referred, will not the Minister consider whether this basic rate should not be improved?

Mr. Marquand

I think I have already told the House, in a Debate last Session, that the Cabinet have carefully considered that matter and decided that the best policy was to continue to try to improve the lot of the specially unfortunate and not to raise the basic pension.

Mr. Symonds

To ensure that all pensioners are aware of the allowances to. which they may be entitled, will my right hon. Friend consider printing a list of all the available allowances inside the pension book which is sent to each man each year?

Mr. Marquand

I will consider that suggestion, for which I am grateful.

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