HC Deb 21 March 1950 vol 472 cc1755-6
43. Major H. Johnson

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether her attention has been drawn to the inability of her Department under the National Insurance Act, 1946, to pay death grants to parents of children who before they attain the age of 16 become mentally deficient or physically incapacitated but die after attaining such age without recovering mental or physical health; and what action she proposes to take to alleviate such hardship to parents.

The Minister of National Insurance (Dr. Edith Summerskill)

Entitlement to death grant in such a case depends on the insurance record of the deceased once he has ceased to be a "child" within the meaning of the Statute. It is a general principle of the National Insurance scheme that the provision made for an adult who has not married should depend on his own insurance, but I am watching carefully the operation of the Act in this type of case.

Major Johnson

Is the right hon. Lady aware that with the possible exception of politics, there are no careers open to mentally deficient persons? How, therefore, can a mentally deficient or a person of unsound mind obtain money with which to pay 26 contributions?

Dr. Summerskill

I take it that the hon. and gallant Gentleman, in putting this supplementary question, is speaking for his own party. I want him to realise that this Act came into operation on 5th July, 1948, and that cases of this kind occasionally arise. I think he will agree that they are exceptional. Perhaps the anomaly of a person who is not a child within the meaning of the Act remaining mentally a child was not envisaged when the Act was framed. But I can undertake to look at the matter for him.

Mr. Ellis Smith

What the hon. and gallant Gentleman said applies to Regular Army officers more than to other people.

Air-Commodore Harvey

On a point of Order. May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the remark made by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith)? It was an insult to the British Army?