§ The Minister of Pensions (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)
I desire, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, to make a statement about some changes in certain of the allowances and pensions payable by my Department. These changes are in line with impending improvements in National Insurance benefits.
The special allowance which is payable to a war pensioner who is under treatment for his war disablement and who does not receive sickness benefit under National Insurance, will be increased from 26s. to 32s. 6d. a week. The allowance for his wife or adult dependant will rise from 16s. to 21s. 6d., and the allowance for his first child from 10s. to 10s. 6d.
The increase in the allowance for a dependent wife from 16s. to 21s. 6d. and for his first child from 10s. to 10s. 6d. will also apply in the case of a severely disabled pensioner receiving the unemployability supplement, at all times, whether he is undergoing treatment or not.
The allowance for constant attendance which a 100 per cent. disabled war pensioner may receive will be increased. The normal maximum will go up from 20s. to 25s. and the exceptional maximum from 40s. to 50s. with appropriate increases in grants below these maxima. About 9,000 pensioners receiving the attendance allowance will benefit from this change.
I am also glad to be able to announce some increases for war orphans who have lost both parents. The basic pension rates (that is, the amounts payable automatically before any supplementation which I am empowered to make) will be increased from 13s. 6d. to 15s. for children up to the age of 15, and from 20s. to 21s. 6d. for children aged 15 and over. The rate for the invalid orphan 1316 over 18 years of age will be increased from 26s. to 32s. 6d.
The estimated cost of these improvements is £308,000 a year. The increased rates will be brought into effect at convenient dates in the latter part of this month, except the increases in the orphans' pensions to 15s. and 21s. 6d., which will come into force in September. The increases will be made automatically and application will not be necessary.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
Does the Minister's statement mean that he either has not yet decided upon, or has decided against, revision in the scale of the parents' pension paid in respect of deceased ex-Service men?
§ Sir I. Fraser
Is my hon. Friend aware that these arrangements will give very great satisfaction to those concerned? May I ask whether the third of a million which, I think he said, these allowances will cost comes out of the £10 million foreshadowed in the Budget or whether it is additional?
§ Mr. L. M. Lever
While appreciating the new benefits to be afforded to the particular classes concerned, I would ask the Minister whether he has considered the claims of the older pensioners, as submitted by the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's association, and will he take immediate steps to see that something is done for that category of ex-Service man?
I have that very difficult problem well under consideration, but I am not in a position to make any announcement about it at the present time.