HC Deb 04 February 1953 vol 510 cc1814-5
6. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation if the conditions under which the staff pilots are employed by his Department permit of pension or compensation to pilots who fail on medical grounds to renew their pilots' licences; if he is satisfied that such payments are equal to those payable by the corporations in similar circumstances; and why Edward Dineen, until recently employed as a pilot by his Department, has not qualified for such a payment.

Mr. Profumo

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir," provided that the disability is attributable to the nature of their duties; as regards the second part, the staff pilots of the Ministry of Civil Aviation are, like other civil servants, subject to the Superannuation Act, 1949, while Corporations pilots are covered by the Corporations' own superannuation scheme, the provisions of which are in many respects different from those of the Superannuation Act, 1949; as regards the third part, Edward Dineen's disability was not attributable to the nature of his duties.

Mr. Beswick

With regard to the third part of the Question, there appears to be a good deal of conflicting evidence about this, but in view of the fact that this job requires a high standard of medical fitness and that the pilots are subjected to a great strain, does the hon. Gentleman not think that wherever possible a generous view should be taken, and would he look again at this case to which I have called his attention?

Mr. Profumo

I have myself looked at this matter carefully. Of course, a gratuity of £275 11s., based purely on the length of service and not on medical grounds, was awarded in this case. I must add that superannuation is a matter in which my Department has no discretion. Its pilots come under the Superannuation Act which applies to civil servants as a whole, and without amending legislation it is not statutorily possible to grant to the pilots of the Ministry pensions which are comparable to those mentioned in the Civil Aviation Act.

Air Commodore Harvey

While accepting the necessity for a high standard of medical fitness, may I ask my hon. Friend to consider lowering the standard of tests for communications flight of his own Ministry to enable men to fly until they are older, rather than putting them out of work because they are not up to the same fitness as a man required to fly the Atlantic?

Mr. Profumo

That seems to me to be another matter, but I will certainly consider what my hon. and gallant Friend has said.