§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Richard Wood)
The consensus of expert medical opinion is that the disability from which Mr. Hunter is suffering cannot be caused by war service, although in certain circumstances it can be aggravated by it. As I told the hon. Member in my letter of 19th March, the decision of 1948 was wrong. The independent Pensions Appeal Tribunal in 1955 found that the disability was not attributable to service. Mr. Hunter is receiving a pension, assessed at 50 per cent. disability, on grounds of aggravation owing to service.
§ Mr. Fell
Is my hon. Friend aware that the bias usually shown in favour of the pensioner by his Ministry is such that it makes it all the more difficult to understand this case? I have in mind the picture of a man lying in bed unable even to light a cigarette for himself—a man who gave the best years of his life to this country in war-time. In 1951 this man was receiving treatment allowance which was equivalent to 100 per cent. pension, but in 1953 a reverse decision was given by my hon. Friend's doctors compared with that which his doctors gave in 1948. All I am doing is to appeal to my hon. Friend today to have another look at the case, in spite of his words that the decision is final and binding, in order to see whether it is not possible to give this man the benefit of the doubt.
§ Mr. Wood
It is quite true, as my hon. Friend says, that Mr. Hunter is very severely disabled, but the difference between us is that I am saying that his disability is aggravated by his war service and is not attributable to it. This whole question was before the Pensions Appeal Tribunal in 1955. The Tribunal decided that a mistake had been made in 1948 and that it should he now put right.