HC Deb 03 December 1962 vol 668 cc906-8
7. Mr. Hale

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance in how many cases in the last 12 months, to the most recent date for computation, application has been made to his Department for an ex gratia award or payment to an applicant for Service disability pension or of industrial injury or disease benefit who has failed in his application but has produced new facts.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Lieut.-Commander S. L. C. Maydon)

As regards war pensions, it is not possible to identify those representations about entitlement to Service disability pensions or about the assessment of them which explicitly or implicitly ask for an ex gratia award on the grounds of new facts, but 1,290 final awards have been re-opened under special sanction in the year ended 31st March, 1962.

The question of ex gratia awards does not arise under the Industrial Injuries scheme.

Mr. Hale

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we are now getting case after case of men who have had awards for disability pensions based on 20 per cent., 25 per cent., or a 35 per cent. assessment of disability? I put a case to him last week in which a man has been out of work for two and a half years, registered for a disablement pension, but he was told that nothing can be done by the Ministry of Labour. He was told that assessment of disability by the Ministry is 30 per cent. Is it not time that something was done, some liaison established, and some steps taken, to deal with cases of this kind?

Lieut.-Commander Maydon

I cannot agree with the contention made by the hon. Member. The great majority—1,223 out of 1,290—of these cases were First World War statutory final awards and represent a very small proportion of the total number of such awards. To contend that the Ministry is withholding justice from these men is quite beyond the facts.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does the original Answer about the numbers include the number of old people suffering from this disparity in Scotland as well as in England? Does the Minister realise that the present system, instead of diminishing the disparity between the well-to-do and the poor, is increasing that disparity? Will he take steps to see that there is a fair system substituted for the present unfair system?

Lieut.-Commander Maydon

In answer to the first part of that supplementary question, the total number of final awards which were reopened—that is the figure of 1,290—includes those from Scotland. The second part of the supplementary question goes very much further than the subject of this Question.