HC Deb 20 May 1963 vol 678 cc25-7
36. Mr. Prentice

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will reconsider his refusal to back-date to 1944 the war disability pension awarded to Mr. E. H. Sadler, of 243, Green Street, E.7, in 1962, in view of the fact that the medical evidence upon which his claim succeeded in 1962 was equally applicable in 1944 and in 1951 when his pension applications were rejected.

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

Mr. Sadler's application for arrears, as the hon. Member is aware, has been very carefully considered and my right hon. Friend is unable to vary the decision.

Mr. Prentice

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that this decision seems to fall short of the fairness which we expect in cases of this kind? Will he acknowledge, first, that this man's disability has now been found to have been aggravated by war service, and one is entitled to assume, therefore, that it was aggravated in 1944 and thereafter; and, second, that this is not the ordinary case of a man not taking the trouble to apply, since he did apply in 1944 and in 1951, being turned down on a medical decision which has now been over-ruled? In the circumstances, will he look into the matter again?

Lieut-Commander Maydon

I am aware of the facts which the hon. Gentleman has given, but I do not accept the implications. One of the principles of these claims is that a claim can be made at any time and, in consequence, we are normally unable to accept that arrears should be paid—in some cases over very many years. The principle on which we work is that, unless there is evidence that a man's claim has been delayed for reasons of physical or mental illness, or unless there are particular circumstances in which a medical assessment could have been gravely wrong, arrears will not be granted.

Mr. Mitchison

But is not this grossly unfair? Apparently, this man applied on two occasions. Before he finally got his pension, he received two refusals which now, in the light of what we know, appear to have been unjust. Why penalise him for that?

Lieut-Commander Maydon

There is no question of penalising the man. The hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware that a disease in this sort of case is a continuing process; it may get worse or it may get better. This is one of the reasons why arrears can be paid only to the date of the application, and not further back. Otherwise, one might be basing the payment of arrears on purely hypothetical considerations of which there is no evidence or proof.

Mr. Prentice

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.