HC Deb 22 June 1964 vol 697 cc18-9
21. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many claims for industrial widows' pensions in respect of pneumoconiosis have been made in North Staffordshire in each of the last three years; how many have succeeded; and how many have been rejected.

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

I am afraid this information is not available, but I have some figures which may help the hon. Member. They relate to all claims for death benefit, whether from widows or other dependants, referred for advice to the Pneumoconiosis Medical Panel at Stoke-on-Trent, which covers North Staffordshire and North Shropshire. I will, with permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Swingler

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is some good reason for investigating the data regarding widows? Is he aware that there is a deep sense of injustice among many widows now disqualified whose husbands suffered a high degree of pneumoconiosis, sometimes for 10 or 15 years during their lifetime? Is he aware that there is an opinion among many medical men that in such cases pneumoconiosis ought to be regarded automatically as a contributory cause of death and a reason for granting widows' pensions? Would he, therefore, investigate what is the situation about the rejection of widows' claims and this particular aspect of these cases?

Lieut-Commander Maydon

Entitlement to industrial death benefit is dependent upon death having resulted from the disease. It does not follow, because a man had a disablement pension for pneumoconiosis in life, that he died from that disease.

Mr. Swingler

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware, quoting a case from my constituency, that where a woman has nursed a man for 10 years who is reckoned to be 80 per cent. disabled by pneumoconiosis, it creates a deep sense of injustice when she is not entitled to an industrial widow's benefit?

Lieut.-Commander Maydon

If the hon. Member will be kind enough to refer the case to me, I will certainly look at it.

Following is the information:

Number of claims referred for advice Panel advised that death was—
Year Attributable to the disease Not attributable to the disease
1961 105 83 22
1962 140 93 47
1963 111 73 38

Note.—The figures include claims from widows and other dependants. The advice of the Panel on the cause of death is only part of the evidence which the statutory authorities take into consideration in deciding claims.