HC Deb 21 November 1966 vol 736 cc931-2
38. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Social Security what steps she is taking to maintain the relative position of war pensioners in the light of the fact that war pensions are taken into account in computing income for the purpose of the rates rebate scheme.

Miss Herbison

None, Sir. I do not consider that the relative position of war pensioners has been adversely affected by the introduction of the rate rebate scheme.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does not the right hon. Lady appreciate that the fact that war pensions are taken into account for the purpose of disqualifying applicants for rate rebates in the same way as other forms of income and other social benefits, diminishes the priority for war pensioners which it has been the policy of successive Governments over the last 20 years to uphold?

Miss Herbison

The right hon. Gentlemen's supplementary question shows that he is under a misapprehension about the nature of the preferences already enjoyed by war pensioners. This is a tax concession under the Rating Act, 1966, not a matter than can be compared with social security benefits, particularly those which come under supplementary benefits.

Mr. Braine

But is it not a fact that the more disabled a man is and the higher the allowances he draws the less benefit can he obtain under the rates rebate scheme, and that only a tiny fraction of the war disabled receive the new £3 additional allowance? Is not this a breach of the principle which has long obtained under both Governments that these disability pensions are not income but are compensation for service to one's country?

Miss Herbison

No, Sir, this is certainly not a breach. The disability pension serves two purposes. It serves as compensation for the hurt which a man has experienced and also for income which he has lost. The preferences for the ex-Service man, which we are determined shall continue, are very great, and I am glad that they are. If I felt that there was any injustice under the rates rebate scheme towards disabled pensioners, I should be the first to make strong representations. I do not think that there is.