HC Deb 13 July 1971 vol 821 cc212-3
Q3. Mr. Onslow

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Department of Health and Social Security and the Ministry of Defence on the up-rating of war pensions ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. Arrangements are now well under way to pay the largest cash increases ever proposed to the nation's half million war disablement pensioners and war widows. Arrangements are also in hand to introduce the new invalidity allowance for unemployable war pensioners ; to provide a war widow's pension, irrespective of cause of death, where a war disabled husband had been receiving the constant attendance allowance at the normal maximum rate or above ; and to pay age allowance for war widows at age 65.

Mr. Onslow

That reply will be most welcome to all who take an interest in the welfare of war pensioners. Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the preferential treatment which war pensioners have always, rightly, been able to get from the community in the past will be fully maintained?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. As I understand it, preferential treatment has been given by Administrations of both parties, and it is our intention to maintain that situation.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Since the number of war pensioners is getting smaller, just as those left are getting older all the time, has the time not come to have a full-scale inquiry into the whole nature of war pensions, since we have, happily, not had a world war for more than 25 years? From my experience, I believe that it is time to look at the whole subject again.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has great experience in these matters and I will consider his suggestion. It has not hitherto been put to me. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services has been trying to improve the situation in regard to the special requirements which have been pointed out to him. I will consider the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that there should be an overall review.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the invalidity allowance will be paid to war pensioners, even those drawing supplementary benefit, unlike the case of the rather mean deduction to be made from civilian pensioners? Will he also confirm that war pensioners will be protected against rising inflation in a way not being done for civilian pensioners?

The Prime Minister

I do not accept the latter point made by the hon. Lady. I would like notice of the first part of her supplementary question, since it is a detailed point and I wish to give an accurate answer.