HC Deb 27 November 1984 vol 68 cc770-1
9. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what study he has made of the book "Another Story," by Mrs. Jean Carr, a copy of which has been sent to him, relating to his Department's treatment of relatives of service men killed in the Falkland Islands and of service men maimed in the conflict, and their families.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. Ray Whitney)

I read the book with interest and duly noted its comments.

Mr. Dalyell

Does the Minister accept as fact the description by Mrs. Jean Carr of his Department's handling of the case of Mrs. Jane Keoghane, a pregnant widow of a Welsh guardsman, which is described on page 53? If so, what will he do about it?

Mr. Whitney

I do not accept that description as fair in the case of Mrs. Keoghane, or in any of the other cases. A total of 225 cases were dealt with as a result of the Falklands war, and there was reason for some improvement in some of them. However, I believe that overall the Department's conduct was exemplary.

Mr. Dickens

How was my hon. Friend able to take seriously the sincerity behind the question asked by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), who time and time again has pointed his finger at the British task force with regard to the sinking of the Belgrano, which undoubtedly saved hundreds of British lives?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The question relates to Mrs. Jean Can's book.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Is the Minister aware that there is strong feeling that the widow to whom my hon. Friend referred was shabbily treated? Is he satisfied that service men who must leave the forces because of a deterioration in their medical condition are fully informed of the benefits available to them when they leave?

Mr. Whitney

I do not believe that there is any justification for the view that Mrs. Keoghane has been shabbily treated. At one stage she was in receipt of double benefit, but there was no question of asking her to repay it—quite justifiably. All the benefits available to service men as a result of the Falklands war are well known, and the Ministry of Defence and my Department have taken action to ensure that that knowledge is widespread.


Mr. Dalyell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It will be within your recollection that on Question No. 9 you intervened in the supplementary question of the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens). Would it be in order for me to say that I have never criticised service men? My criticisms have been related to politicians. Am I to understand that you asked the hon. Member to withdraw the remark? In the hubbub that followed, did he do so?

Mr. Speaker

I do not recollect that there was any particular problem with that question. I think that the integrity of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) is beyond dispute in this House.