HL Deb 17 April 1946 vol 140 cc869-901

2.35 p.m.

LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY rose to call attention to the alteration in the scale of war pensions announced in the Government White Paper (Cmd. 6714); and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the treatment by the State of those who have been injured in the service of the State and of the dependants of those who have been killed in action or on active service is of such importance that I thought it right to put down a Motion calling attention to the recent alterations in the rates of war disability pensions which have been brought out by His Majesty's Government. I shall find something to commend in those alterations, and some points which I think ought to be criticized.

If I may draw your Lordships' attention to the opening paragraphs of the White Paper, your Lordships will see in paragraph 2 that His Majesty's Government are satisfied that the basic principle governing entitlement to pension, viz. causal connexion with war service, sympathetically administered, is sound, and for the reasons given in Command Paper 6459 they are unable to accept the claim crystallized in the slogan, 'Fit for Service, Fit for Pension'. I accept the necessity of a cause or con-nexion between a right to pension and the injury or death entitling to that payment.

There have been recently some important cases in the High Court bearing upon the interpretation of the Royal Warrant of 1943. If I may detain your Lordships a moment, I would like to read the relevant Article of the Royal Warrant. Article 4, paragraphs 1 to 3, under the heading, "Entitlement," says: (1) The disablement or death of a member of the military forces shall be accepted as due to war service for the purposes of this Our Warrant provided it is certified that—

  1. (a) the disablement is due to a wound, injury or disease which—
    1. (i) is attributable to war service; or
    2. (ii) existed before or arose during war service and has been and remains aggravated thereby; or
  2. (b) the death was due to or hastened by—
    1. (i) a wound, injury or disease which was attributable to war service; or
    2. (ii) the aggravation by war service of a wound, injury or disease which existed before or arose during war service."

It is the interpretation of the two following paragraphs which is of such great importance: (2) In no case shall there be an onus on any claimant under this Our Warrant to prove, the fulfilment of the conditions set out in paragraph (1) of this Article and the benefit of any reasonable doubt shall be given to the claimant. (3) Where an injury or disease which has led to a member's discharge or death during war service was not noted in a medical report made on that member on the commencement of his war service, a certificate under paragraph (1) of this Article shall be given unless the evidence shows that the conditions set out in that paragraph are not fulfilled.

It was upon the interpretation of that paragraph that these recent cases, Starr's case and Nuttall's case, were decided in February in the High Court. I would like to draw the attention of this House to certain passages in the learned Judge's judgment: His—[the Minister's]—function in this respect is quasi-judicial. He may be able to come to a determinate conclusion without reasonable doubt, but, if the evidence leaves him in reasonable doubt, then the claimant must be given the benefit of the doubt. This means that he must not decide against the claimant on a mere balance of probabilities. There must be a real preponderance of probability against him such as to exclude reasonable doubt. That is a rule as to the weight of evidence which applies in all cases: but in one special category the Warrant introduces an additional element in favour of the claimant. By Article 4 (3) of the Warrant of December, 1943"— which I have just read to your Lordships— he is entitled to a pension ' unless the evidence shows ' that the prescribed conditions are not fulfilled. In cases falling in that category, therefore, there is a compelling presumption in favour of the claimant to which effect must be given unless the contrary is shown.

That is the law as it has existed since 1943, since the publication of the last Royal Warrant, but I am by no means clear or certain that it has thus been interpreted by the Minister in successive Governments. This is not a party question, but a question, I submit, where we should all wish, irrespective of party, to do the greatest possible justice to a pensioner and a claimant.

In the White Paper 6459, Changes in War Pensions, paragraph 3, the Minister sets out his view of the interpretation of that Article. I think that the paragraph is of sufficient importance to read to your Lordships. It runs: His Majesty's Government accepts the view that the fact that a man is accepted for service in the present war in a certain medical category may be taken as presumptive evidence that (a) at the time of acceptance he was fit for the kind of service demanded of a man in that medical category and (b) in the event of his being subsequently discharged on medical grounds any deterioration in his health which has taken place is due to his service. While the Minister of Pensions will pay regard to any other evidence, including the consensus of medical opinion regarding a particular disease or group of diseases, which throws doubt"— I ask your Lordships to mark that word "doubt"— on the presumptive evidence of the medical category in which a man was placed at the time of his acceptance for service, or on the presumption that service has played a part in the onset or development of the disablement, he will give full weight to the general view expressed above.

In my submission that was not a general view but the law as it ought to have been interpreted. The Minister was not entitled to entertain doubt. He had to be absolutely certain or, anyway, satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt, before he gave, or the Tribunal gave, a decision adverse to the claimant. So I am gravely disquieted that in the intervening period between 1943 and the date of this judgment there may have been many Appeals Tribunals acting, I may say, in all fairness on a misapprehension as to the correct state of the law. If my grounds for disquiet are sound, then there will have been a number—how large I know not—of claimants whose appeals have failed because the law has not been correctly interpreted. If that doubt exists it is a bad thing. It will shake the confidence of claimants, pensioners and applicants in the administration of war pensions, which is a very undesirable thing. Therefore, I must ask the Government to state very clearly to-day what action is proposed to be adopted to deal with this situation. I understand that the right of appeal from an Appeals Tribunal to the High Court on a point of law can be granted under rules made by the noble and learned Lord Chancellor. I think that a time limit is set. What are the Government going to do if an applicant, on review of his case, is advised that he has a good point of law on which to appeal to the High Court? Is the Lord Chancellor going to waive the strict application of the rules, and allow the case to be reopened, or is he going to give instructions that the Appeals Tribunal should look again into their judgment and see that it conforms with the law as laid down by Mr. Justice Denning. This is a point of the greatest importance, and I hope that we shall get a clear and specific answer from the Government to-day.

I have dealt at some length with it, and I would like now to pass on to several other points which arise from this White Paper. I welcome the raising of the constant attendance allowance to a maximum of 40s. I think that that is a humane and just provision. I also welcome the introduction of special hardship allowances. But I would say here that I do not think the Government, if they allow a special hardship allowance in the case of partial disability, where the injury is of such a nature as to disable a man from earning his living by the trade which he pursued before the war, will be able to keep to the 20s. allowance for total unemployability. This in my view would be likely to lead to grave anomalies. Let us take the hypothetical cases of two men, A and B, who were each earning £6 a week before the war. One, A, is totally disabled and so is entitled to an unemployability allowance of 20s., in addition to the 100 per cent, disability pension of 45s., giving him a total of 65s. B, who is partially disabled but is given a special disability allowance because he cannot earn more than, let us say, 45s. a week in some part-time employment, will get 45s., possibly, as pension and 45s. in wages. His income will be very much greater than that of the man who is totally unemployable. I think that if you once admit the element of compensation for loss of earnings then you will have to raise the total unemployability allowance.

Another point—a small one—is of considerable importance, I consider, to those who have lost a limb and who are entitled now to special clothing allowance. I think that that is a good concession, but I would ask the Minister whether such pensioners are also to get extra clothing coupons. I welcome, too, the abolition of hospital deductions. They were a source of very great irritation, as anyone who has sat in another place and has received letters of complaint from pensioners realizes. I think it is a good thing that they have gone. I feel also that we should all welcome the fact that there has been an increase, a small increase, to war widows, from 32s. 6d. to 35s. But I do not consider that a very generous concession. Let us take the case of a widow with one child who has a rent of not more than 8s. a week to pay. Her net income, after payment of rent, is 38s. I think that that matter needs to be watched extremely carefully. Such a widow is living dangerously near the poverty line, and no Government who valued the services of their fighting men should allow that case to exist if they have any doubt at all about the adequacy of the amount to give such a woman. May I compare it for a moment with the war services grant? It is true that that was based on 22s. a week for an adult and 11s. for a child, so that in a comparable case a woman with one child would get 33s. But it must be remembered, in that case, that the husband was alive and was able, or should be able, to contribute out of his pay a sum of money to supplement his wife's income. In the case of a widow there is nobody. All she will have to spend is 38s.

Now I come to what I consider the least satisfactory, or most unsatisfactory, part of the White Paper. May I ask your Lordships to cast your minds back to a Motion standing (I think) in the name of the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Cork? I think it was in 1943. The noble Earl raised the question of the pensions of the widows of officers killed in the war. When he urged that there should be an increase he received the following reply from the noble Viscount, Lord Clifden, answering for the Government, and presumably speaking with Ministerial authority: It is difficult, if not impossible, to consider any single item in the War Pensions Code by itself and without reference to the Code as a whole and to its actual history, at any rate since the war of 1914–18. The Select Committee of 1919, which investigated the whole system of war pensions, fixed a central point of 40s. weekly for a totally-disabled private soldier, or his equivalent in the other Services. To this central point was linked the disablement scales for the non-commissioned and commissioned officer, and, in turn, the rate for widows' pensions was fixed at two-thirds of the rate for a totally-disabled man or officer according to rank, with children's allowances in proportion. This, roughly, is the point around which our present scale is built. Now the basic rate is raised to 45s. without so much as a word of comment, but the pensions for widows of officers remain exactly as they were before. Either in the view of the Government the rate was too high as it was before, or the Government have departed from the basic principle in the Pensions Code, and have said nothing about it. I should like to-day to hear something about it, because in my opinion it is deplorable and a great injustice to the widows of a very worthy part of our community.

I now pass from that subject to the question of education grants. This, I think, is a question of administration. The Minister is enabled under the Warrant to make a grant—of up' to £50, I think—to help with the education of the child of an officer or other rank who has been killed. The Minister must have regard not only to the means of the widow but to the type of education which the child might have been expected to enjoy if his father had lived. May I quote a case which I think has been brought up to the Minister and refused? I take it that in such cases the Government should consider themselves, as it were, in loco parentis to the child. In the case I have in mind there was a widow of an officer of the Royal Air Force who was killed in action. The widow subsequently married a brother officer, who himself had three children by a previous marriage. The lady in question had a small private income and her war pension but no other means. The education grant was refused to her because it was held by the Minister that her second husband, although he had considerable family responsibilities of his own and no private means other than his pay, should bear the cost of the education of the child born to his wife by her previous marriage. I think that is a narrow interpretation of this Warrant, and I hope the Minister will look into it and give it a wider and more generous application.

One of the matters which is troubling pensioners nowadays is the question of the fitting of artificial limbs. There is no criticism as to the quality of these limbs or the inventiveness of their makers. In fact, I think it is true to say that we lead the world in this matter. Yet there is, I think, a great deal to be desired in the speed with which they are made, and the Minister must really exert any influence he has with the Minister of Labour to see that skilled men are released in order to make up this time lag. I had three cases brought to my notice quite recently. There were three men, including two suffering from severe spinal injuries, who had to wait for the best part of a year, although they were ready for these applicances. In this case I had a very civil reply from the Minister, and I know that in two cases at least the appliances had to be specially constructed, perhaps on a new principle. But I still think a year is a long time to wait, and I hope the Minister will not be satisfied with the present rate of progress. I am told it still takes three months or longer to obtain the ordinary types of artificial limbs, and I hope he will persuade the Minister of Labour to provide a more generous allocation of skilled labour in these factories.

I have been asked, also, to raise a particular point in relation to those who have suffered severe facial injuries and have been in the hands of the plastic surgeon. Anybody who has met these men who have suffered in this way must realize that they cannot help being extremely self-conscious about their injuries. They are, perhaps, some of the worst sufferers in the war, and I know they do feel, when they come before a medical board, that one at least of the members of the board should be a plastic surgeon, so that when their claims to pensions are assessed there should be someone there who is cognizant of their state of mind and the handicap it imposes upon them through life. If the Minister will consider making that a regulation, or if my noble friend who is to reply will bring that to the attention of the Minister, he will be doing something very well worth while.

I have spoken at some length on this subject because I thought it right that we should, as it were, ventilate as much opinion as possible upon it. I do not wish to appear a critic of the Ministry of Pensions, in which I had the honour to serve for a short time. Far from it. I realize that not only the present Minister but his officials are humane men, anxious to do their best for the people who come under their charge. But the Minister has a grave responsibility. He must search ceaselessly into the administration of his office to see that it is the best possible. He must see that there are as few avoidable delays in that administration as possible, because nothing is more irksome than an appeal which is hung up or delayed because there are not enough tribunals sitting. I know there are difficulties in getting heads of these tribunals and that it is really the province of the noble and learned Lord Chancellor, but I hope that a solution may be reached whereby appeals can he heard with the utmost celerity, so that the administration of this important branch of Government service can not only be just but speedy and sympathetic. I beg to move for Papers.

3.1 p.m.


, who had given Notice, that he would ask His Majesty's Government whether they will set up a Select Committee of both Houses to go into the question of the grievances which are continually arising in regard to pensions for men and women disabled by war service, and those who, through war service, have been bereaved; and move for Papers, said: My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will all agree with me that the speech to which we have just listened was admirable in every way. It seems to me that it does accentuate the necessity for the Select Committee for which I am asking in my Motion. Members of both Houses of Parliament are aware of many cases of friends, constituents and others in situations of great unhappiness and difficulty as the result of the war. I want to point out strongly to your Lordships that the burden of the expenditure on all this is not a permanent one. It is a dying one, decreasing as and when the children grow up, as they get into life and provide for themselves and their parents, and also as the pensioners pass away. It is not like a permanent burden on the State finances. For that reason alone I feel that we should do everything we can to be most generous.

I would like for a moment just to touch on some of the things that are happening to-day. Your Lordships are all well aware of them. Many members of this House are particularly aware of them. There are many people to-day who are leading lonely lives as the result of losses during the war. There are many leading very anxious lives, watching the suffering of those who have very grave disabilities owing to wounds. There is the empty chair. Gone in many cases is health. Gone is the hope of achieving the ambitions with which many started out in life. At the same time, as the noble Lord I think mentioned, while there were many who went out to fight, who had to go out to fight, there were a great many who, through circumstances, did not fight, through no fault of their own, and whose lives were not interfered with.

As I entered the House just now, I did not intend to mention any individual cases, but I have just had this letter handed to me from a friend of mine. He is the father of the man I am going to mention. The father is not in affluent circumstances at all. This is what he says in his letter to me: My son, who was wounded before Dunkirk, and killed in action in Holland in October, 1944, was a Major in the Cameron Highlanders, aged 29. He left a young widow and two children, two and four years of age. The widow has a pension of £140, less tax, and the children each an allowance of £36 per annum, which comes to an end when they are 17. It really is a scandal with the present level of prices. My son was articled— I will not mention the name of the firm, but it is a very distinguished firm— and had a promising career in front of him. He sacrificed everything for the country, and this is the way the country treats those he left behind. I hope perhaps you will find space to cite this case in the House on the debate which is taking place today. There are any number of these cases, as we all know, and I hope to be able to add to some of the admirable arguments given by my noble friend, to show how necessary it is to have a Select Committee. I think the speech, to which your Lordships have just listened, demonstrates what I will hardly call the chaotic condition of affairs at the moment, but, anyway, the uncertain condition, of how Tribunals work. They themselves do not seem to be quite certain what they ought to do. At one time I had not realized that the Tribunal was not final. I thought it was, but apparently that is not the case.

The British Legion asked the Government to increase the standard flat rate of pensions to a minimum of £3 a week; in other words, to give to the 100 per cent. disabled pensioner a 50 per cent. rise. But the Government did not seem to think that was justified, and they only gave a 12½ per cent. increase. They seemed to think that was sufficient. One wonders whether all the circumstances in the present day lives of our people were taken into consideration. I believe that not even that rise would have been given if it had not been for the new Industrial Insurance Bill. The industrially disabled are to receive £2 5s. I cannot believe that it is the wish of your Lordships' House, and also of people in the country, that members of the Fighting Services, who have been uprooted from their ordinary lives, should not receive more generous treatment than this.

I would also mention the cases of those who have been passed as A1 by the medical officer. I am talking now, of course, of people who suffer from an illness from which they may or may not have been suffering before, but an illness either not known to the medical officer or not appreciated by him. Surely we must feel that something extra should be given to the men and women who left their homes and went to all parts of the world, not only to go into the fighting line, but to live in terribly uncomfortable conditions. Surely they should receive preferential treatment as opposed to those who perhaps never slept out of their beds during the war, and perhaps never even left their own homes. I feel that one must take all that into consideration, and that these men and women should be more generously treated, if I may put it that way, than their fellows who, as I say, have never left this country. Does not all this show, as my noble friend has said and as I said just now, that there is a great case for a Select Committee of both Houses really to go into the matter, to see that all these questions are properly examined and solved in a fair and adequate manner?

My noble friend mentioned just now the question of officers. I believe I am right in saying that a 1939–1943 officer is now receiving practically the same rate of standard pension as was given to his counterpart of the 1914–18 war under the 1920 Warrant. But the 1939–1945 officer is not being given the benefit of any alternative pension or any special wounds pension, and he and his colleagues of the 1914–18 war are even being deprived of the additional 5s. per week which is given to other ranks. This again is surely a subject to be dealt with by a Select Committee. I have already stressed the question of those who are passed fit for service. I do feel that if, I do not say the Government, but the country, takes the responsibility of uprooting people from their ordinary avocations in life, then those persons if they are fit for service should be fit for pensions. Perhaps that is considered by some to be going a little far, but I think it is a subject that ought to come before a Select Committee.

I hope the Government will give serious consideration to this question, because, believe me, it is undoubtedly on the minds of a great many people. This Motion is not hostile to the Government at all. It is something that all of us ought to feel very deeply about, and we ought to do everything we can to see to it that those who are suffering, and perhaps suffering unnecessarily through the want of proper inquiry and investigation into their case, should now have their cases further investigated. The best way to do that, I suggest, would be to have a Select Committee of both Houses.

3.14 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to support my two noble friends who have already spoken, and I would like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Teviot on having revived this subject. I call it a revival because your Lordships will remember that as long ago as October, 1944, a Resolution was accepted in this House which expressed the opinion that an inquiry would be necessary at the close of hostilities to examine the Royal Warrants and Acts of Parliament by which pensions and allowances to the dependants of the fallen had been governed. This Motion asks that such a committee of inquiry should be set up now. The Government have apparently had a committee of their own, but that is a very different thing, and the result of it, I presume, is what we find in this White Paper entitled Improvement in War Pensions. It merely dealt with small financial details and not with basic principles at all.

Now The Times of January 8 reported the Chancellor of the Exchequer as having said in a speech in which he was dealing with the then forthcoming Budget that financial provision would have to be made for more generous pensions, under the Royal Warrant, for the dependants of those who had been killed or disabled. That announcement was spoiled by those four words, "under the Royal Warrant," because it is the regulations in the Royal Warrant that are at the present moment causing the greatest grievances in the country. Your Lordships have already had your attention drawn to the Royal Warrant by my noble friend Lord de L'Isle and Dudley. In the Royal Warrant it is laid down, under the heading "General Principle of Awards," that for entitlement to a pension, death or disablement must be due to a wound, injury or disease which was attributable to war service, or which existed before or arose during war service and had been aggravated or death hastened thereby. That is very wide, but many cases have arisen in which pensions and allowances have been refused by the Ministry of Pensions and that decision has been upheld by the Pensions Appeals Tribunal. The dependants of men who have died on active service have been refused pensions on the ground that death was not attributable to military service although those men were at the moment carrying out military service for which they had been passed as medically fit.

In July, 1943, in another place, the then Minister of Pensions was asked to give a list of those diseases which it was held could neither be caused nor aggravated by military service. He answered that he could not give a complete list in detail but he gave the diseases in groups, as follows: malignant diseases, with certain well recognized exceptions; certain diseases of the glands, of the nervous system and of the blood and blood forming organs, such as leukæmia; and venereal diseases. I have recently been engaged in correspondence in one of our great newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, which has sympathetically found room in its columns for the discussion of the case of a Brigadier which I have already brought before your Lordships. I would like to remind you that this particular officer served for two years in command of supply and transport in Egypt, including that time when the retreat and advance of armies alternated in a way that must have made the question of supply and transport one of appalling difficulty. The officer died of lymphatic leukæmia, and it was adjudged that this could not be attributable to military service.

This brought a letter from a medical practitioner who had held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel during the war. He wrote: The present artificial selection of diseases which cannot be caused or aggravated by specific military conditions is most unsatisfactory, and often places the president of a medical board in a most difficult position, as I can affirm from frequent experience. He went on to remark upon what he described as the niggardly policy of the authorities supported by their medical advisers. This brought a reply from another well-known medical man in defence of those advisers. He said: The medical profession is only too anxious not merely to administer justice but to stretch to the utmost any feature in a claim that would entitle a sufferer or his dependants to a pension. I am not questioning the kind-heartedness of the doctors. My point is that rules which have to be stretched to the utmost in order to get a little more than strict justice are bad rules, and not the sort of rules which the public of this country want to govern the award of pensions and allowances to the dependants of those who have fallen in the nation's service. Therefore I suggest that the examination of those rules is something which a committee such as has been suggested could most usefully perform.

The Royal Warrant lays down that where there is doubt, the benefit of that doubt must be given to the claimant, and words are used which show quite clearly that the intention is to be merciful. In fact it was due to the pressure of public opinion to obtain more mercy in the dispensation of these rules and regulations that alterations were introduced in 1943. As I understand it, death has not now got to be "directly attributable to," or the disease "materially aggravated by" the conditions of service; it is enough if the disease has been "aggravated by" or death "hastened by" service. In those circumstances the claimant is entitled to a pension.

Medical opinion is by no means unanimous, in this case of leukæmia which I have mentioned, as to the extent to which the disease can be affected by military service. The details of one case were sent to me by a solicitor who had acted for a claimant in a successful appeal against the refusal of a pension. The husband of the widow concerned, when he was alive, was serving in the same area as the Brigadier I have already mentioned. Before he went up to the Appeals Tribunal, the solicitor submitted the case to a medical consultant who gave this opinion: Although leukæmia is not a disease that is likely to be caused by war service, it would appear in the present instance that such service must reasonably be held to have hastened death. He added that in his opinion consideration must be given to the deleterious factor of much hard work and worry. In making this claim it was urged that the conditions of active service, particularly in a trying climate, all combined to reduce the health of an otherwise healthy person and to render him more receptive to the onslaught of any disease. It was further pointed out that a man who was on active service could not undergo the treatment that might avert the disease or prolong his life. He might certainly feel unwell but he would not know what was threatening. The better the man, the longer will he put off reporting himself sick. On these grounds the appeal was allowed. There you get two men in the same area dying of the same disease; in one case a pension is refused and in the other it is granted. There must be discontent when that sort of thing is going on all through the country.

I do not think it can possibly be argued that no doubt exists in all these cases. In the newspaper correspondence which I have mentioned I suggested that if you did not know the cause of a disease and did not know a cure for it, there must surely be some doubt as to how it was affected by military service. This was attacked by a medical correspondent, who called it a "specious argument", but in the Lancet of January 19 there appeared a signed letter by an authority upon diseases of the blood and writer of several works on the subject, in which he said that the ætiology of leukæmia is obscure. We know a few agents which may produce it, but we are certainly not in a position to state what factors do not, and cannot, cause it. He went on to say, dealing with what occurred in your Lordships' House: The Under-Secreary of State for War said that the claim had been rejected on the advice of an independent expert appointed by the Royal College of Physicians, but he did not explain to their Lordships that no man can be an expert on the unknown. The attention of the Government has already been drawn to the case before the High Court in which the verdict of the Appeals Tribunal was reversed, and I am perfectly sure many other appeals will follow because many people have never realized that they can appeal. I myself was told that the mere fact of going before the Appeals Tribunals argued that you were going to accept its verdict. That was obviously wrong, and I regret to say I passed that opinion on to some of my correspondents.

If all this legal fuss is necessary—I have given you the cases of a Brigadier and a Colonel—what chance has the widow of a private or an able seaman? I know of the case of an able seaman aged fifty, who was dragged from his work and brought back to the Navy, who died from an infection of the brain and whose widow got nothing. I suggest it is high time this matter was looked into and justice done. You will never get satisfaction all over the country until the machinery has been overhauled by a Committee such as is suggested, composed of men of the world who are impartial and out to do the generous thing in interpreting the country's will. It is not so much; there are not so very many cases. With two of these diseases, cerebral thrombosis and lymphatic leukæmia, between April, 1943, the year the rules were modified, and December, 1945, only 263 cases occurred. The principle suggested by my noble friend Lord Teviot of "Fit for service, fit for pension" was rejected because of the liability which the Ministry of Pensions would assume if it were accepted. In fact, the reason is financial. Surely we need not now be niggardly in that respect. No doubt that aspect had to be borne in mind in 1943, when the end of the war was not in sight; no doubt we had then to consider the liabilities we were incurring; but now we know what these liabilities are, and we know that the liabilities in killed and wounded were very much less than we anticipated.

There is one other matter calling for review which I should like to mention. That is the neglect of the veterans of former wars who have had very little done for them during the years of rising prices. As a result, many ex-servants of the State are driven to apply for relief. I say that that is a position into which they should not be put. It was all very well when a pound was worth a pound. The pound that the South African veteran got was worth twenty shillings at that time, but that same pound is now, we are told, worth 8s. 3d. How can he make both ends meet?

I should like to read a letter from the Admiralty that is being sent round to pensioners. It is from the Admiralty, but I suppose all pensioners will get a similar letter. The pensioner who got this letter is 74 years old: The Greenwich Hospital Age pension of £7 12s. a year awarded from the age of 55 years, and increased to £13 12s. a year as from 65 years of age, has hitherto been exempted from Income Tax deductions. The Board of Inland Revenue, however, has ruled that as from 6th April, 1946, these age pensions are liable to tax. There is a man of 74 who has drawn his pension free from tax for over twenty years and now they come down on him. Surely the principle by which those of us who happen to be over 65 are being allowed to draw our post-war credits because we have only a short time to live might apply to this old man of 74 with his £13 a year.

I would like to mention the officers retired in 1919 who were promised that their retired pay would rise and fall with the cost of living. In 1935, however, their pay was stabilized when the cost of living had reached almost its lowest point and there it has remained. Had that original promise been kept, those officers would have been drawing pensions not far short of the new scale recently adopted. This scale, however, does not apply to officers who retired in 1945. Those who have been through the war are not to get the same as those who remain serving until 1946. There may be reasons for this, but it is very hard for the ordinary officer to understand what they are. The Motion of Lord Teviot asks for a committee to go into all these things and I am perfectly sure you will never get satisfaction until that is done. If my noble friend does not get a good answer from the Government, I hope he will press the matter to a Division, so that this House can again show that it is going to insist upon generous treatment being given to the dependants of those who have fallen in the national service, not only in this war but in the wars of the past.

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, it would be very wrong, it would indeed be quite unthinkable, that members of your Lordships' House, irrespective of party affiliations, should not take a constant care and feel an anxious sympathy as regards all those who, whether by reason of wounds or disability, or their dependants in regard to the death of some dear one, have suffered in the service of the Armed Forces of the Crown in this war or, indeed, in earlier wars. Those who are entitled to pensions, or are claimants for pensions, are fortunate in having had as their advocates to-day, their principal protagonists putting forward these Motions, one gallant soldier of this war and another gallant soldier of the last war.

His Majesty's Government have, of course, a great responsibility in this matter, and they feel as deeply as noble Lords in every part of the House that it is essential for the honour of the country that what is right and proper and generous should be done for those for whom an entitlement to pension can be made. There have been substantial changes since the last Parliament. I well remember the noble and gallant Earl who spoke last putting a Motion for a Select Committee before your Lordships' House. In the circumstances of that time the noble Earl would not have been without support from those who then sat upon the Opposition Benches, but since that time His Majesty's present advisers have taken into account those considerations which were so forcibly expressed in the last Parliament, and the situation which your Lordships are called upon to consider to-day is in essential respects quite different from that which was under consideration when the matter was last discussed.

It was almost the first task of His Majesty's Government to set on foot an inquiry into the administration of the Pensions Warrants and to consider arrangements for the improvement of pensions and to make recommendations for the removal of legitimate grievances. My right honourable friend the Minister of Pensions did not come to his task inexperienced, for he had, over a period of years, been Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions during the Coalition Government. He was able, therefore, to bring experience and an informed mind to the consideration of the various problems which were involved. A complete survey was made of the War Pensions provisions, and a number of substantial improvements emerged. Those improvements are published in the White Paper which the noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, has brought to the notice of your Lordships by this Motion to-day, on the first occasion on which the new pension arrangements have been discussed in either House of Parliament.

I must tell your Lordships, as indeed will have been clear to those who have studied the White Paper, that the new and increased benefits represent real and substantial advantages over previous arrangements. It is true, as was stated and emphasized by noble Lords opposite, that the pension for 100 per cent. disability has been increased from 40s., which His Majesty's Government considered too low, to 45s. in respect of a private soldier, or of course an equivalent rank in the other Services. There have been proportionate increases in respect of lesser degrees of disablement than 100 per cent. A similar increase of 5s. a week has been made in the rate of disablement pensions for other ranks up to and including Warrant Officers Class I, so that at the present time the rate for 100 per cent. disablement ranges from 45s. to 61s. 8d. a week.

It would be misleading to consider the position of the disabled man by reference to this basic rate alone, for there is a wide range of supplementary payments related to individual circumstances and in addition to the normal basic disablement pension. For instance, the married man may receive allowances in respect of his family and, it may be, education allowances for his children. If he is so badly disabled that he needs some regular attendance, he qualifies for a constant attendance allowance. The majority of even the seriously disabled pensioners can, of course, work at a remunerative occupation, but for those who, as a result of their pensionable disablement, are likely to be permanently unemployable, there is a special unemployability supplement. For the partially disabled who is not unemployable but who, owing to his pensionable disablement, is unable to follow his own occupation, or one of equivalent standard, a new allowance called hardship allowance has been introduced in these new proposals contained in the White Paper. Therefore, it would be quite wrong to think of 45s., or any other figure, as a general rate for the compensation paid for total disablement.

Let me give your Lordships the case of a sergeant with a 100 per cent. pension, but able to work and not in need of attendance, and having a wife and two children. He would receive 76s. 8d. a week, and when the family allowance is in operation, as it shortly will be, there will be an extra 5s. for the second child, so that his income will be 81s. 8d. a week. Let me take just one other case, that of an unmarried private who is unemployable and in need of constant attendance. He might receive 85s. a week, which is made up by a pension of 45s., an unemployability supplement of 20s. and an attendance allowance of 20s. If he were very severely disabled and required really constant attendance, the constant attendance allowance might be 40s. instead of 20s. so that he would be receiving in all 105s. a week. Substantial improvements have also been made in the scales of compensation for disablement of too small a degree to justify a continuing pension, and an expert committee will examine the schedule of assessments for certain specified injuries such as amputations. I ought, perhaps, to tell your Lordships, as I think you will be interested to know, that just under 600,000 disabled men have benefited by the increase in the standard rates, and that the new increased rates are now in payment in all cases.

As this White Paper has not been the subject before of Parliamentay discussion, it might be appropriate that I should say something—speaking quite shortly—on one or two of the new elements in the Paper. For instance, there is the constant attendance allowance. As to this I have already told your Lordships that if a pensioner who is in receipt of a 100 per cent. pension needs the services of an attendant he is eligible for the constant attendance allowance. The normal maximum rate is £100 a year for officers, and 20s. a week for other ranks. Usually, the attendance is given by a member of the disabled person's family, and the allowance is, on the whole, adequate. But it has been represented that in certain cases of very severe disablement the allowance is insufficient having regard to the amount of attendance required—outside help usually being necessitated—and provision has now been made for a special maximum allowance of 40s. a week to meet that type of case. In the case of an officer it is £104 a year. There are four rates of allowance payable. In addition to the 20s. rate, there is a threequarter rate of 15s., there is a half rate of 10s. and there is a quarter rate of 5s.

Now there is also—and this is what I think the noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, had in mind when he was making one of his observations—the special hardship allowance. As I have already said, the majority of men and women disabled in the war will be able to return to their normal employment. But some may never again be able to find a place in the employment world at all, and for them there is the unemployability supplement to which I have referred. But there are pensioners of another type who, in the opinion of His Majesty's Government, should receive special recognition. They are the partially disabled men who are able to follow some form of employment but who, in consequence of their disablement in the war, are permanently incapable of resuming employment in the occupation which they regularly followed before their war service and incapable of following any other active employment of an equivalent standard and suitable to their case. For them there is the special hardship allowance of 11s. 3d. a week, or such smaller sum as will bring their disablement pension up to the 100 per cent. rate.

Two of the noble Lords who have spoken have referred to the question of the clothing allowance. This is only a small but I think a useful improvement. There has been a strong demand for it. It arises, in the first instance, out of the wear and tear of clothing due to the wearing of artificial limbs. The allowance will be £3 a year in the case of single and £5 a year in the case of double amputations. His Majesty's Government have now decided to extend this provision to other types of case where the nature of the disablement results in exceptional wear and tear of clothing. I may add that the Board of Trade grants adequate extra clothing coupons to those who have this entitlement to the clothing allowance, which is, in fact, being received in some 14,000 cases at the present time—no inconsiderable number.

There has been a good deal of criticism of the practice of making what was termed "home saving deductions" from the allowances paid to men undergoing treatment in hospitals. His Majesty's Government have abandoned this practice which involved the deduction of 19s. a week in the case of single men and 9s. in other cases, with a higher deduction, of course, in the case of officers.

No noble Lord who has addressed your Lordships has, I think, referred to a matter which has been one of some controversy and interest amongst the public and upon which a change is made by His Majesty's Government. This matter, that of post-injury marriage, is one to which I think I might perhaps usefully refer. It has been decided by His Majesty's Government to meet a complaint which has been widely expressed in this connexion. The result is that in future a pensioner of either world war may receive an allowance in respect of his family provided that his marriage took place not within one or two years of the end of war service but within ten years of war service. If a pensioner is undergoing treatment for his pensionable disablement, and the treatment prevents him from working, or if he is classed as unemployable by reason of his pensionable disablement, he receives a family allowance even though his marriage took place more than ten years after the end of his war service. There are about 175,000 disabled men who will benefit from this scheme, and 45,000 awards of family allowances have already been authorized. It is hoped to complete the remainder during the next two months. His Majesty's Government have further decided that in the case of a pensioner of either world war who has died, or dies on or after September 3, 1939, his widow may receive a pension and allowances for children, irrespective of the date of her marriage to him provided there is the requisite causation between his death and service.

All three noble Lords who have already spoken have referred to the rates of widows' pensions. The rate for the widow of a private soldier with an eligible child in her care was 32s. 6d. His Majesty's Government have decided to meet the complaint and from the beginning of February a private soldier's widow who has children, or is over 40 years of age, or is incapable of self-support through infirmity, will receive a pension for herself of 35s. a week. Higher pensions are payable to widows of men above the basic rank. Over 130,000 widows have benefited from this improvement. Where there are children an allowance of 11s. a week is paid for each child. But a widow's pension may, in certain circumstances, be supplemented. The widow of an "other rank" who has a child in her care is entitled to a rent allowance representing the excess of her rent and rates over 8s. a week, the conventional figure taken for calculating the basic rate. The maximum weekly allowance has hitherto been 12s. His Majesty's Government have raised it to 15s. The effect of these improvements is that the widow of a private soldier whose rent is 23s. a week or more will receive, if she has one child, 61s. a week; with two children, including family allowances the amount is 77s. a week.

I will not delay your Lordships on the subject of parents' pensions, which have also given rise to a great deal of discussion, except to say that it has been decided to make improvements in the rates of pensions to parents of other ranks so that the normal maximum, if there is one eligible parent, has been raised from 15s. to 20s. a week. The exceptional maximum has been raised in the same case from 22s. 6d. to 27s. 6d. Where there are two parents the normal maximum has been increased from 22s. 6d. to 27s. 6d., and the exceptional maximum from 30s. to 40s. As a result of the increased exceptional maximum some 2,300 parents are now in receipt of an increased rate. In the majority of cases they have received the full increase. The cases of those on the normal maximum, to the number of some 12,000, are being reviewed and it is anticipated that the increase will arise in the case of some two-thirds of this 12,000.

The noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle, raised another and perhaps in a sense more controversial point, in regard to the position of officers. It is, of course, a long-established tradition in the Armed Forces that the extra responsibilities of rank should be reflected in the provision made for pensions. It is for that reason that the war pensions schemes provide for the recognition of rank, broadly as between officers and other ranks, and between the separate steps in rank. On the other hand, there is a not inconsiderable body of opinion to-day which holds the view that distinction in rank should not be carried into the pensions provisions relating to a great war. This school of thought holds that personal sacrifice, by reason of death or disablement, is equal in all cases and that the State compensation should be equal also. In considering the present situation, the Government have necessarily had to take into account both schools of thought. In the event they decided to increase the basic rates, in regard to which there had been representa- tion that they were inadequate. This involved additions to the rates for ranks immediately above the basic rate, but the standard rates for officers and their dependants remained unchanged. They were, and they still are, considerably above the scale of other ranks. The recent increase for other ranks has had the effect of narrowing the gap between the two scales, but it is no more than that. The Government are of the opinion that this meets the needs of the present situation, having regard to the two schools of thought to which I have referred. The gap has been reduced, but not the rates of pension.

The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, as well as the noble Earl behind me, referred to education allowances. Here let me correct a mere detail of fact, a slip of the tongue by the noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle. The maximum education allowance is not £50, but £80. I merely mention that so that it should be on record. These education allowances, within the limit of £80 a year, may be granted in addition to the ordinary children's allowances attaching to the disablement pension or widow's pension in respect of children who have attained the age of five. They are payable both in the case of officers and other ranks. Having regard to the provision for free and assisted education made out of public funds it is reasonable, it is felt, that an allowance which is additional to war pension for a particular type of education in an individual case should be made only where it is likely that the father (had he survived or not been disabled) would have provided that education himself and where the existing family circumstances do not permit of it being provided without further assistance. It is a difficult question to decide to what extent the man, had he survived or not been disabled, would have been likely to provide education other than that provided free by the State. The Minister must necessarily have regard to the parent's normal employment—his qualifications, education, age, and prospects. The benefit of all reasonable doubt is given to applicants, and the attainments of the father in the Services are not overlooked.

The bulk of the applications received by the Ministry are for day-school education not otherwise provided by the State, and in a majority of cases a grant is made which covers fees, together with a contribution towards incidental expenses such as clothes, meals, travelling expenses, books, stationery and the like. The amount of recent awards in day-school cases varies considerably, but grants are very frequently between £30 and £40 a year. The case which is perhaps the most difficult, and to which the noble and gallant Earl has directed attention more than once—and also I think the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, in the last Parliament—is the type of case which relates to boarding school. In that case, where the regulations are satisfied, fees are authorized up to a maximum of £80 a year. Admittedly the amount does not normally meet the full boarding-school fees. On the other hand, cases do arise, not infrequently, in which it is clear that the father if he had not died or been disabled would not have been likely or able to provide boarding-school education for his children. It is the Minister's constant effort to afford the most generous treatment possible to all applicants for educational allowances. I think that is shown by the fact that during the last four months awards have been made in respect of approximately 90 per cent. of the applications received.

Your Lordships may be interested in the actual figures as to boarding-school applications. I had them taken out because I know there is an interest in them, and I feel an interest myself. The approximate figures, so far as boarding-school applications are concerned, are these: About 1,400 applications were received, and awards were made in 1,100 cases. The full rate of £80 was paid in 600 cases, and 300 cases were rejected. I ought to tell your Lordships, for it is a relevant point for consideration, that the education allowances up to £80, and the maintenance allowances for children, are not subject to Income Tax. The result is that the £80 contribution represents a far higher figure than if it were to be derived from the income of the actual disabled person.

The noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, made a very moving statement with regard to surgical appliances. I am bound frankly to confess to your Lordships that there has been a widespread delay in supplying surgical appliances, due in the main to a shortage of skilled labour in an industry which is not attracting new labour and which consists of a number of small firms distributed about the country. So far as disabled men from the Forces are concerned, the position with regard to the supply of surgical appliances has improved and is improving as a result of steps taken by the Ministry of Pensions in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour and the Board of Trade. A number of skilled operatives have been released from the Forces under Class B arrangements, and it is hoped to secure a substantial speeding up of output. But, moved as I am by what the noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, said upon this subject, I will certainly make it my business to see that this matter is specifically brought to the attention of the Minister of Pensions with a view to further consultation with the Minister of Labour to whose attention the noble Lord's observations shall be brought.

Very much in the same context he asked me whether, in the case of facial injuries, arrangements could be made for a surgeon experienced in plastic surgery to be a member of the Medical Tribunal. I have great sympathy with the suggestion made by the noble Lord. I have myself seen both in the plastic surgery hospitals and elsewhere many of these cases. I fully appreciate the point, and, whilst the noble Lord will understand that I am not departmentally responsible (I am the spokesman for another Ministry), I give him my assurance that I will bring this to the Minister's notice and urge it upon him with the same force, I hope, as that used by the noble Lord in your Lordships' House.

The noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, opened his speech with a reference to the question of entitlement, and he quoted to your Lordships the provisions of the Royal Warrant bearing upon that subject. He also quoted to your Lordships a passage from a judgment of Mr. Justice Denning, which I myself, before coming down to your Lordships' House, carefully marked for quotation by myself. I will not repeat it. I will merely say that the learned Judge in his judgment laid down the procedure which should properly be adopted for the carrying into effect of the provisions of the Royal Warrant, and the Minister of Pensions will, of course, take due note of, and be guided by, the procedure as there laid down, coming as it does as a judicial pronouncement, which is naturally binding upon the Minister.

But in one respect the noble Lord opposite fell, I think, into error. I refrained from interrupting him, but I think that I must see that the position is put correctly, if he will forgive me for saying so. He pointed to the White Paper of 1943, from which he quoted paragraph 3 as expressing the opinion of His Majesty's Government as to entitlement, and then he stated that that did not seem to give full effect to the judgment of Mr. Justice Denning with regard to the terms of the Royal Warrant. I am not at all certain that the noble Lord did not think that he was quoting from the White Paper which is the subject of his Motion. But of course that is not so. The White Paper from which he was quoting was a broad statement of policy in 1943, which was not a gloss upon the Royal Warrant. It was the basis of the drafting of the Royal Warrant. I hope I have made myself clear to the noble Lord. It is the Royal Warrant that is the effective document. It follows upon the other document and is based upon that document, and is the Government's interpretation of it—the White Paper of 1943. I must make that clear, otherwise it might look as if the noble Lord rather suggested that His Majesty's Government were not following the procedure which was laid down by Mr. Justice Denning as being the correct procedure.

The noble Lord raised the question in this connexion whether the Minister of Pensions was contemplating the re-opening of past cases, or whether my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack was proposing to extend the time for appeal. In view of a remark which fell from the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Cork, perhaps I might say that the right of appeal applies on questions of law only, and not with regard to questions of fact. Each of the cases which have come before the Courts on appeal on points of law from the Tribunals have been, of course, individual cases which have had to be decided by the Court according to the application of the law to the particular cases. There are indeed three cases which I have before me, or three judgments by Mr. Justice Denning in three cases tried by him. In two of the cases the learned Judge allowed the appeal, while in the third case it was dismissed, thus indicating that it would be a grave mistake to think that every case which is taken on appeal to the Courts necessarily shows that there has been some mistake on the part of the Minister of Pensions in the administration of the provisions of the Warrant. Indeed, in some of these cases it is not the conduct of the Minister that has been in question at all, but the question has arisen, for instance, as to whether the Tribunal has put to itself the right question, or whether there was any evidence before the Tribunal upon which it could find in the way in which in fact it did find.

I do not wish to minimize the importance or the difficulty of the question raised in this connexion by the noble Lord who moved this Motion. I will tell him that what he said in this regard I shall represent to my right honourable friend the Minister of Pensions, with the suggestion that he may find it necessary to consult with my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack on the point put by the noble Lord about the extension of time for appeals in what may be thought to be appropriate cases. I hope that, without being tedious, I have succeeded in dealing with the various points put before your Lordships.


May I ask the noble Lord before he sits down whether he is not going to enlighten us on what appears to many of your Lordships as a very strange anomaly, in that officers' widows are not to share in these general advances which have been mentioned in every other category, as I think was referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Cork?


I referred to the question of officers. I do not know that I feel myself able at the moment, on the score of lack of information, to reply to the specific point put to me by the noble Lord. But I will certainly see that he gets a reply from me to the point he has raised.


We attach enormous importance to it.


I appreciate that from what the noble Lord has said. I have dealt with the substance of what has been said by noble Lords except the point to which the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, is directed—namely, the question of a Select Committee. I ought perhaps to have told your Lordships that in the estimated expenditure of the Ministry of Pensions for the current year of £101,000,000, these additional benefits to which I have referred in outline and the others mentioned in the White Paper account for about £9,500,000, or about 12½per cent. of the additional expenditure of the current year. I told your Lordships in my opening observations that one of the first tasks of His Majesty's Government had been to set on foot an inquiry by the Minister of Pensions, from which emerges this White Paper.


A Government inquiry?


By the Minister. I do not mean an inquiry in the sense of a committee. There was placed upon the Minister of Pensions the duty of looking into the matter, of surveying the situation and of putting before his colleagues proposals to meet any difficulty which it seemed to him should be met. It is as a result that this White Paper emerges. Your Lordships are aware that for a long period of time the Minister of Pensions, in the administration of the Pensions Warrants, has had the advantage of the advice of a Central Advisory Committee consisting of members of Parliament representative of the various political parties, representatives of the war pensions committees, representatives of the British Legion and certain official members of whom the Minister himself is one. There is no doubt that the assistance of that Advisory Committee has been of very great value to the Minister. It has not only brought to his notice the many difficulties which have arisen in administration but has given him the opportunity of consultation from time to time as to how those difficulties should be overcome. I was, as some of your Lordships know, for some years until the Dissolution of the last Parliament a member, and I think I may say an active member, of this Central Advisory Committee, and I speak from experience and knowledge when I say that it performs a most valuable function in keeping the Minister informed and in providing an organ with which he can consult as to the carrying out of the provisions of the Royal Warrant.

I do not think on the whole that there can really be that degree of dissatisfac- tion which some seem to think exists with the operation of the Pensions Warrant, because when I come to analyse the number of questions asked of the Minister of Pensions in another place—and the House of Commons question time is a pretty good sounding board of how the public is thinking on a particular subject—1 find that the average number of questions over a period of twenty-four weeks is about six. Well, six Parliamentary questions a week is a very small number for any Minister who is administering a Department apt to give rise to difficulties and controversy, and I think we may assume from that that the public satisfaction is considerable.

Now here is this new White Paper. It contains the substantial improvements to which I have referred, and others too. There is no reason why the improvements and changes should stop there. I would suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, in regard to his Motion, that the provisions of this White Paper should be given a run, that we should see whether such difficulties as have been said to arise continue to arise, whether anxieties have been diminished and conditions ameliorated. I would suggest, therefore, to the noble Lord that he should give this new White Paper a chance, without prejudice, of course, to his right—an inalienable right—to come back with a similar Motion to your Lordships' House if, in the light of experience, it should be shown that these improvements have not effected their purpose and that difficulties and apprehensions continue to arise in the public mind.

4.17 p.m.


My Lords, I should not have wished to intervene for a moment in this debate but for one thing which fell from the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, about the different treatment given in the White Paper to officers as compared to other ranks. I have one fact to give to your Lordships, in the hope that it may induce His Majesty's Government to keep an open mind on this point. At the commencement of this war, several very likely lads, some of them sons of quite poor parents, when I was saying "Goodbye" to them, made me promise not to do anything which would assist them to get promotion. They told me they had determined not to accept Commissions in this war, for any reason. Two or three years later, one of our great Commanders in Chief besought me to give him the names of likely lads from my own country who might be suitable for Commissions. I told him I could not, without a breach of my word. In the end, I obtained permission to give one name, and the lad was tried and proved a very good officer. The noble Lord himself would, I think, probably admit that this feeling against taking Commissions is very widespread and very deep, and anything which tends to give Government countenance to it is going to act to the disadvantage of the efficiency of His Majesty's Forces for which His Majesty's Government are responsible.

I think the Government should not give the smallest countenance to such a feeling and should amend the White Paper by removing the differentiation, because, while there is no doubt that you will always be able to get officers, what you want are officers whom the men will follow. It does not matter where they spring from, so long as they are of the right type. By making this differentiation you are lending Government weight to that feeling. The Government should use their leadership to discountenance it, and should try to make every lad who enlists in the ranks of the British Army believe, like those in Napoleon's Army, that he carries a Marshal's baton in his knapsack.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, it would not be fitting that I should make a long speech at this hour, but before asking your Lordships' leave to withdraw my Motion, I would like to offer one or two observations on the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Nathan. The noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, has reflected very eloquently my opinions on this matter of officers and officers' widows. I thought the Government reply was extremely unsatisfactory in that respect. I was sorry for the noble Lord when he had to speak from such a brief, because he must have known, as we all know, that it is extremely ingenuous to pay a differential rate of pay to an officer and yet deny to him or to his widow a differential rate when he is injured or killed. That does not mean I am not grateful to the noble Lord for the courtesy of his reply and the manner in which he has dealt with several points which I have raised in this debate.

I will reserve judgment on the outcome of the consultations between the Minister and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack on the question of Article 4 of the Royal Warrant and its interpretation. May I say that I did not intend my speech to reflect upon the conduct of the Appeals Tribunals or to infer that I thought cases before them were generally tried according to some wrong principle of law. But a doubt has been raised and that doubt ought to be settled. The way to settle it is by a free and impartial investigation so that not only is justice done but is manifestly seen to be done. On the other matters to which the noble Lord has replied, I think we may be reasonably satisfied, so I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

4.22 p.m.


My Lords I do not intend to proceed with my Motion, to which I have already spoken, but in view of the fact that the noble Lord who replied has answered my Motion as well as the other one, I believe I am entitled now to make a short reply to his speech. One thing disturbed me very much in what he said. I thank him for the great pains he took to go into all the questions involved in the two Motions, but I do not at all like this idea that we should, in regard to pensions, try to equalize upwards the lower ranks to the senior ranks. That is not done in any business or in any organization that I know of anywhere in this country or in the world. You always find that the managers and the chief executive officers of any business get higher pensions than the ordinary employees, and that is so in the Civil Service too. I am very much surprised to find that this innovation has been instituted in regard to the Fighting Services. It is most undesirable and I think if the noble Lord reflects on what he has said that he will agree that it is a most extraordinary suggestion. I hope he will consider this matter very carefully before the next debate on the subject.

He has made, not quite an appeal, but a suggestion that we should give a run to these (as to some of them) new arrangements and then raise the matter again. In the ordinary way, I would feel inclined to divide the House on this subject, but in view of the noble Lord's great pains in explaining everything to us, and also in view of what I may call his appeal to wait and see how things go and then, if we are not satisfied, to raise the matter again, I do not propose to press the Motion now.