HC Deb 03 November 1920 vol 134 cc391-2W

asked the Minister of Pensions whether in Scotland and elsewhere at the present time, in the case of dependants other than widows and children of deceased sailors and soldiers, pensions are being reduced in innumerable instances on the ground that the family income has increased or the general circumstances have improved; whether reductions are being made even when there is no substantial change in the family position; whether this is done in accordance with a scale which has been laid down by the Ministry, and is regarded by many pensions' authorities as full of anomalies; whether this scale can be submitted for the consideration of Members of this House; and, in view of the continued increase in the cost of living, whether instructions can be given to allow, at all events for a reasonable period longer, the pensions which have hitherto been payable to such dependants?


I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind that one of the three classes of pension payable to parents of deceased men which is awarded on the ground of incapacity for self-support coupled with pecuniary need. This class of pension is necessarily reviewed periodically and is in each case subject to increase or decrease according to the circumstances of the case at the time of review. The administration of pensions based on pecuniary need follows the prin- ciple recommended by the Select Committee on Pensions, and accepted by the Government, that need should be broadly interpreted as reasonable expectation of what the deceased soldier would have contributed had he lived; and, while in applying this principle a general standard must be adopted, each case is dealt with on its merits and with regard to the position of the deceased soldier in relation to th applicant's family as a whole. My right hon. Friend is not prepared to adopt the suggestion that were a review of the circumstances points to a change of rate, the re-assessment should be deferred, but he is looking personally into the working of the scheme of assessment in this class of pension. My right hon. Friend is prepared to consider the suggestion that the scheme should be made public.