§ Mr. GROVES
asked the Attorney-General if he is aware that frequently when ex-service men receive notice that their final appeal is to be heard they only receive two days' notice; and, as this period may not be sufficient for the applicant to secure adequate assistance at the hearing, whether it is permissible for him to apply for a postponement without any prejudice to his case?
§ Colonel GIBBS
The Statutory Rules of the pensions appeal tribunals provide thatEach appellant shall receive not lea, than 5 (five) clear days before the date fixed for his appeal, a Notice of Hearing specifying the place where and the date and the time when the appeal will be heard. Such notice shall be in the prescribed form and in the case of a man a railway warrant, where necessary, shall be sent therewith.This rule is strictly observed unless the appellant or his representative expressly waives it and asks for an immediate hearing on special grounds, e.g., that the appellant is shortly proceeding abroad, or that he is dangerously ill, and it is considered advisable to visit him at once. No case has ever been brought to the notice of the president of the pensions appeal tribunals where an appellant has only received two days' notice, but if he is informed of any specific instance, he will investigate it. The pensions appeal tribunals will always grant an application written or verbal for the postponement of a case on any reasonable grounds.
§ Mr. GROVES
asked the Minister of Pensions if he has received representa- 1559W tions from various branches of the British Legion respecting the hardships imposed upon ex-service men by the incidence of the Royal Warrant respecting the time limit for appeal against final awards; whether he is aware that in many cases the incidence and degree of the disabilities has progressively increased; and whether he will consider the necessary change in the Royal Warrant to meet such circumstances?
The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. The time limit referred to is a matter of statute and not of Warrant. I would further point out that medical treatment at the hands of the Ministry with allowances, if necessary, is available in cases of final award, where the disability has exceptionally worsened; and in such cases where, as a result of medical treatment or observation, the Ministry find that serious error occurred in declaring the award final, arrangements are already in operation, as my right hon. Friend has previously stated in this House, whereby further grant of compensation may be made. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that these arrangements are adequately meeting the situation.
§ Sir J. NALL
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware of the growing volume of out-of-time cases which the appeal tribunals consider they are debarred from considering owing only to the expiration of the time limit; and whether he will take immediate steps to amend the law, in order that these cases may be heard?
The facts indicate, I am glad to say, a tendency in the contrary direction to that suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend. The total number of such appeals presented is diminishing, but, as the procedure becomes better known, an increasing proportion represent oases in which the man was genuinely prevented, by unavoidable cause, from appealing within the statutory time. The arrangement for the hearing of such cases, coupled with the further provision made for the correction of cases in which a final award is found to have been seriously erroneous, is, in the judgment of my right hon. Friend, adequately meeting the situation.