HL Deb 18 February 1946 vol 139 cc664-6WA

asked His Majesty's Government—

  1. (a) What is the total number of cases of cerebral thrombosis resulting in death, in partial and in total paralysis among the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Crown in the age groups below 50 years of age during the present war?
  2. (b) Whether the medical authorities regard this number as higher than the incidence of this disease among civilians of similar age groups?
  3. (c) What are the total number of cases which have been, respectively, attributed, and not attributed, to Service causes?
  4. (d) Whether His Majesty's Government will review the non-attributable cases with a view to paying pensions and allowances to dependants in cases of death, or for medical treatment after discharge, and pensions to those persons who are permanently affected?

The noble Earl also asked His Majesty's Government—

  1. (a) What was the total number of cases of lymphatic leukæmia, resulting respectively in invaliding or death, among persons serving in the Armed Forces between 3rd September, 1939, and 31st December, 1945?
  2. (b) In how many cases have pensions been granted to the dependants of those who have died of this disease?


In the keeping of its case records during the war the Ministry of Pensions had to adopt a method of filing, and a degree of medical subdivision, compatible with the severe shortage of lay and medical man-power available, and to confine classification to categories essential to its immediate administrative and executive needs.

For the war of 1914–1918 the Ministry kept its records of disabilities according to a coded medical classification of 51 sub-divisions. This classification, amplified to 80 sub-divisions, was continued for the 1939–45 war. In 1942 the Medical Research Council set up a Committee on which the Ministry was represented to advise on a standardised classification of diseases and injuries for statistical purposes. This Committee compiled a "Provisional Classification of Diseases and Injuries for use in compiling Morbidity Statistics," which enumerated some 3,000 conditions to which appropriate code numbers were given. To apply the full classification to Ministry records would, however, have involved much more time and man-power, both medical and lay, than was available. The Ministry, therefore, adopted a condensed edition of the Medical Research Council's code as from April 1st, 1943. This condensed code contains about 150 sub-divisions. The cases already classified up to April 1st, 1943, were too numerous to be re-coded individually and re-coding to the new system was done by a process of estimation, adequately accurate for general statistical purposes. The code now used by the Ministry is effective for the analysis of the chief groups of disabilities and their main subdivisions. The two conditions, cerebral thrombosis and lymphatic leukæmia, on which the noble Lord desires information are, however, ultimate divisions only in the full Medical Research Council's code and in the Ministry's code are included in the larger groups of "Intracranial lesions of vascular origin" and "Diseases of the blood" respectively. The proportion in these larger groups occupied by cerebral thrombosis and lymphatic leukemia is uncertain, and may vary from time to time.

Bearing this in mind and also that the total figures are, as explained above, on an estimated basis for the period up to April 1 1943, the following can be given as the figures for disablement awards and rejections from September 3, 1939, to December 29, 1945:

Intracranial lesions of vascular origin.
Awards 227
Rejections 433
Diseases of the Blood.
Awards 83
Rejections 835

To investigate these cases individually to determine the precise number of cerebral thrombosis and lymphatic leukæmia cases amongst them, and further to in- vestigate the cerebral thrombosis cases in order to extract the numbers occurring in the age groups below 50 of partial or total paralysis, would involve an expenditure of time and labour which the present pressure of work on the Ministry does not permit,

As regards cases of cerebral thrombosis and lymphatic leukæmia resulting in death, the same general remarks apply, and figures can only be given in relation to the larger groups mentioned above. Even for them, however, comprehensive figures are not at present available, since death cases, for reasons of war economy, were not continuously recorded in medical codes during the war.

Subject to these limitations the figures are as follows:—

April, 1943, to December, 1945.

Intracranial lesions of vascular origin.

  • 172 Awards to widows or dependants.
  • 226 Rejections.

Diseases of Blood.

  • 52 Awards to widows or dependants.
  • 211 Rejections.

The Minister is advised that there is no reason to believe that the incidence of cerebral thrombosis in the Forces can be regarded as higher than the incidence amongst civilians of similar age groups.

As regards the last part of the first question, the recent White Paper on War Pensions (Cmd. 6714) stated that the Government were satisfied that the basic principle governing entitlement to pension, viz., causal connection with war service, was sound and there are no grounds for departing from this principle in the case of particular diseases.