§ Mr. Medland
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will give the number of long-service naval pensioners who are not yet in receipt of augmentation amounts to their basic pension; and whether he is in a position to state the reason for the delay in making these payments.
If the hon. Member refers to augmentation under the Pensions Increase Schemes of 1944 and 1947, the answer is that there is no delay in paying increases as they become due under the 1944 Scheme, and about 25,000 such,192W awards are in issue. The further increases payable under the 1947 Scheme, which has only just been approved by Parliament, are naturally not yet in issue. The number of pensioners who will be entitled to further increases under the 1947 scheme is expected to be about 32,000.
If, on the other hand, the hon. Member refers to the scheme for re-assessment of pensioners who served during the war, the number of men entitled to these increases is about 40,000; 3,200 have already chosen re-assessment, and have been paid. The reason for the small number so far paid is that the introduction into Parliament of the 1947 Pensions Increase Act early in December last year made it necessary to suspend the work until the new Act was passed, and we could make the men a new offer, taking into account the increased benefits payable under the new Act. It must be remembered that the Pensions Increase Act, and the re-assessment scheme are complementary, and it would only have misled men into making wrong choices if we had continued informing them of the old pensions increase provisions while the new Act was in passage through Parliament. As it is, we now have to go back again to the 3,200 already reassessed and give them a new option. The work of calculation has, however, been proceeding all the time, and over 25,000 assessments have now been calculated. Certain other modifications in the scheme are now being considered to meet grievances which have arisen, but as soon as finality has been reached in these various inter-related matters, rapid progress should be possible with actual payments.