§ Mr. Steen
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services where the war pensions committees are situated; how many members are currently serving on the 81 committees and on what basis; how many are paid, and 307W if so, on what basis their pay is calculated; on what basis the cost off 103,000 is estimated; and during 1979–80 how many war pensioners had their pension varied.
§ Mr. Rossi
The areas covered by the war pensions committees are listed in the War Pensions Committees (Revocation and Reconstitution) Order 1980 (S.I. 1980 No. 1685). Most of the committees meet in the main town in their area but some alternate between two or more places. New committees are at present being constituted, so the total membership is not yet known, but it will be around 2,000. The membership of each committee includes representatives of the war disabled, war widows, local authorities, employers, workers, and voluntary organisations.
Members are not paid but receive expenses for travelling and loss of earnings. The estimated cost of £103,000 for 1979–80 covers these expenses for members and people appearing before the committees, travelling expenses for the committees' voluntary workers who visit war pensioners, part-salaries of the officials who are committee clerks, and expenses incurred in arranging meetings. Of the war pensioners who appeared before the committees in 1979–80, 70 had their pension or allowance varied by the Department.
§ Mr. Rossi
I briefly indicated the main functions of war pensions committees in my reply to my hon. Friend on 19 January. They are a useful source of advice to my right hon. Friend and they also make an important contribution to the welfare of war pensioners. They provide a valuable link between the pensioner, the Department and the voluntary ex-service organisations, and they act as an independent forum where the pensioner can discuss his case if he wishes. The number of committees has been substantially reduced in recent years and there may well be scope for a further reduction when they are next due to be reconstituted, in 1986.—[Vol. 997, c.56–57.]
§ Mr. Rooker
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why the combined value of guardian's allowance and child benefit is less than supplementary benefit for 16-year-olds.
§ Mr. Rossi
There is no direct link between the combined rates of guardian's allowance and child benefit and the rate of supplementary benefit for 16 year olds. The former are flat-rate benefits intended as a contribution towards the cost of maintaining a child. The latter is a subsistence benefit for the maintenance of the person for whom it is paid.