§ Miss Widdecombe
On 12 November, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced proposals to make two changes to the war pensions scheme. These were to remove rank differentials in war disablement pensions and to introduce a minimum level of disablement for awards in respect of noise-induced hearing loss.
These proposals have been discussed with the central advisory committee on war pensions. After full and careful consideration of all the points, both for and against the proposals, we have concluded that the changes are in the best interests of war pensioners. The necessary legislative changes have therefore been made today. These will provide first, that for claims from 7 January 1993, no award will be made in respect of noise-induced sensorineural hearing loss unless the degree of disablement from that loss is assessed as being at least 20 per cent. Secondly, savings from that this change will be used to remove, from April 1993, rank differentials in war disablement pensions. This will be of greatest benefit to the most severely disabled war pensioners, the majority of whom will gain up to £5 a week.