HC Deb 18 December 1995 vol 268 cc883-4W
Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the total number of war pension awards made as a result of conditions arising out of immunisation since 1990; and, in each case, what was the immunisation procedure concerned. [5477]

Mr. Heald

Records show that, since 1990, in one case a war pension award has been made for a condition related to immunisation. The condition involved a possible general anaphylactic reaction to vaccine, which is not vaccine specific.

Mr. Wilson

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what is the average lapse in time between a war pension being(a) applied for and (b) refused and the subsequent appeal being dealt with by a tribunal; [5079]

(2) what proportion of war pension applications which have been refused are (a) the subject of appeals to tribunals and (b) are subsequently granted following appeals to tribunals. [5080]

Mr. Heald

These are matters for Mr. John Sheppard, the acting chief executive of the War Pensions Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Mr. John Sheppard to Mr. Brian Wilson, dated 18 December 1995:

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about War Pension appeals.I should first explain that there are two different types of appeal. An entitlement appeal may be lodged where the Agency has been unable to accept that a particular medical condition has been caused by service in the Forces; an assessment appeal can be made where the appellant disagrees with the assessment of disablement arising from an accepted condition. As you have asked about claims that are refused. I will limit my reply to entitlement appeals.You have asked about the average time lapse between a War Pension claim being made and a subsequent appeal being dealt with by a Tribunal. I am unable to give you that information in the way you requested because there are no time limits for lodging entitlement appeals. It does not follow, therefore, that the appeals received in any period are related to the decisions made in any specific earlier period. Indeed, some entitlement appeals are lodged 20 or 30 years after the original claim. No information is available which measures the average time between notification of a rejected claim and an appeal being lodged.I can, however, tell you that the average time taken to clear a first claim to War Pension so far in 1995–96 is 157.12 working days (31.42 weeks). If rejection of a claim leads to an appeal, the War Pension Agency (WPA) is responsible for preparing the Statement of Case for the independent Pensions Appeal Tribunal (PAT), who consider all War Pension appeals and are responsible for arranging appeal hearings. The average time taken by WPA to review the evidence and prepare an entitlement appeal Statement of Case, including any comments from the appellant, is 326 working days (65.2 weeks).The average times taken to deal with appeals are longer than would normally be the case and are a reflection of the considerable increase in appeals that occurred in 1994. As I explained in my letter to you on 7 November, the introduction of our new computer system and the re-structuring of the Agency has also had an effect on our achievements so far this year.As I have said, the arrangement of appeal hearings is a matter for the PAT who come under the jurisdiction of the Lord Chancellor's Department. They have told me that the average time taken since April this year for the PAT to schedule a hearing following receipt of the Statement of Case from WPA is 42.35 weeks.I am aware that the PAT have addressed the problem of large numbers of appeals awaiting hearing by increasing the number of courts held each day. These have increased from 4–5 at the end of 1994 to 7–8 now and the intention is to further increase the number to 10 next April. In addition there has been an increase in the number of cases heard each day by each court.You have also asked the proportion of rejected claims that go to appeal and are subsequently granted. Again, I am unable to provide that exact information you have asked for because of the time limits I explained earlier. I can, however, give you the following information on the number of rejected first claims and entitlement appeals, as well as those allowed by the PAT during the last three financial years. Not all appeals proceed to the Tribunal because we are sometimes able to review the decision and allow the claim, or the appellant withdraws the appeal after it has been lodged. I must stress that because of the time lapse, there is no direct correlation between the figures shown.

Year Rejections Ent. appeals lodged Ent. appeals sent to PAT Ent. appeals allowed at PAT
1992–93 14,850 8,451 2,209 555
1993–94 19,889 10,001 4,754 994
1994–95 14,156 15,158 5,074 1,242
1 From 5 April 1994 an appeal is classed as lodged from the date that appeal forms are returned to the War Pensions Agency. Previously, an intention to appeal was classed as a lodged appeal.

I hope you find my reply helpful.