HC Deb 28 October 1996 vol 284 c28W
Mr. George

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his Department's policy in respect of the pensions of war widows whose husbands' deaths are assessed to be related to smoking while in prisoner of war camps during the second world war; and if he will make a statement. [498]

Mr. Heald

A war widow's pension may be awarded where the late husband's death was due to, or was substantially hastened by, any service in the armed forces. There is no automatic entitlement to a war widow's pension simply because the late husband was a war pensioner.

The war pensions scheme has never been intended to compensate for the effects of a personal habit such as smoking. Policy on this has not changed. Over more than 40 years, that has been the general policy of successive Governments; it has applied to all those who served including those who were prisoners of war.

The law does, however, provide for awards in respect of smoking-related conditions where there is a severely disabling mental condition—itself attributable to service and assessed for war pension purposes at a minimum of 50 per cent.—which rendered the individual incapable of exercising personal choice and prevented him from giving up the habit.