HC Deb 29 March 2001 vol 365 cc784-6W
Mr. Nicholls

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when she expects the Appeals Service to hear the complaint of Mr. P. R. Manifield. [155891]

Jane Kennedy

Mr. Manifield has appealed to the Pensions Appeal Tribunals against a decision of the War Pensions Agency to reduce his disablement benefit. Mr. Manifield's appeal has been listed for hearing at the Pensions Appeal Tribunal in Exeter on 22 May 2001.

Mr. Nicholls

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what the average time is before(a) all types of appeals and (b) appeals relating to war pension disability orders are heard by appeal tribunals; and if she will make a statement; [1558901

(2) if she will make a statement on the ability of the War Pension Appeal procedure to deal efficiently and effectively with the cases of ex-service personnel. [155892]

Jane Kennedy

Appeals to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal currently all relate to war pensions entitlement and disability assessments. The average waiting time between the receipt of an appeal by the Pensions Appeal Tribunals and hearing is currently 82 weeks.

Provisions in The Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000, which came into force in England and Wales on 9 April 2001, will enable appeals to be listed for hearing more quickly and allow for appeals to be dealt with efficiently and effectively.

The introduction of a six-month time limit will mean that the information available to the tribunal to determine the appeal will be more timely. At present there is no time limit for appealing a decision of the War Pensions Agency and in some cases the tribunal have to decide appeals where the decision has been made many years before.

Additionally the tribunal will, from 9 April 2001, be required to consider only those factors pertaining at the time the decision was made. Under the existing rules the tribunal also have to take into account any changes that may have occurred between the decision being made and the date of the hearing. In practice this has meant that the tribunal often had to obtain new evidence which was not considered by the War Pensions Agency in making their decision.

These provisions, along with operational improvements including additional sitting capacity, will help to reduce the waiting times.

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