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Pensions Refused

Volume 148: debated on Tuesday 8 November 1921

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44

asked the Minister of Pensions whether the refusal of Appeal Court 23 to grant a pension to Mrs. Wadsworth, of St. Agnes Mount, Leeds, was clue to the failure of the local doctor in the first instance to recognise her son's illness as due to Addison's disease; and whether, as there is evidence to show that the deceased soldier was suffering from this fatal but rare disease on discharge and continuously thereafter until he died, he will have the inquiry reopened?

The appeal of the mother of the late Private Thomas Wadsworth, Labour Corps, 281399, was heard on the 1st instant by a pensions appeal tribunal sitting at Leeds. After giving the fullest possible consideration to the evidence of the appellant and that contained in the documents, the tribunal came to the conclusion that the appeal mast be disallowed. The fact that the local doctor in the first instance failed to recognise deceased's illness as due to Addison's disease in no way affected the decision. The tribunal were not satisfied upon the evidence that the disease commenced during service. Section 8 of the War Pensions (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1919, provides that the decision of a tribunal shall be final.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether this young man was employed in the building industry?

53.

asked the Minister of Pensions, in regard to the case of Hugh Ralph, Bridgeton, reference No. 1/MR./2952, whether the medical board appointed by the Ministry definitely found that the soldier was suffering from disability due to varicose veins which had been aggravated by service, although it was doubtful to what precise degree it had been aggravated; whether the pre-War doctor of the soldier certified that to his knowledge he did not suffer from varicose veins before enlistment and his general health was good; on what medical grounds did the Ministry upset the finding of its own medical board and refuse the pension; whether it is the practice of the Ministry to reject the findings of its own medical boards without expert medical advice obtained after a fresh examination? and whether any further medical examination was made before the case was submitted to the appeal tribunal?

This man was discharged from the Army early in 1915. It was not till March, 1920, that he applied for a pension on account of varicose veins. The medical board which examined him said that the disability had been aggravated by service, but added, "it is not clear if the present degree of disablement is due to aggravation from service or post-demobilisation." The Ministry had to consider all the relevant facts before granting pension. They rejected the claim, and their rejection has been upheld by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal. whose decision is, by Act of Parliament, declared to be final. I may remind my hon. Friend that entitlement to pension is not solely a medical question, a fact which has been recognised by Parliament in the composite character of the statutory tribunals by whom appeals against rejection are heard and decided.

I did not quite catch the answer. Did the medical board which examined the man find definitely that his disablement had been aggravated by service, although it was uncertain to what degree the aggravation amounted?

There is a distinction between assessment of pension and entitlement. It is no part of a medical board's duty to consider the question of entitlement; its duty is to assess.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that I did not ask any question about entitlement at all? I asked merely whether the board did find, as a matter of fact, that the man's disablement was aggravated by service?

My hon. Friend could not have heard my answer. I said that the medical board which examined the man said that the disability had been aggravated by service, but added "it is not clear if the present degree of disablement is due to aggravation from service or post-demobilisation."