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Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 30 May 1922

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Appeal (J Melia)

29.

asked the Minister of Pensions why in the case of John Melia, of Heywood, whose appeal was allowed by the House of Lords Tribunal, the amount of £24 3s. 8d. was deducted, an amount that he had received in weekly payments under a previous award; and why no allowance was paid for the nine months that transpired between his allowance being cut off and his case coming before the House of Lords Tribunal, which body allowed his appeal?

The question referred to the Tribunal was whether aggravation of the disability by service had passed away, and that being decided in the man's favour, an appropriate award of a final weekly allowance was made. Awards of this nature are made where the disablement is less than 20 per cent. and are of a limited aggregate amount. It was, therefore, necessary to take into account the amount paid under the earlier award for which the current award was substituted. I may add that the man has gained substantially by the success of his appeal.

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain how they would have recovered the £24 3s. 8d. if the man had lost his appeal at the House of Lords Tribunal?

The position is that when a disability is under 20 per cent. the man gets a final award in a series of weekly payments which come to an end, but the man is not entitled to two sets of weekly payments, as suggested by my hon. Friend.

Does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman see that an award was made that this man should receive 104 weeks' benefit at a certain rate, which amounts to a given sum, and that it is proposed to take £24 3s. 8d. from it?

I think that perhaps I did not make the matter quite clear. When a man is given a final payment, that is a payment which is obviously intended to close the case; he cannot have two final payments.

Royal Field Artillery (J Walker)

30.

asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware that Corporal Shoeing-Smith John Walker, No. 7426, Royal Field Artillery, has had his claim to pension disallowed although the symptoms of his disability were found by the medical board to be consistent with the after-effects of an attack of sunstroke; whether an endeavour was made to secure the whole of the available evidence bearing on this case; if he is satisfied that the written evidence of J. Spencer, which appears to have influenced the decision of the Ministry, was a genuine production, in view of the fact that Spencer is illiterate; and whether in such cases he will recommend to medical boards that the whole onus of proof as to the origin of disability and responsibility for the production and preservation of medical records shall not lie with claimants to pension?

As the decision of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal is by law final, my right hon. Friend regrets that the case cannot be reviewed.

Is it the case that the terms of the Royal Warrant do place the onus on the man of proving the origin of his disability?

It is obvious that no payment can be made from public funds unless the claimant has satisfied us as to his right to receive money from the taxpayer; but it is our duty to assist the man in every way in presenting his case.

Royal Engineers (F Alsopp)

31.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been called to the case of the late Sapper F. Alsopp, late, of the Royal Engineers, who was enlisted as A 1 and sent to Mesopotamia and was afterwards demobilised suffering from ill-health; that within a few weeks after his return to this country he was certified as suffering from disseminated sclerosis, from which he has since died; and will he state on what grounds all pension liability was denied to the man and now to the widow?

The Ministry decided that the disability in respect of which the late soldier claimed pension was unconnected with service, and that decision was confirmed on appeal by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal. No claim by the widow has so far reached the Ministry, but it is understood that one will shortly be sent in, when the matter will receive full consideration.

Is not the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this man got progressively worse ever since he was discharged from the Army, and how long are the Ministry of Pensions going to shield themselves and rob these people, behind the tribunal?

The hon. Gentleman must be aware, as a Member of this House, that the House decided that any case in which the Ministry held that the man's claim was not justified should be decided, not by us, but by an independent tribunal. That independent tribunal has decided that we are right, and the hon. Member is not justified in the charge that he makes.

Widow's Pension (Mrs W R Munro)

32.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that Mrs. Munro, widow of the late William Ross Munro, private, No. 11,874, 5th Dragoon Guards, has been refused a pension in respect of her late husband; that the grounds of this refusal are that her late husband was removed from duty prior to the date of marriage; that her husband returned to duty at Dunbar depot and served there for six months after their marriage; that she drew wife's separation allowance for this period; that later, when he was placed on pension, she was recognised as his wife by his having the statutory allowance of £1 for himself, 5s. for his wife, and 3s. 9d. for one child, making a total of £1 8s. 9d., which is the correct amount, and allowances for a 50 per cent, pension; that the decision of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal makes it appear that, while Mrs. Munro is accepted as the wife of a serving soldier and pensioner, she is not to he accepted as the widow; and that Munro was married on 2nd July, 1915, and his discharge from the Army is dated 6th January, 1916; and whether, in view of these facts, he will have this case reviewed?

The late soldier was removed from duty, prior to the date of his marriage, for a disability which resulted in his death, and I regret, therefore, that his widow is not eligible for an award of pension.

Has the hon. and gallant Gentleman taken into account the last part of the question, which says that Munro was married on 2nd July, 1915, and his discharge certificate is dated 6th January, 1916? Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain how he was married after he was discharged?

It is not a question of his being married after he was discharged. He was married after he was removed from duty on account of the illness. The point is that he got his illness before he married.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this man returned to duty and worked for several months, that his wife drew a soldier's wife's allowance, and that, when he was pensioned, his wife drew a pensioner's allowance and an allowance for her child as well?

It is, of course, quite true that a soldier who marries naturally draws a separation allowance for his wife, but there would be in this case no allowance so far as this Ministry is concerned. As a matter of fact, they received more than they ought, because he was not really entitled to an allowance from this Ministry for his wife.

If the hon. Member will look at the Order Paper, he will see that we cannot debate every question. It does not give other hon. Members a fair chance at all.

I beg to give notice that, owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the answer on the facts as stated, I shall raise the matter on the Motion for Adjournment.

Canadian Cattle Embargo

34.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether any notification was made to Dr. Tolmie, then Minister of Agriculture, that the British President of the Board of Agriculture could not carry out the pledge to lift the cattle embargo; and whether any public intimation based on this notification was made in the Canadian House of Commons?

I presume the hon. Member refers to conversations in 1919 between representatives of the Canadian Government and Lord Ernle, who was then President of the Board of Agriculture. The substance of these conversations was presumably conveyed by the Canadian representatives to Dr. Tolmie, who made a statement on the subject in reply to a question in the Canadian House of Commons on 11th March, 1920. I will circulate a copy of Dr. Tolmie's starement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

Extract from the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Canadian House of Commons Debates, 11th March, 1920.

Embargo On Canadian Cattle

Mr. Fournier:

  • 1. Is there an embargo on Canadian cattle exported to Great Britain?
  • 2. If so, have any representations been made since January, 1918, to the Imperial Government asking for the repeal of such embargo?
  • 3. If so, when were these representations made?
  • 4. What is the nature of these representations, and what was the reply of the Imperial Government?
  • Dr. Tolmie:

    1. Yes. The legislation (United Kingdom) of 1896 prohibits the landing of cattle from all countries in the United Kingdom, except for purposes of immediate slaughter.

    2. Yes. The representations, however, were of an informal nature and were not made through the usual official channels.

    3. During the year 1919.

    4. The representations for the removal of the embargo were made by Dr. Robertson and Mr. Arkell, the Live Stock Commissioner, through Colonel Amery, Parliamentary Secretary of the Colonial Office, and Lord Ernie, President of the Board of Agriculture. Both these gentlemen were seen on several occasions and the matter of the embargo discussed in detail. With Lord Ernle's approval, Dr. Robertson and Mr. Arkell conveyed similar representations to the Scottish Board of Agriculture, the Scottish and English Farmers' Unions, the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture, the Agricultural Committee of the House of Commons, Special Committee of the London County Council, and to several other important, bodies in Scotland and in England, with the view of furnishing information which would enlist their support in Canada's position. The arguments used made reference to the health of Canadian cattle; to the fact that Canada regularly grows more cattle than she can finish; to the advantage which British feeders had previously obtained in feeding Canadian cattle; to the interests of British consumers in increasing the supply of fresh killed meat and to the very great importance of building up an Empire source of supply in compete- tion with the control of the British meat trade which had already been secured by American packers.

    The campaign which was carried on by Dr. Robertson and Mr. Arkell led to the matter being taken up in the Imperial Parliament. A question on several occasions was asked respecting the position of the Government. In substance the reply of the Government fully recognised that the embargo could no longer be continued against Canadian cattle on the grounds of disease but that in consideration of the unsettled condition of British agriculture and the lack of confidence amongst feeders and breeders which would be created by removing the embargo, the Government regard it as inadvisable to take any action in the matter. It may be added that, in personal conversation with Dr. Robertson and Mr. Arkell, Lord Ernie gave it as his considered opinion that, in view of the unsettled state of British agriculture following War conditions, it would be quite inopportune to take any action toward the removal of the embargo at the present time.

    Ex-Service Men (Air Ministry)

    35.

    asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that in the Air Ministry (R.D. 3) there are cases of ex-service men men serving for half the pay under men very much younger than themselves, who only learnt their present profession while the ex-service men were fighting overseas; and what is the reason for this state of affairs?

    The facts are not as stated in my Noble Friend's question. Of the 16 members of the staff of R.D. 3, 13 are ex-service and three non-service men. The average age of the ex-service men is 31, of the non-service men 29; the average pay is.E465 and £600 respectively. The non-service men are the most experienced and best qualified members of the staff, and it has not been found possible to replace them by ex-service men.

    Commercial Aeroplanes, Great Britain And Germany

    36.

    asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is able to give the approximate number of com- mercial British planes in actual service in this country as compared with the number of German planes operating in Germany?

    It is not possible to draw any useful comparison between the total number of British commercial aeroplanes in operation in this country and the number of German planes operating in Germany, as the new Regulations (which permit of the manufacture of civil machines under certain conditions) only came into force on 5th May, 1922. The total number of machines available for civil air transport in Germany is 225, including 100 old ex-military machines (which are reported to be in bad condition). It is probable, however, that the number of machines operating in Germany will increase as a result of the new Regulations coming into force. The total number of British aircraft holding Certificates of Airworthiness in Great Britain is 115. This number includes all machines used for "joy-riding" purposes and for cross-country flights with passengers or goods. The number of commercial aircraft actually in service on the London-Paris and London-Brussels routes is 18, but, in addition, occasional trips to the Continent are made with other machines.

    Air Power

    37.

    asked the Secretary of State for Air which country now possesses the most powerfully-equipped air force; and whether any country has to-day a greater ratio than the two-Power standard formerly held by Great Britain on the seas?

    The comparative assessment of air strength for which my hon. Friend asks is most difficult to calculate, depending, as it does, not only on numbers of squadrons, machines and personnel, but on relative efficiency of armament and fighting power. The general position was explained in my speech of 21st March last on the Air Estimates. I do not think it desirable or possible to compare air strength on the basis of a one-Power or two-Power standard, but the subject is too complicated to be dealt with usefully by way of question and answer.