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Volume 155: debated on Thursday 15 June 1922

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asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that doctors or other persons employed by the Ministry to revise the findings of medical boards in regard to pensions, though they are not allowed themselves to alter the findings of medical boards, do, in a large number of cases, send the documents back to the chairmen of medical boards suggesting that assessments should be changed and almost invariably recommending a reduction of the assessment, and bringing pressure to bear to effect such reduction; and whether, to ensure justice being done to the pensioners, he will issue instructions that no assessment of a medical board shall be interfered with or altered in any way except by an appeals medical board or some other tribunal where the pensioner can be present or be represented?

I am glad to be able to assure my hon. Friend that he is misinformed as to the procedure which obtains. My Department has continually in operation some 200 medical boards throughout the kingdom, and it does happen on occasions that the medical staff of the Ministry refer back to a Board for explanation a case in which the assessment appears to be either markedly too high or too low, in the light of the clinical finding of the Board. No pressure is, however, brought to bear on the Boards, the procedure being based on the free exchange of medical opinion upon questions of doubt or difficulty. The whole procedure of assessment was very carefully examined last year by the Departmental Committee of Inquiry, who concluded their report on the subject with the statement that the last word as to degree of disablement was always with a Medical Board.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many members of medical boards are making complaints—confidential though they may be—to Members of Parliament, of interference with awards that have been given, which are invariably given against the pensioner?

The statement that my hon. Friend makes is quite inaccurate. I have had case after case where the assessment was increased. If the hon. Member or any other hon. Member has a case to bring to my notice, I shall be glad to inquire into it.

If a man has certificates from three medical men saying he is totally disabled by the War, and doctors say he was healthy before he went to the War, and his employer says that he never missed a day, how is it that that man cannot get a pension?