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Royal Army Medical Corps (A Booth)

Volume 155: debated on Thursday 22 June 1922

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asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware that ex-Private Alfred Booth, No. 102389, Royal Army Medical Corps, of 14, Scotland Place, Ramsbottom, suffering from arthritis in both hands, has been awarded on appeal 7s. 6d. per week for 35 weeks; that on 5th May, 1920, he had a paper issued stating this was caused by his service in the War; that on 8th June, 1922, the paper issued stated "aggravated by service"; that on 4th April, 1921, his appeal was refused on the ground that aggravation had passed away, but on 21st March, 1922, his appeal was allowed as above, and that now his fingers on both hands are in such a condition that he can hardly move any of the joints; and will he inquire further into this case?

If the man considers that his present award does not adequately represent the degree of disablement, it is open to him to apply through his local committee for reconsideration of his case on that ground.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain how it came about that the man first had a paper saying the disablement was caused by War service, and then he got a paper saying it was aggravated by service?

I cannot explain that off-hand, but if my hon. Friend will come to see me any day, I will produce the papers, and he can see for himself.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why these distinctions are made to the detriment of the ex-service man?

I must consider each case on its merits. If originally a man's disablement was given as "attributable," and then it was found as a fact that it was merely "aggravated," I must in that case alter it accordingly.

Will the Minister of Pensions say then what action he takes with regard to a medical board which says this was "attributable," and a medical board which says it was "aggravated"? How does he deal with these people?

I always allow a man in a case of that kind to go before a new board. He is seen by the new board, and can produce his own doctor's certificate or any other evidence.

That is not the point. What I want to know is what action the Minister of Pensions takes with regard to boards, where, in the first instance. a board says that a man's disability is directly due to War service, and another board says that it is aggravated by War service?

My hon. Friend knows that it is notoriously difficult for the doctors. I would remind the House what happened. When demobilisation took place, thousands of men were examined—35,000 in one day. Obviously there must have been some wrong decisions given at that time, and it is my duty to review them, both in the interests of the men and of the State. In many cases I have been able to alter the decision from "aggravated" to "attributable," and in hundreds of cases it has been to the men's interest.