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Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Volume 155: debated on Thursday 22 June 1922

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Mother's Allowance (Mrs A Walters)

1.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether any decision has been arrived at in the case of Shoeing-smith Jack Clayton Walters No. R/8828, Royal Army Service Corps, who died at a military hospital at Kantara, Egypt, on 22nd November, 1921, previous to which he had several attacks of dysentery and enteric fever, in addition to being kicked by a horse when stationed at Romsey, Hants; and whether, as his death was primarily brought about by military service, a pension or allowance can be made to his mother, Mrs. A. Walters, of Hensley, near Matlock, who is in indifferent health and needy circumstances, and was at the time of her son's death receiving from him an allowance of 14s. a week?

I have been asked to answer this question. A decision has been reached, and was communicated to Mrs. Walters on the 7th June. As in this case death resulted from appendicitis, not attributable to military service, I regret that no pension or allowance can be paid to Mrs. Walters. This soldier's medical history sheet contains no record of his having suffered from dysentery, or from a kick from a horse.

Nurse's Pension (K W Danby)

2.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will reconsider the case of Sister Kathleen W. Danby, Army Nursing Service, now living at Minster Lovell, Witney, Oxon, who joined up in 1915 for foreign service in the East, and was eventually invalided out of the Service with a pension of £45 a year; whether he is aware that, though Sister Danby is still totally incapable of taking up any employment, her disability having become worse, this pension has been reduced to £20 a year; and whether he will order an early revision of the decision, with a view to the original pension being restored?

The degree of disablement was originally assessed on demobilisation at 30 per cent.; but since April, 1921, the assessment has been at 20 per cent., representing the present pension of £30 (not £20) a year. Miss Danby appealed last month to a medical appeal board, which confirmed the assessment of the previous board, and I regret, therefore, that there are no grounds for reviewing her award.

Arrears Of Payment (A Harrison)

3.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that the appeal to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal of A. Harrison, No. 3/MH/7444, was allowed on 26th April, 1922; whether the decision re payment of pension dates from and includes the amount due on 14th December, 1921; whether he is aware that from that date to 18th May he should have received £52 6s., of which Rd£10 7s. 6d. was paid; how much of the arrears has now been paid; and will he hasten the payment of any balance due to enable this pensioner to enter a convalescent home on 23rd June, as without payment such arrangement may have to be cancelled?

In order to ascertain the exact position of this man's account, it has been necessary to make inquiries from his local committee. On receipt of their reply, I will at once communicate with my hon. Friend. I may say that the man is at present receiving treatment at home, with allowances, and will be admitted to a convalescent hospital this week.

Disability Pensions

6.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that, in the cases of thousands of ex-service men who were discharged from the Service with disability caused entirely by War service, they are now informed by the Ministry of Pensions that their disability was only aggravated by War service, though in many cases their disability has increased; and whether, in order to remedy the injustices that are being perpetrated, he will take such steps as are necessary to enable men to take their cases to the Central Appeals Tribunal?

The cases referred to represent a very small proportion of the whole body of pensioners, and no change of the nature mentioned is made without a definite medical certificate to the effect that the entitlement originally conceded was obviously wrong. The man is always informed of the alteration, and advised of his right of appeal to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal.

Is it not a fact that there are hundreds of these men at the present moment being reduced from the "attributable "to the "aggravated," their pensions ultimately being stopped altogether, without any adequate reason?

If my hon. Friend knows any cases where no reason is given, I shall be glad to have them.

Maghull Hospital

9.

asked the Minister of Pensions if his attention has been called to the conditions and rules in force at the Pensions Hospital, Moss Side, Maghull regarding the work, late passes, free warrants, &c.; and will he inquire into the matter of changing the conditions, so that greater liberty of leave may be granted and the time of getting in at night fixed at, say, 9.30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.?

The conditions and rules in force at Maghull are as favourable as at the other hospitals under my control, except in so far as the nature of the unfortunate disability (epilepsy) from which the patients suffer requires greater precautions in their own interest, especially as regards the hour of returning to hospital from leave.

Terminable Pensions

10.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the fact that certain classes of pension or allowance are required by the terms of the Royal Warrants to cease 12 months after the termination of the War, he will say what action is being taken by his Department in the matter?

There are two main classes of case in which, under the Royal Pensions Warrants, a temporary pension or allowance, available only for the period of the War and 12 months afterwards, has been given, as a special concession, in cases where the death or disablement of the man concerned has not been in any degree due to his War service. By the terms of the Warrants, these concessions expire on the 30th September next. The first of the two classes referred to is that of the widows of men whose death, though it took place during the War, was not found to be in any way attributable to war service, nor, in the case of disease, certified as having been contracted, or commenced on, or aggravated by service. In these cases a small temporary pension has been granted to the widow.

The second class of case is that of disabled men who were discharged from the Forces on account of some incapacity which was neither due to nor aggravated by their war service. In these cases a gratuity was provided by the Warrants on the man's discharge, and I was empowered by an amendment of the Warrant in 1918 to provide in-patient treatment during the period following their discharge for any of these cases that needed it, and to give allowances to the families of the patients during their treatment. In both classes of case, the men or widows concerned have, for the last four years, had the right of appeal to the independent Pensions Appeal Tribunals against the decision of the Ministry, and probably, in a majority of the cases concerned, have exercised it. I propose, however, to issue notices forthwith individually to the men and widows concerned as to the effect of the provisions of the Warrants, and to draw attention to the right of appeal they possess in good time to enable them to appeal, if they have not already done so, before the 30th September next.

Royal Army Medical Corps (A Booth)

11.

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.

West Of Scotland Appeals

95.

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he can state the number of appeal cases that have been heard from the West of Scotland by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal during the year 1921 and for the first three months of the present year; and, if so, will he state the number that have been allowed?

The numbers of appeal cases from the West of Scotland that were heard, and finally decided by the Pensions Appeal Tribunals for Scotland during the year 1921 and in the first three months of the present year were 2,844 and 794 respectively. In 820 of these cases the appeal was allowed.