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Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Volume 155: debated on Thursday 29 June 1922

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Poor Law Relief

1.

asked the Minister of Pensions if his attention has been called to cases where large amounts of Poor Law relief have been granted to persons to whom Army or Navy pensions were due, but which were delayed in issue; that in a recent case £3 a week was given in poor relief to a widow and her family for nine months, and when the pension and arrears, amounting to over £100, was received by her she spent the whole amount without repaying any part of the relief granted; if, as similar cases have occurred, arrangements can be made by which the guardians can claim direct from the Ministry of Pensions when relief is given in anticipation of a pension which is ultimately granted, and thus relieve the ratepayers of a financial burden which is not fairly theirs; if he is aware that the Minister of Health, in a circular, No. 281, impressed on boards of guardians and all Government Departments the necessity of close co-operation in public administration; and if he will see that his Department assists in this direction?

I am giving this matter my personal consideration, and I hope it may be found possible to make arrangements which will meet my hon. Friend's proposal.

Special Diets

6.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has recently withdrawn the special diet allowed to pensioners in tuberculosis and diabetes mellitus cases; and whether, since the withdrawal of these diets is a breach of faith to the pensioners concerned who received their pensions plus the special diets, and who will now be compelled to purchase such necessary diets from their pensions, he will withdraw the circular issued by his Department cancelling these diets?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Burslem on the 26th June, of which I am sending him a copy. Additional allowances for special diet have not been withdrawn from pensioners suffering from tuberculosis or diabetes. The allowance is indeed expressly continued in these cases by the new Regulations when the rate of pension or allowances and other circumstances justify the grant. I may add that the allowance in question is not provided for by the terms of the warrants, and has never been attached to any class of pension. No breach of faith is therefore involved by the modification of the Regulations.

Pensioners (Deaths)

7.

asked the Minister of Pensions the number of men, women and children pensioners in charge of his Department who have died during the years 1920 and 1921?

I regret to say that during the years 1920 and 1921 the approximate number of deaths among pensioners was as follows:

Men19,500
Widows and other Dependants16,000

Widows' Pensions

8.

asked the Minister of Pensions what is the limit of years allowed by his Department during which a widow can claim a widow's pension in the event of her husband, being an ex-service man, dying from disease or wounds caused by the War; and whether, in view of the number of men who have died as a result of war service after a period of years, he can see his way to propose a longer period of years than is now allowed during which a widow may claim a pension?

I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind the time limit of seven years in Article 11 of the Royal Warrant, and I would refer him to the answer given to the hon. and gallant Member for Wandsworth, Central, on the 13th June, of which I am sending him a copy.

The cases are very few in number. I am told there are only ten, and I am treating individual cases on their merits.

Pensions (Commutation)

47.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that in the case of pensioners wishing to commute their pensions considerable hardship is inflicted when they are compelled to board for commutation hundreds of miles away from their homes; and can he arrange that in the case of ex-members of the Royal Irish Constabulary they shall be boarded for commutation of pensions by a board nearest to their homes, thus entailing upon them the minimum of expense and physical effort?

Special arrangements have been made for dealing with these particular cases by the appointment of medical referees in London, Manchester and Glasgow, and all possible regard is had to economy and convenience in arranging the requisite examinations. I may add that if an applicant resides at some distance from the nearest centre he is paid the cost of his railway fare.

Why is it not possible, seeing that enormous number of Irish soldiers who fought in the War, to board in some part of Ireland? Why should these men be dragged across to London? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that recently an officer who had both legs shot off and has to crawl along the floor on stumps had to come to London and—

Children Allowances

2.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has had his attention drawn to the hardship of stopping children allowances in treatment cases, particularly in cases of prolonged treatment, in respect to children born more than nine months after treatment commenced, as laid down in the new regulations, paragraph 242D, sub-paragraph 3 (a); and whether, seeing that this regulation is at variance with the terms of Article 24 (3) of the Royal Warrant, he will consider the advisability of revising the interpretation mentioned in the Fortnightly Circular G, paragraph 7.

My right hon. Friend is not prepared to modify these instructions in the manner suggested. Treatment allowances were designed to meet the circumstances and family obligations of the patient at the time that treatment commenced. Article 6 of the Royal Warrant has been generously interpreted so as to permit of allowances being paid for children born within nine months after treatment commenced; but they are not properly payable in respect of children born at a later date.

Labour Corps (Private F G Stacey)

5.

asked the Minister of Pensions, in reference to Private Fairfax George Stacey, No. 181,699, Labour Corps, who died on the 2nd February, 1922, whether he is aware that he was discharged from the Army as unfit on 21st August, 1917; that he attended St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the London neurological clinic for treatment up to the 4th November, 1921; that after that date he was too ill to attend; that owing to his disability the pension which he was receiving was increased; that the doctor of the neurological clinic certified that his death was undoubtedly due to weakness caused by war service; that his widow applied for a pension more than three months ago; that owing to her circumstances she has since been in receipt of poor relief; and that no decision on her case has yet been received from the local war pensions committee; and whether he will make inquiries with a view to her case being dealt with at the earliest possible date?

The late soldier was discharged on account of dysentery and subsequently received pension and medical treatment for that disability and for hysteria. He died some 4½ years after discharge from broncho-pneumonia which, after full consideration of all the circumstances, the Ministry were unable to accept as being connected with military service. The widow was informed on the 21st June of the rejection of her claim to pension and of her right of appeal to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal.