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Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Volume 320: debated on Monday 22 February 1937

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asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that many ex-service men of the Great War are said to be becoming prematurely aged or incapacitated as a result of the general aftereffects of their war service and should receive pension for their condition; and whether he will make a statement upon the attitude of his Department to such cases and the possibility of pensions being granted to them?

My attention has been drawn to certain statements to the effect quoted, and as they may tend to rouse hopes that can only be disappointed, I am glad to have an opportunity of making the position clear. I have no power to award compensation for disablement other than such as results from specific injuries or ailments which it has been established are traceable to war service. So far as the question relates to other conditions not so established, consideration would be the concern of other services which are not within my statutory powers and on which I am not in a position to express any opinion. I may say, however, that such inquiry as I have made into the matter has not disclosed any evidence from general medical experience which would support the suggestion that there is any greater likelihood of premature incapacity among ex-service men as such than in other sections of the civil community of similar age. Inquiries are, I am informed, being pursued by the British Legion and other ex-service men's associations the results of which it is their intention to lay before the Minister or Ministers whose Departments may be concerned.

In view of the fact that the benefit of the doubt goes against the ex-service man at present, will the Minister inquire into the regulations and change them, so that the ex-service man will get the benefit of the doubt?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that the benefit of the doubt does not go against the ex-service man.