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Widows' Pensions

Volume 360: debated on Thursday 9 May 1940

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asked the Minister of Health (1) why Mrs. A. Shipley, of 7, Wellington Street, Colne, Lancashire, whose husband, a fully insured worker, died on 31st December last, has not yet received her widow's pension;

(2) why Mrs. J. Brown, of 27, Clarence Street, Colne, whose husband, a fully insured worker, died in January last, has not yet received her widow's pension?

I explained the reasons for the delay in determining claims for pensions under the Contributory Pensions Acts in the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Lambeth, North (Mr. G. Strauss) on the 11th April. Everything possible is being done to overcome the difficulties to which I then referred. As regards the two particular cases mentioned by the hon. Member I am glad to be able to say that Mrs. Shipley has now been awarded a pension and I am taking steps to expedite a decision in the case of Mrs. Brown and will inform the hon. Member of the result.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say on what date the award of a pension was made to Mrs. Shipley?

What steps is the Department taking to enable these people who are left without any means at all, to tide over their difficulties during the four or five months that it takes his Department to award a pension in a perfectly straightforward case without any complications?

The hon. Member is aware that machinery exists whereby pecuniary difficulty in such cases may be avoided. Also I have explained before the difficulties under which the Pensions Branch has been working, including the pressure of work caused by the Act recently passed by this House, inevitably mean that a certain amount of delay takes place.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the delays in question arose before the recent Act was even contemplated, let alone in operation, and that a period of four months to award a pension in which no question can arise is altogether too long?

I have pointed out before that not merely the extra work thrown upon the Department but other factors of which he is well aware have to be taken into consideration.