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War Injuries (Equal Compensation)

Volume 388: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1943

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(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is now in a position to announce the Government's decision on the recommendations made on equal compensation?

Yes, Sir. The Government have given full consideration to the recommendations of the Select Committee on Equal Compensation and, after consulting the Trades Union Congress on points covered by the general pledge of discussion with that body, have arrived at the following conclusions:—

  • (1) The Government recognise that, as the Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme applies only to injuries associated with the war, there is for this reason an essential difference between it and any permanent scheme of compensation. This being so, they have decided that the rates of compensation payable under it for disablement to gainfully occupied persons need not be related to earnings or to any other factor involving sex discrimination. The rates of injury allowance and disablement pension for gainfully occupied women on account of war injuries will therefore be raised to the rates at present provided for gainfully occupied men.
  • (2) The Government have no hesitation in agreeing that this decision must be extended to all war service injuries sustained by civil defence personnel: also to the disability pensions payable to the basic grades in the Women's Auxiliary Services and the Merchant Navy, the rates for higher ranks being increased by the same amount as is added in the basic ranks, or, in the case of officers, £25 a year.
  • (3) The Government have also decided that a married man in receipt of injury allowance as a gainfully occupied person or Civil Defence Volunteer, but not in hospital, should receive as a wife's allowance an addition of 8s. 9d. a week to the 35s. which he at present receives in common with the single man. While in hospital he will continue to receive his present rate of 35s.
  • (4) Finally, the Government have decided that non-gainfully occupied persons, male and female, including housewives, shall have their present rates of injury allowance and disablement pension increased in all cases to those at present paid to gainfully occupied men.
  • Thus the Government have accepted in full the recommendations of the Select Committee in the belief that the Committee are right in holding that these improvements can have no effect on levels of remuneration or in the field of compensation. The Government do not propose to wait for the necessary amendment of the many instruments which will be affected by these changes but a little time must be taken in making the administrative arrangements for payment at the revised rates. They will, therefore, be brought into effect with the payments falling to be made in the week beginning on 19th April, from which week they will be applied to all existing cases.

    While thanking my right hon. Friend, may I assure him with what very great appreciation the news will be received that the great injustice which has been suffered by women with regard to war compensation until this date has been removed, and with what gratitude we receive this concession from the Government?

    I have stated that payments will commence from the week beginning 19th April, and will apply to all cases where benefit is now being received.

    Is not this an admirable illustration of the value of prodding the Government, and of disregard of the party Whips by hon. Members?

    May one mere male Member of this House put on record the real gratitude which this House feels towards the hon. Lady the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) and her colleagues who have pursued this matter so diligently?

    Will an allowance be made not only for a wife but for children, too?

    May I also say how deeply grateful we are? It shows the value of independence.