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Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 8 April 1943

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asked the Minister of Pensions, how many ex-soldiers who served in the Boer war are receiving disability pensions; whether he can state approximately the rate of such pensions compared with present-day disability pensions in the 100 per cent. and 50 per cent. class; and what are the rates for men blinded in this war and in the Boer war, respectively?

About 4,000 ex-soldiers who served in the Boer war are still in receipt of disability pensions, the rates of which were brought up to the Great War level; thus the appropriate pension for a private assessed at 100 per cent. is 40s. and at 50 per cent. is 20s. The corresponding pension rates for the present war are 37s. 6d. and 18s. 9d. Ex-service men who have been blinded as the result of their service in any of these wars are regarded as 100 per cent. disabled.

How does the right hon. Gentleman justify pensions in this war 40 years after the Boer War being less than they are for that war?

The hon. Member did not quite understand my reply. The pensioners from the Boer War got considerably less pension than the pensioners of this war until 1919, when all the rates were brought up because of the then excessive cost of living, which was 215, with the proviso that with the first 5 per cent. increase on that figure there should be an automatic increase in pension and with a 5 per cent. decrease there would be an automatic decrease. No decrease of pension has ever taken place, however, because the Government in office at the time of the decrease in the cost of living did not exercise that right. The present pensions are based on the cost-of-living figure.

Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that pensions to-day are 2s. 6d. less than the Boer War pensions?