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Pensions Appeal Tribunals

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 22 April 1943

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17.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the setting up of pensions appeal tribunals?

I am authorised by the Government to say that they have accepted my proposal that arrangements should now proceed for setting up independent tribunals to heat appeals from all classes of claimants whose title to compensation is rejected under any of the various war pension schemes administered by my Department. Each tribunal will include a legal chairman, a doctor and a member of the service or class covered by the scheme under which the claim is made. It is the intention to establish nine tribunals to begin with. These will sit at various centres for the convenience of appellants. Their number will be increased as may be found practicable, but owing to the difficulty Which still exists in obtaining the full personnel required for the working of all the tribunals which may ultimately be necessary, the increase can only be gradual. Legislation will be introduced as soon as possible after the House resumes its Sittings, and active steps are being taken to complete preparations for the tribunals to begin their work with the least possible delay.

Is it possible for the right hon. Gentleman to say now how many tribunals he thinks he will be able to set up for a start?

I stated that in answer to the hon. Gentleman's Question—nine.

Is it proposed that all cases that have been refused by the Minister will be allowed to go to a tribunal for a re-hearing?

I have made it clear on many occasions that every person who thinks he ought to have a pension will' have the right to appeal.

When the Minister sets up the tribunals, will he be good enough to publish the names?

I am not responsible for the selection of personnel. That is a matter for my Noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, and I shall have to pass that request on to him.

Is the Minister aware that the fact that he sets them up will not keep us from expressing very grave dissatisfaction with their decisions?

If the experience of my predecessors and myself as to decisions reached by appeal tribunals after the last war is any criterion, I do not expect any decrease in my correspondence.

Will the. Minister supply the names of the medical personnel of the tribunals?

No, Sir; I want to make it quite clear that I do not intend to be in any way responsible for the selection of anybody; otherwise, how could it be said that the tribunals were impartial?

Will the tribunals deal with women in the Services, and, if so, will the Minister see that some women are on the tribunals?

We shall certainly have to deal with women claimants,; because there are so many women in the Forces now. The suggestion which the hon. Member has made will be passed on to the right quarter.