asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the unfairness caused to discharged ex-Service men who are unable to obtain sickness benefit for a period of 26 weeks after discharge if the cause of sickness _arises out of the disability for which a pension is being paid; and whether he will take steps to remedy this hardship?
The rates of contribution payable under the National Health Insurance Acts are based on the expectation of incapacity under normal conditions and do not cover the risk of incapacity due to war service. I regret, therefore, that I am unable to propose any amendment of the specific provision of the Statute whereby a man discharged from the Forces becomes temporarily disentitled to sickness benefit in the circumstances referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend. I would point out, however, that the period of 26 weeks which he mentions runs from the beginning of the week in which the man was injured or was removed from duty and accordingly a substantial part of that period will ordinarily have expired before the date of discharge.
Is it not a fact that when a man is in the Services the State pays his contributions? If that is so, why should there be this discrimination when he leaves the Services?
There is no unfair discrimination. The issue is whether he has been subject to the normal conditions on which the scheme is based. Perhaps my hon. Friend would discuss the matter with me afterwards.