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Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)

Volume 393: debated on Thursday 4 November 1943

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23.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will agree that allowances to widows or to dependants of men or women dying or being killed while serving in His Majesty's Forces will not be stopped in any case where an appeal against his decision not to grant a pension is lodged until the case has been decided by the Appeal Tribunal?

The Government have already provided for the continuation of family allowances by the Service Departments to the widow or dependant of a deceased member of the Forces for a period of 13 weeks following the member's death. This normally enables a decision as to pension to be reached and notified to the applicant before the allowances cease. In my opinion this arrangement is reasonable, and I do not feel justified in proposing the change suggested by my hon. Friend.

Will the Minister consider that if the appeal goes against him all back money should be paid up, or is it in fact paid up at present?

Appropriate arrangements have been made where an appeal is successful so that arrears can be paid.

24.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the public feeling that the care of dependants of disabled airmen, who are at present left unprovided for, should be a first charge on the Exchequer, he will consider amending the allowances to the members of the R.A.F. and R.N.A.S. who become disabled in the service of the country, in order that they may have an adequate allowance and so discontinue the practice whereby their dependants are, to a large extent, dependent on charity?

Provision is made in the instruments for which I am responsible for the wife and children of an airman or other member of the Forces disabled as a result of service, provided marriage took place before the date of the injury and the children were born within 9 months of the end of the member's war service. Various improvements including special provision for the families of seriously disabled unemployable pensioners and increases generally in the allowances payable, were announced in the recent White Paper, Cmd. 6459, and I am unable to accept the implication in the last part of the hon. Member's Question.

Does not my right hon. Friend appreciate that we owe an undying debt of gratitude to these men and that they will want some effective guidance, because so many are not aware of the benefits which they and their dependants can get? Will he take some steps to give effective guidance in this matter, because it is no use unless dependants know their rights?

I quite agree with my hon. Friend that we must do everything possible for these men and that we should give them proper guidance. I can assure him that we do give them this guidance.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that what he has done by his previous refusals to respond favourably to the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. De la Bère) has driven him across the Floor of the House?

It is not a question of sides; nothing is too good for the dependants of these fighting men.