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Merchant Navy (Widows And Dependants)

Volume 393: debated on Thursday 4 November 1943

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asked the Minister of Pensions what arrangements are made for the payment of pensions to the widows or dependants of personnel serving with the Merchant Navy under a Board of Trade certificate, valid for the duration of the war only, in the event of their dying from tropical diseases which they would not have been likely to have come into contact with in this country; and whether, having regard to the fact that their service is for the war only, their death under such circumstances could be regarded as being due to their war service?

It is presumed that the personnel to whom my hon. Friend refers are mariners who have been granted special permits to enable them to act in the capacity of navigating or engineer officers for the duration of the war. The grant of these special permits does not affect their position as regards entitlement under the War Pensions and Detention Allowances (Mercantile Marine, etc.) Scheme: like all other officers and seamen of the Merchant Navy they are eligible for compensation from my Department in respect of death or disablement attributable to war injury, war risk injury or detention sustained in the circumstances described in the Pensions (Navy, Army, Air Force and Mercantile Marine) Act, 1939, as amended by the Pensions (Mercantile Marine) Act, 1942. In determining eligibility for compensation under the Scheme, I could not make a distinction between persons whose normal occupation is that of mariner and those who are engaged in that role only during the war. Each case is considered in the light of the particular circumstances in which the disease was contracted and with regard to any abnormal conditions or special war risks for which provision has been made in the Acts.