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Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 19 July 1949

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asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will now say what is the result of his consideration of the claim for pensions on behalf of widows who were married after their husbands were discharged from the Forces in the First World War, and who subsequently became widows before 2nd September, 1939; how many widows are affected; and what would be the annual cost of granting this claim.

As I promised in the Debate on 26th April last, I have circulated through the usual channels a full answer to this and a number of other points raised by a deputation from ex-Service organisations. The Government have not been able to alter the provisions of the Royal Warrant to give further retrospective effect to the change which they introduced in 1946 in this respect. The number of widows who might be able successfully to establish a claim if the date bar were removed is unknown. Consequently, no estimate of cost can be made.

As the number of widows affected is not likely to be very great, could not my right hon. Friend consider straightening out this bulge?

I have considered it very carefully and at great length with my advisory committee in every possible way, but I have come to the reluctant conclusion that the expenditure of manpower involved is too great to justify my making that change.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it reasonable, before rejecting a claim, at least to make sure how much it would be likely to cost, and will he not reconsider investigating the cost of it?