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Disablement Assessments

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 1 April 1952

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5 and 6.

asked the Minister of Pensions (1) if he will define all the factors taken into consideration in assessing war disability pensions for amputations in accordance with the tables of assessments for specific injuries under the Royal Warrants;

(2) if he will grant to limbless pensioners the same facilities for higher assessments for increased disablement with advancing years as are granted to other pensioners; and if he will award compensation for the discomfort and burden of wearing artificial limbs in addition to the pension for amputation as the men get older.

I refer the hon. Member to the Report of the Inter-departmental Committee on the Assessment of Disablement due to Specified Injuries appointed jointly by the Minister of National Insurance and the Minister of Pensions in 1946. As the hon. Member is aware the recommendations of this Committee were published in March, 1947 (Cmd. 7076), and were accepted by both Ministers. I do not feel able to question the findings of this expert Committee, but I will gladly look into any individual case in which it is felt that the pension assessment should be increased because of worsening of the war disablement.

Is the Minister aware that that Committee took no regard of the fact of the increasing age of the pensioners? Is he further aware that according to his own reply to me on 11th March it would cost only £1,115,000 to give a 50 per cent. increase in the pensions of limbless persons above the age of 50? Will he consider that aspect of the case?

As I have told the hon. Member, one has the greatest sympathy for the ageing pensioner, whatever the type of disablement, but I do not think I can make any change of the kind suggested by him unless that change is supported by medical evidence. That is the difficulty.

Is the Minister aware that the limbless man is in rather a different category to other pensioners? He is a battle casualty and should receive special consideration.

Yes, but I think the hon. Member will agree that we have to do equal justice to all pensioners for whom we are responsible, whatever their type of disability. There is much to be said about the elder pensioner suffering extra hardship in certain cases, but it is extremely difficult to discriminate in any way between one type of pensioner and another.

Will the Minister consider granting a larger pension increase to limbless ex-Service men who served as privates?

Is it not a fact that the proposed increases show a distinction between limbless officers and privates? Is it not a fact that the disabled ex-Service man whether his rank be private or officer, is entitled to equal treatment?

As I think the hon. Member knows, there has always been increments for rank in the Royal Warrant, and I would not be inclined to interfere with that. But the increase that has now been given to the basic pension is the same for all ranks. Increments have not themselves been increased.