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Limbless Ex-Service Men (Allowances)

Volume 531: debated on Monday 26 July 1954

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13.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if, in view of the fact that, of the 23,740 limbless survivors of the 1914–18 war, only 2,156 are in receipt of any of the supplementary allowances, he will have a review of their position made with a view to alleviating their position as soon as possible.

We can, I think, be glad that the number of 1914 war limbless pensioners in the categories calling for supplementary allowances is comparatively few. I am satisfied that the conditions governing payment of these allowances are generously applied.

Is the Minister aware that it is a very small percentage of the total number of 1914–18 men who are receiving any supplementary assistance? Will he see that they are all receiving what they ought to be receiving?

On two occasions in recent years leaflets have been circulated to all pensioners to inquire whether they are quite sure that they are getting all the allowances to which they are entitled. I shall certainly consider a further circulation of that sort at the appropriate moment.

14.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will investigate the effect on the paired limb of wearing an artificial limb from the purely physical, rather than medical aspect, by means of an immediate and swift examination of 25 per cent. of 1914–18 limbless war pensioners.

As the hon. Member knows, about 4,500 limbless pensioners of the 1914 war have recently been examined in connection with the investigations of the Rock Carling Committee and I think we had better wait and see what that Committee reports before making up our minds on this point.

Is the Minister aware that we are concerned, not with the foibles of the medical profession, but with the facts about these aged limbless men? The suggestion in my Question does not mean a medical examination but an examination, say, by the welfare staff of the Department, to see what the physical effect of the wearing of an artificial limb is rather than the medical effect, which can mean anything according to the interpretation of the medical officer.

I am not quite sure what is the distinction the hon. Member draws between a medical and a physical effect, but I am sure that the investigation by the Rock Carling Committee will throw light on this point.

The distinction which I draw is that medical men are concerned with medical terms and the physical condition is concerned with whether men are more quickly tired and more easily handicapped by advancing age because of the wearing of an artificial limb. That is a purely physical matter which can be determined by observation by sympathetic observers rather than by medical men, who are purely concerned with medical terms.

I trust that the hon. Member is not suggesting that medical men are not sympathetic.

When does the Minister expect to receive the Report of the Rock Carling Committee?