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Merchant Marine: War Pensions

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many members of the Merchant Marine have been awarded a war pension due to injuries or illness suffered in the Pacific area during nuclear tests; (157827)

(2) what the rationale is for treating members of the Merchant Marine acting alongside UK forces and service personnel differently in relation to qualification for war pensions.

The rules of the Mercantile Marine scheme are currently contained in the War Pensions (Mercantile Marine) Scheme 1964. The scheme dates from the second world war and was intended to reflect the additional dangers of war over and above those normally found on board ship. The scheme therefore provides for awards to be made to members of the mercantile marine only in respect of “war injuries” (injuries caused by enemy action or in combating such action) and “war risk injuries” (injuries resulting from conditions on ship which would not be normal in peace time, such as measures to avoid or prevent enemy action). The scheme does not cover injuries or illnesses arising in peace time.

Owing to the historical nature of the scheme, information on the total number of war pensions is not held. However I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 17 October, Official Report, column 1125W, for the number of those currently in receipt of a pension.