asked the Minister of Pensions whether, under the new scheme for the assessment of parents'-need pensions, the amount of need is divided among the late soldier or soldiers' surviving single daughters at home over 18 years of age who are not prevented from earning a living and surviving sons in proportional shares, greater shares being apportioned to single sons; whether in many cases, because of unemployment or war disablement, these sons are in fact unable to contribute to the maintenance of their parents, especially where they are disabled and have families to maintain: whether, in view of the widespread reduction of parents' pensions now taking place, he is aware that aged fathers and mothers are being exposed to great hardship; and whether immediate steps will be taken either to defer the application of this system or to replace it by a better.
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. Each case is, however, considered on its merits, and contributions may be, and, in fact, are, waived where the circumstances are exceptional. In calculating the contributions to be imputed to the surviving children, no regard is had to possible periods of unemployment. On the other hand, I may remind my hon. Friend that this factor is ignored equally in assessing the share assumed and paid by the State as representing the amount which the deceased son would have contributed if he had lived.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that in existing conditions this scheme cannot work without very great hardship to aged parents and others, and would it not be desirable to make some modification of the position meanwhile, when obviously large numbers of sons and daughters are quite unable to contribute?