asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been called to the frequent rejection of claims to pension, made by either a man or widow, on the ground that removal from duty was not due to the disability on which the claim was based and/or that no continuous medical history was shown; whether he is aware that the latter fact was due in many cases to men refusing to report sick until absolutely compelled; that in respect to widows' claims the number of cases where low vitality caused by war service disability prevented resistance to a secondary disability, and that widows are thereby precluded from pensions rights; whether he has received any protests from pensions committees as to the injustice and hardship following on such decisions; and whether he can take steps to secure any necessary powers which will enable such claims to be met?
I gather that my hon. Friend has in mind two classes of case in which claims to pension are now made for the first time, namely, claims from demobilised men and claims from widows of ex-service men who have died without themselves making a claim to pension during their lifetime. My hon. Friend will appreciate that in the case of claims thus made for the first time more than three and a-half years after the termination of hostilities, the Ministry are bound, before they pay compensation, to be satisfied on very clear evidence that the disability or death was, in fact, the consequence of the man's war service, and the two criteria to which my hon. Friend refers in the first part of his question are simply indications of the kind of evidence which, in the nature of the case, must be sought in order to establish connection with service. In the case, however, of a man claiming on the ground of war disability, removal from duty during his war service is not by any means a rigid condition of the admissibility of his claim; it is only one of the kinds of evidence which the Ministry desire in order to connect the disability with service.
On the other hand, in the case of claims from widows, the physical effects of an admitted war disability, as contributing to the fatal termination of a secondary illness, constitute a factor to which the Ministry always gives full consideration. In conclusion, I would remind my hon. Friend that in every case of claim, such as he has in view, which is rejected by the Ministry, there is a right of appeal to the independent Pensions Appeal Tribunal, who have full statutory title to determine the issue of fact.