Pensions Administration.

Part of Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill. – in the House of Commons on 2nd August 1922.

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Photo of Sir Ernest Pollock Sir Ernest Pollock , Warwick and Leamington

In my view there can be no claim on the part of any Member to be before or after any other in his sympathy for the ex-service man, and in his desire to see justice done, nor do I believe that any Member is entitled to say that he has got any greater experience or greater knowledge. We have all investigated personally a great number of these cases. We receive just as many communications as any Member of this House, and I think that for one Member to arrogate to himself the claim to speak with peculiar knowledge, peculiar experience and deeper sympathy than other Members is a claim which cannot be allowed and which ought to be protested against by every Member. Now I turn to the interesting speech of the right hon. Member for West Fife, which was addressed to me in forceful language, some might almost mistake it for menacing language, but I know him too well and he knows me too cell to think that. I could possibly misunderstand either the tone or the purpose with which his request was put to me, and he knows that the subject on which he touched is one which has had my sympathetic consideration for a very considerable period, and I have spent a great deal of time not only with him, but also with the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) and the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. T. Griffiths) to see whether or not we could come to a solution of what every Member must regard as a very difficult problem.

There was one observation by the hon. Member for West Derbyshire with which I am in close agreement. He said that there must be finality somewhere. Taking the system of pensions award, first of all there is an arrangement under the Ministry of Pensions itself for an appeal to another Board associated with the Ministry of Pensions. After that there is a third appeal before the Pensions Appeal Tribunal. The result in every case is that before finality is reached, whether the ex-service man is successful or not, he has the opportunity of laying his case before three several and successive tribunals. Lastly I would remind the House that these Pension Appeal Tribunals were set up to meet the desire of the ex-service man. I will also remind the House that those tribunals consist of three persons, one of whom is a lawyer, one a medical man and the third is an ex-service man if it is the claim of an ex-service man which is brought before them. The ex-service man is directly represented upon the tribunal. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]