Oral Answers to Questions — Widow's Pension.

– in the House of Commons on 11th February 1932.

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Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL:

65.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that Mrs. Annie Hird, R.O.A. 27,085, has made an appeal for a widow's pension to his Department; that the appeal was disallowed on the ground that only 103 weekly contributions had been paid between the date on which her husband last entered insurance and the date of his death; and whether, seeing that the payment of 104 weekly contributions is a statutory condition for the award of a pension to the widow of an insured man who died after 4th January, 1926, and that this claim has failed through non-payment of only one weekly contribution, he will again consider the matter to see whether it is possible for Mrs. Hird to be granted the pension, or, if not, whether some ex gratia payment can he made to her on compassionate grounds?

Sir H. YOUNG:

I have looked into this case, and find that the position is as described in the first and second parts of the question. As regards the third part, I have no power to waive the statutory conditions in any circumstances, nor have I power to make a payment on compassionate grounds in a case where the statutory conditions are not satisfied.

Sir F. HALL:

In a case like this, which is absolutely on the borderline, and where there is only one payment short, cannot something be done by His Majesty's Government to give some assistance to this poor woman?

Sir H. YOUNG:

Of course, I recognise the force of what my hon. and gallant Friend has said, but the borderline in this case is a legal line, and I have no power to overstep it.

Photo of Mr David Logan Mr David Logan , Liverpool Scotland

Is it not possible for an ex gratia grant to be made, as can be done, according to a legal decision, in the case of State benefit; and will the Minister take that possibility into consideration?

Sir H. YOUNG:

According to my information, the decision of the court to which the hon. Member refers has no reference to this case, as the case falls outside the legal borderline.

Sir F. HALL:

I am sorry to press the right hon. Gentleman again, but, surely, there are some means by which the difficulty can be overcome and some ex gratia payment made, seeing that there have been 103 payments, and 104 would have secured a pension?

Sir H. YOUNG:

I have no power at all, as a matter of law, to make any ex gratia payments which are not justified by the terms of the Act of Parliament. The Act of Parliament draws the line, and I have no power to overstep it.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Is it not possible for the Minister, on compassionate grounds, to make some grant?

Photo of Marquess of  Titchfield Marquess of Titchfield , Newark

If I pay the odd amount, will my right hon. Friend allow this lady to have her pension?