asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the fact that the granting of pensions for war disabilities is largely dependent upon medical evidence, there is an independent tribunal of doctors to whom the Minister refers in the event of a divergence of opinion between the Ministry's doctors and other medical authorities?
Arrangements are in force, as has on previous occasions been explained to the House, which enable me to obtain the independent advice of eminent specialists, nominated for the purpose by the Presidents of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, in certain cases which present serious doubt or difficulty on the evidence. Responsibility for the ultimate decision, except where an appeal can still be made to a statutory tribunal, must, of course, rest with the Minister.
No, Sir, I think that both my predecessors said that they could not send all cases. However, if there is any serious difference we make it a practice to refer for advice to the independent experts.
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that Mr. Henry Fisher, of 9, Brompton Row, Dewsbury Road, Leeds, was originally granted a pension of 24s. a week, but that this was reduced to 8s. a week in 1922; that he is totally unable to work and that, in the view of the highest medical authority at Leeds infirmary, his disability is due to a piece of shrapnel lodged in his chest; and will he consider, therefore, increasing Mr. Fisher's pension?
In view of the strong opinion expressed by the surgeon at Leeds Infirmary, the whole case, including opinions in favour of the claim, was submitted to an eminent independent specialist nominated by the President of the Royal College of Physicians, who confirmed the view of my Department that on the available evidence it could not be said that Mr. Fisher's condition was due to the presence of a retained foreign body. In the circumstances I much regret that I cannot see my way to adopt the course suggested.
If there is any doubt in the medical evidence will not the man be given the benefit of that doubt? He was originally in receipt of a pension of 24s., which has been reduced to 8s., and he is completely incapacitated from working, and, in the opinion of those who have operated on him, his disability is due to a piece of shrapnel in his lung.
The eminent outside specialist, to whom the hon. Member refers, and to whom the case was referred, considers that his illness is not due to the presence of this piece of shrapnel.
Can the hon. Member say how long after the actual wound was inflicted the doctor appointed examined the man, and what was the difference in the period between one examination and the other?