asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has any statement to make as to his intention to increase disability pensions and allowances for officers and men, and others, suffering from war-service injuries, having regard to the rise in the cost of living since the last adjustment was made?
I am glad to announce that arrangements have been made to increase the rates of pensions and allowances payable by my Department to persons disabled and to the widows and children of men dying as a result of service in the present war. These increases will be generally proportionate to the variation in the cost of living and will take effect from the first pay day in February. There will also be an increase in the upper limits of pension for which parents may be eligible. In the majority of cases the increase will be paid by a weekly supplement to the existing pension, but, where the weekly increase is small, a single payment covering a period of four weeks will be made in the middle of that period until the current weekly pension book expires, alter which the new amount will be paid weekly in one sum. I hope that all, or nearly all, the increases will be authorised before the end of February, except that in the case of pensions which are payable quarterly with monthly advances the adjustment cannot be completed until the end of March. In all cases, however, arrears will be paid from the first pay day in February.
Can my right hon. Friend give us an indication of the extent of this rise by saying how far the pension, for example, for a man disabled in the highest degree has been raised? He will be aware that it is now 34s. 2d., and that the Government have promised by stages to raise that sum to the £2 hitherto paid to the veterans of the last war.
Yes, Sir, I can give that information. The new figure for a man with a 100 per cent. disability will be 37s. 6d., compared with 34s. 2d. at present. That is exactly the proportion of the increase in the cost-of-living figure since 1915, when Parliament settled the payment to be made to those who were 100 per cent. disabled in the last war.
Will the Minister include these figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT, so that we may see them immediately? Further, may I ask whether the position of a widow of this war, with children, will now correspond with the position, in regard to allowances, of the wife of a soldier serving in this war, seeing that the needs of a widow with children are the same as those of a wife with children?
As regards circulating the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT, I shall have to make inquiries about that, as it is a very long schedule, and I do not think it would serve any useful purpose. [HON. MEMBERS: "Issue a White Paper."] That might be possible. The information will be available. As regards the second part of the hon. Member's Question, he has asked that question half-a-dozen times, and I can only give him the same answer. I am dealing with pensions.