asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that many parents who lose a son in the service of the country also lose the allotment of such soldier, airman or seaman; that such parents often receive no pension; and whether he is prepared to remedy this situation by granting a fixed amount of pension in every case?
I am not prepared to recommend a general flat-rate pension for these cases. The Select Committee of 1920 took the view that to justify the grant of a parent's pension the test of need, broadly interpreted, should be satisfied. This principle was incorporated in the 1940 Warrant, the provisions of which were fully considered by my Statutory Advisory Committee.
It is a fact that in many cases where sons have been making allotments to the parent they do lose the allotment, but it is not a wrong, because a pension is an annuity for life and not an allowance for a short period. In accordance with the recommendations of the Select Committee, I included in the Royal Warrant a provision that pensions would be given where there was need, instead of providing a flat-rate pension which many people would have to include in their Income Tax returns. That would have been a mere paltry 5s. a week, but now I am able to give a substantial pension in cases where there is the most need.
No, Sir. We are bound to take that into account according to the Royal Warrant. We ascertain the actual facts, and the facts are that, where there is more than an appropriate income limit which we consider a fair income limit, we inform the parents that their right to pension has been established as and when other conditions are fulfilled.
The 1920 Committee was a very representative Committee which went fully into every aspect of pensions, and its recommendations are standing at the present moment. I would, however, strongly recommend the appointment of a further Select Committee immediately after the war is over to examine the whole position in the light of experience and existing circumstances.
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that a large number of men, graded in a high medical category when joining the Forces, have subsequently been discharged suffering from psycho-neurosis and are not awarded a pension; and whether, as clearly there is some connection between the development of this ailment and the conditions which such men have experienced while on service, he will take action to remedy this hardship?
The grant of pension for any disability, including psycho-neurosis, depends on whether the condition is accepted as attributable to or materially aggravated by service. It cannot be assumed that a disability can be so accepted simply because it leads to discharge from the Service: the question must be determined in each case in the light of the nature of the disability and the service and medical history of the claimant. Provision is made by my Department for the treatment in special neurological centres Under the Emergency Medical Service of the Ministry of Health of men discharged from the Services suffering from a condition of neurosis provided they are likely to benefit by such treatment. This treatment is granted whether the condition is accepted by the Ministry or not; if it is accepted and disablement cannot be removed by treatment pension is awarded.
The hon. Member is mistaken. Neurological experts were appointed to go into this, and they made their recommendations, which were published and circulated. The Committee is my Advisory Committee, which is not a Select Committee or a Departmental Committee; it is an Advisory Committee, and we meet from time to time and discuss these questions.
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that his continued refusal to establish appeal tribunals, similar to those established after the last war, is leading to a growing volume of dissatisfaction throughout the country; and whether he will reconsider his decision and have these set up at an early date?
Does not my right hon. Friend think that, in view of the criticisms made in my previous Question on this subject, there is justification for establishing these tribunals?
Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend has not looked up the reply I made. That reply was to the effect that the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) was being considered. I am consulting with the T.U.C., the British Legion in England and in Scotland and all others who are interested in this matter, and, after receiving their views and opinions, I shall call my Advisory Committee and put the facts before them.