Oral Answers to Questions — Armed Forces (Pensions and Grants).

– in the House of Commons on 9th July 1942.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr George Mathers Mr George Mathers , Linlithgowshire

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is now prepared to take steps to obviate the hardship caused by the withdrawal of war service grants after the wives to whom such payments are made become widows through their husbands being killed on service, especially in view of the fact that pensions allowances are usually lower than the payments received apart from the war service grants, thus involving a double reduction?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

As the hon. Member is aware, a wife or dependant who is in receipt of a war service grant at the date of the member's death continues to receive the grant for any period during which the Service Department pays allotment and allowances, normally 13 weeks. As I have previously stated in this House pensions in respect of death necessarily have regard to considerations other than those which apply to supplementary allowances paid during a man's temporary absence on war service to meet commitments which, by reason of that service, he is unable to meet. Moreover, the rates of pension are not related to the personal circumstances of the dead member and I am not prepared to recommend a change in this respect.

Photo of Mr George Mathers Mr George Mathers , Linlithgowshire

Does not the right hon. Gentleman admit the hardship involved to a widow who is continuing to pay, for example, instalment contributions in respect of commitments entered into by her husband before being called up for the Army? Does he not see the necessity for remedying this intolerable position?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

I do not agree on the question of hardship. If the hon. Member will bring any case to my notice I will go into it with care.

Photo of Mr George Mathers Mr George Mathers , Linlithgowshire

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that having brought such cases to his notice I was referred to a charitable institution for relief from the hardship which the Minister apparently recognised on that particular case? As I am unable to make any impression upon him I will take other opportunities of pressing the matter.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has contracts with manufacturers of artificial limbs; and whether he has any proposals for controlling the prices of these commodities?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

Yes, Sir. My Department has contracts with manufacturers of artificial limbs and carries out such costing investigations as are considered necessary to control the prices of limbs supplied at public expense.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Are not most of the artificial limbs which my right hon. Friend uses in his hospitals supplied by private manufacturers under contract, and is he aware of the wide discrepancy in prices of limbs supplied to him and those supplied to members of the public?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

I am responsible for supplying limbs to persons disabled by enemy action, and as a business man turned politician I see that we. get them at a right and a fair price. Facilities are provided by the Committee of Roehampton Hospital to deal with civilian cases on good terms, and I would refer my hon. Friend to the Chairman of that Committee, who is an ex-Member of this House.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in assessing eligibility of a dependant for a pension in the case of a deceased soldier, regard is had to any voluntary allotment which was made by the soldier to his dependant while serving with the Forces, or whether the contribution he made to his dependant prior to his enlistment is the only consideration, other than need, taken into account in establishing eligibility for pension?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

Neither contribution before enlistment nor allotment during service is an essential condition for the award of pension to a parent.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

asked the Minister of Pensions whether any appeal tribunals still exist to consider pension cases arising out of the last war?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

Yes, Sir. There is now no whole-time tribunal to deal with Great War cases, but two part-time tribunals in Great Britain—one covering England and Wales and the other Scotland—meet as required.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

As these tribunals naturally have little work to do in connection with cases arising out of the last war, cannot my right hon. Friend extend the part-time tribunal system to deal with the numerous cases which are now coming forward as a result of this war?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

I said the other day in answer to a Question on tribunals that I hope to make a full statement on this matter very shortly.