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asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what was the total weekly compensation paid in pension and related allowances to an almost completely disabled ex-private with a wife and two dependent children in October 1951; what would be the total paid now if it had increased in proportion to average industrial earnings; and what is the total now paid in the circumstances set out above.
In 1951 £8 6s. 7d. was paid; the amount necessary to match the increase in men's average earnings between then and October 1963 would be £16 16s. 1d.; and the amount paid today is £19 7s. 3d.
Is my hon. and gallant Friend aware of the general satisfaction at the fact that the income of this substantial group of disabled ex-Service men has increased very much faster than the average increase in industrial earnings?
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many allowances have been awarded under the arrangements to help widows of severely disabled war pensioners during the weeks immediately following their husband's death; and what has been the average period of delay in putting them into payment.
In the first six months the special allowance for widows of severely disabled war pensioners has been awarded to 469 widows for the thirteen weeks after their husband's death. In nearly all cases the allowance order book was sent to the widow within two working days of the notification of death reaching the Ministry. Amounts have ranged up to £18 a week and the most common is between £12 and £13 a week.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the whole House will heartily agree with his last sentence? Does he not agree with me that the greatest credit is due to those in his Ministry who deal with these allowances and who, by their prompt and efficient action, have brought much-needed help to these people?
The new benefits which have been introduced are the age allowance, the elderly widows' grant, the severe disablement occupational allowance and the temporary allowance for the widows of severely disabled pensioners. A number of improvements have enabled various benefits like the comforts allowance, constant attendance allowance, clothing allowance and widows' rent allowance to be paid more widely among pensioners. The War Pensioners' Welfare Service has been steadily developed, particularly by the extension of visiting to elderly widow pensioners.
Is my hon. and gallant Friend aware that this is an extremely good record and one of which the Conservative Government can be proud? But is he satisfied that all those who are eligible for these benefits are aware of them? Will he consider the possibility of wider advertisement of them, in newspapers, placards and in any other way, which will bring to these people the knowledge that they are entitled to these benefits?
From time to time my right hon. Friend issues leaflets publicising all increases and improvements. In addition, these matters are publicised through the Welfare Service and through the very good work of the war pensions committees in various areas. There is no reason to think that they are not well known to all those eligible for them.
I have not the figure immediately available, but I will certainly let the hon. and learned Gentleman know if he will be good enough to write to tell me exactly what he wants.
A disablement pension at the 100 per cent. rate, with unemployability supplement, and with comforts allowance which since 1957 has been automatically paid with it, totals £9 19s. The corresponding amount in 1951 was £4 and, allowing for increased retail prices, the present rate is worth 66 per cent. more.
While thanking my hon. and gallant Friend for that reply, and agreeing that many of these people are better off, may I ask how many are in receipt of this benefit? In view of automation, does he feel that some of them might be rehabilitated and perhaps employed in some occupation, which would give even more satisfaction?
About 5,500 pensioners are in receipt of the higher disability rates. I am glad to say that the figure for the occupation allowance for the very severely disabled is only a few hundred.
The rate in 1951 was £2 5s. If it had been increased exactly in proportion to the rise in 'men's average earnings, the rate would be £4 10s. 9d. The actual rate today is £5 15s.
I thank my hon. and gallant Friend for that remarkable Answer. Will his Department keep a watchful eye on this matter in view of the supreme importance to these most deserving of all the people concerned?