§ 35. Mr. LAWTHER
asked the Minister of Pensions if, in view of the increasing number of cases coming under the consideration of war pensions committees of discharged men suffering from tuberculosis and neurasthenia for which they are not receiving pensions, and in many cases furnishing evidence of gas during the War, he will consider setting up a special commission to investigate the possibility of tuberculosis developing many years after discharge due to or arising from war service?
§ 36. Mr. SHEPHERD
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will consider the making of a special inquiry into the possibility of tuberculosis developing after years of discharge from war service, in view of the increasing number of cases where ex-service men suffering from tuberculosis and able to furnish evidence of participation in gas attacks during the War are not receiving pensions?
In dealing with individual claims, each of which is carefully considered, medical officers of the Ministry are always alive to any symptoms or history of gas poisoning. Moreover, the effects of such poisoning have been the subject of special investi- 29 gations by medical experts, both on the staff of the Ministry and outside. The conclusions arrived at do not support the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Shepherd) that there is necessarily a connection between exposure to gas and the subsequent development of tuberculosis. In present circumstances, I do not think that a further inquiry of the kind suggested would be justified.
§ Mr. LAWTHER
In view of the fact that war pensions committees, which are considering these claims, regard the setting up of such a Commission as a necessity in order that the fullest opportunity shall be given to reach an understanding on this matter, will the Minister reconsider his decision?
I am willing to consider any suggestion which reaches me in reference to these cases. The best medical advice which I can secure has been given to me, and on that I am bound to act.
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
In view of the great ambiguity which arises in discussing some of these gas-poisoning cases, will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that he will at all times give the benefit of any reasonable doubt to the applicant?
No, Sir. I have not had the chance of consulting that authority, but I will certainly take advice about it.
§ Major COHEN
Has the right hon. Gentleman consulted the authorities of the British Legion at Preston Hall who have made a special study of this question?
Yes, Sir, I have the Report of those experts, and I have read it through on more than one occasion. I had it in mind when I gave the answer which I have given to-day.