§ Mr. R. McNEILL
asked the Minister of Pensions what was the figure representing the cost of living at the time the present flat rate for disability pensions and pensions for widows was fixed, and what is the corresponding figure at the present time; what would be the total cost of revising such pensions so as to fix them at the same ratios to the cost of living as at the date when the present rate was determined; and whether he will consider 1832W the possibility of so revising the flat rate as a temporary measure until prices reach a lower level, in view of the fact that the persons concerned are the last whom the nation would willingly allow to suffer, and that the present rate is insufficient under existing conditions to enable them to live in moderate comfort?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
In July, 1919, when the Government fixed the rates of pension shown in the present Royal Warrant, the cost of living stood at 210 per cent, of the pre-War cost, and it now stands at 251. To increase pensions and allowances in the ratio of 251 to 210 would involve an additional annual payment of £18,122,000. That figure does not include the administrative expenses involved in the re-assessment of over 3,000,000 pensions and allowances. With regard to the latter part of the question I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Davison) on Monday last.
Sir J. HOPE
asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in the case of a soldier who was passed into the service as fit for general service and served overseas and on discharge was declared by a medical board to be unfit for general service, the burden of proof as to whether the disability was attributable to or aggravated by service lies on the soldier or on the Ministry?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
In the circumstances stated the burden of proof would lie on the Ministry rather than on the man. The fact that the man had gone overseas fit, and returned unfit, would raise a presumption that his unfitness was due to his service, and unless there was good evidence, on the facts of the particular case, that it was not so due, the Ministry would accept the liability.