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Old Age Pensions

Volume 52: debated on Thursday 24 April 1913

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asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether it is proposed to introduce a Bill amending the Old Age Pensions Act this year; and, if so, whether, seeing the dissatisfaction that prevails in Ireland with regard to the methods adopted to ascertain the means of applicants, especially small farmers who transfer their farms on the marriage of one of their children, he will consider the necessity of having a Clause inserted which will deal more justly with those cases?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, and the second part therefore does not arise.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction prevailing in Ireland with the methods adopted by pension officers in estimating the means of applicants for old age pensions; whether he is aware that these men are incompetent to ascertain means of people in rural districts; and whether he will have a sworn inquiry into the question raised by the resignation of the Ardfert pension committee?

I have already stated, in reply to questions asked by the hon. Member for West Kerry, that there, does not appear to me to be any necessity for an inquiry of the kind suggested. As regards the rest of the question, I am aware that the pension officers' estimates of means are not always adopted by the authorities with whom the decision rests, but speaking generally, I am satisfied that these officers are fully competent to perform the duties required of them in this respect. I would remind the hon. Member that in Ireland old age pensioners number 46.86 per 1,000 of the population, whereas in the United Kingdom they number only 20.84 per 1,000. These figures do not afford any support for the suggestion that Ireland has been treated illiberally in the matter.