HC Deb 09 March 1835 vol 26 cc659-60
Colonel Evans

presented a petition from a Greenwich pensioner, who complained that Government having induced him to accept of a commutation of his pension, under the promise of giving him a free passage to Canada and some land there, had subsequently refused to fulfil the agreement. His pension was 4l. a-year, and he had taken 8l. as commutation for it; but on applying to the Colonial Office, he had been told that Government had changed their intention of giving any such advantages to Greenwich pensioners as he had bargained for. The petitioner had been for several years making application to the Admiralty, the Colonial Office, and the Greenwich Hospital, but without effect; and, from all the circumstances, he thought the poor man had been hardly treated. The first answer he received from the Admiralty was, that his pension had been commuted, absolutely and unconditionally; but he (Colonel Evans) would ask, whether any man at the age of thirty-five would accept of two years' pension as its whole value? The idea was absurd. The second answer he received was, that the case did not concern that department; and a third answer was, that he might apply to the Greenwich Pension Office. He did apply there; and the answer was, that his letter had been referred to the Admiralty, thus showing that the poor man bad been right in his first application. He thought the answers which had been given were inconsistent, and that his Majesty's Government should give directions to the persons in these departments, not to issue such vague and uncivil answers to the poor persons who were obliged to apply to them for advice or assistance.

Lord Ashley

said, the facts of the case were, that-the petitioner received his pension in the year 1813. In 1818, at his own request, and on his own application, the pension of 41. a-year was commuted for 8l., and he from all the documents was convinced that the commutation was unconditional. He understood that the case was quite against all rule; it was only allowed in the case of foreigners who wished to return to their own country, and there had only been six such commutations since the war. After a considerable interval, the petitioner applied to the Admiralty, saying, that he had been made the promises now stated. The Board answered that they knew nothing of the matter—they had made the commutation unconditionally. He had not been able to discover any trace of a promise of either passage or land. As to what had fallen from the gallant Gentleman relative to the vagueness of the letters from the Board, he could only say if they were to write long letters to every application, they would require five times the number of clerks that they now had. However, every case met with the utmost consideration before it was replied to.

Petition to lie on the Table.

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