HC Deb 09 February 1893 vol 8 cc867-8
MR. LENG (Dundee)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, with reference to the notice issued to Crimean and Indian Mutiny veterans who apply for special pensions, that if not reduced to destitution they should return the paper without filling it up, what interpretation the Chelsea Commissioners give to the word "destitution"; whether it signifies without means or friends and in receipt of parochial relief; and whether it is intended to award these pensions only to persons who would otherwise starve or fail to be maintained by the payers of poor rates?


I beg also to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention has been called to the schedule of questions sent out from Chelsea Hospital to applicants for the Special Campaign Crimea and Mutiny Pensions, containing the following notice:— As the pensions are only allowable to those reduced to destitution, any applicant who is not so destitute should so state on the form, and. return it without answering the questions"; and whether he will give instructions that pensions shall be awarded in the most deserving cases, without imposing the qualification of pauperism?


The pensions referred to are purely compassionate pensions, and are given to men who have not earned any pension under Service Rules. It was considered that it was neither creditable to the country nor advantageous to the interests of the Army that men who had served in the great campaigns of the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny should be allowed to lapse into poverty and destitution. The word "destitution" is not one of Which it is easy to give a general definition; but the Commissioners of Chelsea Hospital, who, as is well known, discharge their ditties with impartiality and in a most humane spirit, judge of the circumstances in each ease.


I beg to give notice that I will direct attention to this matter on the Estimates.