§ MR. LONSDALE (Armagh, Mid)
To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether instructions have been given to pension officers that persons who have been admitted for a period to a union infirmary are to be disqualified for an old-age pension; and that the provision as to medical or surgical relief does not cover a sojourn in the infirmary; whether he is aware that in Ireland it has been the custom for persons of small means suffering from illness or accident which required nursing not otherwise available to go to the union infirmary, the only hospital within reach, for treatment, and that such treatment has not been counted as poor relief disqualifying for a vote; and whether, in these circumstances, he will issue revised instructions to pension officers as will prevent the exclusion from the benefits of the Old-Age Pensions Act of a large number of unfortunate deserving persons.
(Answered by Mr. Lloyd-George.) No general instructions have been issued to pension officers on the point referred to in the Question; but pension officers who have made inquiry have been informed, 2239 in accordance with legal advice, that disqualification arises in the circumstances specified, and they have no doubt reported in that sense to the committees. The decision rests with the committee, subject to appeal to the Local Government Board, and, if it should appear as the result of such appeals that pension officers have been wrongly advised, they will be instructed accordingly.