HC Deb 14 October 1908 vol 194 cc304-7
MR. BOTTOMLEY (Hackney, S.)

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether, as regards the first half of the current financial year, the revenue from the alcoholic group of taxes continues on the downward course indicated by the last Budget statement.


Yes Sir. The following figures show the approximate net receipt for the first six months of the financial years 1907–8 and 1908–9 respectively:—

nature and intended for Departmental use only, and it would not be in accordance with precedent to lay such instructions upon the Table. They have no validity except as directions by the Board of Inland Revenue to their own officers, and it is not, in my opinion, to the interests of the public service that they should be published in any form. It is a matter for regret that reports as to the subject matter of the Instructions in question should have appeared in the Press, but such reports are wholly without authority. The only Instructions to Pension Officers of which Pension Committees or the public generally are required to take any cognizance are those contained in the Second Schedule to the Old Age Pensions Regulations, 1908.

LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that what purports to be a copy of this report has been published in one of the leading London newspapers, and whether in those circumstances he does not think the House of Commons is entitled to authentic information?


I do not think these instructions ought to be published. Such instructions are constantly given with regard to every branch of the service. Instructions of this kind are issued by the Board of Inland Revenue on their own responsibility to their officers. They have no validity beyond the fact that they are instructions to officers, and it is a most improper proceeding to communicate them to the Press. I think it would be a mistake and a broach of a very valuable precedent if we published instructions of this character.


These instructions purport to direct the attention of officers to what they are to take into consideration in estimating the means of the claimant. Does not that necessarily mean a modification of the terms of the Act of Parliament, and is not the House entitled to know at any rate what steps the Government are taking to carry out the decision arrived at by this House?


The noble Lord has given notice of a Question on that point to-morrow, and I think it would be better to postpone the consideration of the matter till then.


I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to paragraphs 53 and 54 of the instructions issued by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to pension officers directing them to retain their reports on claims for pensions until a supervisor shall have had an opportunity of examining them and satisfying himself that the investigation has been properly made and the proper conclusion arrived at, and that such reports are not to be forwarded until initialled by the supervisor, who is directed to forward the reports himself to the clerk of the local pension committee; and whether, in view of the provisions of the Act which places the responsibility for the performance of these duties solely on the pension officer, and does not recognise the intervention of the supervisor, he will give instructions for the procedure to be modified so as to leave the responsible pension officer full discretion and independence, and enable the machinery of the Act to work with greater smoothness and rapidity.


Any instructions which have been given to pension officers by the Board of Inland Revenue are, as I pointed out in reply to the preceding Question, of a confidential character. I may, however, say, to correct misapprehensions which appear to have arisen, that all supervisors of excise have been appointed by the Treasury to be pension officers, and that the supervisor in charge of each district is the pension officer responsible for submitting reports on claims and questions to the pension committee.


I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to paragraphs 102, 103, and 104 of the instructions to pension officers issued by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue which deal with the subject of lost pension order-books, and direct that a pensioner losing an order-book shall be deprived of his pension pending investigation of the matter by the pension officer, who is directed to issue a new book, if he is satisfied of the loss of the former book, dating only from the next Friday following the date of delivery; and whether, in view of the fact that some time is likely to lapse during the investigation of the loss by the pension officer, he will direct that such instruction be amended by the issue of temporary order forms or in some other way, so that the pensioner shall not be deprived of his pension during the period of investigation before the issue of the new order-book.


In cases of lost order-books every effort will be made to issue a new book with as little delay as is consistent with the making of the necessary investigations. I do not think there would be any advantage in adopting the suggestion made in the Question, since the same investigations would be necessary before "temporary order forms" could be issued. It is not anticipated that cases of lost books will be numerous, and it is not desirable that such loss should be wholly unattended by inconvenience to the pensioner, to whose carelessness it will as a rule be due.

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