§ Mr. SLOAN
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that an old soldier named James Gribben, who enlisted at Lisburn, in the 48th Foot, in 1866, and was discharged in October, 1884, in consequence of his having been found medically unfit for further service, is at present an inmate of the Belfast Lunatic Asylum and his pension withheld by the asylum authorities; if he is aware that Gribben's wife is blind, and depending solely for her living on a few shillings earned by her daughter in a mill; and whether, in view of the fact that the War Office have forfeited any right they have had to this man's pension and the circumstances of this case, he will allow the Belfast Asylum authorities, who are quite willing, to do likewise without running any risk of being surcharged?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am informed by the Inspectors of Lunatics that the Asylum Committee, sympathising with this man's wife, decided not to claim his pension towards the cost of his maintenance in the asylum. They have, however, no power to forego the capitation grant of 4s. a week made to them under the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, and Subsection (2) of Section 7 of the Superannuation Act, 1887, provides that the amount of the grant must be deducted from the pension before, the balance (if any), can be issued to the relatives. I have no power to dispense with this statutory obligation.
§ Mr. THOMAS SLOAN
May I ask whether the hon. Gentleman has any information with regard to this distressing case which would justify him in making an alteration of the law to provide that authorities, if they think it desirable to make an exception in cases of that character, should have the privilege of doing so?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Of course, I am ready to do that; but it is a matter for the Treasury whether they are prepared to forego the 4s. to which, under the statute, they are entitled.