§ Mr. PATRICK O'BRIEN
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he 26 was aware that the administration of the Old Age Pensions Act was practically suspended in Kilkenny city as regards claimants not able to procure baptismal certificates owing to the authorities requiring the Census records of 1841 and 1851 to be searched to trace such claimants and the work of searching being blocked by the searches already in progress into the ages of persons already awarded pensions without baptismal certificates; whether he would have instructions given that searches to trace claimants should, in order to effect the due administration of the Act, have precedence over the searches into cases already passed, by which the Census searchers would be fully occupied for weeks to come; and whether he would ensure that any claimants whose claims were delayed in investigation in the manner stated should have their pensions calculated, when proved entitled to them, from the time they would have started if such delay had not taken place?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
It has been necessary to search the Census records for confirmation of the ages of a very large number of claimants in Ireland, but instructions have already been issued that searches in respect of new claims should take precedence over searches into those already passed. As my right hon. Friend has frequently explained, in answer to questions in the House, the date on which a pension becomes payable after decision by a pension committee is fixed by statute, and he has no power to give retrospective effect to such decisions.