HC Deb 31 March 1909 vol 3 cc326-7

asked the President of the Board of Trade, with reference to the admission of the board of directors of the Great Southern and Western Railway Company of Ireland that they have recently ceased paying pensions to former aged employés, whether they have done so because of the persons affected having availed themselves of the Old Age Pensions Act; whether he will give particulars of the circular to the terms of which the directors refer in justification of their statement that the pensions granted by the company in question were given at the pleasure of the company and that the arrangement regarding pensions is liable to modification at any time; whether the employeés of the company have earned their pensions either directly by making contributions to a pension fund or by accepting lower wages than they would have received if there had been no question of pensions; and whether he will make a searching inquiry into the treatment by this company of their former aged employés?


I understand from a letter from the company, of which I have sent the hon. Member a copy, that in a few cases the pensions have been stopped pending inquiries, but I am not aware of the grounds on which such action was taken. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the company's circular to which he refers, which shows the circumstances in which the pensions are granted and the conditions attached to their grant. As the grant of the pensions is a purely voluntary action on the part of the company, I see no useful purpose in instituting an inquiry into the matter, and in this connection I would refer to a reply given to the hon. Member for Cavan West in this House by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the 21st December last, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy.


The hon. Gentleman has referred to a letter of which he has sent me a copy. Is that a second letter received within the last week? In answer to a previous question, the President of the Board of Trade stated that he would send me a copy of a letter, but he did not send it.


Yes, Sir, I think it is a different letter.


Does this letter of which he has sent me a copy state that the company has stopped paying pensions?


The hon. Member will see that when he gets the letter.


May I ask the hon. Gentleman if it is not a fact that the stopping of the payment of pensions by the company is owing to the old age pensions scheme of last year having been passed by this House?


I am not able to answer that. I am unaware of the ground on which the action was taken.