HC Deb 31 March 1909 vol 3 cc329-30

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Patriotic Commissioners have issued orders reducing the Commissioner's pensions to aged veterans and their relatives where such have become entitled to a pension under the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908; and, if so, can he state the amount of the reductions and the terms of the orders?

The SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Hobhouse)

With my hon. Friend's permission I will circulate the answer, which is a long one, with the Votes. I am Informed that the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation does not, as is suggested in the question of the hon. Member, issue pensions to aged veterans. Seven survivors of those who took part in the charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava and two Army pensioners who took part in the Indian Mutiny are in receipt of charitable allowances from certain special funds raised in connection with the Balaclava survivors and the Indian Mutiny, but these allowances have not in any way been affected by old age pensions, for which these veterans are disqualified by their incomes. The Corporation, under Patriotic Fund Reorganisation Act, 1903, administers a number of special funds raised by public subscription for the benefit of widows whose husbands lost their lives in certain wars and naval disasters. The widows on such funds receive charitable allowances on a scale which precludes their being eligible for old age pensions. The Corporation administers a fund known as the Patriotic General Fund, from which charitable assistance has been granted to aged widows of sailors and soldiers who had given good service in war, and whose husband's deaths took place long after their discharge from the Navy and Army. The Corporation, for want of funds, being only able to an admittedly limited extent to render this service, it was decided that such widows should be required to apply for old age pensions. No widow, however, has suffered any loss of means of existence by this action, any widow in receipt of a higher allowance than the old age pension of 5s. a week having a supplementary allowance issued to her to bring up her means with the old age pension to the same rate as the charitable allowance made from the Patriotic General Fund up to 31st December, 1908. These allowances are not pensions, but are purely charitable allowances.