§ Mr. LYNCH
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he was aware that in the cast of James Anthony Downes, of Kildimo, Miltown Malby, West Clare, M 216–197 Station, Kilkee district, Ennis, the pension officer had appealed against the decision of the pension committee of 10th March, 1910, increasing the pension from 3s. to 5s. per week; and that the holding of James Anthony Downes consisted of 4¾ acres (Irish) of poor land unable to grow green crops, situated three miles from the nearest village, and valued at £5 annually; and whether he would consider that the applicant in question was entitled to the full pension?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Hobhouse)
The case is under appeal to the Local Government Board against the Committee's decision increasing the pension from 3s. to 5s. per week, and I have no power to interfere in the matter.
§ Mr. LARDNER
asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he would state in what office the papers were retained in the case of old age pensions where the pensions were granted, and in the cases of appeals by the pension officers against the decisions of the pension committees in what office were the papers relating to the appeal kept; and would he state under what authority the documents were so retained in each case?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I beg to refer the hon. Member to paragraph 31 of the Statutory Regulations of the 15th October, 1908.
§ Mr. LARDNER
Have any documents been destroyed in connection with Subsection (2) of paragraph 31 of the Regulations?
§ Mr. LYNCH
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether he was aware that on the 10th March last the pension committee sitting at Ennistymon recommended a pension to Mrs. Mary Murphy, of Kilshanny; whether the pension officer lodged an appeal on the ground that in the Census Report of 1851 she was returned as eight years of age; and, if so, whether he would accept as sufficient evidence sworn declarations of two respectable inhabitants of the district, one of whom, Mr. Patt Flanagan, of Liscannor, was eighty years of age, and who distinctly remembered the applicant as a young woman of about twenty in 1856?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The facts are as stated in the first part of the question. The case is now under appeal to the Local Government Board, with whom the final decision on the claim rests. I have no power to interfere.
§ Mr. RAINY
asked the Lord Advocate whether he was aware that Mrs. Margaret Reid, of Port Glasgow, was granted an old age pension in January, 1909, and that this pension was paid regularly till October, when the pension officer gave notice that he was going to oppose its continuance; whether any fresh information had come to light from the time the pension was granted and any allegation of concealment of facts was made; whether he was aware that the Local Government Board decided the appeal in favour of the pension officer's view and stopped the pension, without affording any opportunity for Mrs. Reid's case being laid before it; whether he had sanctioned the practice that benefits received by a paying patient in a hospital for the purposes of the Act should be calculated not by payment but by dividing the cost of maintenance of the hospital by the number of inmates; whether he was aware that the Local Government Board suggested that Mrs. Reid should again apply, and that the application was granted in February of this year; whether the pension officer 11 intended to delay payment till 1911, in order to repay the fund for moneys expended in 1909; and whether he would make inquiry into the whole case and take action to prevent Mrs. Reid from suffering from mistakes which, if made, were none of her making?
§ Mr. URE
I am aware of the facts stated in the first part of my hon. Friend's question. I learn from the Board of Customs and Excise that the pension officer received information which indicated that the benefit derived from maintenance in the home of which the pensioner was an inmate had been under-estimated in the first instance, and really exceeded £31 10s. per annum. There is no allegation of concealment of facts. The Local Government Board for Scotland decided the appeal in favour of the pension officer's view after they had made full investigation and satisfied themselves that the pensioner's means for the year 1909, as calculated for the purposes of the Old Age Pensions Act, had exceeded £31 10s. The method of calculation is a matter of administration and is entirely within the province of the Local Government Board, and having regard to all the circumstances I see no reason to take exception to the course followed, which was that described by my hon. Friend. I am informed that the Board of Customs and Excise have under consideration the matter referred to in the penultimate part of the question which is one for them and not for the pension officer to decide.