Mr. JOHN WILSON
asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that the pension officers in Durham, in assessing the income of the applicants for pensions, include the furniture which the applicants may have in their houses, and assess its value at 5 per cent. interest; whether he can say upon what principle the assessment is made—namely, whether it is upon the original cost when the furniture was purchased new, or upon the amount it would realise in the market if sold as secondhand furniture; and whether, in view of the provisions of the Pensions Act, and of the fact that 5 per cent. interest on the amount is in excess of what would be realised if placed in a bank, he proposes to take any, and, if so, what, action in the matter?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Hobhouse)
The recognised practice of pension officers in regard to furniture belonging to a claimant to an old age pension is to include in the estimate of means a sum representing 4 per cent. on the amount (if any) by which the value of the furniture exceeds £30. In this connection "value" means "market value." I am not aware that any other rule has been adopted by pension officers in Durham; but if the hon. Member will instance any specific cases in which this has occurred I will make inquiries.
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention had been called to the estimate of the National Conference of Friendly Societies that it would cost only £23,150 per annum to remove the disqualification of about 90 per cent. of those at present disqualified from receiving old age pensions because they are receiving benefits; and whether he will introduce a Bill at an early date to amend the Old Age Pensions Act so as to remove the present restriction from all members of friendly societies?
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider the point raised in the question.
§ Sir ALFRED GELDER
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the coming Budget, he could meet the case of married couples receiving jointly 7s. 1195 per week from the parish, where the husband was over seventy years of age, but could not receive the full pension of 5s. per week because his wife, who was under seventy, was in receipt of 3s. 6d. per week from the parish?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I must refer my hon. Friend to my answers to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme on the 8th February, and to a number of subsequent questions dealing with this and similar points.