§ 22. Mr. J. P. FARRELL
asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he will state the valuation put by the pension officers on the living of an old age pensioner named Ballesty, of Edgeworthstown, Ballinalee sub-pension district, who has been deprived of his pension; and whether a Local Government Board inspector will be sent to inquire into this case before it is finally disposed of?
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
The pension officer estimated that this pensioner's means exceeded £31 10s. a year. The Local Government Board, on the matter being referred to them, sent an inspector to make local inquiry as to her circumstances, and on consideration of all the facts of the case decided that her means did not exceed £28 17s. 6d. a year, but exceeded £26 5s. a year, and accordingly determined that she was entitled to a pension of 2s. a week.
§ 23. Mr. FARRELL
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether in cases of alleged valuation of a man's means of living, in connection with an old age pension, by pension officers in Ireland, there is any scale drawn up by the Treasury to guide the officer in coming to his decision, or whether it is left to himself to put on his own valuation, against which there is no appeal; what qualification these men have for such work; and whether he will consider the desirability, in fairness to all parties, of having the items set out in the 18 pension officer's report and a copy sent to-the local pension committee?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
No scale has been drawn up by the Treasury as a guide to pension officers in Ireland in estimating the value of means for purposes of the Old Age Pension Acts. The officers' estimates are based in each case on the result of their investigations and on their general knowledge of the locality. I am not aware of any qualifications in which pension officers as a class are lacking for this particular part of their duties. I do not understand the suggestion that there is no appeal against the officers' estimates of means. In every case the decision rests with pension authorities, i.e., with the local pension committee or with the Local Government Board on appeal, and these authorities are in no way bound by the officers' estimates. As regards the last part of the question, officers in Ireland' already have instructions which ensure-that committees will be furnished with all the particulars requisite for forming their own opinion on the question of means; and I am assured that there is no necessity for further instructions in the matter.
§ Mr. FARRELL
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the pension officers are in the main English officials sent over in. connection with his Department, and that they have no local knowledge whatever?
§ Mr. FLAVIN
On what basis does the pension officer estimate the weekly rental value of a room in a mud-wall cabin?