§ 14. Mr. GINNELL
asked the Chief Secretary if he will say, when an appeal is made against the decision of an old age pension committee and the claim or question stands referred to the Local Government Board for Ireland under Section 7 513 (1) (c) of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1908, by what authority does that Board receive, consider, and decide the question on entirely new allegations of the class which the committee is the legally constituted authority for examining, which have never been before the committee and which may have no foundation in fact?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Article 25 of the Regulations made in pursuance of Section 10 of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1908, provides that the Local Government Board may for the purpose of determining any claim, question, or application, which is to be determined by them, have regard to any such evidence or information as, in the opinion of the Board, is sufficient for the purpose, and is the best evidence or information which it is reasonably possible to obtain?
§ Mr. GINNELL
Does this rule or regulation empower the Board to take into consideration allegations which have never been before the local committee at all?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
It certainly amounts to a rehearing before the Local Government Board, and any evidence they can procure has to be considered by them.
§ 31 and 32. Mr. SHEEHAN
asked (1) whether the Chief Secretary is aware that Mrs. Johannah Buttimer, of Gurranreigh, Lissarda, county Cork, applied for an old age pension and was granted the full amount by the pension sub-committee in December, 1912; whether this was appealed against by the pension officer on the ground that her yearly income exceeded the statutory amount; and can he state upon what basis the Local Government Board decided to refuse the pension to this claimant; and (2) whether Cornelius Buttimer, of Gurranreigh, Lissarda, county of Cork, reached the requisite age limit of seventy years in February, 1909, and was granted a pension of 5s. per week, which continued until 14th March, 1913; whether this was originally granted on the report of a pension officer as to the man's income and circumstances, and that his pension books from time to time passed through the hands of at least five different pension officers, who never questioned the propriety of the original award; whether, in January, 1913, Pension Officer M'Kenna appealed against the decisions of previous pension officers, on the grounds that Cornelius Buttimer's pension exceeded the statutory limit of 514 £31 10s.; has there been any difference between Buttimer's circumstances now and what they were during the four years he was receiving the pension; and, if not, will the right hon. Gentleman say upon what grounds did the Local Government Board now decide to refuse his pension?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I will answer these two questions together. Cornelius Buttimer was awarded an old age pension of 5s. a week in March, 1909. Towards the end of last year his wife, Johannah Buttimer, made a claim for an old age pension of 5s., which was passed by the pension committee, but appealed against by the pension officer on the grounds of excessive means. The Local Government Board on appeal disallowed the claim. At the same time the pension officer, as a result of his investigations in connection with the claim made by the wife, raised a question as to whether the husband was entitled to continue to receive a pension. The Board decided that he was not entitled to receive any pension on the grounds that his means exceeded the statutory limit. These two people reside on and are maintained on a farm of eight-two acres which is well tilled, and carries upwards of twenty head of cattle in addition to other animals, and each of them is entitled, also, under the deed of assignment, to an annuity of £8 as well as the grazing of two sheep. The Board considered that the benefits and privileges enjoyed by these two people are worth more than £31 10s. a year in each case.
§ 78. Mr. BOLAND
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the correspondence which has taken place between the county Kerry old age pensions committee and the Irish Local Government Board, and to the resolutions passed by the committee; and whether in any proposed amending Bill dealing with old age pensions, regard will be had to the recommendations of the committee?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Masterman)
I have seen a copy of a letter sent by the Kerry pension committee to the Local Government Board for Ireland, and inquiry is now being made into the specific cases mentioned by them. There is no immediate prospect of an amending Act on this subject, but if and when opportunity arises all suggestions for improvement will receive consideration.