HC Deb 29 April 1913 vol 52 cc972-4
10. Mr. W. E. HARVEY

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether old age pension officers may be instructed to supply to pension committees, on resolution of any committee desiring same, for the purpose of inserting in the committee's monthly and other reports the names of persons who are, for the time being, in receipt of old age pensions within the area of such committee, and that the pension officers may be directed to attend the meetings of the old age pension committees if requested so to do?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)

I am afraid I cannot see my way to issue instructions on the lines indicated by my hon. Friend. With regard to the first part of the question, I would point out that pension committees do not require such information for the purpose of any of the duties imposed on them by the Old Age Pensions Acts or Regulations, and its collection would involve a very serious addition to the work of the Department concerned. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury gave on 10th October last in answer to the hon. Member for West Cork


asked whether the application of John M'Fadden, Castlebellingham, for an old age pension was refused by the Local Government Board; on what grounds did the Local Government Board come to their decision; what information regarding his case had they before them; who supplied it; and whether they were aware that he is absolutely dependent on his daughter for his maintenance, having transferred his farm of 16 acres to his son more than six years ago?


John M'Fadden's claim was rejected on the ground that the Local Government Board were not satisfied that his means did not exceed £31 10s. a year. He held a farm of 19 Irish acres, 15 of which were under tillage, and which carried two cows, two calves, in addition to horses and pigs. It was alleged that he transferred this farm to his son in 1907, but the deed of transfer was not executed until May, 1911. He lived with his daughter on another farm of 5 Irish acres, which was well tilled and carried two head of cattle in addition to a pony and pigs, and which farm he purchased for his daughter in 1908. The above information was furnished to the Board by the pension officer and the claimant. The claimant is not, as stated, absolutely dependent upon his daughter, as under the agreement made with his son the latter is bound to pay him 5s. a week. A statement was made that this money was not being paid, but the claimant is, as stated above, entitled to it under the deed of transfer, and accordingly the amount must be taken into consideration in calculating his means.


asked the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the case of John Smith, of Tunstall, who was deprived of his old age pension because he was sentenced to seven days' imprisonment; whether he is aware that Smith, being ill, was conveyed to the Chell workhouse infirmary; that being recovered, he applied to leave the infirmary, giving twenty-four hours' notice of his desire to leave; that leave was refused, whereupon Smith got over the wall and escaped; that he was then arrested and charged with stealing the clothes he escaped in, and, being an old, illiterate man, he could not explain, and was sentenced to seven days' imprisonment, so losing his pension; whether the stipen- diary magistrate who tried the case has stated that he would not have sentenced him to imprisonment had he known all the facts of the case; and whether, under the circumstances, he will obtain a revision of the sentence so that his pension may be recovered?


My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. He brought the case to my notice, and after making inquiry and communicating with the stipendiary magistrate, I found that, having regard to all the circumstances, the case was not one in which I could properly advise His Majesty to grant a free pardon. The magistrate did not recommend the grant of a pardon.


Can anyone who escapes from a workhouse be charged with stealing the clothes he is wearing?


I shall have to have the exact circumstances of each particular case before me before I can give an answer.


By what right does the master of a workhouse detain a man who has given twenty-four hours' notice to leave?


That is a question of law which should be directed to the proper authority.


Is it a fact that the magistrate wrote saying that if he had known the man would lose his pension he would not have sentenced him to imprisonment?


I cannot say, because I have not got the opinion of the magistrate on that point. On the facts of the case I can only say that the magistrate advises me not to give a pardon. My hon. Friend will understand that, in cases of this sort, I cannot act as a Court of Criminal Appeal, and I very much doubt whether this House, on such insufficient data, is a competent tribunal to decide.