HC Deb 04 December 1916 vol 88 cc718-20

(1) There shall be transferred to the Minister of Pensions—

  1. (a) The powers and duties of the Admiralty with respect to pensions and grants to persons who have served as officers or men, and to their widows, children, and other dependants, and to persons who have been employed in the nursing service of any of His Majesty's naval forces, other than service pensions, so far as such pensions and grants are payable out of moneys provided by Parliament;
  2. (b) the powers and duties of the Commissioners of the Royal Hospital for Soldiers at Chelsea with respect to the grant and administration of disability pensions, other than in-pensions;
  3. (c) the powers and duties of the Army Council and the Secretary of State for the War Department with respect to pensions and grants to persons who have served as officers or soldiers, and to their widows, children, and other dependants, and to persons who have been employed in the nursing service of any of His Majesty's military forces, other than service pensions;
and His Majesty may by Order in Council make such adaptations in the enactments relating to such powers and duties as aforesaid as may be necessary to make exerciseable by the Minister and his officers the powers and duties of the several authorities above mentioned and their officers, and may fix the time or times as from which the several powers and duties are to be transferred to the Minister.

(2) The Minister of Pensions shall in each year prepare and lay before Parliament a report of the proceedings of the Ministry.


I beg to move, in Subsection (1), paragraph (a,) at the end, to add the words "and not provided exclusively for the purposes of Greenwich Hospital."

The object of the Sub-clause is to transfer all pensions for disability from the Admiralty to the Pensions Minister; but it is intended to protect the Greenwich Hospital Fund, which is clearly the property of the Admiralty, for the benefit of the Navy. There is a sum of £20,000 which is annually granted by Parliament towards the Greenwich age pension. I said the other night that I was not quite satisfied that the language in the Sub-clause covered this sum. I have had the advantage of conferring with the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, and he agrees that the words I propose will meet what is the object of the Sub-clause, and protect that great charity.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir HEDWORTH MEUX

I beg to second the Amendment.


I am very much obliged to my hon. and learned Friend for raising this matter. I explained the other night that Greenwich Hospital is a very ancient foundation, having been established by Royal Charter of William III. and Mary II. in 1694. Many of the benefactions—and they are very varied and interesting—are inalienable to the Navy, and no one would wish to alienate these particular funds. The words at the end of the Clause were added for the purpose of safeguarding the purely inalienable pensions which come from this Greenwich Hospital Fund. It so happens that Greenwich Hospital has applied to certain of its purposes some money— roughly £27,000—from moneys provided by Parliament, and the words "other than service pensions so far as such pensions and grants are provided out of moneys provided by Parliament" are too exclusive, and Greenwich Hospital would lose that money. In the year 1914–15, which is the last year for which the accounts have been made up, the total revenue was £203,415. Greenwich Hospital got £4,000 from the Consolidated Fund. In 1834 the contribution of sixpence per month previously levied upon merchant seamen in support of the hospital was abolished, and the Consolidated Fund gave £20,000 in lieu thereof. When the in pensions were abolished in 1869, the Treasury gave £4,000 to the Admiralty. Later the dif- ference of £16,000 was restored. I am afraid that these words at the end of the paragraph without the addition proposed by the hon. Member would not be sufficient to protect the funds of Greenwich Hospital. I do not think anyone would wish to use these large funds for the purpose of diverting them from Greenwich Hospital. For instance, the Board of Education gave to Greenwich Hospital school a Grant of £1,221 for the year 1914-15. That is not a pensions Grant at all, and I do not suppose that the Pensions Minister would ever attempt to lay his hands upon it. Then we have £6,500 amount of rent of hospital buildings used for the purposes of the Royal Naval College. I do not think my right hon. Friend would wish to lay his hands upon that sum. I can, however, give the House this assurance: Whatever we do must be done with knowledge of what the Pensions Minister may do, either directly or through the various agencies by which he works. It will be our duty to keep him and them informed precisely as to what we are doing, so as to avoid overlapping. But in order to conserve the proper rights of this ancient institution these; words should be added.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In Subsection (1), paragraph (6), after the word "pensions"["disability pensions"], insert the words "and grants."—[Mr. Henderson.]