HC Deb 04 January 1916 vol 77 cc788-9
11. Mr. ALDEN

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has received any communications from the public authorities to the effect that there is distress among old age pensioners caused by the increase in the price of food; and whether, in view of the fact that the Government Committee on Prevention and Relief of Distress will not allow any payment to be made out of the Prince of Wales' Fund unless there has been an actual diminution of income, he will consider the advisability of increasing the pensions of such old age pensioners as are recommended by the pension officers as being in special need of this additional assistance?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. I fear I cannot adopt the suggestion contained in the second part of the question. As already stated in reply to a previous question by my hon. Friend, it is feared that if every case of hardship due to the special circumstances of the War is met by a grant from public funds, the heavy expenditure entailed by the War will strain the resources of the country almost to breaking point.


Has my right hon. Friend or the Government considered at all the position of these old age pensioners who are struggling along on 5s. a week, and paying 2s. for rent—has the Government given any consideration to their deplorable situation?


Yes, but the circumstances for the reasons I have given are not exceptional. There are a great many cases of extreme hardship consequent upon the rise in prices.


Would it not have been better to give the 2s. 9d. given to the starred men who attested under the Derby scheme to these old age pensioners?


That is a question for the War Office.


Has the Government considered any other expedient beyond that of granting public money—have they made any suggestions whatever to the local authorities or to the Prince of Wales' Fund? Have they considered any expedient by which these old people could be helped and prevented from starving?


I will inquire what steps the Local Government Board can take.

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