HC Deb 19 December 1919 vol 123 cc888-92

(1) Where the means of any person who is in receipt of an old age pension at the time of the commencement of this Act would be greater if calculated in accordance with the provisions of the Acts of 1908 and 1911, as amended by this Act, than they would be if calculated in accordance with the provisions of those Acts as not so amended, the means of that person shall for the purposes of the Acts of it108 and 1911, and this Act continue to be calculated as if this Act had not passed.

(2) The provisions of this Act modifying in respect of residence the statutory conditions for the receipt of an old age pension shall not operate so as to disentitle any person who is in receipt of an old age pension at the time of the commencement of this Act from continuing to receive the pension.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


I wish to ask whether, in calculating the means of an applicant for an old age pension, the provision which may be made by a son for the maintenance of his parents will be calculated? In my own district there are many old people debarred from an old age pension simply from the fact that the son, with a very reasonable desire to keep his parents from the Poor Law, has made sonic provision in the way of a few shillings per week, or has provided food or clothing, and that has been taken to be income, arid the old people have been debarred from a pension. I wish to know if any alteration in regard to this point is made in this Bill?


I think the hon. Member knows that the main alteration made by these proposals is to increase the means limit, and therefore it will cover automatically the vast number of cases such as he refers to. Other than that there is no alteration which affects the point he raises.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 10 (Short Title, Commencement, and Repeal) ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules agreed to.

Bill reported, without, Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—[Sir L. Worthington-Erans.]


As I was a member of the Select Committee I should like to take this opportunity of thanking the Government for their ready response to our request. It was manifest that it was the general consensus of opinion that this course should be immediately taken, and I am glad the Government have recognised that. We are very grateful to the Government for the procedure they have adopted on this measure. Although there have been two or three objections, think what we indicated to the Government yesterday was the manifest opinion of the whole House. I only desire to say that none of us have raised any objections in regard to the terms of the Bill, although we should like to do so. Nevertheless we agree to accept what the Government suggest but I am sure members of the Government will realise that some members of the Committee desire more than the Government are granting, and it is proposed next Session to make representations on this point, but we do not desire that this Bill shall be prejudiced by any attempts in that direction. I hope that I may be in order in saying this. Last night, towards midnight, I raised a point in regard to the payment of old age pensions. This notice was issued and was in the Post Office last night: Old age pensions, due for payment on Boxing Day, cannot be paid before Monday, 29th December, By Order. That means that no single old age pensioner will receive any payment whatever during the whole course of next week.


I doubt if this matter has anything whatever to do with the Bill. It is true that we have broken almost every Rule of the House to-day, but really there must be some limit; otherwise, it is of no use my being in the Chair at all.


I am sorry, but I only referred to the matter in consequence of the promise made last night.


The hon. Member should ask that question at the proper time. It really has nothing to do with the Bill, so far as I know at present

THE PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Lloyd' George)

I only want to say that it is quite clear that this could not have been done except with the consent, not merely of all parties in time House, but of almost every Member of the House. Although the Rules of the House of Commons are Rules which have been established for the protection of the liberties of the people, there are occasions of great emergency when it is necessary that they should be suspended; and I cannot help thinking that it is very creditable to the House that, with this unanimity, they should have deemed it a matter of urgency to suspend the Rules, in order to provide some cheer for poor old people who have worked hard all their lives, and who find themselves in circumstances of poverty and distress. I think, also, we can take pride that the country, with all its burdens, is prepared to accept even a little heavier burden, in order that those who over a long life have honourably discharged their duties as citizens of the State shall not in their old age suffer penury and want. I am glad myself to have been present in the House on this occasion.


Like others, the members of the Labour party are very pleased, notwithstanding that it is not in exact conformity with the Rules of the House, that the Government have seen fit to bring in a measure of this character in the closing hours of the Session. As has already been pointed out, we are not exactly in agreement with all the provisions of the Bill. We would have liked to have seen many amendments made to it if time had permitted, but we recognise the urgency of the case, and we are pleased that the Government have brought in the measure, notwithstanding the fact that it falls short of what we desire. I am certain that the passage of this Bill will bring a measure of joy to quite a number of homes, and I just want to associate the party for which I speak in thanking the Government for having brought in the Bill and for placing it upon the Statute Book, thus bringing some more hope and some more real comfort to the aged people of this land.

2.0 P.M.

Lieut.-Colonel RAW

I should just like to ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill if he can clearly define the position of married couples who will be old age pensioners under this Bill. Would the pension payable to the husband and the pension payable to the wife be of an equal amount? I should also like to thank the right hon. Gentleman and the Government for having brought in the Bill.


I desire, as a member of the Committee which has been sitting on old age pensions for some time, to express my thanks to the Government for passing this Bill. We accept it most gratefully as an instalment of what we think ought to be done, and I am glad that the House of Commons have seen fit in this case of extreme urgency to suspend their Rules in order to carry through this most beneficial measure.


The answer to the question of my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Raw) is, Yes, is they are both over seventy years of age. I might just supplement what the Prime Minister has said, and thank the House for passing the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the third time, and passed.