59. Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the practice adopted by certain pension officers in the Rhondda urban district in the ascertainment of the means of applicants for old age pensions who were formerly colliery employés, but who through old age are now unable to work, in including in such ascertainment a sum representing the difference between the prevailing market price of house coal in the district and the reduced or colliery-workmen's rates at which house coal 1149 is supplied to such applicants as an act of generosity by the colliery owners formerly employing them, in consequence of which the means of the applicants in many cases are made to exceed the limit of income below which the income of an applicant must be in order to entitle him to the receipt of old age pension; and whether, having regard to the circumstances, he will give immediate instructions that the practice referred to be discontinued, so that the hardship from which many applicants for old age pensions suffer may be removed?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Section 2, 1 (d), of the Old Age Pension Act, 1911, prescribes that in calculating means for old age pension purposes account shall be taken of the yearly value of any benefit or privilege enjoyed. The practice referred to is therefore in accordance with the law, and I have no power to direct its discontinuance.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the sum fixed as the price is double the amount of the cost of production, and will he take steps to see that the standard by which this is fixed will be changed?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I cannot be expected to be aware of the facts mentioned, but if then; has been any variation of the standard and my hon. and gallant Friend will bring the facts to my notice, I will have an investigation.
Is it not a fact that there is a difference of opinion between the Board of Inland Customs and Excise and the Ministry of Health with regard to this question and that it is due to that difference that this large amount is being taken as a contribution?