§ 15. Mr. SNELL
asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that workmen employed in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich are dismissed on reaching the age of 60 without pension or other means beyond a small bonus being provided for their support; that there is practically no chance of such men finding employment in private firms in competition with younger men; that private firms make physical capability and not age the test of a man's ability to continue his work; and as these men are regarded by the Government as too old to continue their work and 10 years too young to receive an old age pension, will he consider the possibility of either raising the age limit for retirement, or of instituting a pensions system which will meet the needs of those who are dismissed without proper provision being made for their future?
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
I am aware that on reaching the age of 60 workmen at Woolwich Arsenal may be discharged on account of age. They may, however, be retained if circumstances permit up to the age of 65, but owing to recent reductions of work such retention has not been possible in every case. I regret that I cannot see my way to alter the rule in the direction suggested. With regard to the last part of the question, the possibility of establishing a pension scheme for ordnance factory workmen who are at present only eligible for gratuities on discharge, has been under discussion with representatives of the men concerned, but as the hon. Member is aware, it has been necessary to defer further consideration of the scheme until the autumn. The Pensions Bill introduced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health will have a considerable bearing on this aspect of the question.
§ Captain GEE
Is it not the fact that a similar answer to this question was given three years ago? Is it not also a fact that three years ago an extension of the age was refused by the War Office? Is it not a fact indeed that for political purposes the party of hon. Gentlemen opposite refused to accede to this pension scheme?