55 and 56. Lieut.-Colonel Sir William Allen
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he is aware that the old pensioners of the Royal Irish Constabulary are a diminishing number and can barely exist on their low pensions; how much would it cost per annum to add 50 per cent. to those pensions; and, bearing in mind that these pensions would not be a permanent charge on the Treasury, will he consider whether in this Coronation year these old servants of the Crown might have this increase;
2254 (2) whether he will furnish a statement to date showing the number of old pensioners of the Royal Irish Constabulary, namely: constables in receipt of a pension under £50 as against present-day pensions of £154; sergeants in receipt of a pension under £60 as against present-day pensions of £195; and head constables in receipt of a pension under £80 as against present-day pensions of £256?
§ Mr. Chamberlain
As the answer is a long one and contains a number of figures, I propose, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Sir W. Allen
Can the right hon. Gentleman give me any idea as to whether the answer is satisfactory?
§ Sir N. Grattan-Doyle
In view of the magnificent record of these men, and of the hardships and disabilities under which they suffer, will my right hon. Friend give sympathetic consideration to the request made in these questions?
§ Sir Ronald Ross
Is my right hon. Friend aware that members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who went over to the Sinn Feiners were granted pensions by the Irish Free State Government on a better scale; and will he receive my hon. and gallant Friend and myself in order that we may put this case to him, so that the discreditable position with regard to these faithful servants of the Crown may be remedied?
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
Will the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind the magnificent record of the miners, engineers and other workers of this country?
§ Following is the answer:
§ I assume that by "old pensioners" my hon. and gallant Friend means those pensioners of the Royal Irish Constabulary who retired before 1st April, 1919, and who are accordingly within the scope of the Pensions (Increase) Acts, 1920 and 1924, and that the several amounts are intended to refer to the basic pensions originally granted, ignoring the increases given under those Acts. On these assumptions the figures for which he asks in the second question are as follow: 2255
|Constables with a pension not exceeding £50 per annum||947|
|Sergeants with a pension not exceeding £60 per annum||926|
|Head Constables with a pension not exceeding £80 per annum||104|
§ In addition there are 69 constables, 146 sergeants and 26 head constables who are in receipt of basic pensions exceeding £50, £60 and £80 per annum respectively.
§ As regards the first part of the first question, I am, of course, aware that the number of these pensioners diminishes with the passage of time but, as shown above, it is still considerable.
§ As regards the second part, the original pensions have been increased under the above Acts at a total annual cost of £65,000 by the following average percentages:
§ I assume that my hon. and gallant Friend is suggesting a further increase of 5o per cent. on the amounts actually paid at present. The immediate cost of this proposal would be approximately £80,000 per annum. As I have previously pointed out, however, such a concession could not be confined to Royal Irish Constabulary pensioners, and the total cost of adopting what I understand to be my hon. and gallant Friend's proposal would therefore be very much more than £8o,000 per annum. Successive Governments have repeatedly stated that they could not undertake further legislation to amend the Pensions (Increase) Acts, and the present Government are unable to reopen that decision.