HC Deb 27 February 1940 vol 357 cc1896-7
54. Mr. Davidson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the last commutation of pensions took place in this country; how many pensions were affected; and whether he will approach the present Lord Nelson with a view to obtaining his agreement to a commutation of his pension?

Sir J. Simon

As other civil pensions (apart from compensation allowances granted on abolition of office) are not commutable, I assume that the hon. Member is referring to perpetual pensions, which are commutable under the Consolidated Fund (Permanent Charges Redemption) Act, 1873. Such pensions have been commuted individually as opportunities arose: the last of them was commuted in 1925. It was stated by my predecessor on 5th May, 1932, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Wall send (Miss Ward), that he was satisfied that no useful steps could be taken in the then circumstances towards the commutation of Lord Nelson's pension. This is still the position.

Mr. Davidson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the recent publicity given to this particular pension of Lord Nelson's has aroused widespread indignation in the country; and in view of his call for national economy, will he not try to obtain a reasonable agreement immediately with regard to this perpetual pension?

Sir J. Simon

No doubt this pension, which was given long ago and by an Act passed by this House, is not the sort of pension which would be given to-day, but at the same time public faith is involved here.

Mr. Woodburn

In view of the fact that altering it at the moment might cause hardship to the person concerned, will the Chancellor in his forthcoming Budget consider introducing a special death duty for this type of pension and remove it from the Statute Book?

Mr. Anstruther-Gray

Is it not a fact that the Nelson spirit continues to cause dismay to the enemies of the British Empire?