HL Deb 10 August 1920 vol 41 cc1161-3

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I have to ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading to a Bill to authorise the increase of certain pensions. It is quite unnecessary for me to labour the point that, owing to the great cost of living during the last few years, the pensions granted previous to the outbreak of war, which might at that time have afforded more or less adequate means of livelihood to the pensioners, now entirely fail to meet that object. This matter was brought before the Cabinet, a Committee was appointed to consider it, evidence was taken, and the Bill was introduced into the House of Common authorising the increase of pensions. That Bill passed through another place and is now before your Lordships.

If your Lordships will look at the Bill you will see that in Clause 1 subsection (2) the pensioners to whom the clause applies are pensioners who, at the date of the passing of the measure, are in receipt of pensions granted before the outbreak of war—the words are "before the fourth day of August nineteen hundred and fourteen"—and, subject to the limitations laid down in Part II of the Schedule, pensions granted on and after that date. In the first place the clause applies to pensions granted, under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1914, to civil servants; secondly, under the Elementary School Teachers' (Superannuation) Acts, 1898 to 1912, or under the Code of Regulations for public elementary schools or under the Education (Scotland) Act, 1908, to English and Scottish teachers; thirdly, under the National School Teachers' (Ireland) Act, 1879, to Irish school teachers; and, fourthly, under the enactments relating to the pay and pensions of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police, to members of those two forces. The Bill provides that the increases shall have effect as from April 1, 1920.

Clause 2 sets out the statutory conditions for the increase of pensions under this Bill, because it is not the intention of its framers that the increases of pensions shall apply to all pensioners, but only to those who, in the opinion of the framers, are at this moment suffering, or are liable to be suffering, from real hardships. In the first place, the pensioner must reside in the British Islands. In the second place, the pensioner must have attained the age of sixty years, or have retired on account of physical or mental infirmity, or, in the case of a pensioner who is a widow and is in receipt of a pension payable in respect of the services of her deceased husband, must have attained the age of forty years. In the third place, the pension authorities must be satisfied that the pensioner's means, including pension, are less than £150 a year, if unmarried, or £200 a year, if married.

Clause 3 deals with the cases of police pensioners. It is proposed to grant an increase of pension to those who do not come within the four classes I have mentioned as being comprised in Clause 1. Your Lordships will see in this clause that the Treasury, after consultation with the appropriate Government Department, may by Order authorise the application of the foregoing provisions, including the Schedule, to pensioners in receipt of pensions granted by any police, local, or other public authority, and thereupon such police, local, or other public authority shall apply such provision to pensions granted by them. Roughly speaking, I think the clause applies only to the English and Scottish police. As I have already mentioned, the Irish police are included under the provisions of Clause 1. Your Lordships will, no doubt, note, with regard to pensioners in Clause 3, that half the cost will fall on the Treasury and half on the rates.

I do not think I need say anything about the other clauses which appear to be mostly of a definition character. Part I of the Schedule gives the limitation to the amount of the increase of pensions, and Part II provides an additional limitation on pensions granted after August 4, 1914. Your Lordships will, no doubt, be interested to know that if this Bill is passed the total cost to the Exchequer of the increase of pensions is estimated at not more than £850,000 in the first year. The Bill does not provide for the increase of Naval and Military pensions, but additions to those pensions, corresponding to those provided in the Bill, will, I am informed, be made in the ordinary constitutional manner by Order in Council and Royal Warrant. With regard to the cost of these pensions and the number of persons affected I need not trouble your Lordships now.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Hylton.)

On Question, Bill read 2a: Committee negatived.

Then (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended) Bill read 3a and passed.