HC Deb 27 March 1911 vol 23 cc1076-9W

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether he can state the number of old age pensioners in Scotland, and the amount spent in Scotland on old age pensions in the last financial year?


The number of old age pensions payable on the last Friday in 1910 to pensioners in Scotland was 80,502, while 10,474 pensions became payable on 6th January, 1911, to pensioners in Scotland previously disqualified by receipt of poor relief. No later figures are yet available. The amount spent in Scot-laud on old age pensions during the last financial year (1909–10) was £952,000—see page 15 of the Revenue and Expenditure Return 1909–10. (Sessional Paper, No. 233, of 1910).


asked the Lord Advocate whether there are any, and, if so, what circumstances under which the Local Government Board in Scotland accept oral evidence to prove the age of applicants for old age pensions, there being no written or documentary evidence available or produced?


The answer is in the negative.


asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that the claim of Denis Long for an old age pension has been repeatedly passed by the Macroom (No. 1) district pension committee, and that it was last sanctioned on 21st December, 1910; whether he is aware that the applicant cannot obtain his baptismal certificate, as no parochial records of the period are in existence where he was born, and that a close search of the Census returns for 1841 and 1851 failed to give any trace of this man; and whether, seeing that the pension regulations provide that, in the absence of documentary proof of age through no fault of the applicant for a pension, pension committees may satisfy themselves on the question of age by the applicant furnishing proof from trustworthy persons in his locality that he has reached the statutory age, and that this was amply done in the case of Denis Long, the statements of four persons of credibility in the locality, certifying that to their knowledge he was over the prescribed age, being submitted to the pension committee and the affidavit of one other person being also tendered, he will explain why the pension officer reported that there was no proof of age, and why the Local Government Board over-rode the pension regulations and refused this claim?


Two claims from Denis Long have come before the Local Government Board on appeal by the pension officer on the ground that Long had not proved he had reached the statutory age, the second being that referred to in the question as having been decided on the 21st December last by the pension subcommittee. Long was unable to obtain a baptismal certificate, as stated; but his parents' family was traced in the Census Return of 1841, and his name did not appear therein, so that presumably he was not then born. There is no pension regulation making the specific provision mentioned in the question, but Regulation No. 26 empowers pension authorities to accept any evidence which they consider sufficient. In the case of Denis Long, however, the evidence submitted did not appear to the Board to afford sufficient grounds for holding that he had attained the statutory age, and they accordingly upheld the pension officer's appeals.


asked if there are any and, if so, what circumstances under which the Irish Local Government Board accept in the case of applications for old age pensions oral evidence as establishing proof of age, there being no written or documentary evidence produced or available?


The Local Government Board would accept any evidence, oral or documentary, provided it was sufficient and satisfactory. An inspector is sent when there is some ground for presuming from the facts submitted that local inquiry might lead to satisfactory evidence being obtained.


asked on what grounds John Bray, of Dromacomer, Bruree, county Limerick, was refused a pension; whether he is aware that the local committee passed the claim on two different occasions, and that statements have been made to the pension officers on behalf of the applicant by John Carroll, J. P., Patrick Hayes, county councillor, and several other old and respectable people, pointing out that he is over the age limit; and, in view of such evidence and statements, will the Local Government Board allow this poor man's claim to go through?


The facts are as stated. The Local Government Board upheld the appeal of the pension officer on each occasion on the ground that there was no satisfactory evidence of John Bray having reached the statutory age. It is not open to the Board to reconsider their decision.


asked whether there are any, and, if so, what circumstances, under which the Local Government Board accept in the case of claims for old age pensions oral evidence to prove the age of applicants, there being no written or documentary evidence available or produced?


In the absence of documentary evidence the Board are willing to give consideration to any other kind of evidence which may be adduced, but they cannot undertake to lay down any general rule on the subject.