§ Mr. AUGUSTINE ROCHE
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that Mrs. Catherine M'Gill, of Dundalk, had an old age pension sanctioned for her as from 18th of last August; that she has not since received her book; and will he explain the cause of the delay in the matter, and say whether the arrears due to her will be paid at once?
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
The pension to which Kate M'Gill became entitled on1526W 18th August, 1911, was withheld in accordance with No. 35 of the Old Age Pensions Regulations, 1911, for the recovery of a debt due to the Crown under Section 9 (2) of the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908. The debt has now been recovered, and directions have been given for the issue of a book to the pensioner.
§ Mr. PATRICK O'BRIEN
asked the Chief Secretary whether in June last, he was aware, in connection with the stoppage of the old age pension of Mrs. Anne Butler, owing to her being in Kilkenny Union Hospital for a serious ailment, that the master of Kilkenny Union and one of the medical officers, Dr. Buggy, were personally before the committee in respect of this and six other cases of hospital patients whose pensions were sought to be stopped, and that the committee were satisfied, on the medical officer's testimony, that these patients were suffering from various serious and definite ailments, and that the entry debility, stated by the pension officer to appear in the hospital books, had been entered only probably by routine; will he say on what grounds the Local Government Board refused, or failed to have regard to, such medical testimony; whether their decision would be favourable to Mrs. Butler's continuance of pension if they had found her to be suffering from the definite ailment testified by the doctor attending her; and whether, having regard to the position of hospital patients who are deprived of old age pensions unless paying full average cost for their maintenance, which in many cases exceeds 5s. per week, without any decision of any court that treatment and maintenance in a union hospital is outside the exemption of medical relief in the Old Age Pension Act, and also to the inability of unions in Ireland to enforce payment or just payment of maintenance out of old age pensions in cases where hospital patients should make such contribution, he will afford facilities for having the law authoritatively ascertained in the one respect and altered in the other?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The answer to the first portion of the question is in the affirmative. The Committee held the view stated, but it appears that the ailments referred to were of a chronic and permanent character, and there is nothing to show that the entries in the books were made as a mere matter of routine. Having regard to the nature and circumstances of the cases the Local Government Board I held, on the principles laid down in their 1527W circular letter of 30th December, 1908, that the medical relief was subsidiary to ordinary maintenance. In these circumstances the answer to the next portion of the question is in the negative. The legality of the Board's decisions can be challenged in the courts. I cannot hold out any hope of an amendment of the law to the effect indicated in the question.