§ Mr. DELANY
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether ho can explain the disparity between the two reports signed by F. Goggins, pension officer, Rath-downey, Queen's County, copies of which have been submitted to him, in which he refuses a pension to Mary Fitzpatrick, whose income he computes to exceed £31 10s., while he recommends a pension of 3s. per week to William English, whose income he makes out to be £49; and can he say upon what grounds the pension officer divides the latter figure by one-half and refuses to sanction any pension to Mary Fitzpatrick, to whom the Roscrea (No. 3) sub-committee granted a pension of 5s. per week?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
The disparity to which the hon. Member refers arises from the operation of the rule laid down in Section 2 (2) of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1911, namely, that "in calculating the means of a person being one of a married couple living together in the same house, the means shall be taken to be half the total means of the couple." This rule applies in the case of William English, and the pension officer rightly divided the total estimated means by two in order to arrive at the rate of pension to be granted. It does not apply in the case of Mary Fitzpatrick, whose means were held by the Local Government Board on appeal to exceed £31 10s.
§ Mr. REDDY
asked the Chief Secretary whether his attention has been called to a resolution passed by the Birr (No. 5) old age pension committee protesting against the manner in which cases of old age pensioners in the district are treated by pension officers and the Local Government Board on appeal, and referring particularly to the cases of William Conway, Kinnitty, and Mary Tierny, Pound Street, Birr; and whether he will direct that before rejecting such cases in future an inspector of the Local Government Board will inquire into each case specially, so as to prevent clashing between the committee and the pension officer's decision?2219W
§ Mr. BIRRELL
My attention has been tailed to the resolution referred to. In the cases of William Conway and Mary Tierny the claims for pension were disallowed by the Local Government Board on appeal on the grounds that there was no sufficient evidence of age. The claimants had no evidence to furnish in support of their claims, and as the onus lay on them of submitting sufficient proof of age the Board had no option but to disallow the claims. The Board have no power to reopen consideration of these cases, but in the event of these persons considering that they have further evidence to submit in support of their claims, and if the cases come before, the Board on appeal, they will consider, before deciding the claims, whether it would be of any use to have the cases investigated locally by one of their inspectors. It would be obviously impossible for the Board with their existing staff to send inspectors to investigate every such case which comes before them on appeal.
§ Mr. JOHN ROCHE
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland the present position of the estate of A. D. D. Kelly, situated at Mucklow, Ballyforan, county Galway; whether he is aware that many of the tenants on this estate are in a deplorably, congested condition; and will he see that the land is divided among them without any further delay?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
This estate is the subject of proceedings for sale to the Estates Commissioners under the Irish Land Act, 1903, and the owner has agreed to sell it to them, and it will be dealt with in order of priority.