§ Mr. NIELD
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what is the aggregate amount of the subscriptions and donations, respectively, paid by the late Major-General Thomas Warren Mercer into the Bengal Military and Orphan Fund or other pension fund; and what amount of pension such payment would have entitled his widow and infant daughter to receive had his death occurred immediately before he discontinued to make his customary annual payment to such fund?
There is no record in this country of the late Major-General T. W. Mercer's aggregate payments to the Bengal Military Fund and Bengal Military Orphan Society, the bulk having been made in India. If the deceased officer had not withdrawn from the Bengal Military Fund, in 1894, after the death of his second wife, and from the Bengal Military Orphan Society in 1883, after his last child then living had ceased to have any claim to benefit, and if he had made the prescribed payments for his third wife and for his daughter, his widow would have been entitled to a pension of £250 6s. 4d. a year during widowhood from the Bengal Military Fund, and his daughter to a pension of £49 10s. a year up to the age of eighteen, and then of £40 a year until her marriage.
§ Mr. NIELD
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that the late Major-General Thomas Warren Mercer entered the Indian Army in June, 1842, retired in 1877, and died in the month of January, 1910, leaving a widow and a young daughter; that during the period of fifty-two years Major-General Mercer paid the requisite annual 1803W subscription into the Bengal Military and Orphan Fund and also substantial donations upon his marriage to his first wife, who died shortly afterwards, as well as upon his second marriage some years later, and that no benefit whatever has been derived by any member of his family as the result of such payments; whether he is aware that Major-General Mercer applied, in or before 1898, for leave to continue his subscription in view of his contemplated re-marriage with the lady now his widow, and offered to pay all arrears of subscriptions and donations for the three years during which they had been discontinued, in accordance with the regulations of the Government fund, together with interest, but was refused permission, and that as the result of such refusal the wife of Major-General Mercer has been left without a pension or income of any sort and is now in necessitous circumstances, while the fund has received payments which aggregate over fifty-two years to a large sum; and will he say if the India Office is willing to treat Mrs. Mercer with the same generosity as would be given by a life assurance society of repute on a policy which, after fifty-two years' existence and payment of premiums, had lapsed?
The statements in the preliminary part of the question are in the main correct. The facts have been repeatedly under the consideration of the Secretary of State in Council. The late Major-General T. W. Mercer, having withdrawn from the Bengal Military Orphan Society in 1883 and from the Bengal1804W Military Fund in 1894, applied in 1898, when, at the age of seventy-seven, he was contemplating marriage with a lady of about thirty years of age, for readmission to the Military Fund but not to the Orphan Society. His application was inadmissible under the regulations of the fund. Payment of the pensions secured to widows and orphans of officers of the East India Company's Service under the Regulations already involves a considerable annual charge on the Revenues of India, and the Secretary of State has found it necessary to adhere strictly to the regulations of the funds.