HC Deb 01 July 1915 vol 72 cc1950-1W

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he is aware that an application for an old age pension by Mrs. Hannah Graham, Spencer Street, Holywood, county Down, was granted by the old age pensions sub-committee on the grounds of their local knowledge that the applicant was of the statutory age, although she could produce no evidence to prove such; that the pensions officer, Mr. Greenacre, appealed against their decision although he had no evidence to prove she was not the statutory age; that the Local Government Board upheld his appeal without asking the pensions sub-committee I for any further report; that the Local Government Board persist in declining to review the case, although the pensions sub-committee appointed a further three members, who had not previously interviewed the old lady, to visit her, and that they unanimously reported in her favour; and that the Rev. Mr. White, curate of Holywood, Dr. Donnan, medical officer of health, Holywood; Mr. William Rodman, one of the oldest residents of Holywood; and Mr. Jonathan Jefferson, Poor Law guardian, Holywood, have all sent in written statements expressing their belief that this old lady is over seventy years of age; if the pensions officer, although requested by the sub-committee to attend their meeting on the 7th May regarding this case, declined to attend on the ground that, as the Local Government Board had upheld his appeal, the case was not before the committee; whether instructions will be given to the Local Government Board to grant the pension which applicant has been deprived of for some months, and if the Local Government Board will also be directed to take the pensions committee in future into consultation before acting in such a manner; if, as a protest against the Local Government Board's procedure in this case, the Holywood old age pensions subcommittee have sent in their resignations to the local pensions committee (Down County Council); and what steps will be taken to safeguard in future the interests of bonâ fide applicants for an old age pension?


The facts of the case are generally as stated except that the Local Government Board have no information regarding the alleged non-attendance of the pension officer at the committee meeting on the 7th May last. The onus of proof that the statutory age has been attained rests upon a claimant, and it was impossible for the Board to allow Mrs. Graham's claim in the absence of proof. The hon. Member admits that no evidence to prove her age could be produced beyond statements of belief. It is open to pension committees when forwarding to the Board papers connected with appeals to attach statements of their views and this is done by many committees. Such expressions of opinion always receive consideration; there is no statutory power enabling the Board to reconsider their decision on an appeal when once given and the Holywood Sub-committee have been so notified several times.