§ Mr. DEVLIN
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that in some parts of Ireland records of births are not available and, if so, that it is impossible for the Local Government Board to allow claims in the absence of proof; of what practical use are pensions committees if their local knowledge is not to be utilised, as, if proof is produced, there 747W seems no reason for the existence of pensions committees; whether he will take steps to alter the procedure, so that where proof is not available pensions committees' local knowledge may be given effect to or, otherwise, it he will take steps to have such committees abolished altogether seeing that whilst they give their services voluntarily their decisions may be overruled by the paid officials of the Local Government Board?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Local Government Board are aware that baptismal certificates and other records of birth are not available in some parts of Ireland. It is, however, quite usual for the Board to allow claims in the absence of these certificates, and they may accept, and do accept, any satisfactory evidence submitted by the claimants or other persons on their behalf. The use of the pensions committees is indicated by the fact that the bulk of the pensions in Ireland have been awarded by them and a large number of claims have been disallowed by them without any appeal to the Local Government Board. The fact that there is an appeal against the pensions committees' decisions, and that such appeals are sometimes upheld, is not an argument for their abolition. The proposal made by the hon. Member to abolish the appeal against the decisions of the committees would require legislation and would remove the chief safeguard upon which the Imperial Exchequer has to depend. The local knowledge of a pension committee as748W to the actual age of a claimant must vary; greatly and very often is quite insufficient to act upon.