§ Mr. FFRENCH
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether, having regard to the fact that the pension officer has no power to stop on his own initiative the payment of an old age pension, he can offer any explanation as to the pension officer's action in the case of Arthur Quirke, No. 99, No. 3 sub-committee, county Wexford; if he is aware that Quirke was in receipt of a pension on his admission to the workhouse hospital on the 7th August, and, despite repeated applications by the workhouse master, the pension officer declined to give him the requisite authority to draw the pension but raised no question until the 4th November and the committee did not meet to adjudicate until the 16th November, so no pension was paid to or in respect of 1661W Quirke from the 7th August to the 16th November; and will he see that the union is reimbursed for the period of Quirke's disqualification?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The question whether the old age pensioner referred to has been in receipt of Poor. Law relief of a disqualifying nature since his admission to the workhouse hospital is now before the Local Government Board on appeal, and until it has been decided whether the pension should be revoked, and, if so, from what date, no further payment of pension money can be allowed —Section 6 (4) of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1911. If the question should be decided in favour of the pensioner, any arrears of pension money that may be due will be made good to him. The pension officer did not raise any question till 3rd November, nor did he until that date take any action for suspending payment. No payment was made between 7th August and the 3rd November, because up to 3rd November no application for authorisation of an agent to cash the pension money on the pensioner's behalf had been made. After 3rd November payment was suspended under the Statute, and no payment could be made after that date or can be made until the case is finally decided.
§ Mr. FFRENCH
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the pensions of about twenty-five cases of old age pensioners, inmates of Wexford Union Hospital, were discontinued by the pension officer on the 1st July last, whereas the questions raised were not adjudicated on by the sub-committee until the 1st August; will he state on whose authority the pension officer acted on that occasion*; will he see that the month's pension in each ease illegally impounded will be paid to the guardians; and, in view of the opinion of the Treasury recently given that pension officers themselves have no right to stop pensions, he will give directions preventing the stoppage of pensions in future without the authority of the pension sub-committee has previously been obtained?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The reply to the first part of the hon. Member's question is in the affirmative. As soon as the pension officer brings before a local pension com-1662W mittee or sub-committee a question whether an old age pensioner is in receipt of Poor Law relief of a disqualifying nature, it is a statutory requirement that payment of the pension should be suspended until it has been decided whether the pension should be revoked, and, if so, from what date—Section 6 (4) of the Old. Age Pensions Act, 1911. If the question is decided in favour of the pensioner, all arrears of pension money that are due are made good; but in the cases now referred to the pensions were revoked as from the 1st July last, and consequently no further payment of pension is due. While pension officers have no power to deprive any old age pensioners of their pensions it is their duty to see that payment of the pension is temporarily suspended in accordance with the statutory requirements pending the decision as to disqualification by the competent authority.
§ Mr. KEATING
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether the original payment to clerks of the Old Age Pension Sub-Committee was 5s. per claim up to twenty claims and 2s. 6d. per claim afterwards; whether the Treasury imposed new duties of investigating claims for additional allowances, the payment for which is approximately 1s. per claim up to twenty claims and 6d. per claim afterwards; and, if so, whether he will consider the question of removing this-hardship and of paying clerks for these new duties at the same rate as was paid originally?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The scale for the new work in connection with additional allowances is 2s. 6d. for each of the first fifty applications in each quarter, 1s. for each of the next 350, and thereafter 6d. Having regard to the facts that the remuneration for the ordinary old age pensions work is on a generous scale, and that the new work is purely an addition to that provided for by the existing machinery of office accommodation and clerical staff, I am of opinion that these rates are adequate.