§ MR. LIDDELL (Down, W.)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can state what would be the annual cost to the Treasury of a grant of old-age pensions of 5s a week to every person in the United Kingdom over the ages of sixty-five and seventy respectively; what is the total annual cost to the State from rates and taxes of the maintenance of paupers, both indoor and outdoor, over these ages in the United Kingdom; what would be the net annual cost of these old-age pensions to the State resulting from the practical abolition of indoor and outdoor relief by the grant of old-age pensions; and whether the Government will undertake to give old-age pensions to the inhabitants of the United Kingdom before applying State funds to the payment of salaries of Members of Parliament.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The number of persons enumerated in the 1901 Census over sixty-five and seventy was 2,018,716 and 1,205,069 respectively. To provide old-age pensions of 5s. a week would therefore require over £26,225,000 in the first case and over £15,500,000 in the second. To obtain precise or approximately precise information as to the general cost of poor law relief in respect of persons over sixty-five and seventy would require a special investigation by the Local Government Boards of the three kingdoms. I would, however, refer the hon. Member to the Report of the Departmental Committee on the financial aspects of the proposals made by the Select Committee on the Aged Deserving Poor (Cd. 67, 1900), where he will find conjectural estimates bearing on the subject of his Question. I am unable at the moment to give any undertaking as to how, or in what relative order as compared with other matters, the ques- 402 tion of old-age pensions will be dealt with.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
Do not the Government intend to introduce legislation to fulfil their promises, then?
§ MR. FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)
Would not the money spent on the South African War, which had the support of the hon. Member who has asked this Question, more than suffice to provide these pensions?
§ [No Answer was returned.]
§ MR. LIDDELL
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Government would consider the desirability in any scheme of old-age pensions of excluding from participation in those pensions retired naval, military, and civil servants already in receipt of pensions, say of £52 a year and upwards; and whether he can state the number of persons over the ages of sixty-five and seventy who are now in receipt of State pensions of the annual value of £52 and upwards.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I will not lose sight of the hon. Member's suggestion, though I must not be supposed to commit myself to its adoption. To furnish the information asked for in the latter part of the Question would necessitate a detailed examination of the list of pensioners man by man. This would mean a very considerable amount of labour, and it appears scarcely to be called for at the present stage of the inquiry.