§ MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM (Cork County, N. E.)
To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether a person who is in receipt of Poor Law relief from the guardians, the amount of which relief is entirely recouped to the guardians by the relatives of such person, is, on the ground of the receipt of poor relief, disqualified under Section 3 of the Old-Age Pensions Act, 1908, for receiving an old-age pension; whether, in calculating the means of married couples under subsection (2) of Section 4 of the Act, the pension officers are entitled, in those cases where the wife possesses no means whatsoever, to bring in half the amount of the weekly wage earned by the husband for the purpose of calculating the means of the wife; whether the course adopted by the pension officers is correct when they take the full wage of a workman for the purpose of depriving him of his right to a pension and then take half of the same wage for the purpose of reducing the wife's claim for a pension; and, if the view adopted by the pension officer is correct, whether the Government will forthwith take steps to sweep away this anomaly.
(Answered by Mr. John Burns.) The first part of the Question is among the points upon which I am awaiting the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown. The procedure in cases to which the second and third parts of the Question relate is governed by subsections (1) and (2) of Section 4 of the Old-Age Pensions Act, 1908. The effect of these enactments is that the means of a person being one of a married couple living together in the same house are calculated in precisely the same way as the means of a person who is not married, viz., at the amount received or enjoyed by him or her individually, with this exception, that the means of such a person cannot be taken as being less than half the joint means of the couple. Thus if the means 1387 of a husband are £50 a year and the means of the wife are nil, the husband's means are to be taken at £50 a year and the wife's at not less than £25 a year. The Government are not proposing to amend this provision.