§ Mr. PATRICK O'BRIEN
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now in a position to make any further statement of the nature suggested in the question asked by the hon. Member for Waterford in December, 1908, as to the assessment by the Local Government Board of small farmer pension claimants' incomes in Ireland; whether he was aware that there is dissatisfaction in Ireland with the decisions of the Board in cases of this kind; whether he will procure for the information of the House a detailed statement of the considerations governing the Board in assessing such incomes; whether he considered the large number of pension claims already admitted in Ireland afforded any ground for refusing just claims of other Irish claimants; whether he is aware that the possession of a small farm of capital value of £50 to £300, the productiveness of which is wholly on the labour of children, with such assistance as the aged claimant could give, is held to be a sufficient reason for debarring such claimant from the benefits of the Old Age Pension Act by attributing to him as income the whole income of the family working on the farm; whether he is aware that, in cases where deductions were actually made in respect of the labour of sons and other members of the family, such deductions were regarded as inadequate by all familiar with the manner in which these small farms were owned and worked; and whether he will take steps to remedy the alleged grievance?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
With regard to the first part of the question, I do not see that anything can usefully be added to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chan-1978W cellor of the Exchequer to a question asked by the hon. Member for East Clare on the 21st December last. Each case is dealt with by the Local Government Board on its merits, regard being had to its particular circumstances and to the provisions of the Old Age Pensions Act. It cannot be expected that the Board's decisions, when they involve refusing pensions, could be regarded as satisfactory by disappointed claimants. The method adopted by the Board was explained in my reply to the first portion of the question asked by the hon. Member for North Meath on 25th March last. There is no foundation for the suggestion that the large number of pension claims already admitted in Ireland exerts any influence on the consideration of the just claims of other Irish applicants for pensions. The net income derived from a farm possessed by a claimant, after making allowance for the expenditure necessarily incurred, whether the labour is done by his relatives or other persons, must, in accordance with the Act, be reckoned against the claimant in calculating his means under the Act. Adequate allowance is made by the Local Government Board in each case under the head of labour. The Board cannot admit that any grievance exists as alleged.