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OLD AGE PENSIONS. Within a very brief period there have been two pronouncements- of an official nature on the subject of Old Age Pensions. The Departmental Committee, presided over by Locd Rothschild, reported negatively. It failed to hit on any workable scheme for the relief of the destitute aged other than through the ordinary channels of the poor law which channels, however, might be enlarged or otherwise improved. The Select Committee, of which Mr. Chaplin, President of the Local Government Board, was appointed the chair- man—a selection which at the time it was made was not regarded as very promising— has now with remarkable promptitude presented its report. It had the advantage of the material gathered in previous investiga- tions, and it has also heard evidence beariug on the condition of the poor who have passed beyond the wage earning period of life. The general conclusion arrived at is that, when all the factors of a qualifing nature are taken into account, there remains a large proportion of the population whose indigence in their latter days has been occasioned either by sheer misfortune or sheer lack of opportunity for making any provision for themselves. The existence of this large class could hardly be denied, and the recognition of it has led to the pressure brought upon Board of Guardians in recent years to "classify" the inmates in workhouses according to character and antecedents. But no one who has given thought and sympathy to social problems will admit that any system of workhouse classifi- cation or any enlargement of out-door relief as worked through distinctly pauperising machinery, is adequate to the responsibility resting upon a nation in respect to the treat- ment of the blameless aged. For these the Government are pledged to the hilt to devise a peusion scheme, and seeing that such a scheme is actually in operation in Denmark, it should be in excess neither of the humanity nor the resources of great and wealthy England. The compulsorysysteni in Germany, though on the score of right and reason it has everything to commend it, is inapplicable to the conditions of our own country, at all events in the present stage of development. Hence, whatever plan may be agreed upon for pensioning; the really deserving, will have to be carefully framed in order that its essential object may be secured, the workhouse machinery being still necessary for the accom- dation of those who have only themselves to thank for destitution. On the face of it, the proposal of Mr. Chaplin's committee is an alarmingly large order, and it may prove alltogether too formidable for the Govern- ment. Briefly summarised, the schema con- templates 65 as the age limit, and five shillings and seven shillings as the minimum and maximum pension the recipients, meu and women, to be deserving in the sense that they have never been recipients of parish relief other than medical relief that they have never been in prison, and that they have given some evidence of thrift. Under such circumstances, their eligibility is conditioned by the possession of an income not less than ten shillings a week. A special committee appointed by the Guardians is to be the authority for granting applications, the money to be paid through the post office, and the pension to be payable in the ordinary course for three years, subject to the power of the authority to suspend or stop it at any time for reason shown. It is estimated at something like ten millions sterling—half to be borne by the Imperial Exchequer, and the other moiety by local rates. A proposal of this magnitude may well strike terror into the heart of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But Chancellors were made for nations, and nations for Chancellors. It may be that the select committee have elaborated a plan which is susceptible, by judicious modifica- tion, of being brought within the range of practical politics.


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