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Ministry of Pensions.

Part of Orders of the Day — Civil Services Supplementary Estimates, 1919–20. – in the House of Commons on 9th December 1919.

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Photo of Mr James Hogge Mr James Hogge , Edinburgh East

The Minister of Pensions, as he usually does, has given the House a very clear explanation of the Vote which he is asking the Committee to pass, and I am certain that, so far as the House is concerned, no one grudges any money which reaches the men or the women or the children. Therefore any criticism one may offer or any question one may ask is not directed toward that, but is aimed at the administrative side. The salient feature of this Estimate for the Ministry of Pensions is that the total cost has now reached the sum of £104,899,000, which is exactly a little more than one-half of what the nation required to raise in 1914 to run the business of the entire country. In that year we had the first £200,000,000 Budget, which appalled those of us who were in the House at the time. To-day we have the Minister for Pensions coming here for another sum of £32,000,000, thereby raising his Estimate alone to mare than one-half of that National Budget. The figures which my right hon. Friend gave are extraordinarily interesting. He stated that there were 2,621,313 persons in receipt of pensions of one kind or another. That is a figure which might unnecessarily alarm a great many people, and the public might be under the impression that that is going to be more or less a permanent figure so far as pensions administration is concerned. But I think I am right in saying, and my right hon. Friend will disagree with me if I am wrong, that the real figure to look to is the number of officers and of men and of the widows of officers and men, which together make up a total of 1,248,823. Obviously, the officers who are disabled will remain on the pension list until they die.