Dáil Éireann - Volume 5 - 15 November, 1923
GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S ADDRESS. - OLD AGE PENSIONS REDUCTIONS.
Mr. ALFRED BYRNE Mr. ALFRED BYRNE
Mr. ALFRED BYRNE: I beg to move amendment No. 3:—
“To delete all after the word `address,' and to substitute therefor the words `but, while approving of the decision of Minister to “avoid waste, and extract the utmost value from all public expenditure (Par. 23); cannot agree to the proposal which would cause severe hardship on many poor old age pensioners in the Free State.' ”
I promise to be brief in moving this amendment. One point that has not been touched upon, in connection with old age, pensions, is a matter which is bound to come into effect in the City of Dublin, and that is, the reduction in the old age pensions in the city, which may mean something small to the Minister for Finance, but which the Minister for Local Government must be aware will have a very serious effect upon the majority of the old age pensioners who are living in the slums of Dublin. They will be forced to apply, if this cut is made, for Poor Law relief, and, if they do not get Poor Law relief, they will be compelled to go into the workhouse. While you may save a little, therefore, in the one department, the Department of Finance, you are bound to get considerable cost and loss in the Departments of Local Government in consequence of this cut of a shilling in the old age pensions. I am aware that there are many cases in the City of Dublin of old age pensioners who have no other source of income, and if a shilling is taken off the ten shillings it will mean that they will not be able to exist. It will be the last straw, and they will have to be taken into the workhouse, and the cost in the workhouse is estimated at 18s. 6d. per head. The Minister for Local Government would do well to consider that point, in my opinion. I endorse the suggestion made by three or four Deputies who have spoken in previous debates, that a committee should be appointed to consider these cases of reduction on their merits, and wherever it is found that the recipients of old age pensions are not working and not  in receipt of other means they would deal with them accordingly. The cases such as I have alluded to in the tenement areas of the city might well be left alone, and the people so situated saved from the workhouse.
I am personally aware that some years ago there was a building in the City of Dublin let in rooms at 1s. per week, and the Assistant Master of the Union, when pensions were increased to 10s., made every effort to get accommodation in these places for people entitled to pension if they came out of the workhouse. He succeeded in getting a great many of them to transfer from the workhouse to these rooms let at 1s. per week. There are many deserving cases such as I have mentioned, and in this one building I know the Assistant Master of the Dublin Union got accommodation for twenty people who were not in receipt of any more than the 10s. a week pension. I think it will be a great hardship if these people are to suffer because there are others in various parts of the country whom the Minister thinks unworthy of the pension. Suggestions have been made as to how retrenchment could be effected. The public outside are saying that there are too many thousand-a-year men knocking around. There are too many appointments being made of thousand-a-year men whose value in the commercial world would not be more than three or four hundred a year at the very outside. If the Government wish to retrench they can start with these thousand-a-year men. Let them begin with the highly-paid officials and reduce them. I would be greatly against curtailment of the salaries of the smaller under-paid employees. I am not beyond saying that even the members of the Dáil and the members of the Seanad should be prepared to forego some of their salaries in the interest of economy.
I promised I would be very brief, and I will keep that promise. I will move the amendment, and I hope it will get some larger support than the previous amendment by Deputy Johnson.
Mr. JAMES COSGRAVE Mr. JAMES COSGRAVE
Mr. JAMES COSGRAVE: I beg to second.
 The Dáil divided: Tá, 19; Níl, 61.
Amendment declared lost.
Dáil Éireann 5 GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S ADDRESS. OLD AGE PENSIONS REDUCTIONS.