13 JUNE 1908, Page 14


[To rom Smolt or ma "Eirsorkros.")

SIR,—Your article on "The Old-Age Pensions Bill" In last week's Spectator is conclusive on the point that amendments are needed. Two old friends, two brothers or sisters, ought not to be fined 2s. 6d. because they live together. There should be a eliding-scale for incomes between 108. and 15s. per week. But with regard to the cases of those in receipt of indoor or outdoor relief it may be advisable to await the Report of the Poor Law Commission, and there must be some check en those who have been "unemployables" through life. The object, however, of this letter is to join issue with your state- ment that " the statistics of the Friendly Societies in town and country show that it is and has been well within the power of the Majority of the working classes in Britain to make provision for their old age." I have passed through the chair of a lodge of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows. It is a large and flourishing lodge in Reading, one of the very best in the Order. We have long established a fund out of which the contributions of members on reaching the age of sixty are paid for the rest of life. This is financially sound. But an avowed experiment to provide old-age pensions varying from 1s. 4d. to 3s. 4d. per week (one-sixth of the sick-pay benefit) bad, after a few years' working, to be abandoned. The great majority of the working classes have proved that they can make provision against sickness; but, in my judgment, it is the very reverse of the truth to say that "it is and has been Well within their power to make provision for their old age."—

P.G.M. Excelsior Lodge, M.U.O.F., Reading. The Ridge Field, Caversham, Reading.

[The operations of the Dumnow Friendly Society, whose members are largely agricultural labourers—i.e., the lowest- paid working men in the country—afford the best answer to our correspondent.—En. Spectator.]