23 JANUARY 1909, Page 16



Sin,—For the past twenty years my wife and I have lived iu close touch with the two or three hundred inhabitants of our village, knowing their circumstances and befriending them in difficulties, and we are astonished at the way in which the old-age pensions are allowed. Of the six cases where our neighbours are in receipt of these pensions, only one may be described as really necessitous. Glad as we are that any of our old friends should have more of the comforts of life, we cannot help feeling that the working of the Act is radically wrong. A hale and hearty mother living with her son-in-law and his wife on a fairly prosperous farm, which she probably helped to stock, and certainly still helps to work, receives a pension as having no means of her own. The thrifty wife of a jobbing gardener, who has saved enough to buy himself a house and to add to it, also receives a pension for a like reason. A third case is very similar. A woman lives with her son and daughter ; the son is always able to get work, and the daughter left service to live with her mother; between them they have recently purchased their cottage and shared in the purchase of another. The other two cases are those of a man and his wife mating as caretakers and earning something by letting lodgings, with help from children and grandchildren ; we have never known them in want of food, clothing, or fire, and being frugal people their extra 10s. a week is—affluence. What need for pensions in these cases ! Would that the money thus wasted could be diverted to meet the very real and pressing wants of the lone, the maimed, and the incurable, whose sufferings cry to us on all sides. But I am wandering from facts as they are. Surely the unwisdom of the Act in its general principles is only matched by that of the provisions on which the Pensions Committees have to work. The needs of the aged poor are not to be fairly gauged by the number of shillings they have to spend, and often the pensions given are, as your correspondent " A Trustee for Twenty Years" (Spectator, January 16th) describes, "unnecessarily large."