With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to answer Question Nos. 19 and 20 together.
The number of blind pensions in payment is approximately 6,000 and the annual cost is about £900,000. Eligibility for blind pension can be determined only by examination of each applicant's means and ophthalmic condition, and consequently an accurate estimate of the cost of abolishing or modifying the means test cannot readily be given.
Payment of a handicap allowance to blind persons or further modification of the means test in their case is not contemplated at present.