Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish Pensions in Britain.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he is aware that people living in Britain, and in receipt of Irish pensions, are in effect having their pensions reduced by 14 or 15 per cent; and the action he proposes to take in the matter.

Irish pensioners residing abroad, including those in Britain, receive their pensions in Irish currency. They are paid by means of payable orders issued to them by my Department at weekly or monthly intervals, as required. Prior to this country's entry into the EMS and the break in the link with sterling Irish pensioners in Britain were paid by pension order books cashable at face value at post offices in that country. As British post offices do not operate a currency conversion service this arrangement has ceased and the pensioners now make their own arrangements for the encashment of the payable orders. As the value of the púnt is lower than that of Sterling the pensioners receive less in British currency than the face value of their pensions. They are however being paid the full value in Irish currency of the pensions to which they are entitled under the Social Welfare Acts. There is no provision for the payment to Irish pensioners residing abroad of rates higher than those payable to pensioners residing in this country, nor does such provision exist in other member countries of the EEC.

Is it not a fact that the British do it in relation to recipients who are being paid in other currencies?

I am not so aware.

The Minister can take it that they are. In the case of British pensioners being paid elsewhere they are approaching it on the basis of the current rate of exchange. A loss is being incurred by recipients in this country of a British pension no matter what the Minister says.

There is a loss incurred by people receiving a British pension here?

There is.

They are paid in sterling. The Deputy can understand the difficulties that would arise if we were to pay more to an old age pensioner living in Britain than we are paying to our own nationals. We are members of the EMS and no country in the EMS is paying any supplementary to people in England.

Is it not a fact that the recipient of a UK pension here is at a loss at the moment because of the exchange rate?

If a person has £100 of a UK pension over here where the púnt is valued at 80p he will get approximately £120 for his £100 sterling. That is my understanding of it.

Will the Minister comment on Irish pensioners living in England?

The Minister has replied to that question.

The fact is that the Minister has refused to admit that the English Government are prepared to ensure that there is no loss for anyone involved——

That has nothing to do with this question.

——or that there is no reciprocal arrangement.

I am not responsible for the actions of the British Government.

That is an easy way out.

Question No. 18 has been postponed.