asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health whether, in view of the increases in the cost of living since the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act was introduced, he will reconsider the whole question of the amounts of pensions payable, with a view to increasing the pensions granted to contributory and non-contributory pensioners, and more particularly to rectifying the present anomalies in connection with noncontributory pensions.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Widows' and Orphans' Pensions.
A review of the widows' and orphans' pensions scheme, in conjunction with the other schemes of social insurance and assistance, will be made by the Minister for Social Welfare to be appointed if and when the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, at present before the Dáil, is enacted by the Oireachtas.
By reason of the increase in the cost of living to which the Deputy refers, supplements in cash or in kind are payable, under emergency legislation, to recipients of widows' and orphans' pensions. The cost of such supplements in the current year is estimated at £300,000, made up of £157,000 for food vouchers, provided for in Vote 68, and £143,000 for cash allowances, provided for in Vote 44. Those sums are exclusive of any benefits which widows and orphans receive under the emergency schemes for the provision of fuel and of footwear for children.
Has the Minister been talking about giving benefits to the widows and orphans—a widow getting 5/- and an orphan 2/6? How could they exist on that? Yet, you talk about building hospitals and killing tuberculosis. We are a disgrace to the world. If the Government do not put their hands to their hearts and give these unfortunate people something to keep body and soul together, what will happen them? How are healthy people to be reared on nothing but pure air? How is an unfortunate widow to pay rent and pay for food——
Has the Deputy a question to put?
I have—a very severe one and one which the House should be ashamed I should have to ask. In a Christian country, it should not be necessary to put it. Unfortunate widows and orphans——
The Chair would like to hear the Deputy's question.
I have asked the question and the Minister has not answered it. If I am not to go further, I shall not do so, but the way these people are treated is discreditable to the country.