A political pensioner enjoys a pension awarded due to his or political career or significance.
By the Political Offices Pension Act 1869, pensions were instituted for those who had held political office. For the purposes of the act, political offices were divided into three classes:
For service in these offices there may be awarded pensions for life in the following scale:
The service need not be continuous, and the act makes provision for counting service in lower classes as a qualification for pension in a higher class. These pensions are limited in number to twelve, but a holder must not receive any other pension out of the public revenue, if so, he must inform the treasury and surrender it if it exceeds his political pension, or if under he must deduct the amount. He may, however, hold office while a pensioner, but the pension is not payable during the time he holds office. To obtain a political pension, the applicant must file a declaration stating the grounds upon which he claims it and that his income from other sources is not sufficient to maintain his station in life.
Similar 'golden cage' arrangements were often made later by other (not only British) governments. An extreme case was the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, for whom the Italian island of Elba was turned into an operetta 'empire' until his escape, Hundred Days revolt and miserable banishment to St. Helena.
Political pensioners were formerly reigning dynasties of Indian princely states that had been dethroned and their states annexed by British India under the doctrine of lapse.