I move: "That the Army Pensions Bill, 1923, be received for final consideration."
ARMY PENSIONS BILL, 1923. - FOURTH AND FIFTH STAGES.
I move Amendment No. 1 as follows:—"Section 3. After the word `be' in Sub-section (2), line 43, page 4, to add the words `Provided, however, that all such persons who received a wound in the rising of April and May, 1916, shall be deemed to rank as officers.' "
This amendment is introduced in pursuance of an undertaking given by the Minister for Defence when the Bill was in Committee to meet the views expressed by Deputy Johnson.
I welcome this amendment, and wish to record our appreciation, and, I am sure, the appreciation of the Dáil as a whole, at the way the Minister for Defence has met the representations put forward in this respect. I think it will give general satisfaction. I think the numbers are not so great as to be immensely costly. I again thank the Minister for his consideration.
I move Amendment No. 2. Section 8. After the word "be" in Sub-section (3), line 63, page 5, to add the words:—"Provided, however, that all such persons killed during the rising of April and May, 1916, shall be deemed to rank as officers." This amendment is on the same basis as the first, and has the same effect in the case of men who were killed as the first had in the case of those who were wounded.
I beg to move the following amendment No. 3:—Second Schedule. In paragraph 4 to delete the word "school" and substitute the word "educational." There might be certain fees which would be educational, and not be school fees in the strict sense of the word, and the object of the amendment is to cover these.
I beg to move the following amendment, No. 4:—"Third Schedule—To insert before paragraph 3 a new paragraph as follows:—`Repayment of amount proved to have been in fact necessarily and properly expended in educational fees, but not exceeding £35, in any one calender year, where evidence to the satisfaction of the Minister is produced that the child of a soldier would benefit by education of a more advanced nature than that provided in Primary Schools, and would have received such education had his (or her) father lived.' " This is also introduced in pursuance of an undertaking given by the Minister for Defence when the Bill was in Committee.
I would like to ask the Minister if he considered the effect of one point which arises in the last sentence of the amendment: "And would have received such education had his or her father lived." It would be very difficult, I think, for the Minister to decide what would have taken place. It will be quite guesswork. It is not possible to decide the circumstances of the time, the possible improvement of the circumstances that might have come to the father had he lived, the chances of scholarships, etc., that might have been possible to the child had the father lived. I suggest that this proviso would be better eliminated, that it will not be an easy duty for the Minister to decide what would have happened in such circumstances, and that inasmuch as there is a limitation and the Minister has to be satisfied as to the amount to be expended, the last sentence of the amendment might very well be deleted without harming the amendment, while perhaps improving the general position. It would leave it possible then, of course, for the Minister to say that such education might be given, inasmuch as the child is fit to receive such education, irrespective of the question whether the father would have been able to provide that education had he lived, inasmuch as the latter is a decision which the Minister is asked to come to, and which he cannot decide except on a guess. I think the clause would be improved if that proviso were deleted.
This amendment is to get over, to some extent at any rate, the difficulty in dealing with a class which, on the whole, would not reasonably expect to have educational facilities provided for them by their parents up to eighteen years of age, and it is brought in in an endeavour to meet the point made by some of the Deputies here that some, at any rate, of the class that the Third Schedule proposes to deal with are of a class that would be likely to have education provided for them by their parent up to that age if he had not lost his life in the service of the country. The Pensions Board that will consider those particular cases may be expected to take a reasonable, broad, and intelligent view of the circumstances in any case that comes up to them, and it would not have been reasonable to introduce a clause that would provide those facilities indiscriminately to the whole of the class in question. We have here that the facilities can be provided "where evidence to the satisfaction of the Minister is produced that the child of a soldier would benefit by education of a more advanced nature than that provided in primary schools, and would have received such education had his (or her) father lived." I would be prepared to qualify the last portion of the amendment to have it read something like "and would be likely to have received such education had his (or her) father lived," but it is only there to make it plain that those facilities will not be provided indiscriminately for the class dealt with in the Schedule, and to indicate the lines upon which the Pensions Board would determine whether those facilities should be granted or not.
I think it certainly would be an improvement to insert such words as "and might reasonably be expected to have received." The phrase as it stands asks the Minister to say definitely that the child would certainly have received. I think it is too hard and rigid, and while I would prefer to have the whole sentence struck out, I think the suggestion of the Minister a reasonable improvement, and believe the Dáil might accept it.
Does this amendment refer to education to be received in the future, or to fees for education already received and to be compensated for?
The amendment actually deals with the future, but where the whole of this Bill takes effect from a particular date stated in this Bill, this will apply of course from this date. It has been suggested that a more suitable wording would be to have "where evidence to the satisfaction of the Minister is produced that the child of a soldier would benefit by education of a more advanced nature than that provided in primary schools, and would appear to have been deprived of such benefit by the death of his or her father." It is only a question of wording.
Deputy Duggan is asking leave to amend the amendment on the paper by deleting all words after "would," on the second last line, and by substituting "appear to have been deprived of such education owing to the death of his (or her) father." I take it leave is given to alter the amendment in that form.
I move: "That the Bill be now passed."
This Bill is a Money Bill.