Death of President of Iceland. - Garda Siochána Pensions Order, 1951—Motion of Approval.

I move:—

That the Dáil hereby approves of the Garda Síochána Pensions Order, 1951, made on the 29th day of December, 1951, by the Minister for Justice, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, under Section 13 of the Police Forces Amalgamation Act, 1925, and laid before the Dáil on the 5th January, 1952.

The Garda Síochána Pensions Order, 1951, which I am asking the House to approve, consists of a number of amendments to the existing Pensions Orders. A memorandum has been circulated to Deputies, explaining the effect of the various amendments, and I am sure that it will not be necessary for me to go into a further detailed explanation of the provisions of the Order.

The most important provisions of the Order are Articles 5 to 16, which provide for the Garda a lump sum pension scheme, similar to the pension schemes of civil servants, teachers and officials of local authorities. Under the existing Orders, the pensions of members of the Garda are assessed at one-sixtieth of annual pay for each year of service. Each year of service in excess of 20 counts as two for pension purposes, and the maximum pension which may be payable is one equalling two-thirds of annual pay. No gratuities are payable to members retiring on pension. Under the new scheme, pensions will be assessed on one-eightieth of annual pay, instead of on one-sixtieth. Each year of service in excess of 20 will still count as two, and the maximum pension will be one half of annual pay. In addition to his pension, however, a member will receive on retirement a gratuity calculated at one-thirtieth of annual pay for each year of service. Furthermore, if a member dies after completing a minimum of five years' service, a gratuity of not less than one year's annual pay will be payable to his widow, in addition to the pension which she is entitled to under the existing Orders, and if the member is unmarried, the gratuity will be payable to his legal personal representative.

The new scheme will apply to all future entrants to the force. Serving members are given an option to remain under the existing Orders or to apply to come under the new scheme.

The remaining provisions of the Order are not so important. They are all intended, however, to effect improvements in the pension code.

There is only one of them to which I wish to draw attention, namely Article 21. It provides for the grant of pensions in cases where members were dismissed, required to retire as an alternative to dismissal or given an opportunity of resigning following disciplinary charges and it is subsequently proved that at the time of their discharge they were incapacitated by physical or mental infirmity. This provision, I hope, will cover a few cases about which Deputies have made repeated representations.

The Minister indicated in the Seanad that this Order was made in agreement with the Garda Representative Body.

In consultation.

There was no agreement.

There is never full agreement on anything. The Deputy must be aware of that.

The inference in the speech in the Seanad was that there was agreement.

I thought that, on the whole, the terms were acceptable. There were some points on which the representative body would have preferred improvement. On the whole, there was general acceptance.

This is an improvement on existing conditions but that is the best I can say for the Order. The representative body expected much more. I am not satisfied that the Minister has covered all that should have been covered, in equity. Take, for instance, the matter of an increase to widows and families of deceased Gardaí. The Minister has not improved that situation very much. While it is laudable and desirable that the Garda himself should be provided for in his old age, nevertheless, owing to the increased cost of living and the circumstances under which Gardaí operate, a Garda can never make full provision for his wife and family in the event of his death and, as far as I can see, there is no improvement in that respect. I thought that, even if it meant that they would lose something themselves, it would be better to make provision for the dependents of Gardaí. I should like to hear the Minister's views on that matter.

For a long time the Gardaí have fought a long drawn-out battle for better conditions. In other countries the conditions of those serving in the police force are much better than here. This is not the time to raise other matters with regard to the conditions of service or organisation of the Garda Síochána, but I should like to hear from the Minister what improvement, if any, he has made with regard to the widows and orphans.

While this Pensions Order is an improvement on the present superannuation position in respect of the Garda Síochána, it is also of benefit to the State taking the long view, because actuaries will tell you that, with the expansion of the period of expectation of life, actuarially sixtieths for pension purposes are now more valuable than eightieths plus a lump sum. I have no doubt the Minister has already been advised to that effect by actuaries. Certainly, the Department of Finance knows it because the information is in their possession. Therefore, while the Gardaí do benefit because of the mechanics of the scheme in relation to their own domestic lives, the State in the long run also benefits, because it is swopping something for something else and what it is getting is a better bargain for the State over a period of years than the existing situation.

It is because of that fact that I think it was a mistake to spoil this otherwise good Order by some evidence of niggardly administrative approaches to the problem. The dead-hand of the Department of Finance is all over this Order because I am sure the Minister personally does not approve of some of the restrictions imposed in this Order. For example, this is a scheme to give to serving officers the benefits of what I might describe as the new pension code; that is the code by which they can get half salary on retirement, plus a lump sum calculated on the basis of forty-five-thirtieths, with a coverage for dependents in the event of death while in the service, instead of a scheme of sixtieths under which they got two-thirds of their salary on retirement with no lump sum and no coverage on death.

Everybody with experience of these codes will know that the new one is an improvement on the old one. But look at what happened and you will see the hand of the Department of Finance in this Order. Those who are on an extension of service, those who have passed the normal age limit for retirement and are still serving, although members of the Garda Síochána the same as any of the other Gardaí—there are only 40 concerned out of a force of 6,000 or 7,000—will not be allowed to opt to go into this scheme; the view of the Department of Finance, apparently, being that they might die quickly and, therefore, a lump sum would have to be paid or, if they did not die, on retirement they would have to be paid a lump sum in addition to the half salary. There is no addition for them in case they would die quickly and their next-of-kin might get the benefit of the scheme. Then you have a health test so as to make sure that if they die after a few more years their next-of-kin will not collect from the Department of Justice a lump sum. The Gardaí must pass a health test before they come under the scheme.

A similar scheme was operated under the Civil Service Superannuation Act, 1909. Up to 1909, civil servants' pensions were calculated under the 1859 Superannuation Act. Under that Act their pensions were calculated on the basis of one-sixtieth of salary and emoluments for each year of service and after 40 years' service they got a pension of two-thirds, just as the Gardaí are getting to-day, with no lump sum or no coverage for death. Then a scheme was introduced by which civil servants could get in substance what the Gardaí are now getting. There was a provision, however, in the 1909 Act, which gave them the new scheme, that they should pass as medically fit before they would be allowed to opt for the 1909 Act provisions and quite a number of them failed to pass the medical test. The strange part of it was that a number of the people who failed to pass lived five, six or ten years longer than the doctors who disqualified them.

Then the State lost by that. They got the two-thirds pension for the extra time.

These people were serving at the time. Everybody was subjected to a medical test. A number of people were disqualified, and some of those people disqualified in 1909 were alive until 1940 or 1950—some of them are alive to-day—while the doctors who examined them are long since dead. But they were disqualified under the 1909 Act and, consequently, did not get benefits similar to those it is now proposed to give the Garda Síochána.

I suggest to the Minister that, even at the risk of worrying the Department of Finance, he ought to go back with this Order, fortified by the authority of the Dáil, and tell the Department of Finance that the Dáil regarded it as a piece of shabby trickery. There are not many people involved or many people likely to be involved. I understand that about 40 or so are on extension. Why you should debar these, or what hope of gain there is by debarring them, I do not know. It is a miserable, mean approach to the whole problem to exclude a small number of people.

Similarly with regard to the health test. I do not know why that condition is being insisted upon, because no similar condition was enforced when the national teachers were allowed to change over to a new superannuation scheme. Here, apparently, there is to be a health test. I cannot understand why that should be so. In the case of the staff of the National Health Insurance Society, which I took over from the society and transferred to the Department of Social Welfare, there was a blanket transfer to a new superannuation code. There were no exclusions or health tests. The staff came in under a blanket Order without any of the fiddling which is characteristic of this Order.

There is another matter as to which one wonders what the purpose was. The Gardaí, by the nature of their employment, receive uniforms. I gather that they do not receive any allowance for uniform in the calculation of pension. That seems to be strange, because there is a well-beaten track in the Civil Service with regard to assessing the value of uniform for pension purposes. It is done every day in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Allowance is made for the value of uniform in the calculation of pensions. It is true that the allowance is inadequate. In mental hospitals there is also an allowance made. The same allowance is made in the prison service. Prison officers are allowed the value of uniform for superannuation purposes.

Why are the Gardaí selected for this special treatment? Why are they being denied what has been granted to other classes of State servants? Surely they have as good a claim in regard to this matter as the others. I am sure the Minister will agree with the view I am putting forward. I do not want to impede the Order, but I think the Minister ought to go back to the Department of Finance, or go to their masters, the Government, and say: "This is a shabby business. We should not do it. It is spoiling a good Order." The Minister has no sympathy with it and should get a Government Order to make sure that these matters which spoil a good Order are eliminated.

I should like to add my voice to that of Deputy Norton. My approach to this matter is a good deal similar to his. I feel that this was something which emerged from the Department of Justice with all the trappings of decency and came back from the Department of Finance in the shabby, miserable condition in which it is now presented to the House. It stinks of the Department of Finance's rigid cutting to the bone of expenditure. The Garda is a force to which the nation owes a tremendous debt of gratitude. The people who will be affected adversely by the cheese-paring of this Order are some of those people to whom this country owes the deepest debt of gratitude. Why the Minister allows the Department of Finance to do this I do not know.

The Minister can be assured that he will have the unanimous backing of this House in any effort he makes to remove this old bone of contention between the Garda Representative Body and his Department. It is true that, at the moment, the whole question of the reorganisation of the Garda force and of the Guards is under general review. Therefore, why does the Minister precipitate this Order into a situation where his Department is dealing with an over-all position?

This is, as Deputy Norton has suggested, some kind of an advance. I would prefer we were rather tardy about this advance if, by doing so, we were ultimately to achieve a better over-all position. I am reliably informed and I believe that the Minister does not like this queer stepson of an Order that has been foisted back on him by the Department of Finance. The Garda Representative Body does not like it. The Minister now finds himself in the position that the House is prepared to accept some instalment, but I would appeal to him that, finding the House in that position, he ought not to rush the Order through.

I would urge him to reconsider the Order generally. There are some parts of it that can only be described as cheese-paring, and I do not think the Minister himself has any great sympathy with that kind of action. I feel that, if he accepts it at all, he is doing so under extreme duress from the Department of Finance. I would ask him to regard this House as the bulwark between himself and his colleague and the Department of Finance. I suggest to him that he should make the Order something that will not be odious and that will not create as between himself and the Garda Representative Body a further irritant, a further scab in respect of the complacent relationships that ought to be the ultimate objective of his Department in regard to its general concern and intercourse with the Garda Representative Body.

This is something that everybody in the House has desired should come about, but why bring it about in a cheap way? Why not, for the infinitesimal increase in cost that might be involved, give the Order a decent and a clean appearance. I think that the Minister should take it back and do that. He has the sympathy of everybody in the House in the position in which he finds himself with the watchdogs of Finance. The atmosphere of gloom which is being created through the country would remind one of the recent snows and would appear to be gripping this House like the recent frost. The Minister may have difficulties with the Department of Finance, but I suggest to him that he should look to this side of the House and see the smile that will dispel that artificially Government created gloom. That will encourage and help him if he wants to take this Order back. As a decent Minister he should do that. He is the Minister who is held up to us as being a decent, simple, honest Minister. I suggest to him that he should take the Order back and bring in one that will be in complete harmony with his own plain decent simple outlook. If he does that the Order will certainly get the approval of this House.

I agree that this Order marks an advance on the existing position. There is one matter that I should like to put before the Minister, and that is in regard to members of the Garda who were forced to retire by reason of having reached the age limit. They had retired prior to the granting of the recent increases in the pay of the Garda. I think that the number of men in that category would be very small. Men who retired in 1948 are certainly suffering under disabilities. I am sure their number must be a limited one, that is to say men who had reached the age of 57 before 1948. They had reached the upper age limit at the time of the formation of the force. I think that their case deserves special consideration. They have given lifelong service, and I think we may take it that these were men who were admitted to the Garda Síochána, in many cases, because of their outstanding national service. In view of the fact that their number is so small, their case is one which the Minister should give special consideration to.

I also welcome the introduction of the Order. I do so, first of all, because it is an attempt to bring the Gardaí into line with every other Government service—the Civil Service, the prison service, teachers and others who are now operating under the scheme similar to this, and, secondly, because of the fact that this Order was arrived at, in the main, in agreement with the Garda Representative Body, and after consultation with it. I think it is a good idea that, in the preparation of a scheme of this kind, the people and the organisations mainly concerned should be consulted, and, if possible, agreement sought.

I agree with the Minister that in matters of this kind you will not always get agreement. The people who are to receive think they should get more, while the people called upon to give think that they should get something less. I imagine, as long as human nature is what it is, that will always be the position.

Article 21 of the Order deals with Guards who were dismissed in the past and indicates that their cases may now be reviewed in certain circumstances. I think I can say, without any disrespect to the previous Ministers for Justice, that in the political turmoil of the old days certain people went out of the Guards because of the fact that that political turmoil was on. It may be a fact that, if the offences which were supposed to have been committed, were examined in the calmer atmosphere of the present time, it would be found that those people were in fact entitled to more than they got, and more than they have at present. I welcome the fact that these cases can be reviewed. I also believe it is a good thing that there has been an increase in the age limit as regards dependents, in certain circumstances, from 16 to 21, that is in cases where children are attending whole-time educational colleges or schools. It is also a very good thing, even in the case of a Guard who had served for a short period of five years, that there will be a death grant for widows or dependents. These are the good points of the scheme.

The other side of the story was put very forcibly by Deputy Norton, that is, in respect of the 40 odd members of the Garda who, under the age limit, are debarred. These, in the main, were foundation members of the Garda Síochána. It is a very poor tribute to them, in view of the fact that they were foundation members of this magnificent force, that they should now be penalised. As Deputy Norton has said, age is no guarantee of health and it would appear as if the Department of Finance has not examined the possibility of some of these people dying at a very early age. I would point out to the Minister, however, that this would be a non-recurring risk. The Minister, imbued with his own spirit of generosity, should ask the Department of Finance to examine into that aspect of the matter and include everybody. When the teachers received their superannuation scheme there was no question of any exceptions.

I think that many Gardaí who have given the best years of their lives to the country could attribute their illhealth to-day to injuries received in the course of their duties, injuries which would now qualify them under this scheme. I think the Minister will agree with me that it is wrong to penalise any section. There was no health examination in the case of the teachers. I think the same treatment should be meted out to the Gardaí. We owe it to them. We pay lip-service to them on occasions and admit that they are a magnificent body; they maintain law and order without the use of firearms. Surely they are entitled to as much as other people have got.

On the point of emoluments, Deputy Norton instanced the Post Office employees, mental hospital employees and those in the prison service all of whom are given a uniform allowance. The Gardaí have a number of allowances which, if added to their salary, would bring about an improvement in their position under this Order.

It is stipulated in the Order that a Garda will qualify for the full 18 months' pay after completing 33 years of service. It is not possible under the Act to reach the full amount and when the Minister is reviewing the Order I would appeal to him to make the gratuity available on the completion of 30 years' service.

With regard to the widows and dependents of Gardaí it is well known that many of them are suffering severely at the present time because of the increased cost of living. Even if they are omitted from the scope of this Order, I feel that the Minister may come along at a later date and include them under some new Order in order to give them some increase to compensate them for the high cost of living.

I welcome the Order and I am glad that the Minister has seen fit to bring it into operation at an early date.

This Order is an improvement on the existing position and for that reason it is to be commended. It is timely, if not in fact overdue. In some respects it is perhaps niggardly. I think that section of the Gardaí who have served since the formation of the force and who helped to build up the State should benefit to a greater extent. I hope the Minister will reconsider the Order before it is finally put into operation to ensure that any necessary adjustments will be made and that all sections of the Garda will get an even break.

Those sections which do not appear to be doing so well under the scheme will inevitably suffer because of the gloomy propaganda in relation to the finances of the State. I feel that propaganda may be used as an excuse for the manner in which they are being treated. The scheme falls far short of the demand put forward by the Garda Representative Body. It might be argued that that body asked for more than they expected to receive. I do not think it was an exaggerated demand; I think it was a reasonable one. Arbitration would probably have given more fair play. The principle of arbitration has been acknowledged in many spheres. I think that machinery should have been used in this instance in order to ensure an impartial decision. I hope some adjustment will be made in the case of the small number of Gardaí who do not appear to be doing so well under the scheme because that number is largely made up of the older Gardaí who played an important part in laying the foundations of the State as we know it to-day.

I endorse all that has been said. Is it possible for the Minister to do anything under this Order for the widows and dependents of Gardaí who have died recently? The pensions allowed are very meagre. I think the Minister should take a stronger stand in the Department of Finance in order to ensure that justice will be done to these widows and children. I know some cases where the husbands gave 15 and 20 years' service and the widows and dependents of these men now find themselves in very difficult circumstances. I hope the Minister will do something for these.

I would support Deputy Hickey in what he has just said. I know some cases in Cork City where the widows and dependents of these men have a very tough struggle in eking out an existence at the present time on the very meagre pensions they have.

I also wish to endorse the remarks of the previous speakers. I appeal to the Minister to do away with the anomaly that appears to exist in relation to those members of the Gardaí who have served since the establishment of the force and who have done very heroic work under very arduous conditions. They are at least entitled to the same benefits that the Order will confer on the majority of the Gardaí. With regard to the widows and dependents, I have had numerous applications from widows asking to have their position ameliorated. Would the Minister at this stage ensure that the pensions that widows of Gardaí receive will not be assessed for the purposes of the Social Welfare Act? Up to the present their pensions are taken into consideration for that purpose. Of course, in the case of the Gardaí the pensions are non-contributory inasmuch as the Gardaí are not insured under national health.

I consider that it was the destructive act of Finance which cut through the Minister's Order which I am sure he originally intended to be of benefit to the entire Garda force and not a majority of the force. Finance had some outlook on this matter that is not comprehensible to the ordinary individual. Finance have a mentality that the other branches of the services do not quite understand. I am sure the Minister will agree with me that his original intention was to include the entire Garda force. I cannot see why that objectionable feature should have been put into an Order which, taking it at its face value, would have been of certain advantage, although not giving 100 per cent. of what the representative body of the Garda would look for. They are a reasonable body of men and were dealing with a reasonable Minister who had a high regard for the force.

I do not know what the Minister's prerogative is in this matter. Is he entitled at this stage to alter the Order? If he is, I would ask him first of all to do away with the particular section which does not enable the men to opt. The Minister has all the privileges attaching to this Order. As aquid pro quo, the Guards should get something. I do not see why they should be deprived of opting.

I would ask the Minister to safeguard the widows and children of Gardaí whose pensions are assessed in connection with non-contributory widow's pensions. The small amount they would receive would help them to carry out their obligations to their families. I am sure I am directing my remarks to a Minister who is in sympathy with the force and in sympathy with the widows of members of the force. If it is within his province to do so, I hope he will go the distance of trying to give these people a better way than they have got.

The unfortunate thing about this Order is that, while the Minister has gone some distance in an attempt to provide a pension scheme for the Garda on the same lines as pensions are provided for State officials and local authority officials generally, he has not gone the whole way. The speeches from this side of the House have indicated our bewilderment as to why the Minister did not go the full distance. To me, at any rate, it does not seem to be entirely a matter of finance because my personal opinion is that the amount involved in the changes suggested by Deputy Norton and my other colleagues here would be a fairly reasonable amount and, as has been pointed out, it would be a diminishing sum.

It has been mentioned here that for the purpose of assessing the pension the annual rate of pay is to be taken merely as that amount of money which a member of the force received during one year. I am certain that in assessing the pensions of local authority officials who are in receipt of emoluments, whether they are uniform allowances, rent allowances or any other type of allowances, the emoluments are definitely taken into account. I am informed to-day that these emoluments are taken into account in assessing the pensions of prison officials and postmen. I would not press strongly that an emolument such as a bicycle allowance should be included for the purpose of assessing pension but I do think that the whole House, even the Minister's Party, would agree that such an emolument as a rent allowance should be included and should be considered when the pension is being assessed.

Therefore, I say that while the Minister has come a very big way in trying to provide a pension scheme for the Garda on the same lines as is provided in the case of the Civil Service and local authorities in general, he has denied to the Guards the small but important benefits which these other people enjoy.

I presume that the Government are trying to establish a standard pension scheme but, again, this particular Order provides for a scheme that is different from the schemes provided in the case of local authorities and the Civil Service. When the Superannuation Act, 1948, became law in respect of local authority officials, it provided that the then employees of local authorities could opt for the pension scheme that was provided for under the 1925 Act which, generally speaking, meant that the pension would be assessed on sixtieths instead of eightieths and plus the lump sum.

There was no suggestion nor was there or is there any rumour that any of these local authority officials should have to undergo a health test. That has been asked for in the case of the Garda and I am at a loss to understand the reason why any practising member of the Garda Síochána should be asked to undergo a health examination so that the Minister for Justice or the Government can determine whether or not he is entitled to this type of pension or that type of pension. It is logical for me to say and for the country to assume that if a Guard had not attained a certain health standard he would not be in the force at all. Whether this provision is to try to save money or not, I do not know. The number which that provision of this Order cuts out is very small indeed.

Again, there is the very important point which, from the point of finance, is a very small one, that the 40 foundation members have not now the option of declaring for the scheme which the Minister has introduced in this particular Order. No matter from what side of the House we come and no matter with which foot we were digging in 1921, 1922 or 1923, we can all say we have the utmost respect for these foundation members of the Garda Síochána. I think I am right in saying that some of them are at present driving State cars; I am not making any particularisation at all, but the Minister, myself and ex-Ministers on the Front Bench have had a good idea of the loyalty and sincerity of these 40 odd people. Perhaps the Minister could promise the House that he would reconsider changing the scheme to an extent that would allow this limited number of men to opt, if they cared to do so, for the new scheme. I do not think he would be subjected to any sarcastic remarks or ribald criticism if he changed the Order in some respects.

My suggestion is that the Minister will not change it, for God, man or the devil. The sooner we get rid of that attitude here the better. The Minister, as he listened to us now, is probably not unlike other Ministers who have sat there since 1922: they will not change anything, because the Opposition suggest it. I am not blaming the Minister for Justice in particular about that, but we should not adopt that attitude when we see sensible suggestions or amendments which we could accept, where there is no big point of principle involved. On a point of principle one could not expect any man to change. Here is an Order that could be amended for the general benefit of the Garda Síochána and we merely suggest that the Minister would say to the House that he will reconsider it and make the slight improvements we have suggested.

As far as improving this Order is concerned, that would mean more delay, as Deputies ought to know. Consequently, some people who may be on the point of retiring would not be able to benefit under it at all.

Why not make it retrospective?

That, as the Deputy knows, will never be done. Ex-Ministers knows that nothing like that can be done.

Could the Minister not do it by anad interim grant?

I remember that I did make a case in connection with a Pensions Order, too, and I asked my predecessor to do what he could, although I realised the difficulty. I am not going to put it up to the Minister for Finance to do what has been suggested, as I am a member of the Government and we are all responsible and if we run riot where expenditure is concerned we could never keep within the Estimates at all. This scheme has been carefully considered and the Garda point of view has been fairly considered. When I met them, although I agree they were not altogether satisfied, they were reasonably satisfied with what was being done. As regards what they have got, they are getting better terms than civil servants. If a civil servant wants a full gratuity—the one and a half years—he must have 45 years' service. A Garda can get that at 33. Is not that a big improvement? When he serves the first 20 years he has only one year for each of those years, but every year after that counts for two, so he is able to get for 33 years' service what it takes a civil servant 45 years to get.

Another point is that the Civil Servants' widows get no pensions but Garda widows do. I think that is a big difference. The ex-Minister, my predecessor, mentioned about widows. Since he made his Order in 1950 increasing by 50 per cent. or thereabouts the pensions to widows, the Garda representatives have made no representations—I suppose they thought it would be no good to do so—and so they did not come under this. When I was asking for something similar previously I would have liked a few people to have got consideration but I found it was not possible. If you start making things retrospective for a few people, it is open to everyone in the service to claim it. I accept what the Minister for Finance has done in this matter and I think he met us fairly reasonably.

In regard to the emoluments not being counted, I agree that is not so in the case of all public servants. However, that always has been done as far as the Gardaí are concerned and there is nothing new in it. It was done in regard to the foundation members of the Garda and also in the R.I.C. and the D.M.P. It is done in the British police for conditions in England and has been done in the R.U.C. That might not be a good reason but that is the case and there is nothing new in it.

It is time to change.

It may be time to change but that is the present position. In regard to the 40 who have been left out, I cannot see that they have a very great grievance. Some of the people who were required to retire when they reached the age of 57 would feel that they had a grievance because those who are in this 40 now were allowed to stay on more than three years over the time. These were required to retire before the new Order was made allowing them to make an extension. Actually they are getting an extension, over the 50 years, as these 40 have had more than three years' full pay after the others had to retire. They will get a bigger pension—two-thirds, not 50 per cent., like those who get a gratuity.

In regard to cases such as Deputy Norton mentioned, where the doctors were wrong and people lived longer, they will get the benefit and the State will not, as the longer they live the bigger the pension they will get and for a longer time.

Taking all in all, I think the Order is a good Order. If I were to withdraw it I would be doing a certain number of Guards a bad service. There must be a few going out every week and it would affect some of them.

How much delay would be involved in getting through that amelioration?

It would lead to all sorts of negotiations which would have to take place and we would have to see the representative body again, then it would have to go to Finance and there would have to be general agreement. I am satisfied that in the circumstances we have got as good a Pensions Order as we can. The responsible people are the representative body and none of them spoke in any way like that in which Deputies spoke here. I do not think they expected this attack that has been made on the Order. Most of them whom I met have been waiting for it. If it is withdrawn some of them may die before a new one is made. The Order comes into force immediately it is passed by both Houses. It is not capable of being amended; it must be either accepted or rejected.

It can be recommitted.

If it is withdrawn it is not operative and we would have to go through all the negotiations again.

Is not the Minister being a bit unfair with the House? The Minister could hold up the Order and come back to the House next week if he wished.

Anyone with experience of these things knows that it cannot be done so quickly.

Even for a month?

I am satisfied that it is as good as the Government can do in the circumstances.

Would the Minister reconsider the widows' case?

I am not going to fall out with the Minister for Finance, as he has the toughest job in the whole Government. Otherwise we would be bankrupt.

We may be piping the same tune when you are back here again.

With regard to the widows' case, I pointed out to Deputy MacEoin that they got 50 per cent. last year and since then the Garda Representative Body have not made representations about widows' pensions. There was about a 50 per cent. increase in 1950 and that was not bad.

Will the Minister give an undertaking that such representations will be sympathetically considered?

The representative body are the people to do that.

We are entitled to talk here.

The negotiations are carried through in that way.

If the Minister wants to be unfair with the House we can be unfair with him.

I think that we have had the whole thing considered and I can only say that any claim made will be fairly considered and if we can come to a decision to make a change it can be done by another Order—but that will be another day's work.

You are not afraid of the Minister for Finance?

Not a bit.

I wanted to get that out of you.

Unless we had a tough Minister for Finance God knows what would become of this State.

Would the Minister agree to introduce an amending Order?

I will not.

Would the Minister be prepared to use his good graces with the Minister for Social Welfare in regard to widows with pensions who have been assessed on those pensions for non-contributory widows' pensions?

That is another matter.

Question put and agreed to.