Committee on Finance. - Army Pensions Bill, 1962—Money Resolution.

I move:

That it is expedient to authorise such payments out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas as are necessary to give effect to any Act of the present session to amend and extend the Army Pensions Acts, 1923 to 1961.

I submitted an amendment for the Committee Stage but the Chair has ruled that it imposes a charge on the public finances and, therefore, should not be moved. I do not think it does. The amendment was intended merely to get the Minister to operate the Bill as I think it should be operated.

Take a person who was granted a disability pension in respect of wounds received either pre-Truce or post-Truce and whose wife was in receipt of an allowance. I hold that his widow should get the pension on his death. I do not think it was ever intended by this Legislature, in the case of a pensioner who had a disability pension for wounds—not for disease, now, but for wounds—and who had an allowance for his wife, that, on his death, all would die with him.

Under the Ministers and Secretaries Act, a pension is given to all ex-Ministers. When the ex-Minister dies, there is a pension or an allowance for the widow. That is the position no matter what he dies from and no matter how long it may be since he was a member of the House or since the pension was granted to him.

Similarly, under the Pensions Acts, this measure not only continues the allowance for the dependants of those who died pre-Truce or post-Truce, on either side, in the Civil War, but now the Minister says it will carry on to one or more dependants, as he, in his opinion, thinks appropriate. I think that is right. Therefore, I submit that this is already in the Act and that the Minister could, by administrative act, give effect to what I want, without amending the measure at all.

The Deputy is making a case.

I am making a case to the Minister on the Money Resolution that, in my opinion, he should say whether or not my contention is right.

I am concerned with the substance of the amendment. I am concerned with the fact that it imposes a charge on public funds. It would do that, clearly, from the wording of the amendment. It can easily be seen that it would necessarily——

I am not referring to the amendment at this stage. I am merely trying to make a case to the Minister that either——

The Deputy has successfully made his point.

May I say, in conclusion, that I think the Minister could accept the amendment by moving it himself or amending it and then moving it. Alternatively, he could see that the pension would be payable. I just want to cite this extract before I sit down. The file reference number is DP 3808. It concerns an Army pensioner. It was reported that death was not due to the disease in respect of which he was awarded the pension. Now, the disease for which he was awarded the pension was a disease of 14 bullet wounds, three of them pre-Truce and the others during the Civil War. He was wounded in action. That is not disease, except lead poisoning. Surely there is no reason in that? Therefore, I respectfully sub mit that the Minister should indicate whether he accepts my point of view and my argument that the amendmen should be adopted by himself.

I do not know whether it is allowable for me to dis cuss an amendment that has been declared out of order. Let me say this to try to satisfy Deputy MacEoin. I explained, the other day, that we were doing two main things. We are removing the restriction on the number of dependants who can benefit and we are making married pensions available to two new classes. Now, this amendment by Deputy MacEoin introduces a new principle. I do not think I have had sufficient time and notice to examine his suggestion adequately. He would be a wise man who would say that this will be the last Army Pensions Bill.

I know it will not be, unfortunately. Is the Dáil not getting fed up with one after another?

I do not see any reason why they should get fed up with Army Pensions Bills any more than with any other sort of Bills. I am not prepared, without the fullest consultation with the Government, to introduce a new principle. The provision in these Acts that carries over married pensions after the death of the pensioner is that the pensioner should have died from the cause which earned him the pension.

It is all very well for Deputy MacEoin to challenge the certificate of a doctor, which he has just now being doing. I am not permitted to do that. I have to accept these doctors' certificates and to act accordingly. I am in full agreement with the Deputy's sentiments on the matter. Further than that I cannot go at this stage and I prefer not to say anything more about it just now.

Before, the Money Resolution is put, there is just one point about which I should like to remind the Minister. Disease is one thing and gunshot wounds are another. Where the pension was awarded for gunshot wounds, I cannot see how anybody could say that they were a disease. I am prepared to leave it at that.

Question put and agreed to.
Resolution reported and agreed to.