That the Defence Forces (Pensions) (Amendment) Scheme 1969, prepared by the Minister for Defence with the consent of the Minister for Finance under Sections 2, 3 and 5 of the Defence Forces (Pensions) Act, 1932 and Section 4 of the Defence Forces (Pensions) (Amendment) Act, 1938 and laid before the House on the 25th day of February, 1969 be confirmed.
The purpose of this scheme is to provide improved retirement benefit for a former member of the survey company, Corps of Engineers, and gratuities for other members of that company who were discharged or transferred to the reserve after the 1st August, 1940 for the purpose of taking up civilian employment in the Ordnance Survey.
Briefly, the circumstances are that in August, 1940, a number of long-service members of the survey company, Corps of Engineers, were transferred to the reserve to enable them to work as civilians in the Ordnance Survey. They were recalled to Army service in 1941 and were subsequently re-transferred to the reserve and later discharged from the Defence Forces. Provision was made in the Defence Forces (Pensions) (Amendment) Scheme, 1956 to give each of them a modified pension in respect of his full-time Army service prior to the date on which his reckonable service under the Superannuation Acts commenced. The pension would be payable only when he retired from his civilian post in circumstances entitling him to an award under these Acts.
Four of them, as it happened, had more than 21 years' Army service, and as it would be more beneficial in their cases to reckon 21 years' service for Army pension purposes and the balance under the Superannuation Acts, it was decided to alter the reckonable dates of commencement of their civilian service. Three of them, therefore, have now been awarded and paid pensions based on 21 years' Army service with effect from the dates of their discharge. There is a slight complication in the fourth case. The person concerned was appointed to temporary commissioned rank in April, 1941 and it is necessary to amend the schemes so that his commissioned service can be reckoned as non-commissioned in order that he may receive a pension based on 21 years' Army service. This is being done in Article 5 of the present scheme. A similar provision had been made for him in the 1956 scheme for the purposes of a modified pension.
At the same time as the long-service soldiers about whom I have been speaking, a number of short-service soldiers were appointed to civilian posts in the Ordnance Survey. In the circumstances of the termination of their Army service, they were not eligible for gratuities under the Defence Forces (Pensions) Schemes as they then stood. Article 6 of the present scheme now provides that gratuities may be paid to them.
It will be seen, therefore, that the purpose of this scheme is to provide improved benefits for this particular group of people. It is necessary for the scheme to be approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas as it is not simply a matter of benefits arising from service pay increases or general increases in public service pensions, the schemes governing which, as Deputies are aware, no longer require specific parliamentary approval.