That a sum not exceeding £229,715,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December 1984 for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Defence, including certain services administered by that Office, for the pay and expenses of the Defence Forces; and for payment of certain grants-in-aid.
The Defence Estimate for the year ending 31 December 1984 is for a net sum of £229,715,000 of which £172,572,000 or 75 per cent provides for pay and allowances. Provision has been made in the Estimate for increases in pay granted under the First and Second Phases of the Public Service Pay Agreement.
The Estimate is based on an average strength of 1,537 officers, 90 cadets and 12,450 other ranks — a total of 14,077 in the Permanent Defence Force. The net provisional outturn for 1983 amounted to £199,759,000 which included £3,529,000 charged to the Vote for Remuneration.
The gross provision in the 1984 Estimate is £240,471,000 and represents an increase of 8 per cent on the 1983 outturn. It includes £67,899,000 for non-pay items. The provision of £10,756,000 for appropriations-in-aid shows a reduction of £12,368,000 on the 1983 provisional outturn — mainly due to the fact that the balance remaining to be recovered from the EEC in respect of the fishery protection programme is £1.2 million compared to a sum of £12.759 million for 1983.
As Deputies are aware, considerable demands were made on the officers and men of the Defence Forces during the past 12 months particularly in relation to internal security matters. While the Garda Síochána have primary responsibility for such matters the involvement of the Defence Forces in this field derives from their role of rendering aid to the civil power. It is unfortunate that the present security situation in the country continues to necessitate the deployment of military personnel and resources on a large scale in providing assistance to the Garda Síochána in the maintenance of the rule of law.
The need for the maintenance of strict security measures will be evidence to all having regard to the difficult situation which the State has faced in recent times. The Defence Forces have performed a very positive role in the security area in supporting the Garda Síochána in enforcing the law of the land, principally in combating terrorism and preventing serious crime. It is an unhappy fact of the times in which we live that members of the Defence Forces, and of the Garda Síochána, are placed in situations where their lives are at risk in upholding the law of the land. In discharging their role of rendering aid to the civil power of the Defence Forces work in very close liaison with Garda and security arrangements are kept under constant review jointly by the Garda Síochána and the Army so as to ensure the optimum use of available resources in manpower and equipment. The Government are committed to giving the Garda and the Defence Forces every support in combating criminal and subversive activities. All steps necessary will continue to be taken to strengthen the hand of our security forces in dealing with these problems.
The preoccupation of the Defence Force with such matters has imposed a heavy burden on their personnel for some years past. Some particulars of the scale of the security type duties in which the Defence Forces are currently involved have already been given to the House in relation to 1983, but it is well to repeat them in the context of the debate on the Estimate for Defence.
Eighteen thousand military parties were supplied in Border areas for checkpoint duties and over 16,000 joint Garda/Army checkpoints were set up; more than 14,000 patrols were sent out into the road network along the Border or in other areas; escorts for explosives and blasting operations were provided on about 1,000 occasions; almost 3,000 escorts for the movement of cash were provided; about 100 requests for bomb disposal teams were handled.
The Defence Forces also provide guards for the movement of prisoners and assist in searches for arms, ammunition and explosives. In addition certain vital non-military installations are protected either by permanent military guards or by military patrols.
Particularly heavy demands were made on the Permanent Defence Force towards the end of 1983 arising from the participation of a very large number of members in the joint Army/Garda search operation carried out in difficult and dangerous circumstances in the Ballinamore area. Tragically an Army private and a recruit Garda were murdered during this operation. It is appropriate here to pay tribute again to the memory of these young men. I would also like to express my appreciation of the outstanding service rendered by members of the Defence Forces, and indeed by the Garda Síochána, in their efforts to combat the aggression which the community has had to face in recent times.
Members of the Defence Forces are required to display courage and devotion to duty on a daily basis in carrying out their tasks. The performance of the many facets of their duties and responsibilities demands a high level of dedication and integrity. Such service is given willingly to the community by the Defence Forces and for the most part it is unspectacular and unsung. Nevertheless the qualities I mention are vital to the wellbeing and morale of the Defence Forces and are deserving of our recognition, appreciation and encouragement. At a time when credibility and confidence in our democratic institutions are under attack from all sides the men who, when the occasion demands it, put their lives on the line in the defence of our institutions and basic freedoms are surely fully entitled to our support and commendation.
Following the murders of Private Kelly and Recruit Garda Sheehan a wave of anger and revulsion swept the country and loyal citizens expressed their antipathy to the Provisional I.R.A. and its front Provisional Sinn Féin in no uncertain terms. Regrettably, however, those feelings quickly subsided and the old attitudes of, at best, complacency and, at worst, ambivalence began to manifest themselves.
The most striking example of this was the selection by a leading white collar union of a Vice President of Provisional Sinn Féin as its Chief Executive shortly after the Sinn Féin congress which reaffirmed support for a policy of terror and murder, a policy which counts Private Kelly and Recruit Garda Sheehan among its victims. This selection by this union seems to me an inexplicable piece of moral blindness and even worse would have been unanimous but for the attitude of a Dublin branch of that union.
Loyal citizens have a duty to show antipathy at all times and at every opportunity towards all who espouse the cause of murder and terror. In contrast to antipathy there is complacency and the Provisionals interpret complacency as implied support for their evil cause. I am constantly amazed by the complacent attitude of so many to such a great evil.
General recruitment to the Permanent Defence Force was suspended early in 1982. I am pleased to say, however, that, in addition to the usual recruitment of cadets and apprentices, there was an intake of 486 recruits — 330 for general service and 156 for the Naval Service in 1983. Further intakes of recruits are expected to take place as necessary during 1984, the intention being to ensure that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force is kept at an adequate level.
In 1983, as part of the Government's programme for achieving reductions in the level of public expenditure it was found necessary to suspend temporarily recruitment to the FCA and Slua Muirí and to reduce all annual training by seven days. Having reviewed the matter, I am pleased to say that recruitment has resumed to the extent necessary to replace wastage during 1984. Unfortunately, it has been found necessary to continue in 1984 the restriction imposed last year in regard to annual training. Notwithstanding the reduced period of annual training I have again decided that the gratuity payable to qualified members of the Reserve Defence Force who complete the maximum permissible period in 1984 will be at the full rates and not at the reduced rates which would normally apply in respect of attendance at training for the shorter period.
The pay and conditions of the members of the Defence Forces continue to be maintained at a high standard. All ranks received the increases due under the terms of the agreement on pay in the public service in 1983. In addition, the pay of all personnel, from private 2 Star up to and including the rank of commandant, have got the benefit of a 6 per cent arbitration award to some grades in the Civil Service. The first phase of that increase — generally in the region of 2 per cent — was paid with effect from 1 October 1983; the second phase which provides for a further increase of about 2.5 per cent is due from 1 December next and the remaining balance will fall due for payment on 1 September 1985.
The current rate of pay of a recruit is £110.96 a week rising after about 14 weeks' basic training to approximately £129. On advancement to private 3 Star, which usually takes place during the first year of service, gross pay rises to £133.64, while after three year's service the gross pay of a private is over £145. I am sure the House will agree that these rates of pay are reasonable by any standard.
Allowances are payable to officers and men who perform duties of a security nature. I am pleased to say that as a result of a recent review of these allowances, an increase of 21.5 per cent was granted with effect from 1 January 1984. This increase brought the rates of allowance for service in the Border area to £18.55 a week for officers and £16.10 a week for men, while the allowances for other duties in aid of the civil power such as guard duties on vital installations, cash escorts, and prisoner escorts were increased to £7.90 for each week-day and £15.80 for each Sunday or Army holiday.
I also had a review carried out of the rates of overseas allowances payable to personnel on service with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and, arising from the review, an increase of 21.5 per cent with effect from 1 January 1983 was authorised. The current rates of the allowance now range from £11.40 a day for single men to £18.55 a day for senior married officers.
In addition, the rates of allowances payable to the relatively small number of personnel serving with the United Nations Peace-Keeping Force in Cyprus and the 20 or so military officers serving with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation in the Middle East have been reviewed and increased. The current rate of the UNTSO allowance is £8.50 per day and the UNFICYP allowance ranges from £4.40 per day for single men to £13.10 per day for senior married officers.
This country has consistently supported the policy of the United Nations in regard to peace-keeping missions and we recognise fully the value of this policy. Our firm commitment to peace-keeping has been demonstrated by our participation in international peace-keeping missions for over a quarter of a century. In undertaking peace-keeping missions it has always been our fundamental belief that the co-operation of the conflicting sides is essential to a satisfactory outcome to any such mission. Any departure from this basic principle creates difficulties for peace-keeping forces and for the United Nations in reaching an equitable settlement to the particular dispute.
It is important to recall that, before a contingent of Irish troops could be made available to serve with the United Nations Force in the Congo in 1960, new legislation was necessary to authorise, subject to the prior approval of the Dáil, the dispatch of contingents of the Permanent Defence Force for such service outside the country. I think it should be emphasised that this legislation, under which contingents were subsequently made available for the United Nations Force in Cyprus and for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, provides for the dispatch of troops for the performance of duties of a police character only. It will be readily understood that the role of our troops serving with United Nations Forces has been peace-keeping and not peace-enforcing. That remains the position in the case of our troops currently serving with UNIFIL.
At the present time an Irish contingent of 737 all ranks is serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. This force is commanded by an Irish Officer, Lieutenant-General William Callaghan, which in itself is an indication of the standing which our troops have with the United Nations. An Irish contingent of eight personnel is serving in staff appointments with the United Nations Force in Cyprus and 21 Irish officers are serving with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation in the Middle East.
Despite the unsettled situation in Lebanon, especially in the area around Beirut, I am glad to be able to report that the area of South Lebanon in which the Irish contingent is located is relatively calm. The dedication and selfless efforts of our troops in the service of the UN are a credit to Ireland and to the Defence Forces.
This has been acknowledged on many occasions not alone by the Secretary-General but by the Lebanese people within the area of operations of the Force. It is gratifying to be able to record that the presence of the Force has had a stabilising effect and that it has ensured to a great extent that the population within the area have been able to achieve a large degree of normality in their business dealings, schooling, agriculture and their life in general.
During 1983 the Courts-Martial Appeals Act, 1983, was enacted. This Act was a major reforming one in so far as the administration of military law is concerned. The Act which established a new Courts-Martial Appeal Court to hear appeals against convictions and sentences of courts-martial became law on 29 June 1983. Before that there was no provision in law for an appeal to a higher tribunal by persons convicted by courts-martial. In terms of status, constitution and powers, the new court is similar to the Court of Criminal Appeal.
With a view to ensuring that the right of appeal being provided should be as meaningful as possible, provision was also included in the Courts-Martial Appeals Act for the introduction of a scheme of free legal aid at courts-martial and on appeal. This scheme has been closely modelled on that already in operation for persons being tried by the civil courts on criminal charges. Since the enactment of the Appeals Act, there has been a total of five cases appealed to the Courts-Martial Appeal Court. Of these appeals, one was successful, three were dismissed and one was abandoned before hearing.
The foregoing measures represent a substantial reform of military law. I should say also that proposals for further amendments of the Defence Act, 1954, are being actively pursued within my Department with the intention of introducing further legislation at the earliest possible date.
As usual, competitions for the award of cadetships in the Army, Air Corps and Executive Branch of the Naval Service were held in 1983, and 40 cadetships were awarded. A special competition for the award of cadetships in the Equitation School was held at the same time as the other competitions and four cadetships were awarded.
Arrangements were made in 1981 to train deck cadets of the Naval Service in Ireland in future. Prior to that, such cadets had to be assigned to courses abroad. This training is undertaken initially at the Cadet School in the Curragh but mainly at the Naval Base and on board Naval Service vessels. A number of instructors are provided by Cork Regional Technical College and UCC on a part-time basis. Three cadets trained under this scheme were commissioned in 1983 and further nine are undergoing training at present.
In 1978, a cadet scheme was introduced for the purpose of providing the Naval Service with qualified marine engineer officers. Training under this scheme is undertaken for the first year at the Cadet School in the Curragh and at the Naval base. The cadets are then assigned to a three-year Diploma Course in Marine Engineering at Cork Regional Technical College, followed later by a nine-month course of training in a British naval establishment. Fifteen officers have been commissioned under the scheme to date. Four of these completed the course of training in Britain in 1982. It is expected that following necessary practical experience at sea and further study both in the Naval Service School and at the Regional Technical College in Cork these four officers will be fully qualified marine engineer officers by 1985, having secured their Watch-keeping and Naval Engineering Certificates. A further five are undergoing their nine-month course in Britain at present, and the remaining six officers will also be assigned to that course later.
Following the 1983 competitions for the award of apprenticeships in the Army and Air Corps, a total of 103 apprenticeships were awarded. The 1984 competition for the award of up to 107 apprenticeships attracted considerable interest following the advertisement in January last. The findings of the interview boards should be available soon. Arrangements to ensure that personnel of the Defence Forces can avail of the best possible educational and training facilities continued during the past year. A total of 118 officers are undergoing various full-time courses at third level educational institutions. A number of personnel attended courses in foreign military establishments to ensure that our Defence Forces keep up-to-date with modern developments elsewhere and to provide for the efficient maintenance and operation of the many sophisticated equipments in use in the Defence Forces.
The scheme whereby personnel are registered with AnCO as apprentices in various trades and attend either full-time off-the-job training courses, day release courses or block release courses, continues to operate successfully. These special educational and training arrangements are designed to supplement the constant day-to-day training that all personnel receive within their own corps or service or jointly with other corps or services.
The non-pay provisions for this year total almost £68 million gross, and are required to maintain the capabilities of the Defence Forces and to meet commitments already entered into.
Later this year will see the delivery to the Naval Service of the first new design helicopter carrying vessel — LE Eithne. Preliminary work on this project began in 1978 and the development of the new design commenced in 1979. After the choice of hull design had been made, extensive tests using a model of the design were conducted to ensure that the design fulfilled all the specified criteria. My Department were assisted in this new development, not alone by a European design institute but also by the shipbuilders, Verolme Cork Dockyard Ltd., and the Department's consultants, Irish Shipping Limited. The contract for the ship was signed in April 1982. This new addition to our fleet, which is a tribute to all concerned, will greatly enhance the surveillance capability of the Naval Service.
Provision is made for stage payments for the five Dauphin helicopters ordered in December 1982 from the French aircraft manufacturer, Aerospatiale. Two of these aircraft will be naval helicopters for use in conjunction with the new helicopter-carrying patrol vessel for the Naval Service. The other three helicopters will enable a more effective search-and-rescue and air ambulance service to be provided.
The Dauphin is a twin-engined helicopter with accommodation for up to ten persons, including the crew. It has a fast cruise speed of over 150 knots and an endurance of about four and a half hours. The helicopter will have a rescue hoist and sophisticated radar and navigation equipment and will have the capability of flying at night and in periods of reduced visibility.
Provision is also made for the balance of the cost of the new radar system on order for Casement aerodrome, Baldonnel, which is due for delivery later this year. The new system will assist landings in conditions of reduced visibility and is part of a programme to modernise the aerodrome facilities at Baldonnel.
The Naval Service has recently acquired a decompression chamber for use in connection with deep-sea diving. The service now trains its own diving unit, and the provision of a decompression chamber is an essential safety precaution where such training is being undertaken. The use of the decompression chamber avoids the danger of an attack of the potentially fatal condition known as nitrogen narcosis, commonly called "the bends". The decompression chamber purchased for the Naval Service is of the portable type and can be fitted on board a naval vessel or transported by truck.
Last year a new computerised marine training simulator was installed at the Naval Technical Training School, Haulbowline, to meet the additional training demands on engineers and technicians for the modern patrol vessels. The simulator makes it possible to simulate a wide variety of realistic fault situations and to monitor the trainee's reaction under pressure. Exercises that would be hazardous for trainees on an operational ship can be undertaken safely using the simulator.
As from 1 January last, my Department have been given responsibility for the purchase of clothing, transport, and certain communications and other items required by Government Departments. Prior to that date, this central purchasing function for Government Departments was discharged by the Stores Branch of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Consequent on the abolition of that Department and the establishment of Bord Telecom Éireann and An Post, responsibility for these purchases has been transferred to my Department.
It is estimated that in 1984 expenditure on these purchases will amount to more than £10 million. Provision for this expenditure will be made in the Estimates of the various Departments for which the purchases are made. However, a new provision of £550,000 has been made in Subhead GG of the Defence Estimate to provide working funds for the purchase of certain items which must be held as common stores in anticipation of Departments' requirements.
The provision in the Estimate for buildings which includes new works, repairs, renewals and maintenance, is £5.3 million against an outturn last year of approximately £5 million. Included in the provision is a sum of £3.2 million for new building works to improve accommodation and facilities for the Defence Forces.
Improved accommodation for the single soldier continues to receive attention. New billets with central heating have been built in recent years at various locations and a programme for the improvement of older billets is continuing. A contract was recently placed for a large new boiler at Collins Barracks, Dublin, to serve a central heating system already installed.
Work was recently completed on a major extension to the apprentices' hostel at Casement aerodrome. A contract has been placed for major new works including a brigade headquarters and officers' mess at Gormanston Camp. Further works at Casement aerodrome and at Gormanston Camp to meet the needs of the Air Corps are planned.
The development of the Naval Service necessitates the provision of additional buildings and facilities. The space required is not available on Haulbowline and, accordingly, it is planned to provide the buildings and facilities on Spike Island where a number of works are already in progress.
Among the significant works recently completed is the new Army sports pavilion in the Phoenix Park. This pavilion provides excellent facilities, including comfortable dressing rooms, showers and so on for games and sports. New single officers' quarters are being built at Cathal Brugha Barracks. The first phase of the project is nearing completion and tenders will shortly be invited for the next phase. Arrangements are being made for the provision of a new anti-tank range at the Glen of Imaal. It is hoped to have work commenced later this year on the second stage of the construction of the new Ceannt Barracks at the Curragh Camp. This stage will comprise living accommodation for personnel of Command Headquarters Company, Curragh, and a new depot for the Signal Corps as well as office and storage accommodation. It is proposed to arrange for the installation of aviation fuel tanks at a number of military posts to enable helicopters of the Air Corps to be refuelled at those posts. This will improve the operational effectiveness of the helicopters.
The need has long been acknowledged to provide a new military post at Cavan to replace the present barracks, which is very old. Considerable difficulties were experienced by the Department in acquiring a suitable site for the post but I am glad to say that such a site is now available. A deed governing the transfer to the Department of the title to the site has been completed. A certain amount of preliminary planning has already been done, and now that the site is available, the necessary detailed plans, drawings, specifications and so on will be prepared.
The building of married quarters for soldiers is a matter which is normally referred to in the debate on the Defence Estimate. The provision of housing in this context is, as Deputies will be aware, primarily a matter for the local authorities and married soldiers have an equal claim on such housing with other members of the community in the same category. It has, however, been the policy to supplement the efforts of local authorities where soldiers' housing needs are greatest. In pursuance of that policy, some 346 new married quarters have been built at various locations over the years and planning has been carried out for the construction of new houses for married soldiers at the Curragh Camp, Collins Barracks, Cork and Stephen's Barracks, Kilkenny.
With a view to the rehousing of families living in old married quarters at Arbour Hill, Dublin, my Department offered to make the site of these quarters available to Dublin Corporation for the building of additional houses, subject to conditions to be agreed. This matter has been the subject of correspondence and discussion for some time and I am glad to say that agreement has now been reached with the corporation. I propose to have consideration given to the question whether similar arrangements can be made in other areas where soldiers and their families are living in old married quarters.
As I indicated when introducing the Estimate for my Department in 1983, I would question whether soldiers should be housed by the Department as a special group rather than be treated as citizens in the normal way and be provided with houses in the same fashion as other members of the community. The system under which married quarters are allocated at present leads inevitably to the problem of the overholding of such quarters — a situation which arises when, on termination of military service, for example, the occupant of married quarters continues, with his family, in irregular occupation of quarters. At present well over 100 married quarters are overheld — many of them for several years past. The overholding problem has to be looked at in the context of whether the present system of providing houses specifically for soldiers should be ended in favour of some arrangement whereby their needs would be catered for other than in married quarters. I would welcome any comments which Deputies have to offer on this matter.
My Department have a long-standing involvement in equitation through the Army Equitation School. The equitation school had another successful year in 1983. The most encouraging aspect of the competitive performance of the riders and horses from the school has been the increase in the number of first prizes won in showjumping. It means that there are hopeful signs that the task of finding replacements for horses such as "Rockbarton" will be successfully accomplished when these horses are no longer able to compete, which, hopefully, is still some way in the future. Although "Rockbarton" is now 15 years old, he continues to be one of the world's great horses and was a winner at major competitions last year. I am sure that riders and horses from the school will continue to enhance the reputation that they have already gained throughout the equestrian world. It is expected that Army riders and horses will participate in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
"Asgard II" completed her full programme of cruises planned for 1983, covering a total distance of over 10,500 miles. About 600 people, including 361 boys and 192 girls, participated in the cruises. A feature of the year was the increase in the number of young people from the inner city areas of Dublin and Limerick who availed of cruises. This is a trend which Coiste An Asgard is taking steps to encourage. Among the highlights of the 1983 season was the voyage of "Asgard II" right up to the heart of London which necessitated a rare opening of the Tower Bridge to allow the high masts of the vessel to pass through. In June 1983 "Asgard II" made a visit to Copenhagen which coincided with the State visit of the President to Denmark. "Asgard II" was joined in Copenhagen by the Danish sail training vessel "Georg Stage" and the two vessels sailed in company for five days visiting a number of Danish ports and exchanging crew members. The young people thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Another highlight of 1983 was the Cutty Sark Race from Weymouth to St. Malo in August. "Asgard II" acquitted herself well in finishing second in the square rigger class.
A full programme of cruises on "Asgard II" is being undertaken again this year. As usual, some of the cruises include visits to ports abroad. At the invitation of the town of St. Malo the vessel recently visited St. Malo for a gathering of tall ships which took place there in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the voyage of Jacques Cartier from the port to Canada where he carried out the first exploration of the St. Lawrence. The vessel will also be visiting Fécamp in Northern France for a sea festival to be held there on 30 June and 1 July 1984.
In commenting on the provision for Civil Defence (Subhead G of the Estimate), I am conscious of the fact that Civil Defence and its main area of concern, the threat of nuclear warfare, have been very much in the news in recent months. The terrifying power of these weapons, the technological advances which appear to threaten rather than support the delicate power balance and the failure of the superpowers to make any significant progress towards the prospect of a lasting peace have reawakened public fears about the nuclear threat. Public concern as reflected in the press and on radio and television has raised two main issues — the need for a new initiative directed towards nuclear disarmament and the effectiveness of Civil Defence in the face of a threat of the magnitude of global nuclear warfare. Let me reiterate that there is no conflict of interest between the objective of Civil Defence and the objective of nuclear disarmament. Indeed, these are complementary aims and successive Governments have recognised their obligation to maintain both a reasonable state of Civil Defence preparedness and a policy of useful intervention towards the achievement of nuclear disarmament.
The former is my particular responsibility as Minister for Defence. To those who allege that in the event of nuclear war there is nothing Civil Defence can do I would say, first, that we are very well aware of the limitations which apply to Civil Defence response against the effects of nuclear weapons. At or close to the point of a nuclear strike Civil Defence is almost meaningless. We make no claim that our Civil Defence measures are designed to cope, or could cope, with such an eventuality. We do claim that that eventuality is by no means a likely threat for this country and that civil defence policy is rightly directed towards preparing against the hazard of radioactive fallout.
Against that hazard, there is a vital role to be played by Civil Defence — a role for which the State has no other agency in a position to respond. How good the Civil Defence response might be would depend on a number of factors and one not to be overlooked is public perception of Civil Defence measures and the preparedness of the public to take the advised protective steps. A certain amount of comment in the media has shown that there is cause for some disquiet in this regard; I would like to see a better dialogue towards establishing greater acceptance of relevant feasible Civil Defence measures. Obviously, Deputies and representatives of other public bodies can play a very useful role in this direction and any such co-operation will be very much appreciated.
We have never set out in this country to create an elaborate comprehensive Civil Defence structure. I do not think it appropriate that we should do so or that our situation demands it. The measures introduced have been influenced to some extent by our resources; more so, they have been influenced by what is feasible and relevant to the type of situation most likely to prevail. Periodically, plans are reviewed and, if the current examination shows that areas which merit special attention could be strengthened by realistic improvement measures, every effort will be made to initiate the required action without delay.
The planning process of itself is not financially demanding and, if there are financial effects of any consequence resulting from the current examination of civil defence arrangements, they are unlikely to be felt within the present financial year. This year's financial allocation of £1.5 million for Civil Defence is mainly required to provide for the customary grant-aiding of local authorities in respect of Civil Defence activities and the purchase and maintenance of training equipment and stores. Provided for within the sum for equipment are the new radiation dose rate meters which are being manufactured at present in this country and the initial issue of the new style Civil Defence uniforms, distribution of which is in progress. We are fortunate to have in Civil Defence such a fine expression of voluntary service to the community. Preparedness against the risks of war is indeed their primary purpose but Civil Defence volunteers continually serve the community well in a wide variety of peacetime situations. On behalf of the Government, I convey our appreciation and thanks and I include in this expression of gratitude the Irish Red Cross Society, the Order of Malta and the St. John Ambulance Brigade for their continuing co-operation with Civil Defence.
I turn now to the Army Pensions Estimate for the year ending 31 December, 1984, which is for a net sum of £37,839,000. The net provisional outturn for the year ended 31 December 1983 was £33,504,800. The 1984 Estimate represents an increase of £4,334,200 or 13 per cent, on the 1983 outturn.
The Estimate provides for the general increase in public service pensions effective from 1 July 1983 and the further increase in these pensions effective from 1 September 1983 by reference to the amount of the first phase increase in the public service pay agreement. These increases, which applied during the latter part of 1983, apply, of course, to the full year 1984. I am pleased to say, also, that in accordance with the decision of the Government announced in this year's budget statement, pensions and allowances have been increased with effect from 1 February 1984 by reference to the amount of the second phase increase in the public service pay agreement. Provision for this increase will be provided for in the Vote for Remuneration as required.
The main increases in the Estimate in terms of overall cost are: £314,000 in subhead C — allowances and gratuities to dependants, and so on; £2,996,000 in subhead E1 — Defence Forces (Pensions) Schemes and £610,000 in subhead K — grants in respect of the provision of free travel, electricity, bottled gas, television licences and telephone rental for veterans of the War of Independence.
A token sum of £10 is provided in subhead J for compensation payable by way of lump sum to or in respect of members of the Defence Forces who served with the United Nations Force and who were killed or wounded or who died or were disabled as a result of disease contracted during such service. It is customary to make provision for a token sum only as it is not possible to estimate the demand on the subhead. Amounts paid are recoverable from the United Nations.
As regards military service pensions, subhead D, and special allowances, subhead G, the numbers involved continue to decrease. There are now less than 1,600 military service pensioners and about 3,500 special allowance holders on pay representing reductions of approximately 350 and 500, respectively, in the past year. There is, however, a big increase in the number of widows of veterans of the War of Independence for whom provision is made under subhead C and an increase in the number of ex-members of the Defence Forces on retired pay and on pension for whom provision is made under subhead E.1. The total number of pensioners and allowance holders, accordingly, remains at approximately 20,000.
I commend both Estimates to the favourable consideration of the House. I look forward to the debate and I will be happy to supply any further information that Deputies may request in the course of it.