This is a very simple Bill. In July, 1945, a Supplementary Estimate was passed in the other House which authorised the Minister for Justice to set up a committee to award medals and certificates for deeds of bravery involving risk to a person's life. The committee was to consist of the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, the Lord Mayors of Dublin and Cork, the chairman of the General Council of County Councils, the chairman of the Red Cross, and the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána. A meeting of the committee was held shortly after the Estimate had been passed and the members were unanimous that that was not a satisfactory way to proceed. They thought that an informal committee of that kind, with no guarantee of continuity and with nothing to prevent some Minister at some time from interfering with their proceedings, was unsatisfactory and that the committee should be established on a statutory basis. That is why this Bill was introduced.
There is a provision in the Bill which did not represent our intention when the Estimate was before the other House. I resisted the proposal at the time—that compensation should be paid in proper cases. On reconsideration, however, we made provision for compensation. If a person loses, say, a suit, as a result of jumping into the canal or the Liffey, the Minister for Justice may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, make an award of compensation. Medals—one of bronze and one of gold—as well as certificates, are provided for. That will be a matter for the committee but the question of the award will be a matter for the Minister for Justice, with the consent of the Minister for Finance. The question was raised in the other House whether we intended to interfere with the operations of the Royal Humane Society or with the Carnegie Trust Fund. We do not intend to interfere with them but we thought it proper that we should have an Irish award. That is what we are providing for in the Bill.