The Minister for Defence, who is at present engaged in the Dáil, has asked me to take this Bill for him. The statutory authority for the grant of retired pay, pensions and gratuities in respect of service in the Permanent Defence Force is contained in the Defence Forces (Pensions) Act, 1932, as amended by the Defence Forces (Pensions) Amendment Act, 1938, and by the Defence Forces (Pensions) Amendment Act, 1949. The object of this Bill is to amend Section 5 of the Act of 1938, so as to secure greater administrative economy and expedition in the making of grants under the pensions schemes made pursuant to Acts.
I should perhaps explain that Section 2 of the 1932 Act provides for the making of schemes which prescribe such matters as rates of pensions and gratuities and the detailed conditions governing their payment. These schemes must receive the consent of the Minister for Finance and must be approved by a resolution of each House of the Oireachtas before they can come into operation.
Section 5 of the 1938 Act requires, furthermore, that the consent of the Minister for Finance must be obtained by the Minister for Defence before an individual grant of pension or gratuity is made. To comply with this provision, therefore, the Department must submit each case to the Department of Finance for the consent of the Minister for Finance. This involves time and administrative procedures in both Departments which would not be necessary if the Minister for Defence had the authority to make grants in accordance with the schemes without reference to the Minister for Finance.
The Minister for Finance and the Minister for Defence are satisfied, having regard to the position under Section 2 of the 1932 Act, which is not affected by this Bill, that the requirement to secure his consent to each individual grant fulfils no essential purpose and that its removal would in no way adversely affect the interests of the Exchequer but would secure greater administrative economy and more expeditious clearance of cases as they arise. This Bill, therefore, proposes to remove such requirement.