Army Pensions (Increase) Bill, 1964 (Certified Money Bill): Second and Subsequent Stages.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

This Bill is necessary to make statutory provision for increases in pensions and allowances, following the 1963 Budget, which have been paid since 1st November, 1963 under the terms of a Supplementary Estimate approved by Dáil Éireann on 28th November, 1963.

All pensions, allowances and gratuities under the Army Pensions Acts, 1923 to 1962 are being increased under the provisions of the Bill and net cost to the Exchequer is £28,000 per annum. Disablement pensions unrelated to pay and married pensions are being increased by 5 per cent as are allowances payable to widows, children and other dependants of deceased persons. Officers whose disablement pensions are related to pay and who retired before 16th December, 1959, are receiving increases which will bring their pensions up to the level of an officer retiring on 16th December, 1959.

Gratuities payable to widows on remarriage and to persons with wound disablements of less than 20 per cent in degree are being increased by 40 per cent approximately. These gratuities have not been increased since 1956 and the various percentage increases in pensions and allowances since then are now being applied to them.

Special allowances are being increased by £4 per year. Increases in certain Social Welfare benefits and in military service, Connaught Rangers and disablement pensions are being disregarded in the calculation of means for special allowance purposes. These latter concessions to special allowance recipients are not of course included in the Bill. They are dealt with by way of amendment to the joint directions governing the grant of special allowances.

I would like to point out that this Bill does not provide for this year's Budget increases which will become payable from the 1st October next. Separate measures will be taken for this purpose.

If Senators require any further information about the Bill, I will endeavour to supply it when concluding.

Fé mar a deirtear, muna leor le daoine áirithe an Bille seo, is maith ann é. If this Bill should be regarded by some people as not sufficient, at the same time it is well to have it. The amounts mentioned in the Bill are already being paid and it does not include the further amount mentioned in this year's Budget. Therefore, I think it should have as speedy a passage as possible.

I should like to welcome this Bill. However, it should not be necessary to come to this House at this time of the year when the amount involved is so small and when an increase given under the Budget is now almost due. I asked the Minister on a previous occasion here whether some fund could be set up to deal with the burial expenses of persons who were entirely dependent on special allowances and were, therefore, unable to make any provision for themselves. The Minister should seriously consider that, if he has not already done so. We will be glad to see him here again shortly.

No member of the House will oppose this Bill. We cannot disapprove of it. If it called for any criticism, I think it would call for the comment that the percentage increase it provides is not adequate. The Minister is not to be blamed for that, as an individual at any rate. The fact is that he can adjust the pensions only by the amount made available by the Government. So many appeals have been addressed to the Government in regard to the question of pensions that I do not propose to take up the time of the House by adding to them.

I believe some more expeditious method of dealing with the whole problem of pensions is called for. We have about five other Bills on the Order Paper which are necessary because of the manner in which the problem of pensions is dealt with. I strongly urge on the Minister the desirability of examining the problem in order to facilitate the adjustment of pensions by a more up to date and expeditious method. I am aware that the Minister for Finance has already indicated in a Bill dealing with the pensions of State servants that he has certain powers which enable him to make these adjustments by Ministerial Order, and I suggest that these pensions could be dealt with in the same way. It is high time the Government realised their responsibility in regard to putting these pensions on the proper level.

Aontaím leis an mBille seo. Deirim gur ceart córas níos fearr agus níos seasmhaí a bheith ann le h-aghaidh na h-oibre seo. Ní ceart go mbeadh sé de dhualgas ar an Aire teacht anso isteach gach uair a bhíonn méadú mar seo ag teastáil. Dá mbeadh aon Bhille amháin údarásach ann chun an méadú is cuí do thabhairt de réir mar a bheadh gá leis, is dóigh liom gurab é sin an córas ba cheart a bheith againn.

Fé mar a adubhrathas tá an méadú —an méadú ar na liúntaisí speisialta— beag ach mar sin féin is méadú é agus má leanann an tAire sa tslí sin, dhá mhéadú ó am go chéile, beidh obair mhaith dhá déanamh aige. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil cuid mhór dena daoine sin ag stracadh leis an saol mar go bhfuil teipithe ar a sláinte agus caithfimid cuimhneamh air sin. Dá mbeadh sé de chaoi ag an Aire ba mhaith liom dá dtabharfadh sé breis ar an méadú atá le fáil ag na daoine seo seachas an méid, cuir i gcás, a bhíodh dhá fháil deich mbliain ó shoin agus fiche bliain ó shoin. Tá fáilte agam roimh an mBille seo.

An pointe seo a bhí ag an Seanadóir Crowley agus ag an Seanadóir Ó Ciosáin i dtaobh teacht go rialta anso go dtí an Seanad ag iarraidh údaráis ar na méadaithe a cheadaíodh sa Cháinfhaisnéis, tá mé ar aon intinn leo. Ach tá a fhios acu agus tá a fhios ag gach duine den Oireachtas gur rud cinéal nua é méadú a dhéanamh ar chor ar bith ar phinsin.

Is mar seó a bhí an scéal maidir le pinsin go dtí tar éis an chogaidh—go raibh sé ar aon mhéid ó ceapadh é go dtí a bhás. Tá rud nua againn anois le blianta beaga anuas agus tá méadaithe pinsin ag teacht go réasúnta rialta de réir mar a bhíonn gá leo. Fé mar adúirt an Seanadóir Crowley, thug an tAire Airgeadais foráil isteach sa Cháinfhaisnéis dhá dhéanamh neáriachtanach Billí speisialta do thúirt isteach le méadaithe áirithe pinsin a údarú. Táimuid-ne sa Roinn Cosanta ag súil go n-éireoidh linn, ar ndó, buntáiste na forála seo do chur ag obair mar mhaithe le na pinsin atá luaite anso agus cé nár tháinig muid ar an réiteach sin fós, fé mar adúirt mé, támuid muiníneach. Ansin, ós rud é anois go bhfuil sé de dhúchas againn pinsin de chuile shórt do mhéadú beagnach gach bliain féachfar le é do dhéanamh tré rialacháin. Ní feidir liom bheith deimhneach dearfa ach tá mé dóchasach gur mar sin a bhéas an scéal.

I am appreciative of the kindly welcome which Senators have given to our efforts to help those referred to in this Bill. As Senator Crowley said, we have to make do with the amount of money which is provided for us. When a global sum is provided, it is our job to divide it as best we can. No matter how we decide to divide it between the various categories, we do not always give satisfaction. That is our difficulty.

With regard to the smallness of the percentage—five per cent—it is not correct to compare it with, say, the recent 12 per cent increase because, in recent years, we have had about five or six increases, one of which was 20 per cent. Therefore, the aggregate of these increases does, I think, compare favourably with the general increase in remuneration which has been secured in the past few years.

I do not know that there is any other point which I can usefully deal with at the moment. I take it, as Senator Hayes said, that the Seanad will be agreeable to give us all Stages. If there are any points on the sections as they arise, perhaps I shall be able to give further information.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill considered in Committee.
Sections 1 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 9.
Question proposed: "That section 9 stand part of the Bill."

The pension for 100 per cent disablement is £4 17s. 6d. per week. Such a pension seems to be very much out of line with corresponding awards in civil cases. For instance, if a person is disabled in an accident, the compensation runs into several thousands of pounds, giving an annuity up to ten or 15 times this amount.

I have not worked out the capitalised value of £4 17s. 6d. In comparable cases in ordinary employment, the top limit is £4 10s. In the case of soldiers, with £4 17s 6d, there are usually a married pension and children's allowances which considerably increase the total income to the recipient.

What, roughly, are the increases appertaining to marriage and children allowances?

I do not quite understand the Senator.

Roughly, what would this amount to for a married soldier with a couple of dependants?

I understand that the increase could amount to 25/- to 30/-.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 10 to 40, inclusive, agreed to.
Schedules agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without recommendation, received for final consideration and ordered to be returned to the Dáil.