This Bill is to authorise five per cent, increase arising from the 1963 Budget, in the pension payable under the MacSwiney (Pension) Acts, 1950 to 1962 to the widow of Terence MacSwiney. The increase coincides with those for other State pensioners and payment commenced on the 1st November last on the authority of a Supplementary Estimate passed by Dáil Éireann on 28th November, 1963.
MacSwiney (Pension) (Increase) Bill, 1964 ( Certified Money Bill )— Second and Subsequent Stages.
The same remarks apply to this Bill as to the previous Bill.
The point I want to make is that the increase here also appears very small. The Minister's reply to me, regarding the Connaught Rangers, was that it was in line with other increases and that I did not make the case that it should be changed. All of us who remember that period have the greatest respect for all these people. The five per cent increase, in view of the service given by all these people, is very low. I certainly do not want to change it, if it is uniform regarding all the pensions. I consider the five per cent increase too low for the amount of service these people gave the country. I suppose most of us would like to give the greatest increase to the Old IRA. That would be quite natural.
We must now deal with the MacSwiney (Pension) Bill.
The Minister's reply, in regard to the Connaught Rangers, was that I was only interested in them. That was the Bill which was before us at that time. I had left the House when the debate took place on the earlier Bill. This increase is very small, no matter what group is involved. The five per cent is very low indeed.
I agree with Senator Desmond but I want to tell him that for a number of years back we have had almost annual increases, whether the public at large got increases or not. We had, I think, six increases almost consecutively. If the percentage increase in a particular year seems small to the Senator the aggregate of these increases is considerably greater. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, it was as high as 20 per cent one year.
With regard to the adequacy, or otherwise, of the pensions I think that we have met the case, which was put forward for years, in the provision of special allowances. If somebody comes along and says a man has a service pension of £20 or £25 a year and that he is now no longer able to work— perhaps he has reached the age of 65 or 70 years or he is suffering from deterioration in health—we have this special allowance and it is all the same to the recipient whether his pension or his allowance is increased.
I should like to remind the Senator that the average special allowance is as high as £80 and that that can be added to the pension. While I should like to see this increased further, I think we have made reasonable provision, as things have gone, up to the present. Should there be a necessity for further increases as a result of an increase in the cost of living, and provided that it can be so arranged in the Budget, there will be, I would say, further increases, if a case can be made for them. We get a lump sum from the Minister for Finance and our job is to divide it. I can assure Senator Desmond that if he sat down in my place and divided it he too would have very big difficulties. Therefore, what we usually do, is say we will give a flat increase all round. While this is not entirely satisfactory, at least it seems to me to be the best alternative.