I move the Second Reading of this Bill. I think it will be generally admitted that this is a measure which we ought to have introduced much earlier. But the great accumulation of public business and other matters we had to deal with naturally delayed its production and introduction. It is proposed by this measure to make a certain allowance for great and unselfish services, rendered in times of difficulty and danger. We hope that this measure will satisfy the persons whom it is proposed to compensate, that the country has not forgotten their services, and has realised that generous compensation was due to them by reason of the extraordinary interruption that was occasioned during those trying and eventful years we have passed through. I do not think it is necessary to go into at any great length the reasons that prompted the introduction of the measure. I think they are well within the knowledge of the Members of the Dáil. I think that the amounts specified are calculated to bridge this chasm that there is in the lives whom we propose to compensate in the measure. I think it will be admitted that the interruption which occurred just at the particular time it did in those men's lives was an interruption which would take a very considerable amount of compensation to provide for. Many of them entered the service of the nation at a time when they should have been attending to their studies, or when they should have been learning business or engaging in some other sphere of activity which would enable them to take their part in the battle of life. The interruption just at that period was a very serious interruption to them, and they would have reason to complain if, having given of their best at that particular time, when it cost them most, that consideration should not be given to claims such as they have, and which they have never made upon the nation. As I said, this measure should have been introduced long since, but we introduce it now in good faith, the Government realising its indebtedness to these gallant young men, and we introduce it in the hope that it will be accepted by them, not in a sense of discharging their obligations and being done with them, but as our appreciation of the amount that is due to them in the nature of compensation for the services they have rendered. We hope that it will lead towards a better atmosphere, that those men cannot now that they have rendered that service, regard the nation to which they have rendered such good service in any other but a friendly spirit, and that it will conduce towards more friendly relations between those of them who have left the Army and those who are still in it, and that it will bring home to them, too, some of the difficulties of the Government and Parliament in dealing with such cases as theirs.
PRIVATE BUSINESS. - MILITARY SERVICE PENSIONS BILL, 1924.—SECOND STAGE.
I would like to give a very hearty and cordial welcome to this Bill, particularly as one who has come into contact with those men during the years in which they gave their services so freely. I think that this is a right method of recognition for the service which was then given and which was given without any thought or prospect of any reward of this kind, and, therefore, a service for which a reward of this kind is all the more appropriate and fitting. The service that was then given was a service that was given for the national cause, purely as the national cause, and there was not one of those men who undertook it but did so feeling more or less certain in his mind that, whatever might be the outcome, his own particular case would not receive any reward, and that he was incurring the possibility not only of grave risk for himself and his own life, but the blotting out of any future that he might have. I was glad that the President, in introducing this Bill, stressed that point of view, because I think it right that it should be stressed that this is not a reward given for something that was done and some services that were rendered in prospect of this reward that would forthcome, but is given for men who undertook their work, their risks and their dangers, not having any such prospect at all. We know that at the present moment there is a large number of them who are in very grave need of assistance such as this Bill will render. The best reward, of course, would be that employment should be found for a great many of them who are not now in employment, but that is another matter; I only touch on it in passing, because I believe it is the real end to be aimed at. There is only one matter that I am not sure I correctly understood the President's reference to. I understood him to mean that these services that were given by these men, whose courage brought the Free State into existence, would be recognised by this Bill, whatever their subsequent political decisions and careers might have been. I believe that to be the intention of the Bill. I understood from the President's introduction of it that is to be the purpose of the Government in the administration of this Bill. If that be so, I desire to say it is a very wise and statesmanlike procedure to adopt, because even though many of these men turned against the Free State afterwards——
I think the Deputy is wrong. Under this Bill service in the National Army is essential.
Then I misunderstood it. I was dealing with that portion of the Bill that referred to services rendered during Easter Week. I think it could easily have been made to extend to those whose services applied for a period before then, and whose services helped to bring about the existence of this State. In any case, even in that limited sense, I think the Bill is a wise and necessary one, and it is one the Dáil might unquestionably give a very cordial welcome to.
I am disappointed that the President should have introduced the Second Reading of this Bill without giving some general description of it, and an explanation of its purpose, and how it would effect its purpose. After all, a Bill presented in this way has to be examined pretty closely to understand how it is going to be received, and what will be its effects. I think the Second Reading is the opportunity that should be availed of by the Minister to explain in some detail the intentions of the Bill, and how it will work out in practice. I think it is necessary, both for the Dáil and for those people who might be expected to be recipients of benefits under the Bill, that they should have made clear what the intentions of the Government are. I think the Bill is not likely to be read by those persons as carefully and closely as would be necessary to make them fully aware of what the position will be. I am sorry the President has not taken the opportunity of doing that. For instance, Deputy Figgis would not have fallen into the mistake that a good number of people have, through not reading the Bill carefully, in assuming that this is a Bill to provide pensions for services during the years preceding the Truce. It is not. It is a Bill to provide pensions for persons who have served in the Army since the 1st July, 1922, provided that they had served in the Volunteer forces before that time. The pension is not for services—at least it is not to be paid to people unless they had also served in the National Army after the 1st July, 1922. I am not finding fault with that, but I want it made clear, at this Stage of the Bill, that that is the intention of the Bill. The Bill, as I read it, will allow of a maximum to be paid to persons who served from April, 1916, right on to the 23rd September, in the case of those who left the Army in 1923 as privates or non-commissioned officers, a pension of £70 per annum; commissioned officers, second lieutenants, first lieutenants or captains, £140 per annum; commandants or majors, £210; colonels or major-generals, £280; and officers of a higher rank than that of a major-general, £350 per annum. There will be, apparently, considerable deductions in some cases, if the recipients are already or become paid officers of the State. I do not know whether it is possible for the Minister to give us any estimate of the number of people who will receive benefit under this Bill for continuous service from March, 1916. We have not had from the Minister any indication of what his estimate is of the total cost. I think we should have had that.
I hope, when the Minister replies, he will give us at least some idea of his expectations in this matter. There are two queries I would like to put to him with regard to the application of the Act. Sub-section (2) of Section 8 relates to the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1923. I am not sure whether those Superannuation Acts are the Acts under which local authorities, as well as the State, pay pension or superannuation allowances. I think they are. The effect of this section seems to me to place upon the local authority the liability for an increased superannuation or pension because of military service. I suggest that it is not fair to the local authority. If a person is entitled to a superannuation allowance under those Acts, and he desires to surrender his military service pension, he may claim to have the period of his service for superannuation increased according to the scale set forth in the Schedule. That is to say, for the military service rendered in the Army from 1916 onwards, he is to be enabled to claim upon the local authorities for an increased superannuation allowance amounting to, perhaps, fourteen years. The period will certainly be a number of years. That is not fair to local authorities. If there is to be a pension because of military service it should be charged upon the State, and there should be some amendment of this section.
took the Chair.
Then there is the question of men who were in the Army from 1916 onward who took service under Dáil Eireann and who have been maintained as servants of the State. Their service in the Army is apparently not to be credited to them. That is to say, men who desired to enter the Army but who were precluded from doing so because they were required to serve the State in other respects, are not to get any benefit for their service in the Volunteers. I draw attention to that while bearing in mind what I have already said, that the pensions under the Bill are intended for service in the National Army as from July 1st, 1922. I think there will be a sense of grievance amongst men and women who find their position worsened by the fact that they were not able to serve the Army, as the State preferred them to remain in civil occupation and as civil servants. Consequently they are not receiving the benefits in the way of pensions which accrue to those who were allowed to go into the Army.
Those effects, I believe, will probably cause some dissatisfaction amongst a considerable number of persons. I would like the Minister to make clear that the pensions will cease on the death of the recipient. It should not be a continuous pension that will go forward to relatives. There has been some disappointment—a great deal of disappointment—because it was expected, in accordance with a promise made, that in a Bill to be presented this session relating to pensions, provision would have been made for men who have contracted disease within the Army and have been rendered unfit for earning a livelihood, or for men who died as the result of disease contracted during, and as a consequence of, service. It was expected those cases would have been dealt with in any Pension Bill that was to be introduced.
It is intended to bring forward that measure. I fear very much, however, that it is not likely to get beyond its Second Stage this Session. The Bill is in course of preparation. It is one of those measures which, perhaps, takes more time than 19 other measures would. We were anxious that while it would be complete it would also be fool-proof. That Bill is under consideration at the present moment.
I am very pleased to hear that the matter has not been lost sight of. I realise how important it is to take great care in the preparation of such a measure. The omission of those clauses from this Bill has certainly entailed a great deal of disappointment. The delay occasioned will, I hope, not be too long. I hope further that while the delay may be inevitable, and because it is inevitable, it may be possible to meet, by way of ex-gratia grants, some of the claims that are being made upon the State in expectation, or in advance of, claims for pensions under the promised Bill. There are many cases of distress and suffering which will, one would hope, eventually be eased by the Bill now promised. In the meantime, some provision should be made to assist those people. I welcome this Bill, but I hope the Minister will make a fuller statement as to its probable cost and the probable numbers that will be in receipt of various grades of pensions. I do not want a too detailed statement, but I think we are entitled to some review of the Minister's expectations. If the effect of the Bill will be to heal sores and to make the path easier, then it will be worth a good deal. I suggest to the Minister that many of the men in receipt of those pensions will be young, healthy, capable men who will have long lives, and I think some opportunity should be found so that they may be required to give service to the State in one or other occupation and so ensure that the cost to the State for a considerable number of years will not be entirely wasted.
I suggest to the Minister that he should endeavour to get some value, and that the men should be called on to give value for the money they receive. It is far better to call upon them to render some service to the State rather than pay out sums ranging from £70 to £350, according to rank, and not require, or give an opportunity which will probably be the equivalent of requiring, that they should continue to render service to the State.
While I share the good wishes that Deputy Figgis bestowed on the Bill, or on the intentions of the Bill, I think before we give it a Second Reading, we should get more information. I am sorry I did not hear the whole of the President's speech. I did not anticipate that the Minister for Justice would get through two Bills in two minutes. There are two or three points on which, I think, we would need to be enlightened. In the Supplementary Estimates three months ago we voted a considerable sum for gratuities to men with pre-Truce service. Does this Bill supplant those gratuities, or is it supplemental to them?
It embodies them.
Will the men with pre-Truce service be able to claim gratuity as well as a pension? Will a colonel get a gratuity as well as a pension—a gratuity of, say, £250?
We should know that. The second point is the one raised by Deputy Johnson. Is there, together with this pension, any liability for future service? Will there be any power given to the State in time of emergency to call back to the colours pensioners as long as they are of an age that would render them liable and fit for service? The third point is a technical one, but yet it is one of considerable importance. How is this Bill, when it becomes an Act, going to be administered? It is going to be a very large order indeed. Already, before we have reached the Second Stage, we begin to get letters, grumbling letters. We have got letters from individuals who set out their cases and who complain that they did not get what they considered they were entitled to. They bring up local grievances.
For instance, I got a letter from Waterford mentioning that the date, July, 1922, was most unfair as Waterford was in the hands of the Irregulars then and the people there could not enlist until the place was relieved. No doubt letters will come in greater intensity from Cork; when Cork is annoyed it lets the fact be known. This measure is going to be a burden on Deputies. We are going to have every person that is dissatisfied, in and outside our constituencies, writing to us and telling us about their complaints. It is going to be a far greater burden on the Government if the administration is thrown on the shoulders for the Minister for Defence or the Minister for Finance. In view of the magnitude of the thing, and seeing that there are likely to be some 250,000 claims, many of them bogus, sent in, we shall have to give the question of administration very serious consideration. You are bound to get every sort of fantastic claim.
In view of that fact, I think the President has here a case for creating a Parliamentary Secretaryship. If this is to be part of the policy of the State, a Parliamentary Secretary for Pensions, who will deal with this matter independently and whom Deputies can approach with their grievances, will be a necessary part of the machinery. Now as to my last point—it is the most important point—I have never heard any precendent for bringing in a measure of this kind without any indication of what it is going to cost. That, surely we have a right to know. There must have been estimates— actuarial estimates—made of the number of people likely to be entitled to a pension, their age, and how long the burden on the State is to be continued, because I am quite sure this is not a light matter. We are undertaking to-day, in a thin and tired House, a responsibility that is going to fetter the Minister for Finance of the Saorstát for fifty years, or very nearly that. A great many of these pensioners are very young men. Some of them are not twenty years of age, so that for nearly fifty years we shall be under liability. I am not an actuary. I have no access to the official reports of the Ministry of Defence, but I have tried to work out, from what one knows of the men serving in the Army, the cost. I estimate that, leaving out liability for pre-Truce service of any kind whatever, the liability for people who joined up in June and July, 1922, will be about £100,000 a year. I shall be somewhat surprised—of course, the President speaks with much greater authority than I do—if the total liability is less than a quarter of a million a year. That, in our present financial condition when we have made, or claim to have made, every cut that can be made, is a somewhat serious matter. It is imposing a burden, less in size but similar in degree, to the burden imposed by Article 10 of the Treaty. Like the story of Issachar in Scripture, the President found the Minister for Finance as the strong ass, couched under a heavy burthen on one side, and he added another to the other side to balance it. There is another burden now added to that of the Treaty.
I do not grudge the money that goes to the men so much, but it is going to be a very costly measure to administer. The bulk of the men who joined up in 1922 will be drawing about £15 a year each. How are they going to draw it— monthly, quarterly, or yearly? However it is going to be done, it will require a considerable staff; it will require a staff for checking to prove that the right man is drawing the pension; it will cast a burden on the Post Office, where presumably these pensions will be paid——
I do not like to interrupt the Deputy, but I think I should point out that it is not the intention to give pensions for National Army service alone. One must have previous service, so that the Estimate, as mentioned by Deputy Cooper, will not arise. I should apologise for the manner in which I introduced this measure. I have been steeped in it to such an extent that every part of it to me seems the same, and I imagined that everybody else was as well acquainted with it. To that extent, I should apologise for the manner in which I introduced the measure.
It is not entirely clear in the Bill.
I may be pardoned if I say that I was not the only person who read this Bill very late last night.
Deputy Figgis was certainly not the only person, because I do not think the summaries in the Press make that point very clear. After all, the average man whose letters fill his letter box, has not time to read the official reports of the debates, and I am glad to have drawn form the President the explanation he has given that only those who have pre-Truce service will be included. That removes some of my objections on that point. It also meets some of the points I made in regard to administration; further, it removes the fear that I felt that this was an Act of extraordinary and almost unnecessary generosity. There is no doubt that within the last two years our troops did very arduous service; they incurred great danger and many discomforts, but there has never been any case made, except possibly after the American Civil War, for giving troops pensions merely for two or three years' service, unless they were disabled by either wounds or sickness. Neither the French nor British troops, who went through five years' war, got any pensions. At the same time, the impression is abroad that everybody who served in the National Army is going to get a pension. That should be corrected, and a case made—and authoritatively made—to show why that is not right, because the general rumours about this Bill have created such a state of mind that everybody thinks the sky is going to fall, and they will get larks.
Realising the fact, as I think one must do, that the profession of arms is a profession in which it is not possible to make much money, any more than it is possible for a churchman to make anything more than a bare living, I think it is only reasonable that the State should provide as generously as it possibly can for those who have given good service, and who have placed everything—their lives, reputation and all—at the disposal of the State. Reading this Bill through, in conjunction with the particulars one saw in the newspapers as regards pensions, I think the system being tried is as just as the Exchequer can afford. I regret to see that there is no provision made for widows or orphans of men who have given their lives to the State.
That is in a previous Bill—a Bill passed last year.
I am glad to hear that this matter is provided for, because, unfortunately, it is a well-established fact that in most countries the widows and orphans of the soldiers come off extremely poorly. England has been notorious for that. Therefore, I am glad we are the exception. I am sure the country will in no way grudge pensions to men who have given good service to the State or dispute that the pensions should be according to the degree of service they have given. It is recognised in this Bill that those who have given most service should have the biggest pension. That is a proper principle, and I am glad it is recognised in this Bill. I am sure the State will not grudge it. Moreover, I think if the people of the country had the opportunity of seeing the splendid review last Sunday of the new Army, they would not grudge the giving of money for pensions or for the up-keep of the Army henceforth. I think everybody acknowledged that the general turnout and the knowledge displayed by the officers and men, was worthy of the National Army of Ireland. If there were only more such reviews, if the President could only select some other day——
I am afraid that does not arise on the Pensions Bill.
It is in connection with this Bill. I want to show that it is right to give pensions. If the President would arrange more of these reviews the grumbling, small as it is, about pensions, would be still less.
I confess, sir, that with all the talk of hundreds of thousands of pounds by Deputy Cooper, I do not know whether this Bill is really the reversal of financial form that it first struck me as. It is impossible to say from the Bill as it stands at present how many persons are likely to get pensions and what is likely to be the average amount of the pensions. There is one necessary thing to do in connection with this Bill, and that is to define "active service." If "active service" is not defined in connection with this Bill, then I do not know where the Minister for Finance may find himself some day. Much of what you could say about this Bill hangs upon the definition of "active service."
A point arises out of Section 2, where it is stated that a person may apply within the prescribed period. That raises the question as to whether officers who are at present in the Army and who may elect to leave the Army will come under this particular Bill. Beyond the question of defining what "active service" is, which I think is very important in connection with the measure, there is nothing to which I wish to draw attention at this stage.
There is a set of men I should like to hear the President say something about. One would imagine from some of the speeches made that the country was divided into two political camps, so far as the old I.R.A. was concerned. But there is a section who gave very good service from 1916 up to the signing of the Treaty, and who did not elect to take part on either side. I would like the President to make some statement as to what the Government thinks of the service these men rendered during a very trying period. They, surely, deserve some consideration, and I invite the President to make some statement in that regard. It is to be regretted that those men, who come under the special protection of the new Party, should not have the new Party present to advocate their cause.
It shows the great confidence the new Party has in the Government.
I am glad to see that this Bill is receiving the consideration which it is from every section of the House. I am extremely glad the Government have taken in a measure of this kind, and that they are not treating the men who fought and gave good service to the country in the past as other countries have treated the soldiers who fought and won glorious victories for them. It is a good thing to see that the Government has been thinking, as this Bill shows, of the men who risked everything they had that the country might survive and that we should be here to-day making laws for the better government of the country. Unfortunately, our countrymen in the past who, in many instances, gave their lives and who, in other instances, made many sacrifices for other lands, were thrown on the scrap heap and got no recompense for their services.
It is a good thing to know that the native Government here is going to see that the men who gave good service to their country at home are not going to be thrown on the scrap heap, and that their services are going to be recognised.
Deputy Johnson raised a question on Section 8 of the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1923. He wished to know if local authorities are to be involved in that action. They are not. What that particular section was inserted to meet was the case of one of those men who had military service, and who then entered the service of the Dáil, or rather entered the Civil Service. Now, in entering the Civil Service a man who had previous service with Dáil Eireann got certain allowances or certain advantages in the matter of years. In this case, this particular section is drawn so as to give him an option in the event of whatever advantage he derived. Where he got this pension, if the advantage were greater than what he would get by reason of the allowance he would get in connection with his service in pre-Truce days in the Civil Service he would have the advantage and would get the better of the two pensions. In other words, let us assume that the military service would give him a pension of £60 a year and that the advantage he got in the Civil Service gave him £40 a year. He would be entitled to get the difference of the two added to the Civil Service pension.
Will it be fulfilled?
That is the intention.
But do you think the intention is fulfilled?
I will have it examined to see that that is the case. It would not be possible for me to give anything like an approximate estimate, but as far as I can learn the ultimate liability in respect of this particular measure runs to between fifty and one hundred thousand pounds a year. That is the nearest I can get to it in an estimate.
Of course there is the question that liability pre-supposes non-State service.
What I say on that is that it is not contemplated in the Act to make any condition as regards future service, but I think I would be entitled to say this, that practically 95 per cent. of those who would be benefited, perhaps I would be more correct in saying 99 per cent., by this Act are persons who, during a series of years, rendered service without any payment whatever in the interests of the nation. I am satisfied from what I know that one need only ask for mobilisation at a particular place, and whether there was a legal liability or not to serve, I am satisfied that they would serve; but if the Dáil considers that it would be desirable to insert a section of that sort, I would not object.
That meets Deputy Cooper's point, but does the President contemplate inviting pensioners under this Bill to take up positions in the Civil Service and so work out some of the value of their pensions?
To enter the Civil Service? No, we do not contemplate that. Looking over the cases of persons who have made application for supplementary grants, I have been perfectly satisfied in my mind that a real effort must be made to compensate them for the loss of that period which, in some cases, was two or three years, in others four or five years, and in some six or seven years. It really comes to this, that quite a number of these men in their present position without this measure would really have no interest in life. There were two or three points mentioned by Deputy Cooper. He asked if this was supplementary to the gratuity. It is supplementary to the gratuity. This particular Act, if it comes into operation on the 1st October—I mean that the payments are to come into operation on the 1st October—our calculations are that the supplementary grant will reach from the time of their demobilisation up to the 1st October. I was also asked if there was any liability for future services. I think I have answered that. As to how the Act is going to be administered I think the fact that he misread the Act in regard to Army service since 1922 disposes of that particular point.
There is a difference between pre-Truce service, service which stopped at the Truce or stopped at the period when the National Army was mobilised in uniform, and service which continued with the National Army. I put it this way, that we mobilised during the period from February, 1922, to March, 1923, something like 52,000 men. By reason of that mobilisation many civil occupations were opened to those who had pre-Truce service but who did not join the National Army. They had certain advantages by reason of their pre-Truce services in getting in, as it were, on the ground floor with regard to any such civil occupations that might be going. On the other hand, those who joined the National Army having had pre-Truce service, cut themselves off from any opportunity of getting civil occupation, and were then unloaded on the industrial, commercial and labour market at a time when there was very considerable depression and very little opportunity of getting permanent employment. To that extent there is a difference. I should say until we see what the cost of this will be, and until there is evidence produced to us that the loss I mentioned and that we are trying to compensate in these cases has been sustained as it has been in the other cases, I could not promise a measure of compensation for these.
That there is liability, I admit, but we can only shoulder liability in regard to our capabilities to bear it. From an examination of the cases that have come before me for these Supplementary Grants, I should say that the average number of cases that will arise under this Act will be those running somewhere from the year 1920 up to date. There are not so many who have 1916 service in which the greater liability would be occasioned, and it will be observed that under Section 2, sub-section (4) (b), that certain periods are specified which are essential; that is (a), (b) and (f) in the first clause of Schedule 1. The reason of that, I think, will be admitted when we come to that particular section. It is known that quite a large number of men joined the Volunteers at the time of the Conscription menace, and we did not regard that in the same light as the men who joined before them, or after that particular menace had passed. So that an effort has been made in the first place to give compensation for big service which we regard Easter Week as and also in the more difficult periods, and at the same time not to give an advantage where the services were not up to the high water standard.
Now there may be some objection or criticism of the Third Schedule; that is the calculation of the suspension of pensions. There have not been many cases. I do not remember coming across one single case. But Deputy General Mulcahy may have come across one where the maximum pension under the "Wounds Pension" Act has been allowed. I think the maximum I came across is £150, and it will be observed from that that any reduction there is comes in under this Act, and not under the other. Having passed the other Act, we leave it there. There was a difficulty in assessing what measure of reduction there ought to be. It occurred to us at one time that it might be better not to give a captain a higher or a double pension than what would be received by a commandant. That is, that a man in a particular rank would not with the two pensions have a pension higher than the man of a rank immediately above him. That was open to objection, and we put down this particular schedule, which I think will be fair. A double pension is a most unusual thing. I believes it shocks staid, level-headed civil servants. But it will be admitted, I think, that our Wounds Pension Act compensates for the damage that has been done to the man. We deprive him of some efficiency, and he should be compensated for that. This particular measure comes in, and in order to settle the equities of the case this particular matter that is mentioned is given with regard to that. It appears in the Third Schedule, Sub-section (2). General Mulcahy struck the nail on the head when he sought a definition of "active service." There are various interpretations as to what "active service" is, and I do not propose to enter into a detailed exposition of that here, other than to say this: that the mere joining of the Volunteers in a particular place, and the mere drilling and going on with one's occupation in the ordinary way without interruption is scarcely a claim for consideration that should be given as compared with a man not in his ordinary occupation but night and day doing the work of the State. That particular definition, I suppose, will be prescribed—that is the usual term with regard to it—and I expect it will take a military description. But at any rate it is not intended that there should be any soft pensions. It is not intended to afford a measure of compensation for that interruption. Anybody who has ever experienced active service will admit the strain of mind and body on the physique, and that the strain generally on the mentality of the person is enormous. We do not intend that any sort of soft service should be included in this measure, and to that extent the description "active service" is put down there to be on the safe side. The State will bear its obligation, but it ought not to be asked to bear a liability beyond its capacity, and for services not rendered.
Does the Minister by regulation or amendment of the Act propose any definition of this term, "active service"?
I will have to look into that between this and the next Stage. There will be also some amendments necessary to meet the cases brought forward by General Mulcahy and Deputy McGrath. There happen to have been one or two men sent away to distant parts somewhere about the Truce time, or shortly after, and these cases have to be regularised. They were sent away suffering from disorders—I think it was tuberculosis in both cases—which was contracted during the period of active service. By reason of service in the National Army being an essential condition, these cases would be ruled out, and I will accept an amendment from General Mulcahy to meet such cases. There may be others.
Would they not come into the other Bill that you were speaking of?
They would come in later, but when you have this disability that they were worn out in the one case before they could join the National Army, and not having service in the National Army they would have been at a disadvantage. One of these men has been at a cost of something like £500 a year for treatment in California, and I believe it is worth it. I am satisfied, from the criticisms I have heard of the Bill, that it has met with the general approval of the Dáil, and I hope that we will be able to see that the Bill will pass before the end of the Session.
As regards the amendment suggested by the President, I think the President has as much information about that particular case as I would have. It is hardly fair that I would be asked to put in an amendment that is really upsetting the principle of the Bill. Perhaps the President would further consider the matter.
I hope there will be no difficulty about putting in amendments right up to the last moment on Wednesday.
Not up to the last moment. If Deputy Johnson wishes I will put the Committee Stage off to Thursday, the 3rd July.
I do not want to retard the progress of the Bill.
If I get fair notice, and if the Ceann Comhairle will accept amendments, I will take them up to the very last moment.
Very well, the Committee Stage is fixed for Wednesday, the 2nd July.