CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - EX-ARMY MAN'S PENSION.

SEAN O LAIDHIN

asked the Minister for Defence if he is aware that Mr. William Greene, Irishtown, Athlone, at present in No. 3 Ward, St. Bricin's Hospital, Dublin, was granted a wound pension in October, 1924; that when the applicant filled the forms claiming this pension he stated that he was a married man, and whether, in view of this fact, he will state why his pension has been stopped on the grounds that he was married subsequent to the date of his receiving the wound; that Mr. Greene was informed on October 29th, 1925, that the pension paid up to September 30th, 1925, amounting to £16 5s. Od., must be regarded as over-payment and that no further payment of pension will be made until the above amount is recovered.

Mr. Greene has been in receipt of a disability pension under the provisions of the Army Pensions Act, 1923, as from the 11th December, 1923. In his application he gave the date of his injury as the 10th September, 1922, and the date of his marriage as the 3rd April, 1923. The date of injury was illegibly written, and was in error read as the 10th September, 1923. It appeared from this that he was married at the time of his injury. As a result he was paid the extra pension issuable under Section 2 of the Act to a pensioner who was married before the day on which he was wounded. The error was subsequently discovered and steps were necessarily taken to recover the amount of extra pension inadvertently granted to him. I regret that further payment of pension is not being made while he is a resident patient in St. Bricin's Hospital until the overpayment has been recovered.

Does the Minister think it just to deprive a man, who has lost the entire use of his arm through Army service, and his wife and child of something to live on? Could the Minister not make arrangements that half his pension would be payable to him until the amount is recovered?

I cannot say if that can be done. The amount outstanding is £9 3s. 10d., and he has been treated in St. Bricin's Hospital free of charge.

Is the Minister aware that the practice in his Department and the Department of Finance has been when over-payments have been made in respect of dependents' allowance or pensions, owing to the fault of the Department, unless there has been some evidence of malpractice on the part of the recipient, that the Department overlooks the overpayment?

I am not aware of that.

May I tell the Minister that that is so?

May I press the Minister on the point I have raised on behalf not alone of the person concerned in this case but of hundreds of persons in other cases? If a clerical error is made by some official in the Department of Defence why should the recipient of the pension suffer? Does the Minister think it just or right to deprive a man of his payment simply because of an error made in his own Department, and thus deprive his wife and family of something to live on? Does he think it right that this man's dependents in Athlone should have to apply to the St. Vincent de Paul Society for assistance, after he had lost the use of his arm in the service of the Army?

This man has got money that he was not entitled to, and he is repaying it back. I have nothing further to add.