Committee on Finance. - Vote 66—Army Pensions.

Tairgim:

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £602,584 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1938, chun Pinsean Créachta agus Mí-ábaltachta, Pinsean Breise agus Pinsean Fear Pósta, Liúntaisí agus Aiscí (Uimh. 26 de 1923, Uimh. 12 de 1927, agus Uimh. 24 de 1932); chun Pinsean Seirbhíse Míleata (Uimh. 48 de 1924 agus Uimh. 43 de 1934); chun Pinsean, Liúntaisí agus Aiscí (Uimh. 37 de 1936); agus chun síntiúisí agus costaisí iolardha ina dtaobh san, etc.

Sé chéad is dhá míle, cúig chéad is ceithre púint ochtód an méid iomlán atá leagtha amach sa Mheastachán ar Arm-Phinsin i gcóir na bliana airgeadais míle naoí gcéad a seacht triochad—ocht triochad. Gan aon mhion-dealú do dhéanamh air, is féidir an t-iomlán san do roinnt 'na thrí mírchinn mar leanas:—(1) Costas na Molta —Cúig chéad is aon mhíle ochtód, trí chéad is sé púint nóchad; (2) an costas a meastar ar Riarachán—Sé mhíle dhéag is sé púint sheascad; (3) Fo-Chostaisí—Cúig mhíle céad is dhá phunt fhichead. Sin iomlán de sé chéad is dhá mhíle, cúig chéad is ceithre púint ochtód.

Ag cuimsiú ar an bprímh-sheirbhís sa Mheastachán so—mar atá, an méid a meastar a caithfear ar Mholta— chítear, ar é do dhealú, gur mar seo atá an t-iomlán, cúig chéad is aon mhíle ochtód, trí chéad is sé púint nóchad déanta suas:—(1) Pinsin agus Aiscí Créachta is Mí-Abaltachta—Cead is seacht míle, dhá chéad is dhá phúnt chaogad; (2) Liúntaisí agus Aiscí Cleithiúnaithe—trí mhíle fichead, céad is dhá phúnt sheascad; (3) Deontaisí nách deontaisí reachtúla—trí chéad púnt; (4) Pinsin Seirbhíse Míleata— ceithre chéad naoí míle is dachad, ceithre chéad is seacht bpúint déag; (5) Pinsin de sna Connaught Rangers— Míle, dhá chéad is cúig púint sheascad. Sin iomlán de cúig chéad is aon mhíle ochtód. trí chéad is sé púint nóchad.

Is do réir na nAchtanna Arm-Phinsean míle naoi gcéad a trí fichead, míle naoi gcéad a seacht fichead agus míle naoi gcéad a dó triochad, a moltar pinsin agus aiscí créachta is mí-ábaltachta, agus 'sé iomlán na molta do rinneadh cheana fé gach Acht fé leith aca san, maraon le n-a gcostas ná:—Acht míle naoí gcéad a trí fichead —ceithre chéad is ocht molta fichead— ceithre mhíle fichead, sé chead is trí púint ochtód; Acht míle naoi gcéad a seacht fichead—Céad is cúig molta fichead—ceithre mhíle fichead, sé chéad is trí púint ochtód; Acht míle naoi gcéad a seacht fichead—Céad is cúig molta deag—aon míle dhéag, seacht gcéad is cuig púint fhíchead; agus Acht míle naoi gcéad a dó triochad—Trí chéad is ochtó moladh —seacht míle triocad, trí chéad is ceithre púint triochad. Sin trí mhíle seachtód seacht gcéad dhá phúnt is dachad ar fad.

Maidir leis an gcéad is seacht míle, dhá chéad is dhá phúnt chaogad atá leagtha amach sa Mheastachán chun pinsin agus aiscí créachta is mí-ábaltachta d'íoc, tá ceangailte orainn cheana do réir Reachta trí mhíle seachtód, seacht gcéad dhá phúnt is dachad de do chaitheamh. Meastar go gcaithfear an chuid eile dhe, trí mhíle triochad, cúig chéad is deich bpúint, ar phinsin nó ar aiscí nua, a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha fé sna trí hAchttanna i rith na bliana míle naoi gcéad a seacht triochad—ocht triochad, agus tagann aon mhíle triochad is dhá chéad púnt ar a laighead den méid sin fé Acht míle naoi gcéad a dó triochad. Maidir leis an suim seo, aon mhíle triochad is dhá chéad púnt, áfach, is costas é ná beidh le caitheamh gach bliain mar riaráiste iseadh ceithre mhíle fichead púnt de, agus rachaidh míle is ocht gcéad púnt de chun aiscí d'íoc.

Is do réir na dtrí nAchtanna céadna a h-íoctar liúntaisí agus aiscí cleithiúnaithe. 'Sé iomlán na molta atá déanta cheana fén mírcheann so, maraon le n-a gcostas, ná:—Acht míle naoi gcéad a trí fichead—Dhá chéad is sé molta—ocht míle, dha chéad is cúig púint sheascad; Acht míle naoí gcéad a seacht fíchead—Seacht molta nóchad —dhá mhíle, naoí gcéad is ocht bpúint nóchad; Acht míle naoí gcéad a dó triochad—Céad is ceithre molta triochad—ceithre mhíle, seacht gcéad naoi bpúint is dachad.

Sin ceithre chéad is seacht Molta triochad agus sé mhíle dhéag is dhá phúnt déag.

Mar sin de, tá ceangailte orainn cheana sé mhíle dhéag is dhá phúnt déag den iomlán, trí mhíle fichead, céad is dhá phúnt sheascad a luaidhtear sa Mheastachán d'íoc, agus tá an fuighleach, seacht míle, céad is caoga púnt ceapaithe i gcóir liúntaisí nua a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana airgeadais, míle naoi gcéad a seacht triochad—ocht triochad. Tiocfaidh sé mhíle, ceithre chéad is cúig púint ochtód den méid sin fé Acht míle naoi gcéad a dó triochad, ach sa chás so arís, is costas é ná beidh le caitheamh gach bliain, mar riaráiste iseadh dhá mhíle, ceithre chéad is caoga púnt de, agus rachaidh tuairim is trí mhíle púnt de chun aiscí d'íoc.

Tímpal le céad is triocha míle, ceithre chéad is ceithre púint déag an méid iomlán, mar sin, a chosnóchaidh na trí hAchtanna Arm-Pinsean, míle naoi gcéad a trí fichead go míle naoi gcéad a dó triochad do réir an Mheastacháin. Maidir leis an suim atá curtha síos mar gheall ar Achtanna na bPinsean Seirbhíse Míleata, míle naoi gcéad a ceathair fichead agus míle, naoi gcéad a ceathair triochad, chífear go bhfuil ceithre chéad naoi míle is dachad, ceithre chéad is seacht bpúint déag le caitheamh, sé sin, timpal le seachtó seacht fén gcéad den méid iomlán atá ar fáil chun molta d'íoc. Maidir le molta atá déanta cheana, seo iad na figiúirí:—Fé Acht míle naoi gcéad a ceathair fichead, trí mhíle, dhá chéad is cúig molta fichead agus céad is trí mhíle caogad, is sé chéad púnt; fé Acht míle naoi gcéad a ceathair triochad, dhá mhíle, dhá chéad is cúig molta caogad agus ceithre mhíle ochtód ceithre chéad is seacht bpúint déag. Sin cúig mhíle, ceithre chéad is ochtó moladh agus dhá chéad is ocht míle triochad, is seacht bpúint déag. Dhá bhrigh sin, tá ceangailte orainn cheana dhá chéad is ocht míle triochad, is seacht bpúint déag do chaitheamh den méid iomlán atá leagtha amach le h-aghaidh pinsean seirbhíse míleata fén dá Acht, agus maidir leis an bhfuighleach de, sé sin, dhá chéad is aon mhíle dhéag, is ceithre chéad púnt—tar éis na locáistí Reachtúla do bhaint as—is ionann é agus pinsin a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha fén dá Acht i rith na bliana. Fé Acht míle naoi gcéad a ceathair triochad a thagann furmhór na suime sin, dar ndóigh, ach riaráiste ná bheidh le caitheamh gach bliain iseadh tímpal le céad is caoga míle púnt de, mar sin.

Is amhlaidh atá an scéal, dá bhrígh sin, fé sna trí hAchtanna Arm-Phinsean is fé dhá Acht na bPinsean Seirbhíse Míleata le chéile, ná go meastar gur trí chéad is seacht míle fichead, seacht gcéad is aon phúnt seachtód a chosnóchaidh an sé mhíle, ocht gcéad is dachad moladh atá déanta cheana, agus go bhfuil dhá chéad is dhá míle chaogad, is seasca púnt á chur ar fáil againn le haghaidh molta nua déanfar fé sna hAchtanna céadna. Fágann san gur cúig chéad is naoi míle seachtód, ocht gcéad is aon phúnt triochad atá sa mhór-iomlán. ach ó thárla go bhfuil céad is sé mhíle seachtód, ceithre chéad is caoga púnt den méid sin le caitheamh ar riaráiste, agus ceithre mhíle is ocht gcéad púnt ar aiscí, 'sé glan-mhéid an mhuirir bhliantúil ná trí chéad is ocht míle nóchad, cúig chéad is aon phúnt ochtód.

Ní gádh puinn do rádh i dtaobh na neithe eile sa Mheastachán. Maidir leis an suim atá curtha síos i gcóir molta fé Acht Pinsean de sna Connaught Rangers, tuigeadh le linn í chur síos go mbéadh an riaráiste uile íoctha i ndeireadh mí na Márta, míle naoí gcéad a seacht triochad, agus ná béadh ach gnáth-chaitheamh le déanamh as san amach. 'Sé fé ndear an méadú fén mírcheann "Reiteoir agus Coiste Cómhairlitheach" ná luchtfuirinne breise do cheapadh chun brostú leis an obair a bhaineann le molta dhéanamh fé Acht míle naoi gcéad a ceathair triochad, agus is amhlaidh atá na deontaisí nách deontaisí reachtúla ceapaithe i gcóir beirt chlainne le Treoraí in Eirghe Amach míle naoí gcéad a sé déag, go bhfuil deireadh le n-a liúntaisí fén Acht, mar ní folair leanamhaint de sna liúntaisí sin d'íoc leo go ceann tamaill, i dtreo is go bhféadfaid leanamhaint dá gcuid foghluma.

I want to ask the Minister one or two questions before the Vote is put to the House. Can the Minister give us any indication as to when finality will be reached in the matter of military pensions? The relatively huge sum of money which this House is asked to vote for military pensions is, I feel, beyond the capacity of the people to pay. Nobody in this House, and in fact nobody outside the House, would begrudge that any ex-volunteer or ex-member of the I.R.A. who suffered loss of health should be properly and adequately compensated. But I should like to have the Minister's view as to the position in relation to able-bodied men holding good positions who are in receipt of military pensions. I want to make the point clear. I do not begrudge, and I am sure nobody will begrudge, pensions to persons who served their country in any capacity and who lost their health as a result of that service, or whose property was destroyed as a result of that service. But we have now a very numerous class of people in the country who, in addition to holding good positions, are enjoying military pensions.

There used to be a great outery in the old days if an old R.I.C. man or an old military pensioner held a position while other people were unemployed. We are now, I fear, going to create that class in this country again. Again, during the Great War we heard the sneers at the man who went out to serve in the British Army. We were told that he was a mercenary soldier and was getting all sorts of allowances. But, on the other hand, our volunteers said, "We are volunteers; we are not looking for any reward for ourselves." The strange fact about it is that, now that all the trouble is over, there appear to have been about sixteen armies in the field instead of one. It is because numbers of persons in this country rightfully object to the thousand and one pensioners we are creating, young able-bodied men, that I feel somebody should make himself vocal on this particular matter.

Another question I want to put to the Minister is, whether numbers of persons, deserving people, people who contracted tuberculosis as a result of their service in the I.R.A. and Volunteers, have not yet received any pension? These are the people with whom I have sympathy and with whom, I think, most people have sympathy. Another point I would like the Minister to clear up is this. I have been informed—perhaps wrongly informed—that it is essential to be a member of one of the Fianna Fáil clubs in order to have the case of an ex-Volunteer or an ex-I.R.A. man attended to. It has been stated that there are people who refused to join Fianna Fáil clubs and who will not get pensions because they will not apply through the channel possibly of Fianna Fáil clubs. These are points which should be made clear. I want particularly to emphasise the fact that I do not object, and nobody will object, to men who have lost their health, who have lost their property, or who have suffered great pecuniary loss, getting compensated. But when you have men in the enjoyment of £300, £400 and £500 a year getting pensions——

The Deputy should deal with the Estimate and not advocate legislation or the repeal of legislation. Looking at the heading of the Estimate, I find it provides for pensions in accordance with legislation passed in this House. The Deputy is confined to discussing the administration, not the merits, of the relevant Acts.

Under the administration of the Act hardship has been caused to some of those persons who were entitled to pensions. Many of those persons to whom I refer have made application and have not yet had their cases decided. Many of those persons who have applied are almost compelled to seek home assistance. These cases have been brought under my notice and I am sure they must have been brought under the notice of the Minister. When does the Minister expect that finality will be reached in connection with military pensions, and when does he propose to examine some cases which may not have been brought to his notice? Is he aware that a number of ex-I.R.A. men who are not connected with Fianna Fáil clubs have not been treated in the way that most people would expect they would be treated, in the way of getting adequate compensation or small pensions?

The Army Pensions Board dealing with wounds and disability applications is working as hard as it can, and the members have been through most of the applications that reached them for wounds and disability pensions. There are some cases that it is impossible to deal with under the Act as it stands, but I will bring in an amending Bill, which I hope to have introduced within the next couple of weeks, to deal with cases of hardship that we could not deal with as the law stands.

Vote put and agreed to.