Committee on Finance. - Defence Forces (Pensions) Scheme, 1937—Motion.

Tairgim:—

Go ndaingnítear an Scéim Fórsaí Cosanta (Pinsin), 1937, d'ullamhuigh an tAire Cosanta, le toiliú an Aire Airgid, fé théarmaí an Achta Fórsaí Cosanta (Pinsin), 1932 (Uimh. 26 de 1932), agus do leagadh fé bhráid na Dála an 7adh lá de Dheire Fómhair, 1937.

D'iarrfainn ar an Aire Cosanta gan tosnú go ceann roinnt neomat. Is clos dom go mba mhaith le Teachtai airithe bheith láithreach le linn na diospóireachta so. Dubradh leo san nach mbeadh an sceim seo dá phleidhe anocht. Tathar ar lorg na dTeachtai sin anois.

An Scéim Fórsaí Cosanta (Pinsin), míle naoi gcéad a seacht triochad (1937), a cuirtear fé dhaingniú anois, is de bhuadh na gcomhacht a bronntar leis an Acht Fórsaí Cosanta (Pinsin), míle naoi gcéad a dó triochad (1932), do h-ullamhuigheadh í, agus an soláthar a déanfar léi do'n Arm, is cuma é no an soláthar a deintear do sheirbhísigh phuiblí eile an Stáit le scéimeanna eile do rinn eadh fé Achtanna cosúla.

Scéim chasta í ar shlí ach—gan cásanna fé leith d'aireamh—is féidir a prímh-ghnéithe do leagadh amach do réir mar a bhainid:—(1) le hOifigigh; (2) le Céimnigh Eile; (3) le Banaltraí.

1. Oifigigh.—De ghnáth, beidh Oifigigh ag a mbeidh seirbhís fiche blian i gcéim choimisiúnta, i dteideal pinsin ar scur dóibh, go bhféadfar "Gnáth - Phinsean" Seirbhíse do ghairm de, agus (más pósta dhóibh) beid i dteideal suime airgid mar Aisce.

Cinnfear an pinsean le dhá chuid— (a) seirbhís; agus (b) an céim le linn scurtha—agus ní miste a rádh ná go mbeidh teoranta áirithe, ná féadfar do shárú leis an dá chuid sin. Beidh gach oifigeach ag a mbeidh seirbhís fiche blian, i dteideal pinsin bhunaidh céad is ochtó púnt (£180) sa bhliain, ach méadófar san do réir an chéime bheidh aige ar scur dó, agus do réir aon bhlianta seirbhíse de bhreis ar fiche bliain. Tógtar cás Captaein, mar shompla. Beidh sé i dteideal pinsin céad is ochtó púnt (£180) sa bhliain, tar éis dó seirbhís fiche blian do thabhairt, agus má bheidh seirbhís chúig mblian ar a luighead aige le linn dó bheith ina Chaptaen, beidh sé i dteideal deich bpúnt sa mbreis, sé sin le rádh, céad is nócha púnt (£190). Dhá chéad is triocha púnt (£230) an pinsean is mó do Chaptaen, áfach, i slí go mbeidh aige in aghaidh gach bliana dá sheirbhíse de bhreis ar fiche bliain, deich bpúint bhreise laistigh de mhéid iomlán nách mó ná dachad púnt (£40). Fágann san go mbeidh air, seirbhis cheithre mblian is fiche do thabhairt, chun bheith i dteideal an phinsin is mó, dhá chéad is triocha púnt (£230) sa bhliain. Má deintear an Págh Fágála is mó do gach céim do dhéanamh amach ar an bhforas céadna agus do réir an mhodha chéadna, is mar leanas a bheidh sé:—Lefteanant ag a mbeidh seirbhís trí mbliain is fiche (23); Dhá chéad is deich bpúint (£210). Captaen ag a mbeidh seirbhís cheithre mblian is fiche (24) (ar a n-áirítear cúig bliana mar Chaptaen): Dhá chéad is triocha púnt (£230). Ceannphort ag a mbeidh seirbhís trí mblian is fiche (23) (ar a n-áirítear deich mbliana mar Cheannphort): Dhá chéad is nócha púnt (£290). Maor ag a mbeidh seirbhís chúig mblian is fiche (25) (ar a n-áirítear trí bliana mar Mhaor): Trí chéad is dechad púnt (£340). Coronal ag a mbeidh seirbhís ocht mblian is fiche (28) (ar a n-áirítear trí bliana mar Choronal): Ceithre chéad púnt (£400). Geinearál ag a mbeidh seirbhís seacht mblian is fiche (27) (ar a n-áirítear cúig bliana mar Gheinearál): Cúig chéad púnt (£500). Is do réir Chéime, leis, a bheidh an Aisce is iníoctha le h-oifigigh phósta ar scur dóibh. I n-aghaidh gach bliana seirbhíse laistigh de fiche bliain, an tréimhse is mó, is mar leanas a bheidh an méid a h-íocfar le gach céim i n-aghaidh gach bliana seirbhíse:—Lefteanantaí: Seacht bpúint déag agus deich scillinge (£17 10s.) laistigh d'Aisce nách mó ná trí chéad is caoga púnt (£350). Captaeiní: Fiche púnt (£20) laistigh d'Aisce nách mó ná ceithre chéad púnt (£400). Ceannphuirt: Dhá phúnt is fiche agus deich scillinge (£22 10s.) laistigh d'Aisce nách mó ná ceithre chéad is caoga púnt (£450). Maoir: Sé púint is fiche agus cúig scillinge (£26 5s.) laistigh d'Aisce nách mó ná cúig chéad is cúig púint fhichead (£525). Coronail: Triocha púnt (£30), laistigh d'Aisce nách mó ná sé chéad púnt (£600). Geinearáil: Dachad púnt (£40), laistigh d'Aisce nách mó ná ocht gcéad púnt (£800).

Go dtí so, bhíomar ag trácht ar oifigigh ar a mbeidh seirbhís fiche blian ar a luighead, le linn a scurtha sa ghnáth-shlí. Is léir, áfach, gur féidir go scuirfidh oifigigh roimhe sin. Béidir gur mhaith leo scur dá ndeoin féin ar chúiseanna príobháideacha, nó béidir go scuirfí iad ar mhaithe leis an Stát, no de dheascaibh laige cuirp no aigne. Tá soláthar á dhéanamh leis an Scéim, do gach cás acu san.

I gcás oifigeach a scuirfidh dá ndeoin féin, bainfidh an Scéim le Céim Captaein no le Céimeanna níos ísle ná san, ach i gcás Céimeanna níos aoirde ná san, ní bhainfidh sé ach amháin leo san, dar deonadh coimisiúin roimh an gcéad lá de Dheireadh Foghmhair, míle naoi gcéad a ceathair fichead (1924). Sna cásanna san uile, má mbeidh seirbhís de bhreis ar chúig bliana ag oifigeach gan seirbhís dhá bhlian déag do bheith aige, gheobhaidh sé aisce de mhéid is có-ionann le págh triocha (30) lá in aghaidh gach bliana dá sheirbhís inphinsin. Má bheidh seirbhís dhá bhlian déag ag an oifigeach gan seirbhís fiche blian do bheith aige, gheobhaidh sé Pinsean, agus más pósta dhó, tabharfar Aisce dhó i dteannta an phinsin. Is do réir mar adubhrathas cheana a déanfar amach méid na hAisce, ach is in aghaidh gach bliana seirbhíse tar éis seirbhís chúig mblian sa chéim le linn scurtha, a bheidh an Pinsean, mar leanas:—Lefteanantaí, sé púint (£6); Captaeiní, ocht bpúint (£8); Ceannphuirt, deich bpúint (£10); Maoir, dhá phúnt déag (£12); Coronail, ceithre púint déag (£14); Geinearáil, sé púint déag (£16).

Sa dara h-áit, má scuirfear oifigeach go h-éigeanta ar mhaithe leis an Stát, gan seirbhís chúig mblian do bheith aige, ní bhfaghaidh sé Pinsean ná Aisce. Má bheidh seirbhís de bhreis ar chúig bliana ag an oifigeach gan seirbhís dhá bhlian déag do bheith aige, gheobhaidh sé Aisce Sheirbhíse de mhéid is có-ionann le págh cúig lá is dachad (45) in aghaidh gach bliana seirbhíse; agus, má bheidh seirbhís dha bhlian déag aige, gan seirbhís fiche blian do bheith aige, gheobhaidh sé Pinsean, agus, más pósta dhó, tabhar far Aisce dhó i dteannta an Phinsin. Is do réir mar adubhrathas cheana a déanfar amach Aisce oifigigh phósta agus déanfar amach an Pinsean do réir an méid blian seirbhíse inphinsin achtúla maraon le blianta bhreise nách mó ná cúig bliana. Seo iad na rátaí Pinsin is iníochta in aghaidh gach bliana seirbhíse:—Lefteanantaí, naoi, bpúint (£9); Captaeiní, deich bpúint (£10); Ceannphuirt, dhá phúnt déag (£12); Maoir, Ceithre púint déag (£14); Coronail, sé púint déag (£16); Geinearáil, naoi bpúint déag (£19).

Sa tríomhadh h-áit, má scuirfidh cifigeach de dheascaidh laige cuirp no aigne agus gan seirbhís deich mblian do bheith aige, gheobhaidh sé Aisce Sheirbhíse de mhéid is có-ionann le pagh cúig lá is dachad (45) in aghaidh gach bliana seirbhíse, ach, tar éis seirbhís deich mblian do bheith aige, beidh sé i dteideal an Phinsin chéadna (gan blianta breise d'áireamh) agus na hAisce chéadna, más pósta dhó, a gheobhadh sé dá scuirtí go h-éigeanta é.

An Scéim Phinsean agus Aiscí a leagtar amach mar seo, baineann sí le hOifigigh an Airm go coitianta, ach deineadh soláthar speisialta d'oifigigh ag a bhfuil ceapacháin ghairmiúla is teicniúla áirithe. Fé sna forálacha so, beidh a rogha de dhá nidh acu. Féadfaid rogha dhéanamh de'n Scéim atá leagtha amach chun Pinsean agus Aiscí do sholáthar, i dteannta fiche fé'n gcéad (20 per cent.) sa mbreis i gcás Ceapachán Leighis agus Dlí, no deich fén gcéad (10 per cent.) sa mbreis i gcás Ceapachán teicniúl eile, ar a n-áireofar an tAer-Chór, an Cór Innealtóirí, an Scoil Cheoil, etc. Mar mhalairt, ní bhfaghaid Aisce ar bith, ach más rogha leo é, gheobhaid dhá dtrain dá bpágh bliantúil ar dháta a scurtha, no an seascadú (1-60th) cuid dá bpágh bliantúil in aghaidh gach bliana de sheirbhís inphinsin, pé méid acu san is lugha.

Fé'n Scéim seo, féadfar Pinsin do dheonad do Bhaintrigh agus do Chlainn Oifigeach Marbh. Má gheobhaidh Oifigeach bás le linn dó bheith ag fóghnamh sna Fórsaí, gan seirbhís dhá bhlian déag do bheith aige; íocfar le n-a bhaintrigh no le n-a chlainn aisce de mhéid is có-ionann le págh triocha lá in aghaidh gach bliana dá sheirbhís; ach má bheidh seirbhís dhá bhlian déag ar a luighead aige, íocfar Pinsin le n-a Bhaintrigh agus le n-a Chlainn. Má gheobhaidh Oifigeach bás tar éis a scurtha as na Fórsaí agus gur go h-éigeanta do scuirfear é toisc cúiseanna seachas mí-iompar no neamh-éifeachtúlacht, íocfar an pinsean céadna ach dhá bhliain déag ar a luighead de sheirbhís inphinsin do bheith aige; ach má gheobhaidh sé bás tar éis dó scur dá dheoin féin, ní mór dó fiche bliain de sheirbhís imphinsin do bheith aige. Atharóchaidh na rátaí Pinsin is iníoctha le Baintrigh do réir chéime an oifigigh mhairbh—íocfar cúig púint is dachad (£45) sa bhliain le Baintrigh Leftenaint agus céad púnt (£100) sa bhliain le Baintrigh Gheinearáil.

II. Céimnigh Eile.—Is simplidhe go mór na forálacha bhaineann le hOifigigh Nea-Choimisiúnta agus le Saighdiúirí. Fé réir na bhforálacha san, deonfar Pinsin in aghaidh seirbhíse bliain is fiche, agus deanfar Aiscí in aghaidh seirbhíse is lugha ná bliain is fiche. Ach i gcás saighdiúirí scaoilfear toisc easláinte no aoise, fédfar pinsean cionúireach do dheonadh dhóibh ach seirbhís chúig mblian déag do bheith acu, no aisce mhéaduite má bheid gan seirbhís chúig mblian déag do bheith acu.

Atharóchaidh na rátaí Pinsin do réir chéime, ar n-a n-íoc, mar leanas, tar éis bliain is fiche de sheirbhís inphinsin:—Dhá scilling sa ló do Shaighdiúir Singil. Leath-Choróin sa ló do Cheannaire. Dhá scilling is naoi bpingne sa ló do Sháirsint. Trí scillinge sa ló do Cheathrú-Sháirsint Complachta. Trí scillinge is trí pingne sa ló do Sháirsint Complachta. Trí scillinge is raol sa ló do Cheathrú-Sháirsint Complachta. Ceithre scillinge sa ló do Mhaor-Sháirsint.

Púnt in aghaidh gach bliana seirbhíse an Ghnáth-Aisce do shaighdiúirí ag a mbeidh seirbhís is lugha ná bliain is fiche, ach i gcás saighdiúirí scaoilfear toisc mí-ábaltachta no aoise agus ag a mbeidh seirbhís níos lugha ná cúig bliana déag, déanfar págh bliana no págh triocha lá in aghaidh gach bliana seirbhíse do dheonadh dhóibh, pé méid acu san is lugha.

III. An tSeirbhís Bhanaltrais.—An soláthar a deintear do Bhanaltraí is cosúil é leis an soláthar d'Oifigigh Sheirbhíse Speisialta. Fén Scéim seo beidh na Banaltraí le n-a mbaineann sí, i dteideal pé méid acu so leanas is lugha, sé sin le rádh:—an seascadú (1-60th) cuid dá sochar oifige bliantúil in aghaidh gach bliana seirbhíse; nó dhá dtrian dá sochar oifige bliantúil,

(a) Má scuirfid dá ndeoin féin, nó má scaoilfear iad agus seirbhís fiche blian acu, no

(b) Má scaoilfear iad toise aitheagraíochta, no toise deireadh do chur le n-a n-oifig agus seirbhís chúig mblian déag acu, no

(c) Má scaoilfear iad toise laige cuirp no aigne agus seirbhís deich mblian acu.

Má scuirfid no má scaoilfear iad agus seirbhís acu is lugha ná an tseirbhís do luadhadh anois díreach, beid i dteideal Aisce is có-ionann le págh mí in aghaidh gach bliana seirbhíse.

Ní fuirist costas na Scéime do mheas. Maidir leis na hOifigigh agus na Banaltraí a scuirfidh sa ghnáth-slí, ní cuirfear an Scéim i bhfeidhm go ceann fiche blian ó'n mbliain, míle naoi gcéad a dhó is fiche (1922) no míle naoi gcéad a trí is fiche (1923) anuas; agus i gcás Céimnigh Eile, ní cuirfear i bhfeidhm í go dtí míle naoi gcéad a trí is dachad (1943).

Idir an dá linn ní bheidh againn le n-íoc ach Aiscí in aghaidh Seirbhíse is lugha ná Seirbhís Inphinsin no Aiscí Ball a scuirfidh dá ndeoin féin no a scuirfear go h-éigeanta toisc laige cuirp no aigne, toisc aoise, no ar mhaithe leis an Seirbhís. Meastar ná raghaidh costas na Scéime thar cúig mhíle púnt (£5,000) i rith na bliana airgeadais seo, pé scéal é, agus, uime sin, déanfar Meastachán Breise do'n méid sin do thabhairt isteach i dtráth.

I am sorry that the Minister showed no consideration for an atrociously ignorant person like myself who, unfortunately, is not familiar with the Irish language. I have no objection whatsoever to the use of that language, but the Minister is as conscious of the fact as I am that the majority of the members of this House are not sufficiently conversant with the Irish language to follow the details of a comprehensive regulation such as this when given in a language that they do not understand. I admit that that is unfortunate and undesirable, but I admit, too, that there is a necessity for the Minister as well as for myself to face facts, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant.

I do not know whether the statement which has just been read was an explanation, a defence or an apologia for this production, but, out of respect for the Minister, and assuming that he has a sense of fair play, I will take it for the moment that it was an apologia. If it was not, inside this document there is a grave injustice being done to sections of the Army that deserve nothing but the best from the Minister, or anybody who sits in his seat. Now, I think every member of Dáil Eireann must pay particular attention to any legislation or regulation affecting the pay or pension of the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Army—more so than any other service, because in the whole of this State they are the only service that are of necessity entirely gagged, entirely helpless, prevented by order and regulation from communicating with or approaching any Deputy of Dáil Eireann—and I agree with that regulation—prevented also by regulation from exploiting or explaining in the public Press any grievances which they may have—and I also agree with such a regulation—prevented from having any journal of their own in which to express their grievances or to present a case when an injustice may be done to them. We have all to recognise that, because of the necessities of having a disciplined service remote and removed from the atmosphere of propaganda, far removed from the atmosphere of politics, it is desirable that members of the Defence Forces should not be allowed to communicate by lobbying Deputies of Dáil Eireann, by writing their case so as to bring it under the notice of Deputies of Dáil Eireann, or by writing to the public Press so as to stir up public interest when an injustice is being done.

All those regulations are there, and because those regulations exist there is a very great and weighty responsibility on every individual Deputy here, when Army matters come before Dáil Eireann, to see that the full significance of every line and paragraph is understood and that the reactions and repercussions of everything that is brought before us in connection with the Army should be thoroughly grasped by every Deputy. Now, the Minister has not been very helpful in that respect, but I would submit to every member of the Dáil that, when we are dealing with a pension for any individual or for any service in the State, whether it is the civil servants or teachers, or police or members of the Defence Forces, there must be some definite relation between pension and pay, or rather between pay and pension, and that that is the kernel and the acid test of every pension scheme in every country in the whole world—the relation between pay and pension or the connection between pay and pension—and that, if there is any grave departure from such connection and you hang that departure on, let us say, the rank element or the grade element, such a departure from well-established precedent can only be justified if the person proposing to take such a course is prepared to demonstrate that no injustice is being done by such a course and by such a departure from precedent.

The back-bone of this particular pension scheme is that a man is pensioned on the rank and service element. Now, there would be no objection whatsoever to such a course if all people holding equal rank got equal pay, or even approximately similar pay; but even speaking from a memory that is rather rusty, I could take a rank in the Army, the rank of captain, and I could mention nine different rates of pay in the rank of captain, varying by as much as 100 per cent; varying from rates of £300 up to rates of £740. That is, in one rank, the pay varies between £300 odd and £700 odd. If the pay of one rank varies or swings so much between one extreme and the other, is the Minister or any impartial Deputy in this House prepared to say that it is just, reasonable and equitable to give a flat rate pension for the whole lot, irrespective of pay, or even anything approaching a flat rate pension? There is a feature thrown into this regulation —which I will deal with later—that has all the evidence of being a little conscience money thrown into rectify a glaring injustice. Are there any Deputies in any Party who, where there is a pension scheme, let us say, for labourers, would grade all labourers, tradesmen and others, into one common group and pension them all, not according to the rates of pay drawn by the highest ranks, but by the lowest ranks? As I have pointed out, for the rank of captain there was a variation swinging between £300 odd a year and £700 odd a year in pay. Is it reasonable or justifiable to suggest anything like a uniform rate of pension when the same Department of State considers that the rates of pay should vary by as much as £400 a year? If you have got to accept that there is that great swing in the pay attributable to any rank, then I submit that the rank and service element is all wrong, and is unjust to the people of a rank drawing the higher pay, and I submit that you might as well have proposed a pensions scheme based on Army numbers, without paying any consideration to the expert type of service or to the highly paid work that was done by one particular group as against another particular group.

We have, unfortunately, in the Army —and we must have—a position where certain groups of officers hold very low rank but where their professional qualification is recognised by giving very high pay to that particular rank. It may be the soundest scheme of all where you have an Army with progressively reducing ranks, such as you have in this Army of ours. If we pin ourselves absolutely and for all time to linking pension with rank, where are you going to finish if that progressive downward trend of rank continues? Remember, it was only a few years ago since the highest rank in the Army was full general, the next rank lieutenant-general, and the next rank major-general; then colonel and so on down the line. The two upper ranks are gone and you are within reasonable distance of arriving at the day when the highest rank in the Army will be that of colonel. Apply that to services within the Army. Herefore services within the Army had as their commanding officer a major-general; then their commanding officer was a colonel; next their commanding officer was a major. If the rank of the top of the service is major, obviously you must telescope all the ranks from him downwards.

In the special services of the Army commanded by a major, such as the Army Medical Service, the legal service and the other special services, you have only to deal with three ranks between the bottom commissioned rank and the highest commissioned rank— captain, commandant, and major. An officer of the lowest rank obviously has to get very high pay, because he qualified as a professional man before ever he got his commission. In this particular scheme that we have here these men are pensioned, not on the basis of their pay, but on the basis of their rank. Irrespective of how high the pay is for a particular officer, he will be pensioned according to the number of "pips" on his shoulder. I cannot see any justification for such a scheme. But if the Army is wedded to the necessity for a pension scheme being based on the rank and service element, justice can still be done within the framework of such a scheme, and without upsetting the framework of such a scheme.

I take the case of the Army Medical Service, because I am more familiar with it; but any argument I use in connection with the Army Medical Service applies equally to the Army legal officers, to a great extent to the Army engineers, and, I believe, to officers in the Army Flying Corps, because they all draw a different rate of pay although they have a similar rank to others. The pension here proposed is a pension at a flat rate, plus 20 per cent. added by way of conscience money. I will briefly go through the rates of pay for three grades of officers and, for want of a better term, refer to an officer who does not belong to a special service as a regimental officer. I am taking the higher rate of pay and the higher rate of pension in each case. The pay of a regimental captain is £328 per annum. The pay, at the higher rate again, of a medical officer with the rank of captain is £730 per annum— 100 per cent. difference between the higher rate of pay of a medical captain and a regimental captain. The rate of pay of a regimental commandant is £438 per annum and of a medical commandant £857 per annum, approximately 100 per cent. difference in the two rates. The pay of a regimental major is £511 per annum and of a major in the medical service £1,100 per annum—100 per cent. difference, again, between the rates.

With 100 per cent. difference in the rates of pay, I ask Deputies is it reasonable to say: "We will meet that departure from the rank principle by giving 20 per cent. added pension to those who have 100 per cent. higher pay." What is the idea of pay and pension in any service except there be a definite linking between pay and pension? If there are two officers in the Army, with 21 years' service, whose rate of pay and length of service are equal, why should one get a pension twice as great as the other? When they were in the Army you must presume from the rates of pay that these men were considered by all the Departments concerned—Defence and Finance—to be of equal financial value. But when these men's day is done as active people, one man is to be thrown out on half the rate of pension, and that is the man who spent years of his life and hundreds of pounds qualifying for the job before he joined the Army, who went in as a qualified man and an expert at his job. This man is to get only half the rate the other gets.

What I am saying in connection with officers in the medical service as against regimental officers applies with equal force to non-commissioned officers and the unfortunate privates in the Army Medical Corps. The situation amongst the non-commissioned officers and privates in the Army Medical Corps is similar to that of officers—there is no room for promotion, no prospect of promotion. If a man has to be induced or enticed to become a first-class man at his work there is no room for promotion—you cannot recognise the ability and knowledge by promotion. In the Army Medical Service that particular situation is met by what is called certificate pay. A private soldier who passes a first examination in first-aid and nursing and shows an expert knowledge of first-aid and nursing gets 9d. per day extra pay. The more advanced soldier who goes in for a further examination and gets his second certificate in first-aid and nursing gets a second extra pay of 9d. per day. The higher class of soldier can specialise in some particular branch of hospital work, and if he passes a very stiff examination he will get a third certificate carrying another 9d. per day. So that the privates in the Army Medical Service can draw 2/3 per day extra pay—their extra pay, in fact, is as much as the basic pay. pay.

Was any attention paid to those individuals, hardworking loyal soldiers, when those regulations were being drafted or is it because they are only stretcher-bearers and the Army has used them up, that, when their time is up, no consideration is to be given them, no pension for the pay they drew all through the years because of special knowledge, and pay that was reflected in special benefit to the Army arising out of that knowledge? No Deputy or no man of principle can stand over the application of that scheme to specialist officers in the Army.

Why did your people not bring in a Bill to deal with them?

That is one of the things I repeatedly mentioned in this House. Belated justice is better than none but belated injustice is the worst of all.

Why not show some little sympathy——

This regulation is overdue for 12 years.

It is introduced now to a great extent because the political Opposition in the Dáil demanded it, and because the people introducing it were guaranteed in advance the assistance of Deputies here in putting it through. I do not want to be switched off my line of thought by referring to the past but I would ask any Deputy opposite, if an Army pension scheme were introduced ten years ago, no matter what the terms contained in it, would it not have been opposed, root and branch? The scheme in its main application to the greater part of the Army is a reasonable scheme and, in fact, an equitable scheme, but in its application to the specialist services it is most unjust. I am sorry that there was no opportunity given to anyone to call the Minister's attention to this before it was introduced here in the Dáil, where it can only be met by negative action and opposition.

I was a party to urging the inadvisability of having Army matters treated in the Dáil as a ping-pong ball between Parties. I urged the advisability of a deputation of the Irish Medical Union seeing the Minister in private so as to avoid any discussion here. It was because the Minister unwisely refused to discuss it with a deputation representing Irish doctors that we were left with no alternative but the undesirable one of making it an issue here in the Dáil. I would rather it were otherwise and I did my best to have it otherwise. I regret it was not otherwise. I think when the Minister refused to talk over these matters with professional leaders behind the scenes and away from the atmosphere of controversy here, he was making a very grave mistake. However, the fact remains that the Minister's proposals, as contained herein, are that where there is a difference of 100 per cent. in the pay of officers holding similar rank for the purposes of pension, that situation should be met by the addition of 20 per cent. to the pay.

The Minister has a medical service. He has a commanding officer of that service, and I should like to ask if the Minister got any advice with regard to the peculiar position of that service. Was the Director of the Army Medical Service consulted? I do not say that, if he were, his advice should necessarily be accepted, but was this scheme decided upon without asking for the opinion of that officer? If it was, it appears to me to be a very sinister departure from all established precedent, a departure in a very unwise direction, because I do not see why a man should be paid as commanding officer of a corps and that man's advice shut out when it comes to a question of formulating financial provisions most intimately affecting that corps. We have the suggestion of 20 per cent. Is there any Deputy who thinks that that meets the case? We have no provision for the non-commissioned officer or the private soldier who is getting a special rate because of his membership of the medical corps. That certificate pay of 2/3 per day is as much the pay of that poor soldier as the basis couple of bob. Is there any justification for throwing him out on a pension based on only half the pay he drew as a soldier?

I concede this much to the Minister, that he would not be responsible for those proposals if he had been made aware of their effect. The reason that those proposals are there is because, unfortunately, he did not get the advice of those who were familiar with details that are naturally obscure and remote from a man in the position of the Minister. I do not believe for one moment that he would come into the House and propose that any soldier should be pensioned on the basis only of half his pay, or that any two officers, whose pay differs by as much as 200 per cent., should be pensioned on a flat rate plus 20 per cent. Now, the Minister may have been advised by further uneasy prickings of the conscience on the part of those who drafted those proposals to try to meet the situation in another way, which sounds all right until you look into it. There is a counter-proposal made to meet the position of a peculiar specialist service such as the medical service, namely, that if they do not like these rates of pension, they may have pensions based on 1-60th of the annual pay for each year served. Doubtless, precedents from other services were quoted to show that that was the normal rate. In the first place, I should like to point out that it is quite an abnormal rate, that I do not know of any service beyond certain branches of the poor law service —in which a man can serve until he is ninety years of age or older—where the pension rate is 1-60th of the annual pay for each year of service.

In the sister service, the Civic Guard, the pension rates are 1-60th of the year's pay for each year served up to 20 years, and after that 1-30th of the year's pay for each year served, so that after 30 years' service a man would have 40-60ths, that is to say, two-thirds, of his pay as pension. That is very far from a flat rate of 1-60th of a year's pay for each year served. In the asylum service, a doctor on retirement is given 1-50th of a year's pay, with allowances, for each year served, and, there, there is no suggestion of early demobilisation. In the Army Medical Service, we all know that the highest commissioned rank, with the exception of four officers, is captain.

The average age of these men on joining the service was 30 years. How long would it take a man to get a half-pay pension? Thirty years. You might picture generals of the age of 60 ambling around the barracks, but could any of you picture an army with captains about the age of 60 tottering around the barracks? Junior ranks and senior years go very badly together, and are unknown in any army.

It would be unheard of to have a captain at the age of 60. Captain is the highest rank that can be attained by any officer in that service, except four. The offer of 1/60th of a year's pay for each year's service means nothing. Those men will be out by 55. The highest rate of pension they can get is 25/60ths after a life of service. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned until to-morrow.