Army Pensions (No. 2) Bill, 1960—Second Stage.

Tairgim go léifí an Bille athuair anois. Na forálacha sin sna hAchtanna Arm-Phinsean faoina gceadaítear, fé láthair, pinsin nó aiscí a íoc d'oifigigh, saighdiúirí agus baill de Sheirbhís Altranais an Airm ar a bhfuil míchumas de bharr créachta, bíonn feidhm leo i gcás gur seirbhís le Fórsa de chuid na Náisiúin Aontuithe is siocair don mhíchumas. Sa bhealach chéanna, tá na sochair a shonraítear sna hAchtanna do chleithiúnaithe oifigigh agus saighdiúirí éagtha ar fáil do chleithiúnaithe iad siúd a marbhaítear nó a gheibheann bás de dheasca créachta i dtoscaí is inchurtha i leith seirbhíse le Fórsa de chuid na Náisiúin Aontuithe.

Níl forál ar bith ann, ámhthach, a cheadaíos pinsin, aiscí nó liúntaisí a íoc sa chás go dtarlíonn míchumas nó bás de bharr ghalair is inchurtha i leith a leithéid sin seirbhíse, de bhrí nach meastar gur priacal é an galar a bhaineann le seirbhís in Óglaigh na hÉireann in aimsear síochána agus nach bhfuil forálacha ar bith ann i leith ghalair in aimsear síochána a d'fhéadfaí a chur i bhfeidhm go huathoibreach (mar a deintear leis na forálacha i leith créachta nó báis i mbun dualgais) do sheirbhís in Óglaigh na hÉireann leis na Náisiúin Aontuithe.

Tá gá leis an mBille seo, mar sin, le go gcáileofar míchumas nó bás de dheasca ghalair is inchurtha i leith seirbhíse le Fórsa de chuid na Náisiúin Aontuithe dos na sochair iomchuí.

Mar sin de, forálann Alt 3 (maille leis an Chéad Sceideal) gur féidir pinsin a íoc de bharr ghalair is inchurtha i leith seirbhíse leis na Náisiúin Aontuithe faoi réir na gcoinníollacha céanna a bhain le pinsin le haghaidh míchumais de dheasca ghalair dob inchurtha i leith seirbhíse ó 1922-1924 nó ó 1939-1946—siad san an t-aon dá thréimhse inar áiríodh cheana go raibh galar i dteidil sochair faoi na hAchtanna. Is ionann scálaí agus rátaí na bpinsean atá beartaithe agus iad san atá dá íoc faoi láthair dóibh siúd a cháiligh le haghaidh pinsean i leith mhíchumais de dheasca ghalair sa tréimhse 1939-1946.

Tá na sochair atá ar fáil i leith bháis de bharr ghalair a tógadh i 1922-1924 nó i 1939-1946 dá leathnú ag Alt 6 (maille leis an Dara Sceideal) do chleithiúnaithe oifigigh agus saighdiúirí a gheibheann bás de bharr ghalair is inchurtha i leith seirbhíse le Forsa de chuid na Náisiúin Aontuithe; comh-maith, cuireann sé sochar breise ar fáil (nach raibh i bhfeidhm le haghaidh na tréimhsí siúd) a mhéadsionn de 50 faoin gcéad na liúntaisí is iníoctha do bhaintrigh agus do pháistí oifigigh agus saighdiúirí a gheibheann bás, laistigh de cheithre bhliain ó dáta forceannta a seirbhíse leis na Náisiúin Aontuithe, de dheasca ghalair is inchurtha i leith na seirbhíse sin. (Tá an méadú seo de 50 faoin gcéad sna hAchtanna cheana i gcás baintrigh agus páistí pearsanra a marbhaítear i mbun dualgais nó a gheibheann bás, laistigh de cheithre bhliain, de bharr créachta ach ní raibh sé riamh i bhfeidhm cheana nuair ba ghalar abhí mar chúis báis.)

Foráltar in Ailt 5 agus 7 go n-íocfar, i leith seirbhíse leis na Náisiúin Aontuithe agus i dtoscaí nach n-íoctar na gnáth-phinsin míthreora iontu, pinsin modhnaithe le haghaidh mhíchumais de ghrád níos lú nó nach bhfuil inchurtha in iomlán don tseirbhís; tá na forálacha seo ar aon dul leo siúd atá sna hAchtanna cheana do thréimhsí 1922-1924 agus 1939-1946.

Tá an tSeirbhís Séipléineachta dá thabhairt isteach sna hAchtanna don chéad uair. Féadfar, faoi Alt 4, pinsin a íoc do bhaill den tSeirbhís de bharr míchumais, pecu ó ghalair nó ó chréacht, is inchurtha i leith seirbhíse le Forsa de chuid na Náisiúin Aontuithe. (Tá na baill clúdaithe freisin ag na pinsin modhraithe a luaitear in Ailt 5 agus 7).

Ní gá de thagairt i gcás Ailt 1, 2 agus 8, a bhaineann le léiriú, sainmhínithe agus comhlua, ach a rá go bhfuil sé soiléir in Alt 2 go bhfuil feidhm ag an mBille don uile chineál seirbhíse leis na Naisiúin Aontuithe (san am atá thart, fé láthair nó san todhchaí) ina raibh nó ina mbeidh páirt ag baill d'Óglaigh na hÉireann.

The existing provisions of the Army Pensions Acts which allow for the payment of pensions or gratuities to officers, soldiers and members of the Army Nursing Service who become disabled as a result of wounds are applicable where such disablements are due to service with a United Nations Force. Similarly, the benefits provided under the Acts for the dependants of deceased officers and soldiers are available to the dependants of those who are killed or who die of wounds in circumstances attributable to service with a United Nations Force.

Where, however, disablement or death is due to disease attributable to such service there is no provision for the payment of pensions, gratuities or allowances because disease is not regarded as a peace-time hazard of Defence Force service and there are no peace-time provisions in respect of disease which could be automatically applied, as in the case of the provisions for wounds or death on duty, to Defence Force service with the United Nations. This Bill is therefore necessary to enable disablement or death due to disease attributable to service with a United Nations Force to qualify for the appropriate benefits.

Section 3, in conjunction with the First Schedule, provides accordingly that pensions may be paid in respect of disease attributable to United Nations service subject to the same conditions which applied in respect of pensions for disablement due to disease attributable to service in 1922-1924 or in 1939-1946—the only two periods during which disease was hitherto reckonable for benefit under the Acts. The scales and rates of pensions provided are those currently payable to persons who qualified for pensions in respect of disablement due to disease in the 1939-1946 period.

Section 6, in conjunction with the Second Schedule, extends to the dependants of officers and soldiers who die from disease attributable to service with a United Nations Force the benefits available in respect of death from disease contracted in 1922-1924 or in 1939-1946, and, in addition, provides a new benefit, which was not applicable to the latter categories, under which there is a 50% addition to the allowances payable to the widows and children of officers and soldiers who die within four years of the termination of their United Nations service from a disease attributable to such service. This 50% enhancement already exists in the Acts in the case of the widows and children of personnel killed on duty or dying, within four years, of a wound but it has not hitherto been operative for death from disease.

Sections 5 and 7 provide, in respect of United Nations service, for the payment, in circumstances where the normal disability pensions are not payable, of modified pensions for lesser disability or partial attributability similar to those already available under the Acts in respect of the 1922-1924 and the 1939-1946 periods.

Section 4 brings the Chaplaincy Service for the first time within the ambit of the Acts and enables pensions to be paid to members of the Service in respect of disablement, whether from disease or wound, attributable to service with a United Nations Force. Members are also included within the scope of the modified pensions mentioned in Sections 5 and 7.

Sections 1, 2 and 8 deal with matters of interpretation, definition, citation, etc., and do not call for comment other than that it will be seen from Section 2 that the Bill applies to all United Nations service, past, present and future in which members of the Defence Forces have been or may be engaged.

Before saying anything on this Bill, I wish to refer to an announcement in the newspapers this morning about gratuities. Does the Minister not think that he should make some reference to that in this Bill?

They are not included in the Bill. It is expected that they will be made on anex gratia basis and that there will not be any need for legislation.

Surely, in order to enable us to approach this Bill in the proper way, the Minister should confirm or deny that the statement made in the newspapers is correct?

The announcement issued is correct. It is intended to pay the specified lump sums to the dependants of those people who were killed in the Congo. It refers only to the Congo. This Bill applies to United Nations service generally and it will cover either past service with the United Nations or any future service. The announcement to-day was made in the light of the special circumstances of the United Nations force in the Congo. In future such circumstances may or may not apply and therefore there is no provision for those lump sums to be paid in respect of any other United Nations service at the moment.

The statutory authority for paying these gratuities is in the previous Acts?

There is no necessity for statutory authority. They are intended asex gratia payments unless for some other reason legislation becomes necessary. The intention at the moment is that they should be ex gratia payments.

Of course we accept the proposals contained in the Bill. I think that everybody will agree that the proposals in this Bill in its present form came as a shock to a great number of people and I feel that in this connection the Government should have issued the announcement that they issued subsequently. The two should have come together so that we would know exactly where we were. We are told to-day in a statement in the Press that these gratuities are being paid. I am glad that that step has been taken and it is clear that justice and equity demand that such payments should be made.

However, it is going to relate only to this special case in the Congo. This is permanent legislation we are now introducing for service with the United Nations. I think that some reference should have been included in this Bill to show the Minister's intentions regarding further service of the United Nations. Everybody realises that, no matter what the payment or pension is, it is very poor recompense to the dependants of those gallant men. At the same time I think it is a very dangerous precedent to establish having regard to the provisions enshrined in this Bill and the fact that the gratuity is to be paid at the whim of the Government. I do not think that the House should simply take the matter in that easy way. It is true to say that this is an improvement on our existing legislation for the dependants of those who lost their lives in the previous emergencies, but it does draw attention to and emphasise the paucity of the payments and allowances made, especially with the present day value of money.

I feel that the Minister in his statement in introducing the Bill should have brought out all the facts and that the Government should not have availed of a public announcement in the Press to say what their intentions were. They should have said that in this House and nowhere else.

I feel that the action of certain newspapers in collecting for a charitable relief fund was a very unwise thing. These men are the responsibility of this State and of the United Nations and they are not subject to the charity of anybody. They are either entitled to this or they are not. We all know that they are entitled to it and I strongly condemn—perhaps condemn is too strong a word—I strongly disapprove of the steps taken by theIrish Times and the Standard to start this fund for the relief of the Congo dependants. This House should see to it that those who offer their services in the defence of the peace and good order of the world, in the interests of the Irish people as well as of the United Nations, are a national charge and not a subject for charity.

I appreciate the great kindness and generosity of our people who are contributing so well to the funds. The Army Benevolent Fund committee are to be asked to distribute the funds. That is wise and appropriate. I trust the Government will not take credit for the amount they have got so as to relieve them of the obligation of paying a gratuity. These funds must be outside and beyond the amounts the Government should pay.

It is not easy to make comparisons. If a gallant young officer is hit by a motor car and killed and the case is tried by a judge and jury we may well ask ourselves what compensation his widow and children will get. Some people may argue that the judgments in the courts are high. Nevertheless it is a point that must be taken into consideration. Here is a young man who would go far in his career. He is cut off. His value is rated at the value of his service at the time he is killed. The same remarks apply to N.C.O.s and men.

Surely the Minister and his Department, after all their experience, will not insert the four-year period again? In this country the provision that if a person does not contract the disease in four years—and that generally meant T.B. or heart or something like that—created hardship on many occasions. Men contracted disease and five, ten or fifteen years elapsed before it took effect. However, because it manifested itself outside the four year period, no matter how justifiable the case appeared on paper, the Minister and the Department were able to say that the statute forbids payment.

Take African service. Is it not well known that disease can be contracted in Africa that will not manifest itself for ten or fifteen years? However, unless the disease is found to exist within four years they are ruled out. Is it not time that that four year provision were excluded? If the Minister does not agree to insert an amendment to that effect we shall be compelled to move an amendment to exclude the four year period. It is unreasonable.

The four year period operates from the date of discharge not from the date of contracting the disease.

If the person can be discharged, his time is up. A boy who comes home from the Congo now can be discharged from the Army next year and if disease manifests itself in the fifth year is he not ruled out? That has happened time after time. There is not an official in the Department of Defence who is not aware that such cases have arisen under our legislation for our troops at home. Several times it was admitted to be a hardship. Therefore, I suggest the Minister should amend that provision. It follows that at some subsequent date we shall exclude it from other Acts as well.

The amount for the education of dependent children of an officer, N.C.O. or man is very low. It is well known that the amount allowed, even for a day school, would not cover the expenses. The Minister and the Government should consider that matter very carefully and see to it that their position has not been worsened by the service of their parent to humanity.

Were it not for the gratuity, I do not think any person in this House would approve of the proposal. If this is permanent legislation with regard to future service with the United Nations, I do not think many will be anxious to go and it will require all the compulsory power in the new Act to make men go. The princely pension the widow of a young officer, lieutenant or captain will get is £117 per annum. The amount for the widow of a soldier is 24/6d. Does that 24/6d. debar her from a widow's pension? What is the position there? I should be glad if the Minister would tell us exactly what that means and where we are going in this respect so that the House will have an opportunity of fully understanding and appreciating the Bill.

I suppose we would all agree that an Army Pensions Bill is necessary to cover those members of the Defence Forces who are now engaged in service with the United Nations and those who may be so engaged in the future. From that point of view, I suppose all of us consider it desirable and necessary that the Bill should be introduced. Like Deputy MacEoin, I feel the Minister should have said much more than the few remarks he made with regard to the compensation payments announced in the newspapers this morning. He described them asex gratia payments. Deputy MacEoin said he supposed that these are made in accordance with the past legislation. I do not know whether or not that is correct.

Has the Minister legislative authority to pay these gratuities? I agree that the gratuities should be paid but I am very suspicious inasmuch as they are described asex gratia payments. An ex gratia payment is made at the whim, so to speak, of a Government or a Minister for Defence. I hope a precedent has been created. I wonder if the Minister for Defence regards the payment of compensation now as a precedent that will be continued.

Eight members of our Defence Forces were unfortunate in losing their lives. I do not want to appear morbid or pessimistic but if, say, the situation in the Congo deteriorates to such an extent that our soldiers there will not be doing police work but in effect will be on active service and in conflict with some of these tribes in the Congo and many of them lose their lives, are the Government prepared to say they will compensate the dependants of these soldiers to the same extent as dependants are now being compensated? It would only be natural for future dependants of soldiers who may be killed in the Congo to expect similar compensation to that which has been announced now. Therefore the Minister should expand on the proposals which are Government proposals and which were announced in the newspapers this morning.

I do not think anybody could take exception to the amount of compensation which it is proposed to pay. I for one am of the opinion that we should look after our Army personnel and their dependants in the matter of pensions and gratuities in a far more generous way than we have been doing. I know our financial resources are limited and so also is the strength of our Army, but from time to time we receive complaints—in my opinion legitimate complaints—to the effect that, even having regard to its greater resources, Great Britain looks after her ex-Army men and the dependants of men killed in action or who die from a disease contracted in the Army, in a far better way than we do.

I should like to ask the Minister— I suppose this is more a matter for the Minister for Social Welfare—whether widows and children of soldiers who have been killed will be subject to a means test for the purpose of qualifying, say, for the widows' and orphans' pension? So far as my memory serves me, I think the first £80 in payment of an Army pension is disregarded for the purpose of qualification for widows' and orphans' pensions. The Minister should have second thoughts on that particular matter if——

They all qualify for contributory pensions.

Full contributory pension? I accept that. I am also concerned, as was Deputy MacEoin, about subsection (2) of Section 3, a provision from other Army Pensions Acts which is repeated here. The provision is that a person must apply for a pension within four years after his discharge from the Army where he applies on the grounds of being disabled or having contracted a disease. First of all, I should like to ask the Minister whether it is necessary to define what is a disease? Does it mean an ailment, a hurt or permanent damage to a limb, and soon? I presume it does mean permanent damage to a limb, but I do not know what "disease" means in this context. I should also like to say that, in my opinion, four years is far too short a period. There are many soldiers throughout the country with grievances because they have been refused pensions on the ground that they did not apply within the stipulated period of four years. Four years is far too short because even outside the Army we know that a disease which has been contracted might not necessarily show itself within four years.

I know many men who were active in sport—football, hurling, rugby and soccer—who received an injury when engaged in these sports and the effects of which did not show up for a period well beyond four years. It is a well-known fact that many of the illnesses and disabilities under which men suffer at present could be attributed to some hurt they received while playing some of these games I mentioned during their teens. It is hard luck on a soldier's dependants to say that if the disease does not show, if he is not aware of it within four years, they are not entitled to any of the pensions under this Army Pensions Bill or any of the previous Acts.

I should also like to refer to the point raised by Deputy MacEoin, that is the special case of those now engaged on service in the Congo. The medical authorities who have advised the Minister and his officials have I suppose many years' experience in the matter of diseases usually contracted here. The main disease, at least up to recent years, was tuberculosis. But what do we know of the diseases that may be contracted in a place like the Congo? Have we any idea of when a disease which is contracted now will show itself and show itself to the extent that it may be regarded as a permanent or semi-permanent disability? I have no idea of what sort of disease one might contract in the Congo or whether malaria is one such disease. I still do not know what are the full effects of malaria. It may be that some of these tropical diseases might not show themselves until well after the four year period. For that reason, the Minister should take another look at subsection (2) of Section 3 to see whether or not there could be an extension of the period in which to apply for a pension. One can plead for the same sort of extension for service in this country but if this Bill dealt only with soldiers serving in this country I think many of us could make the same plea.

It has to be proved that the disease is attributable to service.

It seems to be very difficult for an applicant to prove that. Many ex-soldiers and soldiers say that they got tuberculosis as a result of wettings but it is very difficult for them to prove that. They have very limited resources through which to prove their case. They get assistance from medical officers and such people but the Minister is entirely responsible as head of the Department and resists these claims very strongly. If such is to be the case with people to be covered under this Bill, it seems that many who would be morally entitled to a pension will not get it.

I repeat that the Bill is necessary in view of the fact that at present we have soldiers serving with the United Nations in the Congo. But there are amendments which should and could be inserted before the Bill finally passes through the House to ensure that we will be doing the best we can for those soldiers serving in the Congo —at great sacrifice to themselves—so that their dependants will be compensated to the utmost extent that this country can afford.

The terms of compensation, which I heard today for the first time, have changed my approach to this Bill. I should like to express now my appreciation to the Government for the way they have met this situation. This Bill, as it stood before the announcement of the terms of compensation, undoubtedly would have been a poor reward for services rendered as a result of our troops being sent on U.N. duty by this House. Unfortunately, I had not the opportunity of hearing the Minister's opening statement, and I should like him to let me know whether thisex gratia compensation payment is payable to the dependants of all the members of the Defence Forces who lost their lives while on U.N. duty. Whether a man dies on the operating table or is killed by bows and arrows, I feel that, once this House has sent him on U.N. service, compensation should be available to his dependants. The man who dies through illness has done his duty just as well as the man who unfortunately happens to be killed when engaged on active service. Therefore, I hope the compensation terms will apply to all concerned. The ex gratia payments are fair. There is no distinction between an officer, an N.C.O. and a man in regard to payment, and I think that is highly desirable in a matter of this nature.

In regard to claims arising from injuries or illness, I think the period of four years in the Bill is unreasonable and I should like to support Deputy MacEoin and Deputy Corish in that regard. As an ex-Army man, I had personal experience of men who served from 1939 to 1945 and who, because their illness did not show up within four years from the date of their discharge, were precluded from compensation. In view of that, I do not think the Army authorities are in a position arbitrarily to lay down a four-year limit in regard to foreign affairs. Good and all as our medical advisers at home may be, I do not think they are equipped to advise as to what might occur to men serving in the Congo or any other part of Africa and, therefore, I think the four-year period should be left open.

In regard to education, the Bill provides that allowances will be made available up to the age of 18. It is time we woke up to our responsibilities in the field of education. Is it suggested that the child of a soldier or an officer is finished with education on reaching the age of 18? Is that not what this Bill suggests? Have we not accepted the fact that if a child has the intelligence and ability to equip himself or herself for the professions, such a child should have the opportunity of taking out a degree in a university? Surely this Bill will preclude children with intelligence and ambition from getting higher education? A Commission has been set up to investigate the whole field of higher education, and I hope one of its recommendations will be to extend to all children who are capable of qualifying in the various professions the benefit of a higher education. We should not at this stage limit the grants for educational purposes to those up to 18 years. Provision should be made for making available a full university education to all children who, in the opinion of their teachers, are suitable for further education. I hope the Minister will consider that aspect carefully.

The allowances are based, I think, on the general allowances which obtained in the past—widows' allowances and so forth. To my mind, the amount involved is very small. If the value of the £1 today is taken into account, the allowances are miserable, to say the least of them. Were it not for the compensation terms and theex gratia payments, this Bill would not get a very warm welcome. I am very glad the Government moved with expedition in this matter. The feeling was abroad that there was a likelihood the Government might shelve its responsibilities in view of the fact that well-meaning voluntary organisations were apparently taking it upon themselves to compensate or help the relatives of those who lost their lives.

There is too much charity of this nature in this country. In many fields, the State is relieved of its obligations by the fact that a number of charitable organisations step in. I know the position with regard to charity as such. It is admitted, even between nations, that where a thing can be described as charity, the receiver has no great regard for it. We have the case of the United States which has poured money into various countries, possibly in a friendly manner to help the people, and the result has been that those very people have decided they do not want charity but want technical help and assistance—they do not want to be looked upon as poor relations. If that applies in the international field, the same thing applies to individuals. If it is demoralising for one State to look upon another as a poor relation, it is equally demoralising to have the same principle applied within the community itself.

I am very glad to see that, in this instance, the Government have hastened to shoulder their responsibilities, because it was the Government and this House who asked these young men to volunteer. We should accept our responsibilities. I hope the Minister will clear up the point in regard to compensation—whether it includes all those who have lost their lives? If any serious mishap or catastrophe should happen, God forbid, to a contingent of our troops, can this matter ofex gratia payments be used as a means of evading responsibility for the quite large sums involved in such circumstances? It is this question of ex gratia payments. Is there a danger of its being utilised as a means of evading responsibility for quite large sums that might be involved in such circumstances? We all hope that such will not be the case but, when we make provision in this House in the form of compensation in respect of those who have already, unfortunately, lost their lives, we should accept this as setting a precedent for the future and I am sure we would all take what is being done now as a precedent if any tragedy took place in the future on service such as our troops are engaged in at the moment, and similar arrangements would automatically be brought into operation.

Major de Valera

I think it only right that we should accept this measure. I agree with other Deputies that it is a matter of duty for us. I am glad that the Government have been able to move as quickly as they have and with the adequacy reflected in the Bill. I think I share one point of view with Deputy McQuillan to the extent that I am afraid that this limitation in time may be the cause of future trouble. I know this has been a difficulty in the case of other pensions, but in this case I do not know if the Minister would consider some provision by which abona fide claim that arises after the years in question would be considered. I think that point might be attended to. Otherwise, this measure is nothing more than a simple duty for the House and a duty which I am glad the Government has discharged as quickly as it possibly could.

I am surprised that it should be said that the publication of the Bill—apart from the statement which was issued later—came as a shock to Deputies. It was made clear at the time the temporary measure authorising the sending of these troops was put through the House that the existing provisions of the Army Pensions Acts covered death or disability due to wounds on such service and that due to the particular circumstances attending service in the Congo it was the Government's intention to extend the provisions of the Army Pensions Acts to cover death or disability due to disease contracted in the Congo. That is what this Bill does; this is the Bill that was promised then.

In reply to a Question in the Dáil some time ago I said that the Government were considering the adequacy of the rates to be paid and their decision was to leave the rates as they were and to pay extra compensation in respect of the Congo by way of lump sum because we have no way of saying in advance whether the circumstances that attach to service in the Congo will be applicable to other United Nations service or not. But in so far as a precedent is set the precedent is to consider each case on its merits.

I agree that it would have given Deputies a clearer picture if the statement with regard to the actual lump sums had been issued simultaneously with the Bill but it was considered a matter of urgency to get the Bill brought before the House as quickly as possible and a decision as to the amount of the lump sum to be paid had not been made at that time. It was not feasible, therefore, to have the two documents published together. However, the statement with regard to the lump sum provision was issued before the Second Reading of the Bill and I think that has cleared up that point. I agree that this question of compensation for members of the Defence Forces who suffer either disablement or die as a result of their service with the United Nations in the Congo is the responsibility of the Government and the United Nations. The Government have accepted that responsibility. Anything that has been done by other people is no responsibility of mine.

The question was raised as to whether this is to be regarded as a precedent for any incidents similar to those that have already occurred in the Congo that may occur in the future. I think the statement is quite clear in that respect. The Government have decided that in addition to the benefit available under the Army Pensions Act and under the Army Pensions (No. 2) Bill, 1960, payments by way of lump sum shall be made to dependants of members of the Defence Forces serving with the United Nations Forces in the Congo and who were killed while so serving, who die of wounds attributable to such service within four years of the date of the wounds or who die in the Congo as a result of disease attributable to such service or who die within four years after their return from the Congo as a result of a disease attributable to such service, such additional payment to be made without distinction of rank and to be at the rate of £3,500 in respect of a married man and £2,000 in respect of a single man. I think it is quite clear from that that it will apply to any similar such tragic occurrence that may happen in the future.

Would the Minister take out the four years?

I shall come to that later. Deputies may take it that this applies to service in the Congo but not necessarily to other United Nations service. It may or it may not; it will all depend on the circumstances that exist at the time.

The four Deputies who spoke referred to the time limit of four years. That has been specified in previous legislation and in this legislation. The reason for it, of course, is the difficulty of establishing medically whether a disease which only appears a considerable time after the discharge of the soldier from the Army is in fact attributable to his service during a particular period.

Deputies referred to members of the Defence Forces who found themselves disabled as a result of disease after a period of more than four years since the conclusion of the Emergency period, for instance. In that instance, because the disease only became noticeable more than four years after the Emergency they were precluded from applying but surely it must be obvious to Deputies that anybody in those circumstances would have very great difficulty in any case in trying to relate such a disease to their service during the Emergency period. It would obviously be almost impossible.

It is true to say that I certainly do not know what type of disease may be contracted in the Congo or how long it may take such a disease to show up but I think it is wise to have this provision. It may be found necessary in the future to amend the Acts in this respect, but this is a provision that has always been made and I think it is a very wise one in everybody's interests. It is only right that anybody who has such a disease should claim as soon as possible so that it would be possible for him to establish that the disease was in fact due to service during that particular period.

It is obvious there should be some time limit because of the medical difficulty of establishing that the disease is attributable to service during the period in question.

As I have clearly indicated, all the people concerned at the moment are entitled to the full contributory widow's pension and that pension will not be reduced because of the benefits payable under the Army Pensions Acts.

With regard to the education allowance, 18 years has always been the upper age limit. That runs right through Army Pensions legislation. There is no special case for altering it in this instance. If there were a case, then it would obviously have to be altered right through the whole of the Army pensions code. I do not think there is a good case for altering it. It seems reasonable to provide for the education of children up to 18. After that, as in the case of other categories, scholarships should be sufficient to provide for further education.

Surely it could be extended in the case of children attending a whole-time educational establishment after 18 years of age?

If there were a case for that in this instance, equally there would be a case in every other instance and not just in relation to United Nations service.

But here a breadwinner is taken away in his youth because of very special service given by him to the nation and to the world. The Minister admits there are special circumstances. Why not do what that breadwinner would have done had he lived?

It is by no means certain that the people concerned would be in a position to do what the Deputy suggests by their own efforts had they lived. There are other means, such as scholarships, for providing for the education of children after 18.

The paucity of pensions and allowances was referred to by Deputy MacEoin. These are, in fact, the rates normally paid for disablement or death, and they have been increased on a number of occasions. They were increased in 1949, 1953, 1956, 1959 and 1960. Judging by that, Deputies can rest assured that at any time in the future when allowances like these are being increased, these people will share in the increases. They do not compare unfavourably with the provisions made for people following other callings.

If the Minister has not already done so, would it be possible for him to make inquiry from other defence forces, which are experienced in foreign service, as to the limiting period governing eligibility for compensation for illness which may arise outside the statutory period? Would the Minister check to find out if it is four years, or more years?

I shall look into that matter.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take the next Stage?

If the House would be prepared to give them to me, I should like to have all Stages today.

I would like to give the Minister the Bill today, but I feel very strongly about this four years. The Minister says that the Bill could be amended later on. Everybody knows that if we pass this four years now, it will be there forever. The only reason it is in this Bill is because it was incorporated in previous legislation. I do not think it is unreasonable to put the onus and obligation on the applicant to prove that the disease is attributable to a particular kind of service. He will find it hard enough to prove that without putting on this limitation of four years. If the Minister will take out the four years he can have his Bill now.

Surely four years is a reasonable period. Would it not be very difficult to establish after a period of longer than four years?

Assume he establishes it after the four years, he cannot get anything. It is difficult enough within the four years. If it is established in the fifth year, the applicant will get nothing. If he establishes it in the sixth year, he will certainly get nothing, because he will be two years late.

Perhaps the Minister will agree to find out what the position is in other defence forces.

Will the Minister take out the four years?

It would have to be taken out in all the other Army Pensions Acts.

Take it out.

That would mean people could make a claim at any time.

The Minister talked about speedy legislation in 1922 and 1923. He said enough about that. He should not blame us.

Extend the period from four to ten years. This case is different because it is a case of tropical diseases.

I agree. There is an unknown quantity there.

That is the case we make. The period would be quite reasonable at home, but it is not reasonable in these particular circumstances.

I agree the case may be different.

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 6th December, 1960.