Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

102 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence his proposals to bring forward amendments to the Defence Acts. [18631/03]

The opportunity to amend the Defence Acts is availed of when legislation sponsored by other Departments and which has a bearing on the Defence Forces is being formulated. This is particularly so in the area of amendments to civil and criminal law relating to the provisions prescribing the punishment for certain civil offences which are also offences against military law as prescribed in the Defence Acts. Generally speaking, the punishments for offences against military law, whether awarded by court-martial or otherwise, are in line with punishments prescribed under civil law for similar civil offences.

The most recent amendment of the Defence Act 1954 which was sponsored by my Department was in 1998. The Defence (Amendment) Act, 1998 provided for the re-organisation of the Headquarters of the Defence Forces and for the appointments of deputy chief of staff – operations – and deputy chief of staff – support – and related matters. The Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Bill 2002, which was published in January, 2002 and which is sponsored by my Department, contains a proposal to amend section 114 of the Defence Act in relation to redress of wrongs complaints submitted by serving members of the Defence Forces.
In the circumstances, the Deputy will appreciate that amending the Defence Acts is a continuous and ongoing process in endeavouring to keep them up to date as far as is possible. My Department has prepared a draft restatement of the Defence Acts 1954 to 1998, which includes the Courts Martial Appeals Act 1983, and this draft is currently with the Office of the Attorney General.