Dáil Éireann - Volume 100 - 27 March, 1946
Committee on Finance. - Vote 64—Army Pensions.
Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
Mr. Traynor: I move:
That a sum not exceeding £556,030 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1947, for Wound and Disability Pensions, Further Pensions and Married Pensions, Allowances and Gratuities (No. 26 of 1923, No. 12 of 1927, No. 24 of 1932, No. 15 of 1937, No. 2 of 1941, No. 14 of 1943 and No. 3 of 1946); Military Service Pensions. Allowances and Gratuities (No. 48 of 1924, No. 26 of 1932, No. 43 of 1934, No. 33 of 1938, No. 5 of 1944 and Nos. 11 and 34 of 1945); Pensions, Allowances and Gratuities  (No. 37 of 1936); Payments in respect of Compensation for Members of the Local Defence Force (No. 28 of 1939); and for sundry Contributions and Expenses in respect thereof, etc.
This Estimate for £834,030 shows an increase of £201,720 on that for the previous year, and the explanation by sub-heads is as follows:—
Sub-heads A and B: These deal with the salaries, wages, allowances and expenses for the Army Pensions Board, the statutory body to whom is entrusted the task of determining the claims under the various Army Pensions Acts, 1923-1946. The work of this board is well up to date, and it may be said that they are practically dealing with current claims, that is, claims of men recently discharged from the forces. During the present year its work will be very much expanded owing to the passing of the Army Pensions Act, 1946, which greatly enlarges the provisions of the previous Acts and, therefore, brings many others within their ambit. The increase of £962 is due to an increase both in staff and in bonus.
Sub-heads C and D: These deal with the salaries, wages, allowances and expenses of another statutory body, the Referee and advisory committee, whose function it is to determine claims for service pensions under the Military Service Pensions Acts, 1924 and 1934. Here there is a decrease of £629 due mainly to the fact that the Estimate only provides for the employment of the Referee and the committee for a period of about nine months. Whether, however, this period will suffice is another question, because there are at present before the Referee about 250 new applications, about 40 appeals referred to him by the Minister on grounds of additional evidence, and about 20 cases arising out of reports quashed by the courts. Moreover, there have been lodged with the Minister about 3,000 appeals under the Military Service Pensions Act, 1945. These appeals are being examined as rapidly as possible, and those that contain any additional evidence will also be sent forward to the Referee.
Under sub-head E, which deals with  wound and disability pensions, there is a very large increase of £39,476. Here two factors operate. One is the increase in pension to married men with children, granted by the Army Pensions Act, 1946, and the other is the larger number of pensions. In addition to the 1,426 pensions already under payment costing £112,113 a year, we expect that about 496 will qualify under the Acts during the financial year at a cost, including arrears (£3,452), of £57,643. Until the demobilisation of the Army is finally completed, we have to expect many applications from men discharged from the forces medically unfit. For minor injuries which do not reach the required minimum for pension we are providing £240, so that the gross amount for this sub-head is £169,996. Allowing for deaths during the year, we deduct a sum of £3,622, which gives the net sum required at £166,374.
Sub-head F deals with the pensions technically called “allowances” for the widows, orphans and other dependents under the Army Pensions Acts. There are about 570 allowances already under payment, costing annually £19,201, and on the experience of other years we anticipate 211 new allowances during the year costing about £2,866, with arrears of £300. There is a close connection between sub-heads E and F, because on the death of the disabled pensioner, his widow and orphans may qualify for allowance, if the death be due to the injury or disease in respect of which the deceased was in receipt of a pension.
This sub-head also includes a sum of £10,600 for gratuities. This includes a sum of £336 under the 1932 Act, a sum of £200 for remarriage gratuities, and £10,064 under the Act of 1946 for persons who cannot show that they were totally or mainly dependent on a deceased officer or soldier but who can show that they were at least partially so dependent. Hence the old allowances at £19,201, the new with arrears at £3,166 and the gratuities at £10,600, give a net total for the sub-head of £32,967. It will be seen, therefore, that the increase of £10,267 under the sub-head is mainly attributable to the provision for gratuities to dependents  granted under the Army Pensions Act, 1946.
Sub-head G deals with the supply and repair of medical and surgical appliances granted to wound pensioners under the Army Pensions Acts, and for the travelling expenses to Dublin of such pensioners when the appliances have to be fitted or repaired. The expenditure here is fairly constant and the chief reason for the increase of £100 on the previous figure of £350 is the higher cost of the appliances.
Sub-head H—Hospital Treatment— is bound up with the work of the Army Pensions Board under sub-head A and with the grant of wound and disability pensions under sub-head E. Applicants for such pensions have to be maintained in hospital while their claims are being investigated, and temporary pensioners have to be maintained and treated when their claims are under revision. Such maintenance and treatment is given chiefly at St. Bricin's Hospital in Dublin, and the expense thereof is at first borne by the Army Vote, which is subsequently recouped by a transfer from the Pensions Vote. The cost under this heading has increased by £2,000 due partly to the larger number of pensioners and applicants and partly to the increased cost of foods, drugs and medicines.
So far the Estimate deals principally with the disabled and in the case of death with their widows, orphans and other dependents. In sub-head I it begins to deal with a different subject, that is with pensions for service independently of any question of disablement. Sub-head I deals with the pensions awarded for service during the pre-Truce and post-Truce periods under the Military Service Pensions Acts, 1924 and 1934. The old pensions now paid under the Acts total 13,796 at an annual cost of £419,497 and the Estimate provides for 169 new pensions costing annually £4,280 but carrying arrears of £70,707. The arrears are, therefore, the principal factor in the new pensions, because any pension granted must date back to 1st October, 1934. I have already pointed out the work before the referee in regard to new claims,  quashed reports and appeals actually allowed. To these must be added any appeals which may be allowed after examining the large number recently lodged. From the cases actually before the referee, with those that may be sent to him, I think the estimate of 169 new pensions is not excessive. The new pensions with the old will, therefore, cost £194,484, but deductions in respect of abatements at £22,230 and in respect of deaths at £2,254, will reduce that total to £470,000. It will be noted that following on the Military Service Pensions Act, 1945, the abatement is less this year than last by £27,195, so that the increase on the sub-head of £62,000 may be attributed partly to the relaxation of abatement and partly to the arrears of new pensions which may fall for payment during the year.
Sub-head J deals with the pensions and gratuities of officers, N.C.O.s and men who served in the Army since its establishment in 1924, and also with the pensions of their widows and orphans. In the normal run of things, an officer is entitled to a pension (called “retired pay”) after 20, and a soldier after 21 years' service. Up to the present, therefore, the charge on this sub-head has been relatively light, but henceforth we must expect a heavy and increasing charge on it due to retirement on grounds of age or completion of service. At present there are on the pensions register 53 officers at £10,247; 179 other ranks at £8,456, and 64 officers' widows and orphans at £1,975 a year. During the next financial year the Estimate provides for an addition of 120 officers at £11,396; 625 other ranks at £21,262, and 12 widows and orphans at £1,200. The total pensions charge, therefore, is estimated to be £54,536.
But the sub-head also provides short-term gratuities for those who will not qualify for pension. An officer, for instance, is entitled to a gratuity after five, and a soldier after three years' service, and the statutory gratuity payable here must not be confused with the emergency gratuities payable after 360 days' service during the emergency period. The Estimate provides for ten  officers' gratuities at £1,200, for 6,500 other ranks at £29,290, and for 100 nurses at £3,750. These short-term gratuities are, therefore, estimated at £34,240.
When a married officer retires he is entitled under the schemes not only to a pension but also to a resettlement gratuity. This gratuity varies according to rank and service. Of the 120 officers who may retire during the year, we expect that 113 will qualify for this gratuity at a cost of £46,390. Hence the sub-head provides for pensions costing £54,536; short-term gratuities at £34,240; married gratuities £46,390; total £135,166. Allowing for abatements at £2,166, the net total required is £133,000.
Sub-head K deals with the allowances and expenses of applicants appearing before the Army Pensions Board in connection with their claims to wound and disability pensions, and with witnesses summoned by the referee in his investigation of claims for military service pensions. The figure £5,000 is the same as in the previous Estimate.
Sub-head L deals with incidental expenses and shows a decrease of £400, due almost entirely to the fact that the employment of pensions medical officers to examine locally claimants to Army pensions will not be needed to the same extent as in the previous year.
Sub-head M—Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Act, is self-explanatory. The increase of £171 is entirely due to the fact that one pensioner asked to have his pension withheld during the war, and that sum now represents the arrears due to him.
Sub-head N, which provides for compensation to disabled members of the old Local Defence Force, shows a reduction of £1,010, and the sum £1,390 represents the allowances which continue to be paid to about 32 persons.
Sub-head O concerns the special allowances payable to certain persons who are incapable of self-support by reason of old age or of permanent infirmity of mind or body. Hitherto this allowance was restricted to the  veterans of Easter Week, but the Army Pensions Act, 1946, has extended it to all persons who have received or will receive a medal for three months' continuous membership of the forces prior to 11th July, 1921. The number of Easter Week recipients of the allowance is 50 at £2,992 a year, but with the extension of the qualification we estimate that 107 more will qualify during the year at a cost of £7,408, with possible arrears of £400.
To sum up, therefore, the pensions bill under sub-heads E, F, I, J, M, N, and O for the financial year 1946-47 may be set out as follows:—16,200 old pensions or allowances, £576,804; 1,745 new pensions or allowances, £102,755; non-recurring arrears, £75,019; gratuities, £91,470; gross total: £846,048; less deductions: £30,272; net total: £815,776.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: Can the Minister say if it is proposed under sub-head J to pay gratuities to the Army nursing service, or if a decision has been come to with reference to that?
Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
Mr. Traynor: Yes, I mentioned in the former debate that they were being granted a gratuity of a month's pay for every year's service.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: Then, there is only one matter which I wish to raise. I heard of a case in which a man had a year's service in the Army. He applied for a position under some clause or regulation which stated that Army service was obligatory. He was, apparently, sent back to the Army and his case was re-examined. They found that, as he had been sentenced to one day's confinement for a breach of discipline, he had only 364 days' service. While that does not strictly apply to this Vote, it is of importance from this point of view: such a case could occur and a person would be disqualified, by reason of a reduction in the term of service, from receiving a gratuity. In this case, the soldier had 365 days' service but a day was deducted because he had been sentenced for absence a couple of hours over his normal leave. He had been fined and he should not have been punished twice. I ask the Minister to look into the position with  a view to securing that no soldier will be similarly disqualified from receiving his gratuity.
Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
Mr. Traynor: That is a matter which could be dealt with more readily by correspondence.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: I have not the details of the case. It seems to be a very unusual occurrence and, if I can get particulars, I shall send them to the Minister.
Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
Mr. Traynor: I shall be glad to look into the matter.
Question put and agreed to.
Dáil Éireann 100 Committee on Finance. Vote 64—Army Pensions.