As regards Section 5, there is no payment out of public funds, that is out of State funds, involved in the section at all.
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - LOCAL OFFICERS COMPENSATION (WAR PERIOD) BILL, 1924—COMMITTEE.
It is payment out of the Local Taxation Grant.
As regards the schedule I would like to have it quite explicitly stated by the Minister in charge that every person whose name appears in this schedule was dismissed from his office or retired from his office at the instruction or under the orders of the national authority for the time being. I think it is just to the local authority that they should be relieved of liability because of obedience to the action of the Central Government. But I do not agree that the Central Government should take upon itself responsibility for payment of pensions, allowances or gratuities where the local authority on its own initiative took action which involved that local authority in charges for pensions, superannuations and the like. I think before we agree to this schedule we should have it stated quite clearly from the Minister that in every case it was the responsibility of the Central Government which the local authorities were carrying out, and on that account they should be relieved of liabilities which they would not otherwise have incourse?
I would like to know if all these officers mentioned in Part I. of the Schedule would in the ordinary course be pensionable officers. I notice amongst them a number of officers connected with technical instruction and different Departments. Can the Minister tell us if they were pensionable officers or servants in the ordinary course?
I am not in a position to give the guarantee that has been asked for by Deputy Johnson, for more reasons than one. In the first place, it is quite possible that on a technicality some of these local authorities may not have, in exercise of their own wisdom, perhaps, taken the necessary precautions to ensure that their funds would not be made available under the law in respect of the termination of the office of any one of these officials whose names appear in the second column of either Schedule. In the case of technical education officials mentioned by Deputy Good, I am inclined to the view that he puts forward, that these officials were not legally entitled to compensation for loss of office. The incident arose in this way. A certain gentleman who had suffered a term of imprisonment as the result of court martial in 1916, having been released from prison, applied for a position under the Limerick Technical Education Committee. He was appointed to that position, but his appointment was not sanctioned, and in that case a conflict arose immediately between the British Government and the Limerick Technical Education Committee, and it remained a conflict for the better part of two years. In the meantime, the conflict still going on, an Act was passed which, according to its general description, was an amendment of the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Act, but, while it pretended to be that, there was one section, Section 8, which gave rights to officials of local authorities not hitherto possessed by them. In respect to that particular section those officials were given certain rights which, by any stretch of the imagination, or any extravagant interpretation of the Superannuation Acts of the time, could not possibly have been foreseen. That Act ought to have been called the Superannuation of Local Government Officials Act. A certain amendment of that particular section has given rise to practically all this trouble.
As far as that particular section is concerned, any one official there could have claimed his pension or sent in his resignation over the heads of the local authority as long as the Local Government Board could be canvassed to consent to their resignations. Then at once the situation arose as to the amount of compensation that should be awarded, that is, the amount of superannuation in the majority of those cases. The Local Government Board of the time added quite a number of years' service to whatever service the person had. In one case they added twenty-six years to fourteen years' service, and in other cases, a sufficient number of years' service to make up the maximum amount, that is, up to 40. In one case down in the list, where the person had been reported for inefficient administration or something of that sort they saved their faces by deducting four years from the forty and giving thirty-six. In the case of one officer here—I do not suppose it is a gracious thing to mention—whose sister is a very pronounced Republican, when the time of stress was on he had not sufficient nationality to take his place with the rest.
We are not responsible for our sisters, I suppose.
No, but the sister takes on a lot of responsibility in other directions. As far as that particular lot I mention, the Limerick Corporation officials, were concerned, that was a subject of legal proceedings. The legal proceedings succeeded and went on to appeal, and the Corporation succeeded in disposing of the contentions of the officials. Again, on appeal that was reversed and their rights were preserved. Generally on the whole thing we have come to an arrangement with the British Government. Mr. Justice Wylie has considered the whole of those cases, and our liability has been assessed at what would have been a fair compensation given in each case, excluding the political circumstances of the times. The British Government has accepted responsibility for the difference between what might be called an equitable pension in the circumstances and what was granted, and our responsibility is in respect of the rest.