This Bill is confined exclusively to questions of Civil Service Superannuation and one of its aims is to secure that a number of civil servants who by reason of interruption of service due to association with the events of 1916 to 1923 will be in no worse position as regards the application to them of the Superannuation Code than they would have been in if there had been no such interruption in their service. In applying this principle an endeavour is being made as far as possible to adhere to the practice followed in connection with the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923. In that Act, recognition for pensions' purposes was given to service in the Civil Service of Dáil Eireann, but this recognition was subject to certain limitations and qualifications. Of these the most important was that all civil servants proposed for benefit should have been employed in the Dáil Civil Service before the date of the Truce, that is before the 11th July, 1921. No provision was made for what are known as post-Truce Dáil civil servants and in actual practice such officers were assimilated with the general body of the temporary staff of Saorstát Eireann, and subsequently given an opportunity by means of a limited competitive examination to acquire permanency. The main examination at which a number did secure pensionable posts was a limited examination held in June-July, 1925. Successful competitors at that examination were in due course assigned to permanent pensionable posts as clerical officers, the majority of such assignments taking place about February, 1926. Under the present Bill, this distinction as between pre-Truce and post-Truce service is being retained, that is, the pre-Truce people are being treated as pensionable, with the exception of one peculiar type of case in which the officer originally entered the service in circumstances which clearly indicated that his appointment was to be on a permanent and, presumably, when the circumstances permitted, on a pensionable basis. With this exception post-Truce entrants are regarded as non-pensionable.
I have already indicated that the post-Truce officers assimilated prior to 1926 were afforded an opportunity of securing establishment which enabled those officers who availed themselves of that opportunity to commence pensionable service from February, 1926. It is proposed, as far as possible, to equate post-Truce Dáil civil servants, dealt with under the present Bill, to their former colleagues, in the matter of pensionability. Where, therefore, they have acquired establishment, for instance by means of successful competition at limited examinations, they have been treated as if they never had an interruption of service and had competed successfully at the limited examination held in June-July of 1925. Accordingly, under this Bill, their pensionable service is, on that basis, being allowed to reckon as from the 1st of February, 1926. In relation to civil servants, other than those who came over from the Dáil staff, and whose service was interrupted for the same reasons, the same principle is being followed which governed the treatment of similar cases under the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923. Pensionable officers have been reinstated in pensionable posts and the period of their absence is being allowed to reckon for pension purposes. Non-pensionable persons have been reinstated in non-pensionable posts and their period of absence is also being included in the calculation of any award that may fall to be made under the Superannuation Acts.
Service for the purposes of these Acts will, in both cases, fall into three divisions—(a) service before forfeiture of office for political reasons, (b) the period of absence which will be deemed to be service, and (c) the actual service which they render subsequent to reinstatement. Where unestablished officers reinstated in unestablished or temporary posts have, since reinstatement, secured establishment, regard has been had to the possibilities of establishment which would have been open to them in common with the post-Truce Dáil civil servants had they remained in the Service. They have, therefore, whether they have been established or acquired establishment, been allowed to reckon their pensionable service as from a date not earlier than the 1st February, 1926. Where the application of that date would, by reference to normal superannuation practice, involve the grant to a reinstatee of a lesser benefit than would have been accorded to him, if he had never ceased to serve, power is being taken to grant to such reinstatee the benefits appropriate under the normal superannuation practice. This concession will apply principally to Departmental classes, such as postmen and technical assistants in the Ordnance Survey who, by long established custom, are allowed to reckon unestablished service or a proportion thereof for pension purposes. Where suitable posts are not available for offer to certain pensionable ex-civil servants, by reasons of considerations of age or ill-health, power is being taken to pay them a special pension, based on a period from a date not earlier than that at which they entered the Service to the date of attaining the age of 65 or the date of the passing of the Act, whichever is the earlier.
Certain pensionable civil servants have not on reinstatement been able to acquire pensionable posts in the Civil Service on account of ill-health. They have, however, been admitted to unestablished posts. Power is being taken to allow their service in such unestablished posts to reckon for pension in their particular cases. The following distinction is to be noted between the two types of ill-health cases. Pension is payable as from the date of the passing of the Act to the person whose ill-health precluded his admission to the Civil Service in any capacity. Naturally in that case the chief medical officer of health of the Civil Service will have to be satisfied in regard to the officer's health. In cases other than the ill-health cases to which I have referred, where they formerly served in the British Civil Service, particularly in established posts, they had already secured a certificate of health. Since then, their health may have deteriorated though they are still regarded as being fit to serve. But while they will have been admitted to the Civil Service, nevertheless they will have been rejected by the Civil Service Commissioners for the certificate of qualification which is a condition precedent to admission to the permanent Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann. Naturally this question of their recertifying on health grounds would not have arisen if they had been simply transferred in 1922 with the general body of civil servants. It is to remove this disqualification which otherwise they would carry in regard to superannuation and pensionable service, that we are taking special power in this Bill. That briefly deals with those civil servants who have had association with the events from 1916 to 1923, and who by reason of that association have had an interrupted service in the Civil Service.
Apart altogether from those who fall into that category, the Bill deals with a number of technical difficulties which have cropped up in administering the Superannuation Acts since the establishment of the Saorstát. These are mainly difficulties of interpretation and adaptation. They arise largely from the circumstances of the transfer of services from the former régime and from delays and uncompleted negotiations incidental thereto. For instance, a number of persons were voluntarily transferred to the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann on the understanding that when their pensions came to be computed, these pensions would be awarded on the basis of their aggregate service in the British and Saorstát Civil Services. The Superannuation and Pensions Acts, 1923, contemplated that we should declare the revenues of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland to be public funds for the purpose of our Superannuation Acts; and that they would declare our revenues a public fund for the purpose of their Superannuation Acts. Agreement, however, could not be reached on some of the details inherent in such an arrangement, in particular as to who should bear the charge for the gratuity payable to the legal personal representatives of deceased male permanent civil servants. Accordingly since a number of these officers have died, or have retired, a difficulty has arisen as to the charging of the moneys payable to or in respect of them.
Statutorily the Saorstát is liable only in respect of service rendered to it, but public faith is pledged in all these cases, and the officers were definitely promised that their superannuation awards would be based on their total service. Payment in full has, therefore, been made in each case. British rules governing apportionment of superannuation liability in respect of aggregate service, however, prescribe that the payment of death gratuities shall be borne by the last employing body. With a view to putting the undertaking given to each of these officers permanently on an unchallengeable basis, power is being taken in this Bill to treat all their services as service in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann. Recovery will, of course, be effected of portion of the award if and when possible.
The other sections not dealing with reinstated civil servants are for the most part concerned with technical difficulties—for example, the superannuation position of the Quit Rent Office staff during three years when payment of salary was not made directly from voted moneys; or, as another instance, the reckoning of service for pension purposes of certain Intermediate Education inspectors, whose names had not been added to the scheme relating to pensionable officers in the service of the Intermediate Education Commissioners; or, again, the reckoning of service with the late Congested Districts Board in certain cases, and the taking of power to charge superannuation liabilities against voted moneys which would, prior to the dissolution of the Congested Districts Board, have been a proper charge on the funds of that Department.
Again, arising out of the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, and the Civil Service Regulation Acts, 1924 to 1926, certain doubts have been felt as to the valid application of the Superannuation Acts to certain permanent officials in the service of the State; for instance, heads of Departments appointed by the Executive Council on the recommendation of the Minister in charge of each such Department. The British Superannuation Acts provide that pensions may be granted to persons admitted to the permanent Civil Service with a certificate of qualification from the Civil Service Commissioners or on appointment by the Crown. It has been thought desirable to extend the provisions of these Acts as adapted to Saorstát requirements, so as to include appointments to the permanent Civil Service made by the Executive Council.
Furthermore, in the case of certain statutory boards and bodies, certain jurisdictions, powers, etc., have been reserved to these bodies, and these powers include in some instances the power of appointment which is not exercised by the Minister in charge of the Department to which these bodies are assigned, but by the bodies or boards themselves. As power of appointment to the Civil Service really vests in the Executive Council and in the Ministers in charge of each of the Departments, subject in the latter case to the application of the Civil Service Regulation Acts, it has been felt desirable, from the standpoint of superannuation, to remove any ambiguities as to the superannuation position of the civil servants appointed by these boards or bodies and in their service. The provision has been extended to cover employment as an officer or member of the staff of the Oireachtas and as a member of the staff of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, as these two offices are not included in any of the Departments of State.
As from the 15th day of October, 1932, persons concerned in the Post Office strike of 1922 are having their period of absence from duty restored to them for the purposes of the application of the Superannuation Acts. It has also been found necessary to make provision for the rectification of certain certificates granted under the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923, the validity of which was open to question inasmuch as they contained mistakes as to facts. For instance, one former pre-Truce Dáil civil servant was described in the relevant certificate as having commenced to serve from a date anterior to the setting up of the Dáil Civil Service, viz., 21st January, 1919. The time-limit prescribed by that Act has been extended to admit of the grant of fresh certificates to the individuals concerned and of new certificates to certain individuals who were inadvertently excluded from the application of the benefits conferred by that Act. Any rectifications will have the effect of securing to each individual the maximum benefits designed for his case by the relevant Act.
The Bill contains the normal provisions against double reckoning of any period for purposes of pension, and limits the application of the rule of average prescribed by the Superannuation Acts, where the enforcement of that rule would, in the cases of reinstatees, entail hardship. Special authority is taken to make a grant of £300 to each of the several persons whose names are specified in the Schedule to the Bill who are precluded from securing pensionable posts in the Civil Service by reason of the Civil Service regulations applying to marriage. All of these persons rendered pre-Truce service in the old Dáil Civil Service. If they had been transferred to the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann, they would, in the ordinary course, have been entitled to a gratuity on retiring on marriage. The award which is being made to them now is in substitution therefor. They would naturally have a claim to reinstatement, but it is thought that this is a better way of dealing with the matter than by making a breach in what is now the invariable practice—to require women to retire from the Civil Service on marriage. The expense of carrying the Bill into effect will be met by moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas. On account of the number of individuals affected and the varying incidence of charge, it is not possible to give even an approximate estimate of the expenditure which will arise. Finally, ou account of the complexities and number of cases involved, the time limit for certification has been extended to two years to afford ample time for considering each case prior to certification and to ensure that no admissible case will be overlooked. I do not think that it is necessary for me to say more except that we hope by this Bill to close a regrettable chapter in the history of our country——