Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are out of order.
Superannuation Bill, 1936. - Fourth and Fifth Stages.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 5, to delete Section 7 and substitute a new section as follows:—
The following provisions shall have effect in respect of sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923, (No. 34 of 1923), and in relation to certificates given or purporting to be given by the Minister thereunder, that is to say:—
(a) the said sub-section shall be and is hereby amended as from the passing of the said Act by the deletion of the words "within six months after the passing of this Act" where those words secondly occur in the said sub-section.
(b) in the said sub-section the expression "the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann" shall include and be deemed always to have included the Civil Service of the Provisional Government.
(c) no certificate given or purporting to be given by the Minister under the said sub-section shall be or ever have been invalid merely because the person to whom such certificate relates is thereby stated to have been reinstated in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann on a date prior to the passing of the said Act.
(d) where it is stated in a certificate given or purporting to be given by the Minister under the said sub-section, that the person to whom such certificate relates was reinstated in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann on a date which was prior to the establishment of Saorstát Eireann, such statement shall be construed and have effect, and be deemed always to have had effect as relating to the reinstatement of such person in the Civil Service of the Provisional Government.
(e) every person in respect of whom a certificate was given or purported to be given by the Minister under the said sub-section shall be deemed to have been reinstated in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann, or (where the circumstances so require) in the Civil Service of the Provisional Government, on the date on which he is stated in such certificate to have been reinstated in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann.
(f) the period referred to in the said sub-section as the period of service which a person is otherwise qualified to reckon under the Superannuation Acts shall include and be deemed always to have included the period of such person's service within the meaning of the said Acts in any British Civil Service and also the period of his service within the meaning aforesaid in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann and (where the circumstances so require) the period of his service within the meaning aforesaid in the Civil Service of the Provisional Government and those several periods and the period between the date of such person's resignation or dismissal mentioned in the said sub-section and the date of his reinstatement similarly mentioned shall be reckoned as one continuous period of service.
In the course of the debate on the Committee Stage, Deputy McMenamin had amendments to Sections 7 and 27 in regard to which I took the opportunity of indicating that if, on examination, Section 7 as it then stood revealed an ambiguity in the section I proposed to remove it by introducing an amendment on the Report Stage. This amendment gives effect to that intention. In addition, it also further clarifies the position to meet the point which I think Deputy Norton desired to meet in regard to amendment No. 4 and makes it quite clear that both the service prior to resignation or dismissal and the period of absence and service subsequent to reinstatement would be counted in computing superannuation allowances in the case of officers affected by this Bill.
Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 are out of order.
I move amendment No. 7:—
In page 14, Section 19 (2), to delete all from the word "where" in line 26 to the end of the sub-section, and substitute the words:
Accordingly it shall be lawful for the Minister to give, after the passing of this Act, such permission as is mentioned in the first sub-section of this section, to or in respect of a person who, before such passing, retired on the ground of age or ill-health from or died while in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann, and to or in respect of whom such permission could have been given at the time of his retirement or death if the said first sub-section had then been in force, and if such permission is so given to or in respect of any such person, such adjustment or variation shall be made of the superannuation allowance, gratuity or other benefit awarded to or in respect of such person under the Superannuation Acts on his retirement or death (as the case may be) as shall be necessary to give effect to the said first sub-section in relation to such person as from his retirement or death, as the case may be.
This amendment is designed to meet the point which Deputy Tadhg O Murchadha desired to cover in the amendment which he put forward to Section 19. This amendment, in the form in which we have drafted it, fully covers the case which the Deputy wished to have covered by his amendment.
On that question I would like to make an appeal to the Minister for Finance in regard to his attitude towards certain established and unestablished officers in the matter of their retiring allowances. Under certain conditions, a limited number of unestablished clerical officers are in the position of being retired on pensions—certainly this is the case as regards two who have each had about 36 years' service—averaging about 18/- per week. I understand that the Minister has power under certain Acts to use his discretion in favour of granting pensions to such officers on the basis of their full service. If the Minister were to exercise his powers in that regard, I think it would be only fair to the very limited number of officers concerned. I understand that there are about ten clerical officers in the Department of Agriculture—I imagine there are officers serving in other Departments in the same position— whose total service is divided between established and unestablished service. Section 12 of the Agriculture Act of 1931 gives the Minister for Finance power to retire such people on a pension fixed on the basis of their full service, established and unestablished. The Minister has exercised his discretion in favour of giving pensions on the basis of full service to officers of the technical class in the same Department, and it seems rather strange that he has not acted in the same way in the case of the clerical officers. I am appealing to him to look into their cases. The number is very limited. Some of them have had very long service, and are likely to be retired, if not this year certainly next year. I think that he should fix their pensions on the basis of their full service whether it is established or unestablished, and that he should exercise in their favour the discretion vested in him under the Act to which I have referred. There is no reason why officers of the technical class should be retired on pensions based on their full service and a different procedure applied in the case of clerical officers. I would appeal to the Minister personally to look into that aspect of the few cases that may be concerned, and about which I believe strong representations have been made to his Department. I am not sure whether the cases which I am mentioning now have come under the Minister's personal notice, but I would be glad if he would look them up.
I do not want to go back on the point at any great length, but the Minister rather challenged me when this Bill was under discussion before to quote any living or dead politician who gave certain assurances in regard to the pension rights of people who made sacrifices in pre-Treaty days. I would like the Minister in his spare time—he may not have very much spare time until the by-elections are over—to look up his own speeches in this House on 7th March, 1929, and he will see what he, a very much alive politician, pleaded for.
Will the Deputy mention the occasion?
He was dealing with the position of the men in the Ordnance Survey Department, and on their behalf he made a very strong appeal. If the Minister will look up the debate on the Superannuation and Pensions Bill, columns 1134-5, he will see how eloquently he pleaded for better pension rights for the people who made sacrifices in the Ordnance Survey Department. If the Minister does not care to read what he said on that occasion, perhaps he would like to look up what the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs said on the same subject in 1928. I cannot quote any greater living authority than the Minister, and I am sure he will be surprised to find that he himself had been pleading on behalf of people for whom we have been pleading on this occasion. No doubt Deputy Belton knows more about the circumstances than I do, but I know the Minister made a very eloquent appeal. I daresay it is too late now to get anything inserted in the Bill along the lines suggested by Deputy Belton, but it is no harm, even in spite of the fact that we are going through a strenuous by-election period, to remind the Minister of what he said.
Before the Bill passes I should like to deal with a few aspects of this matter. This is probably the last attempt that will be made to do justice to a small deserving class; it is the last attempt probably not only of this Government, but of the last Government to do justice to those who made great sacrifices when there were very few to make sacrifices. There were a few who were prepared to fight and die for Ireland in times gone by. Of course it has become a profession now to fight and die for Ireland. I had a few amendments down, but they were ruled out of order. It is extraordinary that those who will benefit under this Bill must first become beggars at the Government's table. Nowhere is there a right given in this Bill to those people who took the risk and lost everything except their lives; it is all couched in those terms: "If the Minister for Finance gives a certificate that certain things happened." He is not obliged to give that certificate if certain things happened.
How different is the language of this Bill from the language of the British Government in making sure that the civil servants who were transferred in 1922 would have their rights protected and would not beg at anybody's table! The Minister is aware that the courts have unheld these rights. So much for those who did not take any part in the fight for freedom. But those who did were not protected under the Treaty by the signatories to that Treaty; they were not protected by the Government that grew out of the Treaty, nor were they protected by the successors of that Government. I explained here on the Committee Stage that subsequent to the Treaty a deputation of those civil servants who were victimised or dismissed by the British for their political activities waited on General Collins, and he gave assurances. They came to agreement.
Could the Deputy give me the precise terms of General Collins' assurances?
Let us hear them.
I will read for the Minister an affidavit sworn on the 8th April, 1924.
It was sworn by an applicant who was making his case before a Commission, and it contains the whole agreement come to between the victimised civil servants and General Collins. Now, it was not very far removed—it was only two years removed—from the interview. It was made in April, 1924, 12 years ago.
Surely the Deputy does not want me to take even a sworn affidavit as correctly representing what took place at the interview?
It was sworn by a man who was at the interview, and it can be supported by two others at the interview, and supported on oath now. I wonder what kind of evidence does the Minister want?
I do not know what is in the affidavit. I do not know how far any statement of Deputy Belton's would be substantiated by the affidavit, either.
It was I who swore the affidavit before Valentine F. Kirwan, 109 St. Stephen's Green, a Commissioner for Oaths, 12 years ago.
If there was any conflict of evidence as to what took place at the interview, must I take Deputy Belton's view?
Deputy Belton is not asking the Minister to take anything that is unreasonable. The Minister knows as well as I do that for any of the events that happened in the last 20 years there is very little parchment evidence, but it is worth inquiring into in a sympathetic way. Broadly, the case put up to General Collins—and I put it up to the Minister now—was: were those who sacrificed positions in the Civil Service because they took the side of Ireland in its fight for freedom not entitled to as good treatment from the Irish Government as those who minded their jobs got from the British Government?
I put that as a definite straight question to the Minister. There was nothing more ever asked by the victimised civil servants. It should not have to be asked for at all at any time. It should have been given as a right. I am not aware whether there is any paper evidence, but ordinarily people who took that course on that occasion were entitled to that promotion. Nobody would deny it to them at that time. I think the Minister is aware how invaluable civil servants were in the fight for freedom, apart from any physical effort they made. I think he is aware that but for them a lot of things which were successful could not have been successful, and Intelligence could not have been so good. Of course it was because we were then speaking to the Intelligence Officer of the old I.R.A. that he knew the value of the men we represented. He had his mind made up on what should be done for them, and he granted 100 per cent. of the requests made.
Would you tell me in what terms he made this alleged grant?
I can tell you. There is no allegation about it; I am one of those who put up the terms.
Can you give me here in the House General Collins' statement to you?
I gave the Minister the three representatives of the victimised civil servants on that occasion—Mr. Dowling, Mr. P.S. O'Hegarty and myself. We were instructed by a general meeting of all the victimised civil servants to put forward the following terms: That the victimised civil servants would have the right of reinstatement in the positions which they would have achieved at that time had they not been disturbed; that they would get all the reasonable promotion which they would have got, and the ordinary increments which they would have earned; alternatively, that they would get the right to retire as the transferred officers did, but that the victimised civil servants would get compulsory retiring terms, which meant that there would be added to their service three or four years more than under the normal terms; that they would get back pay for all the period during which they had been out. General Collins agreed, but stipulated this—that any money which any member of the body we represented had got from public funds should be deducted from the total of the back pay. We agreed to that. Those were the terms.
Would the Deputy give me the exact words in which General Collins expressed acceptance of the terms put forward by the deputation?
The exact words?
I am giving you the substantial words. And I go further. I think the Minister will find records. General Collins then told us to supply him with a tabulated statement, giving each officer's rank, salary, time of dismissal, and the department in which he worked. We said we would give him that. He then said that he would make enquiries through the various departments; that he would require figures to be furnished officially from the departments; that he would only use our figures to check up on what he would get from the departments, and that when agreement was reached he would work on the departments' figures. We agreed, of course, that that was the official way of doing it. He got a certain distance in that direction before he was killed.
Did General Collins give a pledge, without any reservation or qualification whatever, that he was prepared to accept the demands of your deputation?
He did, but of course he did not give a pledge that every person whom we alleged we represented was going to get those terms without his case being investigated.
Am I to understand now from Deputy Belton that General Collins said to the deputation: "I accept your demands 100 per cent," and that he did not make any reference to his colleagues or his associates in the Provisional Government or in the Party? Am I to understand that now from Deputy Belton?
We saw General Collins on two or three occasions. He took the case from us first; he went into it, and we met him subsequently. Our final interview was in the terms I have summarised.
And General Collins accepted, without any qualification or reservation whatever, the demands of that deputation of which Deputy Belton was a member?
There was nothing to qualify. The only qualification he put up was that any money which the victimised civil servants had received from public funds should be deducted from their back pay.
And he made no reference whatever to any other circumstances?
I am going purely on the financial terms that were put up and that he accepted. He accepted them 100 per cent. The final touch was his suggestion. There is nothing extraordinary in that.
But did he not say "I think your terms are fair, but I have other people to consider"? Did he?
This happened 14 years ago. I am not so foolish as to attempt to give verbatim an interview or interviews which are 14 years old.
The Deputy has just asked the House to take an affadavit which he has not read, but which he said was sworn in 1924 when his recollection of those things was fresh.
Would the Minister wish me to read it?
Put it on the records.
It is purely anex parte statement.
This is a personal case. I am making a summarised statement. I do not want to give the case to the House because it would have too much of a personal flavour.
I appreciate the Deputy's difficulty, but I am wondering exactly how fully the terms of that affidavit represent General Collins' undertaking to this deputation?
Has not the Minister got General Collins' own minute?
The terms that General Collins agreed to are the terms I have given the Minister. I put it to the Minister that they are fair and equitable terms; that they are the minimum which should ever be offered to those men, even if General Collins never gave them. But he did. In dealing with civil servants who were asked to come and help in the fight for freedom, and who did come and help and paid the price, why should the Irish Government not give as good compensation to those civil servants who took the side of Ireland as to those who simply sat down and minded their jobs, and who the British Government made sure would be looked after in the transfer? They only ask for equal treatment. They only ask for the same treatment which they would have got had they never done anything for this country but sat down, drawn their salaries and led an easy life. When 1922 came, automatically everything that we asked from General Collins and that I am asking of the Minister and his Government now would have been guaranteed to us as a right. In this Bill it is not guaranteed as a right; it is guaranteed as a concession.
I remember being told by a senior civil servant that victimised civil servants were reinstated as an act of grace. A man was very fortunate to have got away with his life, and at that time life was cheap. He was very fortunate to have got away with his life, and surely it was an insult to offer to men, who were nearly starving at the time, that they would be let back temporarily as an act of grace, while over their heads were promoted the men who, to say the least of it, never turned out—not on the side of Ireland anyhow, and we have grave suspicion that they turned out on the other side secretly, for many of them were under observation. Yet these men were promoted. Surely it is only the elements of fair play to ask that those men be given as good treatment all round as the British gave in the Treaty to the transferred civil servants. I do not know how it can be done now—I suppose it is too late—but I regret it very much. The Minister can appreciate the difference between giving a right to people who have earned that right, and who forfeited that right by taking the side of this country on certain occasions and paid the price then, and the right of those who did not take the side of Ireland and remained in their jobs. They would have that right, and surely our own Government should give it as a right and not as a concession or an act of grace.
The Minister will appreciate that all through this Bill whatever is given is not given as a right but as an act of grace or a concession, if the Minister gives a certificate. I have not the least doubt but that the present Minister for Finance will be perfectly fair and concede it as a matter of right just as much as if it were in the Bill. I am sure the Minister does not think for a moment that I have any personal doubts as regards that. I am quite sure he will be impartial and fair and that if he errs at all he will err on the side of the applicants. I am quite satisfied about that, but still I hold that the wording should be different, and that, in case it is not all dealt with during the Minister's term of office, it should be there as an obligation, on his successors as well as on himself, that the rights of these victimised civil servants are those they are entitled to and should be embodied in this Bill. I know many of them who saw hard times for six and seven years. They had young families, and I know that the debts incurred by some of them in those years have not yet been cleared off.
I do not think the Minister has any power in this Bill, but I think that he ought to consider giving some recompense to those civil servants for the terrible losses they sustained during those years. I know that on many occasions the hat had to go round. There was some help from public funds, but it was among friends that they got the most help, and help when it was most needed. I think the Minister has not done justice to this case in the Bill, and I certainly register my protest against his not, first of all, giving to those people the rights they sacrificed and that were theirs by contract. They were in Civil Service positions because they had got in by open competitive examination and had nobody to thank for that except their own ability and education and those who gave them the education. They sacrificed that at a very critical period of their lives, and I say that it is a poor and ungrateful country and a poor Government or poor Governments that did not treat those people, who came out and stood for their own country and fought for Ireland, as well as the British Government treated those civil servants who remained loyal to the British during the years when the others were fighting for freedom.
In this Bill, Sir, there is a differentiation which, I think, the Minister ought to throw some light upon. In Section 4 of the Bill it is provided that certain persons appointed to the service of Dáil Eireann before the 11th July, 1921, shall be deemed to have been appointed to established positions, while those who were appointed to the Civil Service of Dáil Eireann on or after the 11th July, 1921, shall be deemed to have been appointed to an unestablished position. I should like to know from the Minister on what grounds he seeks to justify this excessive tidiness in the matter of classifying people in this respect. After all, there is not much difference between the 11th July, 1921, and, let us say, the 11th August, 1921. The 11th July has a certain relation to national activities in this country, but not such a relation as would justify one person being graded as an established officer if he were employed prior to that date, and a person employed a day afterwards, but whose appointment might have been the subject of negotiation prior to the 11th July, 1921, being graded as an unestablished officer.
There seems to me to be an apparent inconsistency between Section 4 and Section 6. Apparently, service in the Provisional Government is to be service of a kind which may be reckonable under the Superannuation Acts as established service, while service in the Civil Service of Dáil Eireann, a body which was established prior to the Provisional Government may be deemed to be unestablished service and, conceivably, might not be reckoned for superannuation purposes. I should like to know on what ground is it possible to have service in the Provisional Government deemed to be service for superannuation purposes, while service of Dáil Eireann, after 1921, is deemed to be unestablished service and consequently is not always reckonable for superannuation purposes. That is a blemish, Sir, in this Bill that we are now asked to pass. If possible, the Minister ought to throw some light on the apparent inconsistencies in the two sections and justify the discrimination which is made in the Bill generally.
I want to support the plea which has been made by Deputy Belton on behalf of those civil servants who have suffered a good deal because of their national convictions during the period, let us say, 1918 to 1932 and 1933. This Bill is an endeavour to tidy up certain defects in the matter of their superannuation. This Bill is an endeavour to adjust the superannuation position of those persons who, because of their political convictions, were, on one ground or other, either forced to leave the Civil Service which existed in this country, or felt it necessary to resign from the Civil Service which existed in this country. It may be that the State is going some distance to undo some of the hardships those persons have suffered by reason of the fact that committees were established which dealt with the cases of such persons, and, in a large number of cases, recommended reinstatement in the Civil Service, and that this Bill adjusts the superannuation position of the persons concerned; but I submit that that does not go anything like as far as the legislature ought to go in undoing some of the hardships imposed on those persons.
A few weeks ago I happened to meet a person who was dismissed by the British Administration in 1918. In 1922, if there had been no civil war, he would, in all probability, have been reinstated in the Civil Service here, but the civil war was one of those events which engulfed him, and, taking sides in the civil war, he found himself unable to secure reinstatement because of his activities during that period, and he was only reinstated in 1933. If that person had not a national consciousness, he would have remained in the Civil Service from 1918 to 1933, and would probably have been promoted to various higher ranks but in fact, because of his association with the events of 1918 to 1921, and the events of 1922 and 1923, he was unable to earn anything like the emoluments he would have earned had he remained in the Civil Service. It is well known that that person suffered a good deal of privation during those long years, because I know, from my own experience, that during many of those years he was unemployed, and during a fair portion of the time he suffered imprisonment, and those who happen to know him intimately were aware that there were many times during that long period of travail when that person was hungry and, indeed, on many occasions destitute.
He was reinstated in 1933, but it needs little imagination to appreciate the enormous burden of debt which that man accumulated during the period when he was regarded as an outcast by the Administration which continued here. To reinstate that person and to adjust his superannuation position goes some distance towards removing the hardships he has endured; but I suggest to the Minister that he is not going sufficiently far, and that in the case of some of these persons they will never be able to pay off, during their official lifetime, the substantial debts accumulated during the period of their enforced idleness. While there is nothing in this Bill which makes it mandatory on the Minister to pay wages lost to those persons, I suggest that he does not in fact need any legislation to enable him to give these people some cash compensation for the long period of enforced idleness, the long period of suffering which they have endured, and that he should bear in mind, when considering this matter, that many of these people are to-day endeavouring to carry on their official duties under a burden of debts accumulated during that period of enforced idleness which it will be utterly impossible for them to pay. It is not asking the Minister to do too much. The cost of meeting the claim will not be considerable, and, after all, the Minister ought to realise that these people are the poorer because they gave their services to the country. If they had been thinking of themselves, they would not have fallen into the appalling condition of debt in which many of them are to-day. That ought to be some reason for the Minister reviewing their cases with a view to endeavouring to make some further effort to remove or to mitigate the hardships which many of them have endured.
The Minister asked if I could supply him with the statement of claim and with what General Collins said. It is a good while since I read the document, and there are some personal features in it, but that information is here without any personal reference. I should like to give it to the Minister if I may. The demands formulated were (1) reinstatement without loss of salary or promotions in the Civil Service, (2) where reinstatement was not desired, superannuation on the compulsory retiring terms of the Treaty, and (3) full pay and emoluments from the date of dismissal until claims are satisfied. General Collins gave an undertaking to the deputation that he would see that these demands would not only be granted, but that they were the very minimum that we might expect. In inverted commas is the following: "I will see that civil servants that were faithful to Ireland will not suffer, and will be accorded at least as good terms as those who served the enemy."
Is that all he said?
That is all that is recorded here.
I want to make just two observations in relation to what has fallen from Deputy Belton and Deputy Norton. Firstly, I wish to protest against the imputation that seems to be levelled at persons who remained in the Civil Service during what we call the bad times—that they were guilty of disloyalty to their country.
We did not make that case, and I do not think it should be elaborated, either.
I do not propose to elaborate it, but I want to have it on record that I, at any rate, realise, and I think the majority of the members of this House realise, that those who remained in the Civil Service believed that in that way they were best serving their country.
Surely the Deputy is not entitled to make the allegation that a reflection was made on civil servants who did, in fact, remain in the service?
Deputy Belton quite definitely did.
The Deputy in the course of his speech said that not merely did these men not come out on the side of Ireland, but he had reason to believe that some of them were kept under observation and were working on the other side.
We had, too, and the Minister knows that was a fact.
Apart from that, Deputy Belton has just read from a document in which he spoke of those who did remain in the service as serving the enemy.
It was a quotation.
I have finished with that subject, and I do not wish to elaborate it. The only other thing I wish to say is that I do not believe it is possible to give full compensation or restitution to everybody who has been connected with a revolutionary movement.
It is not the case put up.
I have no doubt plenty of people could be produced who were never in any British service, who sacrificed their trade or their profession in connection with the Sinn Féin revolution. These persons have no remedy. It is easy to identify those who resigned or were dismissed from the R.I.C. or the Civil Service. I am not arguing against any of these people getting some compensation, but it has to be remembered when extravagant demands are made, that there were plenty of others who took too strong a view about the relations between this country and Great Britain, ever to go into a British service at all. I am throwing out these observations, without wishing to oppose this Bill, but because some of the demands that are made are really extravagant and unreasonable.
They are similar to what those who remained in the Civil Service got and that those who went out did not get.
Deputy Davin asked me to look into the case of a certain clerical officer in the Department of Agriculture to see whether he could not be granted the terms of the 1931 Act. I would prefer if he had asked me to examine it earlier. I will look into it, but I must say this, that if to do what the Deputy asks would run contrary to the established rule in the Civil Service, I am afraid, so far as the cases of such people are concerned, the investigation will be fruitless. However, I will look into it, but I am perfectly certain that everything in favour of the individual was taken into consideration, because our Superannuation Acts are not unjust or unfair to civil servants.
May I put a typical case? I know a man who is about to retire in December who has had 36 years' service, 20 unestablished and 16 established, who will get 18/- a week.
The Deputy must remember the rule upon which we work now is that no person in the Civil Service, as far as we can secure it enters through patronage. Large numbers of people who are to-day unestablished were patronage appointments. They were employed in a temporary capacity, being required for a limited period, but were allowed to carry on, and ultimately a limited examination was held subsequent to 1922 by which they might become established and be granted pensionable rights.
When we look at the facts we must say that the rights of establishment they got was uncovenanted benefit; something not provided for at all in the original service. I think they have no complaint. We cannot deal with them on a pathetic basis. We have to look at the service as a whole, and cannot in cases of hardship undertake to treat them with undue consideration.
I am not asking for that.
In the Civil Service the principle of like case like rule must always apply. Otherwise it would become a matter entirely of personal administration on the part of a Minister or of some senior official and in that way there would be bound to be favouritism and abuse. As Deputy Belton stated when I am dealing with these cases I do as my predecessor did, and as my successor will do. I try to interpret the rule, if I can, for the benefit of the individual affected, but I cannot break it, no matter what hardship there may be.
Why give the benefit to the technical class and not give it to the clerical class?
There were sound reasons for that. If the Deputy had given me notice that he intended to raise the matter I have no doubt I would be able to give a very convincing answer. Deputy Norton asked me what was the purpose of the distinction made in Section 9 (4) of the Bill. I think the Deputy might have raised on the Second Stage, rather than on the Final Stage, what was the reason for the distinction in sub-section (4) between persons appointed to the Civil Service of Dáil Eireann before 14th July, 1921, and persons appointed subsequently. The original purpose of the Bill when it was conceived was to ensure that people who were reinstated in the Civil Service after the change of Government in 1932, would be placed on exactly the same plane as those who were reinstated by the Provisional Government, subsequent to the Treaty in 1922 and 1923, were by the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923, which regularised and gave some sort of statutory security to persons then reinstated. As a practical rule to deal with all sorts of individual claims that would be pressed, it was ultimately laid down in the 1923 Act that those who had been appointed prior to the 11th July, 1921, that is, entered the Civil Service of Dail Eireann during the period of actual warlike operations, when the risk was greater, would be given establishment and that those appointed in peace time during the term of the Truce would be regarded as unestablished. Every one of the people regarded as unestablished were given an opportunity of sitting for a limited examination in 1925 or 1926, and any of them who passed that limited examination and showed that they were fit to enter the permanent Civil Service were granted establishment as from February, 1926. The difference between the two classes is very slight. Those who entered the Civil Service of Dáil Eireann during the period of strife and warlike operations got that period of service counted for pension purposes, and those who came in when matters were easier did not get that period of service counted for pensions. The interval is not more than three or four years. That is the distinction and it is carried forward in this Bill.
There is no inconsistency between Sections 4 and 6. Section 4 is to give a statutory authority to regard service in the Provisional Government as counting for superannuation, provided that the person who rendered service was either appointed to an established post in the Civil Service of Dáil Eireann or had been appointed to a post which was regarded as being an established position prior to 11th July, 1921. In practice that service in the Provisional Government was always regarded as counting for superannuation. Nevertheless, as it is questionable if there was statutory authority for the practice, and this section is merely to give the necessary authority.
I listened with a great deal of attention to what Deputy Belton said to-day in regard to the interview with General Collins, because I was anxious to get the real facts in that matter right. I could not conceive this position arising, that General Collins, who was head of the Provisional Government, gave a positive assurance to this deputation that the terms they asked for should be granted, that is, that civil servants who were dismissed would be granted reinstatement and be given full pay from the date of victimisation to the date of reinstatement, and have the right to retire if they wished on the same terms as those civil servants who continued in the service; that is, that they should have the same rights as transferred officers. It was inconceivable to me that General Collins should have accepted without qualification those terms, and should have pledged himself to give effect to them, and that those who were his colleagues and successors in the Government of this State should not have sought to fulfil that pledge. I had some investigations made, and this is what I believe to be a true account of what took place at these meetings with Deputy Belton and two others. General Collins said he thought the claim was fair, but he added: "However, it must be understood that that is only a personal expression of opinion. I have not examined the question at all, and I am not committing the Provisional Government, or even the Minister for Finance."
He was Minister for Finance.
He was, but he was drawing a very definite distinction between General Collins, sitting in his personal capacity and listening to what you had to say, and General Collins, acting as Minister for Finance, with responsibility for advising his colleagues in the Provisional Government as to what was right in regard to this matter. I understand that that is what General Collins said to this deputation.
It is not.
If that is a correct representation of what he did say, it is quite easy to understand why it was that those who drafted the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923, those whom Deputy Belton was supporting at that time——
Are you sure?
Perfectly, if one can be sure that Deputy Belton ever sincerely supports anything. As I was saying, it is quite easy to understand why the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923, did not give what Deputy Belton and his colleagues on that deputation sought.
Will the Minister accept an affidavit from the three of us as to what did pass at that interview? If you want to refuse the request, refuse it, but do not wriggle out of it. So far as I am personally concerned, I do not care whether you do as I ask or not.
The Deputy need not be under any misapprehension as to what my personal attitude is. I have explained that we have endeavoured to put those who were not reinstated until 1932 on the same basis as those who were reinstated in 1923.
I had no responsibility for what was done in 1923 and I am not now prepared to bear responsibility for it. I do, however, feel perfectly certain— though everybody knows that I may have not a very high opinion of Deputy John Marcus O'Sullivan and those who were members of the Administration at that time—that if General Collins gave the pledge which Deputy Belton alleges he gave, it would have been honoured by the Government of that time. That is all I have got to say on that point.
I can get the three men who were there to swear that he gave that promise and I can get 100 victimised civil servants to swear as to the report brought back by the deputation at that time.
The Minister must be allowed to proceed with his speech.
Even all the evidence Deputy Belton mentions would not be, so far as I am concerned, conclusive. What I should like to have would be a minute signed by General Collins——
Call him back from the grave into which he went when he was murdered.
I should like to have even a minute signed by his successor in the Chairmanship of the Provisional Government accepting these terms. Deputy Belton was, I am perfectly certain, not slow to press any claims he might have upon our predecessors.
And he did, as the Minister knows.
What Deputy Belton did not get our predecessors to do, he expects us to do. Why does he think we should accept that obligation and have the disagreeable responsibility of burdening the people with the cost of meeting these claims which were rejected by our predecessors over 12 years ago? What is the burden of all the speeches the Deputy has been making on this Bill? He goes up and down the country and talks about the cost of the Civil Service going up. He tells the people that taxation has gone up under the Fianna Fáil administration. He talks about the price of tea and sugar and then he comes in here and asks us to heap burden after burden on the people's back to meet the claims of himself and those associated with him in connection with this unjust demand—because it is an unjust demand.
"Unjust", because people went out in 1916 and subsequently lost their livelihood.
Deputy Belton was allowed to make his statement—a rather protracted statement. He ought to allow the Minister to make his statement.
I say it is an unjust demand. From all the people who suffered from 1916 to 1923 in the cause of this country—there were, as Deputy MacDermot pointed out, many men whose careers were broken, many whose businesses were ruined, many men whose families suffered penury and want because of the sacrifices they made—we are to pick out this one, special, privileged class of former British civil servants and not merely reinstate them, as we are doing; not merely give them the benefit of pensionable service when it comes to calculating their superannuation at the period of their retirement, but give them full pay from the date of victimisation to the date of reinstatement. Was ever a more unreasonable demand put forward on behalf of any class or section of the community than that put forward by Deputy Belton? Can we go down the country and compensate every farmer for the losses he suffered from 1916 to 1921?
For what he lost since the present Government came into office.
Why not compensate the farmer for his losses from 1932 to 1936?
Deputy Belton had better keep out of this debate. Every time Deputy Dillon interferes in a debate on what happened from 1916 to 1923, he does a great injustice to the traditions associated with his family.
He salutes the flag.
I am dealing with the case made here on behalf of people for whom Deputy Belton speaks. The reinstated civil servants are being treated fairly.
Are they being treated as well as those who were never disturbed?
They are being treated as fairly as any other section of the community who fought for Ireland or worked for Ireland from 1916 to 1921, and they are not entitled to any better treatment than that. They were either comrades with us or they were mercenaries—one or the other. If they were comrades, they are entitled to the treatment that our resources and all the other factors that have been taken into consideration permit—the same treatment that was meted out to those others who also did serve at that period. We cannot do any better than that and they are not entitled to any better treatment.
But for all the bridges you blew up, they could be compensated.
They would be much more worthy of the service which they claim to have rendered by resigning during that period if they took another course than getting people like Deputy Belton to stand up here and make a case for them. I do not believe that Deputy Belton speaks for one-tenth of the people affected by this Bill. I am perfectly certain that the great bulk of the people who came in since 1932 would cry "shame on Deputy Belton" for the sort of speeches he has been making on this Bill.
Why did they appoint me one of the deputation?
I am speaking of the people reinstated since 1932.
If you knew they were friends of mine they would be "sacked." Do you think they would come out in the open in those circumstances?
I cannot "sack" anybody. No civil servant has been "sacked"——
Did you not "sack" Supt. O'Connell?
Deputy Belton must allow the Minister to make his statement.
Did you not "sack" General O'Duffy?
I do not mind Deputy Belton citing the instance of Supt. O'Connell but I'm beginning to wonder if Deputy Davin is suffering from senile decay when he refers to General O'Duffy as a civil servant.
Yes, a super-civil servant.
The case of General O'Duffy does not arise on this Bill.
It shows the confusion that exists on the Labour Benches.
A lot of these interruptions would be avoided if the Minister would keep to the Bill.
The Minister is as much on the Bill as was Deputy Norton or Deputy Davin.
Would it be out of order to suggest that the Minister should wind up?
He is wound up. He thinks he is on the courthouse steps at Balbriggan.
Deputy Dillon is becoming vocal since Deputy John Marcus O'Sullivan left the House. Had we not better send for Deputy O'Sullivan in order to silence Deputy Dillon again?
I should like to point out that it might be necessary to send for Deputy Professor O'Sullivan because I do not think that there is a House at the moment.
Does the Deputy call for a count?
Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted and 20 Deputies being present.
I was saying that I think that the people who are dealt with in this Bill, and the small isolated sections for whom Deputy Belton speaks, have been dealt with very fairly. They are being given reinstatement. Deputy Norton said that a person who was not reinstated until 1933 did not secure the compensation or the promotion to which he thought he was entitled. I can say that, in the case of no person who has been reinstated, has consideration not been given to that fact in fixing the point in the scale and the grade in which he should re-enter the service. I do not think that it is fair for Deputy Norton, on the basis of one isolated incident that has been brought before his notice of a person who says that if he had been in the service he would have got such-and-such, to charge us with unfairly treating those people.
It is not one isolated case.
I have gone through all those cases very carefully with a desire to do the best I could, in justice, for those people. I do not think that any person who has been reinstated has been treated unfairly either in regard to the grade or the point in the scale of pay attaching to that grade at which he has been reinstated.
I am not making any case on either of these heads. I tried to make a case for some cash compensation for what he lost while he was out.
Precisely. Why should he be entitled to a cash compensation as against the farmer, the farm labourer, the student, the shopkeeper—every single individual who constituted the majority which stood behind the Republic of Ireland from 1918 to 1921? Why is this particular individual whom Deputy Norton has in mind—who met Deputy Norton somewhere on the street and said that if he had been in the British Civil Service from 1918 to 1921 and then had continued to serve until 1933, he would have earned such and such an amount of money—why is he entitled to be fully compensated for loss of salary during that time when all the rest of the people, the people who would pay him that compensation and who might possibly have made even greater sacrifices, are to go without anything? That is the claim that has been made by Deputy Norton. That is the claim made by Deputy Belton.
Of course, it is. The difficulty about Deputy Belton is that he himself does not understand the effect of his demands. Let me remind Deputy Belton of what he did ask General Collins—"for reinstatement and for full pay from the date of victimisation to the date of reinstatement". That is to say, that every penny that these ex-British civil servants lost is to be made good to them, that it is to be made good to them at the expense of other people who may have suffered very much more serious losses and for whom our State and our people are unable out of their resources to make adequate compensation.
Did not the Minister, in Section 7 of the Local Government Act of 1933, compel local authorities to pay men who were out with him blowing up bridges in 1922 and 1923?
The Deputy was allowed to make his statement without interruption, and he should be prepared to extend the same consideration to other Deputies. The Minister is entitled to make his statement without interruption.
He is condemning the principle of the demand put up to him, and I was referring him to the same principle in an Act passed by the present Government.
The Minister should be allowed to make his statement without interruption.
I do not think it is necessary for me to say anything more.
I am quite well aware that Deputy Dillon does not like these things to be discussed. Deputy Dillon had a peculiar attitude towards that period. Deputy Dillon on one occasion went on a public platform and said——
What Deputy Dillon said on another occasion is not relevant to this Bill.
Of course it is not. It is just as irrelevant to the Bill as the fact that Deputy Dillon on one occasion refused to take off his hat and to stand up for "The Soldiers' Song," but it is just as pertinent as some of the arguments we hear from Deputy Dillon in regard to some other matters that come before the House.
There were a good many who stood up for "The Soldiers' Song" who would not have done so if they knew what was coming to them.