It has been intimated to the Chair that the Minister desires to have the amendments recommitted on this stage. The majority of the amendments after amendment No. 18 are obviously such as should have been submitted on the Committee Stage, particularly Nos. 28 and 33. However, as the Bill is being recommitted in respect of the amendments, all the amendments may be moved.
Electricity Supply Board (Superannuation) Bill, 1942—Recommittal and Report.
If the position is as you say, Sir, it is a pity we had not a little more information that this Bill was going to be taken to-day. Deputy McGilligan had a very detailed discussion with the Minister on the Committee Stage, and he understood that he would have time to look over the amendments when they reached him, with a view to seeing whether they satisfied him or not. The amendments were circulated only at the end of last week, and we had no information till this morning that they were to be taken to-day.
I move amendment No. 1:—
In page 2, Section 1, between lines 36 and 37 to insert the words "references to paying contributions shall be construed as including payment by deduction by the board from salary or wages;".
This is only a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 2:—
In page 2, Section 2 (1), lines 43 to 45, to delete the words "not less than ten years continuous whole-time membership of the board" and substitute the words "two or more periods (whether continuous or discontinuous) of whole-time membership of the board which amount in the aggregate to not less than ten years and include at least one term of office of five years as a whole-time member of the board," and in line 52 to delete the words "the period of his continuous", and in line 53 to delete the words "ending on the date of such cesser."
The Bill as drafted proposed to permit of the payment of pensions to members of the Electricity Supply Board who had completed ten years' continuous service as such. During the course of the discussion in Committee it was suggested that the condition prescribed for the receipt of a pension was a bit onerous, and I agreed to reconsider the terms of the appropriate section. I am now proposing that pensions will be payable to members of the board on retirement who have had ten years' aggregate service as such, subject to two conditions. One is that, included in the aggregate service, will be at least one period of five years' continuous service, and secondly, that, in the case of a member of the board who has received or may receive a gratuity from the board in respect of the termination of his appointment at the end of a period of service, that period of service will not count in determining the aggregate service. I think those two amendments, Nos. 2 and 3, go a long way if not the whole way to meet the points raised by members of the Dáil on the Committee Stage.
Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 go together. This does not appear on its face to be a very gracious acceptance of the case that was put to the Minister about a member of the board whose term of office was determined at a particular period and who has received or may receive a gratuity.
I should like some information as to whether the gratuity was granted in respect of loss of office, rather than in respect of service. Surely there is a distinction between the two things. It may be that, in a normal case, a person might be regarded as having been compensated by reason of receiving a gratuity but, if this is to meet the particular case in point and it is intended to cover loss of office rather than service rendered, it does appear a little hard. In the case in question, the present Ministry considered the person suitable for the board. He brought to the board a certain amount of experience and, in so far as the termination of his service at that period was concerned, my impression was that the gratuity was intended to compensate for the interruption of his life rather than for the service he rendered. This would, therefore, appear to be a rather ungracious way of dealing with the matter. It is not a very big issue and it would seem to be advisable in a case of this sort that there should be no cause for complaint.
I do not think that there is a case of granting a gratuity and pension in respect of the same period of service. That is, in fact, what this proposal is. The individual in question served for a period as a member of the board. It was decided to terminate his appointment as a member and, in making that decision, to give a gratuity of a year's salary to him for the termination of his appointment. That closed that question. To give a pension as well in respect of that period would be unduly generous and I doubt very much if it could be justified. We can defend the proposal to give pensions to members of the board who have had a long period of service, as such, but we could not defend a proposal to give a pension for a period of service in respect of which a gratuity had already been paid.
A gratuity and a pension are granted in the case of quite a number of members of the Defence Forces. Members of the Civil Service are also paid both, unless I am mistaken. There is nothing unusual in the proposal.
The circumstances are different. A member of the Defence Forces retires from active service as such at a comparatively early age. We are proposing to deal here only with men who retire at the age of 60. They will not be persons who would, normally, be seeking to engage in new occupations or who would be looking for an active career in some other sphere. What we are giving is a retiring pension. I do not think that there is a proper analogy between the retirement of a member of the board and the retirement from active service of a member of the Defence Forces.
The analogy, as the Minister calls it, would not have been made if he had not introduced the question of gratuity and pension. There is a marked distinction between a professional man going into this service at a particular age and an ordinary layman. The professional man brings to the service the experience of his professional career to date. He is in a different category from an ordinary layman, who brings nothing to the service but his normal experience.
Amendments Nos. 4 and 7 are interdependent, while amendments Nos. 6 and 8 meet the points raised in them.
I move amendment No. 6:—
In page 4, Section 4, to add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) When the board has prepared a scheme in pursuance of the foregoing sub-section of this section, the board shall, before submitting such scheme to the Minister,—
(a) make a copy of such scheme available during a period of 21 days for inspection by the employees of the board who would be entitled to receive superannuation benefits under such scheme as so prepared, and
(b) give notice to the said employees of such availability for inspection, and
(c) receive and consider all representation made to the board during the said period by or on behalf of any of the said employees,
(d) make such (if any) alterations in such scheme as the board shall consider to be necessary or desirable having regard to representations so made to them.
I think that the amendment I propose meets the point Deputy Norton had in mind. He proposed to provide that the board should prepare a scheme in consultation with representatives of the employees of the board. My amendment is more elaborate. It provides for the practical difficulty of determining who are, in fact, the representatives of the employees and it requires the board to make a copy of its scheme available for inspection by its employees, to give notice to the employees of its availability for inspection and to receive and consider any representations made by or on behalf of the employees. I think that that meets the point Deputy Norton had in mind and provides for the practical difficulty as well.
I move amendment No. 8:—
In page 4, before Section 6 (2) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) The provisions of this Act requiring the board, before submitting a scheme to the Minister, to make a copy of such scheme available to employees, to give notice of such availability, to receive and consider representations, and to make alterations in such scheme shall apply and have effect in relation to every amending superannuation scheme.
This amendment merely provides that the same procedure as is to be followed in connection with the preparation of a scheme will also be followed in connection with the preparation of an amendment of the scheme.
On behalf of Deputy Norton, I move amendment No. 9:—
In page 5, Section 7 (1), to delete all words in paragraph (b) after the word "and" in line 24 to the end of the paragraph and substitute the words "that the board shall pay contributions to the said fund at such rates in relation to the aggregate amount of the first mentioned contribution thereto as shall be specified in the scheme".
The matter raised in this amendment was discussed at some length in Committee. The purpose of the amendment is to abolish the principle of equal contributions. I intimated during the discussions in Committee that that was a fundamental part of the Bill so far as the Government were concerned and that we would not, under any circumstances, agree to depart from it. We think it is not unreasonable to require that the fund to be established under this Bill should be built up by equal contributions from the board and its employees and I stress the undesirability, having regard to the possibility of this scheme being taken as a guide in connection with the preparation of similar schemes by other bodies, of establishing any principle other than that of equal contributions. I could not agree to accept this amendment under any circumstances.
I move amendment No. 10:—
In page 5, Section 7 (1), paragraph (d), lines 32 and 33, to delete the words "pay contributions under the scheme" and substitute the words "take advantage of the scheme and pay contributions and receive superannuation benefits thereunder."
I move amendment No. 11:—
In page 5, Section 7 (1), before paragraph (g) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
(g) provide for the transfer of an employee of the board from one superannuation scheme to the other such scheme where a change in the character of the employment of such employee renders such transfer appropriate, and".
It was suggested, in the course of the discussions on the Committee Stage, that a circumstance may arise in which a member of the Manual Workers' Pensions Fund would be promoted to a non-manual post or—a less likely circumstance—that a non-manual worker might be transferred to the manual worker category, and that the Bill should contain arrangements to provide for the transfer of the individual from one fund to another, in the event of such circumstances arising. The purpose of this amendment is to enable that to be done.
I move amendment No. 12:—
In page 5, before Section 7 (2), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) In addition to the matters mentioned in the next preceding sub-section of this section, the general employees superannuation scheme shall provide that only continuous service in the employment of the board ending on the date of retirement from that employment on account of age or ill-health shall qualify or be reckonable for superannuation benefits under that scheme, but the said scheme shall also provide that, in the reckoning of such continuous service of any employee, any period of service of such employee in the employment of the board prior to a break after the passing of this Act in that service shall be included if, but only if, either the contributions paid to the said fund by such employee in respect of such period of service remain in the said fund or, where a sum in respect of such contributions or such contributions and interest thereon has been repaid to such employee, such sum is refunded to the said fund, whether with or without interest, but subject to the over-riding limitation that only service prior to such break which would have been so reckonable if such break had not occurred shall be included.
One of the provisions of the Bill, as originally introduced, dealt with the possibility of a manual worker leaving the service of the board for the purpose of seeking employment somewhere else if the opportunity were offered to him, and at the same time keeping his claim upon the fund alive in the event of his re-entering the service of the board at a later date. The Bill provided that, if the worker left the employment of the board to seek employment elsewhere, he could leave his contributions in the fund, and if he re-entered the service of the board at a later date he could get the benefit of that old service in respect of his pension. The query was put as to why that arrangement was contemplated only in respect of manual workers and as to whether there might not be possibility of the same circumstances arising to affect non-manual workers. I felt that that was a fair contention and, consequently, I propose in this amendment to enact the same provisions in a case of non-manual workers as are provided in the Bill in the case of manual workers.
I move amendment No. 13:—
In page 5, Section 7 (2), lines 49 and 50, to delete the words "the next preceding sub-section of this section every" and substitute the words "sub-section (1) of this section, the manual workers", and in lines 54 and 55, to delete the words "and the manual workers superannuation scheme shall further" and substitute the words "but the said scheme shall also".
This is a consequential amendment.
I move amendment No. 14:—
In page 5, Section 7 (2), to delete all words after the word "scheme" in line 54, to the end of the sub-section, line 39, page 6.
This relates to a matter that was discussed in Committee. I think it would be true to say that a large part of the discussion in Committee centred around the point raised on this amendment. We are proposing in the Bill, where an employee of the board deliberately breaks his contract with the board, that is to say, leaves the employment of the board of his own free will—in such circumstances as would arise, say, in connection with a strike of the board's employees—that that action by the employees would involve sacrifice of the pension rights acquired up to that date by the employee. The contention of the Government is that, in providing for pensions to employees on retirement and old age, they are entitled to ask that there should be no wilful disruption of the board's service, the importance of which in the life of the community cannot be exaggerated. In order to protect the workers against injustice, the Bill provides for the establishment of a tribunal, to which all disputes between the board and its employees can be referred. The decision of the tribunal will be binding upon the board, and in that way the employees are protected against injustice arising out of arbitrary action on the part of their employers. Again, this is a fundamental principle of the Bill, and I could not possibly agree to accept the amendment. It is a matter on which, as I have said, there was discussion at length in Committee and the attitude of the Government was made clear on that occasion.
I am pressing the amendment.
I move amendment No. 15:—
In page 6, Section 7, (3), line 42, before the word "to" to insert the words "to elect, in a specified manner and within a specified time after the said date, to take advantage of the scheme and pay contributions thereunder and precluding any such persons who do not so elect from paying contributions or receiving superannuation benefits under the scheme, and also provisions enabling any such persons who do so elect."
One of the suggestions put forward by the Trade Union Congress deputation with which I discussed this matter was that some time should be allowed after the implementation of the scheme, to be fixed in the scheme itself, within which existing employees may decide whether or not they would join the scheme. I think that is a reasonable proposal and, consequently, I am putting forward this amendment and amendment No. 16 to meet the point.
I move amendment No. 16:—
In page 6, before Section 7 (4), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(4) Every superannuation scheme shall also contain provisions prescribing the manner in which and the time wherein which a person who enters the service of the board after the date of the confirmation of the scheme and is entitled to take advantage of the scheme may indicate to the Board his intention to take advantage of the scheme, and providing that any such person who does not indicate such intention in the manner and within the time so prescribed shall not be entitled to pay contributions or receive superannuation benefits under the scheme.
I move amendment No. 17:—
In page 7, Section 8 (3), to delete lines 57, 58, and 59, and substitute a new paragraph as follows:—
(b) the said interest shall be paid at such rate as shall, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, be agreed upon by such trustees and the board before the money is lent;.
This is a drafting amendment, to make the section clearer.
I move amendment No. 18:—
In page 8, Section 9 (2), to delete all words after the word "be" where it first occurs in line 23 to the end of paragraph (b) and substitute "appointed by and from a panel (in this Act referred to as the Manual Workers' Panel) of 20 persons framed and maintained in the manner prescribed by this Act.
One of the matters which I discussed at some length with the representatives of the Trade Union Congress who came to see me in connection with the provisions of this Bill was the procedure to be followed in the establishment of the tribunal to be set up under this Bill. I think I may say that the amendments appearing in my name are acceptable to the Trade Union Congress. They, in effect, postpone consideration of the practical difficulties that may arise in securing for the purpose of this tribunal a representative of the board's employees, by providing that the selection of the representative of the employees shall be carried out in accordance with regulations to be made by me and that, in the making of those regulations, I shall consult with and consider the representations made on behalf of the employees. The position, therefore, is that the tribunal, instead of being as originally proposed in the Bill, will consist of a chairman who will be agreed between the representatives of the board and the representatives of the employees. In the event of no agreement being possible as to the nomination of the chairman, and only in that event, the chairman will be appointed by the Minister.
As I understood, the main objections to the form of the tribunal as set out in the original Bill were, first of all, to the appointment of the chairman of the tribunal by the Minister, and secondly to the selection of the representatives of the workers in accordance with a scheme to be prepared by the board. I am meeting both of those objections. The chairman of the tribunal will, as I have said, not be appointed by the Minister unless there is a failure to agree between the two parties, and so far as the representative of the workers is concerned we are not proposing to lay down in the Bill how he will be selected. We are proposing to provide for that in regulations to be made under the Bill, and in making the regulations we will have regard to the representations of the workers. I informed the deputation of the Trade Union Congress that I proposed to proceed on those lines, and I think it was accepted that that was the only practical course to follow. There will be considerable difficulty in devising machinery to ensure that the person appointed to the tribunal as a representative of the workers will, in fact, be so representative; and it will require some time to prepare that machinery. It could not be done in time to have inserted in this Bill the detailed provisions, nor do I think that is necessary, as these provisions would have to be quite elaborate and they could be more properly made by regulations, particularly having regard to the fact that experience may show that the regulations may have to be amended, which also could be done by order. The new tribunal to be established under Section 9 will consist of a chairman, who will be agreed between the parties, a representative of the board, and a representative of the workers, to be chosen in accordance with regulations to be prepared subsequently.
I move amendment No. 26 on behalf of Deputy Norton:—
In page 9, Section 11 (1), line 26, before the word "which" to insert the words "concerning or arising out of the superannuation scheme set up under or by authority of this Act."
I am doubtful as to what Deputy Norton has in mind. The effect of amendments Nos. 26 and 27, if accepted, would be to confine the tribunal to matters in dispute arising out of the pensions scheme. It is a fundamental part of the Bill that if we are going to limit or restrict or penalise in some way the workers' right to strike, we should give them an alternative means of having their grievances adjusted. This tribunal represents the alternative means. The Bill provides that any matters affecting wages or conditions of employment, which may be in dispute between the board and the workers, can be referred to this tribunal, which will give a final decision upon them. It is that provision which Deputy Norton is proposing to delete. It occurs to me that Deputy Norton's proposal is, in fact, consequential upon an earlier amendment of his to remove the limitation upon the right to strike and I am sure he would agree, if that limitation were to stand, that something should appear here as affording an alternative means of protection to the workers. As the Bill provides that there will be a restriction upon the right to strike, we must ensure that we give to the workers this alternative means of protection, namely, an independent tribunal to decide on any dispute that may arise between them and the board.
Amendment No. 27 is not being moved, as it is dependent upon amendment No. 26. The Chair is not clear whether amendment No. 28 is linked with the two preceding amendments.
I move amendment No. 28:—
In page 9, before Section 12, to insert a new section as follows:—
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, every superannuation scheme shall provide for every person transferred without pension rights to the service of the board and who would, if he had remained in the service of the urban district councils of Rathmines, Pembroke and Dún Laoghaire until the year 1930, become a pensionable employee of such council in that year, the same or similar pension rights as are or were applicable to the pensionable employees of the said urban district council transferred to the service of the board.
This point was also raised at an earlier stage in the discussions on this Bill. The purpose of the amendment is to give pension rights to transferred employees who were formerly employed by the Rathmines, Pembroke and Dún Laoghaire Councils and who, at the time of that transfer, did not possess pension rights. On behalf of these men, a claim has been advanced that, at a subsequent stage, legislation was enacted which enabled the Dublin Borough Council, in which had been amalgamated these smaller councils, to give pensions to their employees, and if these workers had continued in the service of the urban councils and had been transferred from them to the Dublin Borough Council and had remained in the service of the borough Council, they would have become the possessors of pension rights and that, therefore, we should make their service with these councils before their transfer to the board pensionable, as if it had been service with the board itself, although, at the time the service was being rendered, it was not pensionable, nor had the workers concerned any expectation that it would become pensionable. That was the claim I considered, but I decided I could not support it.
There were large numbers who entered the service of the board from employment in which they had no pension rights and I could not see, in equity, that these workers transferred from the Rathmines, Pembroke and Dún Laoghaire Councils had any stronger claims to pensions than the workers transferred from some firm of electrical contractors, and who were recruited into the service of the board because of their specialised knowledge or particular competence. In this proposal we would be giving the persons concerned preferential treatment, which would appear unfair in relation to the treatment proposed to those other employees of the board who had not got previous service with a local authority.
It is necessary to remember that, as the Bill stands, there are special provisions in respect of transferred employees without pension rights which would entitle them to receive from the board supplementary allowances equal to half the service with the former undertaker. To that extent transferred employees are being put in a better position than a person who entered the service of the board from the employment of an ordinary commercial firm. I think that is as far as it is possible to go to meet the claim which has been advanced on their behalf. The men, at the time they were transferred to the service of the board, had no pension rights. Their employment did not entitle them to claim a pension upon retirement if their employment by these councils had been left undisturbed. From the time they entered the service of the board they will be entitled to a pension on retirement and, in respect of the previous service, we are empowering the board to give them supplemental pensions equivalent to the pension appropriate to half their previous service.
I move amendment No. 30:—
In page 9, Section 12, to delete all from the word "board" in line 41 to the end of the section and substitute the following:—
a consent to pay contributions under that scheme.
(2) Whenever a person in the employment of the board has signed and deposited with the board such consent as is mentioned in the foregoing sub-section of this section, the board shall, as soon as may be, give to such person a summary in writing of the provisions of this Act in relation to the following matters, that is to say:—
(a) continuity of service with the board so far as concerns manual workers, and
(b) the effect of a break in the service of a manual worker and, in particular, the effect of a break due to wilful action which causes or might have caused an interruption in the generation, transmission, or distribution of electricity by the board or which impedes or might have impeded the due performance of any of the functions or duties of the board, and
(c) the tribunal and the functions thereof.
The Bill, as it was introduced, required that no person should become entitled to pay a contribution or receive a benefit under the manual workers' superannuation scheme unless he had signed and deposited with the board an undertaking that he would not go on strike, but would refer matters in dispute between himself and the board to the tribunal to be established under the Bill. Objection was taken by the Trade Union Congress to the form of that section and I agreed to meet their objections in the manner proposed in the amendments I am now putting before the Dáil. It is necessary, as a practical course, to require that the workers shall sign a consent to join the fund. There must be a formal act by the worker which makes him a member of the fund and it is desirable, as a protection for the workers, that there shall be an obligation on the board to point out to them what membership of the fund involves them in, and that is what my amendments propose to ensure. Instead of having a formal signing of an undertaking to refer matters in dispute to the tribunal, the Bill now merely requires that the worker shall sign a consent to become a member of the fund and he will, on signing that consent, receive from the board a formal statement of the provisions of the Bill, so that he will know precisely the legal consequences of his act and what might arise in various circumstances in the future. I gathered from the observation of the Trade Union Congress that they regarded this new proposal as not objectionable, or, at any rate, not open to the same objections as the original section of the Bill, from their point of view.
I move amendment No. 31:—
In page 11, before Section 14, to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) This section applies to every person who—
(a) is in the employment of the board at the passing of this Act, and
(b) at such passing is not less than 40 years of age, and
(c) pays contributions and is entitled to superannuation benefits under a superannuation scheme, and
(d) is not a person to whom the next following section applies.
(2) Where a person to whom this section applies retires from the service of the board in such circumstances that he is entitled to a pension under a superannuation scheme and the board is of opinion that, owing to the age of such person at the passing of this Act, such pension is, having regard to all the circumstances, unduly small, it shall be lawful for the board, if they so think fit, to grant and pay to such person (by way of addition to such pension) a supplementary allowance for his life of such amount as the board shall think proper subject to the limitation that the aggregate amount of such pension and such supplementary allowance shall not exceed either of the following amounts, that is to say:—
(a) the amount of the pension to which such person would be entitled under the said superannuation scheme if ten years were added to the period of service on which his said pension under that scheme was calculated, or
(b) the maximum pension payable under the said superannuation scheme.
It was proposed in the course of the discussion in Committee that the board should be empowered to pay out of its own funds to employees to whom Section 14 does not apply—Section 14 relates to transferred employees without pension rights—and who are of such an age that they could not hope to get from this pension fund a reasonable pension on retirement, some supplementary allowance. I gave consideration to these representations and decided to meet them. This amendment empowers the board to pay out of its own funds to employees who are aged 40 or over when the Bill becomes law, supplementary pensions not exceeding a maximum equivalent to the addition of ten added years of service in respect of which full contributions have been paid. The supplementary pensions will be given only when the ordinary pension payable under the scheme to be prepared would, in the board's opinion, be unduly small, and in no case may a supplementary pension be granted of an amount which, when added to the basic pension, would exceed the maximum pension under the appropriate scheme. I think this amendment meets entirely the points that were raised concerning these aged employees during the course of the discussion in Committee.
I think the points raised can be met by the amendment.
The effect of this is that anyone who is now over 40 can get a supplementary pension.
I move amendment No. 32:—
In page 11, line 46, Section 14 (4), to delete the word "three-eighths" and substitute the word "one-half".
This relates to the persons covered in Section 14, to which I have already referred, that is, transferred employees without pension rights. Section 14 permits the board to pay allowances to such persons, the allowance not to exceed three-eighths of the average annual rate of the salary or wages paid by the board during the three years before his retirement. We are increasing that three-eighths to one-half, which permits of the payment of larger allowances.