Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Retirement of Medical Officers.

asked the Minister for Health whether he is aware (i) that the Local Government (Officers Age Limit) Order, 1946, has inflicted and will continue to inflict hardship on doctors who joined the services under terms of appointment guaranteeing them the right to hold their positions as long as they were able to discharge their duties; and (ii) that many of these doctors required senior qualifications and long experience in order to qualify for certain posts, notably those of county surgeon and county medical officer of health, and due to the resulting relatively short period of service are now faced with compulsory retirement on very inadequate pensions; and, if so, whether, in order to protect the interests of these officers, he will consider amending the Order.

(i) I am aware that the Local Government (Officers Age Limit) Order, 1946, has inflicted, and will continue to inflict, hardship on some officers of local authorities, including doctors for whom retirement on reaching a particular age limit had not previously been mandatory, but the principle of an age limit for retirement is well established in the public service and the extension of the principle to cover additional classes from time to time is inevitable and is, in general, in the public interest; (ii) Section 21 (2) of the Local Government Superannuation Act, 1948, provides that a local authority may, in certain circumstances and with the consent of the Minister for Local Government, add to the pensionable service of an established officer in computing his superannuation a number of additional years not exceeding ten. I understand that it has been the practice of local authorities to allow the benefit of such additional years to officers retired under the Order mentioned. Should a local authority refuse to allow the addition, the officer concerned as, under Section 73 of the Act, the right to appeal to the Minister for Local Government.

Ordinarily the Minister for Local Government would consider favourably any representations which I would make in the matter and I invariably give very sympathetic consideration to such appeals.

In these circumstances, I do not propose to restrict the scope of the Order.