Committee on Finance. - Secondary Teachers' Superannuation (Amendment) Scheme—Motion.

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Secondary Teachers' Superannuation (Amendment) Scheme, 1951, made by the Minister for Education, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, be confirmed.

I realise that we have a very short period of time to discuss this. I was speaking on this matter when the debate was adjourned because the Minister agreed there should be some time allowed to look into this very complicated scheme. I want to be exceptionally brief because I understand it is vital that the scheme should be dealt with this evening.

The first point I want to make is in regard to the salaries which the secondary teachers enjoy at the moment. These salaries are too small. They are inadequate and that aspect has been touched on by some of the speakers in the debate. With regard to secondary education, it is vital that salaries should be such as to attract the very best graduates from our universities into the profession. In that connection, I should like to refer the Minister to the Journal of Education for January, 1951. On page 16 of that journal he will find an article dealing with the revised salary scales in Scotland, Wales and in Northern Ireland. Under those revised salary scales, the ordinary graduates, men, start at £435 and rise to £725 in the 18th year. Honours graduates start at £535 and rise to £875 in the 18th year. Notwithstanding that, it has been stated in the article that the basic scales as they stand, that is, the revised scales, will do little to induce the best type of student to enter the teaching profession. I only mention that casually because our salaries, which are much lower than those, are entirely inadequate.

I quarrel with the scheme on a couple of grounds. One is the retrospective payment, whereby secondary teachers will be required to pay a sum of £235 in a period of five years to the Department, working out at £47 per year, that is, the retrospective clause by which payment at 1½ per cent. is provided. There were increases recently granted to the secondary teachers of £60 a year. If we deduct the 5 per cent. from that towards their pension, it leaves them with an increase of £57, out of which £47 is taken for this retrospective payment towards a gratuity. There are only 500 members affected according to the Minister's statement here. Those 500 members went into a bad scheme.

May I correct that? It is 700.

Seven hundred members went voluntarily into a bad scheme. I suggest to the Minister that it is a mean thing to take from these 700 members almost the whole of the increase that has been given them recently. The national teachers got this gratuity without any retrospective payment. Civil servants get it without any contribution, and I say that this 1½ per cent. should not be insisted upon now. I ask the Minister to reconsider the matter between now and the time the scheme comes into effective operation. If he does that, I will be satisfied. The Secondary Teachers' Organisation are unanimously in favour of the abolition of this 1½ per cent. If the Minister will endeavour to meet the secondary teachers in that regard, and if he will indicate to me that he will reconsider the matter between this and the time the scheme comes into operation, it will satisfy me.

There is a further matter in regard to the penalising of people in the scheme. I refer to married women who get a gratuity and retire. If they do not go into the scheme, they can go back to teach at any time in the future, but if they go into the scheme and get a gratuity, they can never go back again to teaching. I think it will be agreed that this is a restriction that is unfair, and I ask the Minister to reconsider it.

I would ask the Minister to consider, between this and the date the scheme comes into effective operation, the representations that have been made to him by the Organisation of Secondary Teachers and by Deputies in this House, that the impost of 1½ per cent. towards the gratuity should be eliminated from the scheme.

On a point of order, as implied by Deputy Cowan, he understands this is a technicality really because of the nature of the Order—unopposed business. Therefore, it might be possible, with the consent of the House, to allow the discussion to run beyond 10.30 p.m.

There is a question on the Adjournment, but if the House agrees, there is no reason why we should not go on for five minutes.

A Deputy

I do not think five minutes would be sufficient.

The difficulty would be about the Deputy who has the question on the Adjournment.

I understood we would get this motion through to-night. There was a postponement the other day in order to enable some Deputy to give further thought to the matter. This is a statutory Order which has been before the Seanad and before this House. It is not possible to offer that the scheme could be changed at this particular point. In order to make payments that necessarily require to be made out of it and give the teachers the additional benefits, it will be necessary to have it passed.

I am sure that Deputies will be reasonable as to time.

In order to facilitate the Minister, I agreed to take this without any notice to the persons principally interested. It was taken here on a certain evening at ten minutes to eight. Deputy Cowan said he wished to consider the matter but he has spoken here for less than ten minutes.

Deputies will be reasonable as to time. We can possibly go on for ten minutes or a quarter of an hour.

Discussion is absolutely futile. The Minister has not given the slightest consideration to the suggestion made by Deputy Cowan that he should reconsider this matter, with a view to meeting the unanimous request of the Secondary Teachers' Organisation. It seems we have either to accept it or vote against it. We will not vote against it.

If the Minister will say he will consider my suggestion between this and the time the scheme comes into effective operation, I do not think we will press him very strongly outside the House.

This is part of a general scheme of doing the best we can to recast the scale of secondary teachers and to bring them more into line with pensioned officials generally in regard to death gratuities, marriage gratuities, etc. It is bringing them definitely into line with the vocational teachers, even including the 5 per cent. The 1 per cent. that is regarded as retrospective payment is a payment made in order to get credit for past, services. This is part of a scheme which I wanted to have introduced before bringing the secondary teachers up to the door of conciliation and arbitration machinery.

Would the Minister allow it to go to arbitration?

I am happy to be able to say that, after consultation with representatives of the various bodies representing secondary teachers, we have this evening finished the last word, dotted the "i's" and crossed the "t's", of a scheme of conciliation and arbitration and the matter is ready for signing next week. The secondary teachers will have at their disposal on Tuesday that general scheme agreed to by the Ministry and by the teachers to-day. When it is signed and ready to come into operation on Tuesday, they will find that they will have machinery for conciliation in respect to salaries and allowances and in respect to the principles of superannuation. They will have arbitration in respect to salaries and allowances, so that whatever requires to be said additionally to what has been already said on the question of superannuation, and what has to be done, can be said and done by the discussion of these matters through the conciliation machinery.

Will this question of the 1½ per cent. go to this machinery?

There is nothing relating to the principles of superannuation that cannot go to the conciliation machinery. It will not go to the arbitration machinery because the general position in regard to superannuation is that it is governed by statute and, having regard to the responsibility of the Government and the responsibility of this House, anything governed by statute will not be allowed to go to arbitration, but the principles of superannuation can go to the conciliation machinery. I would ask Deputies to accept it from me that this scheme has had as much thought, consideration and sympathy from me as I could possibly give it.

Deputy Derrig said that I had not considered matters which the Deputy put up to me the other day, matters that I agreed to allow to stand over so that the Deputy might have an opportunity of considering them and of putting his views to the House. I could not have given an assurance that between that day and now I would have entered into a discussion to change the scheme in any way. Certain things require to be done under the scheme in order to bring the benefits of it to people who have left the service since the 1st January last. I assure Deputies that no delay in the matter could help me to change that in any way.

Is oth liom ná fuil níos mó ama agam leis an scéal seo a phlé. Do réir dealraimh, níl na meán-mhúinteoirí sásta ar aon chor leis an scéim seo. Tá litir anso agam a scríobh meán-mhúinteoir ag míniú go cruinn beacht cúis an mhí-shásaimh sin agus bhí fúm í a léamh don Aire agus don Dáil ach níl am agam chuige sin anois. Is léir go bhfuiltear mí-shásta, go mór mór leis an gcuid den scéim a cuireann iachall ar na múin-teoirí suim mhór airgid a íoc le ciste an phinsin mar riaráistí taobh istigh de thrí bliana nó, í gcásanna áirithe, taobh istigh de chúig bliana.

Mhínigh an tAire dhúinn go bhfuil réiteach déanta aige leis na meán-mhúinteoirí scéim moladh beirte a chur ar bun dóibh. Idir an dá linn, ba chóir a chur i dtuiscint don Aire arís go bhfuil na meán-mhúinteoirí fíor-mhí-shásta agus fíor-bhuartha i dtaobh na scéime seo. Do réir dealraimh, rinne Roinn an Airgeadais cruaidh-mhargadh leis agus ní raibh sé láidir go leor chun na Roinne sin a shárú.

Mr. Byrne

I raised this matter by question some time ago and I heartily support the claim made by Deputy Cowan, especially with regard to the retrospective payment. I think it rather unfortunate that the Minister should look for this sum of money—a small sum, so far as the Government is concerned, but a big sum for the 700 men concerned. I ask that it be reconsidered.

Motion agreed?

We will take it up with the Minister between now and July.

Question put and agreed to.