I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The purpose of this Bill is evident from its Long Title, namely: "to provide for superannuation allowances for the permanent staff of An Bord Iascaigh Mhara".
The board which was set up in April, 1952, under the Sea Fisheries Act of that year, is the successor of the Irish Sea Fisheries Association, Ltd., which had been incorporated in 1930 as a friendly society under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts with the object of developing the national sea fisheries. Under the 1952 Act the employees of the former association became members of the staff of the board subject to the same conditions of service.
The former association, as a friendly society, regarded itself as being in a position under its rules to provide pensions for its employees and, in fact, had under consideration for some time before its dissolution the introduction of pension provisions, to which end it had commissioned an actuary to prepare a scheme. The actuary's report was not received until after the board was constituted and, in the meantime, the legislation establishing the board had been passed without the necessary enabling provisions regarding the pensions scheme, it being assumed that the board would have the same powers as the association in that regard. The law officers have, however, since advised that specific legislation in the form now submitted is necessary before the board can carry out its intention of providing pensions for its staff.
This Bill which is, I understand, in the customary form employed for authorising the grant of superannuation allowances to the employees of statutory bodies calls for little by way of explanation or comment. The only unusual feature is found in sub-section (2) of Section 2 which provides that an approved scheme under the section shall be deemed to have come into operation on the 1st day of July, 1953, and shall be carried out by the board in accordance with its terms. Provision for a scheme with retrospective effect owes its origin to the fact that the board, shortly after its establishment, on receiving the actuary's report already mentioned, put the scheme recommended by him to the staff who not only accepted it but urged that it be adopted forthwith. Thereupon, the board proceeded to deduct pensions contributions, subject to the consent of the appropriate Ministers yet to be obtained. It is conceded, however, that the board acted in good faith in producing deductions in salaries in respect of contributions, and it is, therefore, reasonable to provide that the scheme when finally approved shall have effect as from the 1st July, 1953.
In conclusion, I should like to say that in the most recent discussions that have been held with the staff no major points of difficulty have emerged, and I have every reason to believe that an amended scheme will shortly be submitted through the board which will prove acceptable both to my Department and the Department of Finance. Needless to say, any assistance which I, or the officers of my Department, can render towards that end will be most readily given.