I move amendment No. 13:
In page 28, to delete lines 25 to 39 and substitute the following sections:
(a) a person who holds the office of Master of the High Court, Taxing-Master or county registrar ceases to hold that office (otherwise than on being removed from that office by the Government on the ground of misconduct or inefficiency) either after attaining the age of sixty-five years or upon medical certificate that he is incapable, from infirmity of mind or body, of discharging the duties of that office and that the infirmity is likely to be permanent, and
(b) he has completed five or more years of continuous service in one or more of the said offices
he shall, subject to the provisions of this section, be eligible for a pension consisting of—
(i) if he has completed twenty or more years of such service, two-thirds of the annual remuneration in respect of the office which he ceases to hold, or
(ii) if he has not completed twenty years of such service, one-sixth of the annual remuneration in respect of the office which he ceases to hold together with one-thirtieth of that remuneration for each (if any) completed year of such service in excess of five.
(2) Where a person in receipt of a pension under this section is employed in a situation remunerated out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, then
(a) the pension shall not be payable in respect of any period during which his remuneration in respect of such situation is equal to or greater than the remuneration by reference to which the pension was computed, and
(b) so much only of the pension shall be payable in respect of any period during which his remuneration by reference to which the pension was computed as with his remuneration in respect of such situation will amount to the remuneration by reference to which the pension was computed.
(3) A reference in this section to service of any person shall be construed as a reference to service of such person in respect of which he was remunerated, exclusive of any period during which he was absent on account of illness and was remunerated at a rate determined by reference to the rate which would be appropriate if he were on pension.
(4) Pensions under this section may be granted by the Minister for Finance.
(1) Notwithstanding the terms of section —* of this Act, that section shall not apply in relation to a person who, on the operative date, holds the office of Master of the High Court, Taxing-Master or county registrar unless and until he elects under this section to accept the provisions of the said section —*.
(2) A person who, on the operative date, holds the office of Master of the High Court, Taxing-Master or county registrar may, by notice in writing sent to the Minister before the expiration of three months after the operative date, elect to accept the provisions of section —* of this Act.
(3) Notwithstanding the repeal by this Act of sections 4 and 5 of the Act of 1945—
(a) those sections shall continue to have effect in relation to a person who, at the passing of the Act of 1945, held the office of Taxing-Master or county registrar and holds such office on the operative date, unless and until such person elects under this section to accept the terms of section —* of this Act;
(b) section 4 shall continue to have effect in relation to a person who was appointed to the office of Master of the High Court, Taxing-Master or county registrar after the passing of the Act of 1945 and holds such office on the operative date, unless and until such person elects under this section to accept the terms of section —* of this Act.
It will be recalled that on Committee Stage the Bill was amended so as to give the Master of the High Court, Taxing-Masters and county registrars the same pension terms as district justices were given by the Courts of Justice Act, 1953. These terms represent a considerable improvement in that they permit full pension after 20 years' service, as compared with 30 years' service at present but, as against that, the new terms involve a raising of the minimum retiring age from 60 to 65 years.
There may be some of these officers now serving who would prefer to retire between the ages of 60 and 65 under their existing pension terms rather than wait until 65 and take advantage of the improved terms provided for in the Bill. It is only fair that the present rights of these officers should be preserved and, accordingly, in the second of the sections being inserted by this amendment, it is proposed that serving officers will retain their present pension terms unless they elect to accept the new terms within three months after the Bill comes into operation. A similar right of election was given to district justices in 1953.
Arising out of the provision of a right of election it has become desirable, purely from the drafting point of view, to repeal and re-enact, with the amendments inserted on Committee Stage, the provisions of Sections 4 and 5 of the Court Officers Act, 1945, which deal with the pension terms of these officers. Section 59 of the Bill is, therefore, being replaced by the first of the sections now being inserted and Sections 4 and 5 of the 1945 Act are being repealed by amendment No. 17; but, as I have said, this repeal and re-enactment make no change of substance in the Bill.