Committee on Finance. - Superannuation and Pensions Bill, 1962—Money Resolution.

I move:

That it is expedient to authorise such payments out of the Central Fund or the growing produce there-of and out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas as are necessary to give effect to any Act of the present session to provide for matters related to superannuation and pensions in respect of public service.

I wish to ask the Minister a question which he might be able to deal with, although I want it to be clear I do not expect him to give me now an answer to the problem I shall put to him. I shall be quite satisfied if he writes to me in due course because it is a technical matter. As I understand it, people who retired from the post of local agent, on a part-time basis, in the Department of Social Welfare and the old National Health Insurance Society, were entitled to an award of a gratuity on their retirement. Whether it was given as a pension or a gratuity under the Superannuation Acts or not, I am not absolutely certain. It was in the nature of a compassionate gratuity, possibly, and therefore was not, strictly speaking, part of the Superannuation Acts, though I believe the matter was considered for inclusion in these Acts.

I understand there is a restriction on the payment of such gratuities. The annuities have been paid on retirement unless the person concerned happens to be doing anything else under any other Department. The case I came across was one where a person retired on 1st April, 1961 and after that, was doing some temporary unestablished work in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. He was then told he could not get any consideration of his gratuity until such time as he retired from his unestablished work with the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. He reached the retiring age on 1st April this year and applied for consideration of his other gratuity. He was told thereupon that until such time as he had actually given up the Posts and Telegraphs work, they would not consider what gratuity he would be entitled to under the Superannuation Acts or otherwise in respect of his prior employment.

There might be some case for saying to this person: "We shall not pay anything until such time as you leave the State service altogether" but it seems to be all wrong that the man concerned should not at least be told: "You will get x pounds when you do ultimately retire from the service of the State". To say that there would be no question of considering whether or not he will get it in respect of one employment until another employment is terminated seems to be all wrong and the matter should be clarified under the Superannuation Acts, if at all possible. I prefer not to mention individuals' names, although I suppose it does not matter in this regard. He cannot be traced from that point of view; the gentleman concerned is Mr. John O'Brien, and the Minister will be able to get the reference from the Secretary to the Department of Social Welfare who wrote to me in relation to the matter on 6th April last. I appreciate that it is a matter to which I could not expect any answer now and I should be glad if the Minister in due course would let me know if the passage of this Bill will eliminate the anomaly to which I have referred.

Is the Money Resolution agreed to?

No, I want to raise a number of matters on the Money Resolution. I do not know whether the Minister is in a position to say what the cost of the Bill will be or how much is involved. As I mentioned on the Second Stage, a private Deputy moving amendments to this Bill could expect to find that they would be out of order and although I have tabled a number of amendments, they are out of order because they would, if accepted, involve a charge on public funds. It is for that reason that I want to raise certain matters at this stage. The aim of this Bill, so far as one can see any definite objective in it, is to enable a greater degree of mobility to be operated so far as the State or semi-State servants are concerned. That idea is generally welcomed as it has advantages from the point of view either of the State or of State or semi-State companies.

At the same time, the House is entitled to some information about the actual policy behind the decision because in some cases it would appear that an arbitrary selection is being made of particular officers, particular companies, undertakings or appointments in the Civil Service. Therefore, I am anxious to find out what will be the actual cost of this measure because if the principle is accepted that so far as it is consistent with efficient and satisfactory administration of the Civil Service, or the efficient and economic running of State companies, there is a good case for making appointments as mobile as possible, then if the transfer of an officer or official is approved as being in the interests of the service, it should be facilitated.

It is difficult, because of the wide range of positions covered and affected by this Bill, not to refer to individual cases. As we proceed, certain individual cases may come to mind. At this stage I will confine myself merely to suggesting that the Minister should indicate the policy behind it and if the same criterion will apply to all positions where, say, the Civil Service are satisfied that it would be in the interest of efficient administration, and in the case of State companies where similar standards would apply. If one person is entitled to added years for pension purposes for service, on the one hand, with the Civil Service and, subsequently, say, with a State company, if there are any cases where a person is employed in one branch of the public service and is transferred to another, then the service should count.

This is a Bill that has been taken from a very long list of cases which should be considered for superannuation. There are only a few principles in it. One is the principle of transfer from one office to another. There is a policy of enlarging that idea and I have come to the conclusion that it is a very good thing and we may get very much better officers and we may get very much better service by having this facility, by having this transfer from the Civil Service to a State company, or from a State company to the Civil Service, and so on. There is the second principle of treating redundancy which has not been recognised in the Civil Service for a long time back. I think it was there in the early stages but not for many years back. There are certain classes brought into the Service, some established and some unestablished. There are certain workers in the Board of Works and in the Land Commission as unestablished officers and there are certain bodies such as the Folklore Commission and the School of Art. There are a few such categories brought into the established service.

Apart from these general principles, there are a number of individual cases being dealt with. The individual cases might refer to other persons but it is not likely. It is a sort of omnibus Bill as the Deputy mentioned and we have to take it as such. Points in the Bill have come before me several times during the past few years, as to whether such and such a principle should be agreed to or not, and it has taken a lot of consideration and thought to find out how far we should go without, perhaps, going too far. The cost is not very high. It is calculated that the annual cost will be about £34,000. The non-recurring cost will be about £42,000, that is, for these redundancy payments and so on, which will occur only once. The cost is not very much and I do not know if the annual cost will increase very much. I expect it will increase a little as time goes on but not a lot.

The Minister referred to certain categories of State servants and I should just like to follow that up because there are two categories which come to mind particularly. One category is that of Board of Works employees and the other is that of temporary Post Office employees. So far as the Board of Works employees are concerned, some of them are regarded as holding quasi-permanent positions. The bulk of them are entitled to no superannuation benefits. Some of them may be entitled to superannuation.

I am thinking particularly of a place such as the Harbour Works in Dún Laoghaire where there are a large number of Board of Works employees. To get some sort of comparable case, there are the corporation employees of, say, Dún Laoghaire or Dublin or county council employees or, in the case of Dún Laoghaire, the Irish Lights. If they are employed with the corporation, the county council or the Irish Lights, they are entitled, in the case of the corporation or the county council, to superannuation under the Superannuation Act, 1948, but, under the present position, the majority of Board of Works employees are not entitled to any superannuation.

I should be glad if the Minister would consider the position of these men because they have made representations over a long time. Where the employment is of a casual nature, there is a difficulty in making the ordinary superannuation terms apply to them or making it operative. However, in the majority of cases, these men are quasi-permanent which means that, subject to satisfactory performance of their duties and work, they are retained in the position. Consequently, many of them have many years service.

Similarly in the case of Post Office workers. Most of them in that category have many years service. Very serious consideration should be given to granting them superannuation terms. I do not know whether or not it is necessary to have legislation for it but if not, of course, it is a simpler matter. The question of contributions would undoubtedly arise. These men would be quite willing and prepared to pay contributions in order to cover superannuation.

I am sympathetic towards that. I should like to move, as far as possible, towards establishing those who are working for the State. There are limits. A big number of State servants are not full-time and, therefore, could not be established. In the case of the State, I think we should not establish any persons unless they came in through some form of competitive entrance examination—whatever form it might be. It would be wrong to have people brought in, as they are now in certain of these categories, and to establish them afterwards. Subject to these two tests, I think we could go a bit further in establishing further grades and I am very sympathetic to that, I must say.

Question put and agreed to.
Resolution reported and agreed to.