This is one of the most important sections in the Bill. For that reason, a number of the matters which arise in connection with the Bill fall to be discussed on it. There is the question of the acceptance of the principle of notional years for entrants to the Civil Service who were required to have outside experience. As far as the Bill is concerned, a number of civil servants feel, that, because of the limitations in it, the benefits will be comparatively restricted. I have in mind one particular category I want to mention here. They were mentioned on the Second Stage— the social welfare officers. When these officers were recruited in 1935 they were given, because of their experience, five increments. Most of them were recruited at ages higher than the normal recruiting age. They were given the five increments, but they were not given added years for pension purposes. One of the difficulties about the present Bill is that their position will not, as far as one can gather, be improved.
There is also the question of additional years for professional and technical qualifications. Under this section, subsections (3) to (12), provision is made that notional years may be added to the actual service of certain civil servants in professional positions, who are required before appointment to have a number of years' professional experience. Because these civil servants cannot enter the Service until they have obtained their professional qualifications and subsequently have become experienced for a minimum number of years, few of them qualify for full pension and gratuity under the Superannuation Acts.
As I understand it, until about the year 1914 there was special provision in an earlier Superannuation Act, the 1859 Act, which enabled the Departments to make appointments to professional situations without going through the normal procedure of appointment by public advertisement by the Civil Service Commissioners. Up to then these appointments under the British Civil Service were regarded as patronage appointments. In 1914, the section of the 1829 Act was repealed and the power to make these appointments was taken away. There has, however, been power since 1865 to add years to local authority employees. This power, as far as the present position is concerned, is contained in Section 13 of the Local Government (Superannuation) Bill, 1956, and the regulations under that section which make provision for the addition of up to ten years in the case of an officer retiring from an office, the qualifications for which are professional.
The Bill, as it stands, allows added years at the discretion of the Minister for Finance of such notional period as the Minister may direct or decide not exceeding the number of years professional experience the officer is required to have to qualify for appointment, or ten years, whichever is the lesser. This subsection applies only to positions designated in accordance with subsection (12). The Minister indicated in the course of the Second Stage it was proposed to add years only where it was necessary as an aid to recruitment.
Subsection (4) of this section provides in the case of existing civil servants, who hold positions considered by the Minister for Finance to be analogous to positions which were subsequently designated under subsection (12) "there shall be added, if the Minister in his discretion so directs, to the civil servant's service in an established position such notional period as the Minister directs not exceeding one half of that provided for by subsection (3) of this section."
As far as recruitment is concerned, added years provide no incentive except where the person appointed is comparatively old. Younger persons will not be induced into the Civil Service by the prospect of a few added years of retirement. The justification and the reason for added years by this idea of adding notional service is that a person cannot be appointed to a professional position until he has, first of all, spent whatever number of years are requisite to qualify for that professional position. Subsequently, he must spend a certain number of years in practice, in the case of a lawyer, doctor, engineer or whatever the profession may be.
As I say, he must, first of all, spend a certain number of years qualifying and afterwards add to that a number of years of actual practice at his profession. All this means that the person who is subsequently appointed to a Civil Service position will be so appointed at a much later age than would be the case if he were appointed directly out of a competition after leaving school or after taking a university degree. One of the advantages of the present position is that the State gets the value of the experience which these professional persons acquire. This experience can be got only by a person spending several years in the actual work of his profession.
It seems to me that one of the objections to the present legislation is that it will lead to some anomalies. The subsection cannot apply to an existing officer until the office to which he has been appointed on entering the Civil Service is designated under subsection 12 as a professional office, and that may not occur until after the person retires in certain cases. It may mean that some existing officers, because of the circumstances, may be treated more beneficially than others because of recruitment difficulties.
It is also possible the section may prevent rather than assist movement between the Civil Service and the other services. A professional officer of a local authority who is appointed to a position in the Civil Service will be pensionable only after longer service than he would have been given credit for if he had remained in the local authority service because he will lose the ten years he would gain under the Local Government (Superannuation) Acts and will get only what is granted in the Minister's discretion under Sections 6 and 7 of this Bill. I would suggest to the Minister that where a civil servant has served in an established position for not less than ten years and where his position involved professional experience, the period be adjudged as a year and four months for each year in reckoning any pension, lump sum or gratuity. That would cover the position which arises because of the late age at which a number of these professional civil servants are appointed. The section could apply, say, to all professional qualifications—architects, barristers-at-law, dentists, engineers, medical practitioners, veterinary surgeons, and so forth.
In that way, those who are appointed at a later age because of professional qualifications would be granted the added years and this would provide the necessary incentives. One of the objections which retiring civil servants have is that at the most they get credit only for half the specified minimum number of years. The case that has been made to me, and I presume to the Minister, is that civil servants find the terms of the Local Government (Superannuation) Acts of 1948 and 1956 are more satisfactory and offer more generous or more attractive terms to local government employees than are offered here, and that similar provisions might be included in this legislation.