Committee on Finance. - Pensions (Abatement) Bill, 1965— Committee and Final Stages.

Question proposed: "That section 1 stand part of the Bill."

I do not know whether this is appropriate or not. This is a general section applying to reduction of annual allowance under Superannuation Acts. I do not know whether the Minister has power by Order or whether his attention has been directed to the position. I understand that under paragraph 5 of the Second Schedule to the Transport Act, 1958, retired or superannuated employees of CIE are liable to have their pensions abated in the same way as some of these cases we have been referring to. It is suggested to me that this matter may require consideration in order to ensure that abatement will also be abolished in respect of personnel who were employed in CIE.

In any event, I should be glad if the Minister would have this aspect considered. It was only brought to my attention in a communication I received today and I have not had an adequate opportunity of investigating the information given to me. I understand that is the position in respect of paragraph 5 of the Second Schedule to the Transport Act.

Mr. Lynch

I will have a look at that.

I am still far from satisfied about what section 1 means. I know the Minister said the result of this Bill would be that abatement would be abolished except in cases where a State employee was re-employed in the same post. I am quite convinced that is what he means, but I do not think that is what the Bill says. What the Bill says in section 1 is that pensions will continue to be abated. It says that in a very long-winded and roundabout way, but it states that quite categorically, and it states what the abatement shall be. In subsection (1) (b) it states: "No more of the allowance shall be paid, for any specified period ...." This seems to be an entirely wrong way of going about it.

We are still perpetuating a system whereby pensions may be abated, and I think if what the Minister really means corresponds with what he says, it would be much easier to say simply that any State employee who retires and is subsequently re-employed in the same post shall not receive a pension while he is re-employed. That gets us clean away from the question of proportions and fractions and everything else. That seems to be entirely valid and quite reasonable, particularly in view of the fact that re-employment in the same job is very often arranged for compassionate reasons. It is quite obviously not right that a person, just by being over a certain age, should draw a pension and his previous salary as well in the same job. That would obviously cause trouble.

I do not see the point of subsection (1) at all. Subsection (1) sets out that there shall be abatements. Subsection (2) sets out that the Minister at his discretion may waive the conditions of subsection (1). Subsection (3) states the grounds on which the Minister may exercise that waiver. He may exercise that waiver if persons with particular training and experience are required for particular work, if the person who is being re-employed has that training and experience, and if it is not practicable to meet the requirements otherwise than by the re-employment of pensioners.

As I said on Second Reading, I feel those conditions are reasonable. I would hope that the Minister would at this stage make subsection (1) clearer by inserting some clause stating that abatement will take place only where there is re-employment in the same post. In that case there would be no question of abatement but simply a postponement of the pension during the period of re-employment.

I omitted to mention one type of case which was drawn to my attention. I do not think there can be many such cases. I have here a communication in respect of a person who says he got a resigned RIC pension in August, 1922, the same date as he joined the Garda Siochána. He says he was not allowed to draw his pension while serving or since he came out on pension after serving 30 years in the Garda. He goes on to say that people who joined the Garda Force and who had to retire on the age limit were apparently allowed for their service in the RIC for the purpose of getting a full pension. This particular applicant says he got no credit for his RIC service because he had the full 30 years in the Garda. Apparently he also served for a period in the Army. I do not know whether there are many cases of that sort. Perhaps the Minister would have that aspect of the matter considered also.

That would probably be more appropriate to an amendment of the Garda pension scheme. It could be considered there. In reply to Deputy Booth, I had hoped that I had explained what subsection (1) means on the last occasion, but apparently I have not succeeded in getting it across. The section means in effect that abatement of pension will not take place unless the man is re-employed in the same employment. The Deputy is with me up to that point. If the person is re-employed in the same employment for reasons other than the public interest, it must be in his own interest, and having reached the age of 65, and having been permitted to continue in the same employment, it is not reasonable that he should enjoy the pension to which his age would qualify him as well as the salary for the job, but where a person is re-employed in the public interest—and that is usually done, for example, where there is a shortage of certain types of skilled civil servants, technicians or otherwise—it is reasonable that if the State needs his skill beyond the age of 65, the State should pay for it. Those are the two simple cases.

If a man continues in the service not in the public interest but in his own interest, on compassionate grounds or otherwise, abatement will take effect. The example I gave the last day was that if a man retires on a salary of £2,000 and is qualified for a pension of £1,000, let us say for the sake of simplicity, and if he earns £1,500 in his new employment, his pension of £1,000 will be abated to the extent of £500. I hope the Deputy is with me so far. We are going further in relief of a man in such a position.

Assuming that in the meantime the salary for the position he occupied on his retirement was increased to £2,200, he would then get credit in the abatement operation for the extra £200. In other words, his salary instead of being assessed on £2,000 will be assessed on £2,200, so he will be £200 better off, and instead of his pension being abated by £500, it will be abated by only £300. That is stated in subsection (1), and if it is not as clear as Deputy Booth and I would like, apparently it is as clear as parliamentary draftsmanship makes possible.

What subsection (1) says is that the pension will suffer abatement if it is in respect of an appointment in the Civil Service. That seems to me to be the main difficulty. That is subsection (1), paragraph (ii). I would feel far happier if that reference were to an appointment in the same post in the Civil Service, but there is no reference in the subsection to employment in the same job. It is to any job in the Civil Service. If the person gets any other job in the Civil Service, he will suffer abatement unless the conditions in subsection (3) are fulfilled, and I do not think that is the Minister's meaning.

It is. Any post in the Civil Service will involve abatement. It does not necessarily mean exactly the same job.

What we were told originally was that the only person who would suffer abatement was somebody who went back into the same job but that anybody who retired and was taken on in some other job would not suffer abatement. If we leave it as it is now, we shall not get any further and I cannot see who will gain by it unless the Minister is to spend a tremendous lot of time waiving the provisions of subsection (1). If we simply stated that anyone who went back into the same job would not draw his pension while so re-employed but that anybody else in State employment who retired and was subsequently re-engaged would not suffer abatement, it would be clearer.

I am afraid I must adhere to the section as drafted. If I said on the last occasion or today that abatement would apply only if the person went back to the same job, I am sorry for creating that impression. What I intended to say was that if the person went back to any job in the Civil Service, abatement would apply. It is only reasonable it should. If it did not, I am not suggesting there would be room for abuse but certainly there would be room for many anomalies and I must retain the section as it stands.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 2 and 3 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:

In subsection (1), page 4, to insert "or employment" after "office" in line 22 and in line 29.

Section 4 provides for employees of local authorities who enjoy pensions under the 1948 Superannuation Act exactly as is provided in section 1 for civil servants, but because of a drafting omission originally, the reference only to officer in lines 22 and 29 of section 4 could exclude servants and in the Superannuation Act of 1948 there is reference to both servants and officers. The amendment is to ensure that servants will be included in the benefits of abolition of abatement.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In subsection (1), page 5, to insert "or employment" after "office" in line 44 and in line 51.

This is a consequential amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 5, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 6 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments, received for final consideration and passed.