I move as an amendment:—
To delete in line 35 the figures "1924" and to substitute therefor the figures "1923."
This amendment is simply to alter the date in the third schedule from 1924 to 1923, and the object is to safeguard some of the servants and officers of the companies, and I sincerely hope the Minister will see his way to meet us. It is not done with the object of doing anything, but to give the opportunity to the Board of Arbitrators to investigate the cases. The object of the amendment is to ensure that the provision of the Third Schedule shall apply to officers and servants of any amalgamated company or absorbed company who were on the 3rd day of April, 1923, and for a period of not less than five years previous to that date, officers or servants of the said company. In the other House the wording of this clause was altered from the date of the passing of this Act to the 3rd day of April, 1924. It is now sought to change the date to 1923. The reason is that some officers and servants of companies which were to be absorbed lost their employment by the reduction of the staffs. Toward the end of 1922 it became known that the Government had this Bill in contemplation, and it was announced that the railway companies had been given a time limit to prepare a scheme of amalgamation. It is asserted that some of the smaller companies, acting on this knowledge, reduced their staffs so that they could make better terms with the amalgamating company. In order to guard against inflated claims for compensation to existing officers and servants sub-section (5) (e) was introduced into the Bill. It provides that in calculating compensation to existing officers or servants no account shall be taken of any increase in salary, emoluments or promtion which took place after the 3rd of April, 1923. It would appear reasonable that if promotions and increase of salaries made after the 3rd of April, 1923, are not to count in estimating terms of compensation, reductions made in the manner above described should not debar such an officer or servant from claiming compensation.