RAILWAYS BILL, 1924. - THIRD SCHEDULE—(EXISTING OFFICERS AND SERVANTS).

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.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

"The manner above described" appears to refer to a printed document.

It was a printed document in sub-section (5) (e), and it is to safeguard against such a possible injustice that this amendment is moved, and to allow the amalgamated company, the tribunal, or the Board of Arbitrators to investigate and deal with such cases. I think it is a reasonable request; it cannot bind anybody only to investigate grievances which I believe exist in several cases, but not very many. I hope the Minister will be able to see his way to grant this request.

I am still in the dark as to the effect of this, and I should require much more time to consider it and work it out. It seems to me that the schedule, if amended by putting in the 3rd of April, 1923, instead of 1924, would have the same effect as if you kept in 1924, and in line 36 put in "6 years." I think it would be made to work to the disadvantage of the people mentioned. I do not think the whole schedule has been properly considered, and if Senator Sir John Griffith still thinks that his amendment would benefit certain people and holds that certain people had become redundant by reason of the amalgamation scheme that was coming into being, if he gives me particulars I will have enquiry made. I am not aware that any redundancy occurred by reason of the warning given, and I cannot yet see any case made out for officers and servants of this type. I do not think such officers and servants as this exist. I am quite clear the amendment would not achieve the purpose he has in mind. If he gives me a case I will inquire into it, and if I can get some clearer view of what the Senator's intention is I will consider it further on Report.

It will be considered further on Report.

Provided the Senator gives me a proper case.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

It is now 7 o'clock, and I think this would be a proper time to stop. It is important the Committee Stage of this Bill should be finished, and we will devote half an hour to it to-morrow at 11 o'clock.