SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - RAILWAYS BILL, 1924.—THIRD STAGE RESUMED.

I beg to move:—

In Schedule 3, page 34, to delete in line 36 the word "five" and substitute therefor the word "three."

The object of the amendment is to secure compensation for the loss of employment to all employees with three years' complete service instead of five as at present. A similar amendment was turned down in the Dáil. I trust that the Minister will have softened from the adamantine attitude he adopted in the Dáil. The hardships involved in excluding all employees with less than five years' service from any compensation at all for loss of employment are great in some cases. Perhaps the hardest case of all is that of the clerical staff who entered by open competitive examinations. These clerks are almost invariably the sons and daughters of poor men, small peasant farmers and workers generally. To educate them up to the standard of being able to win a place in open competition at a fairly stiff examination is no small task for the parents of these children. Now, if a boy enters the railway service, he sits for an examination when he is at or about the age of sixteen. If he wins a place, it is in many cases a year after before he is called into employment. He is then seventeen years of age. He has four years' service at the time he becomes redundant. He is then 21 years of age and has passed the age at which he may compete for the Civil Service or any public service. He is thrown on the unemployment market, having got a specialised training which is of little or no value to him in other walks of life, because the knowledge of railway work, being of a specialised character, is of very little use to him in other employments. Sending that boy home when he has turned that age, after all that has been spent on him to educate him and to get him into the position—and, remember, he has spent a number of years in the position at a small salary—is a very great hardship indeed.

Under the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1920, an employee with three years' service is looked upon as being a permanent employee and the Minister for Industry and Commerce issues a certificate of exemption from Unemployment Insurance as a result. Therefore, it is clear that in getting rid of a man with three years' service you are getting rid of a permanent employee in the sense that permanent employment is understood. One of the arguments advanced against this is the fact that under the Civil Service schemes of pensioning for redundancy people with less than 10 years' service get no compensation. That is not correct, because they get a gratuity which is in the main far more generous than a man with less than 10 years' service gets under this Bill. Even under the Local Government Bill, which has been introduced in the Dáil, employees with less than five years' service, in the event of becoming redundant, get a half year's salary as compensation. Still it is contended that in the case of railway clerks no compensation whatever should be given to a man with anything less than five years' service. My proposal is an exceedingly modest one, and you will see that when I tell you what a man would be entitled to. Take a clerk with three years' service. He has then about thirty shillings a week. If a consequential amendment lower down is carried there would be one year added to that. He would then be entitled to four-sixtieths or one-fifteenth of his salary as an annual allowance. In other words he would have two shillings a week compensation if he had three years' service.

The amount is ridiculously small and the best way to meet that situation would be to give the man a lump sum as a gratuity so as to carry him over the period during which he would be looking for employment. In present circumstances it would take him a considerable time indeed to get employment. That is the position particularly as it affects clerical staffs, who would have to get a special educational training before they secure a position and who, during the three or four years in which they are in the service, have been specialising on a particular branch of business that would be no use to them in the world outside. If this amendment is not carried, I trust at least that the Minister will see his way to meet the position in some manner, such as is proposed in the case of public board employees under the Local Government Bill.

I am afraid I shall have to repeat the arguments that I used in the Dáil, with the addition of one argument which a Deputy put up in connection with the particular point I was making. There are two points against this amendment. One is the analogy with civil servants in cases where a gratuity may be payable. Take a case where a man is not due for pension; he does not become pensionable until he has ten years' service. Three years is the period in connection with a particular extraordinary type of Act, the Unemployment Insurance Act. The compromise between the three years and ten years in the case of the Civil Service is a period of five years. That was hit upon as being equitable for this Bill. A pension really is, and always has been looked upon as, deferred pay. A man who gets into an office which is pensionable has a certain amount of money which would come to him ordinarily as salary, taken off and set aside as contribution towards his pension.

Railway servants are not pensionable, and consequently no deduction is made from their pay to pull up for pension purposes in the future. The Civil Service is quite different. Money is always deducted from the civil servant's salary, and the civil servant has a legitimate grievance if, on being removed within the ten year period, he does not become due for a pension. Then he gets a gratuity. His rights are very definitely secured to him by reason of the fact that deductions are made from his pay from the moment he enters the service, in order to accumulate as a fund to provide a pension for him in his declining years. In the case of railway employees there is no such abstraction and no such deduction from pay. Railway employees get whatever money is due to them on the basis of their service. That is a definite procedure. Their post is not pensionable.

We propose to take railway servants of a particular type and put them on a pensionable basis. We consider that a period of five years is equitable. I do not know if that appeals to Senators. If not, then they can place Senator O'Farrell's argument against mine and make up their minds on the subject. We think that the compromise arrived at between the ten years' period in the case of civil servants and the three years specified under this very extraordinary Unemployment Insurance Act is very reasonable. The Seanad can make up its mind on that point.

I feel bound to point out to the Minister that in some cases I do not think his information is correct, as regards railway servants not being pensionable, because in a great many cases they are pensionable, and they have sums deducted from their salary in order to contribute to a pension in future years.

To take a very small sum of money, as Senator O'Farrell says, and turn it into the form of a pension, would cause infinite trouble in the way of book-keeping, etc. If a private business had to dispense with anybody in this way he would be given a few pounds to carry on with. I cannot see how we could vote for a pension in these cases with all that it implies. I suggest that the Government should make provision for some gratuity in case a young fellow with three years' service has to turn round and look for something else because of the coming into operation of this Bill.

As to the point raised by Senator Bagwell, I am not clear as to the men he refers to. But if he refers to railway clerks, who are members of the Superannuation Fund, then what he says is true. Redundant men, however, will receive back any moneys they have paid into the Superannuation Fund, so that their rights are not being defeated. If Senator O'Farrell sees fit to agree to the acceptance of Amendment 46 instead of this, we might have a compromise on that basis. Amendment 46, as it stands, I do not think would fit in very well at the end of Sub-section 5 (a), but if the idea is acceptable in lieu of Amendment 44, then we could get Amendment 46 fitted properly into the Bill.

I think the Minister has misread Amendment 46, which is really consequential on Amendment 44. It merely provides for the adding of another year to the period of service. If a man only gets one-sixtieth of his remuneration it would be absurd. According to the Schedule, a man with five years' service has three years added for the purpose of computing pension. Amendment 46 provides that one year shall be added on for those having less than five years' service. That amendment does not meet the cases which I am dealing with under the present amendment. It would only mean that if a man has four years' service, and one year is added on, that would bring him within the purview of the Bill. The suggestion of Senator Jameson is the most acceptable one. In the Dáil an amendment on those lines was moved, and it was turned down. The reason I moved this amendment is in order to keep the Bill in proper symmetry, by having this on the same lines as for men with five years' service and upwards. As Senator Bagwell points out, the Minister is mistaken in stating that railwaymen are not pensionable. Certainly all station-masters and clerks are pensionable, except on the small railways, and have deductions of from 2½ to 6 per cent. made from their salaries for pension purposes. I earnestly urge the Minister to consider extending to these men at least the provisions which the Minister for Local Government and Health is offering to officials of public boards.

I do not want to prejudice the Senator in any way, but if he would leave this amendment over so that I could consider what the likely cost to the companies would be, then I will see how far I can go to meet him.

I am quite agreeable.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move:—

Third Schedule, page 35, immediately after the word "service" in line 16 to insert the words "with the company or any amalgamating or absorbed company."

This is a drafting amendment which I trust will find acceptance. It is merely intended to make the meaning clear. Throughout the Schedule the words "amalgamating and absorbed companies" are used. These words are omitted here, and that might tend to convey that the words "every completed year of service" only apply to completed service in the company in whose service the man is when the amalgamation takes place, whereas I think it should apply to years of service with any company in the Free State. The effect of my amendment would be to make it read:—

The compensation shall be an annual allowance to be paid to the existing officer or servant during his life not exceeding in any case two-thirds of his remuneration and emoluments, and, subject to that limitation, to be calculated at the rate of one-sixtieth of his remuneration and emoluments for every completed year of his service with the company or any amalgamating or absorbed company.

That is quite acceptable, except that I would suggest to the Senator that before the word "company" where it first occurs, the word "amalgamated" should be inserted so as to read: "With the amalgamated company or any amalgamating or absorbed company."

I accept that suggestion.

The same thing will apply to amendment 51, further down.

Leave to amend amendment granted.

I am in sympathy with the object of the amendment, but I thought it was moved for another purpose, because the effect will be that a man who entered any of these amalgamating companies on transfer from another company will only have his service calculated from the time he entered the service of the second company. Supposing a man, because of special qualifications, had been transferred, say, from the Great Northern Railway, or any other railway, to one of these amalgamated companies after he had had 10 or 20 years' service with the first company he was employed by, his service will only be calculated from the time he entered the second company. It would be a great injustice to a man who had, say, 15 years' service with one company outside the amalgamation, and had an additional ten years' service with the second company, if he got credit only for that 10 years' service, although he had been taken over because he had special qualifications. I think the companies should not be allowed out of their responsibilities in a case of that kind and be allowed to say: "The service you had with the previous company is not going to count, although we did take you over because you suited us, and took you over with your superannuation commitments. Although you lose your job because you came to us, you are not going to be compensated for your service with the previous company."

There was some talk in the Dáil about men coming from American and Chinese railways. There are no such men. In fact, there are very few men who transfer from one railway to another in Ireland. But where such a thing occurred, it is only fair that the man should get compensation for the service he had with the previous company, seeing that he was brought into the second company with the consent of that company. There is one man I have in mind at the moment who occupies a fairly responsible position and who was taken over from another company because of special qualifications which he had. It is now sought to deprive that man, if he loses his position, of all compensation, except on the basis of the few years he has had with the second company, if this Bill is literally administered. That will be the position unless the amendment 50, down in my name, is accepted.

The Senator is quite right in saying there was a certain storm in the Dáil over railway servants who were alleged to have come here from Chinese and American railways. An attempt was made to show that that argument was raised to prejudice people who had been in the service of some railway previously absorbed into one of the existing railways. All such men are protected. However, if the Senator is not quite sure that sub-section 5 (c) meets the case, we could consider strengthening it, but not on the lines of his later amendment. I think sub-section 5 (c) meets such cases:—

In the case of an existing officer or servant who was appointed to his office as a specially qualified person at an age exceeding that at which railway service usually begins, his actual period of service with an amalgamating or absorbed company may be increased by the addition of such number of years as may seem just, having regard to the particular circumstances of the case, and thereupon his compensation shall be calculated on such increased period of service.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Amendment 46 not moved.

I beg to move:—

Third Schedule, page 35, to delete, in line 34, the words "the whole of."

This is a technical amendment, and I think it is necessary because the schedule provides:—

"Where any existing officer or servant was temporarily absent from his employment as such officer or servant and during the whole of such absence was engaged in service in the National Forces of Saorstát Eireann, or any military forces serving under the authority of the First Dáil Eireann, the Second Dáil Eireann, or the Provisional Government of Ireland, or the British Army, Navy, or Air Force, such temporary absence shall for the purposes of this Schedule be reckoned and included in his period of service as such officer or servant."

I am afraid, if the Schedule remains as it is, unless a man was the whole of the time engaged in military service, he cannot claim compensation. At least he cannot claim that such a period should be reckoned. It is only recently we got men reinstated in the Irish railways who took part in the 1916 rising. We could not get them back up to that. They were not in the National Army. Some of them were not physically fit for it. I have one case in mind where a man was not physically fit and he is now only able to get back to the service. He was not in the National Forces the whole time, although he played his part before the Treaty. If the Bill is left as it is, that man would not get compensation for the period of time that the railway company kept him out for political purposes. That is the reason I move the amendment.

I have great sympathy with the type of case mentioned by Senator O'Farrell, but it would be very dangerous to wipe out the words "the whole of." I was under the impression that the amendment sought to cover the cases of men who served in the National Forces and who fell ill while on such service; it was considered the period a man was in hospital would not be counted for the purposes of service. Of course it would be reckoned as a period of military service. In the cases of men removed from the railway company's service in 1916 and who were only recently reinstated, if it is sought by means of the amendment to have the whole period of such men's absence from the railway company counted as a period of service, it might go much too far. There are certain cases where the railway company may have been to blame. I am not quite clear that there have been such cases. If there are, of course they would have to be met in another way. We should have to see to these men's cases. There are cases of men who took part in the Rising of 1916 and who after that did not apply for reinstatement. I think this amendment would go too far in regard to such individuals, as they would be able to count the whole period from 1916, whether they applied for reinstatement or not. I do not think that would be quite fair to the railway company. Obviously, in such cases the men thought they could do better in other walks of life and they might now find it better to return to the railway company. I do not think it would be fair to the railway company to have the intervening years counted. I think it would be very dangerous to put that into the scheme, as it would open the door to all sorts of fantastic claims. If the Senator knows of such cases we could see how they could be met, and might take steps to make such representations to the railway company as would have substantial justice done to them. I do not like the amendment to delete the words.

I shall certainly bring them to the notice of the Minister. I have one typical case in mind. I am not anxious to impose on the railway companies any unfair burden. I do not think any man who did not apply is back in the service. It was only after many applications and strong pressure that the other men got back at all. There is a danger that the railway companies will now be acting legitimately, if they dispense forthwith with the services of these men on the grounds that they are redundant. If the companies have to reckon this period as service, they may try to find employment for these men. I wanted to see that no injustice was done. With the leave of the Seanad I will withdraw the amendment until the Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On behalf of Senator Duffy I beg to move:—Third Schedule. Page 35. Immediately after the word "Force" in line 38 to insert the words "or in any other employment of national importance." During the Great War railway men, principally clerks, were lent to Government Departments. For instance, they were lent to the Coal Control Department and to the Shipping Control Department, and were absent for a number of years from the railway service. They returned to it when the war was over. If their cases are covered by the Bill, and if they get credit for the periods of service during which they were lent to the Government Department, I do not want to press the amendment. I would like some assurance that that period of service would be reckoned for compensation in the event of these men becoming redundant.

An amendment similar to this was moved in the Dáil, and I went to considerable pains to ascertain what was the employment of national importance, outside the service of the Forces referred to, which would seem to entitle these men to special treatment. I now hear from Senator O'Farrell for the first time this specific case of the Coal Control Department. I understand that any railwaymen who were lent to the service of the Coal Control Department continued to be paid by the railway company, and consequently were reckoned as being in the employment of the railway company. Such men have not had their rights defeated. Their rights are preserved, and their service will continue to run.

On the assumption that the Minister is correctly advised in that respect, I withdraw the amendment.

I can make quite sure of that. I would ask the Senator if he has any other service in mind which would come in under the term, "employment of national importance" to inform me.

The other cases would be men in the clerical staff of the Railway Maintenance Corps.

That is a national force.

That is the only other case I had in mind.

I think the Minister is right. My recollection is that all the officers who transferred their services were guranteed theirstatus quo on return to the railway service.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move: "To delete in line 39, the words ‘temporary absence,' and to substitute therefor the word ‘service.'" It is really his period of service in the National Forces or at work of national importance, that counts in calculating his compensation. It is merely a verbal amendment, and if the Minister sees any particular objection to it I will not press it.

I have the objection to it that it is very hard to construe. As I construe it, it would seem to require the complete re-wording of the sub-section. If we start off by speaking of existing officers or servants, and we get a period of temporary absence of certain officers, then we say, such temporary officers' absence shall be included in the period of service. The Senator now seeks to substitute for "temporary absence" the word "service." How that can be construed I cannot clearly see. It might be open to this construction: that you get an officer or servant who applies for permission to leave the railway company to join the National Forces. Being in the National Forces for three or four months he decides that a soldier's life is his for the future. If he resigns from the company and a year afterwards thinks better of it and wants to come back, such a period of service would be reckoned as "temporary absence" and you would be grafting on a period of service much longer than should count as temporary absence. It is a case that might not arise, but if it did I throw it out to be an objection to the particular amendment. I do not know what substantial point is behind it; it would seem to me if carried to necessitate a re-wording of the section, and it would change the sense, and we would have to get the whole section and not the phrase.

The section reads: "Where any existing officer or servant was temporarily absent from his employment as such officer or servant, and during the whole of such absence was engaged in service in the National Forces of Saorstát Eireann." The amendment proposes that such service shall, for the purpose of this section, be included in his period of service. It is unlikely that a man who would resign from the service definitely would get back again into the service because, of course, his period, no matter what the Bill does, would only count from the time he joined. He would not be permanent until after a number of years had elapsed. I do not see any danger in this.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move:—

Immediately after the word "begins" in line 43, to insert the words "or who has been employed in the service of any railway company which has carried on business or discharged functions in Ireland."

This amendment merely emphasises the provisions of sub-section (c), that where "an existing officer or servant who was appointed to his office as a specially qualified person at an age exceeding that at which railway service usually begins" shall have such additional years added to his service for the purpose of compensation as shall seem just. That is a mild way of covering these men who had service with other railways and had been taken on because of their special knowledge. It is to put in, in line 43, the words "or who has been employed in the service of any railway company which has carried on business or discharged functions in Ireland." It is really what the Minister himself tells us will be done, but it will allay the feeling of any man in any other railway if that is put in, who fears now that he will not get any consideration for the period of service. It does not make it mandatory to give him full credit for it. It definitely asks that he shall be given consideration for some service he had other than with one of the amalgamated companies. I hope the Minister will accept it. He has indicated that it would be done, and it would allay the anxiety of the people who at present are not sure of their position.

I am not sure that it will allay any suspicion. Let me put it this way: The Senator seeks to bring into clause (c) a phrase indicating people who have been employed in the service of a railway company which has carried on business or discharged functions in Ireland. He grafts on that new clause period the wording of which is "may" be increased. That is to say, it is weaker than the present position of the people under the Bill, because if that phrase is not introduced here the people referred to in the amendment will come in under the sub-clause (d), where the word is "shall" be reckoned.

The Minister has told us differently. He said they would be treated under sub-clause (c).

I say certain people who go in at an age beyond the period at which railway service begins, but I am speaking now of people employed in the service of a railway company who carried on business or discharged functions in Ireland. That would apply to amalgamated or absorbed companies. The terms of the amendment would cover it. The amendment the Senator has put down would apply to an absorbed company. It is clear that if it applies to an absorbed company it defeats to a certain extent the amendment moved and accepted by Senator Bagwell. That clause has in it the word "shall." It is mandatory, and the other clause has "may." I do hold the clause as it stands will include the type of service the Senator has in mind, not with an amalgamated or absorbed company, but some company previously in existence and brought in under a previous amalgamation scheme, and that those employees would have their years of service with that company brought in and reckoned as a period of service with the present company. It is going to one of the amalgamated or absorbed companies, and is going to be looked after. I suggest to the Senator that his amendment is weakening the position of men whose position is very definitely assured to them under sub-clause (a). I do not think he makes any addition to their strength.

So that the position is not as contemplated by the Minister under sub-clause (a). Every man is bound to get full credit for the period of service with any amalgamated or absorbed company. That is plain. It is not a voluntary or permissive arrangement. It is a mandatory arrangement. This is to cover the case of men received into the service of the company late in life, it does not matter whether an absorbed company or otherwise, and who want to get credit for more service than they had with the amalgamated or absorbed company—I am referring to men from the Great Northern, or any other non-amalgamated or non-absorbed company outside, who have had previous railway service, and who under the Bill had been getting credit for it only by permissive arrangement. This is merely that the permissive arrangement shall apply to them. They have no right here under an amalgamated or absorbed company. I do not think the Minister realises that. I am not referring to men previously absorbed in Ireland, for they must get credit for their full service. What is set out here is to give credit for full service, though part of it was in a non-amalgamated or non-absorbed company.

The Senator and myself have the same consideration for the men referred to, but he has one way of doing it and I have another. I am putting my way in opposition to his. There are two classes of men concerned. The men employed on a railway company now being absorbed, and let us take them as an instance. Such men are covered by sub-section (a), if nothing else is put in to weaken sub-clause (a). With regard to men who have had service not with any other amalgamated or absorbed company we hold these men are covered by (c) as it stands. The Senator, evidently being anxious to allay suspicion in these men, seeks to make explicit what I hold is implicit. Therefore he brings in the reference and uses a phrase which must be interpreted to cover men that served in an amalgamated or absorbed company, and those men who had previously occupied a strong position under clause (a) will now have two sections referring to them, one of which says "shall" and the other which says "may." It does not do any good for these men. It really weakens their position and strengthens the position of no one, because he seeks to strengthen the position of people whose case is absolutely covered by (c).

I am not convinced, but I would prefer to have an opportunity of a word privately with the Minister, because I am convinced that he is mistaken. Until then I will ask leave to withdraw the amendment and bring it up on Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

The next amendment is No. 51, in the name of Senator Westropp Bennett.

This amendment corresponds to that previously moved by Senator Bagwell, and it is accepted with the same qualification.

Amendment put, and agreed to.

I beg to move amendment 52, page 35, to delete all after the word "compensation" in line 62 to the end of the sub-paragraph.

I hope this will not be included in the slaughter of the innocents. The object of the amendment is to delete all the words after compensation to the end of the sub-section. This extraordinary sub-clause provides that the basis of compensation that is to be paid is the salary that a man or woman enjoyed in the last year of service before they became redundant, but there is the extraordinary proviso put in "unless the person receives promotion one year before the 3rd April, 1924, in which case his remuneration and emoluments shall, for the purpose aforesaid, be taken to be the annual value of the remuneration and emoluments of which he was in receipt immediately before such promotion." One year is taken out of all the years, that is, the 3rd April, 1923, to the 3rd April, 1924. Any man who gets promotion in that magic year is not to have the promotion count for compensation purposes, but any promotion before that period or after that year will count. I know the object of this. The Government felt that the companies would have taken advantage of this amalgamation scheme in order to put up favourites and to give them promotion, and if rendered redundant they would get unreasonable and unjustifiable compensation, particularly as directors and so on. I do not know why they should attributemala fides to such responsible bodies as railway directors, any more than the British Government should, but they evidently know them better than the British Government knew theirs. They issued instructions at all events that no promotions were to take place pending the passing of this Bill, and it is stated, notwithstanding that order, or suggestion from the Minister, that actually two or three promotions did take place in the position of officers. But in that period hundreds of promotions must inevitably have taken place in several grades.

There are seven classes of station masters and six classes of clerks, and in the ordinary working of railways, vacancies will occur. A man is promoted from a job carrying £200 a year to a job of £230 a year. That man may have been waiting for years for some one to die or to be moved, and now because he gets it in the magic year, no matter when redundancy takes place, he will have to go back to his salary before April, 1923, to have his compensation fixed. This was intended to stop unfair promotions, but it has turned out like the story of Charles Lamb of the Chinaman who burned his house every time he wanted to cook his dinner. They want to burn the whole railway people in order to cook these individuals. The extraordinary thing is that the individuals who wanted to make these promotions of an undue character could have held them over until April, 1924. I hope the House will not allow this to remain. If there had been undue promotions, if there were a few officerships coming vacant that were filled and should not have been filled, they might be dealt with, but it is hardly fair for a fireman, say, who may be promoted to engine-driver, or a porter who might be promoted to guard after waiting for years, if, five or six years hence he had to go back to the salary he had before the 3rd April, 1923, to assess the basis on which his compensation is to be calculated. I know that the draftsman intended that this should only apply to promotion of officers. But in railway grading promotion from one class to another is called promotion, and will be so interpreted if the Schedule remains as it is, and that is why I move the deletion of these words. Such a clause did not find its way into the British Act, and it is an extraordinary thing to try and penalise hundreds of the staff to meet the case of a few individuals unless it can be alleged that people got promotion to qualify for compensation.

I am glad the Senator has saved me from all these burnt offerings of railwaymen being presented to me. I have no intention of any man's rights being defeated. This clause is a very difficult one. We had it argued at every stage of the Bill, but the point was not put so clearly as it has been put by Senator O'Farrell. He has quite rightly stated the object. A certain warning was issued to the railway companies by the Government that the railway amalgamation was to take place and the companies were warned that any appointments to permanent official positions should not be made after the Government's warning. Now certain appointments have been made and the object of the clause is to get rid of these appointments. But it might go too far and much too far. It would, apparently, as interpreted cut out clerks who progressed from one class to another in the ordinary course of promotion or a fireman who is promoted to the position of engine-driver and there is no intention to include that kind of case at all.

If the Senator would think an amendment would meet the purpose by putting in words such as these: "Other than promotions within the agreement as to rates of pay and conditions of service arrived at between the railway company's representatives and the railway trades unions."—that is to say, some phrase which would safeguard ordinary promotions or promotion in the ordinary course of events—if an amendment of that type were acceptable I could consult the Senator as to the terms of it. I am quite agreeable to bring in such an amendment on the Report Stage, after the terms of it have been approved of by the Senator and myself. If I can not get a phrase to suit his point of view I will bring in one of my own and let him argue his point on the Fourth Stage.

It has been stated by Senator O'Farrell that an official promoted during the year prior to the 3rd April, 1924, would be debarred from this privilege, or that he must go back to his previous year's salary. That is the specified year, the year ending the 3rd April, 1924. There may be opportunity taken to promote during that year persons in this service for the purpose of enabling them to get the extra benefit of pension. I take it that the clause as it stands would not debar the person promoted after the 3rd April, 1924. That date is passed now, and a person promoted to-day and receiving the higher salary would rank for pension. The clause as it stands only applies to persons promoted during the year ended 3rd April, 1924. That period is passed, and any persons promoted since that date would rank for pension and for compensation on the salary they were receiving at the time the event happened. I presume that is the literal interpretation of the clause as it stands.

The suggestion of the Minister goes a good way to meet the case except that it would still, I am afraid, involve an injustice to certain sections of men. For instance, there are the staffs of the solicitor's department, the secretary's department, and the general manager's department, who are exempt from the agreements negotiated by the trade unions. Almost invariably they are members of a trade union, but the union does not act for them in a trade union capacity except for legal purposes and so on. Any promotion governing them—many of them clerks —in these departments would not count. I do not know whether it would be considered fair, where an officer gets promoted to another job to which he was absolutely entitled by his services or merits during this particular year, that that would not count also. However, although some of these officers are members of the association of which I am secretary, I do not want to press the case on their behalf. I see that there are people here who are their colleagues, and they have not spoken on their behalf. If they do not choose to do so, I do not think it is part of my duty to act for them, beyond pointing out to the Minister that in my opinion it is a great injustice that they will be deprived of the benefit of any promotion they got in this particular year, while any man promoted since the 3rd April this year will get the benefits of that promotion. As I have said, however, the trade union does not act for them, and as some of their colleagues here have not thought fit to speak for them it is their look out. I agree with the suggestion of the Minister to withdraw this amendment and consult with him as to what would be the best form of amendment on Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

The next amendment is an amendment by Senator Westropp Bennett which reads:—

Third Schedule. Page 35. To add at the end of sub-paragraph 5, line 67, the words:—

"(f) any official of an amalgamating or absorbed company who may be appointed a standing member of the railway tribunal shall be deemed to be an existing officer who relinquishes his office in the amalgamating or absorbed company, as the case may be, and he shall be entitled to be paid compensation accordingly and in accordance with the provisions of this Schedule."

This amendment corresponds to the first two amendments moved, and the amendment is acceptable with the same proviso that I asked to have provided on amendments 1 and 2.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Shall we take the amendment as a Government amendment?

With the proviso previously referred to.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

What is the proviso?

It will have to be slightly different from the proviso in the case of the previous amendments but to the same effect.

Amendment agreed to, subject to proviso to be submitted by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on next stage.

I move amendment 54:—

Third Schedule, page 35, to delete sub-paragraph (6) and to substitute therefor a new sub-paragraph (6) as follows:—

"(6) For the purpose of this Schedule, any solicitor who for the period of five years next before the date of the passing of this Act has been continuously retained by an amalgamating or absorbed company as their chief or assistant legal adviser shall be deemed to be an existing officer of that company."

The object of this amendment is to ensure that a solicitor who has been employed by any of the railway companies shall be entitled to the same compensation as if he had been a whole-time officer. I understand that some of the railway companies employed solicitors and paid them the ordinary rates. They were not employed on a salary but they were practically whole-time officers of the company and were paid fees instead of a fixed salary. The object of the amendment is to secure that a solicitor employed by a company and paid fees shall be entitled to compensation. Some of these solicitors were doing a little private practice as well, but dispensary doctors engaged in private practice although they are paid officials of the local councils, if disturbed in their positions are entitled to compensation. In all these circumstances, I think the amendment is a reasonable one and should be accepted.

Before the Minister replies, I have been asked by Senator Dr. O'Sullivan, who has an amendment down immediately succeeding this one, to inquire whether Senator Farren would agree to amend his amendment as follows: after "absorbed company" to add the words "or a committee of a county council working same." That would make the clause read "For the purpose of this Schedule, any solicitor who for the period of five years next before the date of the passing of this Act has been continuously retained by an amalgamating or absorbed company or by a committee of a county council working same." That is to take the place of amendment 55, which immediately follows. If you turn up Section 54 of the main Act— that is the Act defining baronial railways, which are vested in the county council—sub-section (a) says: "The shareholders for the time being of the company to which such undertaking properly belonged immediately before the same became the property of the grand jury or county council, shall be deemed to be the proprietors of the said railway." I think I am correct in saying there are only two of these light railways which were taken over by the county council and which are worked by a committee of the same. The main Act provides that where that has taken place, the shareholders of the company shall be still deemed to be the proprietors of the undertaking. If the company, while it existed, had a solicitor, as soon as the line ceased to be vested in the company, and was vested in the committee of the county council, that solicitor became their officer and unless this amendment is accepted, any such solicitor will be completely deprived of compensation.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Before the Minister deals with this proposition, perhaps with the permission of the House I might be allowed to say a word in favour of some consideration for these gentlemen, owing to my long association with the members of the solicitors' profession. The position is peculiar in this respect—that some of these railway companies employed solicitors who were bound to give their whole time to the duties of their office, but in the majority of those cases these gentlemen are or were members of a firm, and they were able, therefore, to give their entire time to the business of the particular railway company, while their partners in the firm were carrying on the general business in which they also had an interest. While they were giving their whole time to the duties of the railway company, their firm at the same time was carrying on business of a general kind. In some cases the solicitor was not in a sense paid a salary, but he was paid the usual fees. For all practical purposes, the distinction was very little, and the number of gentlemen who would be affected by this amendment if it were passed would, I understand, certainly not exceed ten. I do not know whether I am rightly instructed or not, but in a letter I have received from one of them that is the statement made to me.

This amendment would involve about ten persons. One of them has served a railway company for fortyone years, his father having served them for thirty years previously. The second one, who also has written to me on the subject, has served for thirtyone years consecutively as solicitor to one of these amalgamated companies. I think their case is one that deserves some consideration. I am not now talking of pensions. I am not talking of compensation, but these are persons who ought to receive some consideration at the hands of the Government. What form it should take would be a matter for the Government, but I do not think their case ought to be ruled out merely on the ground that they are not whole-time officers, because, as I have pointed out, whether they were whole-time officers or not, they would still have carried on their ordinary business through a partner or through the firm. In one or two cases the persons concerned, on being appointed salaried officials, sold their interest in the business. That came practically to the same thing as if they had allowed the money to remain with the firm and received profits in the ordinary way. I think the case is one that is really deserving of sympathy on the part of the Minister.

I think the Government might consider this matter favourably, or, at any rate, in a friendly spirit. I think there is a good deal in what the Senator has drawn attention to. I know at least one case which I think is a case of hardship and which this amendment would relieve. I do not suggest the steps the Government ought to take in the matter, but I think that possibly something might be done on Report to meet what undoubtedly, in my humble judgement, is a case of hardship.

It seems to me that the solicitor who has had the 38 years' service in a particular railway company, and who has written me a number of letters corresponding to the 38 years' service, must also have written a considerable number of letters to members of both Houses. He has succeeded in putting his case on an entirely wrong footing. He has changed his ground several times. First of all, he insisted that there were absolutely guaranteed rights of his which were being defeated under the Bill. When that contention was proved wrong, he came along with anad misericordiam appeal and insisted that his number of years should be taken into account. I have not seen any argument yet advanced why I should seek to make provision in the Bill for a man who has had a very good client for 38 years from whom he has received full fees. I get back to my old contention that pension is deferred pay, and if this solicitor had come along and based his appeal on the ground that he had made arrangements for being attached to the railway company and that in the hopes of pension afterwards he would accept fees lower than his ordinary professional charges, he would have been on stronger ground. I do not know if he would not have brought himself within the grip of the Incorporated Law Society by so doing. But he received the full fees for 38 years, at any moment of which his services might have been dispensed with by the particular railway company or at any moment of which another solicitor might have been taken on to act in conjunction with him or the work might have been divided up amongst a number of solicitors.

Because a man has been fortunate enough to enjoy a lucrative form of employment for 38 years, he puts it to me that I should add to that great stroke of luck and give him a gratuity. There are no cases known to me where anybody will come under the Bill because he is a member of a firm, that firm being attached to a railway company. The only case catered for under the Bill is that of an individual who has been a whole-time solicitor to a railway company. His rights are properly looked after under the Bill. We do not intend to compensate a firm or a member of a firm who have been acting for a railway company, and if that appears to be a provision of the Bill we will see to it that it is changed. There are, I think, three railways affected by the point raised by Senator Barrington— railways taken over by county councils—the Tralee and Dingle Railway, the Schull and Skibbereen Railway, and the Donoughmore Extension. That is a minor point. Whether the man is a solicitor acting for a Committee of Management which has taken over a railway company or whether he is a solicitor to a county council which may have to run a railway, or whether he is solicitor to a railway company does not matter. They are all on the same footing. They have been paid full fees for services rendered. They have got adequate remuneration for their services, and there is no necessity to give them anything further in the way of gratuity.

I would like to point out to the Minister that while a solicitor may not nominally be a fulltime officer, the railway company have first call on his services and must occupy a considerable amount of his time. His ordinary business must necessarily be neglected, and I think there is a case for sympathetic consideration. There is really something worthy of consideration in the amendment. All these solicitors have not had 38 years service. Some young solicitors have given the best years of their life to the railway companies, who had practically a monopoly of their services.

I think the Minister made a good case against the amendment, and even if it dealt with more than five years' service I would vote against it.

The real difficulty is with regard to the full charges and fees which have been paid to these solicitors. Although the payments are made by fees, are they of the full scale, or is there any working arrangement between the solicitor and the company by which the company agree to give him their business at reduced fees? If the Minister is right, and if the solicitor is paid the full scale, as if each bit of business was fresh business, I think the Minister has made practically an unanswerable case. If, however, there is any agreement between the company and the solicitor, because of their giving him all their work there is a reduced scale of fees, which would lessen his remuneration, there seems something to be said in favour of the amendment. I would like, however, to hear whether there is anything of that sort in existence.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I do not think that there is any half-way house between a salaried solicitor and a solicitor who receives the ordinary statutory fees. I doubt very much if any arrangement, such as that suggested, would not be in violation of the principles upon which solicitors run their profession. I think that any such agreement as has been referred to would be regarded as a breach of professional etiquette. What I had in my mind was this: these gentlemen who are not paid salaries but fees, were it not for the actual introduction of this Bill, would, in the normal course of events, have continued to earn those fees for the remainder of their lives. This Bill, however, cuts across that, and whether their remuneration was greater than if they received whole-time salaries, the Bill has deprived them of what, in the ordinary course of events, they would have enjoyed in time to come. With regard to a whole-time solicitor, I am satisfied that in every case in which his firm are carrying on business in the ordinary way, he dissociates himself, so far as the business is concerned, from doing anything else than carrying on the business of the company, but when he is a member, or partner, of a firm carrying on business, he will be entitled to his share of the profits. There seems to me to be very little distinction from that point of view between the merits of the two cases, but I thought that I would bring the matter before the House, so far as my own experience would help them in considering it.

If this amendment is passed it will make a very bad precedent in connection with coming local government legislation. On all boards where amalgamation may take place there are solicitors employed, and if you accept this amendment, it may be a precedent that every solicitor whose services are no longer required may have to come in under this scheme. I could not, therefore, vote for this amendment.

In this respect I do not think the railway companies have any objection to paying compensation, or at least I have known none. We have been told that this is a private enterprise and that there should be no undue interference on the part of the State as to what they should do. To that extent I do not think that we should come between the companies doing what they consider fair and just by their employees. It is really a matter whether a man is employed on ordinary employment or piecework. Some companies have one way of doing it, and other companies have another. The net result is that a man is deprived of income to which otherwise he would be entitled and which, under normal circumstances, he would enjoy for the rest of his life. The question whether it is salary or fee is immaterial so far as the man is concerned. The Minister stated that a solicitor might make arrangements with the company to get a pension. That is not correct, as he could not so arrange, unless he became a salaried officer. I think that if the companies themselves, weighing up all the circumstances, decide that they should make some sort of compensation to the man we should not come between them in doing what is an obvious act of justice.

To come to Senator O'Farrell's point, if the company which employs a particular solicitor wishes to compensate him, that company can do so before it is amalgamated, and while it is an amalgamating or a company about to be absorbed it can do whatever it likes with its employees. If the company is well enough disposed to a solicitor to grant him a pension well and good. The Senator stated further that if a solicitor were entitled to a pension he would have to be compensated, and it is on that point that I split with him. He is not entitled. I know of one solicitor who is a solicitor to a railway company, and he will continue to be employed. He is at present employed by one of the amalgamating companies, and there is every likelihood that he will continue to be so employed. No solicitor, except a whole-time one, is entitled to a pension. There is no whole-time solicitor known to us who is a member of a firm. In every case it is an individual.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I may be able to give you some assistance on that.

I am glad of your previous assistance, sir. With reference to the question raised by Senator Jameson, I had put it the other way, that I do not think a man could agree to take lesser fees than his ordinary charges without coming under the control of the Incorporated Law Society. Full fees to our knowledge have been paid, and that is why I hold there is no case at all. I cannot imagine that a barrister who has been fed with briefs by solicitors for 38 years, after enjoying those briefs should come to them and say, "I am getting old and did good work for you. Why not compensate me now for your failure in the future? I am getting weak and in my old age." I think that would be ludicrous.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That case about the barrister is a dangerous one for the Minister, because I know of many barristers appointed as standing counsel of a public Department and paid by fee, who were, on retirement, given a pension.

Perhaps I might point out in connection with one matter the Minister mentioned where my amendment comes in and is not on all fours with the other. He says there is nothing which prevents the company compensating these people. In the case of the railways, take the position of a committee of the county council. There is legislation for that. If they compensated the man who has lost his job the county council would be surcharged. The point of the matter is this: a solicitor is appointed by a resolution as a solicitor of the company. If his salary is according to the amount of work he does, or at a certain fixed sum, I do not think it matters at all. The county council is prevented from paying him by the operation of the ordinary law. Why a provision should not be put in which would entitle him to compensation under this Bill is more than I can understand.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think it would be strong to put in that he was entitled to compensation. The question is, is his case to be considered.

We can only put him in the same position as others.

It appears to me I am asked to put in a provision which will run counter to the provisions of the Local Government Department. That is that the Local Government Department will prevent a man receiving compensation. They have considered the case, and considered that such a man should not receive compensation.

I did not say that. You said there is nothing to prevent a company giving them compensation. So far as I know the Local Government Department have not considered it at all, but I know, under the operations of the ordinary Act, they would not be entitled to do it.

They have considered it to this point, that such a man is decided not to be a pensionable officer of a local authority. To that point I have considered it. The other point will be met. The committee of management or a county council may not pay them. There is nothing to prevent shareholders paying such a man.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

The amendment will be put to the House in the altered form. You put in after "the absorbed company""or a committee of a county council working same."

Amendment put and declared lost.
Question—"That the Third and Fourth Schedules stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
FIFTH SCHEDULE.

I want to ask on the Fifth Schedule why in the forms under Part 4, page 37, the mileage distances are set out there, and there only. In all the other forms the mileage distances are left blank, and the presumption is that mileage distances are a question for settlement between the various parties and should not be prejudged by the legislature. I can give the Minister private information on that point.

I thank the Senator. It will be better to have them left blank. If an amendment could be moved to omit the actual description of miles in Part 4 of the Fifth Schedule it certainly will be accepted. It is better to leave those things to the tribunal.

I will move an amendment on the Report Stage.

Question—"That the Fifth to the Ninth Schedule, inclusive, stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
TENTH SCHEDULE.
ENACTMENTS NOT APPLYING TO AMALGAMATED COMPANY.

Session and Chapter.

Short Title.

Extent of Repeal.

36 & 37 Vict. ch. 48

The Regulation of Railways Act, 1873.

Sections 14 and 15

57 & 58 Vict. ch. 54

The Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1894.

Sections 1, 3 and 4

11 & 12 Geo. V. ch. 55

The Railways Act, 1921

Section 84, sub-section (1), and the words “save as aforesaid” in subsection (2).

I move:—

In the Tenth Schedule to insert at the commencement of the Schedule the words "31 and 32 Vict. ch. 119, the Regulation of Railways Act, 1868, Section 34."

This is an amendment of the Earl of Kerry, and he aims at the removal of an existing evil. This Schedule in this Bill that we are considering provides that certain enactments shall not apply to the amalgamated company, and it is sought by this amendment to add to that list a certain amount of the Regulations of the Railways Act of 1868. So long as that part of that Act continues to apply to the amalgamated company that company would have to supply a shareholder's address book to any shareholder who applied for it at the price of 5s. There would be about 36,000 shareholders in this amalgamated company, and I think that it is obvious to this House that 5s. is a totally inadequate price to charge for that book. Perhaps a few dozen would be asked for in the course of a year, and they could not be sold at anything like 5s. I do not know what the price would be, but I suggest it might quite well be in the neighbourhood of £20 or £30 a copy. The cost is large. If the amendment is passed, no real harm will be done to any shareholder of the amalgamated company. He would be in the same position as the shareholder of any ordinary commercial company, and such shareholders are protected I believe by Section 10 of the Companies Clauses Act of 1845, which gives them the right to read the list of shareholders' addresses, the right to persue the address book at any time they like, and obtain a copy of part of it they like at the rate of 6d. a hundred words. That was considered a reasonable charge in 1845, and if it were a reasonable charge then it could not be considered an excessive one now. The amendment is simply directed at the removal of what is an abuse, of what is of no real benefit to anyone and which involves a waste of money.

I look upon this as consequential on an amendment which Senator Bagwell, acting for Senator the Earl of Kerry, previously withdrew, to be brought up on the Report Stage. That is amendment 40 on the main sheet.

I meant to convey that this amendment which I now moved would take the place of the other amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

This amendment is in substitution for No. 40?

Yes, it may be put that way.

That is where I do not find it acceptable. Because if 40 had been moved it definitely did substitute for the address book provided under a particular clause of the Companies Consolidation Act a card index, and it went on to say that the charge would not exceed the sum of £10. I had intended accepting that amendment if it were further amended so as to have it reduced to £2 10s. or £1, according as the Seanad thought fit. If we take this amendment do we leave it to the amalgamated company to charge anything they like for these address books?

No; I would like to explain that it is not intended to have the amalgamated company put in a position to charge anything they like, but to charge at the rate of 6d. for each 100 words. What that would work out at in the case of a shareholders' address book of 36,000 names and addresses, I am not in a position to calculate at the moment. It would be a very considerable cost. I claim that this amendment is not depriving anybody of any rights of real consequence. Any shareholder of an ordinary company can obtain all the information he desires by perusing the book, which at any time he has a right to do.

You see, my difficulty is that the only amendment I have before me is to insert a certain Act in the Schedule, which is to a certain extent a repealing Act. There is nothing about a charge of 6d. per 100 names or whatever it may be. If this amendment was brought in to have this particular Act included in the Schedule, and have in substitution for it, some amendment corresponding to amendment 40, which was not moved, then the two taken together would be acceptable. But to bring in an Act which would, in effect, allow the amalgamated company to charge any price they like for a list, is not acceptable. I have expressed my point of view with regard to amendment 40 and this amendment. Amendment 56 is acceptable, and amendment 40 is acceptable taken with it, if the sum of £10 be made either £2 10s. or £1. I think there is a lot to be said for amendment 40. I understand that in one railway in Ireland the full cost of the address book came to £250 for printing, and they sold ten copies, for which they got £2 10s. That is what the sale came to. That was obviously not right, and if the whole Bill were amended by some such amendment as 40 and 56 both taken together it would be acceptable, but this latter amendment alone would not be acceptable.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

It is quite plain that it would be wise to accept that offer of the Minister and have a new clause drafted for the Report Stage.

It is not easy to follow, because to a certain extent the two amendments are mutually destructive. The Minister has expressed sympathy with the removal or the amelioration of the abuse which exists, and I understand he will favourably consider anything brought up on Report. I would like to say that the figure mentioned, £2 10s., would only reduce the abuse very slightly, but I will bring up the matter on the Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

This amendment stands in my name, but it was dealt with yesterday:—

New Schedule. Immediately after the Tenth Schedule to insert a new Schedule as follows:—

ELEVENTH SCHEDULE.

LOANS OUTSTANDING.

£

Dublin and South Eastern Railway

179,400

Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway

65,000

Southern Railway

54,694

Amendment not moved.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That concludes the Committee Stage. Now, as regards the Report Stage, we cannot take that up before some time next week. I do not know whether there is any special day which the Minister would prefer to suit his convenience.

I am ready to submit myself to your convenience any day. The earlier the better. If we take the Report Stage on Wednesday, with the understanding that we would take the Fifth Stage that day, too, it would facilitate matters. The 31st July is the date mentioned in the Bill, and we must work to it as closely as possible.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I will do my best for you on Wednesday.