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Seanad Éireann debate -
Friday, 19 Dec 1947

Vol. 34 No. 21

Local Government (Superannuation) Bill, 1947—Second Stage.

This Bill provides a new superannuation code for persons in the service of local authorities. It is in general mandatory in respect of officers and adoptive in respect of servants. It will apply to all pensionable officers entering the service after the commencement of the Act, and also to such existing officers who, not having attained the specified age of 60 years, may opt to accept it. Local authorities may under Section 5 adopt Part III of the measure which makes the measure applicable to servants. Existing pensionable servants will have the same right of option, subject to age, as existing officers are to have.

The main provisions relating to officers will be found in Part II of the Bill; and those relating to servants will be found in Part III. Part IV contains a number of miscellaneous ancillary provisions applicable in the main to both classes. Part I contains the definitions and the usual preliminary and general provisions. It is provided that Part II shall come into operation when the Minister makes an Order to that effect. Part III, however, only comes into operation when the local authority concerned passes the necessary resolution under Section 5.

To qualify for pension reckoned on the full period of actual service an officer must have served with diligence and fidelity. The condition requiring service with general diligence and fidelity will be found in Sections 23 to 49. To become eligible for a pension an officer must be in the permanent employment of a local authority, and, with certain specified exceptions, he must devote the whole of his time to the local service. The exceptions are set out in Section 2.

The next salient feature of the proposals is the contribution which will be required of new entrants, whether officers or servants. This contribution will be 5 per cent. of the annual remuneration or earnings for officers and 4? per cent. for servants. Provision is made for a refund of contributions in certain circumstances under Section 32 and Section 57. These contributions will not defray more than one-third of the aggregate cost of pensions and other allowances which will be obtainable under the Bill. The balance will be met in general by the local authorities or, in the type of case to which Sections 18 or 84 apply, by the Minister for Finance and the local authority concerned. In the case of officers the pensions and other allowances will take the form of lump sum payments and annual allowances approximating to those granted to civil servants. The lump sum will be at the rate of 1-30th of the officer's retiring salary for each year of pensionable service, but will be limited to a maximum of one and a half times that salary. That is provided under Section 24. The annual allowance will be at the rate of 1-80th for each year of pensionable service but will not exceed one-half of the retiring salary. That is provided under Section 25. This limit will not, however, apply to allowances to be granted under Section 77 to officers or servants of local authorities whose retirement may be due to injury incurred in the discharge of their duty or to certain specified dependents in the event of death from such injuries. In the case of servants, there is much to be said in favour of making the annual allowance as large as possible in relation to the retiring pay. Accordingly, servants will not receive a lump sum on retirement, but their pensions will be calculated at the rate of 1-60th for each year of pensionable service instead of 1-80th as in the case of officers, and the maximum amount, except in cases of retirement due to injury in the discharge of duty, will be two-thirds, instead of one-half of their wages. The reference is Section 50.

The Bill also permits the payment of gratuities to the legal personal representatives of deceased established officers and servants as will be seen in Sections 28 and 53. Sections 29 and 54 provide that where a retired officer or servant dies before the total amount received by him in the form of a lump sum and annual allowances is equal to the pensionable remuneration at the date of retirement, the local authority may grant to his legal personal representative such a gratuity as will make good the difference between the deceased's retiring pensionable remuneration and the total of the sums paid to him on foot of the lump sum and the annual allowance paid up to the date of death. Female officers or servants of local authorities, who retire on marriage or with the intention of getting married, and who have not less than five years' pensionable service, will be entitled to a gratuity, calculated at the rate of one-twelfth of their pensionable remuneration multiplied by the number of years of pensionable service, subject to a maximum of a year's pay. The reference there is Sections 30 and 55.

Section 82, sub-section (1) provides that an officer of a local authority with not less than ten years' pensionable service who is appointed in future to an established post in the Civil Service can reckon for the purposes of the Civil Service Superannuation Acts his period of pensionable service with local authorities. Sub-section (2) of the section deals with past cases of movement from the local service to the Civil Service since 1922 and enables the appropriate Minister to issue certificates after investigation of the facts. The ten years' minimum local service will not be necessary in these cases.

In the case of a civil servant becoming an officer of a local authority the consent of the Minister for Finance and the local authority must be obtained to the application of similar benefits to his case (Section 18). These specific consents will not be necessary, of course, to cover past cases.

An established officer of a local authority who moves from the service of one local authority to another will be entitled to aggregate for pension purposes his separate periods of service with the local authorities concerned (Section 14). There is, however, an important reservation in this regard; if he served with another local authority for less than two years then that service will not count for pension unless he resigned from their service with the written sanction of the local authority concerned, and with the consent of the appropriate Minister. This provision should do much to avoid the disturbance of local administration caused by frequent changes of staffs.

Great difficulty was experienced in framing Part III of the measure, the part which relates to the servants of local authorities. Although we have established some measure of uniformity so far as pay is concerned, tenures of employment of servants still vary very greatly as between one local authority and another. The problem was to devise a scheme which would be generally applicable to all conditions.

This brought up in an acute way the problem of the road-workers and similar outdoor employees, whose service may be interrupted by the weather. I think it will be conceded that pensions for merely casual services could not be granted nor pensions for employment on relief works out of the public bounty unless the employees were already permanent servants whose services are utilised in a supervisory capacity.

Yet it would have been invidious to debar employees who in general were in fairly constant employment but who were subject at intervals to recurring interruption of their employment because of weather, cessation of grants, etc. These workers, though not in a factual sense permanently or continuously employed, are described very often by local custom as permanent men. This difficulty has been met in Section 42 (1) (h) and sub-section (4) in Section 63 by providing that if a servant having acquired pensionable status is employed for at least 200 days in any year, the period worked will count for pension purposes.

To secure pensionable status a servant of a local authority must have been in its permanent service for a continuous period of 3 years. His name shall then be entered in the local register of established servants, if the maximum number of established servants prescribed by the local authority under Section 5 has not been reached (Section 38 (2)). If during any of the three relevant years the aggregate temporary absences of a permanent servant of a local authority being of the kind specified in Section 61 do not exceed 60 days he will still be entitled to have his name entered on the register.

An officer or servant of a local authority may, under Sections 23 and 49, on attaining the age of 60 years, if he so elects, retire on pension, provided he has not less than 20 years of pensionable local service to his credit, and has fulfilled the other conditions prescribed. In the case of officers and servants of fire brigades, the age for voluntary retirement on pension is 55. These provisions do not, of course, compel the person concerned to retire at 60 years of age. In fact, the normal age for compulsory retirement of pensionable officers, as fixed by Order under Section 23 of the Local Government Act, 1941, is at present 65.

The cases of officers of vocational education committees who had previously held posts as national teachers or as secondary teachers are dealt with in Sections 72 and 90; while Section 36 deals with the position of established officers who, prior to 1924, had given whole-time service as teachers of Irish under the Gaelic League.

Under Section 77, power is taken to make regulations which will enable gratuities or allowances to be paid to officers or servants, whether in the pensionable class or not, who may be compelled to retire through injury caused in the actual discharge of duty and specifically attributable to the nature of such duty. Should an officer to whom this provision applies die within seven years after the date of his injury, and as the direct result of such injury, then gratuities or allowances may be paid to his widow and children and to his mother or father if they had been wholly dependent on him.

Representations have reached me that provision should be made for gratuities to the legal personal representatives of officers and servants who died before the commencement of the Act. I have endeavoured to meet that in Sections 37 (9) and 63 (6), which will enable local authorities to grant appropriate gratuities in cases where a pensionable officer or pensionable servant died on or after 1st January, 1947, and had not attained the age of 60, or 55 in the case of fire brigade officers and men, on that date.

The Bill contains a number of sections granting rights of appeal to established officers and established servants. The general principle of Ministerial responsibility as regards appeals is that the particular Minister concerned in questions of status shall decide appeals on failure to register the name of an officer or servant. Appeals against the removal of a name from the register of pensionable officers or servants will be dealt with on the same principles. Appeals against failures to grant lump sums or allowances or to return contributions or against the amount of lump sums, allowances or gratuities will be dealt with under Section 73 by the Minister for Local Government who is the Minister responsible under the Bill for sanctioning lump sums, allowances and gratuities.

The position of officers or servants who retired after November 1st, 1946, is dealt with in Section 79. Under this section local authorities may increase the allowances to such extent as may be sanctioned by the relevant Minister. The justification for this provision is that the age limit has operated to retire a number of officers before the post-emergency adjustment of their pay could become fully effective for pension purposes.

Section 79 also enables other existing pensions to be increased. Pensions carrying cost-of-living bonus can be adjusted to a cost-of-living bonus of 270 as from the 1st November, 1946. This applies to all pensions of this kind irrespective of the date of retirement. Inclusive pensions granted in respect of retirements between 1st July, 1940, and 1st November, 1946, may also be revised. Provision is made under Sections 68, 69 and 75 for the cancellation, reduction or suspension of pensions in special circumstances which arise rarely but which nevertheless have to be provided for.

The financial implications of a Bill of this kind are important and will no doubt be carefully examined by the representatives of the ratepayers, as well as by the officers and servants affected. In the absence of a special review of the service of every employee it is not possible to give precise figures, but if all local authorities give effect to the measure, I think it is safe to assume that the additional cost is unlikely to rise above £100,000—a figure which will not of course be reached for a number of years. At present, if we exclude mental hospital staffs, which are in a special category, having their own schemes, the local authorities pay out about £228,000 in retiring allowances and gratuities. The additional expenditure will depend entirely on the elected representatives of the ratepayers in each case.

As I have already pointed out, Part III of the Bill merely gives power to local authorities to provide for the superannuation of their servants in the manner specified in the Act. If a local authority desires to avail of that power then, in accordance with Section 5, it must decide by formal resolution to adopt Part III of the Act as from a specified date. Due notice of their intentions must be given in writing to the Minister and to every member of the local authority.

Furthermore, the resolution must declare the maximum number of persons who, for the purposes of the Act, may be employed as permanent servants by the local authority. The resolution, of course, may be amended on due notice. The adoption of such resolution will be a reserved function of the elected members who will have to consider, not only the claims of their servants but the taxable position of ratepayers.

The Bill contains a number of new basic principles as regards servants which have not so far been contained in superannuation law and I have no doubt that local authorities will in due course give the matter equitable consideration having regard to their own position and also that of their servants.

I have asked the Seanad if it could see its way to expedite the passing of the Housing Bill and I would ask it to pass this Bill as it stands without amendment. The Bill represents an agreement between many interested authorities, more or less. It was in grave danger of being jettisoned by reason of the approaching general election but I decided that I should endeavour to have it passed into law, if that could be done without undue delay or undue difficulty. It has involved a very serious strain not only upon me but upon the members of my staff. It is a far-reaching code and I think it is generally regarded as a very satisfactory code. It was passed through the Dáil on the basis I have outlined, that is to say, that the Government having considered all the requests that had been made to it, and having discussed these requests with other interests concerned, decided to make certain amendments to the Bill which, if they were accepted by the House, would assure its agreed passage through Dáil Eireann.

I am asking the Seanad to consider the measure in that light for this reason. A considerable number of officers, who retired early this year and in the latter part of last year, and who in the normal course, had it not been for their retirement under the Age Limit Order, would have been continued in the service of local authorities, would have been entitled to secure pensions based upon the present rates of remuneration prevailing. Because they retired before these rates of remuneration were accepted and agreed upon, they retired upon pensions which were considerably lower than those which they could otherwise have enjoyed. There are also, of course, a considerable number of officers who were affected by the operation of the Standstill Order and whose retiring allowances were accordingly based on the salaries which they were in receipt of at the date of retirement. All these people are vitally affected by the Bill and if there were to be any grave difference of opinion about it, such a difference of opinion as would involve a re-summoning of the other House or a prolonged discussion on the Bill, I could not accept the responsibility of asking the other House to meet to consider it. For that reason I would plead very strongly that the Bill should go through in its present form.

I have not been in a position to examine this Bill as carefully as I should like. I know this important matter of the superannuation of local officers has been discussed for a considerable number of years. The Bill is a complicated one and, no doubt, in its main terms is satisfactory. I want to raise two matters—one a general matter and the other a particular matter. It has often struck me that there should be an interchange between local government officers and civil servants. I take it that, under Section 18, if a civil servant leaves the Civil Service and enters the service of a local authority his former service will count for pensionable purposes. Is the reverse the case at all?

That is a very important improvement in the general situation as between officers who may leave the Civil Service and enter the service of a local authority and vice versa. There is one other point which relates to Section 79. A similar point was raised on the Civil Service (Superannuation) Bill. The Minister, as the Bill was originally drafted, went back as far as 1946. I think in the other House he accepted an amendment to go back to 1940.

In certain circumstances.

But he still leaves a small class of persons who retired before 1940 on fixed pensions outside the ambit of the Bill.

That is so.

I do not want to labour the point, but it seems to me that since the argument is almost the same—not precisely the same—as in the case of civil servants, this must necessarily be a small class of persons, a class, in the nature of things, over 70 years on the average, who are therefore dwindling and who, since they had fixed pensions, were hard hit by the rising cost of living during the war. Now, at an advanced age, they find other persons are getting an increase and they will get nothing. From the point of view of justice and from the point of view that the charge in the beginning will be small and will decrease annually by the law of nature, so to speak, I feel that these people should be included.

I have been given a number of examples, at least one of which strikes me as being very remarkable indeed. A person retired in February, 1931, with a fixed pension, plus the cost-of-living bonus, and I compare that case with the case of a corporation employee retiring in the same year with a fixed pension. The fixed pension was £900. It has not been increased and will not be increased by this Bill, whereas the pension of the other officer, with less onerous responsibilities, will be increased now to something over £1,000. That is a matter well worthy of consideration on Section 79. It can be raised there.

The Minister concluded by telling us that if this Bill is not accepted in its present form those who would benefit by it may lose their benefits entirely. That is a familiar argument.

I think that, generally speaking, the House will gladly welcome the introduction of this Bill, inasmuch as it meets a demand which has been pressed for a number of years —to my own knowledge for ten or 12 years—on behalf of the employees of local authorities who hitherto were not entitled to a retiring allowance. It will bring that section of the community entitled by statute to a retiring allowance to fairly substantial proportions. On the whole, the Bill is a very satisfactory one and one that we can all welcome.

There are defects of a serious character in the Bill which, I hope, notwithstanding the appeal of the Minister, this House will do something to remedy. For instance, at this moment, before the Bill becomes law, practically all the servants as distinct from the officers of the Dublin Corporation are assured that if they become incapable of carrying on their work they will get an allowance of some kind from the corporation. Under the Bill a considerable proportion of these men will be deprived of something to which they are now entitled.

When this Bill becomes law the Dublin Corporation will be called upon to determine whether or not they will adopt Part III. If the corporation decide to adopt Part III they will be called upon under this section to pass a resolution fixing the number of persons who may be registered as pensionable servants of the corporation. Once they have determined that the number shall be 1,000 or 2,000 or whatever the number may be, the corporation will then be precluded from altering that figure for five years. Each decision fixing the number of persons to be regarded as pensionable servants remains for five years.

Apart from that, however, the number of pensionable servants is limited in another respect. It is limited in this way, that under the Bill nobody can commence to count his period of service until he reaches the age of 18 years, so that if he starts at 16 years there is no credit given to him for the two years until he is 18 years. He must be at least two years in the service of the corporation or, of course, of any local authority, before he can go on the register of servants. You have this kind of limitation, the waiting period first and, secondly, the waiting for a vacancy to arise on the register. Men may be 20 years in the service of a local authority like the Dublin Corporation and still fail to become registered servants.

Once this Bill becomes law and Part III is adopted by the local authority and the register of servants is created, from that moment the local authority has no power to grant to people any gratuity or allowance, things they are entitled to at this moment. Rights they have now will disappear to the detriment of the employees.

The Senator forgets there is nothing in this that compels the Dublin Corporation to adopt this scheme instead of the scheme already in existence. He is overlooking that point.

I am aware of that. I said that if the corporation adopts Part III of this Bill the consequences which I have enumerated will follow automatically and the Minister will take power under another Bill to ensure that the membership of the corporation will be so altered in character as to comply with the intentions of this Bill. I say quite frankly that the people with whom I have contact in the service of the Dublin Corporation are genuinely anxious about the provisions of this Bill. I am not suggesting that the Minister is setting out deliberately to deprive certain people of rights which have accrued to them during the period of 20 or 30 years, but I am suggesting that he has not taken into account fully the effects which are likely to flow in certain circumstances from the enactment of this Bill.

Again, I have been approached concerning the kind of case to which Senator Hayes has referred. It is an anomaly, no doubt, but it is hurtful as well as unfair to certain old employees of local authorities, particularly old employees of the Dublin Corporation. I have in mind the case of a man who was asked by the Government of this country to leave the service of the corporation to perform work of national importance at a time when there was some difficulty in getting men of capacity, training and competence to undertake work of that kind—1924. The person concerned has been out of the service of the corporation since 1924, doing work which he was requested to undertake on behalf of the community for a period of years. From 1931 he ceased to be in the effective service of the corporation. He retired with what is called a fixed pension. As Senator Hayes says, his pension is not capable of adjustment under this Bill. He gets no increase in his pension. Other servants of the corporation who are differently situated, who retired with minor rank and lower pensions will, when this Bill becomes law, have a pension of £200 per year more than the person to whom I am referring. I think Senator Hayes and I are referring to the same person.

If the person to whom we are referring belonged to a big class, I would hesitate to ask the Minister to review the circumstances of his case. I see great difficulty in asking the Government to review a decision, particularly where finance is concerned, affecting large numbers of people, but I made some inquiries regarding the case in point and the information I have is that there are altogether concerned in this suggestion of Senator Hayes' and mine, 38 persons. Six of them have a pension of less than £75 per year, that is, something less than 27/6 per week. Every one of them is over 70. With possibly one exception, I think they are all over 75. We are dealing here with a class numbering in all 38 persons, between the ages of 75 and 80. As I have shown, six persons at least have pensions of 27/6 per week or less. Only seven out of the 38 have a pension of £500 per year or over.

I would respectfully suggest that the Minister might allow his sympathies to be affected by the plight of people belonging to the category to which I am referring. Again, I say that I recognise the difficulty where large bodies of people are concerned. This Bill, however, in Section 79, makes a distinction between two classes, between the persons who retired with a fixed pension and the persons who retired with a variable pension. If they retired with a variable pension, as the great majority of these officers did, they are entitled to increments under this Bill. If they retired with a fixed pension, as a small number of them have done, they are entitled to nothing under the Bill. The anomaly exists in the one case I referred to of the man who retired in the circumstances I have described, who will, when the Bill becomes law, be receiving a pension of £200 per year less than a junior officer who during his service had a less responsible position and who retired on a smaller pension.

Another matter to which I would direct the Minister's attention is this: the contribution prescribed in the case of registered servants is, in my opinion, unreasonably high. I admit that the argument could be put up that a valuable concession is being given to the servants of local authorities, at what is, after all, a modest rate of contribution—4?th per cent.—in other words, a halfpenny per shilling of wages. Let us see what that means in pounds, shillings and pence in relation to Pat Murphy, one of the people concerned. Let us assume his wages are £3 per week—and that is a higher rate of pay than the great majority of registered servants of local authorities would have, apart from County Dublin. Let us assume he is a County Dublin road worker. On a wage of £3 per week, his contribution would be 2/6. Whatever 4?th per cent. may mean in relation to a pension, 2/6 a week contribution out of a wage of £3 is more than the workman can reasonably bear. The rents of the cottages have increased enormously in the past ten or 15 years. I remember when you could get a decent county council cottage in County Dublin for 2/- a week, including rates. The rent of a similar cottage to-day is about 7/- a week. On top of that there is 2/6 contribution, on top of that, additional taxation on beer, tobacco and everything else. These are factors which ought not be ignored. They are factors which should be considered by the workers concerned in deciding whether or not this Bill is to be of any use to them.

I have no doubt that the Minister did not go to the trouble of introducing this Bill unless he intended that it would be of use to the employees of local authorities and that he intended that the local authorities would adopt it and that the employees in the main would derive benefits under the Bill. I accept that right away, but I am trying to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that there are these impediments which will deprive him of the pleasure of having introduced an acceptable, comprehensive pension scheme for the employees of local authorities.

Again, the question arises of broken time. A person whose name is added to the register of registered servants, that is, an ordinary wage earner employed by the local authority, may find himself removed from the register and his qualifying period for a pension curtailed by reason of the fact that he has worked less than 200 days in the year. I calculate that the total number of working days for the servant of a local authority is 285, deducting Sundays, Catholic holidays and annual leave. If at any period a man is laid off for 85 days or more, he loses entitlement to be continued as a registered servant of the local authority. We do know that there was a number of cases in the past where local authorities were obliged to lay off large sections of their workers during financial crisis. That is going to have the effect of depriving them of their entitlement to remain on a pensionable status. I would urge the Minister to consider these points, to consider whether he desires that this Bill should, in fact, become the charter of the servants of local authorities. If he desires that, then I suggest he should examine the provisions to which I have drawn attention, and some others, so as to ensure that the Bill carries out his intentions.

This Bill has been sought by the representatives of local authorities and by the direct representations of local government officials, whether classified as officers or servants, over a period of 15 years. In fact, in 1933 the then Minister for Local Government who, happily, now is President of this country, promised to take up this matter and deal with it as quickly as possible. There were immense difficulties then, due to differences in the conditions of employment under the various local authorities of officers and what are classified as servants. Those difficulties have been straightened out, and I am glad that in the year of grace, 1947, this Bill has seen the light of day and has been brought before us by the present Minister for Local Government.

It is a pity, in a way, that it should be before us at this period, at the end of the life of this House, when we have not sufficient time to consider it in all its detail, and to suggest amendments to the Minister. As I have said, a demand was made for it by those to whom I have referred, not entirely on their own behalf or because of the benefits that would accrue to themselves during the period when they would be on pension, but rather to meet the difficulty that would face their dependents if anything should happen to the breadwinner while still in active service.

A big difference obtains as between the position of the officials of a local authority and those in the employment of the State. If a State servant dies while on active service, his dependents will receive a payment from State sources which will help to tide the family over the sudden cutting off of the breadwinner's income. On many occasions I have brought that position to the attention of the House although we had not then an actual Bill before us. We have this Bill now, and I wish to suggest amendments to it on behalf of local government officials and of municipal employees. There is not much use in my doing so if the Minister will not agree to accept them. It may be suggested that their acceptance would have the effect of putting an additional charge on the Exchequer. I do not think that would be so because any increase given would fall not on a central authority but on the ratepayers.

I draw attention to sub-section (1) of Section 37, which provides:—

"Where on the commencement of this Part of this Act a person is a pensionable officer of a local authority and, on the 1st day of January, 1947, he had not reached— (a) in case he is a fire brigade officer, the age of 55 years, or (b) in any other case, the age of 60 years."

I suggest to the Minister that he should delete all the words from the word "and" in line 11 down to the word "years" in line 15. If he does it will mean that it will be possible for any officer or employee of a local authority, whether he is over 60 years or not, to opt in or out of this pension scheme. I think the argument is used, in the case of these officers or employees, that when they had reached the age of 60—in five years they would be retiring on a pension of two-thirds of their salary—the majority of them would opt to remain as they are. I think that is an additional argument in favour of giving them the right to opt. They are deprived by Section 37 of opting into this pension scheme and, presumably, the idea is that the majority of them would feel that they would be better off by not opting into it. I think it is reasonable to give an officer or an employee the right to say: "Well, I will choose the new scheme even though my pension will be less than what it would be if I lived to the age of 65 and were to go out on pension under the conditions obtaining at present."

As I said in the course of my introductory remarks, the thing that will weigh mostly with an officer or an employee is that if he dies between the age of 60 and 65 his dependents will have nothing to get. No civil servant and no local authority officer ever dies rich. The majority of them will die in debt. That applies especially to the officers and employees of local authorities who, during the emergency period, were subjected to much greater privations than civil servants. In the case of the former there was what may be described as a ceiling prohibition, so that they got no increase in their salaries. The position of the civil servants was different because they had a cost-of-living bonus and got a sectional rise every time, and an additional rise in salary after that.

During the emergency period, the officials of local authorities had to pledge their insurance policies in order to educate their families and help them over that very difficult time. They did not protest to any great extent against that. They shouldered their share of the burdens during the emergency period as most citizens did. They modelled their lives on whatever salaries they had at that time, but the position to-day is that every one of them is in straitened circumstances. What weighs with most of them is that if they were to die between the age of 60 and 65 their widows and families will have nothing to compensate them for the consequent loss of their incomes. It is reasonable that the Minister should give to the fire brigade officer, if he has passed 55 years of age, and the ordinary officer, if he has passed the age of 60, the right to opt for the new system, or to remain as he is. The person with no dependents, such as the bachelor who has only himself to take care of, will naturally choose to remain and will get two-thirds pension when he reaches retiring age, but the much more important officer, the officer with the wife and family to provide for, will say that it is to his advantage to have some provision made for his widow and orphans, if he should die in harness, on the basis of his having a lesser pension when he reaches retiring age and will opt for the conditions offered by this Bill. I appeal to the House to try to induce the Minister to accept this suggestion, even if it does mean bringing the Dáil back after Christmas. What harm is there in bringing the Dáil back? It will have to come back to deal with amendments passed yesterday.

It will not. The Dáil is not being called back to deal with these amendments.

Even if it is not, I appeal to the Minister to call the Dáil to consider this after Christmas, because the Dáil did not consider these provisions to the extent to which we would have liked the Dáil to do so, or to the extent to which I should like this House to consider them now.

Sub-section (9) of Section 37 deals with the semi-retrospective application of the section. I suggest that members of the House put themselves in the position of officials looking forward to the introduction of this Bill for years, with a view to getting some satisfactory system of compensation for their years of faithful service to a local authority and provision for their widows and orphans. Years passed, and an official died, leaving six, seven and eight of a family, as happened in many cases, with no provision. Another year passed and another died, and we were still looking forward to the introduction of the Bill. The ultimate result is that the dependents of any official who died since 1st January, 1947, will be provided for, but that will apply only where the official was not over 60.

From 60 to 65 is the vital period to which the Bill should apply, because it is the period in which the greater number of officials fall by the wayside. Members of the House know the very sad circumstances involved in the cases of officials and employees of the bodies in this city, the corporation and the county council. There would be a greater number of officials involved here than in other parts of the country.

There may be some similar cases in the country of which we are not aware, but I personally know some very sad cases of officials of the Dublin Corporation and Dublin County Council who died in harness and whose dependents are in very bad circumstances. These dependents will get no satisfaction under the terms of this clause, because the deadline is 1st January, 1947, and my appeal is based on the fact that these officials waited so long for these provisions and we now find that it applies only to officials who died since 1st January, 1947. No matter how far we go back, unless we go back to the period in which none of these dependents was born, somebody will be aggrieved, but I suggest that we go back to 1st January, 1945. There may be somebody who will not be covered then, but we should, at any rate, go back two years so as to cover some of these people who are in very bad circumstances.

My third point is the point dealt with already by Senators Hayes and Duffy. The difference between the officials who retired on a pension based on a sliding cost-of-living bonus and basic salary and those who retired on consolidated salaries will certainly be accentuated by this legislation. It would not be so bad if it applied to everybody, but the clause as it stands will allow the people who retired on a cost-of-living bonus and basic salary pension before 1940 to get an increase, and some of these people will have their high pensions further increased, while people who went out before 1st July, 1940, on £70, £80 and £100 a year cannot have their pensions increased. Only one increase is allowed and that is at the option of the local authority. Naturally, a local authority will be as conservative as a Minister or anybody else about giving a further increase to people who went out on a pension based on a fixed salary, but in the case of a person who went out on a cost-of-living and basic salary pension, the increase cannot be stopped. It has to be given under the Bill.

That is perpetuating a difference which should not be perpetuated and I suggest that the limit set out: "after the first day of July, 1940," should be deleted, so that the same conditions will apply to those who went out on a pension based on a fixed salary as apply to those who went out on a pension based on a cost-of-living bonus and a basic salary. As the Bill stands one section will get an increase whether they went out before 1940 or not—going back even as far as 1930—because they went out on a salary and bonus basis, and if they have a bigger pension at present than those who went out on a pension based on a fixed salary, that bigger pension will be increased, while the person with the fixed salary pension will get nothing. It is reasonable and fair that the clause: "after the 1st day of July, 1940," should be deleted. It will not compel the local authority, but will give them the right to choose. Most members of local authorities are democratic enough to rectify the position of the person on a low pension and leave others as they are. If the Minister does not accept this point of view, he will be spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar. He will be spoiling a fine Bill, which has been looked forward to for so many years, by including these conditions, which will be irritating to the officials and cause hardships to the dependents.

It is a great hardship on the officers if they are not allowed to choose. It is not their own personal conditions they will be thinking of, but the conditions which will obtain for their dependents, if they are stricken down while still employed by a local authority. The same thing will weigh with them as would weigh with people in considering the alleged hardships of the recent Budget. The Budget was brought in to relieve the household and to impose a tax, not on necessaries but on luxuries which we need not consume if we do not wish. The officials here will be thinking, not of themselves but of their dependents if they happen to die in harness, who will have no redress and no gratuity to help them over the trying period after the death of the breadwinner.

I appeal to the Minister to consider this matter and on his own behalf to bring in amendments to rectify it. I am prepared to put down amendments myself and debate them on the Committee Stage, but it would be far easier if we could convince him that the case is sound and that he should accept the arguments which I have put up in favour of it. I draw special attention to these three sections because they are just the blemishes that still remain on the conditions of employment of local authority officials or servants. This proposal is really only bringing local government employment into line with the conditions which obtain in the Civil Service. We have been looking forward for so long to the introduction of this legislation and we had hoped that everybody would be satisfied, but everybody cannot be satisfied unless these three sections are amended. I appeal to the Minister to do that, even to the extent of calling back the Dáil to do it.

When people in my locality approach me for something depending on the good graces of the Government, I generally advise them to see one of the Government's official supporters. I am delighted to find that, in this case, the section to which I intended to devote great attention has been ably dealt with by Senator O'Donovan. It is a great thing to see agreement on both sides of the House and I must compliment him on the remarkably able statement he has made regarding Section 37. My notes read exactly as if they were a copy of his remarks and, by a curious coincidence, I selected also the year 1945.

In Section 79, the Minister decided to go forward three years in order to give certain living officers the full benefit of this Bill. If it is permissible and right to go forward, it is still more equitable to go backwards some distance. We could not go back far enough to remedy all the cases of hardship, but a three-year period is already chosen by the Minister and is a reasonable period. We may presume that other cases of hardship have flattened themselves out, that the people who suffered have by now devised some way of getting over the difficulties; but if I thought there was the remotest chance of getting the Minister to accept a period of five years, I would be inclined to press it.

I also agree fully with Senator O'Donovan's suggestion about removing the 60 age limit. Two of the cases I have in mind would be automatically excluded if that limit were retained in Section 37. I suggest that the Minister should, at the end of the second line of Section 37 (i), delete all the words following "and" down to the words "60 years of age", that is, the two paragraphs (a) and (b) and in sub-section (9) put in "1945" instead of "1947". That would bring in some of the more urgent cases that have happened within recent years. I put up a case to the Minister myself on behalf of a member of my staff and received the official reply that the Minister had included this section in the Bill. I would like to express my gratitude to him for the kind thought which suggested this particular retrospective clause. It was an admirable thing on his part to have gone that far. I quite realise that he has responsibilities, as we all have, with regard to the finance of all these measures. But the number of cases, really, that would be added if we were to go back a year or two more would not be very considerable.

In connection with that, and with the question of financial responsibility, I would like to remind the House that there is a common misunderstanding about the body or interest which I represent. I represent in this House every vocational education committee in Éire and there are 38 of them in all. I represent the four county borough committees, the seven scheduled urban committees and the 27 county committees. I do not represent the officers of those committees specially, but I represent rather the employers or the members of the committees. Speaking as the representative of that very representative body, I would ask the Minister seriously to consider the amendment to Section 37 suggested by Senator O'Donovan. I could assure him that, should he adopt this, I do not think there would be the slightest murmur of dissent as a result, but rather a chorus of praise.

Two of the cases which I have specially in mind are concerned with two of the southern counties. One of them is the largest county in Ireland which is known to the majority of people, that is the County Cork. Another case occurred in Kerry. It was the case of a very cultured man, a highly gifted man who had not that material outlook which seems to be growing at the present day. In his dreams of a greater Ireland he neglected to a great extent his worldly condition and left a position to his dependents which was a rather difficult one. The other case was of a man who spent himself in the service of a vocational education committee. He had to deal with an enormous area and in the early days he incurred a great deal of private expenditure in making the contacts necessary for the success of his work. He got no special recognition for that, nor could it be given him, but now that he has passed away, I would ask the Minister to give some little consideration to this particular case. I could mention some of the most pathetic cases imaginable and I have mentioned one or two to the Minister himself. In one case if a man ever suffered torture in this life it was this man; his wife is in hospital; two of his children are dead and some of them are threatened with disease, but there is absolutely no provision made for them unless some provision is brought in now.

Having said so much in regard to Senator O'Donovan's amendment, I would like to point out that the Vocational Education (Amendment) Act introduced conditions which are in direct conflict with the promises given in the Vocational Education Act of 1930. A condition in regard to retirement age was brought into that Act and that particular condition has been introduced in the present Act in a somewhat different form and applies to the officers. We all thought, as Senator O'Donovan stated, that when the Superannuation Act came along, our wives and children would be safe, whatever happened to ourselves, but now we find that a condition in regard to 60 years has been brought in for the purpose of excluding those who should get more consideration. In my opinion, this is unfair.

Let us take what happened in regard to the cost-of-living Act. The first time it became an Act, the index figure was 185. In an amending Act it was raised to 210 and in more recent years the figure 270 was mentioned. The cost-of-living Act was, as it were, circumvented by the consolidation arrangements and this way of getting round the Act was definitely unfair and unjust. Consolidation was brought in based on a figure or index of 270 and there is great uneasiness on the part of a number of people connected with the service of vocational education in regard to the whole matter. Senator O'Donovan and, I think, Senator Duffy also referred to it. Recently the Minister issued a circular to all vocational education committees and according to this circular which is dated the 27th November what should be done is this: All the component parts of an officer's remuneration should be integrated and his average remuneration for the previous three years calculated. This circular is dated the 27th November. Undoubtedly the present Act contains a section which enables vocational education committees to increase the allowance beyond that which is contained in the circular, but why the circular was issued at this moment is more than I can comprehend. For if the committees wish, they may interpret the circular as laying down what they must do regardless of Section 37 of this Bill, which is in itself a vague construction. I do not say that it was the intention of the measure, but it is reasonable to conclude that officers were tricked into agreeing to the consolidation arrangement. I was present on a deputation to the Minister for Education and we were given a definite assurance that our pension rights would not be prejudiced if we accepted the consolidation arrangement, but as soon as we agreed to accept it, we find a circular issued which on the face of it seems to be a flat contradiction of this assurance.

It can be said that you can increase the pension allowance under Section 79 but some committees may not think that they are under any obligation to do so, particularly in view of this circular. Therefore, these different interests which I represent asked me to make sure that something should be put into the Act itself which will clarify the position in regard to officers.

I received a letter recently from the chief executive officer of a vocational education committee who spent some time in the service of the Board of National Education. He gave a total period of 19 years' service. That particular officer, in spite of the provisions of this Act, has been informed—or, if you like, with the provisions of the Act before him has been assured—by a responsible officer—that the longest period of service he can be given credit for is ten years, instead of the 19 years to which he would appear to be entitled. If we are enthusiastic about the revival of our national language and if we are anxious to make provision in regard to the advancement of our national language and the welfare of those who were engaged in it in its pioneer days, we should consider this example which is that of a man who was enthusiastic for the revival of the language and was in the service of the national board for that period. An example of a man who sacrificed himself more than any man in the country, I may say, in his advocacy of the national language movement at a time when it was not a popular one; at a time when there was no material advantage to be gained, this man stood out and lost his position as a result, or rather, when the school in which he was teaching was subsequently closed he found it impossible to get another post and spent a number of years wandering from one job to another until eventually he got into the vocational education service as a teacher. He is now assured—not perhaps in writing, but by a responsible official—that the longest service which he can claim is ten years and I suggest that something should be done in this particular case.

Another matter requiring attention is the case of officers employed by Cork City Vocational Education Committee who were employed on a temporary whole-time basis in connection with the provision of the Vocational Education Act of 1930, what might be called the experimental implementation of Section 5. These officers were appointed on a temporary whole-time basis and they themselves believe, and have assured me, that there is nothing in this Act to protect their interests with regard to service amounting in all to eight years. My attention has been drawn to the fact that while the servants of the vocational education committees of the City of Dublin and of Dún Laoghaire are protected, the Act excludes the servants of the cities of Cork, Limerick and Waterford. At least, their cases are not mentioned in the Act and in that way they are apparently automatically excluded. There would appear then to be a case for the Act being amended in these respects. These, I think, are the principal matters on which, at the moment, I would like to dwell. The Minister, in his opening announcement, said that this measure had been passed by the Dáil and, as such, should then be accepted by this House.

I did not say that.

The Dáil has not men of the calibre of, say, Senator O'Donovan who is in direct touch with officers. May I say also with all modesty that they had not a member of exactly my own particular status, qualifications and experience inasmuch as I represent employers as well as employees? I represent employers, i.e., members of vocational education committees throughout the Twenty-Six Counties. I am familiar with the views of all the servants and the officers concerned. I am, therefore, in a position to say that there is great dissatisfaction with certain parts of this Act. I could say a whole lot more, but I do not want to delay the House and I will concern myself with only a few other matters.

My attention has been called to the fact that by the use of the word "fidelity", and so forth, an officer might find at the end of his service that his pension is reduced by, say, 50 per cent. Of course the remedy is quite clear. If, at any stage in his career an officer is found to be unsatisfactory, the proper thing would be to deal with him there and then. There does not appear to be any case for putting this arbitrary figure of 50 per cent. into the Act. Take the case of two men—one with two years' service and the other with 30 or 40 years' service—whose pensions are reduced. There is no parallel between the magnitude of the penalties in these two cases. These are details which I can assure the Minister are causing very great uneasiness in the minds of many officers.

With regard to the question of Gaelic service, I should like to say that I am not sure that the Act provides properly for teachers who were pioneers in the Gaelic League. I have one particular case in mind at the moment. I am wondering what way the case of this officer will emerge after the Civil Service experts have put their hands on it. I am hoping for the best. I should imagine that the Act should be drafted in such a broad comprehensive way as to give the maximum credit for service of that kind. I have some recollection of the period myself. I am not as fluent a speaker of Irish as I should be having regard to my early associations. In the early days I had the privilege of working for years with a brother of the late Father O'Growney. During that period I was acquainted with the conditions under which Gaelic teachers taught. I actually had the temerity to teach Irish under the local Gaelic League for some years. Having quite a number of magnificent Irish speakers on my staff I can say that they are deserving of every possible consideration having regard to the hardships and rebuffs they suffered in the early stages when very few people were inclined to take the movement for the revival of the Irish language anyway seriously.

With regard to the death penalty— the Minister is a hard northern sort of man—though I have heard that if you can get under the skin of the northern people they are not quite as hard as they seem. There is the saying: "Dark and true and tender is the North," and let us hope that the Minister now, in this holy season, will get into the appropriate mood and think the matter over seriously to-night. Even if it means postponing the Bill until early in January, it would be worth it in view of the great deal of pleasure it would give to many people. I suggest that he should not force the Bill through and that we should make it, as Senator O'Donovan said, as nearly perfect as possible. Undoubtedly, it goes a long way to meet the views of officers generally. I have agitated for many years about the question of a lump sum, but I am now one of those who are not in a position to avail of it after having done so much to try to put the case for it before the Minister. For the sake of the few thousand pounds involved, the Minister should cut out the question of the 60 years' age bar. If he does that, it will be only a matter of a few years when all the creases will be ironed out and people, generally, will feel so pleased that they will forget any expenditure involved. I would join with Senator O'Donovan in asking the Minister to remove some of these difficulties and I make a special appeal to amend Section 37 so as to bring under it cases that occurred during the last few years.

Happily most of the points I had in mind were more ably dealt with by previous speakers— especially by Senators O'Donovan and O'Reilly. I have one point to make in connection with the local authority officer. While civil servants and others may retire at 60 years of age on full pension, a local authority officer—I have a particular individual in mind— may not retire until 65 years of age.

He can if he has the service.

That is not the grievance. His grievance is not that he may retire at 65 but that he will have 40 years' service when retiring next year and that he will not come within the provisions of the Act. He considers it a terrible grievance that, having attained the very fine service of 40 years, he should not derive the same benefits as other officers who may come out at an earlier date. Perhaps there is an explanation. The matter is so absurd that there is, possibly, an explanation and if there is, of course, that will settle everything. We have heard amongst other things a case made in relation to the hardships that accrue when a pensioned officer dies very soon after the time he retires. I think we should adopt a system, which has been adopted in some other countries, that there should be an alternative scheme of pensions whereby a pensioner may accept a lesser sum than the sum granted to him so that his wife or dependents would continue to receive the pension after his death, should he die within a certain period. It is very sad when an officer after many years' work, and shortly after being granted a pension, dies. His wife and his dependents are left without anything. In other countries the system has been adopted by the big services whereby, on a purely actuarial calculation, they may expect a reduced pension if the officer should die within a certain specified period. That is something which deserves consideration. I hope that in some future Bill provision will be made for an alternative scheme of pensions. I do not want to repeat that any more, but I think that idea is worthy of consideration by the Minister in addition to the other specific points. I have mentioned. That is all with which I shall trouble the House at the moment.

Ba mhaith liom tagairt do phointí sa Bhille seo. Do deineadh tagairt cheana féin do dhá cheann acu. Do dhein an Seanadóir Ó Raghallaigh tagairt do cheann amháin acu agus do dhein an Seanadóir Honan tagairt don cheann eile.

Tá eolas maith agam féin ar an gcás do luaigh an Seanadóir Ó Raghallaigh. Is cás cruaidh é—duine a chuaigh ar pinsean agus i gcionn bliana nó mar sin é bheith marbh. Tá a bhaintreach fágtha gan ioncam dá dheasca sin. Tá soláthar anseo sa Bhille go dtabharfaí "gratuity", fé mar a tugtar air anseo, do bhaintrigh duine a gheibheann bás le linn dó bheith san tseirbhís. Ba chóir, im thuairimse, go dtabharfaí an cead céanna do Choistí Gairm-Oideachais chun deontas a thabhairt do bhaintrigh nó do dhaoine eile a bhí ag brath ar an oifigeach marbh chun soláthair a dhéanamh dóibh sin tar éis an phinsinéir d'fháil bháis go luath i ndiaidh an tseirbhís d'fhágaint, nó taobh istigh d'am áirithe. Is dóigh liom go mba rud cóir é sin agus mholfainn don Aire glacadh leis an teoiric agus—más féidir é sa Bhille seo, nó ar ball nuair a bheifí ag leasú an Bhille— isé sin go bhfaghfaí údarás dlí chun fóirthin a dhéanamh ar bhaintrigh nó ar chlainn duine i gcás den saghas atá i gceist agam.

Teastaíonn uaim tagairt do phointe faoi Alt 36—ceist na múinteoirí Gaeilge a bhí ag obair faoi Chonradh na Gaeilge roimh 1924.

Tá lua speisialta déanta ann do sheirbhís "under the direction of Conradh na Gaeilge to the teaching of the Irish language or to the organisation of such teaching." Ní fheadar go cinnte an é an chiall atá ag an Aire le "under the direction of Conradh na Gaeilge." An é eagraíocht Chonradh na Gaeilge féin amháin atá i gceist, nó seirbhís mhúinteoireachta na Gaeilge i gcoitinne sna blianta roimh 1924? Címse deacracht bheag sa scéal so. Bhí cuid de na daoine sin ag obair faoi Chonradh na Gaeilge cuid dá n-aimsir, ag obair faoi Coistí Ceard-Oideachais nó i mBunscoileanna nó meánscoileanna tamall eile, agus tamall eile fós, ag obair faoi choistí i gColáiste speisialta Gaeilge. Idir na trí rudaí seo, níl fhios agamsa ná go bhfuil baol ann go dtuitfidh ceart an tsean-mhúintecra Gaeilge ar lár, má bhionn an tseirbhís ceangailte le heagras Chonradh na Gaeilge amháin. Go minic ní raibh seirbhís na seachtaine go léir, seirbhís an lae nó seirbhís na bliana go léir go cruinn díreach faoí Chonradh na Gaeilge.

Bhí cuid faoin Roinn Oideachais, Bun-oideachas, cuid faoin gCeard-Oideachas agus, fé mar dúirt mé cheana, cuid faoi na Coistí Coláistí Gaeilge Samhraidh a bhíodh ann. Sin é an baol atá ann nó an rud a thuigimse a bheith baolach—má ceangaltar brí na bhfocal "Conradh na Gaeilge" leis an eagras sin amháin go raghaidh intinn an Aire amú i gcuid mhaith cásanna. Níl mórán cásanna i gceist, dar ndóigh, ach tá fhios agam go bhfuil roinnt acu ann go raibh a gcuid aimsire ar fad tugtha do theagase na Gaeilge nó do thimireacht ar son na Gaeilge ach nach go hiomlán faoi Chonradh na Gaeilge a tugadh an tseirbhís. Ba mhaith an rud é go dtuigfimís nach é eagraíocht Chonradh na Gaeilge ar fad atá i gceist ach daoine a thug a gcuid aimsire ag teagasc Gaeilge faoi aon údarás.

I am afraid this has been rather a one-sided debate in which the only interest that has been considered by those who have spoken has been the interest of the beneficiaries under the Bill. Their spokesmen have contented themselves with adopting the position of Oliver Twist and asking for more. I am not going to be a tyrannical Bumble, but I am going to point out that other interests are involved in this. Other interests are involved, namely, the interests of those people who have to pay for these benefits. It is in that capacity that I and the Government have to stand over this Bill as presented to this House. We think we have, after giving careful consideration to all the aspects of this problem, met the position of the officers of the local authorities very fairly having regard to the fact that we have responsibilities also to the taxpayers and to the ratepayers of this country. That does not seem to be generally recognised. The only thing we have heard about this Bill here is its imperfections because it has failed to meet the special case of this or that particular individual. We are told that it does not matter if the Dáil has to be called back, or if Ministers have to turn their attention to more important matters, provided the position of a few officers of the corporation is dealt with. I think that is a most unreasonable suggestion. This House does not exist solely for the benefit of a few individuals and it is not at the disposal—at least as far as I am concerned—of a few individuals to utilise it for the purpose of passing legislation which, while it might benefit them, would impose added burdens on others.

We must approach this Bill with one very significant fact in mind. What has been asked for and what has always been demanded by those who have been hitherto the spokesmen of the local authorities is that they should be given the same pension terms as those accorded to civil servants. They are getting that in this Bill. They are getting things in this Bill that they never dreamed they would get.

Notwithstanding all the time and thought and labour that have been spent in endeavouring to bring in this Bill—and Senator O'Donovan has told you that the Bill was first promised 15 years ago and that promise has been repeated many times since—no time is found for or no attempt is made at any constructive criticism of the Bill. That promise made 15 years ago would have been fulfilled had it been an easy matter to do it. I think some consideration and some recognition should be given to the fact that it was an extremely difficult matter to draft this Bill, extremely difficult because of the action of this Seanad who would impose burdens upon people not directly represented here in the Seanad. The officials of the vocational education committees have the advantage of having Senator O'Reilly here. The officers of the Dublin Corporation and other local government officers have the advantage of having Senator O'Donovan here. I suppose the servants and officers of the Dublin Corporation also have the advantage of having Senator Duffy here. I am the only person so far who has spoken for the great body of the public—for the people who will have to foot the Bill.

On a point of correction, might I mention that I do not represent the officers of the vocational association? I am a representative of the vocational education committees.

But even the vocational education committees do not represent the ratepayers. They are a spending body. They are not the people who have to "raise the wind." I have been asked to do a number of extraordinary things. I have been asked to amend this Bill in order to cover the special case of an officer who retired from the Dublin Corporation in the year 1924 with a substantial pension of £900.

With all respect, he did not retire in 1924.

I understood some person retired in 1924 with a fixed pension of £900. Perhaps I did not hear correctly. I shall wait to hear the proper date, if Senator Duffy will disclose it to me.

I have no objection to doing that. The date was 1931. I should add that the person concerned was asked to do other work and to leave his actual employment in the corporation in 1924, but the date of resignation is 1931.

Is it not true that this officer held another position for which he was remunerated? Is not that true? Is that not so? Having retired on pension he then went to other public employment for which he received remuneration.

But he did not get his pension, of course.

That is a very important matter.

I am not so sure. I do not understand. Perhaps I am doing the officer an injustice; if so, I am sorry that I raised the matter in this way but I understood it was a case of a person who permanently retired from the service of a local authority in a certain year and entered other public employment for which he was paid. I am not aware that an officer retiring on pension from the service of a local authority and entering other public employment would have his pension from the local authority suspended during the period of his public employment. That may be so.

Employment by a local authority.

But if it were employment under the Government or in any other public service, except the service of a local authority, I think he would continue to enjoy his pension and draw a salary at the same time.

With all respect, I do not want to interrupt the Minister but I do want to keep the matter right. I said the officer concerned was asked by the head of the Government of that day to take another position under the Government. I understand he accepted a salary in that other position. Payment from the Dublin Corporation was discontinued but he did not cease to be an officer until 1931 when he left the other employment and took his pension from the corporation.

I do not know what the circumstances of this particular case are. The general practice is that if an individual resigns on pension from the service of a local authority and does not enter the service of another local authority, but is again employed, unless there is some statutory bar he draws both his pension from the local authority and his salary in respect of the post he holds. I understand that is the general position. I do not think there is any special exception in this particular case. That is the first thing. The next thing is that this officer apparently retired on a fixed pension. He must have been in receipt of a fixed salary. His case is now being compared and contrasted with that of an officer who was employed upon a basic salary plus a cost-of-living bonus. If an officer of a local authority remunerated in that way retires his pension consists of a fixed sum plus cost-of-living bonus. That is his contract. His cost-of-living bonus would increase with an increase in the cost-of-living index and decline with a decrease in the cost-of-living index. That has always been in force except during the period of the standstill Order. This particular Section 79 to which reference has been made deals mainly with the position of officers, first of all, who retired during the period of the standstill Order, having previously been in receipt of salaries carrying a cost-of-living bonus. In normal circumstances they would have been entitled to secure a pension consisting of a fixed sum plus a cost-of-living bonus. That was their contract. The other officer mentioned retired with a fixed pension which, I assume, was based upon a fixed salary. If the pension was fixed and did not vary that was the contract. What I have been asked to do here is to amend and alter that contract to such officer's advantage.

I understand that is the type of case with which the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Justice were called upon to deal in this House in regard to other Bills that have been before the Seanad. It has been decided, for good or ill, that it is not in the public interest to do that, particularly where no compassionate grounds can be advanced for doing it. I can quite see that if pensions were miserably inadequate there might be a special case for special consideration to a particular class of persons, particularly if that class was so large and numerous that hardship would be widespread. As a matter of fact, I think that has been done in Great Britain, but it has been done with a very rigid limitation—a limitation imposing a comparatively low disqualifying figure over which the persons in receipt of salaries or pensions would secure no benefit at all. But, in general, the position that has been taken up and has been maintained continuously is that, once a person retires upon a pension which would be normally regarded as sufficient, then that pension will not be revised to his advantage after his period of service has long since terminated. That is a position which I must maintain in regard to this class of persons.

The provisions of Section 79 were, in the main, brought in to deal with three types of cases. First of all, two classes of persons who retired during the period of the standstill Order: (1) those who normally would have been entitled to have their pension carry a cost-of-living bonus by reason of the fact that their salary consisted of a fixed sum plus a cost-of-living bonus; (2) those who retired during the period of the standstill Order who had fixed salaries and in respect of whom we were prepared to concede that, if it had not been for the operation of that standstill Order, they probably would have secured some compensating allowance for the increase in the cost of living. The third class of persons dealt with under Section 79 are those people who held their office with no age limit applying and whom we compelled to retire at the age of 65 on the 1st April this year. If the contract of service of these people had not been more or less interfered with in this way, they would naturally have been in the service of the local authority when it was agreed that an increase of remuneration of officers of local authorities should be conceded. Accordingly, we are prepared under Section 79 to give to these people the benefits which they would have enjoyed if they were permitted to serve for a full period of three years after the new scales came into operation. These are three classes of people who have, in some way or another, either absolute contractual rights or rights almost equivalent to contractual rights.

That does not apply to a person who retired in the year 1931, or who retired prior to the imposition of what is known as the standstill Order. Therefore, I am not prepared to consider any amendment of the Bill which would propose to bring such persons in, whether, in the case of the Dublin Corporation or any other local authority, they would be a small class or not, because to bring them in would be to concede something which the Government as a whole have decided is not in the public interest and which other members of the Government are not prepared to concede in respect of those officers for whom they have immediate responsibility. That is a matter which has been fully considered, and it would be quite vain to put down an amendment of that type in the Seanad because—I am speaking frankly—I would try to induce the Seanad not to accept it and, if they did accept it and the Bill had to go back to the Dáil, I should use all my endeavours in the Dáil to ensure that it would not be accepted. Therefore, it would be, so far as you can foresee, of no practical effect.

With regard to Section 79, I think there is a difference between the local authority officials and the civil servants in favour of the local authority officials in regard to retirement. But I understood the Minister to say that this would apply to all persons irrespective of date of retirement if they were on a cost-of-living basis. There is, I think, favourable consideration for local authority officials in comparison with civil servants so far as these people are concerned, but there would be a corresponding victimisation of the basic salary class.

The Senator misunderstands the position. This section is based upon the actual rights which servants of the local authorities enjoy. In the case of civil servants, when they retire their pensions are based upon their basic salary, plus the cost-of-living bonus, with an overriding maximum that, while their pensions can be reduced if the cost-of-living index figure falls, their total inclusive pensions will not be increased above the figure at which they retire. That is part of the provisions of their code. On the other hand, in the case of local authorities that has never been enforced. There is no such provision, and therefore we are not interfering with their rights in that regard. We are not victimising any other class of local authority servant. On the contrary, we are going out of our way to ensure that they will be treated equitably. However, if the Senator thinks we are doing anything wrong, I can ask somebody to put down an amendment to restore Section 79 to the form in which it stood in the original Bill. That might be a way out of the difficulty; perhaps it might be the best way if anybody thinks we are victimising anybody in relation to this matter.

I did not suggest victimisation.

I heard the Senator say that we were victimising those——

I did not say the Minister was, but that in comparison with others——

The Senator used the word "victimisation."

There is victimisation of some officials as against others.

Might I suggest to the Minister that he is not quite accurate in saying that no class of officers is victimised?

I must protest. The Senator has already spoken and I listened in patience to him. Even if it is trying, I shall have to ask him to listen to me with patience. I feel very strongly about what has taken place in the Seanad in regard to this matter. This Bill would not have come to the Seanad at all if it had not been that I, at great inconvenience, on a certain understanding asked the Dáil to accept it.

A certain understanding?

I understood that it would go through without any amendment except Government amendments because people were anxious to get it on the Statute Book. If they are not anxious to get it on the Statute Book, it will remain in abeyance so far as I am concerned. I do not know whether Senator Duffy was confused about the situation or not. There is nothing to compel the Dublin Corporation to accept this Bill. If the officers and servants of the Dublin Corporation feel that they are better off under the old Act, they can ask the Dublin Corporation to continue the existing superannuation code and, therefore, they would have no grumble about any of the imperfections which Senator Duffy saw in this Bill. He did not ask me to give it to them both ways.

The decision does not lie with the employees, but with the Dublin Corporation.

The power of adopting the Act is reserved for the Dublin Corporation and the employees have shown on previous occasions that they are sufficiently powerful to ensure that, if they do not want the Act, they will not have it, because the Act can only become applicable to the servants of the Dublin Corporation when the relevant resolution is passed by the corporation under Section 5. I do not see what there is to grumble about. They are being left a free choice.

The Bill is intended to apply to the country as a whole and not merely to the officers and servants of the Dublin Corporation. It deals with municipalities everywhere. It is a Bill which will have to be operated by small and poor local authorities like the Leitrim County Council and by small urban authorities like those of Athy and Naas. We cannot give everybody everything that some officers and servants of the Dublin Corporation are fortunate enough to enjoy. At least we cannot give it to them without due consideration to the interests of rural communities and the ratepayers of small communities. As I have said, the Bill is of general application but no local authority is compelled to adopt it in respect of its servants. Certainly the Dublin Corporation is not, and if the servants of the corporation do not feel that it is giving them enough, let them move the members of the corporation not to accept it.

The Senator also complained about the size of the contribution which will be paid by workers. That was a matter which was raised at length in the other House and I think I satisfied Deputies there that it was a fair and reasonable contribution. So far as the workers were concerned, I did reduce the contribution from 5 per cent. to 4? per cent., making it, for the purposes of convenience, a halfpenny in the shilling. The Senator says that a halfpenny in the shilling is a heavy contribution. I suppose it is, if we consider only the contributor's side of it, but that is only one side of the account. He says that it is going to mean 2/6 from a man in receipt of £3. The actuarial cost of the scheme, so far as the officers are concerned, will work out at 16 per cent. or even more. So far as the authorities are concerned, the very generous provisions which are inserted in the scheme governing the question of pensionable service, the contributions will probably be a great deal more than 16 per cent. It may even be four times or five times that.

The scheme will mean that the benefits to be given to servants will require a contribution of 10/- per head in respect of each servant. The servant who has a wage of £3 a week will pay 2/6 out of the 10/- and the local authority will pay over 7/6. So that in benefits the servant of the local authority is going to get 10/- worth for every 2/6 he contributes.

Has the Minister taken into account the fact that he requires to work 200 days in the year to remain on the register?

Yes. That is to allow for broken time and other conditions of service. Do not ask me to provide pensions for purely casual employees.

I asked the question whether the Minister in making the calculation of 10/- had made advertence to the fact that some men go off work and do not continue in the employment.

But the pension, if he gets it, will go on week after week. Look at the other side of the account. I have to look at both sides. I would be just as anxious as the Senator to be generous to everybody were it not that I have to advert to the very hard fact that somebody has to pay for it all and that in general, when you are trying to give benefits to everybody, one narrow section has to pay in the end. There is no use in being very discursive on that because I think the Senator sees the point as well as I do, and I think the Seanad ought to come to the same decision as I have—that we have tried to be fair and just and that having arrived at a solution, which we think is fair and just, we ought to stand by it because there is no honour and no kudos to be gained in running away from it.

The question of the right of option given to persons who have not reached the age of 60 has also been very severely criticised. I wonder if those who are urging me to waive this condition altogether would try to put themselves in my position and see what they would do if they had to carry the responsibility for doing what they suggest. Let me remind the Seanad again that the demand of the officers and servants of local authorities has been to give them Civil Service pension terms. When the 1909 Pensions Act, which is the code which now governs Civil Service pensions was introduced, there was a similar proviso to this, with however this condition: that before a civil servant could opt for the terms of the 1909 Act he had to undergo a medical examination. We are not asking that. We give the option without the medical examination so that, in that regard, we are doing something better, for whatever it may be worth, than was done for civil servants under the 1909 Act.

There is the other point that if I were to omit the conditions of (a) and (b) it would be open for any officer who had attained the age of 60 years to walk out to-morrow with his lump sum in his pocket, even if he were a completely insurable life. I do not know what the members of local authorities would say if I put their senior officers in the position that if they wanted to go off and engage in some business, or if they felt it was time to go for some other reason, they could simply walk out with the lump sum in their pockets. Then, of course, these members would say: "It is that Minister for Local Government up in Dublin; he did it for the highly paid officers of the local authorities. Is it any wonder that the cost of living and that rates are so high when we have a Minister in Dublin who will allow officers of local authorities to do that sort of thing."? I do not propose to allow that position of affairs to occur. There will be hard cases undoubtedly under the Bill.

I am sorry to hear that Senator O'Reilly, who is so zealous in looking after the interests of the vocational officers, will be excluded by the terms of the Bill. Let me amend any other sections of this Bill in the way it is desired and I will still be faced with hard cases. We have to draw the line, and I think the line has been fairly drawn here in Section 37. We give all officers of local authorities who do not attain the age of 60 years the right of option. That is as much as is given to civil servants and we should not be asked to give more.

I hope the House will not defer the enactment of this measure by putting down amendments which I cannot accept. It is not a light matter to summon the Dáil at any time. It is an expensive matter. It is not an easy matter to summon the Dáil during the period of the Christmas holidays, and it is a much more inconvenient matter to summon the Dáil in the circumstances of the present time. It is all very well for members of the Seanad, who can deal with these matters in a leisurely way, to suggest that we should summon the Dáil. I ask the Seanad not to take up that attitude. I am sure most Senators will have a reasonable understanding of the difficulties of the present situation and they will not do anything which would make it necessary to summon the Dáil without any very solid hope that there will be any change in the Bill. I think this Bill ought to go through in the form in which it is and I ask the Seanad to do that. It will for one thing give a considerable number of people a feeling of greater security over the holidays. They will be able to enjoy the holidays because they will know their increased pensions will be coming to them at the end of the year. That will case a great many family and household problems.

Question agreed to.

Next stage now?

Next sitting day. There was a most specific arrangement yesterday. We could get no assistance from the other side of the House beyond this, that there was a specific arrangement that we would carry through to-day every piece of business on the Order Paper in the stages indicated there. We are now meeting after the hour when by Standing Orders we should be meeting and to alter that arrangement at this hour of the day would be most inequitable.

That is all right then.

There is nothing very much at stake. Whether or not amendments are made in the Bill is another question, but the suggestion made yesterday was that we would adjourn the remaining stages of these Bills until after Christmas and the date mentioned was 7th January. My view is that all these Bills can be disposed of on the 7th January. If there are amendments, I urge the Minister to consider favourably calling the Dáil so as to put the amendments before it. I do not want to keep butting in every five minutes, but it is really not reasonable to come to the Seanad with a spate of Bills at the end of a session. This happens year after year, not this year alone. This particular Bill is one which had its First Reading in the Dáil on 1st May, 1947, seven months ago, so I do not think it is reasonable to say now to the Seanad that the Government are in a terrible hurry with the Bill and that they must have it. I ask the Minister not to press that aspect.

It is true that this Bill passed its Second Reading a considerable time ago and it is true that there has been delay, but that delay has arisen very largely by reason of the fact that we were receiving representations from people interested in various provisions and we were endeavouring to meet them. It cannot be alleged, therefore, that we unreasonably delayed with the Bill.

I am quite prepared, if the Seanad will not give me all stages to-day, to have the Bill put back. If Senators cannot give me all stages now, that is their own concern. I have not pressed for all stages of the Housing Bill, although I think it would be urgent and desirable that we would get them. We have not pressed for all stages of the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Bill or all stages of the Rates on Agricultural Land (Relief) Bill. But I am pressing for all stages of this Bill, if I can get them, for this reason, that if this Bill becomes law people who have been living on, so to speak, short commons for the past 12 months or so will get a substantial bounty on the 1st January. Others who are in receipt of lower pensions than, perhaps, they normally might have received over the whole period from 1940 to 1946 will get increases in their pensions dating as from 1st November, 1946. I am in the hands of the House in this matter.

Unfortunately, I was not in a position to discuss this matter with the Seanad last night or I would urge, as I am now urging, the considerations to which I have referred. If the Bill cannot be taken, it cannot be taken, and then it is in grave danger it will not be passed until after the general election.

There does not seem to be any liaison between Ministers and the members of their own Party here. If these considerations were put up even yesterday they might have been considered, but nothing was put up in any conversation yesterday so far as I remember. I do not know if there was anything put up to Senator Duffy either. I do not want to delay either this Bill or the general election, but the real trouble in this House is that there is no leadership in the House and there seems to be no connection between Ministers, Government business and the people in the House who support the Ministers.

Senator Sweetman's statement put quite accurately what we agreed to yesterday, namely, that the items on the paper should be cleared to-day and the business in relation to this particular Bill was the consideration of the Second Stage. The Minister suggests that it is important to have this Bill passed so that people can get paid. He says that the Bill cannot and will not be amended, but that is another question. I do not want to stand between anybody and the payment he will receive. The Minister indicates, whether merely casually or with any reality I cannot say, that the Dáil will not be called upon to meet and therefore the Bill will not become law until either a certain period of time elapses or the new Dáil passes a resolution. I do not understand that; I do not know about it and I could not, in the nature of things.

Mr. Hawkins

I think, in view of the statement the Minister made and in view of the agreement last night which, as far as I can recollect, was that we would complete the agenda as before us and having done that, that we would as the day went on consider whether we would give other stages of the Bills or not, we should allow this Bill to go through. In view of the urgency of this matter and the fact that the Minister cannot reasonably be expected to accept any amendment, the House should give all stages of this Bill to-night.

I would like to endorse, in part at any rate, the statement made by Senator Hawkins. What happened yesterday was that those of us who informally discussed the business of the House did say, "Let us meet to-morrow"—that is to-day—"and dispose of the business ordered for the day's sitting. We shall then see when we will meet again." It was clearly a question of when we would meet again, indicating that there was agreement amongst us that we would not dispose of all stages of the several Bills ordered. I would suggest to the Minister and to Senator Hawkins that if the Committee Stage of this Bill were taken now it could not be completed to-night, in my judgment. Every section and every line in the Bill is open for discussion. I have given an undertaking to people who interviewed me in regard to this Bill that I would put down certain amendments. I am not tied to anything in relation to the amendments except to put them down. If the Minister can convince the House that the proposals which I desire to insert are unreasonable, he knows quite well that I am probably one of the easiest people in the House to induce to withdraw an amendment. I do not boast of that. I do not even apologise for it. But I think it will be observed that in the last few days, where I had strong feelings about amendments, in view of representations made by the Minister, I withdrew amendments. In relation to the Merchant Shipping Bill I withdrew an amendment when the Minister concerned put up a certain point of view. I accepted that point of view. I am prepared to be influenced very largely by the case put up in respect of an amendment. I feel morally bound to point out that certain points of view will be debated on the Committee Stage. I do not think the Minister will be inconvenienced very much by the postponement of the Committee Stage to, say, 7th January. Any other date would suit me just as well. But I want the Minister to understand clearly that I am not putting up these proposals for the purpose of delaying the passage of the Bill. I think he realises that fully. I am as anxious as he is that if there are people who will derive advantages from this Bill, they should not be deprived of these advantages for one hour and in the long run I do not think they will be.

They will.

Is it agreed that the next stage be taken on next sitting day?

I cannot press the matter any further. I realise the position which Senator Duffy finds himself in. I will not be so gravely inconvenienced by the postponement of the Bill until next sitting day—that will be some time early in next January—but I am afraid I shall not have very much time to devote to it.

Committee Stage ordered for next sitting day.