Local Government (Superannuation) Bill, 1955—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This Bill proposes an improved code of superannuation benefits for the officers and servants of local authorities. It is a measure which, to a large extent, brings together for consolidation the series of Acts which begins with the Union Officers Superannuation (Ireland) Act of 1865 and ends with the Local Government (Superannuation) Act, 1948. The Bill was already foreshadowed when the Act of 1948 was being enacted as it was appreciated at the time that the novel scheme provided for in that Act for the superannuation of local authority servants would in all probability give rise to the need for amending legislation as experience was gained of the operation of the scheme and suggestions for improvement presented themselves. Thus, while the present Bill is a comprehensive measure dealing with both officers and servants, it differs from the 1948 Act principally in Part III, the servants' part, which represents an attempt to simplify and improve, so far as practicable, the unique provisions of Part III of the 1948 Act.

I shall deal first with the provisions relating to officers which are mostly concentrated in Part II. The Bill aims at providing for the superannuation of all officers of local authorities who are entitled to superannuation rights whether they are at present under the Act of 1948, the Local Government Act, 1925, or the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1919. It does not apply to officers of mental hospital authorities who have always had a superannuation code separate from the rest of the local government service. The Act of 1948 provided that existing officers at the 1st April, 1948, could, within a period of six months, opt for the benefits of that Act in lieu of the benefits to which they were then entitled under other Acts. Some officers who elected to retain their existing benefits regret their choice, because the older schemes did not provide for the death gratuity which under the 1948 Act may be granted to the legal personal representative of an officer who dies while in the service. The present Bill offers to those who were existing pensionable officers at the 1st April, 1948, a second chance to choose whichever set of benefits suits them best but the alternative sets of benefits will be provided for in the Bill and none of them will, for the future, derive from earlier Acts.

Exemption from superannuation contributions is a question which has been raised with me in its various aspects by very many interested parties since this Bill was introduced in the Dáil. Under the Bill, as under the Act of 1948, officers are required to contribute 5 per cent. of their remuneration towards their superannuation but provision is made for exemption from contributions for certain classes of officers. Exemption from contributions is based on the principle that officers who enjoyed superannuation rights, free of contributions, under earlier enactments such as the Local Government Act, 1925, or the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1919, are specially exempted from contributions under this Bill as they were under the Act of 1948. Officers appointed in a pensionable capacity before the 1st April, 1948, had the benefit of a free pension scheme and have had this right preserved to them under the 1948 Act and under the present Bill. Many claims for exemption from contributions have been made on behalf of officers whose present period of pensionable service began on or after the 1st April, 1948, but it has not been found possible to admit any of these claims.

It is proposed in the Bill that the expression "pensionable officer" will henceforth apply only to an officer whose name is entered on the register of pensionable officers kept under the Bill; and that his name will not be entered on that register until he is clearly a permanent officer. Under the Act of 1925 the question of whether an officer was pensionable or not was usually determined only when he came to retire from his office. This was an unsatisfactory position both for the officer and the local authority. The Act of 1948 dealt with this problem by providing that officers who came under its terms should be entered on a register of established officers, but it did not exclude the possibility of there being pensionable officers who were not entered under the register. When staffs are being recruited for the future their status must be properly declared. If they are permanent whole-time officers, or permanent medical officers, their names will be entered on the register of pensionable officers. That entry will be their title to a pension. It is proposed in the Bill that all existing officers entitled to pension will be entered on this new register of pensionable officers.

Under the Act of 1925, no scale for the calculation of a pension based on years of service was laid down, but every pension had to be sanctioned by the Minister. The Act of 1948 remedied that for the normal pension where no question of added years arose. There was a fixed scale under the Act, of one-eightieth of remuneration for each year of service up to 40, and a pension so calculated did not require sanction. In certain specified circumstances or where the local authority were of opinion that "special reasons existed", years could be added under the Act of 1948 up to a maximum of ten. The Act did not specify those "special reasons", but practice has for a good while determined what they are and what scale of years should be taken in calculating them. In Section 13 of the present Bill all the headings under which years might be added are specified. The section proposes to give the Minister power to make regulations, which will be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, governing the precise additions that may be made in each circumstance. In this way the practice governing added years will both for local authorities and for local officials, be made explicit and each officer will know, when his pension is being calculated, what he might reasonably expect to get in the circumstances of his case. This permits the sanction of the Minister to be dispensed with entirely in the awarding of superannuation benefits to officers. Ample provision is, however, made in the Bill for appeal to the Minister when an officer is aggrieved in relation to his superannuation.

It should be noted that Section 13 does not involve any diminution of the rights of officers in the matter of added years but merely sets out in statutory form what has for long been accepted practice. It is an effort to set out clearly the circumstances in which an officer may expect to be allowed added years by his local authority and to eliminate any suggestion of secrecy or unequal treatment as between one officer and another. I may say that it is intended that the regulations to be made under the section will be based on existing practice in relation to "added years".

In Part IV of the Bill, Section 50, there is provision whereby an officer may agree to give up part of his lump sum or death gratuity in consideration of a pension for his widow. This rearrangement of benefits is to be self-financing and to involve no extra burden on local authorities. It is proposed that regulations to be made under the section will provide that in the normal case two-thirds of the lump sum or death gratuity will be given up in return for a pension of one-third of what the officer's pension would have been had he retired on grounds of ill-health instead of dying where death occurs while he is in office or one-third of his pension where death occurs while he is on pension.

A further improvement in the Bill— it applies to both officers and servants —is the provision to link up various branches of the public service for pension purposes. The Act of 1948 linked up service in the Civil Service, harbour authorities and teaching service with service under local authorities, but the present Bill goes a good deal further in that respect. It is thus a considerable step towards the achieving of a single public service for all public authorities just as a single local service for local authorities was achieved after 1925.

A matter that gave a good deal of trouble under the Act of 1948 was how to calculate the remuneration on which a benefit under the Act could be based. The Act of 1925 provided that it should be the average of pay during the three years preceding cesser of office. The Act of 1948 said that it should normally be the pay on cesser of office, but in any exceptional case the average of the three preceding years. The Act did not give precise effect to its intentions, and gave rise to considerable difficulty and diverse interpretations in some exceptional cases, for example, officers paid wholly by fee or poundage. Section 27 of the Bill endeavours to resolve these difficulties on the general lines of the intentions of the Act of 1948.

Part III of the Bill contains the pension scheme for servants of local authorities and is intended to supersede the scheme embodied in Part III of the Local Government (Superannuation) Act, 1948. Prior to the 1948 Act there was no statutory pension scheme for servants, except in respect of the county borough corporations of Dublin, Limerick and Waterford and the Borough of Dún Laoghaire where provision existed for the grant of pensions to servants whose service was, like that of pensionable officers, permanent and fully continuous. Such provision would obviously not benefit the majority of road workers and other servants of local authorities whose service is in many cases frequently intermittent. Accordingly, if pensions and other superannuation benefits were to be provided for road workers and other servants of local authorities whose service was broken a radical departure from the type of scheme applied to officers was required. Part III of the 1948 Act represented an attempt to devise a superannuation scheme which would suit the employment conditions existing amongst local authority servants.

Briefly, the scheme was that permanent servants who were not absent for more than 60 days in any one of three successive years could be enrolled in a register of "established servants". They could then reckon their future service for superannuation purposes in each year in which they worked at least 200 days for the local authority. The scheme was hedged around with many restrictions, limitations and prohibitions, which had in practice the effect of preventing many servants from qualifying under it or, if they did qualify, of reducing the length of service which could be reckoned towards the benefits payable. It has been the objective in drawing up Part III of this Bill to eliminate as many as possible of these restrictions, limitations and prohibitions, to make the scheme as simple and straightforward as possible and to ensure that it will be effective in providing benefits for those whom it was designed to benefit.

Under Part III of the 1948 Act, a servant had to comply with the following conditions before his name could be entered in the register of servants who were eligible for superannuation benefits:—

1. He had to be deemed by the local authority to be a permanent servant.

2. He had to complete three successive years' service with his local authority with not more than 60 days' absence in any year—any absences within the limit of 60 days had to be involuntary.

3. He had to come within the maximum figure of permanent servants fixed by the local authority.

4. He had to be under the age of 60 years.

The present Bill proposes to drop all these restrictive conditions and to substitute one straightforward test of fact for enrolment in the register of pensionable servants. If a servant has 200 "service days" in a local financial year his name will, under the Bill, be entered in the register as from the following 1st April unless he applies during the month of April to have his name removed from the register. A service day is, briefly, a day on which the servant has worked, or for which he has been paid; a day on workmen's compensation, subject to a limit of a year, or a day on which he has been doing Reserve Defence Force training.

Under the Act of 1948, a servant whose name was on the pension register ran the risk of having it removed if in any of the first five years in which his name was enrolled he worked for the local authority for less than 200 days. This provision has been deleted in the present Bill.

Further improvements are made in the Bill as regards the periods which a servant can reckon for the purpose of computing the various benefits. Under the 1948 Act, working days which did not reach a total of at least 200 days in any year were not reckoned. In this Bill, the restriction to "working days" is modified and the minimum annual requirement is to be 200 "service days" instead of 200 working days. This is a much more liberal requirement since, as I have mentioned above, the expression "service day" covers many days on which the servant does not actually work.

Under the 1948 Act, a servant could not reckon the following periods towards superannuation benefit:

(a) The three-year period which a servant, who was not an existing permanent servant at the commencement of the Act in relation to him, spent in qualifying for enrolment in the register.

(b) All his previous service, if, before he had completed five years of pensionable local service, he worked for less than 200 days in any year.

(c) Any period before he reached the age of 18.

(d) All service prior to certain kinds of strike unless reinstated by the Minister on appeal by the servant.

(e) Possibly all service if he were not working (e.g. because of illness) when he made his actual claim for superannuation.

(f) Service before ceasing to be a permanent servant in a case where the servant subsequently resumes.

All these limitations on the reckoning of service are being removed in this Bill and the only vestige of them which may be said to survive is the single year with 200 service days which a servant in future must serve to qualify for entry on the register of pensionable servants. The service days in that year are not reckonable in the present Bill, but otherwise all the limitations mentioned are being removed.

To return to what has been called the "200 day rule"; this is the minimum requirement in the direction of permanency and continuity in this unique superannuation scheme. There is no other scheme known to me where the employer provides pensions and other benefits for employees who are not in regular employment. The universal rule in other pension schemes both for office staffs and manual workers is that the employers accept no liability to superannuate any of their workers who is not in their permanent, regular employment. The 1948 Act and this Bill break new ground in providing full-scale benefits for employees whose service is broken, who may in fact at times be working for other employers or for themselves. The principle of requiring full and regular service of at least eight months out of the 12 for the local authority is an indispensable minimum requirement. No matter where the line is drawn there will always be unlucky individuals who find themselves just on the wrong side of the line. To lower that requirement any further would impose on local authorities an unwarranted liability in respect of persons who could not be regarded as being their regular employees in any realistic sense.

The benefits proposed to be payable under Part III of the Bill are the same as those in Part III of the 1948 Act and the contribution rate is also unchanged. The contribution rate is 4? per cent. of remuneration (½d. in the shilling) and the benefits are:— (a) a pension of one-sixtieth of pay for each year of pensionable service, or (b) a short service, or death gratuity, or (c) a marriage gratuity for women.

In endeavouring to graft the proposed new scheme for servants on to the 1948 Act scheme, the general idea has been to apply the improvements so far as possible to the past service of existing servants. So far as persons who were formerly servants of local authorities where Part III of the 1948 Act had been adopted are concerned, there is provision in Section 54 enabling local authorities, in their discretion, to grant allowances in certain cases where the persons concerned make application for the benefits of the section.

It is hoped that Part III of the Bill will overcome the difficulties which arose in connection with the administration of Part III of the 1948 Act and which only experience could have revealed, and that the superannuation scheme for local authority servants will in the future work smoothly and simply and to the satisfaction of the local authorities and their employees.

We now come to Part IV of the Bill, and I have already referred to the new provision in Section 50 by which an officer, by surrendering portion of his lump sum or death gratuity, can provide for a pension for his widow. In Section 51 there is a further new provision enabling an officer or servant on retirement to surrender any portion of his pension, not exceeding one-third, in consideration of a pension for his widow or one specified dependant, or alternatively a pension for his wife while he lives which will be doubled on his death. The amount of the pension to be paid to the wife, widow or specified dependant, as the case may be, is intended to be actuarially equivalent to the amount surrendered by the officer or servant, so that the section really provides for a rearrangement of existing benefits which may appeal to some officers and servants as a handy device for making a certain definite provision for a widow or other dependant in the event of death.

The other new provision, in Part IV, apart from those mentioned, is that in Section 53 which permits a part-time officer, who is not a pensionable officer, to be granted a gratuity if his office is abolished or if for some reason, apart from his own misconduct, he has to be asked to resign from it. This remedies a small, but definite, defect in the existing law inasmuch as it provides for the grant of compensation in the rare case where a part-time officer who has a permanent tenure of his office but who has no pension rights must be removed from his office through no fault of his by the local authority.

Part V of the Bill contains a number of sections to deal with financial arrangements between various authorities concerned with awarding pensions. There is nothing new about the provisions except in subsection (7) of Section 57, and Section 58. These provide that two or more of the various authorities concerned can enter into an agreement to abandon claims on one another in relation to pensions and contributions. This will enable some rather elaborate accounting procedures to be dropped, and make for some economy of administration. Obviously, payments of this kind taken as a whole cancel each other out but from the standpoint of a single local authority there may be some difficulties. The entering into an agreement is, accordingly, left on a voluntary basis.

The provisions of Part VI of the Bill call for little comment. They are almost all, subject to relatively minor modifications, re-enactments of provisions of the Act of 1948. Section 69, however, contains special provisions to deal with a certain situation which arose in Cork City. It was a general principle in the 1948 Act, as it is in this Bill, that exemption from superannuation contributions should be allowed to servants (as well as officers) who were already in the enjoyment of rights under an existing superannuation scheme free of contributions. In practice it was intended that the permanent servants of the four county boroughs, the Borough of Dun Laoghaire and certain servants of the Dublin City Vocational Education Committee who were the only servants who had existing "free" pension rights should be exempt from contributions. To achieve this in the four county boroughs, it was provided in Section 63 of the 1948 Act that where a person's name was entered in a register of permanent employees when Part III of the Act was adopted he would be exempt from contributions. No register of permanent servants was maintained in Cork, and accordingly the servants of Cork Corporation became liable for contributions. The issue was taken to the courts, and it was eventually decided against the local authority servants by the Supreme Court.

It had not, however, been the intention under the Act that these servants should pay contributions and they are accordingly exempted from this liability under paragraph (c) of sub-section (5) of Section 48 of the Bill. These contributions have, however, been collected since 1948 from these servants and the problem of a refund of them arises. The total amount involved is considerable, and in the Bill as introduced I proposed in Section 69 to deal with the problem by arranging that servants who had retired before the passing of the Bill would have any contributions that they had paid returned to them at once and servants still in employment following the passing of the Bill would have the contributions returned when they came to draw a benefit under the Bill. In this way the incidence of the repayment would have been spread over a number of years.

The section was, however, unanimously amended on the Committee Stage in the Dáil so as to provide that the return of contributions would be made within a period to be fixed by the corporation by resolution. Accordingly the question of the return of contributions will now be a matter for decision by the members of the Cork City Council.

I have tried to make this Bill as comprehensive as possible so that it would provide a complete superannuation code for officers and servants of all local authorities other than mental hospital authorities and so that it could be read and administered without reference to earlier enactments. A certain amount of reference to previous legislation has, nevertheless, been found to be unavoidable.

An explanatory memorandum was circulated with the Bill on its original introduction in the Dáil explaining the detailed points as clearly as possible. This memorandum still holds good except in relation to Section 69, which deals with the return of contributions to certain servants of Cork Corporation, and which was amended in the manner I have mentioned above.

I would like, if I may be permitted, to ask the House for a speedy passage for this Bill, so that it may be enacted before the 31st March. It is my intention, if the Bill becomes law this month, to fix, in accordance with Section 4, the 1st April next as the day on which Part II of the Bill, which relates to officers, will come into operation. This will have the effect of giving to officers who are at present under the 1925 Act for pension purposes the opportunity of availing of an alternative set of benefits which includes a death gratuity to the legal personal representative in the case of an officer who dies in office. Nothing is payable under the 1925 Act to officers who die in office.

So far as servants are concerned the enactment of the Bill before the 1st April is even more important than it is for officers. Part III of the Bill (the servants' part) will come into operation on the 1st April next after the passing of the Act in respect of every local authority which has adopted Part III of the 1948 Act. Thus the operation of the pension scheme for servants would be put back to 1st April, 1957, unless the Bill is passed this month. This would be unfortunate, as it is virtually certain that considerable numbers of road workers and other servants will be eligible to have their names put on the register of pensionable servants as soon as Part III of the Bill comes into operation. As soon as their names are on the register they have the assurance of certain benefits for themselves or their dependants in the event of permanent incapacity or death which, of course, they cannot get until the commencement of Part III of the Bill. In the interests of these people, therefore, I would respectfully ask the co-operation of the Seanad for the passage of this Bill in time to have it enacted before the 31st of this month.

This House has over a number of years been very considerate in the matter of legislation by reference. When the Party sitting on the opposite side of the House were on this side of the House, they made reference at many times to this very undesirable procedure. Seldom, if ever, has this House been presented with a Bill containing so much reference to previous legislation as this Bill. It is a very important Bill, and one which should be made as clear as possible, because it involves the future of so many people. Their position should be made as clear as it is possible to make it. What we find the Minister presenting to us, however, is a Bill in which every section refers to some past legislation. A person employed by a local authority who is anxious to know what his or her position might be as a result of the enactment of this Bill will be compelled to look up, or have a member of the legal profession look up on his or her behalf, all the legislation passed through the Oireachtas in relation to this question since 1948.

The Bill, as the Minister has pointed out, sets out to clarify some of the proposals incorporated in the 1948 Act. There is nothing new in it. There are no provisions being made for the servants or employees of a local authority. The Bill arises, in the main, because of a misunderstanding that has arisen particularly in the mind of the City Manager of Cork and no one else. There are no new provisions being made. But I would like to put two or three questions or points of view in relation to this whole question. The Bill that we are discussing and the 1948 Act made provision for superannuation for the employees of local authorities. To my mind, the employees of local authorities are very important persons. They have a very important influence on the operation of the works carried on by local authorities. By their diligence and by the way they apply themselves to their work, they can contribute very much to the efficiency of the local authority.

But there is another group of persons, that is, persons who are now pensioned under local authorities, and on their behalf, I should like to make a special plea to the Minister. While it is not possible under this Bill to make very definite provision for them, I should like—and I am sure the House will agree with me—to see some very sympathetic consideration being given to their present position. The persons I have in mind are those who were public servants in local authorities from the period 1919 to 1921. That was a very important period in the history of this country. The persons employed by local authorities during that period played a very important part, and while we might pay great tribute to those people who, by force of arms, achieved the freedom we now have, that freedom could not have been achieved without the co-operation and assistance of the people employed in our local authorities.

When this question was put to the Minister in the other House, I think he passed it off by saying that there was provision made by the Minister for Defence that these people would be entitled to military service pensions. That is not the case. The people I have in mind were those people who accepted the Orders of the first Dáil and who acted under those Orders and, because of acting in accordance with those Orders, helped and contributed in a very large way to achieve the position that we are in to-day. I ask the Minister to give very serious consideration and very sympathetic consideration to the people coming within this category.

As I said at the outset, there is very little new in this Bill. There is nothing new that the servants or employees of local authorities can hope to gain, except clarification of the position as it existed under the 1948 Act. I should like to draw the Minister's particular attention to Section 7 (1):—

"A local authority shall maintain a register to be known as the register of pensionable officers (in this part of this Act referred to as the register)..."

This section makes it obligatory on local authorities to provide a register; but there is no provision made whereby an employee, who after all is the person most concerned, should be notified as to whether or not his or her name is recorded on that register. I think if a provision of that kind had been made, the question that has arisen and that has given rise to so much controversy in relation to the position in Cork would never have arisen. I think it is only right that, where this register is being compiled—

Possibly the Senator has not seen the Committee print of the Bill? The obligation was put in on the Committee Stage.

That that person must be notified?

I had a doubt at the outset. The copy of the Bill I have is as passed by the Dáil.

Section 7, sub-section (2).

But there is no provision being made whereby, if a person's name is not on the register, he is notified, and if he is not so informed, he cannot take the necessary steps provided in the preceding sections to make an appeal to the Minister. While I appreciate that there is provision being made in this section for a person whose name is recorded being notified, it is more important still, I think, that the person whose name is not recorded should be notified, because we are making provision in the Bill whereby that person, if he has a grievance, may make representations to the Minister. He cannot make these representations regarding his superannuation and conditions of employment which he feels entitled to make, unless he is notified accordingly. Not alone that, but he is also given no reason as to why his name is not recorded on that register. If the Minister pays attention to Section 30, he will find that the persons I have in mind will be completely removed from the benefits of this Bill, as there is no opportunity given to them to make the necessary representation to the Minister inside the prescribed time.

In so far as this Bill is an improvement on the previous measure, I welcome it; and I do not entirely agree with Senator Hawkins that it contains no improvements or that there is nothing new in it. There are some substantial improvements in it, but it would be foolish for me to say that it is really satisfactory, or that it will not be a source of disappointment to many of those affected by it. This Bill deals with several classes of people —classes who differ very considerably in the conditions of their service and appointment and work generally—and I doubt the wisdom of trying to bring all these classes of people with varying interests and varying conditions under the cover of this one comprehensive superannuation scheme. The result, of course, is what we have before us, a very highly technical Bill which is extremely difficult for an ordinary layman to follow.

It is the kind of Bill that one would normally find should be dealt with in Committee, but unfortunately it is also the kind of Bill to which a private member cannot move any effective amendment because it will be ruled out of order, because any amendment that one wished to move by way of improvement in the measure would be deemed to be calculated to increase the payments either by the State directly or from the rates. Therefore, they are ruled out. I understand that in the other House a score of such amendments tabled by Labour Deputies were ruled out for that reason. We can only hope, therefore, to do our best during the Second Reading to induce the Minister himself to make the improvements in the Bill we would like to have seen. Since those who are members of local authorities are in the best position to deal with this measure and its numerous details, I shall confine myself in the main to dealing with a body of whose conditions I have some knowledge, the vocational teachers.

They are officers under this Bill, and as I said, I shall confine my remarks mostly to their position. I think it would be more appropriate if a body like the vocational teachers were excluded from this measure altogether and if a separate pension scheme were provided for them. We have in the country three classes of teachers, or four, if we include university professors. In the case of the other three classes, national teachers, secondary teachers and university professors, each has its own separate system of pension scheme suited to its own special conditions and circumstances; and I think it would be more appropriate in the case of vocational teachers than trying to lump them in with a lot of other bodies whose conditions and circumstances are very different. There may be one or two other sections in this Bill to which the same thing would apply.

The vocational teachers are not directly under the county council or the county manager. The county manager has very important duties in this Bill. The vocational teachers are under a committee of the county council and this committee is not financed by the Local Government Department. As a matter of fact, these teachers have very little contact at all with either the Department of Local Government or the Minister for Local Government. Their whole professional lives, if I may put it that way, are concerned with the Department of Education and the Minister for Education. Their appointments, the fixing of their salaries, their promotions and so forth are financed from funds provided to a very large extent by the Education Vote.

I know, of course, that it is not possible to change that now and I do not pretend it is, but I should like to put that on record and to ask the Government to see the compelling reasons which are in favour of the suggestion I make. I believe it would commend itself to the teachers concerned and to their organisation, and that it would be a saving also in administration, because if the teachers transfer from one part of the country to another, there has to be some agreement or some arrangement between the different counties to pay different portions of contributions and so on, whereas if there was one uniform scheme, they could be dealt with with much less administrative difficulty.

Section 16 provides on retirement a lump sum for teachers and other officers, too. It sets out what the pension is to be; this includes a lump sum, equal to one-thirtieth of their pensionable remuneration multiplied by the number of years' service. That would be the lump sum. It provides that the maximum lump sum will be one and a half times their pensionable remuneration, but, before that maximum can be obtained by an officer, he must have given 45 years' pensionable service, assuming that the retirement is at 65 which, I think, is the normal age for retirement. He must have that service before he can get the maximum lump sum provided for in this Bill.

So far as vocational teachers are concerned, in any case, that maximum is purely illusory, because no vocational teacher can ever get his maximum. It would mean that he would have to enter the service at the age of 20 and have continuous service for the next 45 years before he could get his maximum lump sum, but no vocational teacher can enter at 20 years of age and, therefore, would not be qualified. As a matter of fact, the minimum age at which such an officer can enter is 21. We know that very many of these vocational teachers, especially those engaged in manual work like woodwork teaching and metal working, do not enter the service until very much later. These teachers are drawn generally from people who have served an apprenticeship to their trade and who have acquired special skill in that trade. They then undergo a course of training for two years or so and are often up to 27, 28 and even 30 years before they enter the service.

I understand that the average age for entrance for a vocational teacher is 25 or 26 years, so that the one-thirtieth for each year of service on which the lump sum is calculated should be something like one-twenty-fifth or one-twenty-sixth, if it is intended that they should ever get the maximum lump sum. There is not very much in putting it down in black and white that it is the maximum, knowing that they can never get it. That is one of the things which, if vocational teachers had a separate scheme for themselves, could be taken into account as meeting their special circumstances. I know, of course, it could not very well be taken into account in this Bill because I suppose you have a number of local government employees in clerical grades who would enter round about 20 years of age and would be in a position to get the maximum sum. The same might apply in the case of their pensionable allowances. It would be very difficult for many of them to get even the full half of their salaries, which is the pensionable allowance.

There were some minor points mentioned in the other House and I should like to mention them again. They refer to the question of the calculation of the pensionable service and contributions. Contributions came in with the 1948 Act. By the way, it struck me that this matter of contributions is something of a misnomer, except in the case of people who have back contributions to pay. If you think of a contribution, you think it is a contribution to something. You think you put it into a fund, for instance, from which you can draw it thereafter. This 5 per cent., however, is a deduction from the officer's salary. It does not go anywhere—except for the purpose of reducing the rates, or something of that kind. In some pension schemes, there is a special fund into which contributions are paid and which undergo actuarial investigation. I am not complaining about that. I am just pointing out that this contribution is merely a reduction in the officer's income.

I am told that quite a considerable number of vocational teachers gave long periods of temporary full-time service prior to the 1948 Act. That has been taken into account in this Bill for pension purposes, provided it is immediately prior to the teacher's permanent service, but while a man who had permanent service before the 1948 Act is not asked to pay a contribution, the person who has had a temporary employment is—and I think it is rather hard on him. Another class is the manual instruction teachers. Some of these manual instruction teachers were in training just immediately before the 1948 Act. They, also, are penalised in the matter of contributions.

There is just one other matter to which I wish to refer before I go on to something which I regard as more serious. There was a parenthesis— the Minister will remember it—in Section 11, paragraph (g). I think that, in the other House, the Minister promised to look into it. I think it was ambiguous. There is a parenthesis there about the conditions under which some teachers will pay contributions. The Minister said it would relate only to the payment of contributions. The inclusion of that parenthesis does not seem to have any great effect, except to leave the position ambiguous. I think it does leave it ambiguous and that other regulations might very well be made—rather than the ones the Minister intended—which should be confined to contributions alone.

There are one or two things in this Bill that I consider a very serious blot and I would press the Minister very strongly to remove them before the Bill becomes law. I refer to Section 10, sub-section (1) (f), and also to Section 15, sub-section (b). I would refer members of the House to Section 10 (1) (f). In my view, this provision should not be in any Bill leaving this Parliament in this day and age. Section 10 sets out the service which a man is entitled to calculate, but he must not calculate any period before a date after the commencement of this Part of this Act on which he absents himself from the place where he performs his duties under a local authority or refrains from performing those duties, such absence or refraining being deliberate and unauthorised. That means that if a man absents himself from duty deliberately and without authority, and if that man has given say 20, 25 or 30 years' pensionable service, he wipes out all his service, even though, as far as I can gather, it does not say that he will be removed from the service. He may come back again after being a day or a few hours absent. He can go back to his job, but for pension purposes, his 20, 25 or 30 years' service is cancelled. That is entirely unfair and altogether too great a punishment for what might possibly be a small offence at the most.

It may be said that this provision was drawn from the Civil Service (Superannuation) Act that was passed some 100 years ago or thereabouts. Here, however, is a strange thing. In the 1948 Act, this same provision was enacted. I do not know how it came to be passed at that time, but the fact is that it was. I have not looked up the records to see whether or not there was any objection to it. However, the point is that it applied both to officers and servants. Now, it is dropped, so far as servants are concerned. One can see the reason for that. The servants are generally organised in very strong trade unions. They can go on strike. There is nothing to prevent them from doing so. Their previous service, when they go on strike, is not cancelled. They may absent themselves without authority and their previous service is not cancelled. However, this penal clause remains so far as the officer is concerned.

I am acquainted very closely with another teachers' pension scheme, the scheme for national teachers. Teachers not only in this country but in other countries go on strike occasionally— but only for very sound or strong reasons. The national teachers went on a one-day strike as far back as October, 1918, under the British. Senators will, perhaps, be surprised to hear that not only did the British authorities not penalise the teachers for that one day's absence by cancelling their previous pensionable service, or even cancelling their service for that particular day, but they actually paid them their salary for the day they were on strike and allowed their pension for that day, too. There was another one-day strike in 1933. On that occasion, the salary and the pensionable service was stopped, but only for that one particular day.

As Senators know, there was a much longer strike by the Dublin teachers in 1946. It lasted for eight months. There was no question of cancelling their previous pensionable service. They lost their salary and pension in respect of the period they were out on strike, and no one complains about that, but there was no question of cancelling the previous service they had earned. That was credited to them when they got back to work.

Let us take an example to see how this will work. Take, for instance, a teacher or other officer—I am more acquainted with the teachers' pensions and that is why I mention them. Take a man who has a dog running in the Kingdom Cup or at Clounanna. Because his C.E.O. or his headmaster is not on the best of terms with him, he does not ask his permission to go, because he knows he would not get it. He goes and is away for two days without authority. Then he comes back. According to this paragraph that man—because he has gone without authority and gone deliberately— has his whole previous service, which may be 20, 25 or 30 years, cancelled.

I am wondering how it operates. What happens? The man comes back to work again. When is he told, for instance, that it is cancelled? There is a record of absences, I suppose, but it may be only in ten or 15 years' time when he comes to get his pension that he finds out that his period of service has been cancelled. There is nothing in the Bill to show how it operates. It just says there in black and white that his service is cancelled. Even though there may never be a necessity for vocational teachers to go on strike, they are a trade union and are entitled to go on strike, if they feel they have no other remedy to right their grievances. But suppose they do not, you may have this happening: you may have a strike by the servants attached to a particular institution, say, like Rathmines Technical School, or one of the big schools, and are the teachers then expected to break the picket? It is a well-known trade union principle that one trade union body will not go through a picket when there is a strike by another trade union body.

This may happen: laboratory attendants, or caretakers, or somebody else may be on strike, as they are entitled to be, and there is no penalisation of them, if they go on strike. Their previous service is not cancelled. But one of the teachers in the school may be asked to do something which those men were doing, and he may say:

"No, it is not my job." Therefore he refrains, and by so refraining, renders himself liable to have all his previous service cancelled.

The Minister says it does not happen, but I have mentioned cases in which it could happen. In any case, if it does not happen, why is the provision there, held over the officers' heads as a threat? I think it is quite wrong and something that should not appear. I cannot see the purpose of it.

There is another thing that is unusual in the case of officers especially, something that says that they must, at the end of their service, have been working with diligence and fidelity, and if they have not, their pension can be reduced, or possibly stopped altogether. These are peculiar conditions to appear in a pension scheme. If a man is not giving proper service, there is a way of dealing with him—penalise him by stopping his increments or his salary, and finally, if he continues to be unsatisfactory, sack him, but do not say: "You can continue to work away as you always have been working, but, because you were absent for two days or a couple of days all your previous service is gone." That is not right. I appeal to the Minister, who I know is a man with a lot of fine commonsense and a realist, and who, I believe, will see that this is something in the nature of degrading men in the position of officers, not only teachers, under this measure. I would press as strongly as I can that he should drop that condition. There is nothing to be gained by it, and I do not believe there is any member of this House or the other House who would object if it were dropped. As I say, I most strongly appeal to him to drop that offensive sub-section (f) in the Bill and those others I mentioned.

I should like very briefly to support the remarks of Senator O'Connell. The Bill is a good one in many respects, but Section 10, sub-section (f) does seem to be rather a dangerous section. The whole thing is better discussed on the Committee Stage, and for that reason I will content myself with simply urging the Minister to look into that section particularly, before the Committee Stage is reached.

I welcome this Bill as a further attempt to improve local Government law. I do not intend to speak at any length on the matter, more than to point out that there is one particular improvement that certainly appeals to me. That is the provision made by which an employee entitled to a lump sum may provide for a pension for his dependents in the event of death by surrendering part of that lump sum.

I agree with Senator O'Connell that there are many points in the Bill in which it could be improved, but as far as that is concerned this is a case of legislation where we will have quite a big number of people satisfied and a big number dissatisfied. As far as vocational teachers are concerned, I would agree with him that they should come in a separate category, because they are not employees of a local body in the same sense as the other different departments of county councils. The vocational education system is operated by a committee set up at the inaugural meeting of the county council after its election and that committee functions during the lifetime of the county council. Of course it is quite true that, out of the rates, a substantial sum is provided for the financing of the vocational education scheme, and county councils now, with the consent of the Minister, are empowered to expend 1/3 in the £ on vocational education. I am quite satisfied that this Bill, if given speedy enactment—and I hope it will, so as to carry out the Minister's wish and bring it into operation on the 1st April—will certainly bring benefits to a very large section of the people concerned.

The Minister has gone out of his way to remedy the defect in former Local Government Acts that many of us had reason to refer to, namely, legislation by reference. It would need quite an amount of research which many representatives in the Dáil and Seanad had not an opportunity to carry out before one could familiarise oneself with other Local Government measures that have come before this and the other House. So far as this Bill is concerned, with the White Paper issued with it on the first occasion, personally I did not find much difficulty in analysing it and familiarising myself with what it purports to do. I congratulate the Minister on its introduction and I hope that it will get a speedy enactment.

I should like to join other Senators who have welcomed this Bill, but I should like to say at the outset that, while I sympathise with the Minister's intentions when he asks us to give him this Bill before 31st March in order to enable him to implement it as quickly as possible, I cannot help feeling that, in a sense, he is putting a gun to our heads, asking us not to propose amendments because, if we propose amendments, the chances are that the Bill may drag on beyond March 31st. I remember also that when speaking to us last year, on the 20th April, the Minister gave us some kind of promise as to when he hoped to be able to introduce this Bill. He said in column 1190 of Volume 44, No. 13, that it was his hope that he would be able to introduce this Bill before the summer recess. That was his hope and nobody will blame him for not having been able fully to realise his hope. I do not want to suggest any element of blame.

I did introduce it.

I understood it was introduced in December.

It was introduced in the Dáil before the summer recess?

I see that the Minister's memorandum going with the Bill seems to be dated December.

That is the Second Reading.

A memorandum particularly for the Second Reading?

In that case, I will moderate what I am saying about the Minister and I will change it into a compliment, that he did, in fact, introduce it before the summer recess. Nevertheless, I feel that, as Senators, we should get a better chance than here in three weeks to consider what amendments we think necessary and then hand the Bill back to the Minister before March 31st in order that he may with all speed implement it. I think the Minister will sympathise with the Seanad if some of us feel that we would like just a little bit more time to consider it and that we should like time to have been given to us before now, rather than to have to force the Minister to delay implementation of the Act by taking up the weeks of April to consider it. I with draw my reproach to the Minister for not introducing it earlier, but express regret that he did not come to this House earlier. Probably through no fault of the Minister we find, conse quently, that we are more or less put into the position of either not amending it at all or delaying its implementation and also the benefits accruing from it to the people concerned.

Senator O'Connell said he felt that this is more or less a Committee Bill but that he thought our hands were tied, because, if we try to improve it, we shall find we are imposing additional charges on the State, and will not be allowed to consider that kind of amendment. He also said—I sympathise, and perhaps even more than he—that, for the layman reading this Bill, it was not always possible to know precisely what is meant, even if we read it slowly. I would refer the House, for instance, to Section 50, sub-section (7), paragraph (b), which says:—

"in any other case—the appropriate one of such fractions (less than the fraction referred to in paragraph (a) of this sub-section) as, at the time when such sum or gratuity becomes payable, stand specified by regulations as the proper fractions for the purposes of this section in those cases."

I have read that three or four times. It may, of course, be a legal necessity, but it looks to me like what is usually called Civil Service gobbledegook.

And it represents existing facts.

I am afraid that a lot of the legal jargon which represents "existing facts" may lead one to deplore, not only the legal jargon, but the existing facts. This leads me to another point—to put the question to the Minister: are not many of these regulations over-complicated? Is there not another background—a sort of feeling that somebody might be getting a halfpenny too much or a fraction of a year's benefit where he did not, in fact, have that amount of service completed? Is there not overconcern for saving the halfpenny throughout this Bill in calculating benefit? If there is any case of doubt, if, for instance, a person works for a fraction of a year—it might be 11 months and 20 days—then that whole fraction of the year is to be "disregarded". It seems to me that in every case the State is very careful in drafting this Bill not to give away too much and, wherever they recoup, they recoup to the last halfpenny and sometimes even more, as I propose to show later. Therefore, I suggest that some of this jargon is necessitated not so much by the nature of the facts, but because we are not prepared to have a simplified code which might occasionally be generous, and we are too concerned to be saving money all the time, and perhaps spending more money in tracking down fresh ways of saving halfpennies.

I want to refer specifically in this case to Part IV, Section 50 and 51, which concerns what might be called the widow's mite—not what is to be received from the widow in this case, not the widow's alms, but what is to be granted with a great air of generosity to her. It is a very complicated section, but, as I read it, it seems to me to mean that, if the pensionable officer declares before he gets his allowance that he is going to give up a certain proportion of it, then the local authority, in its generosity, will be prepared to give a similar proportion to his widow when he dies. They do, of course, devoutly hope that he himself will live for a long time and that his widow will not last very much longer after him, because, although he personally is giving up this money, the State is not prepared to run the risk of handing out to her very much more than what he has sacrificed. If he, for instance, gives up a portion of his allowance for the ten years which he lives after starting to draw his pension, the State contracts to pay for the rest of the widow's life pretty well what it had taken from the man before he died; but it is not prepared to take a very big risk. This reluctance to take any risk is shown, for instance, in Section 50, sub-section (5), which sets out:—

"A local authority shall have a discretion as to whether they will or will not enter into an agreement for the purposes of this section, subject to the proviso that they shall not enter into the agreement unless they are satisfied that the officer is in good health."

If there is any chance of an officer wishing to provide for his widow, and being so treacherous as to be on the point of death or to be seriously ill, and consequently having very real need to provide for his widow, in that case the State steps in and says: "We are sorry we cannot give you this kind of arrangement; that is absolutely precluded by this section"—that they "shall not" enter into such an agreement unless they are satisfied that the man is in good health. I suggest that that sub-section is penalising the man for bad health, and penalising his widow, and is in conformity with the grudging spirit which I see throughout this section, which deals with allowances to widows.

I find in sub-section (7) of the same Section 50:—

"The Minister may make regulations for the purposes of this section and the regulations shall be in such terms as, in the opinion of the Minister, secure that deductions from lump sums and death gratuities are, in general and taking one period with another, not less than sufficient to meet the liabilities of local authorities under such agreements as they may enter into under this section."

The Minister wants to make regulations to make quite sure that local authorities will not be giving out more than they get in from the unfortunate man who is dying. They do not mind if they get in a bit more than they have to get in, but the one thing that they want to make absolutely sure of is that what they take by way of deductions shall not be "not less than sufficient," not merely that it shall be sufficient, but their one concern is that at all costs they do not give just a little bit more to the unfortunate widow, though they are being saved the lump sum and the allowance to the pensioned officer. Again, I say that this seems to me to provide an example of the grudging spirit in which this whole section is drafted.

I should like to ask the Minister to consider also the position where the officer has not found it possible or reasonable to ask for such an agreement. The position of the widow in that case is simply that she does not get anything at all. The local authority should recognise that it is under an obligation to a widow, other than what is provided by those officers who make this type of agreement. It seems to me to be equitable that where a person by reason of his services, very often very long services, gets a pension from his employers, just as his salary is considered to be for the benefit of himself, his wife and his family, so, too, ought his pension be considered to be for the benefit not only of himself but of his wife, and consequently of his widow.

Therefore, since the pension should be taken, in equity, to be also for the benefit of the wife as well as for the man himself, I suggest that, in equity, there should be a duty to see that the wife gets at least half of the full pension as long as she survives her husband. I say "at least" half, on the contention that a man and a wife may perhaps live together slightly more cheaply per person than the individual surviver will be able to do. In those circumstances, I think that the widow should get at least half of the full pension for the period during which she survives her husband. That would be a better and simpler system than this system of calculation and cross-calculation which is provided for here.

There are three other points which I wish to make and one relates to Section 64. In that section, we find that, "where a person has been convicted on indictment of any offence" and sentenced to terms of imprisonment or hard labour for a period of 12 months or more and at the time of the punishment is in receipt of a pension, thereupon the pension is cancelled and ceases to be payable, unless, under sub-section (3) of this section, the local authority, with the consent of the Minister, decides to renew the payment. That means that such a convicted person, when he comes within the Bill, is being punished twice. That seems to me to be very much against all the principles of equity—that a person should be punished twice for some offence for which he has been convicted and has served the sentence imposed by the process of law. It seems to me to be most unjust that such a person should be deprived of his pension. It might be reasonable, of course, to recall that that person was living at the expense of the State in jail, but the pension is for the benefit of himself and his family, and his family has not been sent to jail. I do think it is a monstrous injustice that his pension should be taken from him, if he has paid the penalty recognised by law and purged his offence. I think the Minister as a lawyer would take a sympathetic view of this point and I appeal to him to take steps for the removal of this section.

I should like to refer to Section 17 and Section 22, both of which have been referred to by me earlier. Section 17, at paragraph (a), says that, at the termination of his office, "any fraction of a whole year will be disregarded" for the purposes of pension. If a person works for the whole year, he is entitled to an allowance in respect of the whole, but under this section if he works only for six months of the year, then those six months are to be disregarded by the local authority for pension purposes. I suggest that we should rather err on the generous side, which would be the just thing to do, and say that any fraction of the year should count as a full year. I think, in all equity, that that should be the position, and it is unfair that a fraction of a year which has been worked should be discounted for the pension computations of the officers concerned. I think it would be far more just to count in any fraction of the year worked as being a whole year for the purposes of the Act. The same thing applies to Section 22 and I suggest that these two sections should be amended.

The last point I want to make is in relation to that so well made already by Senator O'Connell and supported by Senator McHugh. That is in relation to paragraph (f) of sub-section (1), Section 10, which makes a person sacrifice his pension rights if he absents himself deliberately from work. I wonder what was the attitude of mind behind this paragraph which provides that a man has to lose his pension if he has absented himself from his work for a few hours, or a day or two. It may be for a trivial reason, or a quite important matter which has caused him to absent himself, and yet he can be deprived of his full pension rights if he does so. It seems quite obvious that none of these officers can go on strike, for instance, or be involved in a stoppage of work, not necessarily a strike, but he may have sympathies with some particular idea or code, and, if he does find himself with such sympathies, he is running the risk of losing his pension rights. I suggest that that paragraph is calculated to encourage a craven attitude in our public servants, which I would deplore. This seems to me to be a monstrous penalty to impose and I think that that paragraph should be deleted.

This Bill is welcomed by most of us as an improvement on existing legislation, but there are still a few points which could be improved even further. In the Bill, the Minister has differentiated between officers and servants. In regard to the coming into operation of the Bill, it will be imposed on local authorities with or without their consent, in so far as officers are concerned, but it will apply only to servants where Part III of the 1948 Act has been adopted by resolution. Would the Minister consider amending Section 5 on Committee Stage, so that Part III would come into operation, say, not later than 1st April, 1957, in cases where Part III of the 1948 Act has not been adopted, and on 1st April, 1956, in other cases? The Minister may remember that amendments to that effect were tabled in the other House, but were ruled out of order. It would be very helpful if the Minister would again consider those points and, if possible, table an amendment which would ensure that the Act would apply to all servants, whether or not the local authorities pass the resolution referred to.

Ní mór atá agamsa le rá ar an mBille seo. Tá cuid de na pointí a bhí ar aigne agam luaite cheana ag cuid den na cainteoirí. Tá aon phointe amháin ba maith liom a chur ós comhair an Aire maidir le seirbhís faoin Roinn agus maidir le seirbhís eile roimis sin.

Rinne cainteoirí eile tagairt do dhaoine a bhí amuigh ag troid ar son na tíre, daoine a chaill mórán blianta agus gur ceart an tseirbhís a thugadar d'Éirinn a chur san áireamh maidir le aoisliúntais sa Bhille seo. Tá daoine eile ar aigne agamsa anois. Is iad daoine iad ná na múinteoirí taistil a bhí ann fadó, tamall de blianta ó shoin agus a chuaigh isteach ina dhiaidh sin i seirbhís an Stáit nó i sheirbhís fé na húdaráis áitiúil. Is dóigh liomsa gur ceart an tseirbhís sin i rith na mblianta a thugadar ag gabháil do mhúineadh na Gaeilge do chur san áireamh nuair a béifear ag leagadh amach an aoisliúntais do na daoine sin, is é sin le rá, má tá suim áirithe blianta den tseirbhís sin curtha isteach ag na múinteoirí sin. Tá cásanna den tsórt sin ann agus ba mhaith liom tuairim an Aire d'fháil ar na cásanna sin nuair a bhéas sé ag freagairt.

I do not know rightly if there is justification for the fears expressed by Senator O'Connell in connection with Section 10, but if there is, I must say that the section itself is rather complicated as, indeed, are many other sections. Even though the Minister was kind enough to circulate an explanatory memorandum, I must say that still there are certain provisions of this measure that require further clarification.

If it is a fact, as Senator O'Connell seems to think, that an officer of a local authority, as distinct from a servant of the local authority, would be in danger of having his superannuation rights curtailed because of a stoppage in his service, that would be a very serious thing, because it could, as the Senator said, mean that all the years' service that such an officer had given to the local authority prior to that hiatus would have gone for nought. It is such a serious thing that it should be given very careful consideration by the Minister before this Bill is enacted into law.

There is another section which proposes to amend previous Superannuation Acts. It is the section dealing with added service. The Minister seeks for the first time to define the circumstances in which added years will be given to a person going out on pension. I really do not know whether that is an improvement or not. It could well turn out to be the very opposite—a disimprovement—because the Minister is tied by having the circumstances set out in the Bill, whereas heretofore the Minister could exercise his discretion.

I must say, of course, that there is a lot to be said for not leaving too much discretion in the hands of a Minister. It has been our attitude sometimes in approaching these measures to try to ensure that everything to be done would be set forth in the Bill and that nothing would be left to the discretion of a Minister. But this is a case where I think the Minister's discretion would be necessary because it could well happen that cases would arise, apart entirely from what has been set forth in this Bill, when it would be right for the Minister to exercise his discretion and give added years to the officer or servant in question.

There is also the question, as Senator O'Connell mentioned, of diligence and assiduity in the work of the servants. The question is: If diligence and assiduity are to be taken into account, who will be the judge when the time comes as to whether the person was diligent or not?

This is a very comprehensive Bill and a very lengthy one. I had an opportunity of perusing it, but not to the same careful degree as my friend, Senator O'Connell. I listened very carefully to the Minister's opening statement. I was unaware that, under Section 10, severe penalties could be imposed on any teacher—that was the particular category mentioned by the Senator who was speaking about the matter— for breaking faith with his employers or his manager. I was unaware that, for taking a day off without permission, a teacher's pension rights could be forfeited, even though he had served his profession and his country most assiduously for ten, 15 or 25 years.

This is a good Bill. It has been introduced by a Minister who, as Senator O'Connell said, is a realist and a very humane person. The Minister understands everyday life in his ministerial and professional capacity. To me, at any rate, it seems to take the gilt off an otherwise perfect Bill that, in this age, such severe penalties can be imposed on people who, for perhaps 20 or 25 years, have served their profession and their country very well. It does seem a pity that the gilt should be taken off an otherwise perfect Bill.

I have no doubt the Minister will look into the viewpoints expressed here by various Senators. I want to refer to Section 17 with reference to the 1948 Superannuation Act which the present Bill proposes to amend. In Section 79 (a) there is a provision for granting an increase to officials already receiving a pension. The omission from this Bill of a corresponding section is disappointing. It seems most unfair that a superannuated officer should not receive the cost-of-living bonus which is being granted to his colleagues who are still in the service and which he himself would also enjoy if he had not been obliged to retire—usually due to reaching the age limit or for health or some other such reasons. In most cases, an officer's retirement can be attributed to circumstances outside his control. The problem has grown in recent years due to the number of cost-of-living bonuses awarded to local officers.

Notice taken that 20 Senators were not present. House counted, and, 20 Senators being present,

Most local authorities throughout the country are aware of the situation and some have considered resolutions requesting the Minister to make appropriate provisions. Members of the Oireachtas are also fully conversant with the matter and from time to time Parliamentary Questions have been tabled about it in the other House.

The considerations regarding cost-of-living bonus also apply where adjustments in salary are concerned. While it is appreciated that an officer could hardly claim adjustment of his pension where his successor is subsequently awarded a salary revision, cases have arisen where approval to a particular revision was not received until after the officer had been forced to retire even though the claim had been submitted and locally approved long before retiral date. That applies particularly to many men in the public service throughout the country. In my experience in public life, it applied to some clerks, urban councillors, and so forth. This aspect arises in the case of older town clerks who had sought a revision of scale as far back as 1950 and when subsequently approved only operated from the 1st January, 1953. Officials retiring in the interim period were pensioned on the lower scale. In my view, that is not quite fair to men who have given a lifetime of service to the public throughout the country.

We can all well appreciate the understandable demand for a reduction in local taxation at the moment. Personally, I am of the opinion that it has soared to heights which it is beyond the capacity of the ordinary man in the street to cope with. There can be little fear of my opposition to remedial measures such as this. On moral grounds alone, I am firmly convinced that a man who has devoted a lifetime to local service is entitled to a just and fair reward. The cost in this case would be very slender. In my opinion it would not amount to a great deal. Time takes its toll. Death intervenes. Looking back over the past 15 or 20 years, we see that when men of that type get their pension they usually pass out in the course of five or six years. I would ask the Minister to take the necessary steps to remedy this matter as far as possible.

I do not want to delay the House. There are many other points but I know they will be dealt with by other Senators in the course of the debate. I again appeal to the Minister to give favourable consideration to the points I have made. If he does, then many public officials who have given a lifetime of service to local government throughout the country, particularly since the inception of the State, will be very grateful to him.

I must say quite frankly that I am disappointed with the Bill. I am glad it has been introduced because it indicates that a certain amount of thought—I suppose a great deal of thought—has been given to the provision of pensions for a very lowly paid and very much maligned section of the community. The fact that such thought has been given is, of course, good.

The Bill purports to improve the 1948 Act and it goes a little bit of the way. My major disagreement is that it goes such a little bit of the way.

Like Senator O'Connell and other Senators who have spoken before me, my first disappointment relates to Section 10 (1) (f)—the strike clause, as I would call it. When I read it first, it seemed not unreasonable, but, later, it seemed to me that it was designed to prevent officers of a local authority from going on strike. In modern times, the right to strike is recognised. We recognise that right and the collective bargaining that is a feature of modern employer-worker relationships. A group of men may collectively, on the instruction of the trade union, withdraw their labour or service for a certain specified period in order to win certain rights to which they feel they are entitled. A section that takes away maybe half a lifetime's service from a man because he exercises that right to go on strike in an organised way is, to me, reminiscent of 1913 and of "Murphyism". Suppose that a man over a long period absents himself from work without a reason, he is more or less resigned, but, if he does that, he is not penalised and his service is not withdrawn. In my opinion, this section does nothing but threaten people that, if they organise and take the next logical step in the case of any injustice, go on strike, their service will be withdrawn. I appeal to the Minister to bring the local authorities into line with modern thinking in these matters and to withdraw that section of the Bill.

One other thing I am disappointed in is the percentage of wage contribution a servant will have to make. The biggest section is the road workers who are notoriously lowly paid. There is only one other section of men in the community, farm workers, who are paid more lowly than the road workers. The average wage at the present time of road workers would be about £5. They do not work full time, of course, or for the full year, as the Minister admitted when he read his explanatory memorandum in his introductory speech. They are paid once a fortnight as a rule, and their contribution to the pension scheme will be 4/2 a week or 8/4 from the fortnightly cheque. That, added to the ordinary social insurance contributions, will be a sizeable deduction from the wage packet, and the take-home wages would be very small indeed. I suppose that at this stage there is very little that can be done, but I appeal to the Minister to have it provided, where it is thought necessary, that there will be some reduction in the percentage of contribution for those lowly paid workers. Such a reduction would be a great encouragement to more workers to insure themselves for their old age.

Another major disappointment is that the Bill is still an adoptive Bill. As Senator Miss Davidson says, we in the Labour Party, in particular, would feel far happier if it were not left to the discretion of each local authority to use it or not. I think it is bad enough to have local authorities, perhaps in two counties adjoining each other and in some cases with the same manager, paying road workers different rates of pay. For example, in Carlow and Kildare, groups of workers meet at the boundary on construction works, and the men from Kildare have a higher rate than the men working with them from Carlow, though their cost of living is the very same and the same man manages both counties.

That situation is bad enough, but it will be far worse if we have groups meeting on the Border in which one section is provided with a pension and the other is not. The Minister, speaking on the final stages of this Bill in the Dáil, said that he hoped each local authority would make use of it, but we all know that the Minister has no power under this measure to compel any local authority to do so. Maybe he does not want the power. He said himself that it was better to leave it to each local authority to say whether or not they could afford it. It is a very good job, to my mind, that the Minister for Health did not take the same point of view when introducing the Health Bill.

One other point was made, I think, by Senator Hawkins, about the notification of entry on the register of service. The Minister pointed out that notification for officers is fairly clear in the Bill, which says that officers will be notified within one month, I think, of the date of the insertion of their names on the register, but, in the case of servants, there appears to be no such notification at all.

I think there is.

I have gone through the Bill.

I think there is. On Committee Stage we will be inserting it.

I have the Bill as passed through Dáil Éireann and I find that, under Section 30, the local authority shall maintain a register in respect of officers.

I apologise, Senator; it is not.

I would have thought it was more important to have, say, road workers notified than a clerk, because, in the first place, a clerk is in a position to have easy access to the register to be kept in the centre of administration, but the road worker may be working constantly many miles away and will have very little chance of finding out whether he is on the register. I recommend to the Minister that he would amend that.

I should also like to make a plea on behalf of the ex-employees of local authorities. I do not know whether the Minister could possibly insert any clause to help them in this Bill, but, from my personal knowledge of those people, some of them find themselves in very sore straits indeed. The pensions they are in receipt of are not sufficient at all to keep them in any sort of reasonable comfort. People such as those, not foreseeing the grievous devaluation in money that has occurred, and knowing that they had a pension coming to them, were depending on it and had not made any other provision for their old age. Because of this devaluation of money, they find that their pensions are completely inadequate. I would ask the Minister if he could give power to the local authority whereby, if it thought it could afford it, it could make more provision for improving the conditions of these people.

Finally, I should like to say that, while I was reading this Bill—and it is one in which I am, naturally, very interested—I was reminded all the time of the great loss that working-class people suffered when the section of Deputy Norton's social welfare scheme to provide retirement pensions was withdrawn. That section was deleted by Deputy Dr. Ryan when he adopted the same Bill and, to my mind, that was one of the greatest losses the workers ever suffered. If that clause had been left in and the pension scheme had been carried out, we might very easily have one central pension scheme, which could be administered far more economically than will all the pension schemes spread through each county council and each employing firm and everybody else.

Apart from that benefit, it would have meant that the State was carrying the responsibility from the Central Fund, instead of putting on to the local authority the responsibility of putting this big load on the ratepayers. To my mind, this is a pretty clever piece of work from the revenue point of view, because the central authority knows that if the road worker, in conjunction with the local authority, provides himself with a pension, that takes away the responsibility from the Central Fund to provide him with an old age pension. In other words, it is a relief to the Central Fund but a burden to the rate-paying public, Deputy Norton's scheme, to my mind, was an example of very fine, progressive thinking. Under it, the thing would have been reversed and the load taken from the local authority and placed on the Central Fund.

There is just one point which I want to raise, and it is in connection with registered servants. A number of people in this class failed to register after the passing of the 1948 Act. I understand that the present Bill will automatically bring them in, but I was just wondering if it would be possible to make the position retrospective, if they so desire. I know a number of people who failed to opt under the 1948 Act to have their names entered on the register. They did so because, as the Minister pointed out here to-day, the 1948 Act was a very complex measure and many workers thought that there were unexpected or unseen snags in it. For that reason, they were rather cautious about availing of it. Having failed to avail of that Act in 1948, they have lost a number of years' service for which pension might be paid. I should like to know from the Minister if any provision could be made for such people so that they would be brought in.

They may do it under the Bill as it stands, provided they pay arrears of contributions.

And a substantial contribution, too.

You cannot have it both ways.

There might be some people who would wish to do that rather than to avail of the pension rights. That is only one point.

I should like to say also, in connection with the point raised by Senator Bergin, that I think that sub-section (2) of Section 30 is a little vague, inasmuch as a worker who is not pensionable ordinarily becomes entitled to registration under this section, if he has 200 working days in the previous year. He can, on the other hand, opt not to be registered, or, at least, he can notify the local authority that he does not wish to be put on the register, but in the case where he is not informed as to whether he is entitled to be registered or not, I think there is a little uncertainty, and it would be right and proper that, in each case, such a person should be notified that he is not being put on. If he is an employee of a local authority, he should be notified whether or not he is being put on the register. He is entitled to that, because, as I say, the section appears to be a little vague.

The whole position in regard to this Bill is not quite as satisfactory as some Senators seem to think. The burden, imposed on the worker, in the first place, and on the local authority, in the second place, is rather a heavy one, but, in addition, there is a good deal of inconvenience and confusion caused to local authorities, particularly in regard to men employed on the roads by the county councils. It is of course the natural desire of every local authority, as a good employer, once a man comes on the register as a pensionable servant, that he should be kept there, if possible; but when we have regard to the fluctuations in the number of workers employed on road work by county councils, it will be recognised how difficult it is in many cases to keep those men on the register; and very often a good deal of inconvenience and a good deal of additional clerical work is entailed in estimating how many hours a man has got or how many hours he would need to get in order to keep him on the register.

In addition, we have the position in which, in order to comply with the superannuation scheme, it is necessary to put men working on the roads into a number of classifications—to grade them so that those with the longest service come first and those with the shorter service take their place in the queue. This grading of men, mainly for the purposes of this Act, does cause a good deal of, shall we say, bitterness sometimes, disappointment in other cases, and a sense that men are not being treated fairly, because, in many cases, if a man is lucky enough, during a period when there is a considerable amount of work being done, to get on the register, while he is still single, he will then take precedence over a married man in the same district. That does cause a good deal of confusion and rancour and, sometimes, a little bitterness.

I mention those matters merely to indicate that measures of this kind, framed with the best intentions, do not always confer benefits upon all the people they are intended to benefit and often cause just as much disappointment to the workers concerned.

As Senator Bergin pointed out, this Bill does impose a substantial burden on workers, and I think it would have been better—of course, it is too late to say it now—to have postponed this whole measure at least in so far as it applies to men not in constant employment, until a more comprehensive scheme could have been worked out to cover all types of manual workers. It certainly does add very considerably to the burden on local authorities, in regard to endeavouring to ensure a high degree of efficiency in the road services, and also imposes an additional burden on the clerical workers in the offices in keeping accounts of days of service and in keeping the proper classifications of workers.

We all recognise that a pension scheme is always appropriate to people in constant, permanent public work, but it is very difficult to apply it to such people as road workers, and there is always an element of injustice done, particularly to men who, from some temporary cause, may become unemployed and may have to seek work from the county council, perhaps only for a temporary period. But, because of this superannuation scheme, they may find themselves pushed to the lower end of the queue and having to give precedence to people who have always been employed by the county council.

I mention this particularly in regard to circumstances which can arise. For example, if a local industry had to close down temporarily, a number of men would be thrown out of work. It might be possible for the local authority to give them employment, but this superannuation scheme to a certain extent restricts the power of a local authority to relieve such conditions. I know that this is a subject of more general rather than specific interest in regard to this Bill, but it is nevertheless a feature of this legislation that cannot be overlooked.

This is certainly a most comprehensive Bill and I am sure it will remove many of the anomalies and complaints that have been inundating the Minister for Local Government and his Department for many years past. It has received almost universal praise in this House, and if I take a line that is somewhat different from that of the speakers who have gone before me, because most people who have spoken have spoken on behalf of people who were aggrieved. I propose to take a line on behalf of those people who will have to provide the money to redress the grievances of those who have been aggrieved.

We are all very glad that these causes of anomalies have been removed and I should like to join Senator O'Gorman in asking the Minister that the very severe hardship that may be imposed on public servants for absenting themselves from work for one day without permission be reconsidered. I think the principle should be that the punishment should fit the crime. That is on the point made by Senator Bergin in speaking about "Murphyism" in 1913.

I think the position to-day is that the trade unions have become so well organised that we will have to encourage young men to go into private enterprise and to put their case against the strong trade union case, if they hope to be able to argue against the case made by the organised trade unions. We all know the amount of courage and ability of the labour leaders which brought about the opposition to "Murphyism" in 1913, and maybe at the end of this decade, we will have arrived at a balance between the strength of the trade unions and the employers, but I think the balance is on the side of trade unions to-day, as it was on the side of the employers in 1913.

The introduction of social legislation of this sort places a great burden on local authorities and it affects the bulk of the rates. These rates are paid to a large extent by the small farmers, many of whose incomes, together with that of their adult help, are below the wage paid to agricultural workers. We would all like to see higher wages paid to these workers, but I think Senator Bergin was wrong when he gave the rate of wage for the agricultural worker and the road worker. The general rate as far as I know in the south is £5 8s. to £5 10s. and I am sure that, as one moves nearer to Dublin, it is still higher. I know in the south and the east it is certainly higher than the figures he mentioned and I believe also that it is higher in the west. It has to be remembered that the local authorities provide cheap houses for these people, and if these people were in Dublin, they would pay at least £1 a week more for the houses.

I should like the Minister to explain the position regarding the 200 days required of an employee of a local authority to qualify. I can quite envisage, with the very rapid increase in the rates, and with no increases in world prices for agricultural produce, that it might be necessary to employ fewer men in local authority work. What then is the position of a man employed for 200 days in 1956, who finds that the local authority is not able to employ him for 200 days in 1957, or possibly not able to employ him at all? Will the local authority then be required to give him a pension, even though they have not been able to employ that person in subsequent years for the required number of days?

Another anomaly I should like to see removed, and about which I propose to put down an amendment on the next stage, is that concerning rate collectors. Their work in most cases does not occupy them for more than one month in the year, but they are being compulsorily retired at 65. I know that in our county it cost over £20,000 to collect the rates, and I have been informed by people who have experience of running offices that the rates could be collected through the banks, or through central offices, for probably half or a quarter of that figure.

I propose to put down an amendment urging the Minister to induce the county managers to retain these people in office from year to year. I think it is a scandal that persons are pensioned off from jobs which they can do in one month every year and that their sons should then be given the same job and live in the same house as the original rate collector on pension. These are not the sort of things that we want to see covered in a Bill like this. I do not believe that Senator O'Connell or anybody else wanted to provide that type of pension. What they had in mind was the provision of pensions for people who had given good service to the community.

I propose putting in an amendment providing for the retention by the county managers or city managers of officers over 65 years of age on a year-to-year basis. I think that will have a beneficial effect, because then the managers could retain men of great merit and let go those whom they did not want to retain. In that way, they would be able to keep these people working and it would be a good thing, because, in a small country like ours, we must encourage people to work. If we reduce the pension age to 60, our whole economy will fold up and we will not be able to exist. To-day we have inflationary forces at work and to reduce the retiring age to 60 would increase those forces. I think we must bear in mind the interests of the the common good and give some consideration to those who have to pay the taxes to meet these pensions. These taxes will have to be met by the small or medium-sized farmer in this country, who could find much better uses for that money.

I welcome the Bill for its meritorious things and because it removes anomalies and hardships.

I should like very much to be clear on the effect of the Bill, from the financial point of view. As I understand it, the maximum pension which an officer can obtain is one half of the salary and emoluments which he received during the period of service, and, in the case of servants, they can receive up to two-thirds of their wages. The contributions which they make are 5 per cent. of the salary and emoluments in the case of officers and 4?th per cent. in the case of servants. I have some little experience of these contributory pension schemes organised by corporations, and there, if the pension fund is to be solvent, a contribution of not less than 10 per cent. must be made by the employer and the employee. I admit in this case it applies to the employee only.

If, in the case of an ordinary contributory scheme, a 10 per cent. contribution is necessary, it would look as if the 5 per cent. and 4?th per cent. in these cases are inadequate. The Minister, when speaking in the Dáil at column 395, Volume 154 No. 3, said that the total amount of wages paid by local authorities was £17,000,000, of which £9,000,000 was for officers and £8,000,000 for servants. That gives us some measure of the pensions that will be payable in respect of these services. If we assume as correct that the contributions are inadequate, it follows that what we are really doing to-day is providing for future payments in respect of services rendered now. I think that is a questionable thing to do, and, from the pension point of view, is seriously wrong. Perhaps the Minister will clear up that point.

I should like to ask a question in regard to Section 34, sub-section (7). It states:—

"Where the records of the service before the 1st day of April, 1948, of a pensionable servant are incomplete, the local authority may...."

Take a man who has eight, ten or 15 years' whole-time service of a temporary character—he is not permanent —will that be granted? I do not like the word "may"; I should prefer the word "shall".

That is more a matter for Committee Stage.

Right. I will content myself with drawing attention to it at this stage.

First of all, I should like to thank the House for the manner in which it welcomed the Bill and for the very constructive criticism given. I think it is but right that I should here pay tribute to my late Parliamentary Secretary, the late Deputy Davin, for the amount of work which he put into this Bill in the preliminary stages. I am sorry he did not live to see the Bill enacted. I should like to put on record in the Seanad, as I did in Dáil Eireann, how deeply grateful I am to him for the work he put in on the early stages of the Bill.

I shall briefly deal with the various points raised by the speakers. First of all, Senator Hawkins referred to legislation by reference. There is no person abhors it more than I. I have said that on many occasions, both in this House and in Dáil Eireann, but the Senator did not give careful study to this particular Bill for, if he did, he could not possibly say that this is legislation by reference.

It is a fully self-contained Bill as regards all officers and servants of local authorities. The only section in which you find references to previous legislation is where certain officers had the right to opt under previous Acts, particularly the 1925 Act. This Bill incorporates the relevant sections, so far as persons still remaining under that Act are concerned. That is about the only part of the Bill in which there is any reference to previous legislation. The Bill is certainly a completely self-contained one.

Senator Hawkins also referred to Section 7 which deals with the obligation to maintain a register and the obligation to tell a person whose name is not on the register. For instance, there is provision to notify officers of their entry into the register, but the Senator referred to the fact that there was no provision for informing servants. Some officers are paid quarterly and others monthly. Salaries vary, but the servant is in a completely different position, as he is usually paid weekly. By merely opening his pay packet, he will know whether he is registered or not. If he is not registered, he has the right to appeal. His pay packet is the notification as to whether or not he is on the register. No better notification can be given to a servant of a local authority than that. I think that should answer the point made by a good many Senators. Suppose a casual labourer is employed. Nobody knows, when the employment is first taken up, the duration of the employment. Should such a person be notified that he is not entered on the register? I think the pay packet, so far as the servant is concerned, is the ideal answer.

Senator O'Connell raised a number of points which deserve consideration. He, first of all, referred to the word "conditions" in Section 11, sub-section (g) (ii). I am satisfied that "conditions" will not be applied in any wide or penal sense. The Senator went on to refer to vocational teachers. He would like to see vocational teachers taken out of this Bill and a separate superannuation code introduced for them. The Senator is inclined to forget the very important fact that the ratepayer is the person who will contribute towards the superannuation of the vocational teachers. We must never overlook that. So long as the rating authority is the person contributing, I am afraid we will have to bring it into a Local Government Superannuation Bill, whether we like it or not. I am afraid I cannot sympathise with the Senator's suggestion in this matter.

However, down through the years, there has been an association between the local authority and technical committees and between vocational education committees and local authorities. In view of that and in view of the fact that the rating authority are the people who contribute towards the superannuation, I think we must retain them in a Bill such as this.

The Senator referred to strikes. The cancellation of service before a strike can be the subject of an appeal to the Minister. The Senator appreciates that it is, of course, there for a very good reason. I presume the Senator refers to officers, and not to servants?

To officers.

Suppose the doctors of Kerry, Limerick and Meath and all surrounding counties decided to have a day or two, or even three days, at Clounanna, what will happen to the unfortunate patients? Suppose the nurses in the hospital decide to take a few days off for a carnival in Kilkee, what will happen to the poor unfortunate patients? There must be something there to prevent these people taking serious steps such as those suggested by the Senator.

A servant can go on strike. It is an inconvenience, but it is nothing very serious; but one can imagine how serious the situation would be if a person such as a surgeon decided to have his day's coursing or racing, or to attend some other such social event. I think that, if the Senator seriously considers the matter, he will agree with me that it is a good thing to have this method of punishment. If they are not satisfied, they may appeal to the Minister.

The Senator went further and said that perhaps a vocational teacher might wish to take a day off, and that he might not be on very friendly terms with the C.E.O. who, if he were asked, would not give him the day off. It is a very simple matter of taking that day and having it deducted from his holidays at a later date. That may be done without any difficulty whatsoever. I do not think that one could disagree with the fact that a Minister will take a very broad and generous view of these matters when they come before him for consideration.

For instance, a few years ago the cleansing department of Dublin City went on strike. In the ordinary course, they would have lost their service, but they appealed to the Minister. He took a very lenient view and restored the service. It is only in very glaring cases that he would do otherwise. An officer can have his leave granted to him retrospectively if he wishes a day off or, alternatively, he can appeal to the Minister if a C.E.O. would take such an unreasonable line as to break his pension rights.

The Senator gave the impression that he had no remedy whatsoever. That is not true. He has (1) appeal to the Minister, and (2) a day granted to him by way of holidays, retrospectively. He used the words "diligence and fidelity" with regard to assessing the pension rights of an officer. The Senator went so far as to say that an increment could be stopped, or that he could be suspended or sacked.

That is for absence.

Yes, for absence. In my opinion, this clause is inserted to save a man from being sacked on such a petty excuse. It enables the local authority to give him a pension, even though it is reduced. It is much better to do that; it is much better to give him a pension for what he has done than sack him. I do not see any harm at all in having the words "diligence and fidelity" inserted. They ensure that a person will give diligent and faithful service to the local authority and, if he does not, he may be penalised.

Who certifies that he has given that service over 40 years?

The local authority. So far as I know, it is an executive function. I think you will agree that some person must certify that the man did serve the local authority faithfully and diligently.

The manager may know nothing about it.

He is completely responsible for it. The manager is responsible for the service of every member of the staff. It is he, acting possibly on the advice of the immediate superior of the individual concerned, who gives the certificate. I think it is not unreasonable that he should inform the local authority as to how the man did serve.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington said he had not sufficient time in which to consider the Bill. I can assure him that that is not my fault. I did my very best to get this Bill into this House, not this week, remember, but last week. I was most anxious to get it here. I do not think I can be blamed for it. I have no objection to his discussing this Bill for another week, or for two or three weeks. I am merely pointing out the consequences. I do not wish to stampede the House, but I am thinking of the consequences. The unfortunate servants will not derive any benefit under the Bill before 1st of April, 1957, unless it is passed before 31st March. I will not put any closure on the debate.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington also said that the Bill was not over-generous. He said the local authority had an option, say, in the case of a man in ill-health, to refuse a gratuity or, rather, to refuse "the widow's mite", as he describes it. I am sure the Senator has some experience of insurance companies. They are very slow to take on a life liability without first having a medical examination. I do not think it is being not over-generous that, in a case such as this, a similar certificate should be sought.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington also referred to the section where there is forfeiture of pension or pension rights in the case of a conviction and sentence of penal servitude in respect of an indictable offence. It is optional. The officer or servant may, on appeal after his release, have his superannuation rights restored. However, it may be a continuing offence. I do not wish to go into what such an offence could be or might be, but I think it is right that he should still have that held over his head. The Senator did say that, once a man is penalised for a crime, the matter should end there and that no second penalty should be imposed; in other words, that his pension should be restored. For instance, if he had been convicted before securing his pension rights, he would have been sacked without any right of restoration whatsoever after serving his sentence. Here he will have certain rights of appeal to the Minister and of having his superannuation restored to him after his prison sentence.

But he will, in effect, be punished twice.

Supposing he had not reached the age of retirement, not only would he be punished, but he would lose his right on retirement. He would have no right of redress. He will now have a second chance. He can appeal to the Minister.

At the discretion of the Minister; in other words, he will be punished twice.

Supposing he said: "Yes. I have served my prison sentence in respect of the crime which I committed but I do not apologise for doing what I did." The Senator can imagine——

He has paid the penalty.

It may be continuing.

That should be proved.

He has a method of disproving it by appealing to the Minister. Senator Miss Davidson referred to the adoption of this Bill by local authorities. One of the 12 points of the present inter-Party Government was that they would hand back to local authorities as much power as they possibly could and as much power as they had prior to the passing of the County Management Act. Surely it is not suggested that we should now compel them to adopt this measure. They have to pay the piper. Let them call the tune. They have provided the money. If they want to adopt the Bill when it becomes law, let them do so. I am against compulsion, so far as local authorities are concerned.

Even in regard to health?

Health is national rather than local. Senator Kissane said the old method of adding years to service was more equitable than the present system. I do not think so. It is well that officers should know in advance the number of years which will be added to their service when they retire rather than that they should have to depend entirely on the imagination, I think, in some cases, of a Minister. He should know in advance. Senator Kissane did not press the point. He said it would be equitable in some cases, but that in other cases it might not. I think this will strike a better average. An officer taking up employment with a local authority knows when he will retire and the number of years that will be added to his actual service. That is good, because it enables him to budget for his life after he retires.

Senator O'Gorman referred to the question of strikes. This matter is not one that primarily concerns me as Minister for Local Government. The provision is not likely to affect the major officers, and most of the minor officers come under the supervision of the Minister for Health. Of course, certain considerations apply, such as the matter of essential hospital services, and perhaps the Minister for Health himself may be able to consider the matter in the future. In referring to strikes, all the Senators appear to have overlooked the fact that servants and officers will have the right of appeal to the Minister, and that right is enshrined in the Bill.

Senator Bergin said he was disappointed with the proportion which servants have to contribute. I think that Senator Burke was the only person who referred to the fact that the ratepayer is the person who must bear the burden. We must be reasonable about this. I was a bit apprehensive about introducing this Bill originally, as I thought that there would be considerable opposition to it. We are now in the month of March, and we read in the papers every day where the local authorities, and particularly the estimates committees, are now preparing the rate. We hear outcries about the amount of rates. Let us be reasonable; let us understand that this is going to have a serious effect on the rates. I do not think I would be justified in lowering the contribution by the employee and increasing that of the employers, in view of the fact that the ratepayer has to pay.

Senator Bergin said he felt the Bill should be obligatory on the local authorities. I have already dealt with that point, and also with the point he mentioned of the person being notified of non-entry in the register.

Senator Cogan mentioned that a number of servants failed to register under the 1948 Act. I think I have answered him. They now have the right to register under the present Bill, provided that they pay the arrears of contribution. I think it is right that they should not be placed in a more advantageous position than those who did register.

Senator Burke spoke of the ratepayer and wanted a definition of the "200 service days". I referred to that in my opening speech on the Second Reading here and have clearly defined what the service days are. They need not necessarily be working days.

Several Senators referred to the fact that some former officials of local authorities were paid very small pensions. I will refer now to what I said in my Second Reading speech in the Dáil on this particular subject. I quote from Volume 153, No. 11, 15th December, 1955, column 1674:—

"I think I should say a few words about a provision that is not in the Bill. I refer to the question of existing pensioners of local authorities. I am well aware of the representations that have been made for giving these pensioners compensation for changes in the value of money. I know that in the Act of 1948 (Section 79) some provision of this kind was made for certain pensioners. However, this is not a question that can be considered in isolation. Just two-thirds of the Ministers in the Government have direct concern with the superannuation of staffs. Quite obviously if any change is to be made that will have to be extended to all of these pensioners generally the change itself must be general. I have on a number of occasions told Deputies who have raised the matter by way of parliamentary question that I was having the whole question examined. I did have the matter examined very carefully indeed with a view to seeing whether it was practicable for me to deal with this question in isolation. I was conscious of the fact that the Act of 1948 did deal with it to some extent; but the position is that the Act only applied, to some pensioners, a concession that had already been generally approved of for some Civil Service pensioners in the Superannuation Act, 1947. The Minister for Finance has already said that he will consider the whole question—the Exchequer is, of course, mainly involved—in connection with next year's Budget. It is not practicable for me, therefore, to include any proposal in this Bill in advance of that consideration. In 1950 when, under the Pensions (Increase) Act of that year pension increases were given generally a comprehensive Bill, dealing with all kinds of pensioners, was introduced. In the circumstances, it would be quite impracticable for me to deal with local pensioners in isolation in this particular Bill."

I do not think I need refer to it further than to say that I hope the Minister for Finance will see his way to make an announcement on it later.

Senator Guinness referred to the contributions of 5 and 4? per cent. and said 10 per cent. was the contribution for outside pension purposes. I think the Senator was referring to the 10 per cent., which is a joint contribution of both employers and employees. Therefore, it is 5 per cent. for officers. I think he will be satisfied with that.

I should like to thank the House, as I said at the outset, for their very constructive criticism of the Bill. As Senator O'Connell rightly pointed out, it is a very technical Bill, and more a Committee than a Second Reading Bill, and I shall be happy to consider the various points raised on it.

Ní fheadar ar chuir an tAire suim sa cheist a chuireas air i dtaobh cás múinteoirí Gaeilge áirithe a bhí ag obair mar mhúinteoirí taistil ar feadh roinnt blianta sar ar chuadar isteach sa tseirbhís fé údaráis áitiúla. An mbeidh cumhacht sa Bhille seo chun aitheanntas a thabhairt dóibh maidir leis an seirbhís sin, is é sin le rá, na blianta san a chaitheadar mar mhúinteoirí Gaeilge a chur san áireamh ag dul amach ar pinsean dóibh. Ní bheadh ach fíor-bheagán díobh ann.

Lig dom Alt 11, fo-alt (1), a léamh:—

Section 11, sub-section (1), paragraph (g) (iii) says:—

"a period of not less than five years, or periods of not less than five years in the aggregate,

(1) which began after the officer attained the age of 21 years and ended before the 31st July, 1924, and

(2) as respects which the Minister for Education is satisfied that during the whole period thereof such officer devoted the whole of his time under the direction of Connradh na Gaeilge to the teaching of the Irish language or to the organisation of such teaching".

Sin é an freagra ar do cheist.

As I was not present for the Minister's opening statement, perhaps I will be allowed to ask him one question?

It is always a pleasure to answer the Senator.

The question refers to those employed on minor employment schemes, rural improvement schemes, and so on. Do they qualify during the time they are engaged in such work as pensionable? Would such days be regarded as part of the 200 days?

If they are employed under the local authority, yes.

As the Minister will appreciate, the local authority simply acts as agent.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, March 14.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.