Gaeltacht Ministry. - Secondary Teachers' Superannuation (Amendment) Scheme, 1956—Motion of Confirmation.

I move:—

That the Secondary Teachers' Superannuation (Amendment) Scheme, 1956, made by the Minister for Education, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, be confirmed.

I move this motion with all the greater goodwill because I was at one time a secondary teacher, and either a superannuation scheme or an increment would have been regarded by teachers at that time as an unrealisable dream.

I am sure that Senators who have seen superannuation schemes put up to them before will know that they need not be as puzzled by the look of this as the normal person is. The simple purpose of this scheme, which has been arrived at at conciliation level between the Department and the secondary teachers, is to provide an extension of the time under which secondary teachers who are not yet members of the scheme, or secondary teachers who are members of the scheme but have not covered themselves under the scheme back to the earliest date in their service, will have an opportunity of doing so.

I should like to say that the first superannuation scheme for secondary teachers was introduced in 1929. Under that, a pension was payable at 60, or a disability pension earlier, and the members of the scheme had to pay 4 per cent. of their annual salary. Those who voluntarily retired before reaching the pensionable age were refunded their contributions. In the case of those who died, their contributions paid were refunded plus 3 per cent. compound interest. In 1951, retiring gratuities, disablement gratuities and marriage gratuities were added to the scheme, but, because of these additional facilities in the scheme, the 4 per cent. of annual salary was increased to 5 per cent.

Now the position under this scheme is that those who are not yet members and those who are in the scheme but have not been in it from the earliest possible date may, by payment of arrears of contribution, provided they did so within the next six months, come in under the scheme, too.

Under certain circumstances, where a member of the scheme had a ten-year break in his past service, he was not allowed to include it for pension purposes for the earlier period. That ten-year break is, in respect of past teachers, being wiped out, so that, if there are teachers with a ten-year break that would not be included for pension purposes in the earlier part of the period, they can, by fulfilling whatever conditions are necessary here, include their earlier period of service for pension purposes. But the scheme does not provide that in the future persons who have a ten-year break will be able to retain it in the scheme for the earlier period of their pension.

Senators will probably remember that service in industrial schools was not regarded as pensionable. Service on primary work in industrial schools was not regarded for pensionable purposes as service for national teachers until comparatively recently. Now it is. This provides that where a man or a woman who was a national teacher and is now transferred to secondary teaching did part of the national teaching in industrial schools, the period of service in an industrial or a reformatory school can be covered for pension purposes.

The salaries upon which secondary teachers' pensions were fixed are based on a basic portion paid by the schools and an incremental portion paid by the Department of Education. There was a difference between the minimum basic salary paid to a man and to a woman. Now, for the purpose of the pension scheme, the basic salary for a man or a woman is regarded as £200. Part of the contribution made to the pension fund is paid by the schools on the £200 salary. They paid at 2½ per cent. on the £200. The schools are now asked to pay 5 per cent. into the pension fund from the part of the salary they are paid.

The main part of the scheme has been arrived at at conciliation level, in conciliation talks between the Department and representatives of the teachers.

Motion put and agreed to.