Pensions (Increase) Bill, 1956—Second Stage.

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

The pension increases which I announced in this year's Budget are given statutory force and effect by this Bill, which contains the detailed legislative provisions to regulate the grant and payment of the increases.

The pensions to be increased under the Bill, namely, civil pensions payable from the Exchequer or from other public funds, including the funds of local authorities, are described in the Schedule to the Bill. Parts I and II of the Schedule contain pensions payable from the Exchequer and from certain statutory funds to retired civil servants, teachers, etc., to members of the judiciary and to the widows and children of former Ministers and holders of parliamentary offices. Parts III and IV of the Schedule specify the pensions payable to former employees of local authorities and harbour authorities.

These pensions will be increased under the provisions of Section 2 of the Bill by sums ranging from 15 per cent. on pensions under £100 a year to 6 per cent. on pensions over £450 a year. With a few exceptions, to which I shall refer presently, the increases are payable only where the service in respect of which the pension was granted ended before the effective date of the 1952 pay increases. These pay increases were granted to most classes with effect from 1st November, 1952; where this is not the case, the appropriate date in 1952-53 is prescribed or can be determined under the Bill. This alternative date will in no case be later than the 6th April, 1953. In referring to the 1st November, 1952, therefore, I should like to be understood as referring equally to the alternative date prescribed or determined under the Bill for a particular class or classes.

An exception to this rule is made for pensions payable at fixed rates which were not altered or affected by the 1952 pay increases. Most of the pensions to widows and children which are listed in Part II of the Schedule to the Bill are of this type. In such cases the appropriate increase under the Bill will be added to all pensions, including pensions to be granted in future, thus operating as a general revision of the existing rates of pensions which were fixed prior to 1952. A second exception is made for cases where, although retirement took place after the 1st November, 1952, the pension was calculated on average salary over a three-year period which began before the 1st November, 1952, and was, therefore, derived partly from receipts at the lower salary rates in force prior to that date. Under Section 7 of the Bill a modified increase proportionate to that part of the three years which fell before the 1st November, 1952, is allowed in such cases. Parts III and IV of the Schedule to the Bill will permit of a similar concession to local authority and harbour authority pensioners.

As no pension calculated wholly on the increased rates of salary introduced on 1st November, 1952, may be increased under the Bill, so no pension may be increased beyond the amount which would be payable to a colleague of identical rank and service who retired on the 1st November, 1952, and whose pension was calculated wholly by reference to the higher salary rates introduced on that date. Provision for this overriding maximum has accordingly been made in Sections 3, 4 and 7 of the Bill.

Prior to 1951, the remuneration of the higher posts in the Civil Service, and of some higher posts elsewhere, was affected by a restriction known as the super-cut, which originated in 1921 as a reduction in the cost-of-living bonus on the higher Civil Service salaries. The effects of the super-cut persisted in the consolidated salary rates which replaced the former system of basic salary and bonus from 1946 onwards until it was removed partially in 1948 and completely in January, 1951.

Officers who retired while the super-cut was in force are, however, still in receipt of pensions based on the lower salaries. When this Bill was in course of preparation, it was found that a revision of these pensions to remove the effects of the supercut would not cost appreciably more than the grant of the appropriate percentage increases under the Bill. I decided, therefore, in view of the representations which had been made from time to time by and on behalf of these pensioners, to allow them to take their pension increase either in the form of a remission of the supercut reduction, or the appropriate percentage increase, whichever is more favourable. Provision has been made accordingly in sub-section (4) of Section 3 of the Bill.

Other sections of the Bill provide for the treatment of double pensions and for the application to the pension as increased of any statutory provisions applicable to the original pension. Sub-section (5) of Section 10 provides that any increase under the Bill shall not be assessed as means for the purpose of an old age pension or a widow's non-contributory pension. Section 8 provides that the increases shall be payable on and from the 1st August, 1956, or from the date on which the pension itself commenced if this is later. Payment of the increases to Exchequer pensioners has already commenced under the authority of a Supplementary Estimate passed by Dáil Éireann.

Sections 5 and 6 empower local authorities and harbour authorities to increase the pensions payable by them subject to ministerial approval. The increases allowed will be similar in amount and will be generally subject to the conditions and limitations governing increases in Exchequer pensions. The total cost of the Bill to the Exchequer is estimated at £140,000 in a full year. Increases in Army pensions and Army retired pay, for which separate legislation is being prepared, will bring the total cost to the Exchequer of pension increases up to the Budget provision of £180,000 a year.

I commend this Bill to the House for its approval.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille seo mar is iarracht é chun scéal na Stát-phinsinéirí agus pinsinéirí údarás áitiúla a leigheas. Bíodh go bhfuil iarracht á dhéanamh chun na téarmaí a leigheas do na daoine sin, is dócha go mbeidh daoine fós ann go mbeidh cúis ghearáin acu mar tá fhios againn go léir nach furas na daoine go léir a shásamh i gcúrsaí den tsórt seo. Níl fhios agam conas a thuit sé amach, i gcás pinsin a mhéadú ó am go ham, go ndéantar é do chuid do na daoine anois agus ansin go ndéantar é do chuid eile acu tar éis tamaill, agus mar sin de. Bheadh sé i bhfad níos fearr na Stát-phinsinéirí agus na pinsinéirí údarás áitiúla go léir a thógaint le chéile i dtreo go mbeadh an peictíúr ar fad romhainn. Ní furas comparáid a dhéanamh eatarthu nuair ná bíonn an pictiúr go léir romhainn in aon iarracht amháin.

I welcome these provisions because they are a genuine attempt to improve the lot of State and local authority pensioners. That, indeed, is to be expected, so as to offset, to some extent, the steep increase that has occurred in the cost of living during the past few years. We all know that the provisions of this Bill will not by any means compensate these people for the said increase in the cost of living, particularly for the increase that has taken place over a period of, say, 15 or 16 years but more especially the increase that has taken place over the past few years.

As I briefly mentioned in my opening remarks in Irish, it would be far better, when considering this question of pension increases for those people who are in receipt of pensions from the State and from local authorities, if they were all brought up together whenever a scheme for increases is being considered by the Government. For instance, reference was made in the Dáil to the case of the Old I.R.A. I do not propose to enlarge on what was said in that House. I think we should go down on record in the Seanad as saying, however, that we are rather surprised that the Old I.R.A. who are in receipt of military service pensions and those members of the Old I.R.A. who are in receipt of disability pensions are not included in the provisions of this measure.

I know that the Minister's reply to that point in the Dáil was that these people got some increase in their pensions a few years ago. Perhaps the Minister would tell us if the increase which the members of the Old I.R.A. got is on all-fours with the increases being given now to State and local authority pensioners who are covered by this measure. I hold that, when a comparison is drawn between the pensioners belonging to the Old I.R.A. Association and the people covered by this Bill, the scales are weighted against the members of the Old I.R.A. who are recipients of pensions from the State.

I should like the Minister to give that matter further consideration, because if there is any section of the community that deserves every consideration and sympathy from the members of this House, and of the Dáil, it is those people who gave their services so that the freedom of this country could be realised, as it has been realised. The Minister referred to what he called the super-cut remission. This is a rather involved matter and I do not propose to deal with it at any length, but from what I can gather, while the Minister has gone some way towards meeting the claims of civil servants, there is still a grievance left as far as some civil servants are concerned.

The super-cut was devised and introduced by the British Treasury in 1921, whereby the cost-of-living bonus was reduced for higher grade civil servants. As the Minister for Finance said on the 14th instant, its effects persisted in the salary structure until it was completely removed for serving officers by our own Government in 1951. Officers who retired while the super-cut was in force are still in receipt of pensions based on the lower salaries. Section 3, sub-section (4), removes this grievance and those who will benefit are very grateful to the Minister, no doubt, but his method of granting the concession as an alternative, means that more than one half of the people concerned will receive no benefit from the super-cut remission. I should like to hear the Minister on that point again when he is replying.

All of these pensioners retired prior to 1951 and some of them retired in the early 1940s. Up to this, they have received no compensation for the substantial devaluation of money that has since taken place. Everybody knows that there has been a substantial devaluation of money since then. Logically, they are entitled to the 6 per cent. increase in addition to the super-cut being removed which only put their basic pensions right. I understand there are only 150 people concerned in this and the amount of money involved would not be very great. It would be far better if the Minister would give further consideration to that point in order to remove whatever grievance there is.

This is not a Bill which lends itself to a long Second Reading discussion. It is more of a Committee Bill and I am wondering if it is possible to submit amendments to it.

A hypothetical question.

I want simply to follow Senator Kissane on one point and to bear out what he says about the adjustment effected by Section 3, sub-section (4), regarding the super-cut. These civil servants do not amount to many in number and most of them are rather elderly. It seems to me that, when the Minister is making general adjustments, it would be a pity if there should be any small grievance left amongst a very worthy class of people. If these people had a grievance under the super-cut which was imposed in the early 20's, that has been removed to some extent by the raising of their salaries. It seems to me that they have a right to some compensation for the change which has taken place since the super-cut was abolished. They had one grievance which was removed by the Government, but now they have another grievance in its place. Their number is small and the amount of money involved is not very great. I would ask the Minister to consider if it would be possible to give to this very small class of people the restoration of the super-cut, plus the appropriate increase in pension based on the salary with the super-cut restored.

Nobody in either House will oppose the Government when they set about making adjustments in certain pensions of public servants as a result of the increased cost of living. It is regrettable, however, that pensions of retired civil servants, or employees of the State, have to be adjusted in this way as a result of the increased cost of living. Firstly in making these adjustments, there is quite a considerable time lag between the time when the people living on the pensions feel the effect of the increased cost of living and the time when appropriate legislation comes into effect and increases their pensions. Secondly, the Minister for Finance, like any other Minister in his position in these days, has to be governed in the adjustments he makes in the pensions by the amount of money he has available rather than by the cost-of-living index. It should be possible to relate pensions to the cost of living so that when the cost of living increases an automatic adjustment of pensions will take place, as is the practice in other countries. I think that when the Minister for Finance is framing his Budget, or preparing whatever legislation he may have during the year, that vitally affects the economic position of the country, he should be in a position not only to consider wages and salaries, but to consider pensions at the same time. It is most undignified that some groups of people should be obliged to wait for a different series of Bills to be brought before these Houses and to be passed before they can have the adjustment in their pensions to which they are perfectly entitled.

I should like to add a word on this topic of the super-cut. I should like to congratulate the Minister very heartily on facing this problem and meeting it. I know from my own experience that there has been a strong sense of grievance on this matter and I think it was the duty of the State to meet these people for one very good reason. The people who were suffering from the effects of the super-cut were the oldest generation of civil servants in this State. They were the people who came in here in 1922 to help the Irish Government to run the new State. Some of them were Irish people who came from good appointments in the English Civil Service to take up appointments in the new independent Irish State. They gave very good service. I think everyone would agree that a great deal of the good work done in the early years of the Free State was due to the experience and wisdom of those civil servants.

It was a very bitter thing to them that they particularly should be at a disadvantage owing to the action of the super-cut. It was particularly bitter to them when they remembered that this super-cut was an injudicious attempt at economy by the Lloyd George Government in England. Its history is a complicated one, but it is generally agreed now that that measure was put through rashly and in its effect was bad. The result was that this group of men, all nearly 70, were suffering under Irish law in a way in which the later generations of civil servants in this country did not suffer. I do very heartily congratulate the Minister on tackling this problem. I know it has been an irritation to Ministers for Finance for a long time. I hope it will no longer be so.

I should like to have reassurance from the Minister on one point: does this provision in Section 3 (4) leave any of those older civil servants suffering under a grievance? He, I am sure, knows their position; he has gone into it. Is what Senator Kissane has suggested true, that some of them will still be suffering from a disability in comparison with more recent civil servants in the State? If it is true, it is most regrettable. I repeat that we in this Parliament to-day owe a very great deal to that senior body of civil servants who rallied around the Free State in the 1920s; and if they are in any way at a disadvantage in comparison with the civil servants of the 1930s and 1940s, it is our bounden duty to see that that disadvantage is removed. I hope the Minister will be able to reassure us on that point.

In view of the great welcome this Bill is receiving here, I wonder would it be right or proper, or, should I say, courageous if some Senator were to give his opinion on pensions in general and what the people outside the gates of Leinster House think about the amount of money that is distributed every year not alone by this Government but by its predecessor and every other Government. While it may be said that officials after long years of service in the Civil Service or other Government employment are entitled to certain pension rights, they have one advantage over people who are not employed by the State. The person who is employed by the State has security. He has a steady weekly or monthly income, whereas the person outside Government employment, whatever occupation he follows, must, if you like, chance his arm from one week and from one month to another. Everything cannot be guaranteed for him from one year to another. Therefore, when we come to examine the question of the pensions being paid to civil servants generally and compare their position with that of people who have to make a living in their own way, we often wonder, as the people outside wonder, are the Government over the past number of years showering too many bouquets on the people who are employed by the State and by the local authority.

There is a sum of something like £140,000 involved here. I will admit that when civil servants who retired after 1953 received increased pensions, those who retired before that are also entitled to increases. That is all very fine, but with the position the country is in at the present day, with all the shouting for increased production, increased economy, and so on, and with the mounting volume of unemployment and emigration, those people, whether they retired before or after 1953, could afford to tighten their belts. There would not be one bit more harm done if they had to tighten their belts than will be done to the 15,000 or 16,000 who have to tighten their belts to ease the hunger they must endure, having nothing at all but the meagre dole or unemployment assistance to get. If this £140,000 were used next Christmas for the purpose of giving even one week's work to some of those necessitous people in and around this city, it would give 14,000 people £10 a week to enable them to have a good Christmas dinner for themselves and their families.

Of all the members of the Dáil and Seanad, I suppose I will be the only person to criticise this measure. It does not cost me a thought whether I offend the Minister or anybody else because I am speaking as I hear people talking. We can judge the amount of concern the people outside have for this House and Dáil Éireann from the fact that in a recent byelection only 38 per cent. of them cast their votes. It is very little use to the unemployed person to read in tomorrow's newspaper that a district justice or a highly paid civil servant has got a 6 per cent. or a 15 per cent. increase in his pension. All he has to look forward to is drawing £2 or £3 unemployment assistance. He cannot get any increase and he cannot get work, even though he is anxious for it.

The same position exists down the country where there is a scarcity of employment as has always been the case. I wonder what will be the reaction among the people of Mayo when a proposal comes before the Mayo County Council for increased pensions for retiring officials, some of whom to my own knowledge were wealthy enough to buy out half the people in their parish. Even though the contribution for these increased pensions will amount perhaps to only one-tenth of a penny, the people will be questioning the granting of such an increase. These are the things people will talk about and the things people will wish me to refer to, no matter how unpopular they may be.

As regards the increased cost of living, as far as the agricultural community is concerned, they cannot be blamed for the increase. Take live stock or beef. It has dropped from £9 a cwt. to £4 5s. and £4 10s. over the past 18 months, a 50 per cent. decrease in the most essential part of the cost of living. The same thing applies to bacon. It has dropped in the past week by 18/- to 20/- a cwt.

When we turn to that commodity which is always looked forward to at Christmas time, the turkey for the Christmas dinner, in any market throughout the country, you can pick and choose from a thousand turkeys at a price from 9d. to 1/9 per lb. I should like somebody to explain to me what is the cause of the increase in the cost of living. Is it being paraded too much by a certain group of people to get concessions from the Government? In Dublin, very few commodities have increased at all. The ordinary articles of clothing can be bought as cheaply as ten years ago, but somehow the cost of living seems to be increasing continuously and to offset that the Government is granting money to people who have been in secure employment all the time, people who when they go out on pension are being made extra secure in their pensions. I may be unpopular for saying this and I may bring down the wrath of everybody in this House on my head, but that does not cause me a great deal of worry. I can assure the Minister that when this matter comes before the Mayo County Council and when we have to approve of any little increase for people entitled to pensions, I will oppose it and bring every single influence I can to bear against it, with local councillors because I do not believe it is right and proper that continued increases in pensions and allowances should be given to anybody, particularly when there are 70,000 to 80,000 unemployed and emigration is now at a rate unprecedented since the time of the Famine.

I would like to join with those Senators who have welcomed the Bill. I think it is a Bill that serves as a basis and a framework within which we can do justice to people who all too often are forgotten, the pensioners, those who are no longer at work, those who no longer have within their grasp anything resembling the strike weapon. One distinction between the worker at present employed and the worker unemployed, either active unemployed or retired, is that the worker in employment can at least resort to the withdrawal of his labour in order to get justice for his demands, and to have justice done to satisfy the demands that living conditions make upon him; whereas the pensioner, of course, has no such weapon and can only appeal, plead and try to persuade. I think it is an excellent thing and one should not cavil too much, though I am afraid I am going to proceed to do it, to see a Minister recognising the existence of this body of people, recognising their hard lot, and being prepared to bear the brunt of the wrath of Senator Commons and others when he ventures to propose that these pensions should be increased. I might say now that I think Senator Commons is under a misapprehension, for two reasons. The obvious misapprehension is that he apparently thinks the cost of living is dropping. He says that in his part of the world, the people on his county council generally agree with that. I could not help wondering is his part of the world full up, because it would be a pleasant part of the world to move to and live in, while all round us in every part of Ireland the cost of living is visibly increasing and has steadily increased for the past 20 years.

Will the Senator admit that the cost of food is dropping?

The cost of some foods is dropping, but many of them are luxury foods in the homes of pensioners. It might be a normal thing for people to have beef and bacon, but some of these pensioners living on pensions of less than £100 a year do not see quite so much of this "cheap food," such as beef, as we should like them to see.

The other misapprehension under which Senator Commons laboured is that he seems to think these people are pretty well off, but there is a whole category of these pensioners getting less than £100 a year pension, some even only £70 and £80 a year, or 30/- a week. If they have pensions at that rate. I do not think he can hold that such a measure as this is over-generous to them.

Other Senators have spoken, and I would identify myself with them in asking the Minister for more generous terms. In the Seanad, we stand up and ask for more generosity, but we have no power to demand it. We can vote for recommendations in regard to this Bill, providing they do not put an increased charge on the Exchequer, and therefore in practice our power here is pretty well reduced on Money Bills to that of the pensioner—we can but plead and attempt to persuade. We cannot pass a recommendation that would increase State expenditure. Therefore I should like to associate myself with those Senators who are appealing to the Minister, under the terms of this Bill, to be a little more generous.

The Minister and I differ in our attitude towards pensions. I would hope that some Senators at least would agree with me when I hold that a pension is part of the salary, and is a right. It is frequently contributed to by the worker, and is not in any sense a charitable donation given to the worker by the employer. It is part of the salary, if you like, set aside, surrendered and given up during working years for the comfort of the years after work.

Senator Kissane mentioned the rising cost of living, and he referred to the past 15 or 16 years and to the more immediate past. It is a fact, of course, that, between 1934 and 1947, the cost-of-living index figure more than doubled. In 1934, it was 152, and in 1947, it was 319, both of these figures calculated on the basis of 100 in 1914, so that between 1934 and 1947, the cost of living more than doubled. In 1947 it was felt that we had better get a new base on which to calculate, and we started off again with the base 100 in 1947. We find that that was maintained for a year or two, but, by 1953, it was up again to 125 and the latest figure is something in the neighbourhood of 134. You have the rise from 100 in 1947, which in itself represented a rise since 1934 of more than 100 per cent., and you have the rise since 1947 of more than 34 per cent. again.

It is against that background that we should ask ourselves is this Bill sufficient, or are its terms sufficiently generous to cope with the situation in which, since 1947, not so very long ago, there has been a rise in the cost-of-living index figure—which I would suggest is a conservative figure of some 34 per cent? It used to be considered sufficient to pay a member of our Parliament, a T.D., £360 a year. It was felt then that this was enough, but I would suggest that to meet the rising cost of living since those days, it would not be considered enough to add 6 per cent. to that £360, or even 15 per cent., or perhaps even 30 per cent. I think the same would apply to the salaries paid to Senators, and I should feel happier if we were able to grant to pensioners something more related to what is felt to be necessary for workers and even parliamentary representatives in order that they may cope with the rise in the cost of living in the past 15 to 20 years.

The Minister has told us that the total estimated amount to be paid out from the Exchequer funds for this Bill will be £140,000 per year. Senator Commons said that it would be much better to give a week's employment to our 70,000 unemployed with this money and let them have a good Christmas dinner, but you will note he considers it necessary to pay them £10 per week. He automatically thought of the figure of £10 per week as being necessary to maintain life for the unemployed man, but some of these pensioners are getting only 30/- a week. Therefore, I would reject the suggestion that the money would be better paid even to the unemployed, for whom I regret to say we are not doing what we might.

I do not know whether the Minister has a figure, or whether he could give an approximate estimate of how many pensioners will benefit by this Bill. He has told us there will be a supplementary Bill or measure of some kind brought in, which will cost another £40,000, dealing with Army and other pensions, but in relation to this Bill, I should be glad if the Minister could give us an approximate figure as to how many beneficiaries under the Bill there are likely to be. If I were forced to guess how many people would benefit by this, I should be inclined to say something like 7,000 people or possibly a little more—perhaps 10,000 people or something like that.

I am suspicious of the Senator's guess.

I may be quite wrong.

The Senator is so accurate that I am wondering whether it was a guess.

It is simply, shall we say, an "actuarial computation."

Then I have converted the Senator as to how an actuarial computation should be made?

Apparently my methods have proved correct in this case, at any rate.

6,800 is the exact figure.

I am afraid my figure was a lucky guess. It does not derive from any special knowledge, but you can see that, on the figures, these people must get an average of about £20 each, which, divided into £140,000, gives 7,000. My guess that the amount of benefit to be got by each pensioner, an average of £20 each, appears to be an accurate one. What difference does the Seanad think this increase is going to make to some of these people? I noticed that the people for whom there has been some concern expressed already, in the upper group, those getting a pension of £450 or more, are to be allowed 6 per cent. which is about £25 per annum of an increase. They will get an increase of 9/8 a week!

It does not, I am sorry to say, seem to me to be an enormous advantage to grant them that, but it is something. It is a gift horse and perhaps the people to whom it is being presented might not like to look at its teeth. It is not being presented to me, however, or to us in the Seanad. I think, therefore, that we are entitled to look this particular gift horse in the teeth, and judge whether it is as good a nag as it is held out to be, as it is praised, by its sponsors. Are we entitled to accept the phrases used by Senator Commons that we are "showering bouquets" upon people when we give them an extra 9/8 a week, or give an increase of a pension of £15 per year to those with 30/- a week?

What about the fellow getting £400 a year?

The fellow with £400 a year getting an extra 9/8 a week is not exactly being weighed down with additional riches. You may argue, of course, that £400 a year is too much for anybody to get, in which case I would assume that a measure would be brought in fairly soon by Senators to reduce their own salaries, and, since, as members of the Seanad, we have the benefit of getting not only £400 a year but getting it tax free, I think we should go a little bit more gently when we talk of the colossally rich people who get £400 a year or more.

In other words, my view is that this Bill provides a good basis. We must salute the initiative of the Government and the Minister for introducing such a Bill and their recognition of the need to do something more for these people, but I think we must express a strong regret that it has not been found possible to do more for these 6,800 people than to give them 15/- extra, or 9/8 a week in the case of the upper income group. I would strongly urge the Minister, consequently, to consider whether or not it is possible, even within the terms of the present Budget, to do just a bit more for people whose need is a crying one, in view of the rising cost of living which has been rising consistently over the past 20 or 30 years.

Mr. Douglas

This Bill has been welcomed by sections on both sides of the House and I should like to join in expressing appreciation of it. The Bill provides for increases in certain pensions of former State servants, and I think it includes former members of the Garda Síochána and their widows. It is in connection with the latter category that I should like to put one or two questions to the Minister, to see whether one or two injustices which have existed for some time could possibly be remedied in this Bill by means of an amendment.

Garda widows are divided into two categories—the widows of members of the Garda Síochána and former members of the D.M.P. The second category embraces widows of former members of the D.M.P. retired under Article 10 of the 1921 Treaty. The grant of a pension to these latter widows was subject to a means test, with the result that some of these widows were awarded reduced pensions as compared with the widows of the ordinary members of the Garda Síochána. There are a few others who have not been awarded any pension at all.

In these few cases, it happened that the policemen on retirement had established a little business. By the process of thrift and economy, they had sufficient money to enable them to purchase a house. This thrift and economy has now operated to their disadvantage and has disentitled their widows to pension rights. Had these members of the old D.M.P. dissipated their savings, the case would have been quite otherwise. There are only very few of those left and the saving to the Exchequer effected by this type of retrenchment cannot at most be more than a few hundred pounds.

Would the Minister review these cases, in particular the cases of the widows who receive no pensions, and see whether some form of pension could be granted to them, either by amendment of the present Bill or by some provisions in the Bill which is to be introduced in the future?

The Minister explained the adjustment in the salaries paid to the higher grades of the Civil Service in 1921 and the cut imposed at that time by the British Ministry. The Government recognised the injustice of that super-cut and, in 1951, removed the anomaly. I should like to point out that clearly there must have been an appreciable number of civil servants retired while that super-cut was in force. I believe that the position in regard to their pensions up to now has been that their pension is still based on the lower level, prior to the removal of the anomaly to which I referred in 1951. The Minister has now explained that Section 3 removes this grievance. Like other Senators, I welcome his support of this Bill and its introduction, but I understand that the concession now provided for in the Bill is being granted only by way of an alternative—the alternative being the difference between 6 per cent. and the amount of the cost-of-living adjustment, whichever is the greater.

It strikes me that obviously we have two categories of people here. I would point out that if it is just to remove an anomaly for those pensioners who have retired since 1951, it is equally just to remove the anomaly for those officers who retired prior to that date and who still suffer by a lower level of pension based on the then lower level of salaries. I understand that the number of such people is very small, about 150 and I submit that in their cases justice ought now be done by permitting them the benefit, not of an alternative but of the two adjustments, so to speak, while this measure is going through. I believe we have already recognised and admitted that these people have a just claim. Their case calls for some further consideration by the Minister before the Bill leaves this House. Consequently, I appeal to him to have a further look at that aspect of the matter on behalf of that small section of the community. The cost would be only a very small proportion of the £140,000. We ought to do the job properly and sweep the floor clean.

Mr. O'Sullivan

As Senator Kissane has intimated, we on this side of the House approve of this Bill. However, along with most Deputies who spoke on this measure in the Dáil and with most Senators who have spoken on it here, I am disappointed that no provision has been made for at least the lower pensions of Old I.R.A. men.

An appeal was made to the Minister in the Dáil to include, if at all possible, Sections B and D of the Service Pensions Act. No indication is given in the Minister's statement to-day that any of them will be included. However, the Minister did say that legislation is being prepared with regard to an increase in Army pensions. I should like him to let us know if that legislation will include Old I.R.A. service and disability pensions under the heading of Army pensions. I join with other Senators in making this appeal. Even though those people did get a slight increase in their pensions in 1953, a lot has happened since then which necessitates further consideration for them now.

Most of us, not merely in the Dáil but also in this House, are anxious, when a Bill of this nature comes before us, to stress the pleasant side of the picture—the paying out of the additional funds involved. It does not, however, only mean that there is that side to be considered. One must consider in addition, the other side of the measure— the necessity to collect the funds that have to be paid out. No matter how much I should like to answer any appeal that might be made to me on this Bill, I am afraid it is my duty to make it absolutely clear that under no circumstances whatsoever can I exceed in any way the provision I set aside in the Budget for this purpose.

Senators no doubt saw references I made, when speaking on Saturday night last, to the manner in which international events had affected revenue. It would be manifestly impossible for me adequately to perform my duty as custodian of the public purse, in the circumstances to which I referred then, to accept any further burden on the Exchequer than the burden of payment that I indicated would be available when I introduced the Budget. I am afraid, therefore, I must regretfully refrain from acting on any of the advice tendered to me by members of the House to ease the position as they saw it in one or other respects.

I do not quite understand Senator Kissane's point when he said that local authority and State pensions should all be dealt with together. I do not imagine the Senator would feel that the Government, as such, should issue directions to local authorities. I imagine the Senator would agree with me that, in so far as local authorities conduct their own affairs and conduct them satisfactorily, they should be allowed to do so, and the question of whether variations are made in pensions of persons formerly employed by local authorities is, therefore, a matter for the local authority. The State may come into it from the point of view that it may, in consequence of an increase, have to pay an increased grant contribution in respect of one or other of the grants that are paid from Central Funds to the funds of local authorities.

Most of the discussion turned round the super-cut. In relation to that and, indeed, in relation to all pensions, I think one must appreciate that it has always been the pattern here that the rate of pension paid to any person— not merely in the State service but outside, as well—is directly related to the salary which the person concerned receives on the last day of his working career. That has always been the principle and that is the principle in the State Superannuation Acts. Acts or Bills such as this Bill are, in fact, going beyond the liability when one bears that principle in mind because of the special circumstances that may exist when the value of money has fallen. However, the principle remains the principle of our whole superannuation code and, as far as anyone can see, must remain the principle for the future.

It has been suggested that less than half those who were affected by the super-cut will receive the benefit under this Bill under Section 3, sub-section 4. My information is to the contrary, that many more than half will find that the optional provisions given there can be taken to their advantage by asking that the super-cut removal be carried through. I made it clear when I was introducing the Bill that the Bill is framed on the basis that those people are entitled to take whichever of the two alternatives they wish and in that way they will be enabled to take a greater sum than they would take, if they were restricted purely to the pension, to the increase provided for civil servants who retired from the service after the super-cut was abolished in January, 1951.

Senator Kissane asked me a specific question as to whether this body of people or any other body thought that they still had a grievance in relation to pensions. I am afraid I have yet to meet the people who have no grievance about anything. Certainly it would be a pleasant task for a Minister for Finance or any Minister if there were people who felt that they had no grievance.

A legitimate grievance.

I was just about to go into that. It is an undoubted fact that claims for more than is provided for in this Bill were put forward, but it is equally undoubted, and must be accepted, that the provisions in the Bill are a fair compromise between those claims that were put forward and the availability of resurces and the difficulties of those people who have to contribute accordingly in that way. Senator Commons, I think, painted an exaggerated picture in certain respects. I do not think, however, that on this Bill I would be justified in speaking at any length either on the question of employment or the question of the cost of living. I do not propose, therefore, to go into the matters he has raised on either of those subjects.

If I understand Senator Douglas, his complaint is that the widows of the D.M.P. who retired under Article 10 of the Treaty did not get a pension, except by being subjected to a means test. I am afraid that on that subject I must say something that is, perhaps, a little harsh, but I think it has to be said. People who retired under Article 10 of the Treaty elected as they were entitled to do, to leave the service of the State. They decided they would take the compensation offered to them under that Article and I think that, when they did so, when they made their own option, so to speak, and elected not to serve the State, there is not the same obligation on the State to deal with them as there would be with those who decided that they would continue to work for the State subsequent to 1922. It is quite true, as the Senator says, that there are cases where a widow of a Dublin Metropolitan policeman, who retired under Article 10, would not get any pension because of a means test, but I am afraid I would not be justified, having regard to the manner in which their husbands took all that they could get and left the force to better themselves, in introducing any additional provision on this question. Many of the points that were made—and I can understand it—suggested that there might be a greater Exchequer contribution but there cannot be particularly in present circumstances.

Mr. O'Sullivan

I understood that legislation was being prepared to increase Army pensions.

I indicated in the Budget that the amount I was setting aside would be adequate to cover the Army pensions increases and in respect of which legislation will come to this House. When I said that I could not undertake any additional burden, I meant other than those I had already taken into consideration when I announced the Budget.

Mr. O'Sullivan

Will that include the I.R.A. pensions?

The Senator will have to wait for the legislation.

Is the Minister in a position to tell us how many people will be involved in the first four paragraphs under Section 2, sub-section (1), that is to say, pensioners with pensions not exceeding £200 per annum?

Now that I have notice of that question I will be able to answer it on Committee Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for next sitting day.