Institute For Advanced Studies (Amendment) Bill, 1966—Second and Subsequent Stages.

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

Superannuation Schemes applicable to academic staffs in many universities, including the Colleges of the National University and Trinity College, make provision for the granting of pensions to widows of deceased members of the staff. The Act of 1940 establishing the Institute for Advanced Studies did not, however, authorise the Institute to prepare a superannuation scheme which would contain a provision for the granting of pensions to widows of deceased members of the staff of the Institute. Section 19 (1) of that Act dealing with the question of superannuation is as follows:—

It shall be the duty of the Council, as soon as conveniently may be after the passing of this Act, to prepare and submit to the Minister a scheme for the granting of pensions, gratuities, or other allowances on retirement to such Senior Professors and permanent whole-time members of the academic staff of the several Constituent Schools and to such permanent whole-time officers of the Institute as the Council, with the approval of the Minister and the concurrence of the Minister for Finance may determine.

A superannuation scheme in accordance with these provisions was prepared by the Council and has been in operation since 1947. The absence of a provision for the award of a pension to widows has been felt as a serious defect, however, and the Institute has experienced difficulty in competition with other institutions of higher learning in attracting members to its staff because of this lack of comparable financial protection for their families. In this way desirable mobility of staff between the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and other institutions of higher learning could be significantly restricted.

I have considered representations from the Institute that paragraph 19 (3) of the Institute of Advanced Studies Act, 1940, should be so amended as to allow the Council of the Institute to prepare an appropriate scheme for the award of pensions to widows of deceased members of the academic staff. Having carefully considered all aspects of the matter and the terms of the draft superannuation scheme proposed by the Institute, I am satisfied that there is a clear case for amending the Act as suggested and I, accordingly, recommend for adoption by the Seanad the present Bill entitled the Institute for Advanced Studies (Amendment) Bill, 1966, which has passed all its Stages in the Dáil.

The main conditions of the superannuation scheme which the Council of the Institute would prepare, in accordance with the authority which the enactment of this Bill would give it, are as follows:

(a) a contribution towards the cost of pensions for widows would be made by male members of the academic staff in pensionable posts. The amount of this contribution would be 1? per cent of salary per annum in the case of a junior member of the staff, 1¾ per cent in the case of the ordinary professor and 2 per cent in the case of the senior professor;

(b) to be eligible for a pension under the scheme a widow must have been married to the contributor before he retired from the Institute's service;

(c) the amount of the pension would be ? of the pension payable to the husband, if at the date of his death he were already in receipt of a pension from the Institute, or ? of the pension which would have been payable to him had he retired on pension on the grounds of ill-health at the date of his death while in the service of the Institute;

(d) payment of the pension would cease on the death or re-marriage of the recipient;

(e) a pension would not be payable unless at least 10 years' contributions had been paid by or in respect of the contributor.

I think the Minister will find support for this Bill from all parts of the Seanad. As he has explained, it makes provision for the widows of members of the staff of the Institute for Advanced Studies. In other words, it provides for the wives of men who have a sufficient extent of learning to become members of the staff of the Institute for Advanced Studies, and who have that extent of knowledge which only death brings.

The Minister has indicated that the reason for this amendment is an effort to promote mobility, or rather to remove hindrances against mobility between the staffs of the institutes of higher learning in this country. It might be as well, while we are considering the Bill which does this, to urge on the Minister that he should look a little further into this problem and investigate that hindrance to mobility which does exist. In this Bill the Minister has brought in something with which we are all in agreement. Nevertheless, as the Minister is doubtless aware, we still have the anomalous and quite ridiculous position that though we have three constituent colleges of one university, a member of the staff cannot move from one of the colleges of the National University to another without loss of pension rights.

The Minister should take a look at the whole position in regard to the effect of superannuation provisions on the mobility of personnel. I do not believe that there has been in the past any great difficulty in regard to the Institute for Advanced Studies. Indeed, all the movement of staff in the country has tended to be from the universities towards the Institute for Advanced Studies. This is, perhaps, natural. Nevertheless, we should like to see something of a two-way traffic, even if only by means of temporary secondments. I would urge the Minister to look over this whole question of superannuation as a hindrance to the mobility of the staff of the institutes for higher learning. I would ask him if he would not think it well to consult with the Minister for Finance concerning the provisions of the Superannuation Act of 1964, I think it was, which allows certain posts to be designated so that those people may be able to obtain better superannuation arrangements when they are transferred from one area to another.

I am sure the Minister would be glad to do this. This is something which could be done in advance of the receipt of the Report from the Commission on Higher Education and in advance of any legislation which might arise from this Report. This is certainly a point which is well worth looking into. It would do even more than the present Bill does in order to promote this very desirable mobility. Meanwhile, the Bill is a very welcome measure.

I have great pleasure in supporting this Bill. It only just brings the conditions in the Institute for Advanced Studies into line with conditions prevailing elsewhere. The difficulties of recruitment mentioned by Senator Dooge are, indeed, very serious ones, both for the Institute and for all the university bodies. Consequently, we have to try to keep in step with acknowledged international practice. I do not propose, at this stage, to elaborate in any way on the work of the Institute because we shall have an opportunity of doing that when the Report of the Commission on Higher Education is available. It may make, and indeed I hope it does, far reaching changes in the inter-connection between the institute and the universities so as effectively to produce a more unified structure than we have got today.

I join in welcoming this Bill possibly not for the same reason as the previous speakers. I welcome it as a great breakthrough on a front that has been kept closed for a long time. It obviously refers to a group of people who have contributory pensions. The Minister has given special reasons why it should apply to this group but I see nothing in principle in this Bill that could not be applied to any group with a contributory pension such as, for example, the secondary teachers. I am sure the Minister is not unaware that the Secondary Teachers' Association and the Vocational Teachers' Association also have been seeking a pension scheme of this kind applicable to widows.

The question of a pension scheme for other bodies does not arise.

I was just trying to show the parallel between this Bill and other contributory superannuation schemes. I should like to ask the Minister, now that the breakthrough has been made, if it would be possible to afford the same facilities to other groups.

I am grateful to the Senators who spoke in support of this Bill. I am afraid I could not go into the question of the secondary teachers on such a confined measure.

I should like to ask the Minister specifically to undertake to look into the general question of the mobility of the staffs of the Institute and the three levels of education.

When the Commission on Higher Education present their Report next month, I have no doubt that all those items will be dealt with in a comprehensive way and we shall be given an opportunity of considering them more fully.

I should like to thank the Minister for that. I hope next month is not correct.

I beg your pardon.

I hope that we shall be spared one last delay.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.