A great deal has been said about this Bill, so I do not desire to say very much. In the first place, it appears to me that the Minister does not seem to know his own mind on the subject matter of the Bill. In connection with the retrospective clause which was discussed at great length yesterday, I think we are practically assured that this clause is a reflection of the mind of the Ministry. It is nonsense to say that the Minister is going to allow a free vote of the House on this particular clause. It is a peculiar thing to say that he is going to have a free vote of the House when, as a matter of fact, the House is not in a position to know what is the mind of the Party which sits immediately behind the Ministry. To my mind, anyone who gives a vote for the Second Reading of the Bill will agree with the principle of it. Retrospective legislation is very undesirable, especially in connection with a matter of this kind, because you have got to teach the people of this country to have respect for the law. If Bills are brought in dealing with matters retrospectively people will have very little respect for the work of the Dáil. When Deputy Gorev was speaking yesterday he said that the railway managers had to accept a certain position which prevented them from lowering freights. He said that anybody who goes into any office or goods store at a railway station will find too many men employed. So far as I know, the railway managers know their business very well and they will not keep on men other than those they want. It appears that if that is the case they are probably keeping them on because of a promise by the Minister that he will give them relief in the Bill now before us. These men are being kept on with a certain amount of procrastination so that they will not be dealt with as liberally as the men who have gone before them. The Minister in this Bill is trying to interfere with the Superannuation Fund. To my mind, he has no authority to do any such thing because according to my information, this Superannuation Fund is controlled in London and any employee, when he comes to a certain age, is entitled to draw superannuation out of it. It is not good enough and it is certainly extraordinary legislation if the railway company is allowed to take money out of this fund—out of the pockets of the workers—and to pay it out to them again, because that is really what the proposition means. It is an absurd piece of legislation. The whole Bill appears to be a very hurriedly thought-out thing—a Bill brought in almost in a fit of desperation in order to come to the relief of the shareholders of the Great Southern Company. The Minister yesterday quoted certain cases. He said that in at least three cases men who had been in receipt of £700 per year were, on amalgamation, after the arbitrator's award, drawing £900 per year. I have made inquiries since yesterday evening and I find that this is not the case— that nobody in touch with railway circles has any knowledge whatever of any such case or cases. It may be that some of the higher officials——
RAILWAYS (EXISTING OFFICERS AND SERVANTS) BILL, 1926—SECOND STAGE (RESUMED).
Why not read the letter you got?
Have you got it?
I hope you will read it.
Why camouflage it?
Some of the higher officials——
Better read the letter.
He can read it himself. Some of the higher officials may have had agreement with the railway directors, and such state of affairs may have been brought about. But the Minister mentioned these cases in order to blindfold the Dáil, so to speak, and lead them to believe that these were only one or two such cases, and that in the ordinary case the employees were in receipt of more money since they were declared redundant than they were prior to amalgamation. I do not think that is the proper way to treat the House. The Minister told us that he made a mistake, and that the Dáil and Seanad made a mistake in regard to the 1924 Bill. So far as I can see, he is making an earnest endeavour to get the Dáil to make another mistake.
Or to rectify a mistake.
It might, perhaps, rectify a mistake to some extent, but it would make another mistake. As I have said, the retrospective clause is very undesirable, and I would ask Deputy Gorey and his party to reconsider their decision and to vote against this Bill, because nobody knows what will happen between this and the next Stage, when the Minister proposes to allow a free vote upon this particular clause. To my mind, a vote for this Bill now will be a vote for the principle of retrospective legislation. I would ask the Dáil to vote in such a manner that this Bill will be thrown out and returned to the Department of Industry and Commerce, so that it can be redrafted.
The Minister challenged me to read a letter which I had received, and of which he has a copy. I propose to oblige him. This letter is written by the Secretary of the Irish Railway Clerks' Association to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and it is dated 29th April, 1926:—
Railways (Existing Officers and Servants) Bill, 1926.
You are reported in to-day's Press as having, in the debate yesterday on the Second Reading of this Bill, quoted an instance in which a railway servant, with 30 years' service, in receipt of 60/- per week before amalgamation, and reduced by 1/- per week after amalgamation, could claim and be awarded "a minimum payment of 30/- per week for life for the loss of 1/- per week."
I feel compelled in the interest of truth to characterise this as a very grave misrepresentation of fact, and one calculated to seriously mislead the Dáil. In such a case, what would happen would be this: the employee concerned could, under sub-sections 3 and 4 of the Third Schedule, claim that his wages had been reduced, and that he was, therefore, entitled to a lump sum allowance, based upon the value of the reduction in his pre-amalgamation wages. If no agreement was arrived at, the case would come before the arbitrator, who would ascertain the lump sum value of the reduction and award accordingly. In fact, already two such cases at least have come before the arbitrator, in one of which the man was reduced by 3/- per week, and placed in an inferior post. The arbitrator made an award for a lump sum of £200, and the employee concerned will now be compelled to work 3/- per week less for the remainder of his railway career, unless, as is very unlikely in the circumstances, he gets promotion to a higher post.
Moreover, in all such cases the company can always avoid paying any compensation, by restoring the pre-amalgamation wages or salary of the employee concerned, and when his position becomes vacant, make the new occupant work at the lower rate. Needless to say, reductions in wages effected as a result of Trade Union wage negotiations with the company, do not entitle the employee to compensation.
In view of these facts, I think it is only fair that the amazing misrepresentations contained in your statement should be made clear, and in case you may not feel disposed to do this personally, I am sending copy of this letter to certain Deputies for their information.
May I say also that your allegation that a certain redundant employee is drawing £200 per annum more now than when he was working is absolutely inaccurate, as no such case exists at the moment, except those of senior officers dealt with by the Directors (some of whom are better off than when they were working); whose cases are not covered by your Bill. The case you may have in mind is clearly a hypothetical one, which in all probability is as mythical as the case already dealt with in the preceding paragraphs.
(Signed) J. T. O'FARRELL,
These cases were quoted by the Minister in order to mislead the Dáil and it is pointed out now in that letter that these arrangements only apply to people with whom special agreements were made by the directors themselves.
I think the arguments against the Bill have been over-stressed. Notwithstanding the adjustments the Minister is prepared to include in the Bill, the opposition does not seem to be in the least mitigated. Now, in so far as the Bill has for its object the repeal of the anomaly of a man who at the time of amalgamation had £500 per year, and, as the result of arbitration afterwards, found himself in possession of £700 a year, I think the Bill is absolutely justifiable.
Is this a new case?
The Minister says that it is possible under the existing Act for a man who loses one shilling per week to be compensated to the extent of thirty shillings a week.
We challenge that.
So far as the Bill has for its object the repeal of that anomaly also, I think it is justifiable.
It never happened.
It can happen.
Only with the agreement of the Railway Company.
It can happen, and anybody who reads the Schedule will easily see how it can happen.
I am quite anxious to see fair play done to the railway employees. They constitute a considerable proportion of my constituents, and I believe I had their support in my election. At the same time, I am not going to advocate anything which I believe to be iniquitous.
Then vote against the Bill.
A great deal of fault has been found with this measure because of its retrospective character. There may be something in that. At the same time, if it is retrospective for the purpose of remedying the abuses I have just mentioned, I say that the retrospective section of the Bill is justifiable likewise. This is not the first time we have had retrospective legislation in the Dáil.
It may be the last.
Before my time, there was an Act passed here, known as the Local Government Act, 1923. That Act was retrospective in so far as it affected certain officials. It repealed Section 8 of the Local Government Act, 1919, with the result that where men had been awarded pensions of £200 per year, which was only two-thirds of their existing salary, these awards were reduced by £100.
Do you approve of that Act?
I do not, but I am surprised that that Act did not raise a storm at the time, as the present measure has done, because I look on that Act as far more unjust than the retrospective clause of the Bill now before us. I think the Minister is quite ready to meet every legitimate objection that has been put forward against this Bill, but we must remember the position of the railways. We must remember the widow and orphans who had the modest earnings of the late bread-winner invested in railway shares, and who are now without dividends. I think these people are also entitled to consideration. The State has interfered with those people, possibly for the national good, but at the same time it has inflicted a grievous injury on them. In this matter, instead of doing what is popular, we should be rigidly just.
Hear, hear. Be just.
I am just, and believing I am just, I propose to support the Bill.
The Minister, in his statement, promised several amendments to the Bill as introduced, and he has also practically guaranteed to the House that Section 6 will not come into operation. Most of the complaints which I, at least, have received from the railway people in County Wexford and elsewhere, stigmatised Section 6 as the chief objection to the Bill.
They did. That was the chief objection in every letter I received, and now that the Minister has promised and practically guaranteed that the section will be withdrawn or deleted from the Bill in Committee, I believe there is a different aspect put on the Bill entirely. Deputy Corish remarked that anyone who voted for the Second Reading voted for the principle of the Bill.
When I came into the House yesterday I firmly made up my mind to vote against the Bill as it stood, but to-day I have altered my mind and that is really due to the statement of the Minister. The Bill is not the same as introduced to the House. Considering the amendments that are to be brought in by the Minister and that the retrospective section is to be taken out, I have made up my mind that I will vote for the Second Reading. In doing so I do not think that I am doing an injustice.
What is the Bill now at all? It is a scrap of paper.
I wish to register a protest against this Bill. The Minister, in speaking on the Bill yesterday, gave as one excuse the difference existing between railway officials and civil servants as regards pensions. He said that the civil servant is only entitled to a maximum pension based upon one-sixtieth of his income for each year of service, while the railway official is entitled to one-sixtieth as the minimum. He did not explain to the House that the civil servant accepted his pension while the railway official had to accept dismissal. He failed to tell the House that the civil servant was enjoying luxuries, and a good salary, at the time that the men, whom an Irish Government are attempting to rob now, were fighting for Irish liberty and refusing to carry munitions to kill our fellowmen. These men sacrificed in many instances their liberty, while civil servants were enjoying their comfortable salaries. These men had to face dismissal because of their activities and in return for that, as I mentioned yesterday, the Minister is attempting to legalise robbery, by preventing the men who paid into the superannuation fund from getting the benefits of the contributions to which they would be entitled. Probably he is encouraged in that by his partial success on the Shannon scheme. If I know the railway men aright, he will find that he will not be as successful in attempting to lower the standard of the railway workers of the Saorstát as he has been with the unfortunate unorganised men on the Shannon scheme.
We have heard about great losses on the railways. One would imagine that they were attributable to the workers, but we did not hear, even from the shareholders in this House, any reference to the mismanagement of the railways or about the want of proper facilities in many areas. I can give an instance. On the Sunday after Christmas, when many people in business in the city wanted to get back to business for the following day, there was no train from Wexford to Dublin. People who had to get into business by Monday morning had to take motors. On the following Sunday, when no one was travelling, there was an excursion for the first Sunday of the month. Probably the directors thought that they might have to pay a few men a few pounds extra if they gave a train on the Sunday after Christmas. To my own personal knowledge they lost hundreds of pounds owing to the fact that they had no trains to convey people to their different places of business on that Sunday. You have the shareholders, not saying one word in condemnation of the directors. Has it not come to the knowledge of the Minister for Industry and Commerce that thousands of pounds have been spent on the repairs of carriages, and that some of these carriages were put on the scrap heap at Inchicore? When some of the members had drawn the Minister's attention to the matter, the carriages were sent, I think, to Naas, in Deputy Wolfe's constituency. When some of the members interested found that the carriages would cost £2,000 for repairs, after their removal from the scrap heap down to Naas, they were transferred back again. I hear that the directors and some of the shareholders are inquiring what has become of them.
They are on the Dublin South Eastern section.
You have dog boxes there for the people. Deputy Gorey says that you have too many employees on the railways. He must be one of the privileged Deputies when he finds too many porters and too many clerks in the various stations he is privileged to go into. The fact that he is leader of the Farmers' Union probably accounts for that, but it is not my experience. We find many stationmasters doing the work of porters and doing the work of clerks, where they are in charge of goods stores, and although they are not paid for work on Sunday they are obliged very often to work on Sunday in order to get through the work that they should finish during the week. They are unable to cope with the work in numerous country districts. Deputy Gorey knows that even in the case of farmers who send milk to the stations, their men have to assist the porters to carry the milk to the carriages, owing to the fact that enough porters are not employed at the stations.
How many porters does it take to put in the milk?
Two. I appeal to the Minister to withdraw this Bill. I can assure him that as far as the railwaymen in my constituency are concerned, they are not going to submit under any guise to being deprived of any of the rights that they are entitled to. I have changed the opinion I always held of Deputy Good after his speech last night, because he said nothing good in favour of the Bill at all. And seeing that Deputy Good has been very good on this occasion and opposed the Bill, I ask the Minister to accept his opinion of the Bill and withdraw it.
The debate has developed into comment on the management of the railways, comment which is quite out of order.
I want to say that I agree with Deputy Wilson.
I do not intend to follow my colleague, Deputy Everett, into the question of the management of the railways, but I want to point out the position which has been somewhat clouded by the speeches made here. Remember there were three or four railways in this country, and by the arbitrary act of this Government they were forced into amalgamation.
There were more than three or four railways.
Well, twenty-eight if you like. These railway companies were forced into amalgamation, and though they had not agreed to it, they were compelled by the law to accept amalgamation. In the working out of that amalgamation several anomalies have arisen, and surely it is the duty of the Government to rectify whatever wrongs they have done the railways by this amalgamation. Any reasonable Deputy in the Dáil will agree to that. We agree that whatever rights the railway officials have, they should have the equities, but they should not get more than their rights. I contend that in the cases made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce there are men getting more than their rights, and we will not stand for that.
Let us rectify those and define them.
It is the rectification of a wrong, and it is the duty of the Government to rectify that which is wrong.
And make it twenty thousand times more wrong.
We are much interested in the railways from the point of view of our own business, but we do not allow any interest of ours to clash with our sense of justice in a matter of this kind. We are quite satisfied that whatever rights the railway officials had, those rights should be secured to them, and that they should keep them; but we could not force the amalgamated company into a position where the right of dismissal of an official is refused on any ground whatsoever. We could not refuse them the rights they had before amalgamation, and we are not going to force them to pay £900 a year on retirement to an official who earned only £700 per year while at work. In the rectification of these wrongs we agree that the principle of retrospective legislation which is introduced into this Bill is wrong and we will not support it. We have already agreed that it is wrong in principle, and ought not be embodied in the Bill.
With regard to Deputy Everett's references to the national work of these men, I have to say that that was also dealt with last night. This is a business transaction and it ought to be settled on business lines. It is not right that railway stockholders should pay for national services. National services, if they are to be paid for, should be paid for by the State and I do not think that that argument has anything to do with this Bill. We will support the Bill subject to the promise given by the Minister.
Apparently it is to be recognised now that the ordinary charges which have been so current in people's mouths lately with regard to autocracy were never meant. I now find myself criticised not for having yielded to the representations made to me but for having refused to yield to the type of representations against which Deputy Cooper protested yesterday—the hectic flourishes of certain Senators in the newspapers, the waste of money in the duplication of telegrams to Deputies to try to sway their judgment in certain things, and the writing of letters which amount to nothing more or less than a statement that the voting power of certain folk is going to be used if this Bill is not withdrawn. I am glad that the Dáil has the courage to stand up to that sort of thing. I do not believe that outside the Labour Benches there is any lack of appreciation of what the suggested amendment that I have spoken of really amounts to. A certain number of details have been spoken of. Deputy Davin criticised this as being a second amending Bill to the Railways Act of 1924. He apparently thought that the fact that any amending legislation to the Act of 1924 was required was in itself bad. It must be within the memory of the Deputies that the first amending legislation with regard to the Railways Act of 1924 had Deputy Davin's approval.
And would again for the same reasons.
Even though it was amending legislation, it had his approval, and in this he stood apart from the rest of his Party.
On a point of explanation, I want to say that I was careful enough to point out during the progress of the Railways Bill that I supported the very thing the Minister had to admit was justified by bringing in an amending Bill.
The only point is that Deputy Davin would support this amending legislation if he finds it to be what was asked for by him at the time that the 1924 Act was going through.
I justified and do justify, and will again justify, if necessary, my support of that particular amending Bill on the ground that I pointed out, an anomaly that apparently existed at the time that the Bill was going through the House, and the Minister refused to accept or listen to that point of view when it was put forward by me and other Deputies.
Deputy Davin supported that piece of amending legislation because it was in line with his own thoughts when the Bill was going through. I want to take this whole legislation on that basis. If it be proved that there is any injustice being done to men by reason of this Act—and that that injustice was something that was not in the minds of the Oireachtas when that Act of 1924 was going through—then I will let it be argued against me that the purpose of the Bill has been defeated.
However, I will get to that when I come to the two or three main points, and find out if certain people now stand for what we have now discovered to be in the 1924 Act. Can they reconcile with their thoughts what was their intention when the 1924 Act was going through? I have Deputy Davin's support for this amending legislation, if he discovers that the amending legislation in principle is favourable to Deputy Davin's views.
That is the usual debating society argument that we know the Minister is so accustomed to.
Deputy Davin is sent here because of his responsibilities to his constituents, and he is prepared to stand by his constituents. Does he now class himself as unworthy of his constituents' confidence in that respect?
If the Minister wishes to know the opinion my constituents hold of me, let him resign his seat and I will resign mine.
I am not going to put the Deputy to the point of dismissal prior to what he is really coming to. I just want him to think what his statement amounts to—the debating society argument. This is a democratic assembly intended to be a place where it is expected that we can argue things out. If the Deputy is so poor in argument that when a case is proved his only answer is that it is only debating society tactics, then I say he is not worthy to represent his constituents.
That is the Minister's opinion. It does not count for much in the country.
I might be able to impress that view down the country before long.
I challenged the Minister to come to Leix and Offaly during the election campaign, and he did not come.
He went to Letterkenny instead.
He said he was not there at all.
There has been a tendency in the debate on this Bill not to allow the people who are in favour of the Bill to speak at all. I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce is entitled to make his speech——
He asked a number of questions.
I am stating my view that the Minister for Industry and Commerce must be allowed to make his speech, and it is my duty to so state my view. It is not the duty of Deputy Byrne to give me any advice.
He asked a number of questions.
And I will ask the Deputy one or two.
I will try to answer them. I will give the Minister the same challenge as Deputy Davin.
We will leave it at that. Deputy Davin said that the unions had been forced to fight even on unsound cases and had to incur certain expenditure. I wonder would the Deputy like to have a comparison between the action of the unions here and in England—how far cases had been pressed in England to try and get a man both superannuation and compensation, or whether it is thought possible that such a case could be pressed in England; whether such a case as that would be considered one of the unsound cases which the railway company forced the unions to fight in order to incur expenditure. With regard to the question of costs, which a number of Deputies referred to, and as to which Deputy Norton said that in the amending Bill I should have amended defects in other regards, suppose we have that question looked into. It can be easily done, if some Deputy cares to move an amendment. But care must be taken that the amendment cuts both ways and that the union funds are made liable for costs given against a man where the union is fighting that man's case, and to find out whether the union will accept that. If they do there may be a compromise; there may be an accommodation on that point also. If the railway company are to be mulcted in costs when cases are given against them, so also should the union funds be made liable and the man made to give security for costs.
Will the Minister say that the private shareholders of the company will have to be made liable also for the risk that might be run?
If it is not considered that the railway funds are sufficient to meet the costs of any actions against them, if that can be proved to the arbitrator, I am sure the arbitrator will look about to find how the costs will be secured.
Will the principle apply that the limited liability of the company will be abolished and that the ultimate liability will fall on the shareholders individually?
When that point is raised in an amendment I will meet it.
The Minister may take it from me that the union funds are as safe as the funds of the party with which the Minister is associated.
Let me get some definition as to what is an interruption. We have had an excellent example of a proper interruption when Deputy Johnson asked the Minister if he agreed to something when the Minister was making a proposal. Then Deputy Davin said something which clearly would lead to trouble. There is no connection between the funds of the Minister's party and trade union funds.
There is a question as to trade union funds.
There is no such question. I have always held that there must be a certain amount of interruptions, but there is a kind of interruption that is of no use. I put it to Deputies in all calmness that that kind of interruption will not get us any further.
Deputy Davin alluded to a particular case in continuing his argument—at least it was in the same context; I do not know whether we are to take it as continuing his argument or not about unsound cases. He made a point about a railway official who recently had to litigate in order to get his payment from the superannuation fund when he had previously got compensation awarded to him. Deputy Davin raised that case in this House, and talked about the litigation having ended in favour of that gentleman. Then Senator O'Farrell writes a letter as Secretary of the Railway Clerks' Association, and says:—
"May I say also that your allegation that a certain redundant employee is drawing £200 per annum more now than when he was working, is absolutely inaccurate, as no such case exists at the moment, except those of senior officers dealt with by the directors (some of whom are better off than when they were working), whose cases are not covered by your Bill. The case you may have in mind is clearly a hypothetical one, which in all probability is as mythical as the case already dealt with in the preceding paragraphs."
Deputy Davin had previously outlined a case for Senator O'Farrell, but apparently Senator O'Farrell turned his deaf ear to it. The gentleman did get compensation, and he litigated about his award from the superannuation fund and he got that. The result is that he is getting more than he was getting when in full harness.
Will the Minister quote the figures and compare them with the figures given yesterday?
I talked of three cases yesterday. I have two cases here. This is the case of Patrick Kearney: salary on date of retirement, £495; awarded under the Third Schedule, £330; and entitled under the fund which he has litigated about, either to a lump sum payment of £1,420 or a pension of £222 3s. 10d., plus a cash bonus of £113. Let us assume it is the latter. Then it is £552, plus a cash bonus of £113, while he was working at a salary of £495.
The same as he would have got from the Provident Clerks' Association if he had paid a premium of 2½ per cent. on his salary during his 52 years' service. He got what he was entitled to according to the rules of the Superannuation Fund Association.
When I quoted the case I said distinctly that I was not making a case that all this was coming from compensation. I have been challenged by a person who is Irish Secretary to the Railway Clerks' Association that no case of the sort exists and Deputy Davin called attention in this House yesterday to the fact that this gentleman, Kearney, had to litigate about superannuation. The result of the two things is that he certainly gets more on retirement than he had when in full working order.
Is it not the fact that although he has got a judgment in the High Court before Mr. Justice Sullivan he has not yet actually been paid that amount? My information is that if this Bill goes through the company will appeal, if they have not already done so, to prevent him getting what he was entitled to by the rules of the Superannuation Fund Association of which he was a member for 52 years.
These are all hypotheses. Admit every one of them and the case is that under the Act as it stood that man would have got that amount of money. He may not in fact have proceeded to the point where he had established his case for more money in idleness than he had when in full working order. That was the only case I made and that is challenged by the letter.
Will the Minister read the case he made yesterday about a man receiving £200 more than he received when he was working?
I will give that too.
The Minister made a case yesterday. He said there was a case where £200 per annum more was paid to a man in idleness than he had been receiving in pay. That was quoted here to-day. It was challenged by Senator O'Farrell. Now the Minister says that he can quote such a case as having existed. I questioned the Minister as to whether it was the case he quoted yesterday. Now he says £552 against £495 was the case in question. I do not know where we are.
I will let the Deputy know where we are if he will just let me go on. Senator O'Farrell challenges that there is any case of the sort, and I urge the point made by his colleague, Deputy Davin.
Is Kearney in receipt to-day of £200 more than he received when he retired from the service of the company as a redundant man?
I was arguing as to what would happen under the Bill and what I think should be prevented. Is Deputy Davin's case that this man has not yet got his hands on the money?
I admit that I am beaten on that. The second case is that of Blackham. His salary at the date of retirement was £728. The pension he was entitled to under the fund was £446 18s. 7d.; the award that he got under the Third Schedule to the Act of 1920 was £485 6s. 8d. The full salary was £728 and he was entitled in idleness to a sum of £932. That is a bit more than the £200. Now, does Deputy Johnson know where he is?
I only know the case that the Minister is alleged to have quoted yesterday, which is challenged here to-day.
That is it.
The case that was challenged was the first case of Kearney which, I am sure, is fresh in the minds of Deputies. I know nothing about the second case. I only know something about the first case, and the Minister can probably wait until there are further challenges in regard to the other hypothetical cases.
Deputy Johnson is pleased to think that he has won a victory, because I said that one man was entitled to £200 a year more in idleness than he got when engaged at work. The only case of a man having his rights established for him by law is that of the second man, who is actually getting more than he was receiving when at full work, but not £200. I told the Deputy that there is the other case that I spoke of the case where a man is getting £200 more than he had when working.
Might I be allowed to put a question to the Minister? Senator O'Farrell, in his letter, states:
"May I say also that your allegation that a certain redundant employee is drawing £200 per annum more now than when he was working is absolutely inaccurate, as no such case exists at the moment except those of senior officers dealt with by the directors (some of whom are better off than when they were working), whose cases are not covered by your Bill."
Is that correct?
Is the Deputy insinuating that the cases of Blackham or Kearney are cases that were dealt with by the directors?
I am simply asking a question. The Minister has quoted from this letter, and there is a paragraph in the letter which purports to deal with the case of an employee receiving £200 more. I ask the Minister for the courtesy of saying whether or not the allegation in Senator O'Farrell's letter is correct.
I cannot understand it as being correct. I have put two cases, and I have said to Deputy Davin that if he makes the statement to me that Senator O'Farrell is riding off on that—that the man is not at the moment actually in receipt of this money—he is probably right, and I give the Deputy the palm of victory for that.
If you have agreed to withdraw the retrospective portion of the Bill, what is the use in arguing about it? You have surrendered yourself.
I was arguing with regard to the Bill and to the Third Schedule to the Act of 1924. I was pointing out the anomalous things that have happened under the Third Schedule to the Act, and I gave the case of a man who would get £200 more in idleness than when at work.
On this I think the Minister should be a little more detailed. As regards the case of Blackham, I know nothing about it, but I would like to know whether the Minister avers that his salary was £728 when he retired; that he received an award of £485 on account of salary and that he received, out of the superannuation fund, the sum of £446 per annum. I would like to know if that is the position.
Yes. Deputy Davin's point arises there again, and the answer is that he is entitled to receive that.
Could the Minister go further and tell us what age the man is, and how long he has been paying into that fund?
He is 73 years of age and he has been paying into the A Fund, which is insolvent.
Did the Minister say that the A Fund was insolvent?
Yes. The Deputy, I think, has mixed up the A and B Funds. The man was paying into what the Deputy classes as the B Fund which, in the Deputy's mind, is insolvent, but to anybody who knows anything about the ordinary lettering of these funds, it will be clear that it is the A Fund which is insolvent.
How many years has the man been paying into the fund?
I cannot say.
Would I be right in saying that he has been paying into it for 52 years?
I do not mind what you say. That would mean that he was paying in since he was 20.
It was shown yesterday that there were many people in the House who did not mind what the Minister was saying about this Bill.
This case of Kearney's is one of the unsound cases, presumably, on which people will be forced to incur additional expenditure in order to get their rights. If people consider that they have these rights, then, of course, that is a correct statement. I put it that there were certain anomalies arising under the Bill, namely, with regard to Blackham's case and Kearney's case. For the future, cases such as these, with the retrospective section knocked out, cannot be touched, but we should surely see that no such anomalies are going to arise again.
If you had a conference you would have got what you wanted, but you have lost a lot by not having it.
I had agreed to a number of things about noon yesterday, and there was no case made to me at that time for the complete withdrawal of the retrospective clause. What was put to me was this: that there may be a rehearing of cases where this absurd double payment was being made. That was the case made to me even by a Deputy in the House. We have gone further than that now apparently, so that you have to be either in the position here of an autocrat standing out against everything, or else if you give in to something, then you are told that is butchering. That was the politest description used yesterday. Deputy Davin spoke of directors' fees as if I had anything to do with them.
On a point of explanation, I did not refer to them at all.
The Deputy referred to managers, directors and people of that sort. I have nothing to do with them. I do not own the railway company and I have not a share in it. It is the business of the proprietors to see that the funds of the railway are being properly administered. If I had brought in legislation to deal with managers, assistant managers and so on, and if these people were to get large sums, then of course the Deputy would be in order in criticising me, but I have nothing whatever to do with them.
I did not criticise you on that.
It is quite a good debating point to load the case on one side. It is certainly a thing that must weigh in the minds of railwaymen who have been given small pensions in comparison to the pensions given to those at the other end of the scale. Is it the Deputy's suggestion that we should take that in hands and rectify it? I think that is a matter for the shareholders and I leave it at that. The Deputy's argument was: Is the railway company in such a desperate position? If the railway company was rolling in wealth and if it had not the slightest bit of embarrassment with regard to moneys I hold that some of the things that have been effected under the Third Schedule to the Act of 1924 are wrong and that in spite of this great wealth on the part of the railway company these things should now be rectified. The position of the railway company has nothing whatever to do with this Bill. It has been said that this Bill has been introduced on behalf of railway directors and railway managers. All these allegations may be made, but what I ask the House to consider is the position of the railway user. Do we want to have an efficient, economical railway system in a few years time and are we to prevent steps being taken which would lead to the railway company becoming economic for the railway user?
Will the Minister inform the House whether he intends, under the Bill, to deal with one individual who received as a retiring pension over four-fifths of his salary without having paid anything whatever into a pension fund, and with another case where an official by agreement, which this Bill does not interfere with, received over three-fourths of his salary as a retiring allowance, plus £2,500? How does the Minister propose to deal with these cases?
I do not propose to deal with them. I said they seemed to me to be matters for the railway shareholders to deal with.
But are not these charges a burden on the railway and incidentally on the travelling public?
If they are charged against the revenue account and come into consideration when rates are being fixed so as to bring down the standard revenue under the head of economic management, then that can be queried. There is provision for that. The object of Section 4, the Deputy stated, was to offer a maximum of one-sixtieth, and the object of the company was to offer one-eightieth.
Presumably, I said.
I do not know what the Deputy's presumption is based on, but I put it this way, that we are bringing in what corresponds to the Civil Service scale. I ask the House to consider whether railway employees are entitled to more than the Civil Service retiring allowance, and I have in negotiations that have gone on, and gone even further than anything that has been referred to in the Dáil, with regard to that particular section, a matter that would be for the benefit of the people who are concerned under it. It is hopeful at any rate to find Deputy Davin declaring himself against any absurd claim that the number of railway employees should be stereotyped. Deputy Norton seemed to me to get close to that idea, and Deputy Johnson did get to that idea.
I ask the Minister to quote any occasion in his recollection, or that of his officials, where any such demand was made by the railwaymen or their accredited representatives.
I am saying now I am glad that the Deputy is against what he described as the absurd claim that the number of railway employees should be stereotyped.
You said that was our case, and that it was our demand.
I never said it. What I did say was that under the old schedule as it stood that more or less the arbitrator was coerced into the position that he had to count the number of railway employees in the employment of the railway company at the date of amalgamation, and thereafter, unless two things were proved, physical incapacity or misconduct, that number was stereotyped. I said if that was the case, as I believed it to be the case, that that should be removed, and that is being removed by this Bill, and is one of the things in the Bill.
And a great deal more.
We will see how much more. Deputy Johnson, I say, more or less broached this point, that the number should be stereotyped, for that was his argument. I admit he said he lost his cue. I wish he had kept it, for I was interested here following out the new argument. As far as I got it, it was this, that the amending Bill set out that where the redundancy was due to economic causes there should be no compensation. Then the Deputy went on to give an example of what might be considered redundancy due to economic causes, and, by a process which I was not able to follow completely, he drifted into this: that there had been a reduction of rates, and that the reduction had been a cause of redundancy. I suggest that there is a middle term missing. You have to argue that the reduction of rates caused a reduction of traffic, and that the reduction of traffic caused a redundancy. If it is to be argued what the scale should be——
A reduction of rates causing a loss of revenue, and not of traffic.
A loss of revenue does not imply redundancy. It might imply an attempt on the part of the railway company to make it redundant, but redundancy has to be proved before an arbitrator, so that we have got it that a reduction of rates means a reduction not of traffic but of receipts or revenue, and, therefore, a reduction in revenue means redundancy. The thing is absurd. The Deputy said he had lost his cue, and I do not know whether I have taken him up right, and I may have lost it also. He said implicit in the Bill was the right of compensation on anything that might accrue out of redundancy due to reduction of rates. Let the House consider what the positive of that is, that you should allow compensation for anything that might accrue, even redundancy caused by reduced rates of the railway companies. That is the positive side of what Deputy Johnson would like to see put forward in an amending Bill.
I think the Minister would like to be fair—a reduction of rates compulsorily against the will of the railway company brought about by the operations of this compulsory Act.
Leading to redundancy.
Leading to loss of revenue.
Leading to redundancy. How the loss of revenue is to lead to redundancy I cannot see. Assuming that a dishonest railway company attempted to prove that because they have less money coming in they must get rid of a number of men, they cannot get rid of a number of men because there is less revenue. They must prove redundancy. But the fact that they have reduced rates would mean that they would get more traffic. If the traffic is not there, and the traffic receipts show definitely a case for dismissal, that case would be good for any of the component parts of the amalgamated company prior to amalgamation. There was no attempt to give to the employees as against the amalgamated company any rights they had not prior to the company's amalgamation.
Deputy Johnson has been well briefed, and knew his case in this Bill up to a point, but he was apparently arguing against the Civil Service rate as to the one-sixtieth maximum. Yes, but the Civil Service is more or less permanent employment, and the people in it are not thrown out of it hurriedly. What about compensation for disturbance? That point is made as if it were a serious point. Does the Deputy believe now that there is any account taken of compensation for disturbance?
Does he know that is in the Schedule, and is not being amended by the present legislation, and that an added number of years for abolition are given, and these are being continued? So far as he made any case against an introduction of the Civil Service rate that point is groundless.
Would the Minister say that the Civil Service rate is fixed as a maximum, that is, that there is an option on anything within the Civil Service rate?
I cannot understand the Deputy's point. If it is a point that seems to the Deputy to be material I will try to answer it.
I think it is material. As I understand, there is a definite scale fixed in respect of the Civil Service. It is neither a maximum nor a minimum, but a fixed standard. In the proposal of the Bill before us a Civil Service rate is named, but that is to be a maximum and not a fixed standard.
This, as I understand it, is in line with the Civil Service regulation in so far as it deals with the Civil Service rate—so far as it deals with a matter that would be dealt with by Civil Service regulations.
If I understand aright, there is a definite scale fixed in respect of the Civil Service which is neither a maximum nor a minimum.
Would the Minister say if the railway company would be obliged to pay one-sixtieth and not one-eightieth?
Then why compare with the Civil Service where the rate is fixed at one-sixtieth?
One-sixtieth of the salary and emoluments for each year's service. There is a lump sum in addition. There is a maximum of one-sixtieth. Would the Minister insist that the railway company should pay one-sixtieth and not less?
In the case where Civil Service regulations would apply. I ask the question: do the Civil Service regulations deal with any cases except those of civil servants who leave the Civil Service? Is there any compensation for civil servants otherwise?
If a civil servant resigns voluntarily he gets one-sixtieth.
It is resignation: that is out of the service.
If he is discharged or if his office is abolished he also gets one-sixtieth.
Yes, he may. I will put it this way to the Deputy. Arising out of the operations of the amalgamation scheme there may be either of two cases. A servant may be dismissed. His office may be abolished. Various things may happen, with the result that he is out of work and out of the service of the railways company. That is all the Civil Service regulations cover. A second case may arise in the matter of the railway that a railway servant may be kept on in the employment of the railways company but be given duties which he considers not analagous to the duties he previously had. He is not discharged. He is retained in the service of the company, but at a lesser rate. He may suffer some loss in his emoluments or pecuniary loss. That has to be met. Are you going to meet all that by the one-sixtieth rate rule, not the one-sixtieth maximum rate rule? I say the one-sixtieth rate rule is proper for people who leave the service, who are absolutely as civil servants are, but not proper for railway employees who are kept on but who suffer some pecuniary loss. I do not know if I have made that clear and whether that is an answer to Deputy Johnson, but the Deputy stated that civil servants were in permanent employment and that there was no necessity in their case to consider the question of compensation for disturbance. There is a question of compensating for disturbance in the Third Schedule to the Railways Act of 1924, and that is continued in the amending legislation.
Deputy Johnson said further on this matter of superannuation that superannuation was one of the points that was always pointed to when people were pushing railway service. They said: "Look at the extraordinarily good condition you are in with your superannuation." That is a point I think the Deputy made, and it certainly was one of the things a man had before him when entering the railway service, and consequently to interfere with whatever superannuation is coming to him would be a grave injustice. I take it with regard to what the Deputy said that superannuation is one of the things looked to, and when a man pays into a superannuation fund he has a right to look to that certainly, but as there is no such thing of the same type with regard to the civil service, surely the rate for compensation and for disturbance ought to be less in the case of the railway employee than in the case of the civil servant. We are taking the exact terms. We are taking the abolition years for disturbance and doing what Deputy Johnson asked us to do in an amendment to another Bill. We are giving exactly that right. The Deputy went on to refer to those superannuation funds as the men's funds of which they were being robbed. The men have paid into the funds to the extent of 50 per cent. The railway company has paid in to the extent of 50 per cent. Why not say the railway company's funds and that we are robbing the railway company, if there is anybody to be robbed? That is the case I made in opening.
Might I ask the Minister on this point when the railway company gave away the money they gave it away deliberately and finally and not with any reservation that it was to be taken back?
Yes, and the trouble is, if Deputy Hewat could only understand it, that there is nothing to take back, that the fund is exhausted and that people who retired have got more than actuarially they are entitled to get, and that there is no money to take back.
That is an argument for penalising the man who is unfortunate enough to be discharged. What about private hardship in that case?
If you are taking away from a man something he has built up you are robbing him of some of his own contributions.
You are giving him nothing.
Yes, because there is nothing to give. His colleagues, who retired earlier, got more than they were entitled, on any actuarial basis, to get. Deputy Good referred to what I called the B fund, which is more or less solvent, but with regard to the A fund and the railway clearing house fund, the pool from which benefits might be drawn is exhausted.
As a matter of information, who is responsible for the state those funds are in to-day?
The people responsible are mainly the employees. The question was, can you build up a fund? What sort of insurance fund can you build up by a man paying in 2½ per cent. of his wages even with the railway contribution? What fund can be built up on 5 per cent.? Those funds are matters of agreement. I am being pressed, at the moment, to get the railway company to act up to their commitments under the 1924 Act in another respect and bring forward for discussion on the main superannuation fund——
What is troubling Deputies is, who is responsible for paying out in excess?
I may have led the Deputy into that statement—paying out on what was agreed upon but what turns out to be in excess. As the thing developed, the original fund was declared afterwards to be insolvent, and the men were transferred to the railway clearing house fund. That is insolvent now, and the company more or less guaranteed it, but the whole thing depends on the solvency of the railway company. You speak of people's old rights, but the old rights have been dissipated. There is no money except it comes out of the railway company's ordinary resources.
Would the Minister say if the railway companies were represented on the management of this fund?
I cannot say. I presume they were.
I want to make that point because the Minister said the employees were responsible.
No. I beg pardon. I was asked to say who were responsible for having the contribution so small. I said I presumed it was the employees.
You were not asked that.
Then I withdraw any allegations that the employees were concerned in the distribution of those funds. I do not know who were. I presume there was a board of management and that they carried out the scheme on an agreed basis. The net result is that two of the funds are bankrupt, and so far as any payments are concerned they are to be made from the general resources of the company.
Are any of the existing railway employees still having claims against those funds?
I think we suggested it should be one-sixtieth and one-eightieth, and apparently this one-eightieth has been misinterpreted. May I suggest to the Minister why not leave everything one-sixtieth? Let us put ourselves into a practical position about the one-sixtieth and the one-eightieth. Would it not be better for the railway company to pay a man, who would not be able to carry out his work, the full one-sixtieth on his being retired?
Is this another Beamish kitten?
No; it is a Manx cat now. I think it is only giving rise to difficulty even with the Labour Party. If the Labour Party think there may be something behind the one-eightieth I suggest it would be better to get, say, one-sixtieth multiplied by the number of years of the man's employment, and when he gets too old he might be willing to take under one-sixtieth.
Deputy Beamish will sit down.
There are a lot of men who——
Deputy Beamish has the disadvantage of not having listened to the debate. That is the only explanation of such an extraordinary interruption. I hope that the Minister will not answer it. It would make it worse.
Deputy Hewat made a very slight contribution to this debate. Deputy Hewat is apparently going to die with the railways company in the last ditch. He died several times before when the Railways Bill was going through. He said: "The Minister should not have left us in the position in which we are now." That was after Deputy Hewat had made a speech in which he described himself for the benefit of the Dáil as having been the watch-dog of all the proceedings during the passing of the 1924 Act. This self-appointed watch-dog failed to discover this flaw, and Deputy Hewat, of everybody outside myself, probably bears the greatest responsibility because, being on the qui vive for everything that might harm the railways, everything that might be used as an argument against the unhappy interference by the Government in the affairs of the railways, he did not advert to the very obvious flaws that are now discovered.
The Minister must recognise that Deputy Hewat was overwhelmed by the combined opposition he met with on the Bill. What he could say was only what he could interject.
Deputy Norton came close to this point of stereotyping the railway employees in the place they are now. He made some point with regard to a motor lorry coming to a certain area and tapping the traffic, when the company would decide that because traffic had diminished there was reason for the dismissal of men, and Deputy Norton pleaded that such cases should be compensated. Take the Great Northern Railway Company at the moment. It is finding a considerable amount of its traffic tapped by motors and men have been and are being dismissed in the ordinary way without compensation. Nobody stood up in this House to advocate the giving against the amalgamated company any right to the employee which the employee previously had not against the unamalgamated companies.
took the Chair.
But the arbitrator has no power to decide whether a dismissal is due to amalgamation or to uneconomic causes. He is told that it is due solely to amalgamation.
Is the Minister aware that for years—as far back as one can bring one's memory—there have been thousands of men in the employment of the different railway companies who were casual and who were always subject to dismissal or removal with the ups and downs of traffic?
Of course I know it.
Because they could not be kept on.
It would be better if these questions were left over until the Minister finished.
Deputy Norton's claim is that it must be due solely to amalgamation. I do not know whether the Deputy is now simply going on the Bill as it stands. If that is what he argues I give in to him.
No, but the amendment which you suggested on the first day.
Does the amendment which I suggested on the first day mean a change?
Is it to leave out the words "or contributed to"?
The Deputy wants to have left out "and solely."
I want to make provision where dismissal may be due both to economic causes and amalgamation.
Does the Deputy not realise that what I said on moving the Second Reading of the Bill comes to that position?
Still, you put it into the Bill.
And I said that in so far as it was not in the Bill I thought the omission of the words "or contributed to" met that point. Does the Deputy now want the words "and solely" left out?
I told the Minister that I wanted to make provision for a man dismissed partly on account of amalgamation and partly because of economic causes.
These points can be raised in Committee.
I want to put it to the Deputy that if a man's services have become unnecessary in consequence of the amalgamation of the companies he should be compensated, but if they are caused by the other things he should not be. If there is any point in dispute between us it can be dealt with in an amendment. Deputy Norton was the only person who took up this point of the seven years' limitation in the Bill. The seven years is a new point in this, and it had better be adverted to. In the case of the Railway Clearing House system, under the 1924 Act there is a five years' limit within which the case must fall, and I put it to the House that if amalgamation is really going to be the cause of a person becoming redundant that will have to show itself within a seven years' period from date. I think it is a sound conclusion that if redundancy is caused by amalgamation, the amalgamation will have had the effect of causing the redundancy within seven years. If that does not seem to be the case, it is a detail that we can discuss in Committee, but I stand on the seven years' period. I think it is sound and wise to have some period within which the incidence of these claims must terminate.
Several Deputies, including Deputy Baxter, have referred to the railwaymen who gave service in troubled times. Nobody has denied that at all, but I do not think anybody here means to put up the case that they should be compensated by the railways company. If there should be compensation it is a case to be met by the State, and in connection with the case pleaded by Deputy Johnson there is recognition of the service done by railwaymen, as by a great many others in the community, but that will not be dealt with sectionally in Bills dealing with economic matters. If there is anything to be done in regard to that it should be done by other people, but I do not think that plea has ever been advanced. I doubt if the men want it advanced.
A number of people have made the complaint that this should have been a bargain as between the men and the management or—another way of putting it—that this has been introduced at the request of the management, and that it is on behalf of the shareholders and the dividend-earning class. As far as dividends are concerned, they do not enter into the scope of this Bill at all. The dividends are fixed.
There is a clause allowing for the fixation of standard revenue and for rates to bring that in, and no matter what has to be paid, that clause still remains. To bring the shareholders and the dividends into this is merely trying to cloud a clear issue. Neither is this Bill in the interests of the railway management. What does it matter to the railway management except that they are the proper guardians of the property for the proprietors, and what does it matter to me, except that I am looking at this from the standpoint of the railway users? If people here want to burden the company with indefensible payments, and if those payments would possibly prevent the bringing about of an economic situation in the railways——
Does not this question of litigation that has been referred to point to a very unfortunate atmosphere? My interruption, as far as I referred to it, was that the matter was one that ought to have been considered before it became embodied in the Bill at all.
On the question of agreement, there was a schedule in the 1924 Act which could have operated smoothly, and, if attempts had not been made to drive all sorts of coaches through certain flaws that were discovered in it, it probably would have worked smoothly. But a situation developed which had to be taken in hand. Probably Deputy Hewat has views on that matter which are, no doubt, sound. Whatever I say here is not for the benefit of shareholders or for the benefit of any management; it is for the benefit of railway users. I simply make that point. Deputy Good holds that the principle with regard to the superannuation fund is just the same as in connection with an insurance fund. I am afraid I cannot consider it so. If these men had been in an insurance fund there would be no question at issue at all. The fact is that they are in a fund that was built up by contributions. There is a further fact, and that is that two of the funds are insolvent, and that makes the position peculiarly difficult.
I spoke of a solvent fund. If the fund is insolvent I hold that the company could not be held liable any more than an insurance company in the same position could be held liable. But where the fund is solvent it ought to pay.
I think I have admitted that. As far as the B Fund is concerned there will have to be one point of view.
I hope the Bill will be amended accordingly, and if it is I will withdraw my opposition.
If the Deputy is leading to that—
The Minister has based most of his case on cases insured under Clause B. The amount granted is based on the very contribution to this fund which the Minister now says a man is entitled to get.
I have said he is entitled to get his contributions, but I have doubts as to how far he is entitled to get the whole thing. The big majority of railway servants are outside superannuation altogether.
Is not the Minister attempting to interfere with the rights of Irish railway officials, members of a superannuation fund which is protected by a British statute?
What am I interfering with? Can the Deputy read ordinary English as printed? Can the Deputy say whether there is any question of interference with the superannuation fund in the Bill?
If the Bill passes you will be attempting to prevent certain men from getting what they are entitled to from the railway superannuation fund which is protected by a British statute.
Where does that come about under the Bill? Where do I prevent anybody?
If the retrospective clause in the Bill is passed that will be effected.
What I am interfering with, if anything, is compensation, not superannuation. I am saying that compensation is to be assessed, taking into consideration superannuation. As regards interfering with superannuation, or robbing the superannuation fund, there is not a word about it.
What is the effect of Schedule D?
I think it would be better if Deputies allowed the Minister to proceed.
I desire to make the point that the Bill the Minister is now dealing with has a new aspect, and if we are not allowed to get information in this way we must ask for another opportunity of expressing our views.
Deputies will be given an opportunity for putting their questions when the Minister has concluded.
On what Bill?
On the Bill that is before the House?
I am quite willing to reply to any points that may be raised. Sub-section (d) does not interfere with superannuation. It avoids the point of interfering with the superannuation fund. It points out that the superannuation fund is to be taken into account when fixing the nature and amount of compensation. From statements made here and reported, or misreported, in the Press, it would seem as if some fund was being taken hold of.
The effect of this sub-section is that except the amount of the award under the superannuation scheme is in excess of the amount of the compensation under sub-section (d), the employee gets nothing out of the superannuation fund.
You might as well take his money out of the Post Office Savings Bank.
No; it is quite the opposite. If there was a case made to me that a person was to get compensation under the Third Schedule of the 1924 Act, and that compensation was less than the amount of superannuation, then you would have clearly proved that there was interference with the superannuation fund; but that cannot happen.
Has the Minister heard of the case of Metcalfe that was tried before the arbitrator?
You should have.
I will accept the details if the Deputy gives them to me.
I am giving you the name of the man who was involved in the case.
Is that case to be argued now?
I think the Minister is entitled to make his case without further interruption.
May I return to the early party of my statement? The Secretary to the Railway Clerks' Association is a gentleman who knows his business so well that he wrote this:—
I feel compelled in the interests of truth to characterise this (referring to certain statements) as a very grave misrepresentation of fact, and one calculated to seriously mislead the Dáil. In such a case what would happen would be this:
We are not arguing now about what is in the mind of a certain Senator under the stress of amending legislation as to what ought to happen, but what could happen. The writer then goes on to instance the case of the railway servant. I would ask Deputies to look at paragraph 5 of the Third Schedule of the Railways Act, 1924:
Every existing officer or servant whose office or situation is so abolished, or who so relinquishes his office or situation, or whose services are dispensed with on the ground that they are not required for any other reason, not being on account of any misconduct or incapacity, or whose remuneration or emoluments are reduced on the ground that his duties have been diminished, or who otherwise suffers any direct pecuniary loss by reason of the amalgamation or absorption ... shall be entitled to be paid compensation by the amalgamated company....
Under Section 5 the case I speak of can happen; I never stated it had happened.
Will the Minister tell us what the case is? Did he not say the officer or servant whose remuneration is reduced by one shilling per week?
The paragraph the Minister has read states:
Every existing officer or servant whose office or situation is so abolished or ... whose services are dispensed with...
The paragraph continues:
... on the ground that they are not required or for any other reason not being on account of any misconduct or incapacity, or whose remuneration or emoluments are reduced on the ground that his duties have been diminished ....
That is it.
The previous sub-section says:—
If any existing officer or servant so transferred is, without his consent, in any such worse position ... he shall be entitled to be paid by the amalgamated company such lump sum ....
His appeal is to the arbitrator, and it is left to the company to say whether he shall be diminished in salary or not. They need not diminish him at all if they do not wish to do so.
I put to the Deputy Section 5 of Part II of the Second Schedule, which says:—
Every existing officer or servant whose office or situation is so abolished, or who so relinquishes his office or situation, or whose services are dispensed with on the ground that they are not required or for any other reason not being on account of any misconduct or incapacity, or whose remuneration or emoluments are reduced on the ground that his duties have been diminished, or who otherwise suffers any direct pecuniary loss by reason of the amalgamation or absorption (including any loss of prospective superannuation or other retiring or death allowances, and allowances to his widow or orphan children whether obtaining legally or by customary practice of the amalgamating or absorbed company), shall be entitled to be paid compensation by the amalgamated company, the amount of such compensation to be determined by the amalgamated company (subject to appeal as hereinafter provided) in accordance with the following rule, that is to say—
(a) the compensation shall be an annual allowance to be paid to the existing officer or servant during his life not exceeding in any case two-thirds of his remuneration and emoluments, and, subject to that limitation, to be calculated at the rate of one-sixtieth of his remuneration and emoluments for every completed year of his service with the amalgamated company.
So that under Section 5 of the Schedule he would get one-sixtieth for every year's service. He would get 30/- a week for life for the loss of one shilling and yet that is described by the Secretary to the Railway Clerks' Association as mythical and hypothetical.
Have not the company means at their disposal to fight cases of this kind and to come before the arbitrator?
I am seeking to amend the section in a certain way, and I am now pointing out what can happen under the section if left unamended.
At the will, discretion and option of the railway company?
I am pointing out what could happen under the unamended section. I am asking people not to allow that absurd thing to happen. I got from the Secretary of the Railway Clerks' Association a statement that it cannot happen, but I state that it can happen and he characterises my statement as a grave misrepresentation of facts calculated to seriously mislead the Dáil. Is it a grave misrepresentation of facts? Could it really happen?
Deputy Johnson says it could not happen. I wish the Deputy was arbitrator. We ought feel safer.
I do not think railway companies are such fools as to put themselves in such a position unless this is some particularly favoured person to whom they want to make a present of 30/- for life.
No matter what the railway companies may or may not do, they might be forced into this position. It is going to cost the Dáil nothing to obviate that absurd position. I am asking that an amendment should be made so that no such thing could happen.
Will the Minister prevent any other consequences from his amendment except the one he is now trying to remedy? Will he confine the remedy to the kind of case that he is speaking of?
No. Is there anything won on that admission by me? I have stated I think it would be an injustice to allow people to get a pension which must be calculated at a minimum of one-sixtieth, and I have got the House to agree with that. I will not confine it to the one case. I will confine it to the case on which Senator O'Farrell has sent this absurd letter.
Have the railway companies made representations to you about the one-sixtieth, or has it begun with yourself?
No; but even on Deputy Johnson's amendment to the Electricity Supply (Special Powers) Bill he showed his mind clear.
You have not answered the question.
If I answered it negatively you would not believe me.
I never said that, but I want to get your answer on the records of the House. I want to know if the railway companies made representation on the question of the alteration of the figure for one-sixtieth to one-eightieth?
I never heard the figure of one-eightieth until it was raised here in the House to-day.
Right you are. Perhaps not.
Deputy Wilson did not seem to be in the same antagonism towards retrospection as some people. I do not ask him whether he is or no as the matter is no longer before us. He led Deputy Johnson to a point in which they were seemingly in agreement. Deputy Johnson on an interjection seemed to say that individual cases not defined might be looked into, retrospectively. That was the position as put to me yesterday; that the cases of double payment might be reheard.
I did not say that.
The Deputy made an interjection to Deputy Wilson like that.
I did not say anything of the kind and I certainly did not mean it.
Does the Deputy say that he did not say anything about individual cases?
I cannot remember the incident. I cannot charge myself that here or anywhere else I suggested that existing cases already decided should be reviewed and a liability imposed upon the recipients.
Let me take this Bill. The second section has reference to the short service men becoming servants of the amalgamated company and being put into particular positions that they did not occupy at the moment. Two objections are raised to that. One is the objection raised to Section 4 that the onus of proof must be put on the railway company, and that the unfortunate man is in the position that he cannot rebut the evidence of the railway company and which the company brings forward. So far as he is in that position you cannot help him; there is no help except to provide that every man discharged is compensated. There is no help except the Dáil provides it. I cannot think that they are in such an inferior position as that.
When the onus is thrown on the company it means the company will bring the case before the arbitrator whether they believe it just or not. I want an assurance from the Minister that if a man successfully defends his case before the arbitrator he will get his costs against the company if he wins. On the other hand the Minister can have vice versa if he likes.
The Deputy wants that assurance from me, but the Deputy wants not to be bound at all himself; he wants an assurance from me, but it must end there. I can give him the assurance. I want an amendment in regard to this question of costs making the thing work each way, having the trade union funds liable if the man has no funds of his own, and if the union takes his case in hands.
Will you accept an amendment also that where the cases have been won before the arbitrator under the law in existence that the men should be entitled to recover their expenses?
That is that it should be retrospective against the company? Retrospection seems to be less of a vice when it is in favour of the men. If we make them responsible for the question of costs will he allow Section 6 to stand? The case of the officers and servants is dealt with in the third part of the schedule. As far as these men are concerned does the Deputy mean them to come within the cases to be brought before the arbitrator if they so desire? The third section is an abolition one also. The fourth section is the main one. It puts railway servants here on the same basis as railway servants under corresponding legislation in England. This again is to be amended by the abolition of these words "contributed to," and the onus of proof is thrown on the railway company, as I have indicated.
If any action, such as the Minister indicated in Letterkenny, came about—if a case of that kind arose arising out of the Government policy would the onus be upon the company in this particular case or would the Minister take any responsibility? For instance, would he take responsibility for the abolition of branch lines, and the consequent loss of emoluments and salaries on the part of the men?
Can the Deputy inform the House what this particular case is?
It is in to-day's "Independent."
Deputies must please refrain from asking questions until the Minister has concluded. He must get the same latitude as other Deputies.
The question of the item that stands on page 4 (c) is the second important section of the Bill—That it shall not exceed an annual sum calculated at the rate of one-sixtieth of his remuneration. Deputy Norton raised a very definite point there. I had previously considered it in conference. It may be possible to provide for the two cases I have spoken of—dismissal cost and reduction of duties. Dismissal costs ought to be on the Civil Service basis at the rate of one-sixtieth.
The retention, with the diminished duty and pay, ought to be at a rate, if it is only an allowance, not exceeding one-sixtieth. I hope that that is understood. The sub-section lettered (c) is the one I stand on, for the abolition of which no one has made a case, with the one exception—the matter of trade apprentices. That is the matter I stand on in Committee in order to see what the House has to say to it; (d) as lettered here, deals with a matter that I have indicated with regard to one of the funds. There may be arguments put up, and they can be put up, in Committee, as some adjustment is possible, with regard to the solvent funds, either by giving the whole amount due, which I consider wrong, or by repayment of contributions which I would consider a fair proposition. In regard to the other two, I would ask the Dáil to consider in Committee whether this section should stand as it now reads with regard to "A" Fund and the Railway Clearing House Fund.
What control have you over their money?
We have been asked to withdraw this Bill and to bring it in in another form. That has been put in a variety of ways. It has been put on the ground that people did not know what was in the Bill, and it has been put on the ground that Deputy Davin cannot follow it. I do not know that any one is going to stand by that.
I doubt if the Minister can get anyone behind him in his own Party to get up and explain the Bill as it is now.
I will wager as an equivalent that the Deputy could not explain the Third Schedule which is being amended.
I will have an examination privately with the Deputy afterwards. I have been asked to withdraw this Bill for a variety of reasons. People put that suggestion forward in an open sort of way. I cannot agree with that. I think it is understood what is at stake. There is at stake a change of the minimum of one-sixtieth to the maximum of one-sixtieth, and a rate of one-sixtieth in other cases. Whatever be the doubt about stereotyping the number of railway employees prior to amalgamation there is no question of that now. Whatever right the company had prior to amalgamation with regard to dismissal that same right still lasts. Where there is redundancy by reason of amalgamation or absorption there must be compensation. These are really the things about which we have been voting. I have been asked to withdraw the Bill on other grounds that I cannot consider. One was on the ground that to prove my honesty with regard to assurances I gave here I must withdraw it. I am sorry that Deputy Morrissey is not here, as I do not think he meant that his remarks should be construed in that way. Deputy Morrissey put it in a way, that to show my honesty in the matter, this Bill should be withdrawn. I have it that certain people made the suggestion that I had been so dishonest in matters of this sort before that reliance could not be put on my assurances. Deputy Morrissey did not say that.
I do not think that I said anything like what the Minister has suggested. If I did convey anything like that to the Minister I would like to withdraw it unreservedly. While I may have a shot occasionally at the Minister across the House I must say that I have as much respect for him as any Deputy in the House, and I would be the last to suggest that he was dishonest. I did say that he was not fair to the working-classes of the country. If the Minister thinks that anything I said conveyed anything approaching dishonesty to him, I withdraw it.
I felt sure that what I had taken down was possibly due to an error on my part. I wanted to make that clear. I accept the Deputy's withdrawal very definitely. There was another suggestion of the same sort made. Whatever it may have been it was certainly taken up by a Deputy who is not here. I am very glad that Deputy Byrne accuses me of dishonesty. I should not like to have his recommendation for honesty. I hope, as long as I remain in this House, I will have Deputy Byrne's disapprobation and that he will never dishonour me by alleging honesty or anything of the sort against me.
I do not think it is fair to use such expressions about the Deputy in his absence. It may be another mistake on the Minister's part, as in the case of Deputy Morrissey. I do not think it is right to speak in such terms about the Deputy, particularly when he is not here.
The Deputy stated "Get something in writing," as he was not willing to believe my words. That was his interjection.
That did not accuse the Minister of dishonesty.
It is not the same case as that of Deputy Morrissey. I was very anxious to be put on a footing of cordial relations with Deputy Morrissey and I would regret any imputation that might proceed from him. But I say as regards Deputy Byrne that I hope as long as he is in the House he will continue to impute dishonesty to me. The sort of honesty Deputy Byrne understands is not the honesty I understand. I sat here yesterday listening to two Deputies. I have always had a certain admiration for a novelist whose works I read long ago, Charles Dickens. I sat here and my wonder grew, as I listened to two Deputies, how Dickens had been able to portray a character such as Uriah Heep without ever having known Deputy Byrne, and to a small extent—
That is very unfair.
I do not think the Minister should refer to a Deputy in this way. It would be well if the Minister would withdraw.
In what way?
The Minister has just now rivalled his previous performances in corner-boy vituperation.
Deputy Magennis must not say that.
Pardon me, he referred to me as Uriah Heep. That is, of course, not in order, but I regard it as a tribute coming from the source from which it emanated.
The Minister did not refer to Deputy Magennis, but to Deputy Byrne.
I did refer to him.
Probably you, sir, did not hear the observation.
I think it is very undesirable to have matters of this kind introduced from any side of the House, and I ask the Minister to withdraw his reference to the Deputies.
Particularly Deputy Byrne.
I may say that I took exception to the interjection of Deputy Byrne last night when he advised me to have this matter written down.
I resented the imputation at the time.
I hold that that did not attribute dishonesty to the Minister.
I have not your point of view about it.
The rules of this House have been transgressed by the Minister. Personally I do not care what vituperation comes from that source. I expected nothing but that from that particular source.
You know your deserts.
In this case the Minister ought to justify what he has said. There are many epithets in his stock-in-trade which he may apply to me.
I ask Deputy Magennis to resume his seat. This is not improving the decorum of the House, and it is very undesirable that allegations against Deputies from other Deputies, or from Ministers, should take place. Those observations are resented in all quarters of the House.
And outside also. I would ask the Minister to withdraw his remarks in reference to Deputy Byrne. So far as I understand, the remarks were not made in reference to Deputy Professor Magennis.
They were so. If I have to withdraw, I do so in both cases, if so desired by the Chairman.
resumed the Chair.
I wish to ask the Minister to clear up a point about which I am in doubt with regard to superannuation. Take the case of two men, one of whom has been contributing for 50 years into a superannuation fund. The other man has never contributed. Both men have the same wages and both are being got rid of as redundant men. Under this Bill what difference will there be in the compensation? As far as I understand from reading the Bill there will be no difference as the superannuation will be taken into account in making up the compensation. Will there be a difference in the amount of compensation that each man will get?
That is the effect of the section as it stands. I hold that that should be the effect with regard to A, a man who did not contribute to any superannuation fund, and B, a man who contributed to the "A" or Railway Clearing House Fund, because these are now insolvent. With regard to a man who contributed to the "B" fund, I think whatever his compensation is as awarded by the arbitrator, it should exclude a refund of his contributions with interest.
Can the Minister say, in the case of a man who did contribute to the fund, and who was not regarded as redundant but went on in the normal way, if he would be entitled to get anything out of the superannuation fund?
Yes, if he paid.
Why deprive him of that right because he is got rid of as a redundant man?
Because he is getting more as compensation and far more than the superannuation fund would give him.
The compensation is for removal and loss of salary. Why use superannuation to make up for compensation?
That is the real matter. There will have to be a division of the two classes of funds that I have referred to. That is a Committee point more than one for Second Reading. I want to put the case to the House that where a fund is insolvent and where, in fact, a railway company is going to pay what is classed as superannuation and in addition compensation, that that is unfair. Where there is a fund actually in existence outside the railway companies' resources, from which money can be withdrawn, then it is fair that the amount paid should be an amount of the refund of the contributions in addition to the interest plus the amount of compensation.
Will the Minister say who is to judge as to the solvency or insolvency of the fund? Is he going to take the latest report on the fund actuarially or is he setting himself up as a judge as to whether the funds are solvent or insolvent?
I would like the Deputy to put the condition of the three funds before Deputies and see whether they would not come to a definite conclusion about them.
When the Minister refers to the insolvency of the fund may I take it that he has in mind the latest report of the actuaries?
The latest reports I have show that two funds are insolvent and one is pretty well solvent. It is solvent if certain bulk benefits are taken. It is insolvent if, instead of bulk benefits, they take annuities.
I would like to ask the Minister if he proposes to make provision for the case of men dismissed partly from economic reasons and partly from amalgamation?
I think what would happen under English legislation and what is intended here is, that the arbitrator would make a decision on the question, whether it is mainly due to amalgamation or mainly due to other circumstances. Then there would be a clear cut case.
If it is not mainly due to amalgamation has the arbitrator any power to make an award? That is not clear from the Bill.
Let us leave out the word "solely." I am not proposing to keep that in.
Take a case where it is partly due to amalgamation and partly due to economic causes.
I think the arbitrator will have to make up his mind as to whether it is due to amalgamation or to economic causes.
Suppose it is fifty-fifty?
That would be a matter for the arbitrators to make a decision on one way or the other.
Are we to understand that the retrospective clause will be withdrawn on the Committee Stage, and that there will be a Government amendment to delete the section?
If no one else puts down a motion to delete it I will put it down myself.
May I suggest to the Minister—and it is not Parliamentary tactics in this particular case, because the Minister does not appear to have quite definitely turned down the suggestion that came from one part of the House—that he should withdraw?
I do not see any necessity for that.
I do not suggest it from party tactics, but as a matter of good business. As the matter is not urgent he should withdraw the Bill and reprint it. No Bill should be submitted to the House in this shape, and you, Sir, have pointed out that the Bill we are discussing is not the same as that which is printed. In his speech the Minister said that it was a different one. I think Deputies will have to vote on your ruling with regard to the Bill as it stands. With all due respect to the Minister I suggest that it is not fair to ask, even his own supporters, to walk into the Division Lobby and vote on a Bill of that kind.
That closes the debate.
- Earnán Altún.
- Pádraig Baxter.
- Richard H. Beamish.
- Earnán de Blaghd.
- Thomas Bolger.
- Séamus Breathnach.
- Séoirse de Bhulbh.
- Próinsias Bulfin.
- Séamus de Búrca.
- John J. Cole.
- John Conlan.
- Sir James Craig.
- Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean
- Uí Dhrisceóil.
- James Dwyer.
- Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
- Desmond Fitzgerald.
- Thomas Hennessy.
- John Hennigan.
- Connor Hogan.
- Donnchadh Mac Con Uladh.
- Liam Mac Cosgair.
- Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
- Patrick McGilligan.
- Risteárd Mac Liam.
- Eoin Mac Néill.
- Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
- Liam Mac Sioghaird.
- Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
- Patrick J. Mulvany.
- Michael K. Noonan.
- Peadar O hAodha.
- Mícheál O hAonghusa.
- Seán O Bruadair.
- Parthalán O Conchubhair.
- Máirtín O Conalláin.
- Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.
- Séamus O Dóláin.
- Tadhg O Donnabháin.
- Mícheál O Dubhghaill.
- Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
- Eamon O Dúgáin.
- Seán O Duinnín.
- Donnchadh O Guaire.
- Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
- Aindriú O Láimhín.
- Fionán O Loingsigh.
- Risteárd O Maolchatha.
- Domhnall O Mocháin.
- Séamus O Murchadha.
- Pádraig O hOgáin (Gaillimh).
- Seán O Raghallaigh.
- Máirtín O Rodaigh.
- Seán O Súilleabháin.
- Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
- Caoimhghín O hUigín.
- Liam Thrift.
- Nicholas Wall.
- Seán Buitléir.
- John Daly.
- Séamus Eabhróid.
- William Hewat.
- Séamus Mac Cosgair.
- Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
- Tomás Mac Eoin.
- Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
- Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
- Liam Mag Aonghusa.
- Tomás de Nógla.
- John T. Nolan.
- William Norton.
- Ailfrid O Broin.
- Criostóir O Broin.
- Tomás O Conaill.
- Aodh O Cúlacháin.
- Liam O Daimhín.
- Eamon O Dubhghaill.
- Peadar O Dubhghaill.
- Seán O Laidhin.
- Pádraic O Máille.
- Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
- Tadhg O Murchadha.
- Pádraig O hOgain (An Clár).
- William A. Redmond.
When does the Minister propose to take the next stage?
I would suggest Wednesday next.
Might I suggest that we should be given a longer time? Might I also suggest that the Minister's amendments be circulated and still give Deputies, after that, time to put in any further amendments, because we do not really know where we are at present? It is unwise, I think, to have amateur attempts at framing amendments to deal with the same matter that the Minister is himself dealing with. If the Minister would circulate his amendments and give us time, from then, to put in further amendments for Committee Stage, it would be much more satisfactory.
The people who would be responsible, from our side of the House, for putting forward amendments would not care to do so until they had carefully read the Official Report of the Minister's statement and reply. I think the Minister should take that into consideration when suggesting a suitable day for Committee Stage.
I could have the amendments I am going to suggest, with the possible exception of one, out to-morrow. I think I could have all of them—including that one—in the hands of Deputies on Saturday. If delivered at the Clerk's Office to-morrow, they would, I expect, be in the hands of Deputies on Saturday. If we pass Wednesday of next week, Thursday and Friday will be devoted to financial business, so that Tuesday week will be the earliest day for Committee Stage.
Would the Minister consider the desirability of remitting this Bill to a Special Committee? I think it is a Bill which—especially in view of these amendments—could be much more satisfactorily dealt with by a small Committee.
Would that Committee be selected prior to the amendments going out? Would it be selected, say, to-morrow and meet as soon as the amendments are in hands?
The Committee would be nominated by the Committee of Selection, which could meet to-morrow. The nomination of a Special Committee could, therefore, take place immediately.
Might I suggest to you, A Chinn Comhairle, the desirability of having distributed among Ministers a book on etiquette and manners for use in the House?
I would be quite agreeable to this Special Committee if it could be moved for to-morrow without notice.
If the Minister desires to refer the Bill to a Special Committee, he can move now that it be so referred, instead of referring it to a Committee of the whole Dáil. He has the option of doing that now without notice.
I am quite agreeable to move that the Bill be referred to a Special Committee to be nominated by the Committee of Selection.
We can postpone the fixing of the Committee Stage of the Bill until after the tea adjournment. In the meantime, a motion can be drafted in proper form.