Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 10 Dec 1947

Vol. 109 No. 5

Committee on Finance. - Local Government (Superannuation) Bill, 1947—Recommittal (Resumed)—Report and Fifth Stages.

I think amendments Nos. 1 and 6 are the same in principle and might be taken together.

And amendments Nos. 2 and 4.

Likewise, and amendments Nos. 5 and 7.

I think they go in pairs.

When progress was reported, the question was being discussed as to what was the position of officers of the fire brigade who might have to retire prematurely because of illness. I said I thought the position was covered by Section 21. Something that Deputy Larkin suggested made me, at least provisionally, retract what I had said. I want to clear the matter up now. I think it is in fact covered by sub-section (2) of Section 1, not specifically in relation to officers but in relation to the general body of officers because Section 21 deals with the question of added years and sub section (2) provides that:

"(2) Where—

(a) an established officer of a local authority who has not less than ten years of pensionable local service ceases to hold his office otherwise than by removal for his misconduct or unfitness for his office and in circumstances such that sub-section (1) of this section does not apply and

(b) there are, in the opinion of the local authority, special reasons which justify the addition of years to his pensionable local service,

the local authority, if they so think fit, may, with the consent of the Minister, add to his pensionable local service a number of additional years not exceeding ten."

I think that would cover the firebrigade officer who may have to retire prematurely because of illness arising out of his services.

Would the phrase "otherwise than by removal for his misconduct or unfitness for his office" exclude retiring owing to physical or mental unfitness?

No, unfitness of character.

Amendment No. 1, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 10, lines 36 and 37, to delete the words "made without reasonable cause".

That relates to Section 21, which provides for the addition of years to the pensionable local service of established officers in certain eventualities and they are set out as follows:

"(a) he is removed from his office for a cause other than misconduct or unfitness,

(b) his office is abolished, or

(c) his position has, in the opinion of the appropriate Minister, been materially altered to his detriment by changes in its conditions made without reasonable cause and he resigns his office with the consent of the appropriate Minister."

These particular words are causing a certain amount of anxiety on our side of the House, more particularly when we recall that an almost similar phrase was incorporated in the Transport Bill of 1944 and over which a battle royal was fought in this House for hours, which was eventually resolved in the Seanad when the Minister, in fact, did give way. I can well understand the mind of the Minister when making provision for an individual if his position is altered owing to "changes in its conditions made without reasonable cause", but the very reverse can apply as well. Supposing a man was in a particular position and that improved methods of working were introduced; then because of the restrictive character of this particular sub-section his position is not covered. It is because of that we are anxious that the section should be left in its broadest form and that as wide an interpretation as possible should be given to it, particularly as it is possible, in certain eventualities, that improved methods of working or ancillary conditions of that kind could be introduced to justify a change and the change is not covered in this particular section. It is to that point that we advert now.

I am afraid I could not accept that amendment, because it seems to me that, if I were to do that, then I would have to accept the position that, if the conditions of service were altered to the detriment of a person in any way, he would have the right to retire. I should be putting that person almost in the position of an Article X officer, a position which has been very greatly resented by a great many people. It seems to me then a case of accepting the clause as it stands and relying upon the local authority and, eventually perhaps, the Minister to act with ordinary justice and decency or striking out paragraph (c) altogether. We could not put ourselves in a position that, if there is any material alteration in the conditions of service, a person is entitled to retire on pension and have years added. I am afraid you would have to put in that saver, because there may be changes perhaps in the situation of the officers, minor changes in hours, perhaps instituted even by a Government statute. I think that we could not possibly accept the clause with that saver deleted.

I would be satisfied if the Minister would have a look at this before the Bill goes through finally, so that the legislation in this Bill might be in line with the Transport Bill. As a matter of fact, you will find that the plea I am making is on all-fours with the discussion which took place then and the conditions are more or less similar. It does not necessarily arise that the man would have to retire or that the services would be denuded immediately because of an alteration of conditions. There is a provision in the Transport Bill under which compensation might be paid if a man has to accept, say, a lower category because of the change in conditions. We think that there is a good deal in this and, if the Minister would like to have another look at it, we are prepared to withdraw the amendment at this stage.

I would rather that we should dispose of this. I would not like to leave the Deputy under the impression that I can reconsider my attitude in relation to this matter. The fact is that this is not a new principle which we are importing here. We find these words in the Local Government Act of 1925, Section 44 and also in Section 8 of the Act of 1919. In fact the comparison here is not between what is in the Transport Bill and what are the conditions in the Civil Service. There is a much greater similarity. As it stands, this clause is a remarkable concession. We are giving a person the right to claim added years and, in the light of that, I shall have to stand on the only saver we have, that an officer could not take undue advantage of paragraph (c).

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In page 11, lines 13 to 18, inclusive, to delete paragraph (b).

We regard this Bill as a useful Bill so far as its broad provisions are concerned and it is because of that we are concerned that it will contain no section or sub-section which may be subsequently regarded as a blemish on its general set-up. We feel, however, that if this particular sub-section remains it will be a blemish on the whole Bill, and it will be rather a pity that that should be so. I refer particularly to the term "with diligence and fidelity". I take it the Minister has taken that from the Civil Service superannuation code and I am prepared to say that he may have justification in certain particular cases, so far as he is concerned, in bringing in a paragraph of that particular kind.

There may be some instances in local services where certain individuals are a cause of trouble to the manager, but I suggest that they are very few in numbers and they might be dealt with in the ordinary course of discipline, in so far as it is operated between the manager and the staff rather than that a sub-section giving such wide and arbitrary powers as are suggested here to the local manager, should be incorporated in the Bill. It may be argued that the system works satisfactorily in the Civil Service. No doubt it does, but there is no analogy between conditions in the Civil Service and those in the department of a local service. In the Civil Service, the individual affected would be assured that his case would go through a certain number of channels whereas the individual in the local service is very close to his local manager. Human nature being what it is, you might have a manager who might perhaps have a "set" on a particular individual. Instead of employing the ordinary disciplinary code throughout that man's service, he might wait until the eve of his retirement to notify him that he was unsatisfactory and that he proposed to report accordingly to the Minister. I say that it is unthinkable that an instrument of torture of that particular type should be allowed to hang over the head of the average official for the whole of his service. It is unthinkable that an officer of a local authority should feel that perhaps at the last moment of his official life, when perhaps for one reason or another the value of his services might be diminishing, a provision of that kind might be operated to his prejudice, not by a manager who is acquainted with his whole service but by one who had come newly into the service and who did not understand the full value of the man's earlier services. This section could be used in a very arbitrary manner by a manager of that type.

The Minister will say that there is a right of appeal. I am bound to say that that is so. An appeal in that case would not be taken lightly and would be dealt with in a just and fair way, I am sure, but as I say, the general principle is something for which we cannot stand. The individual should not be made to feel that there is only one barrier between him and possible victimisation. In my opinion it would not make for good service because the individual concerned would not know from day to day how he stood. I suggest, therefore, that while I can appreciate that this sub-section would relate only to a small number of individuals, the action of the Minister in introducing it for the service as a whole is not justified. I should be very glad if, in the interests of getting a good measure of co-operation in the working of the measure, he would see his way to withdraw it.

Deputy O'Sullivan has made a case in regard to the difficulties facing an officer who may find on the eve of his retirement that his pension and lump sum prospects are prejudiced by the production of an adverse report of a superior officer. These difficulties are increased when it comes to the case of ordinary servants and workers. One of the most common experiences of a trade union official is the type of case where, a small incident having arisen regarding a particular worker, one is faced with an apparent record of unsatisfactory conduct extending over a considerable period of years.

Immediately the question is asked whether the existence of that record should now hold against the working man if these incidents have not been the subject of inquiry and if the working man has not been afforded an opportunity of hearing the charges and making his defence and of having the matter satisfactorily cleared up to the extent of having it decided whether the charges should stand or be withdrawn. Unfortunately, the practice has developed of having a record built up in which you have a series of complaints accruing over a period of years of which the workman himself would have no knowledge. Sometimes he was not even spoken to at the time he was alleged to be guilty of the objectionable conduct. A note was merely made by a supervisory officer that on such an occasion such and such a thing took place. Years afterwards when the record comes to be examined the worker is expected to be able to meet and stand up to these particular charges in connection with the service in which he is engaged. Normally we might argue in theory that if an employee, whether he be an officer or other servant, remains in the employment of a local authority for such a period of years as would qualify him under Section 23 for a retiring allowance, then ipso facto his service must have been satisfactory and that if he were not diligent and faithful in his service, the onus for continuing him in its employment rests on his superior officers. Possibly that is not a satisfactory approach to the question but I think the approach in the Bill is even less desirable because in the first place there is no provision whereby his record as a diligent and faithful officer is noted for the period of his service and whereby he is made aware of the creation of a record which is going to be held satisfactory or, on the other hand, unsatisfactory. It is this kind of retrospective decision that is most open to objection.

When we come to relate Section 23 to Section 26, if the local authority decide he has not served in such office with satisfaction and has not been diligent and faithful, we find that they can reduce the lump sum allowed and they are bound to make that reduction to the extent of not less than 50 per cent. Once they have decided that he has not measured up completely to requirements, the actual extent of the punishment is fixed but it bears no relation to the actual extent of his unsatisfactory conduct or his lack of diligent and faithful service. That seems to me to be most arbitrary and it involves a penalty which can be exceptionally severe. If we take the case of an officer who was diligent and faithful in so far as average requirements are concerned but who might not be completely satisfactory, there might be a feeling, that while he would not be entitled to the full lump sum allowance, at least the measure of reduction should not be to the extent of 50 per cent. Yet the Bill, as it now stands, binds the local authority to make a reduction to that extent. I feel, if it is necessary to require that compliance with the provisions of this pension code will also require diligent and faithful discharge of duties, that an attempt should be made to achieve that end in some other form.

Paragraph (b) of the sub-section is open, I will not say to gross abuse, but to very grievous complaint. It may be a complaint that will arise not at the time when the circumstances will be fresh, but perhaps at the termination of 40 years and some of the incidents that will then be brought up to constitute the record of unsatisfactory service may have taken place ten, 20 or 25 years previously. Deputy O'Sullivan says that they may have taken place during the lifetime of the manager who may no longer exercise authority and, indeed, who may no longer be in the flesh, and therefore could not be appealed to to clear up particular matters.

If that section were to remain, it would be an essential that a system of recording and dealing with complaints and charges in respect of a workman should be evolved so that, when a complaint is made by any superior officer, that complaint will be immediately inquired into and the worker afforded an opportunity of defending himself. Only then will it be placed on an official record to which reference can be made. That has been found necessary in private employment, and I do not know any reason why employment with local authorities should be regarded as more secure in the interests of the individual employed.

While we are discussing this in relation to officers, the objections are stronger when you deal with the ordinary workman, who will also be affected by a later section and who, as we know from experience, has to deal with this difficulty continuously during his service — the question of a record being produced on a particular occasion of which often he has no knowledge; he has never had an opportunity of being acquainted with the particular items, or of defending himself.

I think we must approach this question with a clear idea of the respective positions of the local authority and the officer or servant, particularly with respect to the benefits which will accrue to the officers and employees of local authorities. It is estimated that actuarially the cost of those benefits will be from 16 per cent. to 17 per cent. of the salaries. Against that we are asking officers to pay only 5 per cent.

Are you dealing with another matter?

No, I am stating that as a background to the consideration of this amendment. It will be seen that the granting of the pensions is, so to speak, rather more of an act of grace on the part of the local authority than of financial entitlement, or, shall we put it this way, if it is not entirely an act of grace, then the local authority must receive some consideration for the fact that they are bearing such a large proportion of the total cost of the benefits under the Bill and the only consideration we are asking is that the officers should serve with diligence and fidelity.

I quite accept Deputy Martin O'Sullivan's and Deputy Larkin's contention that neither officers nor other employees should be made to feel that they may lose their pensions through arbitrary or unjust actions. There can be no controversy about the acceptance of that position. We have provision in Section 73 of the Bill for an appeal to the Minister which would perhaps be some safeguard, almost a total safeguard, against any injustice being done to any person. It would be a total safeguard if it was not that sometimes even Ministers are fallible. While I concede that officers should not feel that they may lose their pensions by the arbitrary or unjust decision of a manager or any other authority, at the same time we cannot permit any servant or employee of a local authority to feel that he can get this pension just as a matter of form, to be granted to him irrespective of how he may have served the local authority. That is the problem which we are trying to solve by including this proviso in the Bill, that no officer or employee of a local authority can be permitted, in view of what I have stated as to the financial apportionment of the cost of this scheme, to believe that he gets his pension irrespective of how he may serve.

Some people say we should take up a rigorous attitude, that if the officer or employee does not serve faithfully and zealously he should not be permitted to continue in the employment of the local authority. I would hesitate, ruthless and all as I am supposed to be, to go so far as that; in any event, it would be impossible to enforce it because that is not the tradition— we may as well face up to it — which exists in the local services. I think, for one reason and another, many things are winked at in public employment which would be much more drastically dealt with if the interests of a private employer were concerned.

I recognise some slight difficulty in what Deputy Larkin and Deputy Martin O'Sullivan have said and I am prepared to give a certain amount of consideration to the arguments they have been making, but I cannot go very far to meet them. Let me deal with what I think is a misconception of the provision for granting a reduced lump sum. That was brought in very largely as a compassionate proviso. It was not brought in with the idea of punishing any person who did not give ordinary day-to-day satisfaction, and let me emphasise that. It was not brought in to victimise anybody. It was brought in to meet the case which we are very often up against of a man who served for a long period but who was, perhaps, not very zealous in the supervision of those under him or who was responsible for a grave dereliction of duty by his subordinates and who ought to be punished in one way or another.

Then there is the case of the man who had become a habitual tippler or who had so deteriorated in character that people would say: "You should not have him; you should put him out." We are often up against a problem of that kind. You have the man who is failing in the public interest, the man who should not be there because his example is a bad one. It is my motto, in spite of any sympathy I might feel, to say that the man should be dismissed, and you sometimes have to dismiss a man and leave him without any resources because of the existing state of the law. This is a provision to enable us to deal with a case of that kind. It is not with any idea of punishing a man who had rightfully earned his pension by giving average service. What we intend, when we ask a person to serve with diligence and fidelity, is that he should give the same ordinary satisfaction in his employment as the majority of his colleagues. That is all that we ask for.

If it would to some extent prevent —and I think it would—too vigorous an interpretation being put on that phrase, I would be prepared to insert in the first line of paragraph (b) after the word "that""in general he has served in such office with diligence and fidelity". That would make it quite clear what we are looking for— that we want ordinary good service. If the Deputy would accept that and if the Ceann Comhairle would permit me——

We are prepared to accept that.

I move:—

In page 11, line 13, Section 23 (1) (b), after the word "that" to insert the words "in general".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 3 withdrawn.
Amendment No. 4 not moved.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In page 13, line 14, to delete the word "five" and substitute the word "three".

This amendment is prompted by the knowledge of the system in operation as far as pensions are concerned in the local government services. Where these pensions were non-contributory they were generally linked with the idea of deferred payment and the general rates of salaries and wages were taken into consideration. It is through a very wide extension of the precedent of pensions in this case that the contribution prescribed in the Bill is 5 per cent. We are putting down an amendment that the contribution be 3 per cent. rather than 5 per cent. because we are basing it on the action of the Minister in connection with the Mental Treatment Bill, 1945, where the contribution was and is 3 per cent. We are anxious to know why the Minister has moved from what was a very good precedent, and why the precedent of the Mental Treatment Bill was not carried out. The Minister did advert to the question of contribution on a previous amendment and said that it was actuated on a basis of from 15 to 18 per cent. We would like to know whether there has, in fact, been an actuarial examination of what the position is in respect of pensions; what is the result of that investigation and what it is anticipated the local authority will have to pay to cover the full cost of the services. It is clear that no charge in respect of this Bill, as far as new entrants into the service are concerned, is likely to arise for the next 30 or 40 years and meanwhile the contribution of 5 per cent. goes into a fund.

We would like to know what sort of fund it is and how it is to be dealt with. We would like to put it to the Minister that the ordinary workman in the City of Dublin coming in as a new entrant whose wages may run to £5 a week must, under this Bill, pay 5/- a week. The man down the country with from 50/- to £3 a week must pay about 3/- a week out of that small wage. That is pretty heavy and will bear on his domestic resources. The figure of 5 per cent. looks very high and will bear particularly heavily on the workman. I know that the question of contributory pensions has now become a popular phase of local legislation and examples may be called such as the Electricity Supply Board and other companies where pensions are paid for in this way. As far as I know, none of these pensions schemes goes as far as a contribution of 5 per cent. I would like to know what is the value from an actuarial point of view and what the local authority will have to pay.

I support Deputy O'Sullivan. A man with less than £3 a week should not be asked to pay 5 per cent. It is all right for a man with £7 or £8 a week but it is not right to ask a man in casual work to pay it, or, as is the position in many parts of the country, the man whose wages are stopped on wet days and who may not have his full £3 a week. In these cases 5 per cent. is out of all proportion when we consider that officials with large salaries who did not pay any contribution become entitled to a pension at the age of 65. I would ask the Minister to give some consideration to the lowest paid man.

There is a marked difference between this and other pension schemes which are also on a contributory basis. Personally I do not object to contributory schemes on principle. It is the proper thing because it creates interest on the part of the workman. In other schemes there is a percentage payment by officers but in the case of workmen the payment is fixed. In the Electricity Supply Board it is 1/6 a week and other schemes vary from 1/- to 2s. a week. In all cases the payment by manual workers is fixed and depends on their ability to pay. Similarly in the case of officials, the percentage is lower. Possibly what the Minister says is quite true, namely, that the total cost of this pension code will be fairly large and that the percentage payments, in the form of contributions by officers and servants, will not be of a great order in so far as the total payment is concerned. The same applies to many of the private pension schemes established and maintained by private employers. It has always been accepted that, in so far as public employment is concerned, it should seek to give conditions at least not worse than those of the fair employer in private employment. I am aware of many cases in which the percentages referred to by the Minister a while ago would be similarly reflected by private employers. The cost of total scheme would represent a cost of 10 per cent. to 15 per cent. yet the contribution required both from the employees and from the manual workers is of a much lower order than that suggested in the Bill. An ordinary manual worker in Dublin or Cork working for a wage of £4 10s. to £5 per week would be required to pay something like 4/6 to 5/-. In addition he has to meet other payments of a fixed character in the form of contributions.

In so far as the road worker, working under the authority of a county council, is concerned, and for whom I think the main benefits are intended, the payment by him of a sum of 2/6 to 3/- per week out of a wage of 60/- does not seem to be acceptable when we consider that pensions are provided by another semi-State authority for a figure of 1/6 per week out of a wage which runs at the present time between £6 and £7 per week. That matter might be reconsidered in the light of the inability of these workers to pay and thus avoid a situation which has arisen, where, while they appreciated the provisions of the pension code, they felt the charges made were of such an onerous nature that, to a large extent, all the satisfaction and feeling of appreciation were missing.

I would like to supplement a statement which I have made, lest it be misconstrued. I said that the effects of the Bill would not be felt for a considerable number of years. I had in mind Dublin, where a scheme of pensions is already in operation in so far as servants as well as officers are concerned.

I think, again, I must remind the House of the very wide scope of the benefits I have given under this Bill. It not only provides pensions. It provides a certain measure of life insurance and a certain measure of compensation in the case of injuries sustained in the course of duty by an officer. It provides female officers and servants with a gratuity on marriage. On top of that it does what no ordinary insurance policy will do — it provides for the return of the contributions in certain circumstances. It provides not merely for the return of contributions in the case of a person who leaves the service of a local authority but also for the readmission and reinstatement of his previous pensionable service if he re-enters the employment of a local authority. All these benefits are provided very largely at the expense of the local authority. Deputies must remember that I am the only person who can represent the local authority and the taxpayer here and that, therefore, I have to look at both sides of the account.

Deputy M. O'Sullivan asked whether we had an actuarial investigation before we formulated the provisions of this Bill. We did not, but we have had the benefit of seeing the results of certain actuarial investigations. We know what the trend has been in relation to the Civil Service investigation and on the basis of that I am saying, I think rather conservatively, that the total cost of these benefits will range between 15 per cent. and 16 per cent. and perhaps a great deal more. Towards that we are asking the ultimate beneficiary to contribute 5 per cent., a trifle less, perhaps, than one-third of the total cost. That is a generous contribution for the rate-payers to make. I suppose that we should not press that too far. I do not think I could make any concession in respect of the officers. I might agree to do so for convenience, because I think it might save the cost of a certain amount of clerical work. In respect of the servants, if we were to reduce the 5 per cent. to 4? per cent. it would mean that the contribution would be at the rate of ½d. in the shilling. It would be a convenient way of measuring it. That is as far as I can go. I do not think I should be pressed to go further than that. There is a great deal to be said for keeping the contribution on this basis. I do not think it would be practicable, particularly in the case of road workers and others, to impose a flat rate of contributions. Their week is sometimes broken. A man would have to pay his full contribution whether he had a broken week or not. Therefore, I think we should stick to the percentage basis. In the case of officers there are so many grades that it would be difficult to get a flat rate of contribution which would be equitable to all concerned. It would weigh more heavily upon the lowly paid and less heavily on the man at the top. On the whole, there is a great deal to be said for maintaining a percentage contribution. So far as the position of the servants is concerned I will reduce the rate in the Bill to 4? per cent. but I will retain the 5 per cent. in the case of officers.

Amendment No 5 withdrawn.
Amendment No. 6 not moved.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.

Before we leave this amendment perhaps I would be permitted to move a verbal amendment to Section 56. It is really amendment No. 7:—

In page 22, line 12, to delete 5 and substitute 4? per cent.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:—

In page 30, line 26, to insert "or a vocational or technical school teacher or any combination of such services" after "teacher".

I had this amendment down on the Report Stage and the Minister is aware of the facts of the case. This amendment is for the purpose of trying to cover a particular individual who served as a secondary teacher, then served as a technical school teacher for 11 years, then went on to do his degree and served as a secondary teacher while doing that degree, finally coming back as a vocational teacher. With the exception of two years' break for the purpose of improving his knowledge and qualifications as a teacher there is no fundamental difference between this particular case and the type of case the section is designed to cover. I think it would be a very grave hardship on this very efficient officer if he were to lose a big number of years' service because of that break of two years.

I have looked into this and I think, in view of the general terms of the section — though I do not like accepting it in relation to a particular individual — I would prefer to accept the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:—

In pages 34 and 35 to delete Section 79 and substitute the following section:—

(1) Where a local authority or mental hospital board granted before the passing of this Act an allowance or a lump sum to or in respect of a person in relation to his having ceased after the 1st day of July, 1940, to hold any office or employment in their service, they may, within 12 months after the passing of this Act, grant one increase (and no more) of the rate of the allowance or the amount of the lump sum, and such increase shall be an increase to such extent as may be sanctioned by the relevant Minister and, in the case of an increase of an allowance, shall have effect as from the date when the office or employment ceased to be held or the 1st day of November, 1946, whichever is the later.

(2) Where any such allowance as is referred to in Section 46 of the Act of 1925 was in course of payment on the 1st day of November, 1946, the allowance shall be adjusted, with effect as from that day, in the following manner:—

(a) such part (if any) of the allowance as was computed by reference to the emergency bonus under the Emergency Powers (No. 312) Order, 1944 (S.R. & O., No. 36 of 1944), shall cease to be payable;

(b) the increase or addition added to the allowance under sub-section (2) of Section 46 of the Act of 1925 shall be adjusted as if it were calculated by reference to a costof-living index figure of 270 and shall thereupon cease to be variable.

(3) Where a local authority or mental hospital board grant under this or any other Act an allowance or lump sum to or in respect of a person in relation to his having ceased to hold before the 1st day of April, 1950, any office or employment in their service, they may, in the case of an allowance, grant it at a rate greater, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the relevant Minister, than the rate that would be appropriate therefore apart from this sub-section and, in the case of a lump sum, grant it as of an amount greater, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the relevant Minister, than the amount that would be appropriate therefore apart from this sub-section.

(4) Where a person is aggrieved by a refusal or failure during the period of 12 months after the passing of this Act to grant an increase under sub-section (1) of this section, such person may, in the case of a refusal, not later than six months after the refusal, or, in the case of a failure, not later than six months after the expiration of the said period of 12 months, appeal to the relevant Minister against the refusal or failure.

(5) Where a person is aggrieved by an increase granted under sub-section (1) of this section, he may, not later than six months after the grant of the increase, appeal against it to the relevant Minister.

(6) On an appeal under this section, the relevant Minister may by Order either refuse the appeal or make such provisions as should in his opinion have been made by the local authority or mental hospital board concerned, and any provision so made by the relevant Minister shall have effect as if made by that authority or board.

(7) The decision of the relevant Minister on an appeal under this section shall be final.

(8) In this section—

the expression "the relevant Minister" means—

(a) in relation to a local authority other than a mental hospital authority, the Minister, and

(b) in relation to a mental hospital authority, the Minister for Health."

The purpose of this amendment is to restore to the local authorities a discretion in relation to the retiring allowances to be paid to officers who retired after the 1st July, 1940, and before the 1st November, 1946, who might be said to be temporarily affected by the Standstill Order. That is the first object and it is covered by sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section. Sub-section (3) is designed to deal with the case of those officers who are, so to speak, compulsorily retired under the recent Order fixing the age for retirement at 65. A number of officers are by reason of that Order leaving the local services earlier than they might otherwise have done. If it had not been for the Order they would have been permitted to remain in the services and consequently get the benefits of the improved rates of remuneration. I feel that it is only just that we should permit pensions to be calculated upon the rate of remuneration which they would have enjoyed had they served three years at the now prevailing rates.

The language employed is a little bit difficult to understand. Sub-section (1) says "to hold any office or employment in their service, they may, within 12 months after the passing of this Act, grant one increase (and no more) of the rate of the allowance or the amount of the lump sum". I want to know could we have an illustration of the operation of the section in regard to that. Supposing a man goes out on £5 a year, what would be the effect of this particular amendment?

The local authority would consider his case and say what in all the circumstances his retiring allowance would have been in the normal course if he had retired between the period 1st July, 1940, and 1st November, 1946, in the circumstances that prevailed prior to the operation of the standstill Order.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 79 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:—

In page 37, to delete lines 7, 8 and 9.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 84, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; received for final consideration and passed.