Committee on Finance. - National Teachers' Superannuation (Amendment) Scheme—Motion of Confirmation.

Molaim:—

"Go ndaingneófar Scéim Aoisliúntais na Múinteoirí Scoile Náisiúnta (Leasú), 1950, a rinne an tAire Oideachais le toiliú an Aire Airgeadais."

The main purpose of this amending scheme is to introduce improved superannuation terms for national teachers, with effect from the 1st January, 1950, and thus to implement the proposals which the Government made last September to the teachers' organisation. Particulars of these proposals were circulated to Deputies early in October, 1949.

It was at the time intended that women teachers should receive different terms from those to be accorded to men teachers, but, in the interval, it has been found possible to agree, I am glad to say, that both men and women teachers shall have the same superannuation conditions.

(a) annual pension based on 1/80th of average annual salary for each year of pensionable service up to a maximum of 40/80ths;

(b) a lump sum on retirement calculated at the rate of 1/30th of average annual salary for each year of pensionable service up to a maximum of 45/30ths; and

(c) in the case of those who die in the service after five years a death gratuity payable to their legal personal representatives amounting to the teacher's average annual salary or a sum calculated at the rate of 1/30th for each year of service up to a maximum of 45/30ths, whichever is the greater.

It will be recalled that the original proposal was that women teachers should not receive a lump sum, but that their pension should be calculated on the basis of 1/60th for each year of service up to a maximum of 40/60ths. The terms which the existing superannuation schemes, what I might call the old terms, provide are pension of 1/80th for both men and women teachers with no lump sum in either case and death gratuity not exceeding the annual average salary.

I have no doubt that the new conditions will be found generally acceptable to the teachers.

Paragraph 1 of the scheme gives a short title and links the scheme with the existing schemes made between 1934 and 1948 inclusive.

Paragraph 2 brings the scheme into effect on being confirmed by resolution of each House of the Oireachtas and provides specifically that those teachers who may have retired on pension from teaching since the 1st January last shall have the benefit of the new terms.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 refer to interpretation and the necessary definitions.

Paragraph 5 indicates the classes of teachers to whom this scheme applies.

"(a)" and "(b)" bring in all teachers who were actually serving on the 1st January last or who have since entered or may in future enter the service for the first time.

"(c)" gives the benefits of the scheme to a teacher who, although not teaching on the 1st January last, had not been more than a year out of the service and was not a pensioner on that date.

"(d)" provides that teachers who were already pensioners on the 1st January, 1950, and who may re-enter the service after that date, or those who were more than a year out of the service, will not receive the new terms on subsequent re-retirement unless they have completed three years' pensionable service after the 31st December, 1949. This is a reasonable precaution to ensure that existing pensioners or those not on pension who were more than a year out of the service cannot qualify for the new and greatly improved terms by reentering the service for a short period; I refer, of course, to those who had retired before the 1st January last and before reaching the age of 65.

Paragraph 6 provides for the payment of lump sum to both men and women on the lines I have already mentioned.

Paragraph 7 provides for an improved disablement gratuity to those who, because they have not ten years' service, cannot qualify for a disability pension if compelled to retire owing to ill-health. Whereas, under existing schemes, the gratuity is at the rate of 1/10th of pensionable salary for each year of service, the new scheme provides for calculation at 1/12th for each year of service with the important addition of 1/30th of pensionable salary for each year of service if the teacher has not less than two years. For existing teachers on the 1st January, 1950, who may be compelled to retire before they complete two years' pensionable service, sub-paragraph (2) maintains the right to the existing basis of calculation of 1/10th.

Paragraph 8 deals with the death gratuity on the basis I mentioned in my introductory remarks. Sub-paragraph (2) means that if a teacher who may have received a lump sum on voluntary retirement or owing to disability comes back to the service and dies whilst in the service the death gratuity shall be reduced by the amount of the lump sum. This is fully reasonable. Sub-paragraph (3) may need a little explanation. Under the existing schemes it was possible that a pensioner might die before the amount of pension drawn by him had equalled the amount of death gratuity payable in respect of him had he died in the service; in such event there was provision to pay him the difference between the two amounts. Now that a lump sum is payable on retirement, no pensioner who retires on these new terms can receive a less sum after retirement than if he had died in the service, and the sub-paragraph makes it clear that the lump sum payable to him is to be reckoned as a pension benefit.

Paragraph 9 represents improved conditions for the payment of marriage gratuity to women teachers who are compelled under the regulations to retire on marriage. At present a woman must have seven years' service, of which at least five must have been pensionable, and the gratuity is based on 1/12th for each year of pensionable service, excluding the first year. The paragraph enables the teacher to qualify for the gratuity after six years of service, of which at least four must be pensionable, and the gratuity may be calculated for each year including the first of pensionable service.

Paragraph 10 has the object of enabling the Minister to require applicants for a disability pension or gratuity to deposit the medical referee's fee—to be returned if the application is successful. I do not say that it will be found necessary to enforce this requirement but it is thought advisable to have it lest it should be found by experience that applications of this kind were being made on insufficient grounds.

Paragraph 11—paragraph 7 of the 1948 scheme—provided that service given by a teacher after reaching the age of 65 should be non-pensionable. No change was then, however, made in the period for the calculation of average annual salary which is still governed by the date of retirement and may, therefore, include a considerable period of time after 65 years of age. This was not the intention and the paragraph now provides that the teacher who gives service after 65 shall not alone have such service non-pensionable but shall not be entitled to have any post-65 service taken into account in the calculation of the amount of pension or lump sum.

Toisc go dtagann an scéim aoisliúntais seo as na scálaí atá tugtha ag an Rialtas do na bun-oidí, is dócha gur rud rialta é agus ar aon chuma ní dóigh liom go bhfuil cumhacht againn leasú a chur isteach. Caithfidh muid glacadh leis nó gan glacadh leis.

Ba mhaith liom ceist a chur ar an Aire an bhfuil sé le haon bhuntáiste a thabhairt faoi Altanna 6, 7 agus 8. Tá sé soiléir go leor faoi Alt 6. Táthar chun airgead a thabhairt nach raibh le fáil roimhe seo. Nuair a bheas múinteoir ag dul amach ar phinsin gheobhaidh sé deontas chomh maith. Mar gheall ar Altanna 8 agus 9 ba mhaith liom a fháil amach ón Aire an bhfuil sé le tuiscint againn nach mbeidh na téarmaí atá le fáil ag na múinteoirí atá i gceist níos measa ná na tearmaí atá ann faoi láthair. Sílim go bhfuil siad níos fearr in Alt 9 toisc go bhfuil an tréimhse gearrtha síos ó 7 mbliain go dtí 6 bliana.

Tá rud beag eile faoi fho-alt 2. Is dócha go bhfuil an deontas pósta níos fearr ná mar a bhí faoin mbun-scéim, ach mar gheall ar Alt 8 cheap mise go bhfaigheadh múinteoir a fuair bás sa tseirbhís tuarastal bliana agus go mb'fhéidir nach mbeadh múinteoirí faoi Alt 8 chomh maith as, má tá seirbhís ghearr acu, agus atáid faoin mbun-scéim. Nílim ach ag cur na ceiste ar an Aire—an bhféadfadh sé barántás a thabhairt don Tigh nach mbeidh na múinteoirí atá i gceist faoi Altanna 8 agus 9 níos measa as ach go mbeidh siad níos fearr as?

Nuair a deireann an tAire go bhfuil na mná ag teacht isteach faoin scéim seo—mar do réir mar a luaigh sé ar Mheastachán a Roinne bhí socrú eile le bheith ann do bhan-oidí—is dócha gur ar chomhairle na mban féin agus ar achainí uathu féin atá siad ag teacht isteach ar aon dul leis na fir anseo.

Tá pointe amháin eile ann agus is pointe tábhachtach é: tá a lán seanmhúinteoirí ann agus cé go bhfuilid buíoch as an méid a rinneadh lena bpinsean d'fheabhsú, mar sin féin, chíonn siad go mbeidh buntáistí i bhfad níos fearr ag na hoidí a rachas amach ar phinsean ón chéad lá de mhí Eanair amach. Na daoine a chuaigh amach roimhe sin ní raibh siad chomh maith as, agus is dóigh liom go bhfuair a lán Teachtaí iarratais ó Chumann na Sean-Oidí, daoine a raibh an-sheirbhís tugtha acu don tír agus a raibh anmheas ag an bpobal orthu in a gceantracha féin, ag féachaint an mbeadh aon tseans go bhféadfaí an dáta a chur siar nó, mura bhféadfaí é sin a dhéanamh, an bhféadfaí aon rud a dhéanamh dóibh mar atá déanta ag an Rialtas ins na feabhsuithe a thug siad le déanaí.

Mr. O'Sullivan

One feature of the settlement with the teachers which may be said to have received universal approval and satisfaction is that which is now being implemented by this House in so far as gratuities on retirement are concerned. In that respect, I think that the Minister is deserving of our congratulations. I want, however, to point out to the Minister—I am sure he is well aware of the fact already—that there is deep concern amongst the teachers who retired prior to 1st January this year in so far as the gratuities are not applicable to them. Their concern is naturally related to the fact that during the years of their service their scales of salary were very low and the pension scheme in operation was not satisfactory.

As an illustration of that, I may say that the British Government, in 1920, fixed a scale of salaries for teachers, and the salaries which these teachers were in receipt of 27 years afterwards were no greater and, in some cases, not as good as in 1920. The retired teachers to whom these gratuities do not apply, naturally also think of the position in the Six Counties, where legislation was introduced in 1936 dealing with the salaries of teachers and, in particular, gratuities. These gratuities applied to teachers who had retired as well as to those who would retire after that date. Therefore, so far as the teachers as a whole are concerned, I think there will be general sympathy with them in this House in so far as the Minister may meet their claim because of the circumstances to which I have referred, the services they rendered to the country on a wretchedly low salary scale and also their contribution in connection with pension schemes.

Without prejudice to the general claim which is being made on behalf of the retired teachers as a whole, and their case is a very good one, I would bring to the Minister's notice the urgency of the matter in so far as it affects teachers who retired in 1949. The Minister will naturally reply that there must be always a datum line beyond which legislation may not go, that you must fix a line at some stage. But the teachers who retired in 1949 point to the fact that the Roe Commission sat in January of that year and reported in May of the same year. It can be contended that in that same year the Government accepted the principles of the Roe report, particularly so far as the question of pensions and gratuities is concerned. One paragraph in that report reads:—

"Assuming suitable salary scales, we would be prepared to agree, in principle, to granting teachers pensions on terms similar to those applicable to civil servants, subject to consideration of the extent to which past service of existing teachers should reckon for the improved superannuation benefits."

That report was presented in May, 1949, and dealt with the question of existing teachers. The teachers to whom I refer have gone out since and they are very naturally seriously concerned with the fact that the gratuity does not date back to the period to which this report refers. I presume the Minister is dealing with the question of the claims of the retired teachers as a whole. If there is any element of doubt so far as the teachers who retired in 1949 are concerned, I am sure it would be the wish of the House that they should be given the benefit of this.

Fuaireas litir ó Chumann na Múinteoirí ar Phinsin i gCathair agus i gCondae Luimnigh mar gheall ar an scéim seo. Tá eagla ar na múinteoirí seo nach bhfaighidh siad cothrom na féinne san scéim seo. B'fhéidir go bhfuair an tAire féin an litir seo ach is é an rud is fearr dom a dhéanamh ná é a léamh. Deireann an rúnaí san litir seo:—

"Owing to repeated curtailment in salary and other emoluments in the past, the pensioned teachers of to-day have a strong claim to generous treatment. Such teachers employed in schools of from 50 to 80 average had their salaries reduced from £430 to £352, capitation reduced from 10/- per unit of average attendance to 8/- per unit, and fees for Irish, mathematics, rural science and night schools completely abolished.

The changes here stated must have reduced income of such teachers by at least £100 annually, and their pension on retirement by £50. When it is remembered that this annual reduction continued for years up to 20 years in the case of some teachers, it is easy to realise that the loss in the aggregate must be staggering. Add to this a loss of £50 annually until death, and then the total cruel infliction can be understood. And this treatment meted out to a section of the community who always groaned under inadequate pay.

Notwithstanding these very serious reductions in income, rumour has it that these same victimised teachers are to be excluded from benefits of retiring gratuity promised as part of the forthcoming Superannuation Act. Should this rumour be well founded and persisted in then we pensioned teachers of to-day can only conclude that we are once again singled out for financial discrimination and treatment impregnated by ingratitude.

As this statement shows we are but asking a very small fraction of our losses, so with confidence we supplicate your active support in securing for us this instalment of justice by our inclusion in the forthcoming legislation."

Is dócha go bhfuil siad ag tagairt don Ordú seo atá ár gcomhair anois.

Do chuir an cumann seo rún go dtí na Teachtaí Dála i gContae Luimnigh agus na Teachtaí eile agus b'fhéidir go dtí an tAire féin, mar leanas:—

"That we, the members of Limerick City and County Branch of Pensioned Teachers' Association, request that the bestowal of retiring gratuity be made retrospective so as to include all pensioned teachers, irrespective of year of birth or year of retirement."

Do thug mé geallúint do na daoine seo go gcuirfinn an scéal ós comhair an Aire agus déanaim anois é.

Is féidir liom a rá leis an Teachta Ó Deirg nach mbeidh an scéal níos measa ag éinne faoi Alt a 8 ná mar a bhí aige cheana, agus go mbeidh cuid acu níos fearr as. Mar gheall ar Alt a 9, is feabhsú é ar na téarmaí a bhí ag na mná cheana faoi scéimeanna 1934-43.

It is true that this scheme is for the purpose of implementing, on the pension side of things, the offers made in September last to the teachers and arising out of the general proposals made to them at that time. Deputy M. O'Sullivan referred to the fact that these proposals come into operation only from 1st January, 1950. Deputies will recall that at the end of last year correspondence between the Irish National Teachers' Organisation and myself on the general question was circulated to Deputies. That correspondence explained the circumstances in which the Government could only agree with the introduction of these new proposals as from 1st January, 1950. Subsequent to the correspondence being circulated, representatives of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation met the Taoiseach and other members of the Government for a final head-on talk on the general questions involved, on the teachers' side on the one hand, and the Government side on the other. After fully considering all the matters put before them then, the Government explained that the general financial implications of the proposals they were offering were such that they could not introduce the proposals at an earlier date than 1st January, 1950. I personally cannot say anything more than that.

Deputy Derrig did advert to the fact that the pensioned teachers had had their conditions ameliorated to some extent under the Pensions (Increase) Act of 1949 and, to a smaller extent, under the Superannuation Act for teachers which I introduced in 1949. Certain teachers benefit to the extent of £17,000, and the general run of teachers to the extent of £118,000 a year by the proposals introduced in the amending scheme and the Pensions (Increases) Act of last year. The fact remains that when you introduce a new scheme you have to introduce it on a particular date, and the general financial circumstances were such that the Government, after very full, sympathetic and careful consideration, had to decide that they could not introduce the new scheme earlier than 1st January, 1950.

Is it not a fact that the scheme in general was based on the conditions existing in 1949, and, in view of that, has the Minister given any consideration to extending it so as to include the teachers who resigned in 1949?

The offer that was made by the Government was to introduce new scales and new provisions and they introduce these from a particular time. They were an improvement on the 1949 scale as they were an improvement on the 1948 and 1946 scales.

Is it not a fact that the Roe Commission was viewing existing conditions and the conditions of existing teachers, some of whom are not covered by the new scales, although their conditions were reviewed by that commission?

The Roe Commission made recommendations as to conditions they thought ought to exist at that time and for the future.

But some of the teachers whose conditions they reviewed do not get the benefit of these pension increases?

That is so. Having considered everything the Roe Commission report said and the general circumstances, the Government decided to introduce new scales and to make additional superannuation provision. They had to decide the date upon which these would come into operation, and, after full consideration, they decided that they could not introduce these new arrangements earlier than 1st January, 1950.

Will the Minister say, having regard to the fact that it was in the year 1949 the Roe Commission started its sittings, that it was in 1949 that commission reported and that it may be said that, in the year 1949, if the Government were then in session, so to speak, they would have approved of the principles of the Roe Commission Report, it is a natural conclusion that the scales or gratuities would apply to the people then existing in the service? In the light of the representations now made in respect of that peculiar period of 1949, would the Minister be prepared to reconsider the matter?

I have explained to the House that a very considerable amount of consideration and discussion was given to the matter. The final discussion took place between representatives of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation and a substantial representation of members of the Government, with the Taoiseach present. The pros and cons of everything relating to scales and to pensions were there considered. The information that was exchanged there was then brought to the Government and the Government took a decision. The decision the Government took was that in view of the finances involved and of the general finance position they could not introduce the new terms earlier than 1st January, 1950.

Will the Minister accept from me that, rightly or wrongly, a number of the teachers who retired in 1949 labour under a sense of injustice?

The Deputy got a good innings. He got four questions.

Question put and agreed to.