Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 13 Dec 1951

Vol. 128 No. 7

Committee on Finance. - Vote 71—Increases in Remuneration.

I move:—

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £3,683,000 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1952, for Increases in Remuneration of Civil Servants, Members of the Garda Síochána and of the Defence Forces, and of Teachers.

The amount of this Estimate which is ascribable to increases in remuneration to the Civil Service is £1,875,000. This represents the cost during the present financial year of implementing, on the one hand, the awards made by the Civil Service Arbitration Board which was set up last year and, on the other hand, certain settlements made by our predecessors through conciliation. These awards and settlements were made during the trial year of the scheme, which ended on 31st March, 1951.

By far the greater portion of the sum required for the Civil Service remuneration is due to the award made by the Civil Service Arbitration Board in May, 1951, on the claim for a general increase in Civil Service pay arising out of the increase in the cost of living. As I indicated in the House last June, the cost of this award, together with the concurrent settlement of the claims of the higher Civil Servants, is estimated at £1,395,000 annually. In view of the fact that retrospective payment is being made to 15th January, a further sum of £290,000 is necessary to meet the charge which must be met during this current year.

The amount of the Supplementary Estimate, which represents awards and settlements under the Civil Service conciliation and arbitration machinery, apart from the general revision of Civil Service pay, is £190,000.

The other Civil Service arbitration awards—there were only two—were the award on a claim for steeper increments for Post Office manipulative classes and the award on a salary claim made on behalf of forestry inspectors in the Land Commission. The first-mentioned of these awards amounts approximately to £25,000 a year.

Among the principal conciliation settlements I should mention the large-scale reorganisation of the Post Office engineering classes, estimated to cost £48,000 in the year, and the settlement of a salary claim by officers of the Customs and Excise Branch, estimated to cost £34,840—approximately, of course—together with a settlement of a salary claim from the preventive grades in the revenue service, which will cost £21,600, also approximately.

Arising out of the Report of the Civil Service Arbitration Board, it was decided that a revision of pay and allowances of the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces should be settled on the basis of the arbitration findings in the case of the Civil Service. I stated last June that the upward revision of pay and allowances of these groups would have to be provided for and, accordingly, in the Supplementary Estimate provision is made for an increased amount of £399,000 to cover the increases granted, with effect as from 15th January, 1951, in the pay and allowances of the members of the Garda Síochána.

The Supplementary Estimate also includes provision to the extent of £339,000 to cover the increases granted, similarly with effect as from 15th January, to officers, N.C.O.s, and men of the Defence Forces, including the First Line Reserve, the F.C.A. and Sluagh Mara. With certain minor exceptions, designed to remove anomalies, the increases granted to the officers of the Defence Forces were calculated on the same basis as the increases granted to civil servants.

The provision for increased remuneration to teachers includes the cost in the present financial year of increases in the salaries and allowances of national teachers payable under the terms of an agreement recorded in July last by the National Teachers' Conciliation Council, which had considered and examined the claim for increased remuneration made by national teachers. Provision is also made in the Estimate for the additional contribution payable towards the cost of the increases in remuneration of vocational teachers which were granted on the same terms as the increases allowed to civil servants, and these likewise became effective as from the 15th January last.

Provision is also made for increased remuneration to meet the claim which was made by the secondary teachers. This claim has now been satisfactorily dealt with.

I should like to say that the total cost to the State of the increases in remuneration granted to national and vocational teachers will not, for various reasons, mature in the current financial year. In the next few years the cost to the State of the increases granted to these teachers will be of the order of £1,000,000 a year.

The Minister appears to have lost his melodious voice since he went to Strasbourg and for that reason I could not follow too clearly what he said, he spoke in such a low tone.

There are some things I would like to have on the records of the House in view of what was previously said by the Minister, especially on the occasion of his historic speech on the 18th July last. I would like to know when the Civil Service Arbitration Board's Report was received by him or by the Government, and also the date——

I did not catch what the Deputy said—I am very sorry.

I am sure the Minister will willingly give me the date on which the arbitration report was received by him or by the appropriate Minister or Government, also the date upon which the Government decided to accept the terms of the award. I do not want to go into it at any length. The Minister did assert in the House that his predecessor, Deputy McGilligan, deliberately decided to refuse to make any provision for this amount when he was framing his Budget in May last. I do not see how any Minister for Finance, even Deputy MacEntee, if he was Minister for Finance at the time, could have made any provision in the Budget of this year seeing that the award was not received by the Government before the Budget was prepared. Would the Minister please give me the dates I have asked for? I am sure he has them at his fingertips and that he will give us the information.

I advise Deputy Davin not to arouse me if he wants the House to adjourn before 12 because I would open a very wide field on this Supplementary Estimate. The position is the report was dated 24th May, 1951, but it was well known to my predecessor that the arbitration board had been set up weeks before and that the claim was to be heard. It was known what the claims of the Civil Service were and would amount to. I assume, when the then Minister for Health and the Taoiseach, Deputy Costello, issued a circular letter to the health authorities on the 4th May, 1951, the date let me point out on which the forthcoming dissolution was announced, and when the Minister for Local Government issued a similar letter to local authorities dealing with local authority employees and when the Minister for Social Welfare issued a circular letter on the 7th May to the social welfare authorities, that they did not do all this without previous consultation with the Minister for Finance. They were acting, I assume, as a Government with collective responsibility and with a co-ordinated policy and surely the Minister for Finance did not agree that these actions should be taken without being informed, first, as to what they were likely to cost and what were the probable reactions on the Civil Service and on the claim which was being made by the civil servants for increased remuneration.

Therefore, I think that the Minister for Finance could have certainly made a very close estimate as to what was likely to emerge from the arbitration proceedings which were about to commence and for which the date had been fixed before his Budget speech was made here in the House. As a man of great intelligence, I think he could not have been unaware of what the reactions on the arbitration award would have been of these circulars. Surely he would have assumed, as in fact, turned out to be the case, that the civil servants would base their claim largely upon the action which had already been taken by certain members of the Government in regard to remuneration and that they would enforce that point of view on the arbitrator and that the arbitrator would have to give very great weight to it.

On the basis, therefore, of what was likely to be the consequence of the action which had been taken by his colleagues, the Minister for Finance was, in my view, in a position to make a very close estimate indeed as to what additional sum would require to be provided in this year's Budget to meet the cost of the arbitration award. That is all I want to say on the matter at this stage. I would not have mentioned it if Deputy Davin had not raised it because, as I said, I understood it had been the desire of the House not to prolong the business unduly this evening. I was as modest and placatory as I possibly could have been.

I asked the Minister for two dates. Would he inform us as to the date on which it was decided to accept the award?

Very early after this Government came into office. I just want to make that clear. I have not the precise date. The previous Government decided on the 8th June to accept the award. I announced on the 20th June that the Government would accept the award, but there was no formal Government decision. We were merely aware of the decision which had been taken by our predecessors and decided to honour it. I should say that, in view of the fact that the arbitration board had been set up, we would have accepted the award in any event even if the matter had been left to our independent decision. That does not necessarily mean that it would apply in the case of a new arbitration. It is quite clear from the amount of this Estimate that the power to impose charges on the revenue of this State should be very jealously safeguarded by this House and by the Government responsible to it.

Vote put and agreed to.