Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 2 Dec 1942

Vol. 27 No. 2

Superannuation Bill, 1942 ( Certified Money Bill )— Second and subsequent Stages.

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

The Bill deals principally with the cases of certain officers of the Ordnance Survey who were discharged from their employment during the war of 1914-1918. If these officers had joined the British Army at the time, their posts in the Ordnance Survey would have been kept open for them and the period of their military service would have reckoned for superannuation purposes. When they failed to join the British Army, they were discharged from the Ordnance Survey with the pensions or gratuities to which their service entitled them. They were later reinstated in our service and certified under the Superannuation Acts, but as their service prior to discharge had already been reckoned for pension or gratuity, it could not be reckoned again for pension under our superannuation legislation.

Power is now being taken in this Bill to reckon this earlier service for pension, appropriate credit being taken for the pensions or gratuities awarded to the officers on discharge from the British Civil Service. The provisions will apply to officers who have retired before the date of the passing of the Bill as well as to those officers who are still serving. Any pensions or gratuities granted to retired officers will be reassessed with effect from the date of their retirement.

Assistants in the Ordnance Survey are required to serve 15 years in an unestablished capacity before becoming established. Half this period may be reckoned for pension. The service rendered by the victimised Ordnance Survey officers prior to discharge did not reckon towards the qualifying period for establishment. The Bill alters this position and provides that any officers who failed to secure establishment because of the exclusion of the earlier period of service will be granted superannuation benefits as if they had been established in the normal course after their first 15 years of service.

Apart from the Ordnance Survey officers, this Bill deals with the case of an officer who retired on pension from the British Civil Service as an alternative to taking the Oath of Allegiance and who was subsequently reinstated in the Irish Civil Service and certified under the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923. The officer is in the same position as the Ordnance Survey officers and is being provided for similarly.

When the British meterological stations in Ireland were transferred to the Government in 1937, a few established officers who were serving at Valentia Observatory were transferred to the Irish Civil Service. An undertaking was given to aggregate their service prior to transfer with their subsequent service, for pension on final retirement and provision to this end has been made in the Bill. Provision has also been made in the Bill to secure that, in appropriate cases, superannuation liability shall be regarded as part of the expenses incurred by a Minister or other State authority in rendering services to an outside body. The expenses of carrying the Bill into effect will be met by moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas.

In effect, the main purpose of the Bill is to put men who were retired forcibly in the period 1914-1918 in the same position as the men who did join the British Army and to make the period during which they were out of office count for superannuation purposes. It seems rather late at this stage to be bringing in this Bill, but these men were perhaps overlooked, or perhaps there were difficulties at the time, and it is mainly due to Deputy Cosgrave's pressure on me, since I became Minister, that the Bill is now introduced. He has raised the matter several times on Estimates and on other occasions. Two years ago, I gave a promise that I would attend to the matter. Unfortunately, I have not been able to carry out that promise until now.

Sílim gur Bille riachtanach an Bille seo agus sé an truagh é nár tugadh isteach Bille den tsórt seo i bhfad roimhe seo. Na daoine atá i gceist san mBille, thugadar seirbhis anamhaith don tír seo nuair bhí an tír ag troid chun saoirse fháil, ach is truagh liom nach ndeachaidh an tAire níos fuide. Do réir már thuigim-se, tá daoine eile ann a bhí ag troid chun saoirse na tíre seo fháil agus níl aon tseirbhís pinsiuin le fáil acu—daoine a bhí ag troid i ndiaidh na bliana 1918-21 agus ba cheart féachaint chuige go bhfuighidís cothrom na Féinne sa mBille seo.

I welcome the introduction of this measure. I think it is a measure long overdue because the parties in the Ordnance Survey for whom provision is being made, although they were not prepared to give service to a foreign country, proved themselves very loyal citizens of Ireland and that is the main thing that concerns us here. I am sorry the Minister has not gone further in the measure because I understand that there are a number of other civil servants who lost their positions in the years following 1918 up to the Truce, and who, when offered reinstatement when an Irish Government came into office, did not take up office for conscientious reasons because of the imposition of the Oath of Allegiance. I would be thankful if the Minister could look into the matter and, if possible, introduce a provision in this Bill, on the Committee Stage, to deal with cases such as those referred to. There may not be many people involved, but I have it from some outside sources that although their services were recognised they have not secured the pension rights that this Bill affords to those who were in the Ordnance Survey, for which special provision is made. If the Minister makes inquiry he will find that there are, at least, some cases deserving of equal consideration to that given to those who were connected with the Ordnance Survey.

I wish to join in appreciation of the purpose and the effect of this Bill, and to support what Senator O Máille has said. I have received representations from one individual who, unfortunately, has not got establishment rights and who like many others has a grievance. Probably no legislation would be able to get over the grievances that some people have and I recognise that they would still be left with a grievance. I will put the case of the individual from whom I received representations before the Minister, and I hope that he may be able to bring it within the terms of this Bill. I join in congratulating the Minister on having rectified the position of a certain number of deserving civil servants.

In this matter I think we are pushing an open door inasmuch as the Minister already gave a promise in the Dáil to the Leader of the Opposition Party in these words:—

"This Bill will give effect to a promise I made to Deputy Cosgrave, I think, more than once, that I would look after certain people, particularly in the Ordnance Survey who, owing to their political action and political views, were claimed to be victimised."

The Minister has adopted a friendly attitude in this Bill and has fulfilled his promise to Deputy Cosgrave.

Níor bhféidir liom socrú a dhéanamh sa Bhille seo i dtaobh na ndaoine gur labhair an Seanadóir O Máille ar a son. Tá na céadta, agus bfhéidir na mílte, sa StátSheirbhís nach bhfuil, agus nach mbeidh, pinsean le fáil aca. Bille fé leith é seo a bhaineann le daoine áirithe sa tSuirbhéireacht Ordonáis agus níor bhféidir cásanna na ndaoine eile do thabhairt isteach ann.

This Bill deals with a special section of the Civil Service, those in the Ordnance Survey. Very special and urgent representations were made about them on several occasions and a definite promise was made that their cases would be examined and if possible their grievances remedied. I think this Bill remedies all the grievances these people have with regard to their pension rights, establishment and period of service reckoned for superannuation purposes. Speaking subject to correction, there are some 26,000 civil servants and hardly more than 50 per cent. of these are established. The others are unestablished and without pension rights. The amount for which this State is liable for superannuation purposes runs into many millions, and we are only reckoning in that liability those whom the law provides are subject to superannuation rights. If we added all the others Senators can imagine what our liabilities might be. Maybe there is a case to be made for many of them and that in equity they should be pensionable, but they came into the service in a variety of ways. Many of them were brought in by influence and friendships in the old days, when there was no such thing as Civil Service examinations or a local appointments board.

Anybody who had a friend who was influential enough got pitchforked into the Land Commission, the Department of Agriculture or may be the Post Office, or in a variety of other ways. All these people were transferred to us. Some of them were established and made pensionable immediately before the transfer. Many of them did not have that good fortune and are still without it. I am afraid, as far as I can reckon, the possibility is, owing to the cost, they are likely to remain so. Some did acquire establishment since this State was established, but there are difficulties with regard to their pension rights. Some were established on condition that they would not be pensionable. Of course, that does not stop them now from going further and wanting to get a pension. I suppose they cannot be blamed for that. But this Bill deals only with a specific class and arises out of a promise that was given. Of course, it adds something to our liabilities, but it is a sum that the State will be able to bear, and therefore I hope the House will adopt the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining stages now.
Bill put through Committee without amendment, and received for final consideration.
Question—"That the Bill be returned to the Dáil"—put and agreed to.