Superannuation and Pensions Bill, 1962: Committee and Final Stages.
Section 1 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 1:
Before section 2 to insert the following new section:—
"No pension or gratuity permitted under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1963 shall be withheld or reduced except for a stated reason which shall be communicated to the person concerned and until the Minister has considered any representations made by or on behalf of this person made within one month of the communication of such stated reason."
The purpose of this amendment is to give effect to a statement made by the Minister when replying to the debate on Second Stage. I refer to column 1021 of volume 56 of the Official Report of Wednesday, 3rd July. The Minister said:
As Senators are aware, civil servants recruited in the ordinary traditional way through a selection board are entitled to a pension. The wording of the old Act may be "at the pleasure of the Minister" but, of course, we all know that these words do not count for anything and he is entitled to a pension.
I have put down this amendment because I believe the time has come to remove these archaic words "at the pleasure of the Minister". The Minister has quite definitely indicated that every civil servant recruited through the ordinary channels receives a pension. What this amendment asks is not that a pension properly due will be withheld but merely that no pension ever be either withheld or reduced without reason stated. We are all perfectly clear, I think, that such an action would never be taken except for a very good reason and, if the reason is good enough to withhold from a person "at the pleasure of the Minister" in his absolute discretion, something to which that person is entitled under the superannuation code, then surely that reason is worth putting in writing to the person and capable of standing up to his written representations to the Minister.
I am not inclined to go back over the Superannuation Acts to see what the wording may be. I am inclined rather to deal with the practice. As Senators are aware, in practice, every civil servant gets the pension to which he is entitled. There is no such thing as asking the Minister if it is his pleasure he should get it. I see no reason why we should criticise the administration by an amendment like this. We know that a civil servant, in practice, if he has reason to think he is not getting a proper pension, invariably writes to the Minister concerned, very often writes to me, and the case is, of course, investigated. If a mistake has been made—I cannot remember ever having come across a case where a mistake was made—naturally, it is put right. Those who have a grievance sometimes also write to a Deputy to complain, and Deputies get on to me. There are many ways of ventilating grievances and there is, therefore, no need to insert an amendment of this kind in this Bill.
The Minister has no objection to it. He merely thinks it is unnecessary.
We continually came up against the problem where points were raised here and Ministers brush amendments aside as unnecessary. If Ministers agree in principle in these matters, why can these things not be incorporated? If the Minister agrees in principle, and if he agrees this is in accordance with practice, could he not repeal the archaic language of the 1834 Superannuation Act now by the acceptance of an amendment such as this?
The Senator realises, of course, we could go through all the sections of this Bill and put in many things, things to which there could be no objection, but which are not necessary. I do not see why we should make amendments of that kind, if there is not some good reason for them.
The Minister indicated on Second Stage that he hopes the whole code will be consolidated in the near future.
Can we take it that such archaisms as exist and which prompted the putting down of this amendment will be dealt with?
Archaisms will go anyway, I hope. Whether this will or not, I do not know.
Does the Minister consider his own "pleasure" in this regard an archaism?
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 2 stand part of the Bill."
Am I right in understanding that subsection (2) remedies the position where the establishment of a civil servant could actually worsen his position for pension purposes?
I do not know how the Senator could make that out.
Could the Minister tell me what is the effect of subsection (2)?
Paragraph (2) deals with the case of an established civil servant who retires without completing five years' service reckonable in computing a superannuation allowance. He is not entitled to anything. Had he continued, he would qualify, but his pension would not be worsened by his being established. Where he becomes an established civil servant, he then qualifies in respect of his unestablished service, plus his years of establishment.
Is he not able to do that at present without the introduction of subsection (2)?
Once this point is clear, it remedies this particular defect; but how long has this position existed that a civil servant could actually lose in regard to pension by virtue of being established within five years of retirement? Has this been going on since the 1914 Act?
I think the change made in 1951 made all the difference here. In 1951, for the first time, unestablished service was counted for establishment as to half. Before that, you were either established or not, and that was the end of it. If you were unestablished, it counted until you became established, and then your unestablished service went by the board.
Between 1951 and 1953, there would have been cases of people who had lost in regard to pension by virtue of establishment just before retirement.
They would not have lost anything.
I understand the Minister to state that, without this section, they would have been worse off.
I think Senator Dooge is right. Until this Bill is passed, they would not have qualified, whether unestablished or established, but I do not think their position has been worsened as a result of that. Now their established and unestablished service will be taken into account and in that way they will qualify for their gratuity.
I am sorry to press this complex point. What I am concerned about is persons who would perhaps, during the years 1951 to 1963, have been left at a disadvantage. If there were a small number of cases between 1951 and 1963 of the type subsection (2) now remedies, would the Minister consider retrospection in regard to them? I think there would be a case for it. The pension would be very small in any case.
The Senator must remember this Bill brings in the principle that he is entitled to a gratuity after seven years, not 15 years. Therefore, up to this, there could be no such case. They would have had to exceed 15 years.
I should be happy if the Minister would undertake to have the matter examined and if there were any cases of hardship such as I have suggested—it may well be there would not be any—I would ask the Minister to bear them in mind in the next Superannuation Bill.
Yes; I shall look at it again.
Question put and agreed to.
Section 3 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 2:
Before subsection (6) to insert the following subsection:-
"() In every case where the Minister or the authority controlling the approved organisation refuses to agree to apply to a person the appropriate subsection of this section the Minister or the authority shall furnish such person in writing with the reason for such refusal and shall consider any representation made by or on behalf of such person within one month."
The position is that under Section 4 there is general approval for the transfer of persons from one part of the public sector to another. I do not think there is any need to go into detail about it except that the Bill says it applies to persons who are transferred or appointed to an office. I take it that it is intended to cover both those whose move from one job to another is initiated at high level and also to cover under certain circumstances those moves which are initiated by the individual himself?
The position is that there is no difficulty in regard to moves where the initiation is by the employing authority, but where the move is initiated by the person himself, there is the point that, if it is still in the public interest for the person to be transferred from job A to job B, a good case can be made for the person to be allowed to transfer completely his pensionable service. I think the Minister will admit that is reasonable in the public interest. What I seek to do in this amendment is, in the case of any individual who makes this transfer on his own initiative and applies to have Section 4 applied to him, that he can transfer his pensionable service from his first to his second job and, in cases where this is refused, the reason for the refusal should be made known to him in writing and, if necessary, his representations should be considered.
I should like to support Senator Dooge in this, but I would go a bit further by putting forward the principle that a person entitled to a pension from the State should have that pension based on his prior services to the State. That is simple justice. If in one section a person has rendered service and has been remunerated by the State, if that person should transfer to another section and receive remuneration from the State, there should be a transfer of his pensionable service.
The excuse was put forward by the Minister in the Dáil that such transfers are often for the purpose of self-interest. There may be a wider public interest. If a person is not serving the State happily in one section, it is far better that he should, of his own volition, move into a section in which he will be happier and, more important, in which he will be able to make a better contribution towards the efficient working of that State Department. Many people find themselves bottled up in certain jobs in various Departments in which they are soured and frustrated, in which they pass on their frustration to their colleagues. They may wish to opt into another section where they will be far happier, where they will be able to mesh in better with their colleagues and make a better contribution.
The public interest principle is a far more important principle than the narrow self-interest suggested by the Minister. National teachers, for example, have provided personnel for various other services under the State. Where a teacher is working in a school and has no real vocation for teaching, he is only blighting everything before him; whereas if he moves into another section, he might make an excellent contribution. That national teachers who move into Departments of State should have their entire service to the State cancelled out does not seem to be justice. We have, for example, in the Houses of the Oireachtas, a number of people who were serving national teachers and who came here as translators. Their pensionable service has been cancelled out, although they are doing work of an educational nature and bringing an expert knowledge of grammar and vocabulary into the translation processes of Leinster House. As a matter of fact, the former Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, when he sought a group to standardise Irish spelling and grammar, selected the translators in the Oireachtas for the task, and the outcome of their work is being used in the schools throughout the country. The Minister was probably right when he said in the Dáil that theirs was a borderline case, and I hope he will examine it.
Also in relation to national teachers, we find they are discriminated against as compared with vocational teachers. Vocational teachers do carry their service into State Departments. I would appeal to the Minister to establish the broad principle that a person's pension for service rendered to the State should be based upon a person's aggregate service to the State and that no part of that service to the State should be cancelled out for the purpose of pension.
I am very thankful to Senator Brosnahan because he has dealt with the point I wanted to bring to the Minister's notice. The number of people involved in this case is very small. On the Committee Stage of the Bill in the Dáil, the Minister said that where a person transferred himself, the rule he has applied is that if it is done for the good of the country, we should count the service but where it is done for the good of the individual, we should not count it.
I should think the Minister would find it difficult to decide whether a person who changed from one job to another did it for the good of the country or for his own personal gain. Generally when a person changes from one job to another, there is a personal side to it. He must see an opportunity of improvement. He will never transfer where he will have worse conditions than he had in the previous job.
The Minister also said on Second Stage that one of the fundamental principles underlying the Superannuation Acts is that pension should be related to length of service, so that if one person serves the State for the whole of his career and another for half, the latter's pension should be half that of the former. I agree with every single word the Minister has stated there but why does he select just one group of people? These people to whom we are referring may not have been civil servants in the strict sense but they did serve the State and are serving the State. These people changed their job when it was difficult to get translators in Leinster House. It is a highly skilled job and although they had ten, 12 or 14 years' previous service to the State, they find that service will not count for pension purposes.
The number of people involved is small and the Minister could easily include them. We should be very grateful if he would do that and he would be doing only justice. If a vocational teacher changes his job, no question is asked, whether it is to improve himself or not. If a teacher becomes an inspector, no question is asked as to whether it was for his own personal good or for the good of the country. He will get full recognition for his service as a national teacher or as a vocational teacher. However, a national teacher who changes from one service to another will be penalised and some sort of judgement must be passed on him as to whether he did it for his own personal gain or for the good of the country.
A person coming from the teaching profession to the Civil Service will have degrees. If he leaves the teaching profession within five years of coming out of training, he must refund every penny spent on him, because a teacher is subsidised while in training. I would appeal to the Minister to include this small number of people who are really experts at their job.
I wish to support my colleagues here in their appeal to the Minister to reconsider his attitude on this matter of transfers. Like them, I am interested in the position of teachers and I think there is no justification at all for not giving recognition to any one form of State service when a person goes into another form of State service. I do not subscribe at all to the principle—if it is a principle; personally, I feel it is the negation of a principle — or rule of thumb procedure laid down in the Dáil of judging a transfer on the basis of its being initiated for the good of the individual or for the good of the country.
Who is to say whether any transfer is for the good of the country or not? Who will say, for example, that if a medical doctor becomes a Minister for Finance, his transfer from one service to another was for the benefit of the country? The criterion that is imposed there is altogether too vague. The fact that, on transfer to the Civil Service, service as a teacher is not recognised for pension purposes is indefensible. If a civil servant who found himself developing a vocation for teaching after a number of years decided to enter the teaching profession, I suppose the position would be the same—that has not been cleared up—that his pensionable service in the Civil Service would not be recognised for the purposes of teachings.
There is the position of a teacher who was a secondary teacher and who became a national school inspector. His service as a teacher would be recognised for purposes of pension, had he continued to be an inspector, because his service as a teacher is supposed to have fitted him better for inspectorial rank. However, he reverted to teaching for family reasons after five or six years and now his service as an inspector is not to be recognised or is not recognised at the moment; I hope it will be. I would subscribe to the view that Senator Brosnahan has expressed, that such transfers of service should be automatic. There should be no quibbling about it. If service to the State in one capacity is pensionable service, then if the person transfers to another Department of State similarly pensionable, the two should count as one.
I wish to support the case made by my colleagues. It is essential we should facilitate mobility within the various services. It is about the best means there is of ensuring that new ideas percolate around and to leave the position that superannuation rights can be an obstacle in the way of a person going from one organisation to another organisation is wrong. I think the amendment is a very reasonable one. In fact, I would have gone further. I should have thought that subsection (b) of Section 2 should be deleted altogether and that we should at least aim in future at reaching a position of maximum mobility.
In supporting this amendment, I am conscious of the fact that the university position in this country offers the ridiculous situation that in the three federal colleges of one university, pension rights cannot be transferred within the system. This is the worst form of it. While this is a step in the right direction. I do not think the Minister should take two steps where one would suffice. He should rid himself completely of the necessity for intervening in these cases and let the pension go with the man. Certainly he should accept this very moderate amendment proposed by Senator Dooge.
This amendment implies that a person should be allowed pensionable service, unless there is good reason to the contrary. Section 4 has a different intention altogether. Section 4 enables the transfer of pensionable service only where it can be shown that the transfer will have beneficial results, apart from its benefits to the person concerned. I think that if Senators consider this section, they will see that it would be unfair to ask the organisation to which a person transfers to agree to pay higher superannuation, unless they give prior consent. That organisation might, if it were recruiting, get some from outside and some from the State service who would be equally good and there is no reason why they should be asked to bear a higher superannuation charge on a person who came from another Department. In the same way, the Department, or organisation where he was working before should also give prior consent to the transfer if they were going to bear that part of his pension that would relate to the years spent with them.
Section 4 as it stands is correct. We are putting a burden on organisations and Government Departments regarding superannuation where they believe it to be in the public interest that a certain transfer should take place but I do not think we should put the obligation on them to pay higher costs of superannuation if a person transfers from one place to another without their prior consent.
I do not think it would be fair to make these organisations or Departments answer questions about why they allow superannuation to a man. If a person is about to transfer, he should put the question to the organisation he is with and ask them if they would be prepared to give him the pension rights he would ask in these circumstances. He should go also to the organisation to which he is going and ask them also if they are prepared to come under Section 4 which would involve them in heavier costs in respect of him than in respect of a person coming from elsewhere. He should, however, get the consent of both parties before the transfer takes place.
The Bill refers only to the future. It is not retrospective in its application and it does not therefore refer to some of the cases mentioned here by Senators.
Neither in the amendment, nor in moving it, did I in any way suggest that these transfers by individual initiative should take place without the consent of the authorities. It says only that where authorities refuse the transfer of personal service, then the reason for such refusal should be given.
What the Minister has said about consent and the arguments he has adduced as to why there should be consent by both authorities are quite beside the question put in the amendment. We could argue for a long time on whether the Minister is right on this, but I accept the position that in his first movement towards transfers in the public service, the Minister is moving cautiously. I think it a pity that he is not going a bit further. In Britain, this was initiated as long ago as 1949 and in the report of the Commission which later considered the matter, the Priestly Commission, the policy was given that such consent was not withheld without good reason. That is the British Treasury attitude, that consent should not be withheld without good reason. If there were good reasons, the person who was refused should be entitled to be told: "No; we did not consent to your transfer." There could be distinctions because the organisation to which the person was going to transfer could say: "We refuse to agree to transfer your pensionable rights because it is not our policy to agree to a transfer regarding the particular grade in which you have applied for a job." That would be a refusal for one type of reason, or they could refuse on the ground that the employment of this person over and above other people who were available without transfer of pensionable rights would not be justified in the public interest. There are classes of reasons and the person transferring has the right to know the reason.
I do not suggest that refusals would be given arbitrarily. I do not suggest that they would be given for other than a good reason, but I do not think the good reason should be stated and that is all the amendment asks.
Perhaps they have gone further in Britain than we have. I shall accept the Senator's statement on that. We are going only so far as to give organisations power to transfer people without worsening their superannuation position. The only thing they have to ask is the reason they agree to the transfer, not the reason that they will not agree. We are going so far now and may go the other bit of the road at another time.
Would it not meet the terms of the amendment if they should answer that it was not in the public interest?
That is what they would say, I suppose.
In the case I stated of a person transferred from one Department of State to another, it looks a much simpler matter to give them pension rights for that period. What is the real objection to giving them pension rights for the period they spent, with the Department of Education, of Finance, of Agriculture, or any other?
If the Senator is talking about civil servants transferring from one Department to another, they are covered. This does not refer to that because it is already covered. This deals with a transfer from the Civil Service to a State body or vice versa, or to a local authority or vice versa. That is the type of transfer with which we are dealing.
Again, I would ask the Minister to indicate, as he has taken one short step in the Bill, whether he will consider the point raised in this amendment, when taking his next step, and we hope that it will not be very long before he does. I feel that many people who might be involved in transfers within the public sector would feel that there was something arbitrary in the nature of the refusal, unless a proper reason were given. I would ask the Minister to consider that.
I am sure it will be considered.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 3:
In subsection (7) (a), page 7, line 4, to delete "authority controlling the organisation" and substitute " `appropriate authority' as defined in subsection (4) or subsection (6) of this section."
This amendment is concerned with the amendment of superannuation schemes of organisations in order to facilitate transfers which are authorised by the Bill. The position is that in any of the authorities concerned once we come to consider a superannuation scheme we have two authorities. We have the authority controlling the organisation, which in the case of a company would be the board of directors, but we also have in certain cases the authority controlling the superannuation fund. In many cases those authorities are distinct.
The Minister indicated on the Second Stage that he was introducing these provisions to apply to a large number of organisations. He said he did not know what organisations it might apply to in the future and for that reason he did not want to designate the actual classes of organisation. I want to raise the point in this amendment as to which is the proper authority to be given power of amending a superannuation scheme. Should it be the authority controlling the organisation—the board of directors as it stands in the Bill — or the management board of the superannuation fund which in a typical case would probably consist of representatives of the board and of the employees?
The position is that, under the Bill, the organisation controlling the authority, that is, the board, has an absolute right of veto over every exchange that could possibly take place. Therefore, the actual efficiency of the operation of the board would be safeguarded by this absolute veto; but in the case of the superannuation fund and the superannuation scheme the defence of these funds is involved when a transfer takes place because then there will be a drain on those funds in one organisation or the other. In this case it is only proper that it should be the organisation controlling the fund which will have some say as to the manner in which the amendment should be made.
In the Bill, power is given either to the authority controlling the organisation by itself, or to the authority where it can amend the scheme with the consent of other bodies. There might be an organisation in which the authority controlling the organisation, the board of directors, had no power to amend the superannuation scheme in any respect. If we had such an organisation and it was designated under this Bill, the Bill, as drafted, would not cover the case properly at all. I think that primarily it should be a body which represents both the board and the employees and which at present is responsible for the custody of the superannuation funds and their general running. As it is, the board has its own defence in being able to veto each individual transfer, and the management committee of the superannuation fund should defend its scheme and its funds.
I cannot contradict the Senator in his views on the law as it stands, but I am advised that it is not desirable that the law should be in the way he has stated. The authority here is the authority that rules the organisation, like the board of an organisation or the Minister in the case of a Department and so on. In these State bodies the authority, as laid down here, in all cases prepares the superannuation scheme. There is no doubt about that. In some cases it administers it, and in some cases there is another authority administering the scheme, sometimes, as the Senator says, composed of a joint body as the board and the employees, sometimes, perhaps, constituted in another way, and sometimes run by an outside body such as an insurance company or an insurance broker. I am advised that the section, as it stands, would be sufficient to enable the authority concerned to make a change in the scheme. In all cases they initiate the scheme and produce it, whomever they may have given it to to administer. I think this is all right as it is. I am advised that that is so and I would ask the Senator, therefore, to allow it to go through.
What I am worried about is that what we do in the Bill and what the Minister does under it can cost public money. It can cost the authority money, but it can also involve money for the superannuation fund. If there is a superannuation fund in existence and the position is that there are a large number of transfers under this Bill, then the authority of the fund could find an increased charge upon it.
This, then, would affect the superannuation position of all the existing employees, because in the case of this particular fund whether it was done under an insurance company with actuarial advice or not they could find that the actual contributions they have to pay might be affected if the movement were all in one direction in regard to that particular organisation. I am rather anxious about the position of existing employees who could be affected if there were a substantial one-way movement in regard to a particular organisation.
There may be something in what the Senator says about the fund being affected, but if we are thinking of the organisation which the individual person leaves and to which he has paid in contributions for the first ten years, he is not going to go out on pension for another 30 years. The fund is going to have no trouble there because it will hold the money for 30 years to come. As far as we know, in the case of those bodies we have examined—we have not examined them all—they are covered.
I take it that all those organisations that would be designated in the first series of regulations have been examined?
Yes, and I do not think any difficulty will arise with regard to them.
If any difficulty arises in the future, it could be dealt with then.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 4:
To add the following subsection:-
"( ) Every regulation made by the Minister under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the regulation is passed by either such House within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder."
This amendment is to the usual 21-day annulment of regulations section, and I have inserted it here because I think the regulations made under this section are things that might properly come before the Houses of the Oireachtas. This question of regulations to be made in regard to transfers within the public sector is just as important as the regulations with regard to redundancy under Section 6 of this Bill.
Under Section 4 there will be some rather simple regulations, for instance, naming the bodies to which this Bill will apply, which will be a simple matter, perhaps, important but with nothing very mysterious about it. There will also be regulations some of which may be somewhat involved, for instance, cases of transfer of a public servant who transfers to an approved body and, again, from that to another approved body. Where two transfers take place, it will create a good lot of trouble and calculations. The regulations dealing with that will be somewhat involved and take some time to draft. I must say that if this had been put to me at an earlier stage, I would certainly see no objection whatever to laying the regulations on the Table of both Houses of the Oireachtas, but I think it would be a pity to hold the Bill up until October for this reason. I do, however, give an undertaking that the regulations will be laid in the Library.
And would the Minister undertake to bring this in in the next Bill?
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: That Section 4 stand part of the Bill.
Subsection (1) deals with the designation of organisations and there are several questions I should like to ask the Minister in relation to it. He said he does not wish to put into a Schedule the organisations designated since the list might be incomplete. Are the Defence Forces to be a designated organisation, are the various branches of the teaching profession to be designated organisations, are such bodies as the Irish Management Institute to be designated organisations?
I cannot really answer that question. I could name some organisations who are, because we have their applications for transfers. Some of them have gone through, such as Bord na Móna and the ESB, but if you ask me about the Army, all I can say is I have not seen an application for a transfer so far. It can only be decided when the application comes along, but I can say I see no objection to it.
That is sufficient. We had difficulty during the Second Stage in regard to the Ordnance Survey when it was suggested this was a matter for the Minister for Defence rather than the Minister for Finance. These difficulties would be obviated if the Army were a designated organisation.
I do not think Ordnance Survey would be appropriate under the provisions of this Bill in any event. I am told that is being looked after by the Army.
What about the different branches of the teaching profession?
I cannot see any objection to that. If a teacher is required by one of the State bodies as the most desirable person they could get for a job and they come to me and say: "I cannot get this person unless his pension is fixed," I would have no objection.
Is the position that he awaits an application before designation?
Some people may say they do not require to be in the Schedule at all, that they do not intend to have anything to do with it.
Only until one of the employing authorities refer the question to the Minister and then a designation would be made.
Could the Minister look into the cases where transfers have already taken place?
The Senator is going back to the point made about teachers being transferred from that profession to the Museum.
The Bill is not retrospective in effect. In this section we are not dealing with the past. We do deal with certain categories entitled to retrospection in Section 5. This is not one of them.
Can a designation of an organisation be revoked under the Bill?
You certainly can revoke by regulation but I cannot see any reason why we would revoke. I think there is no harm in leaving it as it is.
I do not think that goes quite far enough. Unless there is a clear indication that it would not ever be revoked, the position would be somewhat unfair to people who might transfer from one organisation to another. When people transfer into an organisation they should at least have some guarantee that that organisation is not only within the ambit of the Bill but will remain so, so that they could transfer at a later date.
The Senator need not have any fears that we would remove an organisation. Take it that a person transfers from Bord na Móna to the ESB. The ESB have said: "That is the person we want," and Bord na Móna says: "He is a very good man as far as we are concerned and we will not stand in his way." The usual negotiations go on and they make an agreement. Bord na Móna, having lost the services of that man after ten years will say to the ESB: "We will fix up with you when you come to pension him."
That is not my wording. Supposing Bord na Móna and the ESB are both designated bodies. Then take the position of somebody who wanted to make a career in a particular direction. Once they are both designated organisations, the person can choose which organisation to enter in the knowledge that he could be transferred from one to the other. This would be present in his mind when choosing his career. There are many spheres in which these organisations overlap, but if one of the organisations seek to be designated, then I think this exception of the individual at a point in his career would be rather unfair.
The Senator will understand that designating these organisations does not compel the ESB to accept a man from Bord na Móna even though the person might be suitable.
Would an application for a transfer in the ordinary way to the Civil Service entail the resignation of an Army officer? I am speaking strictly of the Army at the moment. He would have to resign from the Army?
I cannot see how he could be associated with any of the other organisations.
The Senator is right because the Army has its own code of pensions. Take an engineer in the Army. He might get a very much better job elsewhere but the Army code of pensions would mean he would lose his pension. There is no way out of it.
I was concerned mainly with an officer applying for a job in the Civil Service. He would have to resign because his system of service is somewhat different from that obtaining in the Civil Service.
Still on subsection (1), before the designation of any of the organisations, will there be consultation with the staff associations of the organisations concerned?
In making these regulations, I would be concerned only with applications made by the various organisations. As a matter of course, these organisations would consult their staff associations. The organisations might, of course, first apply for designation and consult with their staff associations afterwards.
It would be advisable and helpful for the Minister to consult with the staff associations not only in the Civil Service but the other bodies who might be inclined to become designated. I would strongly urge him to do it.
I suppose there would be views for and against designation within the staff associations.
Under subsection (9), I think the Minister would have no difficulty through regulation in making provision for multiple service where a person served for a second time with a local authority or in the Civil Service. This is not covered in the subsection. It would certainly need to be covered by regulation.
That could be covered by what I earlier called a complex regulation.
On Section 4 generally, the Minister indicated that it was not intended that this section would be retrospective. On the other hand, Section 5 is retrospective in certain cases. Are these the only cases? Are there any other retrospective cases other than those dealt with in Section 5?
Is the Minister perfectly satisfied that no one has been victimised because of a lack of this legislation during the past few years?
Any one whose transfer was an approved transfer is covered.
Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 5 stand part of the Bill."
Persons who were transferred to approved employment under the 1914 Act are covered by subsection (3). What was the criterion for allowing people to transfer to approved employment under the 1914 Act? Was it the same criterion which the Minister seeks to apply now, namely, that the initiative came from the employing authority?
I think it would be true to say the same criterion would apply: where the transfer was for the benefit of the Department and where the Department from which he came had no objection to the transfer.
There were no other cases?
Will transfers under the 1914 Act cease on the passing of this Bill, or will there be two categories; those transferring under the Bill and those transferring with frozen pensions under the 1914 Act?
It may be necessary to continue transfers under the 1914 Act.
What will distinguish the two cases? Are there to be two different types of public interest cases involved?
One reason for the continuation of the 1914 Act is the matter of transfers to international organisations. As the Senator is aware, there have been frequent transfers to foreign organisations from the Civil Service, for a limited period. That is the only place this will apply in future.
After the passing of this Bill?
Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 6 stand part of the Bill."
Under subsection (2), the position is that a person cannot get more added years than the difference between his age and 65 years. While I appreciate that the Minister wishes to go slowly in this first move in introducing this new redundancy scheme, I think this is a little too harsh. The Minister should recognise that when a person retires with 20 or more years' service, there is not only the question of the pension which he would get if he carried on until he was 65 years, but there is also the fact that he is forced to give up work. It is generally realised nowadays that forcing a man to give up work before the actual date of his retirement may be rather damaging to him. There is provision in Section 7 for special severance allowances. I should like to know if that would cover such cases as this? Is any allowance made for the handicap imposed on a person who has to stop work before his retirement age?
No. Naturally, he gets the years he has served.
I am referring to the person who is retired because of redundancy. If he is retired at 62 years, he would not get credit for the years between 62 and 65. The Minister is giving him a pension, but he is making no allowance for the fact that between the age at which he is retired and 65 years, he is getting pension instead of pay. At that age, a person finds it difficult to get supplementary employment, and he has to be very careful about the employment he finds. It is now recognised that nearly always it is better for a person to be working between the ages of 60 and 65 years. It may do a man more harm than good to release him from work at that age, and there is no allowance for that in any section in the Bill.
I do not know if this is relevant on this section. I referred to Army personnel who went into the service after the emergency and were allowed four years' incremental service. Not many people are involved, but they are very anxious to know if that incremental service will be added to their service for pension purposes. Most of them will come out at a maximum age of 65 with only about 15 years' service. I wonder is it possible for that incremental service to be added for pension purposes?
As the Senator is aware, all these questions of Army pensions are covered by the Army pensions code. The Senator would want to raise that matter with the Minister for Defence when he comes in with another Bill.
I was not speaking to the Bill; I was speaking to the Minister, Sir.
I should like to raise a few points in regard to the provision for added years for late entry to professional posts. Am I interpreting the Minister correctly in saying this is purely a recruitment device?
There is no intention other than recruitment?
The Departments concerned have been making representations to me for some time that they were finding it hard to get professional people. One of the points made by their representatives is that it is impossible to qualify for full pension. The group that I am most familiar with are the medical men. A doctor is about 24 years of age when he is qualified and he must have had seven years experience before getting into the Department of Health. He is 30 before he gets there so that he cannot get a full pension. That condition militated against recruitment and it is to remedy that complaint that we are putting in this amendment. It is really to help recruitment that we are doing it.
I would like the Minister to recognise that if we are doing this as a recruitment device we are going out of line with Section 4 of the Bill. Under that Section if it is in the public interest there is power to transfer officials from organisations like Bord na Móna to the civil service. The position is that the most valuable people to the public service and the people we should try to get in there are those who have experience abroad. The Minister may say that this is, in effect, being done because the years of experience are allowed under this Bill but then the matter should be considered as being in the public interest rather than as a recruitment device. If recruitment became easier might the Minister not then drop this thing?
It is not the intention to drop it. It could not be done. We found when we had agreed to this provision that we could not ignore the men already there. A person coming in under this Bill will have seven years added for pensionable service and he finds himself sitting beside a man who was recruited three years ago. That man would be in a worse position than the man newly coming in and in order to placate them we said we would give them half of their service.
I am glad to see that principle seems to be getting into the matter rather than expediency and I hope that in future the Minister will recognise that there is a sound principle in this matter. Another point is the question of the number of years of professional experience required. My experience when sitting on professional boards for the civil service commissioners or the local appointments commissioners was that there was a certain number of years specified by the Commissioners for a particular job but when the applicants came before the board the person who was appointed always had experience well in excess of the number of years specified. The position was that a person who came in with the minimum experience specified would probably not be put on the qualified list at all. I would suggest to the Minister that he might consult with the professional organisations as well as with the civil service and local appointments commissioners before he designates the number of years of professional service required.
I have to go back again to the plea that this is a recruiting provision. If the advertisement says that the applicants must have seven years experience and you get applications from persons with 15 years experience the job must be a good one.
Would the Minister not consult professional organisations on this matter?
I am almost certain that the Departments concerned did discuss this matter with the professional bodies.
I am a member of the Council of Civil Engineers of Ireland and it did not come to my knowledge.
I discovered on reading my notes that the Minister is an older soldier than I thought him. The Minister referred me to the Minister for Defence when I mentioned soldiers who got incremental service when joining the Civil Service but I would like to point out that they have finished with the Minister for Defence when they become civil servants and come under the baton of the Minister for Finance. They have been granted four years incremental service and they will be retired at the age of 65, or whatever the appropriate age is, lacking those four years of service towards pension. Would the Minister consider those men for full pension when they reach the appropriate age and grant them the incremental period that they got from him originally.
I should like to point out that Section 6 is not retrospective.
I am referring to the future.
The section refers to professionals and I do not think the men the Senator has in mind would come under it. This only refers to the recruitment of professional personnel.
The profession of arms does not count.
With regard to subsections (11) and (12) in connection with the recruitment to professional posts the Minister indicated his experiences of ten years ago in the Department of Health. I gather it is the intention to apply this to the basic recruitment grades and to all grades from that up. Is that correct?
Under the Act, I am empowered to give it to all but the intention is to give it to all where the years of experience are specified.
What constitutes a professional position?
We will have to define that.
You defined it quickly enough for me.
This is a serious question. Where is the line going to be drawn? Surely the Minister has considered this to some extent?
I do not know if I am answering the question exactly but in many of these professions the advertisement states that so many years' experience are required. That number of years would be added to the pension. If there is an advertisement for a medical post with seven years' experience required these seven years would be added to the pensionable service.
Take the case of a draughtsman of particular skill, say a naval draughtsman, and there is a particular number of years of experience required.
That number could be added.
So it will not be confined to professions entry to which is controlled by a university degree or membership of professional organisations?
I think I will have to get somebody to define a profession.
There is a further point on Section 6 and this is the reduction of added years in certain cases with regard to computation. There is one point I should like to raise, that is, in regard to subsection (3) (b) where added years cannot be added both at entry to a job and at redundancy so far as to effect more than ten years. Whose fault is it that a position is considered important enough for added years to be given on entry and then some years later it is found to be a redundant position? I think this is an error on the Minister's part and on the part of the employing organisation. The person recruited on this basis should not be penalised in this regard. An entrant who comes in with added years should not be robbed of his right to redundancy years. It may be something which is completely unforeseeable that results in the redundancy of this particular post. If the post is important enough for a special recruitment incentive it is rather unfair that this person should not be allowed the added years.
Will the Senator report progress?
Is there any likelihood that we could get an indication of how long it will take to finish? It is desirable to finish it.
I do not anticipate that it will last beyond 10.30 p.m.
What time are we meeting tomorrow?
Sit until 10.30 p.m. and meet at 3 p.m. tomorrow
Is it clear that we will sit until 10.30 p.m. or sit until we finish?
And meet at 3 o'clock tomorrow.
Perhaps I should repeat the point. There is a bar in Section 6 against a person getting more than ten years of added years but the added years are made up of added years at entry and added years to redundancy. I put the point that it is unfair that a person who is recruited with the promise of added years at the beginning should be penalised in regard to redundancy which occurs in the future and which we must assume is not his fault.
The position is as stated by the Senator. It was thought inadvisable that a person coming in with added years, if redundancy should occur, should be entitled to the added years for redundancy as well as the added years in his professional recruitment. It must be understood, however, that the person is not bound to go on redundancy. He will be bound to accept another post so that he is not thrown out on the road. He will have the option of taking another post or going out.
This in itself is a penalty. It may be not as harsh a penalty. Am I right in thinking that under subsection (8) of Section 6 a person who gets professional years cannot retire at 60, whereas a person who gets none can?
He can retire at 60, yes.
What then is the import of the subsection?
He does not have to go at 60 but if he does, he is penalised. The added years are reduced. He must serve until 65 in order to get them. The ordinary civil servant who comes in at 20 and goes out at 60 gets a pension on the number of years served. He may have a full pension because he may have served 40 years. In this case, it is thought that if added years are given, he should at least serve to 65 years.
Under subsection (10) the total period on which a pension can be paid is restricted to 40 years. Would not this limit affect any lump sum which might be payable?
Forty years qualifies for a maximum pension and while up to 40 years may reckon for a lump sum, that is the rule in all these things.
The position is that even if the first unadjusted calculation would give 45 years and therefore a full lump sum, he is only allowed to get forty-fiftieths. Is that the effect?
The Senator is right: it does not count for a lump sum.
So a person who is retired on redundancy could lose five years in regard to the calculation for a lump sum?
Why is there this provision? Why is he not allowed to get the full lump sum?
It is all worked out. If it was possible to get some compensation going out before his time, it would be giving him too much.
A final point on Section 6. I understand the redundancy offer was made to the main class involved on 21st February and that acceptances had to be in by 31st March. I understand there has been at least one death since and that in this case the person who died accepted the offer of retirement on redundancy. Would it be possible to deal with this case or does the fact that the Bill has been delayed and not passed up to now mean that nothing will be paid in this case?
I am afraid the Bill can apply only when it is passed and signed. It cannot apply to a case where a death has taken place.
The position as I understand it is that this scheme was worked out a long time ago. I think legislative delay has held up the matter. I would ask the Minister to consider this particular position.
Here was a man who had, before his death, accepted the offer that was made. He did so within the time the Minister asked for it to be done—I would ask the Minister to see if any ex gratia payment could possibly be made in this case. It is an isolated instance. It does not recur. The Minister will agree that it is very hard, in this case, that the Bill, in passage of legislation, should affect an individual's dependants who have been left without the breadwinner. They would be in a better position if the Bill had passed before 31st March.
The Bill was passed to compensate people who retired before the normal time and will apply only when it is passed. It would be unreasonable to try to make it apply to people who died between the time the Bill was agreed, as it were, and passed because these unfortunate people did not suffer as a result of the suggestion about retirement on redundancy. Therefore, the Bill could not apply.
Question put and agreed to
Section 7 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 8 stand part of the Bill."
The general question of an automatic correlation between pensions and the cost of living does not arise on this Bill. There is a very strong case to be made for a person who is retired on redundancy that the pension should be adjusted to the cost of living or in regard to any increase in grading which might occur following his retirement. The Minister intends to give such person the pension he would get if he remained in the Civil Service until 65 years of age. As I read the Bill, he will get the pension at the time he is retired due to redundancy which he would get if he served to the age of 65. Surely, where a person retires to facilitate the proper operation of a Government Department, any increase in his grade, salary or in pension should be allowed. Take one person who retires now due to redundancy and another of exactly the same age who remains on. If there is a cost of living adjustment in between, then the man who remains on until 65 gets the benefit of that adjustment but the man who retired on redundancy does not. There is a case to be made here over and above the general adjustment of pensions. I urge the Minister to bear it in mind when dealing with these matters in future.
Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 9 stand part of the Bill."
There are a number of sections, from Sections 9 to 21, that deal with particular cases. Have any other cases been put forward similar to the case in Sections 9 to 21 for inclusion which were actually rejected?
I cannot recollect any similar case of an organisation or a category. There were cases of individuals which we could not cover.
The Minister is satisfied with regard to organisations?
Were there any individual cases?
There were at least two or three that I can recollect that were not fully covered. They had some pension, of course.
Teastaíonn uaim ceist a chur ar an Aire i dtaobh oifigigh An Choimisiúin Bhéaloideasa. Cén stádas atá acu anois agus conas tá an scéal acu maidir le pinsin?
It is laid down that part of the service of those in the Folklore Commission will count for pension. I do not think I could go into it fully in all these cases about the number of years that count but, generally speaking, in all these cases they are regarded as unestablished to a certain point and as established from another point.
An bhfuil siad bunaithe anois mar oifigigh Stáit?
They are not yet established but it will be done.
Question put and agreed to.
Section 10 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 11 stand part of the Bill."
I should like to congratulate Senator Dooge on the immense amount of information he has in connection with this Bill. The explanatory memorandum dealing with Section 11 is clear enough to me but there are certain clauses in the section itself which I should like to have explained. The section applies to veterinary officers who were engaged through local authorities in Dublin, Limerick and Cork and who had service which was not available to the State at the time. These officers would be paid entirely by the local authority but the money was refunded by the funds of the Oireachtas so that actually they were practically wholetime established officers of the Civil Service.
The conditions of service of those men who were transferred to the Civil Service, established, are actually the same as those applying for unestablished servants. Half the period in respect of which they operated through the local authorities is to be recognised for pension purposes. It is just the same as the Civil Service unestablished officers are getting. Phrases such as "if the Minister in his discretion so directs and to such extent and subject to such conditions as he decides, be reckoned as unestablished service", are a bit different from the simple statement in the explanatory memorandum submitted to us.
The Minister says these officers are getting the same conditions as if they were unestablished in the Civil Service during the period they were working under local authorities. Is there any particular reason why there should be these provisions? Are there any restrictions applied to unestablished men? That phrase would indicate that the Minister might have some restriction on what they would have if they were unestablished in the Civil Service the whole time?
As Senator Dooge pointed out, this is described as the Superannuation and Pensions Bill, 1962 and we are now well into 1963. Subsection (2) of Section 11 applies to a person who is alive at the date of the passing of the Act, so that if a person—I think Senator Dooge referred to such a person a while ago—were alive at the introduction of this Bill and died in the meantime he will be debarred from any consideration? For this section to apply to any of the persons included in it, they must be alive—they may have retired already or retire in the future —at the date of the passing of the Act. If such a person dies before the passing of the Act which is now two years on the tapis, there is no redress? His dependants cannot get any consideration?
Further, paragraph (a) says: "The direction shall have effect as from such date before such passing as the Minister appoints." Does that restrict the position of these officials transferred from local authorities? They were permanent and wholetime in the local authorities and transferred to the State when the State had a Department in which they could work. If these phrases mean any restriction I should like to have them explained by the Minister.
What Senator Dooge might refer to as archaic phrases came into this clause because there was a difficulty which I think we have now largely surmounted. We have now reached a conclusion on the matter and I do not think the Senator need have any fear. At one period these men were actually working for the Department but were employed by the local authority and it was hard to make a distinction. Therefore, the archaic phrases were put in. The intention is to take them as established from the time they were taken into the Department—about 1936—and that will give them good pensions. The period during which they were with the local authority will be regarded as unestablished service and they will get half that. As this agreement was made with these men some time ago, this is retrospective to some extent and the men who have retired will get the benefit of it.
The Minister has been sitting here since 3 p.m.——
Several pleas have been put to him from various parts of the House and he has patiently borne the brunt of the work, I think we should pay tribute to his ability——
The Minister has been here from 3 p.m. until this hour of night——
The Senator may speak again on the Fifth Stage.
Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 12 stand part of the Bill."
I cannot find the appropriate sections in the Bill and I crave the Minister's indulgence in this matter. I am speaking mainly of ex-Army personnel identified with the Civil Service. I hope the Minister will not look at the section of the Bill until he has answered my question. Certain ex-soldiers qualified for and are now in posts in the Civil Service. They were officers; they were entitled to pensions on leaving the Army. Would the Minister explore and if possible remedy the position in which at present their limited Army pensions are being withheld while they hold Civil Service posts? I do not want to be sentimental but they are soldiers who have given service and I think it is a great pity that the pensions of these officers— there are only a few of them—should be withheld in these circumstances.
Question put and agreed to.
Sections 13 to 27, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 28 stand part of the Bill."
What is the reason for the use of the particular figure, one-fortyeighth of the pensionable salary, in regard to the Industrial Development Authority?
It is a departure from the usual fraction, the idea being that the person who is recruited to this post is likely to be middle-aged or approaching middle-age. Therefore, you could not apply one-eightieth as you do in the Civil Service. We give a better fraction on account of age.
There is no difficulty in recruiting men at this particular age?
There is no lump sum on retirement in these cases either.
May I ask if the Minister came to any conclusion in the case I raised in respect of a member of the Industrial Development Authority who died?
Yes. I find that when the ex-Senator that Senator Miss Davidson has in mind died, his widow got a lump sum at least as good as, if not better than, is being provided here.
It represented his salary for four months and a fraction, which was very small.
I think it was better than that.
No. He had £2,500; she got £1,000.
Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 29 stand part of the Bill."
I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating the Minister on bringing within the scope of the Pensions Acts an old IRA man from my county. He was one of the few in Galway who went out in 1916 and did his bit, thereby depriving himself of the opportunity of equipping himself later to earn a reasonable livelihood. He became a member of the Lower House and held his seat for some years. Through circumstances beyond his control, he did not remain long enough there to come within the scope of the original scheme. Through this Bill, he will now qualify for something. He is one of those who should not be forgotten by the country and I am glad he is being remembered now in this Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Section 30 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 31 stand part of the Bill."
On this section, I should like to ask the Minister about the arrangements for district medical officers who have been compulsorily retired at very short notice. We all have a great deal of sympathy with them and we welcome this section in this Bill, but I wonder is the provision adequate. I ask merely to get an assurance from the Minister. The provision at the top of the scale looks very good; if a man retires without any notice at all, he gets an additional 50 per cent. If, however, there is six years' notice, that dwindles to ten per cent. That seems to me to be inadequate in view of that very short notice. Six years is not a period within which a man could make provision for pension. The average dispensary doctor might have a pension of, perhaps, £600 a year for a full period of service; an additional 50 per cent of that would be £300. Ten per cent would be only £60. That is a big difference. If the Minister says he has gone into the matter and found that, in all the circumstances, this is a fair allowance, I shall be prepared to accept that, but, on the face of it, it does not look like that. I should have thought that a ten-year notice scaled down by five per cent per year from 50 per cent to, say, ten per cent, or even five per cent, of the ordinary allowance would be more equitable.
As far as my information goes, the representatives of the doctors concerned were satisfied, as satisfied as people like that usually are. That is all I can say. Anyway, they were agreed terms. These extra terms were given in the case of doctors who were over 70 and who would have to retire almost within a year, or two, or three, on very short notice. It must be remembered, too, that the county manager can add up to ten years. These added years are also being given in the case of those who had to go out at rather short notice, say, within ten years.
Question put and agreed to.
Sections 32 to 36, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."
There are just a few brief remarks I should like to make before the Bill passes. As a first step and as an earnest of what he can do with a limited amount of money, the Minister is to be commended on this measure. On the Second Stage, we expressed disappointment that he could not do more, but he has, I think, initiated in this Bill some policies which will be of permanent benefit. So long as it is recognised that this is but a first step and, so long as it is recognised that the second step must not be too long delayed, we accept this measure.
I must say the Minister seems to have some rather quaint ideas about intervals of time. In the course of the Second Stage, the Minister mentioned that the recognition of half the period of unestablished service for pension purposes had evolved only very recently. The actual year is 1951 and I should have to think the Minister uses periods like this as his time scale. The Minister also said that Section 4—a section we all approve—was something first raised when he was Minister for Health. I think he will agree that is a good few years ago, too.
I urge the Minister to look on this merely as first step and to ensure that the second step will not be unduly delayed. This is not a matter of forgetting all about superannuation for a few years. It is a matter of carrying on from here. I sincerely hope too many years will not pass before the Minister brings in another Superannuation Bill.
Finally, I should like to say that I am in hearty agreement with what Senator Ryan said earlier; we are all grateful to the Minister for his patience and the good humour with which he has borne a heavy day here. I am particularly grateful to him in that he bore the many inquiries I put to him with such fortitude. If, in endeavouring to disentangle the intricacies of the superannuation code, I have been responsible for unduly harassing him, then I am sorry.
I should like to associate myself with what Senator Dooge has just said. I should also like the Minister to reply to the point I made. Why are these officers' pensions stopped because they are working in the Civil Service? If the Minister answers that question, then I shall be even more grateful than Senator Dooge.
These men are paid out of the public purse and I suggest this matter might more properly be raised tomorrow on the Appropriation Bill.
I should have preferred the Minister to answer me in his mellow moments tonight.
Question put and agreed to.
The Seanad adjourned at 10.40 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 25th July, 1963.