§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Wexford, North)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, is he aware that, under the provisions of the Constabulary Act of 1882, which provided that district inspectors who had reached the age of 60 years were to cease to be members of the force on the 1st October, 1882, and also that such inspectors should receive the maximum pension of the rank in which serving, District Inspector Gerard Hurst and others were awarded each a pension of £256 13s. 4d., though not qualified by length of service for so high a pension. Will he explain why the benefits of the statute were not extended to District Inspectors Barry, Bigly, Bonas, Connaughton. Davis, Dwyer, Gamble, Huddy, Huggins, Lowndes, M'Namara, and Wills, who, since 1st August, 1896, have been compulsorily retired on pensions below the maximum of their rank and class, instead of permitting them to serve for such periods as would qualify them for the maximum pension, or why, at least, were they not treated with the same liberality as Mr. Hurst and others? And, if he can give the 341 name of any district inspector of high character and efficiency who was able and willing to serve being compulsorily retired prior to 1st of August, 1896, on a pension less than the maximum of the rank and class he was then serving in; and, if not, will he say what caused a change in that year to the detriment of district inspectors promoted from the ranks?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Mr. Hurst was one of the officers who were retired under the provision of Section 4 of the Act of 1882, which allowed the maximum pension to officers who retired within six months after the passing of the Act, notwithstanding that they might not then have served the full number of years to so entitle them. The provision ceased to operate when the six months' period had elapsed. There is no legal provision for extending the benefits of the Section referred to to officers who retired after the six months' period. At the time of the passing of the Act of 1882 there was no limit of age fixed for the compulsory retirement of officers. This defect in the law seriously militated against the efficiency of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Hence the enactment referred to. The advantage accorded by it to officers to whom it was made suddenly applicable was quite a proper one. The officers named in the second paragraph were retired because they had attained the age limit of the Act, and their continuance in the Force was considered not to be compatible with the interests of the Service. Each of these officers served for over 40 years in the Force. As regards the third paragraph, I am not aware that there has been any change. The practice in question is in strict accordance with the spirit of the Act of 1882, and has existed since that date. It is, moreover, one which has been found necessary in the interests of the public service.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Has the right honourable Gentleman satisfied himself that no distinction is made against officers who have risen from the ranks by preventing them qualifying for the full pension which gentlemen who have not risen from the ranks receive?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I have no reason to think any such distinction is made. The Question has not been before me in that light before.