HC Deb 16 August 1911 vol 29 cc2034-9

In the application of the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1909, to a transferred officer who on his transfer is appointed to a pensionable office, or is appointed to such an office subsequently to his transfer, having since the date of his transfer served continuously in the Civil Service, the following modifications shall be made in favour of the officer:—

  1. (1) Appointment with a certificate from the Civil Service Commissioners shall not be required, notwithstanding that the appointment is not held directly from the Crown;
  2. (2) Continuous service with the company shall be treated as service in the office to which an officer is first transferred for the purpose of calculating the period of ten years' service required as a condition for entitling a Civil servant to a superannuation allowance under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1909, and the period of five years' service required as a condition for entitling a Civil servant to a gratuity under Section 2 of the Superannuation Act, 1909;
  3. (3) The conditions mentioned in the foregoing paragraph shall not apply in the case of an officer who has served continuously in the company's service from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and four, to the date of his transfer;
  4. (4) The superannuation allowance, which may be granted to an officer who would not be entitled to a superannuation allowance but for the foregoing provisions, shall be calculated at the same rate for each completed year of service in a pensionable office as that prescribed under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1909, for Civil servants who have entered the service after the passing of the Superannuation Act, 1909, and completed ten years' service in a pensionable office;
  5. 2035
  6. (5) If the officer is not a contributor to the company's pension fund or has not assigned to the Postmaster-General his share in that fund, his continuous service with the company prior to the date of his transfer up to a period not exceeding two years shall be treated as service in the office to which he is first transferred;
  7. (6) In the case of a contributor to the company's pension fund, his service during the period of contribution and, in the case of an original member of the fund, the whole of his continuous service with the company, shall, if he assigns to the Postmaster-General his share of the fund, be treated as service in the office to which he is first transferred;
  8. (7) In the case of an original member of the company's pension fund to whom a superannuation allowance is granted on or after his attaining the age of sixty years, the amount of that allowance, together with the annual value, actuarily determined, of any additional allowance granted to him under sub-section (2) of section one of the Superannuation Act, 1909, shall not be less than two-thirds of the amount which he was receiving as salary on the first day of January eighteen hundred and ninety-six, together with the amount of any additional pension purchased under the terms of the deed of trust creating the company's pension fund by means of contributions made to the fund in respect of increments of salary accruing during the years eighteen hundred and ninety-six to nineteen hundred and eleven, inclusive;

For the purposes of this section—

"A contributor to the company's pension fund" means an officer who has contributed continuously to that fund up to the date of his transfer;

Service with the company includes service with any other telephone company which has been amalgamated with or absorbed by the company or with any authority whose telephone undertaking or business has been taken over by the company;

An officer shall be deemed to assign to the Postmaster-General his share of the company's pension fund if he assigns to the Postmaster-General any share of the fund to which he may be entitled on the fund being apportioned amongst the members thereof or otherwise wound up, or, in the case of an officer who is appointed to a pensionable office after the fund is so apportioned or otherwise wound up and has not previously assigned his share, if he pays over to the Postmaster-General the amount of his share, together with compound interest at the rate of three per cent. per annum, calculated from the date of the receipt of his share.

This Bill was under discussion last Friday, when at the request of hon. Members in various quarters of the House I consented to move the postponement of Clause 5—the Clause which relates to the conditions of employment of the Telephone Company's staff transferred to the Post Office in the hope that in the interval an agreement might be reached on the outstanding difficulties and that thereby the Committee would be saved a prolonged Debate. I am happy to inform the Committee that such an agreement has been reached and that all outstanding questions are now satisfactorily settled between the Post Office and the Treasury on the one hand and the National Telephone Company's staff on the other. I, of course, am not to be understood as implying that the staff have got everything that they desired. At the same time they do not think it necessary to further press Amendments to the Bill. They are willing to accept Clause 5 in the form in which I have to move it. I should say, for the information of hon. Members that in this matter the outstanding points related to members of the company's staff who were pensionable under the company but who on transfer to the Post Office will fall into Post Office classes which are not on the establishment. Certain modifications will be made in the Post Office system to enable members of those branches of the Post Office staff to be established. As I pointed out on Friday it is impossible now to perfect the elaborate scheme which may be necessary in order to attain that end. With the sanction of the Treasury I am in a position to assure the National Telephone Company's staff that whatever arrangements may be made with regard to the Post Office organisation all those members of the company's staff who are pensionable, and who belong to the construction staff or to the class of contract officers or way-leave officers will be placed on the Post Office establishment, and those who are not pensionable will have equal chances with Post Office servants to be placed on the establishment. The solicitor's clerks if they prefer will be put into other offices in suitable cases, but they may be placed in the solicitor's department, in which case they will be unestablished, as the Post Office solicitor's clerks are unestablished. But they will receive an allowance of 5 per cent. in addition to their salaries to counterbalance the pension rights which they have under the company, but which they will not have under the Post Office. As an alternative they will be placed as clerks in other branches of the Post Office. That is an outline of the arrangement which has been arrived at, and, in consequence of that arrangement, I am able to ask the House to skip nine pages of Amendments, and to proceed to the new Clause which stands in my name, which is a redraft of the previous Clause, with a number of Amendments which previously stood in my name, and some other Amendments which have been accepted in other quarters.


Do I understand the Postmaster-General to tell us that the Construction Department in the Post Office will now, as a result of this arrangement, come upon the establishment as well as men who are to be transferred from the Telephone Company?


The National Telephone Company's staff will not be placed in a privileged position compared with the Post Office staff, and arrangements are contemplated by which a proportion of the construction staff shall be placed upon the establishment. In the proportion so established the pensionable construction hands of the National Telephone Company's staff will be included.


I desire on behalf of the staff whose case I have put before the House in the last few weeks, to thank the Postmaster-General most sincerely for the concessions he has made. He has outlined those concessions, which have done away with the necessity of our moving nine pages of Amendments. I fear a very considerable number stood in my own name. The terms which were arranged between the representatives of the staff and the Postmaster-General the day before yesterday have been embodied in an exchange of letters. I do not wish to be exigeant in any way, but I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will proceed with the very difficult subject of classification as fast as possible. The staff realises that it is a difficult matter, but they feel they can leave it with very great safety in the hands of the Postmaster-General. There is a great desire on the part of all members of the telephone staff to know exactly what their position is. At the same time, may I on behalf of the staff thank those Members of the House who have supported them.


On behalf of the telephone staff in general, and more particularly that portion of the staff which discharges the duties of the telephone service in Ireland, I desire to thank the Postmaster-General in the name of that staff for the manner in which he has approached the consideration of the outstanding questions which have been brought to such a happy termination. I have to echo the remark made by the hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) when he expressed the hope that the outstanding question of classification would be dealt with as satisfactorily as the other questions. I am sure the manner in which the Postmaster-General has approached these questions and the consideration and patience which he has exercised is a very good augury for the settlement of the question of classification. We recognise that this was largely a Treasury matter, and we think that the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Treasury, as well as the Postmaster-General, deserves the thanks of the staff, and, on their behalf, I thank him for the consideration with which they have been met.


Before this Bill is passed I should like to have a word from the Postmaster-General on the question of wayleaves.


That does not arise on the new Clause.


I understand that there are a number of the employés of the Telephone Company who are known as contract officers. Some of them are pensionable, and some are not. I wish to know whether the whole of the contract officers are included in the scope of the Bill as pensionable officers. I wish to ask also what percentage of the Post Office construction staff will become established servants and what proportion of the Telephone Company's staff will become established servants. I have been requesrted by several contract officers to get the information.


I heard the Postmaster-General state that certain employés of the Telephone Company would not be put in a preferential position as compared with those in the Post Office. May I express the hope that the members of the Solicitors' Department will not be put in a worse position than those in the telephone service?


They will not be in any way prejudiced. In answer to the hon. Member for South-East Lancashire (Mr. Tyson Wilson) I have to say that I have endeavoured to explain that the contract officers of the, company who were pensionable by the company will be put on the establishment of the Post Office. As regards the similar class in the Post Office which has not yet had its organisation fixed, the question of the percentage to become established is one that raises a large and difficult question which will take time to decide. I cannot say what percentage of the company's contract officers not we pensioned will be placed on the establishment. When they come over they will be treated just in the same way as Post Office servants, and they will have equal chances of being placed on the establishment. I have undertaken to meet the National Telephone Company's staff before the percentages are fixed and before the final organisation is worked out I will give them an opportunity of expressing their views on the question.

Question, "That the Clause be read a second time," put and agreed to.

Clause added to the Bill.

Forward to