§ Resolution reported, "That it is expedient to amend the Superannuation Acts and to make further provision, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament for the grant of compassionate gratuities to the dependants of persons dying whilst in an employment to which Section four of the Superannuation Act, 1887, applies; for the grant of superannuation and other allowances and gratuities to persons who have forfeited their right thereto by reason of transfer to non-pensionable service; and for the increase of the amount of pension, superannuation, and other allowances and gratuities payable in cases to which Section two of the Superannuation Act, 1909, and Section seven of the Superannuation Act, 1887, apply."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I wish to know from the Government something about this Resolution and the Bill which is to be 810 founded upon it. I gather from a Notice of Motion on the Paper it is proposed that the several stages of the Superannuation Bill may be taken immediately, notwithstanding the practice of the House relating to the interval between the various stages of such a Bill. Up to the present moment I have not been able to get a copy of the Bill, and therefore I have not the slightest idea what is in it. I think it is a little bit strong, not only to ask the House to agree to this Resolution, but also to pass through its various stages a Bill which nobody has seen. I hope that some explanation will be given at this stage of the Resolution and of the proposals to be made. As regards the Resolution, I would point out that the amount required has not been put down. I dare say there may be exceptional reasons for that, but I would remind the House of the excellent plan which has grown up of putting in some limit to the amount.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
My hon. Friend says it was done as the result of a representation which he made. If he will excuse me for saying so, it was done on my representation. My real reason for rising now is to ask for some information about the Resolution, and also about the Bill which is to follow.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Montagu)
The subject matter of the Resolution is stated in its terms, but I did not wish to exhaust my right to speak until I knew what were the views of hon. Members in regard to the Resolution on which I shall introduce the Bill. If, after my explanation, the hon. Member (Mr. Rawlinson) would prefer to carefully investigate the provisions of the Bill before we take the several stages, then, of course, the Government would not persist in asking the House to proceed with all the stages this afternoon, but I do hope we will be allowed to get the First and Second Readings to-day, even if the hon. Member does not let us have all the stages. The Bill is not definitely of the class of Emergency Bills, that is to say, it was proposed to introduce a Bill something of this nature before the War broke out. It was then decided not 811 to introduce the Bill this Session, because the Session was protracted. Certain parts of the Bill were re-examined after the War broke out, and it was thought that the House would consider it a non-controversial measure. That being so, it was considered that as its provisions would be advantageous in respect of certain persons, the House might be asked to consent to the measure. There are six operative Clauses. The first Clause enables a gratuity earned by a Civil servant to be paid to his representatives after death without waiting for probate, provided that the gratuity is not over £100. That can already be done with regard to pensions, but it cannot be done with regard to gratuities, and it does seem a hard case that a small gratuity payable to relatives in distress should not be paid without delay. Therefore, the first Clause enables the machinery for payments of gratuities to be analogous to that for the payment of pensions.
The second Clause deals with what the House will agree is a very hard case. A Civil servant who retires is entitled to a certain pension or gratuity. If the Civil servant dies in the service, his relatives are entitled to a certain different gratuity. There is one stage in the life of a Civil servant when the amount of the gratuity which his representatives will receive, if he dies in the service, is less than the amount which they will receive if he has resigned before his death. It is proposed to do away with that anomaly and hardship by making the gratuity no less at any time, whether he dies in the service or resigns previously. The fourth Clause does the same for the unestablished Civil servant as is done for the established Civil servant. Under the Superannuation Acts, as they at present exist, after fifteen years of service an unestablished Civil servant who retires gets a gratuity; if he dies in the Service he gets nothing. It has often been pointed out to the House that this is a very great hardship. It has been pointed out by the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks) and the Noble Lord the Member for the Hitchin Division (Lord Robert Cecil), and Clause 3 will make the gratuity equal whether the servant dies in the service or dies out 812 of it at the end of a particular term of service. Clause 4 deals with another hardship. If a man, having completed a term of service in the Civil Service which would entitle him to a gratuity or pension is lent to a foreign or Colonial Government, and never returns to the Civil Service again he is unable to get the gratuity or pension earned in the Civil Service of this country. I have in my mind a case where a man has been lent to the Egyptian Government. He has reached the age of sixty-two and he cannot get the pension earned in this country before he was lent to the Egyptian Government. Clause 5 deals with the only recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service on the general question of superannuation. It deals with the power which different Departments now have of making appointments, without the control of the Civil Service Commissioners, of what are called professional people who have special qualifications for particular posts. The Royal Commission reported that it had often been alleged that this led to jobs. A majority of the Royal Commission stigmatised the system as undesirable. That was the only general recommendation which was made, and we thought legislation on the subject might be included in this Bill. It does away with the power of heads of Departments to make such appointments without reference to the Civil Service Commissioners, and it also does away with the practice of professional people of this kind, appointed without the consent of the Civil Service Commissioners, having added to their pensions what are called added years. So long ago as 1888 the Ridley Commission reported that if you wish to engage professional people, you ought to give them the certain prospect of a sufficient salary rather than the ultimate and uncertain prospect of an enhanced pension.
The only other Clause is one which deals with pensions and gratuities of Civil Servants who, after they have received their pensions, become pauper lunatics. I need not bother the House with details of the way in which this anomaly works. Under the law, as it at present stands, a deduction is made of 4s. a week. It was to replace the Parliamentary Grants which were made towards the maintenance of 813 pauper lunatics, but it has led to a great number of hardships as regards the dependants of those unfortunate people, and it does not mean any diminution in the contributions to the local authorities in respect of the maintenance of the lunatics. The hon. Member (Mr. Rawlinson) will see how difficult it is to make an exact estimate of the cost, or, at all events, a sufficiently accurate estimate to be put into the Resolution, but if he will allow me to furnish him with a verbal estimate of the cost of these Clauses, I would say that Clauses 1 and 5 mean no charge. Clause 2 which equalises the death gratuities for established servants will cost about £6,000. Clause 3, which equalises the death gratuities for unestablished servants, will cost about £4,000. Clause 4, which deals with servants who are lent to foreign and Colonial Governments, will cost, so far as I can gather, about £1,000 a year, and Clause 6 about £4,000, making a total of about £15,000.
§ Colonel YATE
May I ask the hon. Gentleman if he will take the opportunity presented by this Bill to do away with the great injustice of the commutation of pensions having to be calculated on a 5 per cent. basis instead of a 3½ per cent. basis? Will there be a legislative remedy provided for that in the present Bill?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have listened with a great deal of interest to the statement of the hon. Gentleman. We are now debating the Financial Resolution, and we are shortly to be asked to suspend the customary Rules which guard the procedure of this House, and to pass the whole of the stages of the Bill founded upon this Resolution. I want to know why we should violate the whole of the principles which are usually followed by the House in order to pass this Bill in the way proposed. I believe I am correct in saying that there has been no action of this sort since 1872, when a Bill was passed in the same way owing to a great national emergency.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member cannot go into the provisions of the Bill in a discussion on the Resolution. His comments on the Bill will be in order later on.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am quite aware that the hon. Gentleman was out of order during the whole of his speech, because he dealt with the Bill, and you have often ruled that on a Resolution we must not discuss the Bill, but that such discussion must be deferred until the Bill is before us; but as you allowed the hon. Gentleman to go on, and as we are now proceeding in a most extraordinary fashion generally, I presume that, as you have allowed him to make a speech which was out of order, perhaps it would be more convenient if we discussed the Bill at this moment, and I venture most humbly to suggest that as the hon. Gentleman was allowed to make his speech, naturally, according to the custom of the House, I can reply to that speech which was out of order.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Baronet that the Bill is founded on the Resolution, and if the Resolution were not passed, the Bill could not be proceeded with, and I would venture to suggest to the hon. Baronet that he should confine himself to the Resolution.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
If you think it better for me to make my remarks to the hon. Member on the next Motion, I shall be quite willing to do so.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
With regard to the propriety of dealing with it in the manner proposed by the next Motion, we had better dispose of that when the time comes. We are now on the Resolution, and the hon. Baronet can proceed to deal with that now.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
My real objection is to taking this Motion, and the following Motion immediately afterwards. This Bill is an ordinary Departmental Bill, and has nothing to do with any emergency of any kind. There is not a single thing in the Bill which has anything to do with the War. It does not even provide that pensions should be paid to people who suffer as the result of the War. The understanding arrived at was that measures of this sort, brought in and passed in this way, should have something to say to the conditions produced by the War.
§ Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill to amend the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1909, ordered to be brought in by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Montagu. Presented accordingly, read the first time, and ordered to be printed. [Bill 405.]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the several stages of the Superannuation Bill may be taken immediately, notwithstanding the practice of the House relating to the interval between the various stages of such a Bill."—[The Prime Minister.]
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I had hoped that the hon. Baronet would see his way to expedite the discussion of this Bill, as it is one which would assist materially a number of people who will suffer, but after the protest which he has made, I will not persist if he thinks that this Motion should not be proceeded with.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I should prefer that this Motion should not be made. We are in this difficulty. We have not got the Bill. I inquired for it in the Vote Office over an hour ago, and the Bill was not in print. We can only form an opinion of what this Bill contains from the very clear explanation of the hon. Gentleman. There is nothing in his statement which shows that the Bill is connected, directly, or indirectly, with the War. That being the case I must raise a protest against the Government attempting to bring forward in this manner Departmental or other Bills, however good they may be. We have given the Government great facility in passing measures, and advantage must not be taken of that facility to pass small Bills, however good they may be, by this procedure, and I therefore must object to this Bill proceeding.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The Bill is now available, and I hope that after reading it the hon. Baronet will reconsider his decision. Meantime I will put the Resolution down for to-morrow, when the Second Reading will be taken.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.