HC Deb 28 June 1920 vol 131 cc76-82

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, all existing Irish officers in the Civil Service of the Crown who are not provided for under the last-preceding Section and are at the appointed day serving as Irish officers shall, after that day, continue to hold their offices by the same tenure and upon the same terms and conditions (including conditions as to salaries and superannuation) as theretofore and shall be liable to perform the same duties as theretofore, or such duties as the Civil Service Committee established under this Act may determine to be analogous, and while performing the same or analogous duties shall receive not less salaries than they would have received if this Act had not passed:

Provided that notwithstanding the provision hereinbefore contained as to the tenure of existing Irish officers any existing Irish officer who at the time of the passing of this Act is removable from his office by His Majesty, or by the Chief Secretary, or by any person other than the Lord Lieutenant, or in any special manner, may be removed from his office after the appointed day by the Lord Lieutenant, but, in the case of the existing permanent members of the Congested Districts Board for Ireland, only by an Order of the Lord Lieutenant, which shall be laid before the House of Commons of Southern Ireland and of Northern Ireland, and if an address is presented to the Lord Lieutenant by either such House within the next subsequent forty days on which that House has sat after any such Order is laid before it praying that the Order may be annulled, the Lord Lieutenant may annul the Order, and it shall thenceforth be void.

(2) The Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1914, shall continue after the appointed day to apply to any such existing Irish officer to whom they then apply, and the service of any such officer under the Government of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland shall, for the purpose of those Acts, be deemed to be service in the permanent Civil Service of the Crown and in a public office within the meaning of the Superannuation Act, 1892:

Provided that so far as relates to the grant and ascertainment of the amount of any allowance or gratuity under those Acts as respects any such officer who at the time of his ultimate retirement is serving under the Government of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, the Civil Service Committee shall be substituted for the Treasury.

(3) The provisions as to compensation contained in the Fifth Schedule to this Act shall apply with respect to any such existing Irish officer.

(4) The superannuation and other allowances and gratuities which may become payable after the appointed day to or in respect of existing Irish officers in the Civil Service of the Crown under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1914, and any compensation payable to any such officers under the provisions of this Act, shall be paid out of moneys provided by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, but any sums so paid shall be made good by means of deductions from the Irish residuary share of reserved taxes in accordance with regulations made by the Treasury.

(5) Where any existing Irish officer in the Civil Service of the Crown to whom the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1914, do not apply is at the appointed day serving as an Irish officer in a capacity which, in accordance with a condition of his employment, qualifies him for a superannuation allowance or gratuity payable otherwise than under those Acts, that condition shall after the appointed day have effect, subject to the following modifications, that is to say, any superannuation allowance or gratuity which may become payable to the officer in accordance with that condition after the appointed day shall, if and so far as the fund out of which such allowances and gratuities are payable at the time of the passing of this Act is by reason of anything done or omitted after the passing of this Act not available for its payment, be charged upon and paid out of the Consolidated Fund of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, as the case may be, or shall be apportioned between those funds as the Joint Exchequer Board may determine, and any powers and duties of the Treasury as to the grant or ascertainment of the amount of the superannuation allowance or gratuity, or otherwise in connection with the condition, shall be exercised and performed by the Civil Service Committee.

(6) The Pensions Commutations Acts, 1871 to 1882, shall apply to any person to whom an annual allowance is granted in pursuance of the provisions of this Act relating to existing officers as they apply to a person who has retired in consequence of the abolition of his office, and any terminable annuity payable in respect of the commutation of an allowance shall be payable out of the same funds as the allowance.

Amendments made: In Sub-section (2) after the word "Ireland" ["or Northern Ireland shall,"] insert the words "or the Council of Ireland."

After the word "Ireland" ["or Northern Ireland, the Civil Service Committee"] insert the words "or the Council of Ireland."—[Sir L. Worthington-Evans.]


I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (2) to add the words Provided further that, notwithstanding any rule, regulation, or practice of the Treasury to the contrary, the Irish Insurance Commissioners shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of established civil servants under the Superannuation Acts in regard to pensions and other rights, and in calculating said pensions, such pensions shall be based on the number of years that have elapsed since the entry of the said Insurance Commissioners into any branch of the public service in a temporary or a permanent capacity. This Amendment relates to the Irish Insurance Commissioners, and the object is to insure that that Commission shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of establised Civil servants, including the right of pensions and other rights, so that they shall have, without question, all the rights under this Bill as regards compensation, and so on, which established Civil servants have. As a matter of fact, the Irish Insurance Commissioners are four in number, three of them are men and one is a woman. It is particularly in regard to her case that I bring this matter before the House, and I feel sure that this Amendment will have the support of many hon. Members, from the North of Ireland, at any rate, because the lady in question, Mrs. Dickie, has especially close relationship with the large Northern Irish friendly societies. I think that last year the Irish Insurance Commissioners were made established Civil Servants, and I understand their salaries were raised from £1,000 to £1,200 a year. With regard to the three gentlemen members of the Commission, they obtain the full pension rights of Civil servants, but the lady member, Mrs. Dickie, owing I believe entirely to the fact that she is a married woman, is in the position that she may be thrown out of her position, after this Bill is passed, by a Sinn Fein Government in Ireland without any of the pension rights which her colleagues, the male members of the Commission, have got. The Treasury is acquainted with this case, and the Chairman of the Irish National Insurance Commissioners has put before them, on many occasions, the desirability of Mrs. Dickie being placed in the same position as the other members of the Commission, but up to the present this has not been done. Quite apart from any general consideration of the treatment of women in the Civil Service, in this particular Bill, as it is passing through Parliament, she may be placed in an extremely precarious position, which no other woman member is for the moment exposed to. I do feel that the Govern- 4.0 P.M. ment may safely grant this Amendment in the interests of common justice to this lady. She has been a Civil Servant for something like over twenty years. She has, through hard work and by excellence, attained one of the highest positions in the Civil Service which any woman has attained anywhere throughout the United Kingdom, and, now that her position may be prejudiced unless the safeguards against possible injustice which apply to her male colleagues are made also to apply to her, I do ask the Government to take this opportunity of reconsidering the matter and placing the whole of the Health Insurance Commission upon the same basis.


It is quite true that there are three Insurance Commissioners, two gentlemen and one lady, but at the time of their appointment the two men received different salaries and enjoyed different privileges as to pension. This Clause continues them in that privileged position. An agitation was got up some time ago for the purpose of getting a pension for the lady member of the Commission, and, acting upon the ordinary rules, the Treasury declined the pension, but increased the salary by £200 a year in lieu of pension. My hon. and gallant Friend now seeks, not to give any new rights to the two men, but to confer, for the first time, a pension upon the third member of the Commission, although she has received a sum of £200 in consideration of the fact that she is not entitled to a pension.


When the increase of £200 per year was granted, it was specifically stated by the Treasury that it was without prejudice to her right to raise the question of the pension at any time she liked.


That is not my information; but, if my hon. and gallant Friend will bring it up on Report, I will communicate with the Treasury and verify my facts.


I do not think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman quite appreciates, at any rate, one point of my hon. and gallant Friend's case. We are snaking provision for an entirely new set of things. These permanent officials, men and women, will be under a Government which possibly may feel antagonistic to them, on grounds which would not command the approval of any section of this House, and it is not impossible that they may take advantage of their position of authority to avenge whatever grievances they may feel on the permanent Civil Service. It appears that this woman is in the public service, performing duties precisely similar to those performed by men. Under the Bill they are given a certain measure of security in respect to their pension. Owing to a consideration, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has stated and which did not appear to be a very important consideration but rather of a technical character, because she has been given £200 per year increase of salary in lieu of pension—obviously, if it were intended really to be equivalent, it differs only technically from her right to a pension—she is to be left entirely at the mercy of any jealousy or unfairness in the new Government, whereas her male colleagues are to be protected. The Government cannot seriously defend an arrangement of that kind. If we are all unanimous in thinking that it is desirable to secure the permanent officials in their pension rights, it is also desirable to secure this lady who does not differ from them in a position of equal security, although up till now she has had an increase in salary in lieu of pension.


When the right hon. and learned Gentleman obtains those statements, which he says he will examine before the Report Stage, I think he will find that the increase of salary was not in lieu of pension, but in response to a demand that there should not be gross inequality in the salaries of the members of this Commission. A great many people felt that the same work had been done by the three Commissioners, and that it was not right that two of them should be receiving a salary different from the third. It was in order to put them on an equality that the increase was given, and it was not given in lieu of pension. Secondly, even supposing it was intended to be in lieu of pension, obviously, the only way in which it could be in lieu of pension was the presumption that this lady would enjoy the extra salary for a good many years in order that she might save the equivalent of the pension before the end of her employment. She has been in the enjoyment of that increase only for some twelve or fifteen months, and it is now quite possible under the provisions of this Bill before another year elapses that she may find herself deprived of her employment, in which case the increase would have failed in its object. Therefore, I do think on all grounds that it is only right and just that this increase of salary should not be considered, and that she should be placed on the same footing as the other two members of the Commission with regard to her pension.


On a point of Order. Would it be in order to move an Amendment such as this on Report, or is it a matter which, placing a charge directly or indirectly on the taxpayer, is more properly dealt with in Committee?


I cannot say in advance what view Mr. Speaker would take. If it were merely a matter of definition it might be admissible, but if it involved a new charge, obviously it could not be done without recommittal.


In view of that ruling, I do hope that the Government will deal with the matter immediately and accept this Amendment. If they find that it will not do, then on Report they can modify it.

Sir LAMING WORTHINGTONEVANS (Minister without Portfolio):

The Government will accept my right hon. Friend's suggestion and put in these words now, or at any rate some of them, in order that the matter may be considered before the Report stage. There is one other thing that I should not like to leave unanswered. My Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) dealt with two points. He suggested that there was some intention to differentiate between the men and the woman who are Commissioners. There is no intention to differentiate in any way. His argument was addressed to possible victimisation. That is dealt with in the next Clause. This Clause does not deal with compensation for disturbance of office. It is intended to safeguard the right of pension as it at present exists. The next Clause, together with the Schedule, is intended to compensate those officers who cannot carry on under either one or other of the Irish Parliaments, and there is ample protection for those officers. There is no intention to differentiate between one class and another. If my hon. Friend will move the Amendment down to the word "rights" ["pensions and other rights"] I shall be prepared to put it into the Bill at this moment, and, if the information upon which we are acting be not correct; then to meet the position on Report.


The right hon. and learned Gentleman told us a moment ago that this lady had no pension rights. If you stop at the point where you propose we should say— shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of established civil servants under the Superannuation Act in regard to pensions and other rights"— and it would not cover this lady's case.


I will take the Amendment as it stands, and consider it before the Report Stage.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.