HC Deb 20 March 1946 vol 420 cc1957-62

  1. (1)If in consequence of any alteration in the arrangements for discharging the functions of a county council relating to education, being an alteration attributable to the coming into force of the principal Act, any person who was, immediately before the commencement of Part II of that Act, an officer employed by that council suffers, at any time after the commencement of the said Part- II, direct pecuniary loss by reason of the determination of his appointment or the diminution of his emoluments, he shall, unless provision for his compensation for that loss is made by or under any other enactment for the time being in force, be entitled to receive compensation from the county council under this section.
  2. (2)For the purposes of any claim for compensation under this section, the provisions of Subsections (2) and (3) of Section one hundred and fifty of the local Government Act,1933, shall have effect as if—
    1. (a)any such alteration as aforesaid had been effected by virtue of an order made by the Minister of Health under Part VI of the said Act of 1933 and coming into operation upon the date of the commencement of Part II of the principal Act; and
    2. (b)the expression "existing officer" in these Subsections, meant any person who, immediately before the said date, was an officer employed by the council of a county in connection with any functions exercisable by that council under any enactment repealed by the principal Act.
  3. (3)For the purposes of the determination and payment of compensation under this Section, the provisions of the Fourth Schedule to the Local Government Act, 1933, shall have effect subject to the following modifications, that is to say—
    1. (a) references therein to the Minister shall be construed as references to the Minister of Education, and sub-paragraph (1) of para- 1958 graph thereof shall have effect as if after the word "prescribed "there were inserted the words" by the Minister of Education ";
    2. (b)references therein to a scheme or order shall be construed as references to the principal Act; and
    3. (c)any period during which a person has been engaged in war service within the meaning of the Local Government Staffs (War Service) Act, 1939, shall be reckoned for the purposes of the said Schedule as a period of service in his office, and where any such period is so reckoned, his emoluments during that period shall, for the purposes of sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 4of the said Schedule, be deemed to be such as he would have received if he had not been engaged in war service.
  4. (4) Without prejudice to the general effect of the requirement that this Act shall be construed as one with the principal Act, this Section shall be deemed to form part of the principal Act—
    1. (a)for the purposes of paragraph (6) of the last preceding Subsection; and
    2. (b)for the purpose of construing any reference to "the special Act" in the Compensation of Displaced Officers (War Service) Act,1945.— [Miss Wilkinson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Miss Wilkinson

I beg to move, "That the Clause be. read a Second time."

This new Clause meets the case raised by the hon. Member for the Park division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden). The existing provisions of Section 98 of the principal Act are confined, to two types of compensation. First arc the cases where compensation is required because of direct pecuniary loss suffered by an officer in consequence of the sweeping away of the Part III Authority's powers by which he may be employed; second are the cases where teachers are to be compensated under Subsection (2) by reason of an alteration in the nature of their school or otherwise. The principal Act, we found, did not provide for compensation for county officers who suffered loss through the setting up of Divisional Executives and the delegation of powers to them. The new Clause meets the case of those officers, and in view of that explanation I hope the Committee will agree to the Clause.

Mr. Basil Nield (City of Chester)

The general purpose of the Clause, which is to provide compensation for officers who suffer loss as a result of our new arrangements, will, I think, appeal to all hon. Members. If we so legislate that a loss is caused, we must further provide for compensation, but there are two or three rather technical legal points which I think ought to be raised before the matter is finally left. The right hon. Lady has told the Committee what is intended in regard to the word "officer," but I would point out that there is no definition of that word in the new Clause, in the Bill, or in the principal Act, and I am wondering whether it applies to teachers. The Committee will notice that the caption to this Clause reads: '' Compensation for certain officers of county councils," but as I have pointed out, there is no definition of what is meant by "officer." The only assistance I can find in trying to define the word is in Section 150 of the Local Government Act, of 1933, where it is stated: The expression" office ' means any place, situation, or employment and includes the office of superintendent-registrar … and the office of teacher in a public elementary school maintained but not provided by a local education authority, and the expression ' officer has a corresponding meaning. That is the only assistance I can find, and it includes the teacher at the sort of school mentioned. Perhaps the right hon. Lady will say whether it is intended that teachers should be brought within this compensation scheme or not, and if so, I think it will be necessary to define the word "officer "in the new Clause. As we know, there is in the Compensation of Displaced Officers (War Service) Act of 1945 a special scheme for the compensation of teachers specifically named— teachers who have abandoned their profession for war service and who are later prevented from returning to it by the operation of the new educational arrangements. This new plan does not deal with war service, but with pecuniary loss as a result of the new scheme, and there may be some difficulty in the assessment of compensation for those officers—who, I hope, will be defined—for these reasons. The new Clause suggests that those who are to be compensated are those who suffer direct pecuniary loss, but there is a qualification that they are not to be compensated twice. In other words, if a compensation scheme is provided by some' other enactment, no compensation is payable under this scheme.

There are some difficulties which present themselves to my mind in this matter. Several problems may arise; for example, if an officer has taken the precaution of insuring against loss of employment, presumably that would not bar him from compensation, because he would have paid his premiums, but there may be some instances of a contract providing for compensation in the event of loss of employment. If I am wrong the right hon. Lady will correct me, for she knows so much more about these matters from the point of view of teachers' and officers' contracts, but I am wondering whether it would not be safer to insert in the new Clause a provision that compensation shall be paid "unless provision is made by contract or under any other enactment," in order to make the position amply clear. I speak solely for myself, of course, but I welcome, in particular, that part of this new Clause which indicates that where an officer is to have compensation and the question of his length of service is to be taken into account, then such war service as he has given shall be counted in as part of his service. I am sure hon. Members will think that is an eminently fair and proper provision to make. I hope I have made the points clearly that I desired to make, and if the right hon. Lady or the Parliamentary Secretary can find it possible to direct attention to the two specific points I have raised, perhaps the Committee will find that useful.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Burden (Sheffield, Park)

When this Bill was upstairs the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) generously called the attention of the right hon. Lady to the two Amendments which were on the Order Paper in my name but which, unfortunately, could not be moved. I want to express my appreciation to the right hon. Gentleman for the generous help he gave on that occasion. I should also like to express my appreciation to the right hon. Lady for putting down this new Clause. I take it that it meets the specific cases, the Lancashire cases, which were raised and have given rise to the need for these Amendments. My pleasure and thanks are tempered only by a measure of regret that the second Amendment, which is in some way related, has, unfortunately, not received the support of the right hon. Lady. I have put down an Amendment on the Order Paper, but I believe there will be a difficulty about it. The point was brought out in the discussion on the displaced officers' war service, but it does leave some very real difficulties for the people concerned. I rise only to express Our appreciation to the right hon. Lady for putting down this new Clause and to ask her to give the same sympathetic consideration to the other Amendment on the Order Paper.

Mr.Rhys Davies (Westhoughton)

I was intrigued by the reference which the hon. Member for the Park division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden) made about Lancashire. As a Lancashire man myself I may, perhaps, say a word. I am interested in this new Clause because the Minister of Education might, in her reply, give the Committee some guidance which would help us on other Bills dealing with compensation for displaced employees. What she does in this Clause may provide a guide for us in much more important Bills which concern this form of compensation. The first point I should like to put to her is this. Will compensation be based on monthly payments or will it be by way of a lump sum? There are, of course, many forms of compensation for displaced officials. I will give the Committee one, which I hope will not be followed in any case. I know several small local authorities which amalgamated. Parliament in its wisdom made a provision that some of the officials displaced by the amalgamation must receive a pension so long as they. were out of employment, provided that the pension would end when they secured similar employment elsewhere. They never tried to secure employment; they went into business on their own account instead. I am all in favour of compensation for displaced officials, and I trust it will be on a generous scale. I repeat that I should like this point to be answered—whether there is to be a lump sum or whether the compensation is to be paid by way of monthly payments?

Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)

I also should like to thank the right hon. Lady for moving this new Clause, which meets the point of the hon. Member for the Park division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden). The hon. Member has always rendered great service to the cause of education, particularly in this respect. I am sure we are all very much obliged for the Clause being moved. I have no further observations to make, except to say that I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary, if he replies, will pay some attention to the point raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Nield). I hope, too, that the point raised by the hon. Member for the Park division of Sheffield will be met in some mysterious way, that is to say the one which has not so far been met in any way.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Hardman)

The first principle from which we start is that where loss has been caused there must be compensation. That is only fair. But I am advised that in the Local Government Act, 1933, the term "officer" includes servants and is, therefore, an all embracing term. Teachers are already provided for as local government servants. All the points that have been raised, I am advised, are covered by the Local Government Act, 1933. Some days ago, on looking through the Debate that took place on the main Act of 1944, I noticed that in Committee and in the House these points had been dealt with at very great length, and that they had been thoroughly investigated. From those Debates it seemed apparent, as I am now advised, that the Local Government Act did cover the cases that have been raised.

In regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for the Park division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden) the second Amendment to which he so obliquely referred, has been ruled out of Order by the Chair. On the question raised by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) whether payment of compensation shall be made by lump sum and how it is to be based, it depends upon the interpretation put upon the cases in the Local Government Act. I do not think that in reply I can do anything further than say that it is perfectly true that the instances that have arisen in Lancashire are mainly the basis for this proposed Amendment. We feel that all the points raised by Members on both sides of the Committee are covered by the Local Government Act, and the definition of an officer in the Local Government Act means a servant in any capacity.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.