HC Deb 07 December 1950 vol 482 cc635-52
Mr. Manningham-Buller

I beg to move, in page 7, line 20, to leave out from "serving," to the first "in" in line 21.

I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee to consider at the same time the further Amendments in the names of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) and myself: In line 22, after second "Act," insert: or after beginning so to serve, whichever is the later date. In line 32, after "Act," insert: in the case of persons already serving, and within three months after the date of appointment in the case of persons hereafter appointed. These Amendments are all designed to give to persons who in future are appointed to any of the offices specified in the First Schedule the same right of election as the present holders of those offices may have. If the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) were now to be elevated to the county court bench, he would have that right of election, but if that were to happen after the Bill becomes an Act, he would then be saddled with the consequences of this Measure, The same would apply to any other legal Members of the House; appointed in the future, they would be bound by the provisions of the Bill, no doubt with the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes), making his voice heard at every possible opportunity in objections to the emoluments relating to the offices. I move the Amendment, not, I fear, with any hope of its being accepted, but to establish our position on the matter, because we think it is right that these officers, whoever they may be, appointed in future, should have the same right of election as the present holders of these offices now have.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said, in dealing with previous Amendments, that the Bill has met with approval from a great number of judicial officers. Of course, I accept that. We consider that the Bill has good in it—I have never said anything to the contrary—but we wish to improve it where we can. One way in which it can be improved is by giving this right of election. We are not sure that we can leave the Bill as it is now with the right of election limited only to the present holders of these offices.

Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)

Would not that upset the whole actuarial basis of the scheme?

Mr. Manningham-Buller

The hon. and learned Member really must be more careful not to deprive his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General of the only argument which he has for resisting the Amendment. That, if I may say so, is a most unfriendly action, and I am very surprised that the hon. and learned Member should have done it. I know that the actuarial argument will be put forward, but that argument is never a convincing argument for doing something which appears to be wrong. On this occasion it is the shield of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He has been lurking behind it on every occasion when he could use it, and I am sure he will do so again now.

The Attorney-General

I am obliged to the hon. and learned Member, who has put his point very shortly and very clearly, and has recognised from the beginning that there is an overwhelming answer to the Amendment which makes it utterly impossible for the Government to accept it. If in a pension scheme of this kind we gave the beneficiaries the option of coming in or staying out, making contributions or not making them, we could not possibly make in advance any actuarial calculations as to the cost of the scheme as a whole to the State or to the beneficiaries, or as to the amount which the beneficiaries ought to contribute.

What we would have to do in such a case would be what we have had to do in the case of women—to have an ad hoc contribution based on the circumstances, not of each potential pensioner, but of each potential beneficiary who wanted to come into the scheme. In other words, we would have to devise a kind of system of State life insurance, with widows' insurance and children's pensions ad hoc in the case of each individual pensioner. That, of course, would result in the contributions which would have to be made by the individuals who opted into the scheme being very much higher than they would be under a scheme which is spread over a large number of people and which consequently evens out the contributions. For those reasons, I cannot accept the Amendment.

To remove any doubt about the matter, I should like just to add one thing—and I appreciate that the hon. and learned Member now has little doubt. While at one time there was a desire on the part, not of the judges in England, but of some of the judges in Scotland—those in the Court of Session—that this sort of provision should be made in the Bill, while no doubt they would still like to see this sort of provision made in the. Bill they do not now desire, as I think I indicated at one time that they did, to stay out of the Bill if it is impossible to make the concession. It is impossible to make the concession. I am quite sure that their own actuaries would advise them of this and that the position of the individual judges, for whom pension provision is so desirable nowadays, would he gravely prejudiced if the option were given. It is fortunate therefore, that they do not wish to press their point of view, and that the Bill will consequently now apply to all parts of the United Kingdom, and on the same terms.

I hope that the hon. and learned Member will realise the difficulties and the quite impossible situation in which we would be placed if the Amendment were to be carried, and that he will accordingly withdraw it.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

I need hardly say that I have no hope of softening the stony heart of the Attorney-General.

The Attorney-General

I have the softest heart in the Committee.

Mr. Grimond

But we. should not leave this matter simply because we are blinded by the science of actuarial calculations which are waved at us as a final answer to the proposal which is now put forward. Nor because, by accepting the principle in the Amendment, we may cause what the Attorney-General has called "repercussions."

Earlier in our discussions the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes) drew attention to the difficulties we might create if we increased the pension of the Lord Chancellor, but I do not believe that even the hon. Member is in favour of actually reducing the pension of any judicial officer. Here I may say that I have no axe to grind in this matter, as there is no possibility of my becoming a judicial officer, although I am a member of the Bar. But there is one type of judicial officer, the sheriff-substitute, for whom the hon. Member may have a soft spot—

Mr. Emrys Hughes indicated dissent.

Mr. Grimond

I had hopes that the hon. Member's record would allow him to feel for them. That officer has a very large jurisdiction, but a very poor financial reward. Would it be too difficult to increase the financial reward or the award for their widows or children? I am not altogether convinced by the argument about the wage freeze, because judges and judicial officers have had little or no increase over the last 50 years. But in any event, now in certain cases certain people promoted to the Bench would actually find they were worse off than if this Measure had not been passed. Surely, no one in this House would wish to make those people worse off than they would have been before this Measure. and, therefore, whatever the actuarial difficulties or consequential difficulties, I feel the Committee should at least look at the matter again to see whether we cannot help these people, to this extent at any rate, that they should not be worse off than they were before.

Mr. Marlowe

Of course there is considerable force in the actuarial argument. One appreciates that it is not very easy to counter it. But, on the other hand, we are dealing here with an entirely new field of pension, which has never been attempted before. I suggest that this might be tried for a limited time. I he actuaries who have advised the draftsmen of this Bill have simply been drawing on their experience of the ordinary kind of pension scheme, but this is entirely outside the ordinary pensions field. I do not think anyone can say whether the contribution basis, with the Exchequer subsidy, will be enough to pay the pensions.

I put forward the suggestion that it would not be unreasonable at a later stage to consider incorporating something of the kind suggested in the Amendment for a limited period so that this new field of pensions could be explored. Then we should see whether the acturial argument is as strong as it appears at the moment. I hope that sometime later the Attorney-General might be able to consider at least making an experiment with the proposal for a limited period.

Mr. Clyde (Edinburgh, North)

Apart from the sterile argument of actuarial calculations, it appears to me that there is no answer to the approval of this Amendment. The Committee have already indicated quite clearly two contrary views. Some hon. Members have described the Bill as generous to judges and as benefiting judges—

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Ought not legal hon. Members likely to be interested in this matter to make the customary statement and declare their interest?

The Deputy-Chairman

That is entirely a matter for hon. Members concerned.

Mr. Clyde

I am much obliged to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) for indicating that that prospect lies ahead of me, and perhaps others might take the same view. If it is necessary for me to disclose any interest however infinitesimal, let me disclose it and say that I am a member of the Faculty of Magistrates and one of the people in Scotland who might conceivably be appointed to one of the judicial positions in Scotland.

Some hon. Members have described the Bill as generous to judges and as benefiting judges and others as an improvement on the existing situation. That view is not shared by many others. There are others of us in this Committee who consider that the Bill, instead of benefiting judges, will actually put them in a worse position than that in which they are at present.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

On a point of order. Should this speech not have been made on a previous Amendment? I had already put the case for the judges in Scotland before the hon. and learned Member arrived.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member had his turn a short time ago. It is now the turn of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Clyde).

Mr. Clyde

I hope that when I have had an opportunity to develop my argument a little further even the hon. Member for South Ayrshire will appreciate the relevance of my remarks to this Amendment.

There are two quite definite views. Some hold that the Bill will benefit the judges while others hold that instead of benefiting the judges it will make them worse off. That being so, there seems to me to be an overwhelming case for giving this option. Those who think that the Bill will be generous to judges should have no conceivable reason for objecting to an Amendment which, by leaving the judges the option of taking something which in the view of those hon. Members would be less valuable to them, would be making no real concession and would be adding no further liabilities to those which the Treasury is being called upon to undertake. Those who consider that the Bill will prejudice some judges in the future and put them in a position worse than that in which they are today will have their view justified by the Amendment, which will enable judges to take their pensions on the present basis.

To give an illustration, there are 14 judges in the Court of Session. On age and length of service they are in no way unique and may be regarded as a normal illustration of judges serving in the Court of Session. Of those judges, seven will be in a better position as a result of the proposals in this Bill, and seven will be in a worse position. If that is so, is there not an overwhelming case for leaving that option so that those seven who do not opt for the proposals in this Bill would still be left at least no worse off by being permitted to take the existing pensions to which they are entitled?

It is the object of everyone in this Committee to maintain the standard and traditions of the judiciary in Scotland and in England and Northern Ireland, and anything in this Bill or otherwise that would derogate from that standard in any way should not be approved. I say without hesitation, having regard to the meagre salaries at present payable, and to the meagre pensions which are, therefore, at present payable to the Court of Session judges, that if we cut that pension down we shall move towards a situation in which we shall discourage the most suitable persons from undertaking that office in future, and we shall encourage the filling of that position by second and third rate men.

Such a situation would be a disaster, and in my view the Amendment, which will provide the means of at least preserving the present position, such as it is, is better than one which would put 50 per cent. of the judges in a worse position. The salaries of the judges of the Court of Session are £3,600 per year, and the pensions depend on the amount of the salary. Those salaries were fixed in 1887, at a time when the first-class civil servant received a salary of £1,000 to £2,000 per year. Those first-class civil servants are today receiving about £4,000 to £5,000 per year. The judges are still receiving only £3,600. I agree that salaries are not mentioned in this Bill but the pensions receivable are based on the salaries paid.

Anything that would derogate from that situation and would put these judges in a worse position, as undoubtedly some of them will be put by this Bill, is not a proposal which should find favour in this Committee. That is why I say that the proper method of dealing with the situation is to leave an option to the judges in future just as there is an option to present judges, so that those to whom it is an advantage can take the benefit and those to whom it would not be an advantage will at least be no worse off and can take the pension on the present scale.

Mr. Pannell (Leeds, West)

Can the hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether he knows of any other class of the community who under a superannuation scheme can opt to come in or to stay out for all time?

Mr. Clyde

I have yet to learn of any other class or group of men or type of professional men who receive a remuneration and a pension in the year 1950 which is no greater than the pension or the remuneration paid in 1887.

Mr. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

I wish to call attention to a few difficulties which arise from the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Clyde). He cannot be aware that his party are creating great disturbances about salaries in public service being increased in any way whatever. Indeed, only today a demand was made that the salaries of people appointed to public boards should be listed, and every day there are questions about salaries paid to people in the public service. It is obvious that his party object to any great salaries being paid for public service. The honour attached to public service is evidently supposed to remunerate the people who take such positions as that of Chairman of the National Coal Board. Apparently, they are not expected to depend on their salary—

The Deputy-Chairman

This is rather wide of the subject under discussion. Really, we are dealing with pensions.

Mr. Woodburn

The hon. and learned Gentleman raised the question of judges in Scotland. It ought to be made clear that the demand for this Bill did not come from the Government but from the desire of the judges that something should be done for their widows and children.

Mr. Clyde

Not the desire of the judges of Scotland.

Mr. Woodburn

The judges generally throughout the country wanted something done for their widows and children. It is always the case that people who do not benefit pay contributions and lose them. Everybody is worse off under the National Insurance Scheme by paying contributions—to the extent of those contributions—if they never require a doctor, spectacles, dentures or anything of that kind. But there is no one who is not glad that he can pay his contributions and not need the benefits. In the same way, the judges should be glad to pay these contributions.

It is wrong to say that judges do not benefit, because the Treasury will make a contribution in addition to the contribution which the judges pay. This will cost the State a considerable amount of money which will go to the benefit of the judges, their widows, or their children. It is true that the judges will make a sacrifice so that their widows and children may benefit; but it is a normal sacrifice which every man makes if he can be assured of the security of his widow and children. Therefore, to suggest that the judges in Scotland will be made poorer by this Bill does not state the facts, because that is not true.

The judges in Scotland do not object to this pensions scheme. They object to their conditions compared with those of judges south of the Border. The reason they have put forward suggestions about this scheme is very largely in an attempt to call attention to these anomalies. I am sure that every Scotsman in the Committee agrees that when that matter comes to be considered, the anomalies as between the Scottish judges and their colleagues south of the Border ought to be considered. There appear to be poorer conditions in Scotland than in England. I suggest, however, that this would not be a propitious time to consider increasing salaries of this order.

8.45 p.m.

The hon. and learned Gentleman compared the judges with the heads of the Civil Service, but we know that, while the responsibilities of the heads of our Civil Service have grown tremendously with the years, the responsibilities of judges have not necessarily altered. I think that all will agree that the status of a judge in the community must be maintained; nobody will disagree with that. It is quite true that the general public would like to see the status of judges maintained, and salaries today are very largely a matter of status. When the salaries come to be reconsidered, I am quite sure that the Government will give consideration to the respective salaries paid in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England, but on this side of the Committee—and I am quite sure on the other side as well—the present time is not regarded as appropriate for considering increasing these salaries.

This pensions scheme is introduced on the initiative of the judges themselves, and the Committee would do a great disservice to them if it did not allow the scheme to go through, so that the judges can make their own provision, in their own way and at their own request, for their widows and children. I think we have the assurance of the Scottish judges that they do want this pensions scheme, although they have used this protest as a method of raising another question altogether.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

I hope there will be no misunderstanding about the salaries and pensions of Scottish judges as a result of the intervention of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Clyde), and I can quite understand that some English hon. Members may have had their hearts wrung by the pitiful stories which have been told to us. I should like to state the facts before hon. Members get out their handkerchiefs to do a weep for the Scottish judges. In giving the facts, I am indebted in some way to the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller), who elicited this information from the Attorney-General.

A judge of the Court of Session gets £70 per week, or £10 per day, and under this scheme there is to be a lump sum of £4,050 and another death gratuity of £4,050.

Hon. Members


The Lord Advocate (Mr. John Wheatley)

The judge does not get both, the lump sum and the death gratuity. He gets one or the other.

Mr. Hughes

I apologise, and I am quite sure that, if I make any mistake about the facts, there are sufficient legal Members here to correct me.

What about the widow's pension? It is £675 a year, or £13 per week, so that I see no cause for alarm at all and no, reason to believe that legal gentlemen will decide not to take up office at the Court of Session but, instead, to take a profession in the mining industry. But let the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North, realise that he is much better off than the judges represented by the hon. and learned Gentleman sitting next to him, who represents Belfast, South (Mr. Gage). A judge of the Court of Session receives £600 more than a judge of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland, and right through we find that Scottish judges are much better off than their learned, colleagues in—

Mr. Gage (Belfast, South)

Why, then, did not the hon. Gentleman support me when I argued that Northern Ireland should be raised at least to the standard of Scotland?

Mr. Hughes

After having acquired some recent knowledge of the Northern Ireland Attorney-General, I very much doubt whether they should raise judges from that department at all. I have-not a very high opinion of the judiciary in Northern Ireland.

I suggest that the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke for the judges of the Court of Session should remember that, after all, there is no great case for pleading poverty on the part of Scottish judges.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

We have a proverb in Scotland which I might draw to the attention of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), and which runs: It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest. That may not, of course, appeal to a Welshman, but I think that, sitting for a Scottish constituency, the hon. Member might have considered it. As to his view on the Northern Ireland judges, I shall leave it to the right hon. and learnedLord Advocate to consider whether it does not come within the category of mummering the judges. I think it does. I would only ask the Committee to consider the honeyed words used by the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) and the sharp contrast made by the speech of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire immediately following. The right hon. Member for East Stirling said that we all wanted to see the position of the judges improved and that no doubt on a future occasion, their position would be improved, but that this was not an appropriate time or occasion on which to do it. Let him look below the Gangway at his hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire and see whether, indeed, the judges have not every reason to fear that this is a postponement of any improvement of their situation to an indefinite date. I will not argue again the case for the remuneration of the Senators of the College of Justice in Scotland.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Did the right hon. and gallant Gentleman go to his electorate at Kelvingrove at the last election and get a mandate from the working classes there for what he is now bringing forward?

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

As far as I know, this Measure did not form part of the election manifesto of either side. All I would say is that the Government are bringing it forward, as they say, because they consider that the position of the judges should be somewhat improved, but that we think the provision is inadequate.

The right hon. Member for East Stirling said that a contribution was being made by the Government here. We know from the Memorandum on the front of the Bill that the contribution amounts to some £10,000 per annum for the whole United Kingdom, of which, I suppose, the Scottish eleven-eightieths will work out about £1,000. The betterment of all the judges in Scotland by £1,000 per annum is not, I suggest, the sort of thing which a former Secretary of State for Scotland and holder of the Great Seal of Scotland should bring before the House as being desirable at the present time.

Mr. Woodburn

I was not introducing, or suggesting that the Government were introducing, this Bill in order to give them extra money. I was merely pointing out that the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Clyde) had said that they were suffering under this Bill. I suggest that, collectively, they are not suffering if on balance something goes to them. Therefore I was merely pointing out that the hon. and learned Member was over-stressing his argument about the injury which this Bill was doing to the Scottish judges, because it was at the request of the judges generally that the Bill was introduced, and it was for their peace of mind that their widows and children were going to be provided for by themselves.

The Chairman

Those questions really do not arise on this Amendment. They might very properly have been raised on earlier stages of the Bill. The only question before the Committee is that of election in certain circumstances.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

If I may use on this occasion the more usual appellation, Major Milner, I would say that I fully agree and defer absolutely to your judgment. I only moved into the other field in so far as I was challenged by the right hon. Member for East Stirling and by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire. I admit this is a narrow point and I certainly do not desire to traverse again the ground which has been traversed before—the ground as to the adequate remuneration of the judiciary on which we divided the Committee. Having taken the verdict of the Committee on that matter, we naturally do not propose to raise it again. I would only say that on this particular question of the inclusion of the judges in the scheme—and I think the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate will bear me out—only quite recently the judges showed not merely no particular appreciation of it but actually reluctance to be included in the scheme.

As I understand, the Attorney-General indicated they have withdrawn that and now they say they are willing to take the verdict of the Committee on the Amendments, and that if they are defeated they do not thereafter wish to be separated from the rest of the judiciary of the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, they pressed us very strongly that we should seriously consider whether the provision here laid down is adequate. The Attorney-General said the scheme allowed certain benefits for certain contributions, and he could see no way under the provision of this scheme whereby the suggested alleviation of the position might arise. We think that a great pity, but we have now made progress with the Measure. We are bound by decisions which have been taken previously and we are working within the limits of the scheme brought forward by the Government.

There is only one issue now before the Committee. It is whether the judges can be allowed to elect to remain in the scheme or whether they can be allowed to opt out of it, not merely at present but in future. The Attorney-General has said that that is impossible. The judges in Scotland have said that if that is refused they do not desire to be excluded from the scheme. In that case I and my hon. and hon. and learned Friends do not desire to move the subsequent Amendments which were to the effect that judges should be omitted, because that naturally was at the desire of the judges at the time. Since they have withdrawn their objections, naturally we do not wish to go contrary to their views.

We still say, however, that the scheme as drawn deals inadequately with the position. That position has been brought out more than once. The scheme does not take any account of the enormous changes in the value of money and the relative values of salaries since they were fixed in 1887.

The Chairman

The right hon. and gallant Member is dealing with matters which I indicated were not in order. I hope he will not pursue that argument.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

I do not wish to do so. I only wish to say that the retirement of a judge on pension has been said by the right hon. Member for East Stirling, a former Secretary of State for Scotland, to be a matter similar to what it has been in previous years because the tasks laid on the judiciary are no greater than they used to be, whereas the tasks of civil servants have greatly increased. If he had heard comments from the bench, as he must often have heard, on the complexities of the laws they have to administer, and particularly if he looked at the legislation dealing with leaseholds, he would think differently.

The Attorney-General

That is exactly what keeps their minds young—the mental exercise.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

If exercise keeps their minds young then they have only begun their task. I am sure that only appeals to the Attorney-General in his private capacity and I am sure it does not apply to anyone else. The tasks laid upon judges, as upon servants of the State, are increasing and will increase, and Parliament should pay attention to that soon. Until that time comes we accept this Measure, and we say that this must only put off—and not for a very long time—the improved remuneration which will certainly become necessary to maintain the high standard of our Bench.

9.0 p.m.

The Lord Advocate

The purpose of this Amendment is to make an exception to the ordinary rule and enable future appointees to the bench and other judicial offices to have the right either to opt into the scheme or to opt out of it. When the Attorney-General indicated that actuarially such a proposal could not be contemplated, it was criticised by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh. North (Mr. Clyde), as a sterile actuarial argument. I regarded that as rather a curious criticism, because hon. Members opposite are always inclined to use the financial and actuarial argument when it suits their own particular purpose.

Might I remind the hon. and learned Member of another Scottish expression—not the one used by the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), but an expression which is even more widespread in Scotland: Facts are chiels that winna ding And daurna he disputed. I have no intention of incorporating a Scottish application Clause to my remarks here tonight. That is the answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman's criticism, because the actuarial facts and financial calculations give an unanswerable reply to the contention made by those supporting this Amendment when they referred to it as a sterile actuarial argument. No scheme of insurance could ever be contemplated, be it public or private, if the people organising the scheme could not budget for the number of people likely to come into it in circumstances such as these.

The hon. and learned Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe) suggested that we should have an experimental period. If the actuarial facts completely offset the argument in favour of such a proposal in general, I cannot see any justification for suggesting an experimental period in connection with this scheme. Why this particular scheme in distinction to any other scheme? If the hon. and learned Gentleman were advising any insurance company who might come to him for an opinion, would he tender such advice to them if they wanted to organise such a scheme—that, not knowing how many people were coming into the scheme, they should have a provisional period during which people could decide whether to stay in or get out? I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman would not tender such legal advice in a professional capacity, and I was rather surprised that he urged it on this occasion.

The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North, suggested that we had said from this side of the Committee—I took him to mean from the Front Bench—that these were very generous provisions to the judges and judicial officers. We have not indicated anything of the sort. We said they were fair and reasonable. We have never urged that they are generous. I think that the measure of their fairness and reasonableness is this: as my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has already pointed out, in so far as there is a reduction in the pension there is the compensating effect either of the lump sum or of the death gratuity. In so far as there are widows' pensions and children's pensions, there is a fifty-fifty contribution, and on that fact alone I would have assumed that there was prima facie evidence that this was a reasonable scheme and one which was generally to the benefit of the judges and judicial officers.

It may be that in an exceptional case a person might be worse off, but that is true of every insurance and every insurance principle. Every insurance company which promotes any scheme of insurance is bound to admit that some people may be better off and some people may be worse off. There are very few insurance companies which could give the guarantee which is given in this Bill that substantially most of the people affected by it will be better off. If we want further prima facie evidence of that fact, then it is provided by the general acceptance of this scheme, by and large, by all the members of the judiciary in the country and by the judicial officers.

I do not want to fall into too much controversy, but hon. Members have raised the question of the position of the judges of the Court of Session in Scotland. In particular, an argument advanced by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North, was based on the assumption that the future bench could be taken as the equivalent of the present bench, and the hon. and learned Member gave certain facts and figures in relation to that. The judges of the Court of Session received an actuarial report on this scheme. I have not had the advantage of seeing it and I do not know whether and to what extent it takes into account the incidence of taxation, but I must say that I find it difficult to accept the general conclusion reached that, having regard to the benefits to which I have already referred—the lump sum with no taxation, the death gratuity with no taxation, the widows' benefits, the children's benefits and the 50 per cent. contribution of the Treasury—only seven out of the 14 judges will benefit under the scheme. I am not impeaching in any way its bona fides, but I have no reason to believe that all the factors we have taken into account have been taken into account in the report.

What was the result of the figures submitted to us by the judges? Of the seven who would be advantaged, they would be advantaged to the equivalent of £20,000. The seven who would be disadvantaged would be disadvantaged to the extent of about £11,000. Thus, over the whole, there would be an overall advantage of £9,000 even on their own figures. Why should it be said by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North, that, in these circumstances, the judges of the Court of Session would be in a worse position—even on their own figures? As I have said before, under any assurance scheme some may be worse off, but I submit to the Committee that, having regard to the factors I have mentioned, it is manifest that the majority of judges and judicial officers will benefit under the scheme.

I do not wish to deal at all with the question of salaries, even by the expedient used by some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen of linking it up with the question of pensions. I would say in passing, however, that the disparity between the salaries and pensions of Scottish judges and those of English judges, and the alleged failure to improve the standard of judicial salaries, have existed for a very long time and nothing was done to remove those difficulties during the period when hon. Members opposite were in power.

One of my hon. Friends put forward what I regarded as a complete and absolute answer to the merits of this Amendment. He challenged the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North and any of his colleagues to refer to any scheme of superannuation or insurance in which a principle of this nature was admitted. Not one tittle of evidence was adduced to support the justification of this proposal, either by statement or by reference to other schemes.

In these circumstances, I ask the Committee to reject this Amendment, not because we want to inflict any injustice but because there has been no case made out to justify the proposal. The scheme is a perfectly proper one and a fair one. The reason we give an option to the existing judges is that when they entered into the position of judgeship they were offered certain terms and conditions. They knew that those conditions existed and they were unaware of the present proposals. Therefore, it would be unfair to commit them to a scheme against their will when they had entered into that employment under different conditions. So far as future appointees are concerned, they will appreciate fully the terms and conditions of their appointment, including the entrance into this pensions scheme, and therefore no hardship can be inflicted.

There were certain points of view expressed at an earlier stage of the Bill regarding the position of the Court of Session judges. I think I am expressing the view of the whole Committee when I say that I think we all should feel it very unfortunate if any one particular branch of the judiciary had to be excluded, for one reason or another, from this pensions scheme.

I am very pleased to inform the Committee, in confirmation of what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove has said, and as my right hon. and learned Friend has foreshadowed, that the judges of the Court of Sessions, who at one time, not because they would personally be affected, because they can opt out, but because they thought they would be protecting the interests of future appointees to the Court of Session Bench, were anxious that the Court of Session judges should not be included, have now altered their view, and let it be known that, should this Clause be carried, they would have no wish to be excluded from the Bill. As far as my information goes, that means that all the members of the judiciary in all three countries, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, now wish to be included.

I trust that, with that explanation, we can make further progress with the Bill, and I invite the Committee to reject this Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.