HC Deb 14 November 1950 vol 480 cc1576-8

4.20 p.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Douglas Jay)

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

This Bill makes two small Amendments to Civil Service pension arrangements but they are unrelated to one another. One of them arises out of the Chorley proposals of which I spoke just now, and relates to the gratuities of un-established civil servants. It involves no change in superannuation policy. As I explained on the previous Bill, according to the pledge given by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer the established civil servants are to receive pensions as if the Chorley increases in salary had operated from October, 1949, instead of October, 1950. In practice that is carried out by the device of declaring formally a higher salary but making a temporary abatement of that salary for the purposes of Section 13 of the 1935 Act.

That Act, however, does not apply to all classes of public servants, firstly, unestablished civil servants, and, secondly, a small group of Supreme Court officers. In the case of unestablished civil servants the relevant Act is the Superannuation Act of 1949 the wording of which is not covered by the special definitions of the 1935 Act where there is an abatement of salary. Therefore, it is not open to the Government to use the procedure of an abatement of salary. This is put right by Clause 1 of the present Bill, which carries out the pledge of the Chancellor, and provides that the gratuities that unestablished civil servants in the Chorley range will receive on retirement will be based on the higher level of salary which they would have had if the Chorley rates had come into force in October, 1949.

In the case of the Supreme Court officers, although they are actual civil servants for the purposes of the Chorley rates of pay, they are not covered by the 1935 Act, and, accordingly, the Government cannot use the device of abatement of pay in order to see that they get the higher level of pension without further statutory provision. We, therefore, are making the necessary provision by Clause 1(2) of this Bill.

The second minor change which is made by this Bill affects reconstruction entrants into the Civil Service over the last few years. The House will remember that there were various special schemes after 1945, by which those who had served in the Forces between 1939 and the end of the war might enter the Civil Service and become established. It was provided that for the purposes of their eventual pension, they could count the whole of their service in the Armed Forces after September, 1939, as if it were un-established civil service. That gives them, of course, the right to certain additional superannuation.

However, it was necessary in the 1946 Act for the Treasury to specify some termination for the period during which that war service might be reckoned. This was done in a Statutory Instrument in June this year, which laid down 30th June, 1950, as the final date. The reason for terminating the period was that the scheme was naturally not intended to apply to National Service men who did National Service since the war and then went into the Civil Service. However, the effect of that order, would have been that a small number of persons who did reconstruction competition examinations and subsequently became established after 30th June, would be denied quite unfairly from the right to count their forces service since 1939 for pension purposes. Therefore. Clause 2 of this Bill allows the reconstruction entrant to count that service in exactly the same way as if he entered the service before the termination order was made. That is the very minor and modest purpose of this Bill, and I hope it will have the approval of this House.

4.25 p.m.

Mr. Assheton (Blackburn, West)

I do not know whether you, Mr. Speaker, have ever picked up a newspaper or magazine and started to read a serial story in the middle, but if you have you may have a similar experience in taking up this Superannuation Bill. Superannuation Bills have been going through this House for a long time, since 1834, at any rate, and unless one is familiar with them they are extremely difficult to understand. However, the Financial Secretary with his usual clarity has done his very best in explaining to the House the object of this Measure. In view of the fact that we on this side of the House do not criticise what he said, and that the cost to be borne upon the Exchequer is very small indeed. I have no hesitation in commending the Bill to the House.

4.26 p.m.

Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)

I should like to support what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, West (Mr. Assheton). The points in this Bill are quite minor, but they are important as showing our interest in the Civil Service, a body of people on whom the fortunes of this country so much depend, especially since 1945. We welcome in particular Clause 2 of this Bill, because in the Superannuation Bill of last year we persuaded the Government after some argument to take into consideration certain war service which up to that time they had not considered. This latter point is of particular importance at this moment when heads of Departments in the service see a reduction owing to the last election in nationalisation legislation, and therefore, their hopes of nice jobs in nationalised industries after their Civil Service days somewhat reduced.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Committed to a Committee of the whole House. Committee Tomorrow.—[Mr. Collindridge.]