§ 4.9 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, to leave out "one month," and to insert "three months."
On the Second Reading, the hon. and learned Member for York (Mr. Hylton-Foster) asked me to consider whether one month's notice was long enough. In fact, the period would have been somewhat longer than a month and I believe we could have left the matter to the union and the fire authorities to see that everything was brought to the attention of the firemen concerned. To make it doubly sure, however, I have decided to accept the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument so that the notice will be of three months instead of one month.
§ Mr. R. V. Grimston (Westbury)
Can the hon. Gentleman say anything about the other matters which have been raised?
§ Mr. de Freitas
I take it the hon. Gentleman is referring to the point about the affirmative Resolution and the waiver of contributions. On the point of the affirmative Resolution, I entirely agree that if we were considering fresh provisions in dealing with pensions, it would be worth while considering the matter, but I submit——
§ The Chairman
Order. I think we can best deal with this point on the Motion that the Clause stand part.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. de Freitas
As I was saying, I submit that the slight Amendment which is called for here, would not justify any such change in the procedure. In any case—and this is an important point, and I hope that the hon. Member will consider it—there is very little chance of any objectionable provision getting past Parliament unnoticed because the Central Fire Advisory Council, on which the fire authorities as well as the unions are represented, have under the Act to be consulted.
As to the arrears of contributions, this concerns payments made under the Local Government Act, 1937, so I consulted my right hon. Friend the Minister of Local Government and Planning, and we came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to waive those provisions. Perhaps I should point out these things. Most of the men and women affected have, in fact, paid these contributions. It would be difficult for the very few who have not to be excused. Second, it would be a grave injustice if these men and women had to pay all the contributions in one lump sum; but arrangements can be made to have them paid in instalments.
Third, because this has all arisen from a mistake in the law and not from any mistake of these men and women in the fire services, they will be allowed to pay at a lower rate than that normally payable under the Local Government Superannuation Acts to enable a period of "non-contributory" service to be counted as "contributory" service. Lastly, of course the fact is that if one of these men or women elects not to pay he or she will not lose the rights accruing from the service he or she has done; he or she will 46 get half time pension for each period served.
§ Mr. R. V. Grimston
In the light of the hon. Gentleman's remarks, and as he has gone into the points we raised, it seems to me he has met them.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 3 and 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Bill reported, with an Amendment; as amended, considered; read the Third time, and passed.