HC Deb 06 June 1957 vol 571 cc1515-31

5.53 p.m.

Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Mr. Powell

The Priestley Commission on the Civil Service reported in 1955 in favour of a substantial improvement in the conditions under which a gratuity is awarded to unestablished and part-time civil servants who leave their employment, or to their relatives after they die. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister indicated in September of last year that although at that moment it was not possible to implement those recommendations he hoped that it would be possible very soon to consider them favourably. That assurance was repeated earlier this year by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and is put into effect by the Bill.

The conditions of gratuity for unestablished civil servants are that they qualify after seven years' service for a gratuity of one week's pay for each year's service. The first Clause of the Bill makes a very substantial increase in those gratuities, exactly in accord with the recommendations of the Royal Commission. In future, the qualifying period will be five years' service, and service will count towards gratuity on the following scale: one week for each of the first five years, two weeks for each of the second five years, and four weeks for every year after the tenth. Therefore, it will be evident to the House that the amounts of these gratuities, where a temporary civil servant has served for any substantial number of years, will be, under the Bill, very much larger than they are at present.

There is one respect, however, in which the Bill departs from or rather adds to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. That is to be found in the proviso to Clause 1 (1), which imposes an upper limit of one year's pay to the amount of the gratuity which can be earned in accordance with the terms of the Bill.

There are two main considerations which have led the Government to propose that there should be some upper limit of this kind to the amount of the gratuity. In the first place, there may be exceptional cases in which, if there were no upper limit, 120 or 130 weeks' pay might go to make up the amount of the gratuity. I am sure that it would be generally felt that a lump sum, which incidentally is tax-free, of an amount exceeding two years' salary was a disproportionate sum by way of gratuity for this purpose.

Perhaps more important is the relationship between these gratuities and those payable to the widows of established civil servants who die before reaching the retiring age. If there were no such upper limit as is proposed in the Bill, the result would follow that many unestablished civil servants ceasing to be employed would receive a higher gratuity than would go to the widow of an established civil servant with the same length of service. The imposition of an upper limit of one year's pay to the amount of the gratuity secures that the overlap between the death gratuity to the widow of the established civil servant and this gratuity to the unestablished civil servant is avoided.

The Royal Commission recommended that this change should be made, when Parliament decided upon it, from the current date. That, indeed, was the recommendation of the staff side in its evidence to the Royal Commission. That is the course which has been taken in the Bill, which brings the new scale of gratuities into effect from 15th May, which was the date on which the intention to legislate in this way was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in reply to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Partridge). The purpose of the announcement on that date, in advance of the presentation of the Bill, was, of course, to avoid the embarrassment which might arise both to a Department and to civil servants if it were not known in advance on what date the new arrangements would come into effect, so that the decision as to when an appointment was to be terminated might have been influenced one way or the other by considerations of the change in the gratuity scale. It was simply for this purpose that the announcement was made on 15th May before the presentation of this Bill, and why in consequence that date is written into the Bill as the date of commencement.

It is indeed logical that this change should be made from the current date. It is a further improvement which succeeds many that have gone before in the conditions of service of unestablished and part-time civil servants. It has no relation to general wage conditions or to the current value of money, but is simply a further advance in the improvement of the conditions of service of the unestablished and part-time servants of the Crown. That is the main purpose of the Bill and is effected by Clause 1, which amends the Superannuation Act of 1949 so as to bring the new scales into effect.

I now come to the minor provisions which are to be found in Clauses 2 and 3. From time to time in the past the State has taken over a new branch of administration or the provision of a new service, and has taken into its employment those who previously were providing that service with monies only partly derived from the public purse. In those cases, it has been necessary to make specific provision to ensure that the employees who came over into the Civil Service were able to count towards their eventual superannuation their previous service in the same role.

The 1948 Superannuation Act accordingly made specific provision for a series of new services which had been taken over into the Civil Service, having previously been outside its scope. Without such specific provision, it would have been impossible for the earlier service of those employees to be counted. The National Assistance Board is one of several cases in point. In doing so. however, it has happened that instances have been overlooked of employees in exactly the same position as those who have been covered by legislation, and who certainly ought to have been dealt with at the same time, but who for one reason or another were missed. Two cases which are outstanding at the moment is that of certain grades employed at the Roehampton Hospital and that of certain employees of the National Physical Laboratory.

Between the years 1925 and 1939 certain employees of the Roehampton Hospital were paid only partly out of funds provided by the public. Consequently, in order to give them superannuation rights after they became members of the Civil Service from 1939 onwards, legislation was required as I have explained. That legislation is still outstanding. The employees of the National Physical Laboratory, before it became part of the Government service in April, 1918, have also been left in the same position, though the rights have in practice been accorded to them extra-statutorily during the last three or four years.

The alternative was either to provide specifically in this Bill for those cases which had come to notice and which remained as anomalies to be dealt with, or else to make some general provision whereby the Treasury, subject to proper safeguard and definition, could deal not only with those instances but with any others of the same kind which happened to have been overlooked, and with any others of the same kind which may arise in future.

The proposition I am putting to the House is that it is more convenient, and indeed fairer, to those who may be concerned to do this by a general provision. Once an opportunity to legislate has been missed, it is always difficult to find another chance, and in the interval a section of civil servants may be left in an unfair and anomalous position. I would suggest to the House, therefore, that Clause 2, which will enable the Treasury to make orders subject to the negative procedure, so as to cover the cases which I have mentioned, and others which may arise in future or be discovered in future analogous to them, is the best way to proceed. It is the intention, as soon as this Measure reaches the Statute Book, to make an order to cover the employees I have mentioned of the Roehampton Hospital and the National Physical Laboratory.

Clause 2, however, will not help certain former employees of the Imperial War Graves Commission who have been placed in an unfair position for something like a generation as a result of an administrative oversight in the early 1920's. In the early 1920's the Joint Substitution Board, which in those days was endeavouring to find employment for ex-Service men in the Government service, placed a considerable number of ex-Service men with the Imperial War Graves Commission under the impression, which was shared by all concerned at the time, that it was part of the Civil Service. In fact, it was not, has not been and is not now part of the Civil Service. Consequently these employees cannot treat their service with the Imperial War Graves Commission as unestablished service in the Civil Service. Many of them have, since the 1920's, actually joined the Civil Service and in many cases have become established in it.

As the House is aware, in the 1940's great improvements were made both in the system of gratuities for unestablished civil servants and in the calculation of unestablished service for superannuation purposes. These civil servants, and these alone, found themselves, as a result of the circumstances I have described, excluded from the benefits of those improvements since the late war. Clause 3 of the Bill will accordingly put this injustice finally to rights by enacting that their service with the Imperial War Graves Commission shall be counted as though it had been service in the Civil Service.

I notice that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Buckingham (Sir F. Markham) is present. I take this opportunity of congratulating him on having at last succeeded in getting a provision on its way to the Statute Book for which he has exerted great pressure over many years. I believe it will be a satisfaction to him to see the injustice done to many who were in former years, his colleagues remedied in this way.

This is a pleasant Bill for a Financial Secretary to be able to present to the House, and I find at least as much satisfaction in commending its minor provisions to the House as the major provision in Clause 1. For we are all aware how difficult it is, when the great machinery of legislation is necessary to meet the circumstances of, perhaps, a small group of men, to bring that machinery into action in a timely and effective way.

I hope, therefore, that both as an implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission for improved gratuity, and as a means of righting the position of certain groups of civil servants, the House will give this Bill a Second Reading.

6.10 p.m.

Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)

It is very pleasing indeed to be able to compliment the Financial Secretary upon the way in which he has intro- duced this very important Bill. My particular interest is in Clause 2. The governors of the Roehampton Hospital, of whom I have been chairman for a number of years, have had before them the problem of the position of members of the staff who in the interregnum from 1925 to 1939 were not covered by superannuation, which created certain administrative difficulties. I am very pleased indeed that the Bill, which was referred to by the hon. Gentleman as a "minor improvement", is before the House today.

Only a few of the staff at Roehampton are involved. I am sure that I can express their thanks to the hon. Gentleman for remedying their grievance after so many years. I took the matter up on behalf of the Governors in 1953. I was informed by the then Financial Secretary that nothing could be done without legislation, and at that time, unfortunately, the prospect of legislation was remote. I am glad to find that after the passage of a few years we now have the legislation before us and that the people in whom I am particularly interested have been brought within its scope.

I wonder whether the Financial Secretary could give us a little more information. I take it that the date of operation will be the date of the laying of the Regulations. I imagine that that rules out any retrospective action to cover those who have in the meantime left the service of Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton. Or is it possible, within the rules, to bring within the scope of the Regulations those who served the hospital before 1925, when they were under the then Ministry of Pensions, and who may, after 1939, again have been employed by the Ministry of Pensions, and who in the gap between were doing the same work but were paid directly by the governors and not by the Ministry, although the governors were acting as the agents of the Ministry for this purpose? I do not know whether any of them have left; they may all still be employed there. However, if any have left, I should like to know whether they can be brought within the scope of the Regulations. I should also like to know whether the whole of the time from 1925 to 1939 now counts towards reckonable service, or whether only a part of it does. These are the two main problems which will be worrying members of the staff at Roehampton.

I would again compliment the Minister upon bringing forward the Bill and remedying a long-standing grievance. I should also like to express personal thanks to him for his courtesy in sending me information about the Bill being brought forward today, for I confess that I had forgotten the letter which we sent to the Minister in 1953.

6.13 p.m.

Major Sir Frank Markham (Buckingham)

I should like to add my congratulations to the Minister upon the Bill. It has been a matter of effort over many years to obtain a Bill of this kind, covering in particular employees of the Imperial War Graves Commission. I do not want to bore the House with personal reminiscences, but I should like to be allowed a moment or two to give the House an example of the way in which a great injustice to a few people can occur.

In 1917, when I was under age, I went off to the First World War with the British Red Cross, and was placed with what were then known as the Graves Registration Units. The work of registration and photographing of graves was of very great psychological value, and it has continued throughout the years since under the Imperial War Graves Commission, until I think we can now say that no country in the world looks after its heroic dead so splendidly or so sympathetically as we do, with our Dominions and Colonies all linked by the Imperial War Graves Commission. Every tribute is deserved for the work.

However, in the process a great injustice has been created. When the British Red Cross gave up the registration of graves and the Imperial War Graves Commission took over the work, the men who were then transferred, on their own volition, from the Army or the British Red Cross to the Commission were given specific pledges that they would become established civil servants with full Civil Service rights. That pledge was given in my hearing by no less a person than Major-General Sir Fabian Ware, the most distinguished head of the Commission.

Yet, through various mishaps and misadvertures—I will not say "through chicanery", because I am certain that such a thing was never in the mind of any Ministry—the upgrading never came to pass. Now, after thirty-eight years, many men who have given a lifetime of service with the Commission in all parts of the world, find that at long last a grievance and an injustice are being remedied. I welcome the Bill with all my heart. At long last these people are brought within the scope of the Superannuation Acts. This ought to have happened as long ago as 1919.

I should like to say a word directly to the Financial Secretary. In my opinion, it is due entirely to his energy and drive that the anomaly and injustice has been remedied. I have taken the matter up persistently with Ministers from both parties in the past, but they have never been able to find a Parliamentary opportunity for such legislation. The Financial Secretary has achieved this, and I wish him to know how grateful I am for this. The injustice may, perhaps, be to a few men only, but it is nevertheless an injustice that has stood for more than a generation.

Even now I am not satisfied. There seems to have crept into Clause 3 a word which may be a cause of much pondering. The Clause says that those employed by the Imperial War Graves Commission who have served since 1934 "may" at last come within the scope of the Superannuation Acts. Why not "shall"? I hope that the Minister, having gone so far to remedy the wrongs, will go a step further and change "may" to the positive "shall."

6.18 p.m.

Mr. Harry Randall (Gateshead, West)

I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Sir F. Markham) will be overjoyed that the Bill will achieve what he has been seeking for so long. I think it will be accepted on all sides that this is an agreeable Measure, although it has its limitations. I am most grateful to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary for finding time to bring forward the Bill, and I hope that it will pass through its stages very quickly and soon reach the Statute Book.

There are certain other things that I wish could have been included, but I am anxious to see the Bill on its way so that it will remedy a very great injustice which has been done to temporary staff over a number of years. The amount of the gratuity had no relation whatsoever to the superannuation conditions for established staff. I believe that the amount was about 2 per cent. per annum of the pay, which was extremely low.

In comparison with the conditions which were available for the staff with superannuation facilities, it was a grave injustice for the temporaries to continue as they did. As a minor criticism, the fact that it was so low sometimes encouraged the over-employment of temporaries because it was cheaper to employ a temporary than to employ an established member of the staff. The Bill will go some way to curb in future the employment, or the expansion of the employment, of temporaries.

Many of us want to see the abolition of unestablishment, but those of us who know the Service will appreciate that while that is the millenium, there are many factors which come into operation and which will probably make it impossible to get 100 per cent. established staff. From time to time there are new blocks of work which necessitate the temporary employment of unestablished staff, but some of us believe that by the improvement of gratuities which are offered greater justice will be done to the unestablished staff which has to be maintained.

I am very pleased that the Minister has introduced the Bill. I am sorry that the ceiling has had to be fixed, but I recognise the difficulties. I am very pleased to note that anomalies which have existed for so long are to be put right in Clauses 2 and 3. I hope that we can have a speedy passage for legislation and will soon find it on the Statute Book.

6.21 p.m.

Sir Patrick Spens (Kensington, South)

As the senior civilian commissioner of the Imperial War Graves Commission and one who has served with it ever since 1923, I want to say a few words about the Bill. Of course, we are delighted at the change which is made by the Bill. At the same time, the House should realise that the Imperial War Graves Commission is the only imperial association in the whole of the Commonwealth. It is not a British institution at all. This country has no greater right or interest in it than has any other member of the Commonwealth.

The employees are not employees of a British association or company at all. As a great Imperial body, we employ people of all nationalities and from all parts of all the different Dominions. At present we have far more employees who are citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and all the Colonies than we have British employees. Not only that, but in foreign countries we have vast numbers of French, Italian, German, and other foreign employees.

I assume, and I am sure that it is right, that the Bill can operate only for British subjects who have been in the employment of the Commission. Are other Dominions doing the same sort of thing? I hope that they are. Some may have already done this. I do not know whether the Commission's employees in Canada or Australia are and have been in the same position as the British employees. I do not expect an answer at once. I wish only to express the hope that what has been done and is being done for whoever will benefit from Clause 3 will spread throughout the whole Commonwealth to the benefit of all our employees, if it is of any assistance to them.

6.24 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Moyle (Oldbury and Halesowen)

It was a delight to see the face of the Financial Secretary wreathed in smiles when moving the Second Reading of the Bill. I was glad to find that the Bill provided him with some sweet relaxation from his heavy labours in connection with the Finance Bill. I should like to see that smile sustained more frequently by the hon. Member when he addresses the House. The Spartan look is very acceptable occasionally, but a pleasant smile does much good in relation to the psychology of the House.

The points raised by the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington, South (Sir P. Spens) raised a huge question. I should like to see the day when there is complete reciprocity and interchange-ability of superannuation rights for public servants throughout the whole of the Commonwealth and Colonies, but I am afraid that we have some time to wait before such an ideal can be realised. In recent years, however, we have travelled a great way in that direction.

The Bill can be supported with some enthusiasm. I am, of course, aware of the great fight of the Civil Service associations for an improvement in conditions of service on behalf of the temporary or unestablished staff in the Civil Service. In saying that I do not want to detract from the work done by the hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Sir F. Markham) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) towards those ends.

Clause 1 (2) says that gratuity may be paid in respect of a person in an unestablished capacity with less than five years' service who dies as a direct result of injury sustained or disease contracted on duty as if he had completed five years' service. I should like to think that that will be interpreted to mean that the provision can apply to any employee whose health breaks down in the course of his employment, without his necessarily having to prove that it directly arose from a disease contracted on duty, or from some injury which he sustained in the course of his employment. The Bill provides those superannuation rights which we have had in local government for a number of years, in fact since the passing of the Local Government Superannuation Act, 1937, and I am very glad to see them now proposed in this Bill, which I hope will have a very happy and successful passage.

6.28 p.m.

Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)

The Financial Secretary said that this was a pleasant Bill for him to introduce. It certainly is. It also has the advantage of being short and non-controversial. All three proposals in the Bill arise directly out of recommendations made by the Priestley Commission, the Royal Commission on the Civil Service, which sat between 1953 and 1955. They were all the subject of representations by staff associations and other interested persons. The House will find that recommendations on the scale of gratuities for unestablished staff are contained in paragraphs 744 onwards, and the proposals in Clauses 2 and 3 covered by observations and recommendations in paragraph 763 and 764.

So the House has the confidence and satisfaction of knowing that what it is asked to do is what the Royal Commission recommended should be done. That is always a comfort to the House of Commons when it deals with complicated matters affecting the conditions of service of the public service. It also adds strength to the case of the civil servants themselves when their grievances or their desires for reform are the subject of close examination by a weighty and impartial Commission and are the subject of recommendations by it.

As a matter of fact, the scale of gratuities proposed in Clause 1 is more favourable than the Treasury itself suggested should be introduced when it gave evidence to the Royal Commission and when the Royal Commission observed that, in its view, the proposals of the Treasury for improvement in the scale of gratuities were not good enough and made its own. It is the Commission's proposals which we are now asked to approve in Clause 1.

As the Financial Secretary said, the new scale of gratuities will be distinctly more favourable than the old, and that is a good thing. The hon. Gentleman referred to the limit on the total amount of the gratuity which is embodied in the Bill but upon which the Royal Commission was silent. None of us can say whether the Royal Commission really did consider whether there should be a limit to the amount of the gratuity; it certainly said nothing about it. It may be that it was not fully aware of the difficulties and anomalies which might arise if there was not a ceiling. I am not complaining at all that the Bill provides for a maximum gratuity to be paid.

It should be most unusual for temporary civil servants to remain temporary in the Civil Service for many years. If their services are required for a long period, steps should be taken to absorb them into the establishment. If they are unsuited for that, or their work ceases, their services should be dispensed with. I think that it will be unusual for an unestablished civil servant to serve so long that he will suffer any injustice as a result of the limit on the amount of gratuity which the Financial Secretary proposes. The maximum gratuity can be obtained under the Bill after twenty years' temporary or unestablished service. That is a long stretch for either a temporary or an unestablished civil servant.

Mr. Randall

Are there not in the Civil Service a number of unestablished civil servants who because of lack of physical standards are taken on and will continue as unestablished staff for a number of years?

Mr. Houghton

Yes, but my hon. Friend will probably remember that there are special conditions under which those who qualify for establishment but who are rejected on medical grounds may be considered later in their career for the counting of the whole of their unestablished service in full for both gratuity and pension, so they will not suffer any handicap as a result of the postponement of their establishment. I think that the limit on the gratuity is not unreasonable. It will be our job to see that any cases which might suffer as the result of this ceiling are looked at in the course of the Committee stage of the Bill.

The next thing that the Financial Secretary referred to in regard to Clause I was the date of operation. The Bill is to be effective with regard to Clause I from 15th May this year. I regret that provision has not been made in the Bill to go further back than that. The Royal Commission recommended that changes in the scale of gratuity should take effect—I quote from the end of paragraph 751: from a current date as regards payment but all service rendered before the date of the change should count. All service before the date of the change does count; but the current date to which the Royal Commission was then referring was presumably the date current at the time it made its Report, which was 10th November, 1955.

Last year many of the recommendations of the Royal Commission were embodied in what were called package proposals for acceptance by the staff side of the Civil Service National Whitley Council. They were accepted and put into operation with effect from 1st July last year. It is a pity that the recommendation as regards changes in gratuities of temporary and unestablished civil servants cannot be given the same effective date. The only reason that we are dealing with this matter here and now is that this requires legislation and nothing else in the package proposals did.

I have frequently referred to the disadvantages to civil servants of having the smallest reform or improvement in superannuation conditions made the subject of legislation. The Financial Secretary knows probably better than anyone present at the moment the difficulties of squeezing in a Bill in a crowded Session. The date 15th May, 1957, is later than we had hoped. Some temporary civil servants who have been discharged in the last two or three years no doubt feel acutely unhappy that the improved gratuities are not to apply to them.

There have been very substantial discharges from the temporary Civil Service in recent years—very large numbers have gone—and none of them has had or can have the benefit of the improvement in gratuities. Many of those civil servants had served for some time during the war and for quite a long time afterwards. They were part of the war effort and part of the post-war return to more orthodox forms of administration and staffing. So it was a matter of great disappointment to the staff associations concerned when the Government said that they were unable to concede any retrospection for the new gratuities beyond the date announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he made the announcement on 15th May this year of his intention to introduce legislation.

The Clauses which deal with transfer to the Civil Service and to temporary service with the Imperial War Graves Commission remove long-standing grievances of a particular kind. In my long association with the staff interests of the Civil Service, I have always heard of the grievances—in these two groups in particular—of persons who have been left out of earlier legislation which would have removed the anomalous position in which they have been placed. We are very glad to see that those injustices and lack of foresight are now to be put right.

These were not the only matters, however, to which the Royal Commission referred in its Report relating to Civil Service superannuation. The Royal Commission was in any case restricted in the scope of its survey of superannuation arrangements. Its terms of reference provided that it had to consider whether any changes are desirable in the framework of the existing superannuation scheme. It was not open to it to suggest radical changes in the principles or structure of the scheme, but it was within its terms of reference to deal with other matters. The principal other matter which was the subject of considerable discussion before the Royal Commission and which occupied some space in its Report is one not within the scope of the Bill. The Financial Secretary will not expect me to say that it ought to be within the scope of the Bill. We quite recognise that it cannot be.

Nevertheless, I am bound to mention it, or the House may be misled into thinking that this disposes of all the matters referred to in the Royal Commission's Report affecting Civil Service superannuation. It does not—and it is very likely that the Staff Side of the Civil Service National Whitley Council will trouble the House later on with its view of paragraphs 737 to 747 of the Report, which deal with the reckoning in full of the unestablished service followed by the established service of the civil servant. That is another very big issue, going wider in scope and being more costly in money than the proposals contained in the Bill.

The history of that matter is described in the Report. It would be a mistake if I were not to say that the matter is still outstanding and that the House must not be surprised if it hears more of it. I think that I had better leave it at that this afternoon, because it is not within the scope of the Bill and it is not the desire of anyone concerned that there should be a moment's delay in facilitating the passage of the Bill. To attempt to enlarge its scope in the way that I have mentioned would obviously involve wider considerations, even if it were possible under the Money Resolution.

That suggests that the Bill, of itself, is welcome, and we wish to facilitate its passage into law. It makes favourable recommendations in directions which are long overdue. It does not, however, finally dispose of some of the outstanding grievances about superannuation arrangements in the Civil Service. They may require later consideration, but there is no need for us to delay the passage of the Bill in order to deal with them now.

6.42 p.m.

Mr. Powell

I ask leave of the House to speak again only to thank hon. Members who have spoken on both sides for the way in which they have received the Bill and to deaf with a few of the points and questions raised in the course of this short debate.

The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) referred to the date of implementation. I am sure that he is aware that the proposition embodied in the Bill was not part of the so-called package proposals which were implemented as from 1st April, 1956—I believe that the hon. Member said July, by a slip of the tongue—and, therefore, fell to be considered in the light of the recommendation of the Royal Commission which, when it said "a current date", meant a date current at the time when the change is made, which, indeed, is the only reasonable interpretation that can be attached to the words. I recognise that hon. Members on both sides of the House would have been glad if the current date, in that sense, had fallen earlier; but I do not think it can be argued that the Bill as it stands is in conflict with the recommendation of the Royal Commission.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington, South (Sir P. Spens) asked to which categories of former employees of the Imperial War Graves Commission Clause 3 will apply. It will apply only to those who entered the Civil Service of the State, that is. in this country, before 30th September, 1934. I am not aware that the problem with which Clause 3 deals has arisen in any other Commonwealth country. It arises out of our own Superannuation Acts, and I have not heard that other countries have found themselves in the difficulty from which we are now starting to extricate ourselves.

The hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Moyle), who gave me some advice upon facial expressions in the House, referred to Clause I (2). That subsection is only consequential upon the general purpose of the Clause, in that, if the seven-year limit for qualification for a gratuity is being lowered to five years, so should the deemed service be reduced for the purpose of Section 41 of the 1949 Act. It would, however, be outside the scope of the Bill to consider whether the provisions of that Act should be widened as the hon. Member suggested.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Buckingham (Sir F. Markham) referred to the wicked word "may" in Clause 3. I can assure him that he need have no fears on this score. The provision made for ex-employees of the Imperial War Graves Commission now stands on exactly the same footing as all other superannuation provisions of all other civil servants, which are all, alike, governed by the word "may"—so this is a risk which may reasonably be accepted.

The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) asked about the date of operation of Clause 2, and in answering I may as well associate with it the date of operation of Clause 3. Where a pension is already in payment at the time when the order comes into force under Clause 2—or this Measure is passed, so far as applies to Clause 3— the appropriate adjustment of the pension will be made as from that time. Therefore, it applies to people who have already retired as well as to those who will retire in future.

Where a gratuity was paid, that is to say, where the civil servant in question was not established at the time of his retirement—there may be a few such cases under Clause 2, and certainly some under Clause 3—we shall go back into the past to see what the gratuity was and make the necessary adjustment in the amount of the gratuity, subject to what is laid down in the order or in Clause 3.

The hon. Member also asked whether the whole of the service of employees of the Roehampton Hospital between 1925 and 1939 would count. So far as they were in employment during those years it will count, although, being unestablished service prior to 1949, under the present law it will count only as to half. I think that that answers the question which the hon. Member had in mind.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Barber.]

Committee upon Tuesday, 25th June.