HC Deb 23 March 1965 vol 709 cc459-66

Lords Amendment: In page 12, line 45, at end insert:

"Reckoning of service of former teachers

1946 c. 60. 8. In section 6(2) of the Superannuation Act 1946 (which provides that, in the case of a civil servant who was formerly a teacher, certain service as a teacher shall be treated as if it were service as a civil servant)—
(a) for paragraph (b) there shall be substituted the following paragraph—
`(b) service which is recorded as first class service under regulations made under section 101
1946c.72. of the Education (Scotland) Act1946 (as substituted by section
1956c. 75. 10 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1956) or section 102 of the
1962c. 47. Education (Scotland) Act 1962 or any amendment thereof (hereinafter referred to as "the Scottish Regulations"); or";
(b) in paragraph (c), for the words the Scottish Teachers Scheme" there shall be substituted the words the Scottish Regulations";
(c) in the proviso—
(i) for the words "subsection (2) of Article 14 of the Scottish Teachers Scheme" there shall be substituted the words "the Scottish Regulations";
(ii) for the words "be cancelled in the record of service maintained under the Scottish Teachers Scheme" there shall be substituted the words "or in reckoning periods of first class service under the Scottish Regulations"."
Mr. MacDermot

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

The new paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 proposed in the Amendment, corrects, again in the interests of consolidation, an anomaly which has arisen accidentally over the qualifying, for the purpose of civil service pension, of previous service as a teacher in Scotland. Fortunately, either by accident, or for a lack of normal Scottish astuteness, no one has appreciated this anomaly so as to benefit from it in practice, but it has been detected now, and we would like, with the agreement of the House, to put the matter right before consolidation.

This is rather technical. Section 6(2) of the 1946 Act lists the kinds of teaching service which may qualify for purposes of pension. It includes service which is recorded under the scheme framed and approved under the Education (Scotland) (Superannuation) Acts 1919–39, and any Act amending the same (hereinafter referred to as the Scottish Teachers Scheme")". At the time when the 1946 Act was passed only contributing service as a Scottish teacher was recorded, but since then subsequent legislation, and regulations made under it, have added to contributing service another class of service which is non-contributing. The noncontributing service is second- and third-class service and the contributing service is firsts-class service. The new regulations also did away with the phraseology of the Scottish Teachers Scheme.

These changes went unnoticed at the time, and have not been paralleled under the change in the Superannuation Act. The result is that now, contrary to the intention of the 1946 Act, not only contributing service but non-contributing service as a Scottish teacher may qualify. This would plainly be wrong, because such non-contributing service may, for example, be in outside employment and it is recorded merely for the purpose of keeping previous contributing service eligible for pension for a person who returned from it to teaching, but there is no reason why it should itself qualify for a Civil Service pension.

No practical problem has arisen to date, but it is obviously desirable to get this hit of the law right before consolidation.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I rise with some diffidence. I remember once trying to catch the eye of the Chair, when its occupant came from north of the Border, in connection with a Bill dealing with red deer. The Bill is applicable to Scottish teachers, and for a Sassanach to talk about it is a risk. However, when the Bill went to another place they managed to dig out a certain number of benefits which accrued to those north of the Border, including an individual who has the intimidating title of the Falkland Macer. I do not think that he comes within the terms of the Amendment.

The hon. and learned Member said that no practical problem has arisen over this provision, but it is clearly right to put the matter beyond doubt. I have done my best to study the Amendment and the remarks made elsewhere about it, and I should like to ask one question. If a Scottish teacher who has been teaching either abroad or at home takes up other employment outside teaching and then comes back to teaching, I presume that his superannuation contributions will be paid by his temporary employer and he will not have lost his place on the ladder by undertaking outside employment.

This is an important point, because many hon. Members on both sides of the House have tried in the past to encourage not only the secondment of individual teachers to employment elsewhere, but also their undertaking for a short period employment outside teaching, which may be of considerable value to them and also to the other form of employment. It would be a pity if, under these provisions, individual teachers who had been attracted into outside employment found on their return to the teaching profession that they had lost by it. I should like an assurance by the Minister that there is no conflict here with what has been the practice in the last few years.

Mr. Graham Page

The Financial Secretary said that no practical problem had arisen over this point. I am not sure what he meant by that. He may have meant that a teacher had claimed to count in non-contributing service and had received the pension through it, and that no problem had arisen in giving the pension. Can he assure us that there is no one now enjoying a pension by reason of non-contributing employment? If there is someone enjoying it, it seems grossly unfair if we are depriving him of that pension halfway through his enjoyment of it. I presume that by "no practical problem" the Financial Secretary meant that no one had ever claimed this, that no one is gettting a pension under this score and that we are now doing no harm by removing it from the Bill.

Mr. MacDermot

I confirm that that is what I meant by saying that there had not been a practical problem.

On the first point which was raised, I think that the point to make clear is that what we are concerned with here is Civil Service pension and not teachers" pension. I cannot say what the provisions are for Scottish teachers as far as the teachers" pension is concerned. What we are concerned with is the qualifying, for the purposes of a Civil Service pension, of previous service as a teacher in Scotland. It is for that purpose that what the Amendment now does is to limit service which may qualify, first-class service, that is to say, to contributory service.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 15, line 38, at end insert: 17. In proviso (ii) to section 36(1) of the Superannuation Act 1949 (which refers to what would have been the retiring age for a civil servant if he had continued in the employment in which he was when he was last a civil servant) the reference to that retiring age shall be construed on the assumption that in continuing in that employment he would have been employed in the United Kingdom.

Mr. MacDermot

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This Amendment proposes a new paragraph 17 in the Second Schedule, and is designed to remove a possible doubt affecting the retiring age of persons who serve in unhealthy climates abroad. Again, like most of these provisions, it is a little complicated. Section 36(1) of the 1949 Act applies to circumstances in which a person who has left the Civil Service with a pension may be reemployed, and, on re-employment, earn additional pension. One of the conditions is that it is only service after reaching the retiring age which can count towards the addition. For example, if he is re-employed at 58 and his retiring age is 60, he must wait until he is 60 before the additional service begins to count towards the additional pension.

The possible doubt arises in this way. By the second proviso of the Section, it is provided that no one shall begin reemployed service before he attains the age which would have been the retiring age for him if he had continued in the employment in which he was when he was last a civil servant. When this is applied to people to whom section 42 of the 1949 Act arises, there is this difficulty. That Section allows service in certain unhealthy climates, known as the scheduled territories, to count as time and a half for pension. It also allows the retiring age to be reduced by three months for each completed year of service under the Section.

A man who served in the scheduled territories and had retired before reaching his retiring age, as reduced under the Section—for example, due to ill-health—might later be re-employed in the United Kingdom, again before reaching his retiring age. He might then ingeniously claim that if he had continued to serve instead of retiring because of ill-health, his employment would have been in a scheduled territory, and that, as a result, he would have earned a further reduction in his retiring age, and his additional service ought therefore to begin to count, not from his actual retiring age—that is, 60 less the reduction he had already earned—but from the age which would have been his retiring age if he had continued to serve throughout in a scheduled territory

If such a claim were made and conceded he would then be able to start counting his re-employed service at, say, 58 instead of 59, and so retire on his maximum pension a year earlier than he should. This point has already been dealt with in the Bill in two other places where a similar doubt has arisen, in Clause I and in paragraphs 4 and 15 of the Second Schedule. Its application to Section 36 was not noticed before. As I say, it is desirable to put the matter right since the point is covered in other Clauses. The doubt might be reinforced if the point is not also covered here.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Before calling the next speaker, I have a general observation to make. In these more intimate debates, when there are few hon. Members present, some hon. and right hon. Members are slipping into the habit of talking very quietly, which makes it rather difficult for the Official Reporters to hear them.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

As the Minister said, this is a fairly complicated point. Indeed, I would say that it is the most complicated and narrowest of the three matters we have so far discussed. The matter is not made easier by the fact that there were some misprints in the OFFICIAL REPORT of the proceedings in another place on 9th March, in lines 10 and 15 of column 18.

As I see it, if an individual retires before the age of 60—say, at 55—because he has been working in an unhealthy territory or territories, and if he is asked to serve for some special reason, say at the age of 57, no additional pension will accrue for that special employment until he is 60. I am sure that the number of individuals covered by the Clause cannot be very great.

This brings me back to the point I raised on the first Amendment; it seems that it would be a pity if Departments were deprived by the Treasury—and nobody has more respect for the Treasury than I have—and by this ruling from employing somebody who says, "It is not worth my taking on this special work because I get no pension for it. On the couple of years here I will not be able to add to my pension. I had better seek employment elsewhere".

I again ask the Minister to tell us whether this does not—perhaps accidentally but, nevertheless, obviously—deprive Departments from a discretion which existed before. I would consider it a pity if this discretion were removed, because the number of people concerned is small.

Incidentally, having spent quite a lot of time looking through the Bill and a number of years living in what people would probably call an unhealthy climate, perhaps it is time that the Treasury had a look at the possibility of adding Whitehall to the list of scheduled territories.

Mr. Graham Page

The example which the Financial Secretary gave was of a civil servant who, through ill-health, retired from service overseas and then, before his United Kingdom retiring age was reached, was re-employed in the United Kingdom. I understand that in such cases people would take as their retiring age the age at which they would have retired had they served all the time in the United Kingdom, but is it not possible that the civil servant instanced by the Minister might be re-employed overseas, in the same country? Suppose that at, say, 40 he became ill and recovered in a couple of years sufficiently to take on his job again overseas.

As I read the Amendment, it states: … reference to that retiring age shall be construed on the assumption"— and I emphasise the words "on the assumption"— that in continuing in that employment he would have been employed in the United Kingdom. That is not that he was employed, but that we must assume that if he is re-employed overseas it is assumed that he is employed in the United Kingdom. I cannot think that that is fair.

The Fnancial Secretary said that this occurs in other places in the Bill and I pointed out that I was not as intimate with the Measure as he and my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) were. I am sorry if it occurs elsewhere. I cannot think that it is treating a man fairly to say that if he goes back to his employment overseas he must be assumed to have a retiring age as the age which he would have been had he been re-employed in the United Kingdom.

Mr. MacDermot

To reply to the second point first, I do not think that any injustice would be caused to the man who, in the circumstances envisaged, was re-employed in the scheduled territories. He would be able once again to start earning the reduction, as it were, in his retiring age by his further service abroad. In the passage which the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) read, the word that needs emphasising is "that", in … the reference to that retiring age … which shall be assumed.

It does not mean his finally determined retiring age, but the retiring age referred to in brackets, namely, what would have been the retiring age for the civil servant had he continued with the employment in which he was when last a civil servant. It is only that retiring age which would be affected by the break, as it were, in his service. It is that break which must be assumed to be filled in, as it were, by service in the United Kingdom.

The hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) asked me the more general question whether I thought that this provision might serve to deter some of the few people in this class from seeking re-employment. I do not see why it should, and I do not think that it would, because they would have earned and would still be entitled to such reduction in their retiring age as they had already earned. They are, therefore, no worse off, and as soon as they have reached that retiring age they will then be able to qualify for additional pension. They will, to that extent, he better off than people who have served the whole of their service in the United Kingdom. It is one of the favourable features of the Civil Service pension scheme that it is possible for re-employment to add to their pension in this way, and the provisions compare very favourably with what generally is available outside the public service.

Question put and agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to. [Several with Special Entries.]