§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
My Lords, this is a Bill of some considerable importance to the Civil Service, and therefore, I think, merits a few words of explanation. It is, I may say, the outcome of dissatisfaction that has been felt by Civil servants for some years past with regard to certain grievances caused by the working of the existing system of pensions. In 1903 a Commission, presided over by my noble friend Lord Courtney, inquired into this matter, and drew up a scheme which was eventually submitted to the Civil Service, and which, I may say in passing, appears to have received the approval of Mr. Austen Chamberlain when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. As I said, this scheme was submitted to the Civil Service, but for various reasons no definite result was arrived at till the year 1907, when a plebiscite was taken of Civil servants throughout the country by a body known as the Deferred Pay Committee, and this resulted in a majority for what is known as the Courtney scheme as against alternative schemes. This Bill really embodies, with certain modifications and alterations, the recommendations of the Commission presided over by my noble friend. A committee of actuaries was appointed by the Treasury, and they reported that they were able to recommend certain improvements in the scheme which would give better results for the men themselves than 1075 the recommendations of Lord Courtney's Commission. This Bill was regarded as a non-contentious Bill in another place. Really all it does, or seeks to do, is to distribute in a slightly different way certain charges which appear annually on the Votes; and therefore I trust it may have a smooth and a rapid passage through this House. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Denman.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I understand that this Bill is the outcome of a long series of negotiations between His Majesty's Government and the 'members of the Civil Service, and that it has behind it the high weight of authority derived from a Commission presided over by Lord Courtney. Therefore I am quite prepared to regard the proposals contained in it as proposals which are virtually agreed to. But there is one which I must say seems to me so novel that I think a word of explanation with regard to it might be desirable— I mean the proposal which is to be found in the sixth clause of the Bill. I interpret that clause as having this effect, that whereas until lately, at all events, it was usual to give, under the old Superannuation Acts, special compensation to members of the Civil Service whose office was abolished by the act of His Majesty's Government, that special allowance will no longer be given. The wording of the clause suggests that where the office held by a member of the Civil Service is abolished he will not be entitled to receive any compensation exceeding that which might be granted to him if he retired on the ground of ill-health. Now, my Lords, I must say that prima facie there seems to me to be all the difference in the world between the case of a man who, owing to his own misfortune, is obliged to retire from the service, and the case of another man whose retirement is imposed upon him by the action of the Government of the day. The second case is one certainly of exceptional hardship, and I am surprised that it should have been thought proper to deprive those Civil servants who are the sufferers from events of that kind of the special consideration which certainly in the time when I knew anything about these matters they used to receive. Perhaps some member of His Majesty's Government may kindly enlighten us on that point.
I believe that these considerations were carefully gone into by the Treasury, and the recommendations have the endorsement of the men themselves. I think it would be best that I should inquire into the particular point which the noble Marquess raises, and give him at a later stage of the Bill the information desired.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.