HL Deb 19 July 1937 vol 106 cc541-55

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:

Contributory Employees

3.—(1) On and after the appointed day all such persons as are mentioned in the next succeeding subsection shall, subject to the provisions of this section, be entitled to participate in the benefits of the appropriate superannuation fund maintained under this Part of this Act, and persons so entitled shall, unless they are such persons as are mentioned in the proviso to subsection (1) of Section six of this Act, contribute to that fund in accordance with the provisions of that section.

VISCOUNT GAGE, moved, in subsection (1), after "this section," to insert "and to the provisions of Part III of this Act relating to officers appointed in a temporary capacity." The noble Viscount said: The Government Amendments to this clause and to the other clauses, with the one exception of the Amendment relating to military service, are really drafting Amendments, or Amendments put in to clarify the intentions of the Government which, since the Bill left another place, we do not consider to be sufficiently clear. The first Amendment is purely drafting, and I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 14, at end insert ("and to the provisions of Part III of this Act relating to officers appointed in a temporary capacity").—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Power to admit employees of statutory undertakers and certain associations]:

LORD ADDISON moved to add to the clause: (6) Where a local authority under Section 101 of the Local Government Act, 1929, make a grant to a voluntary organisation for the provision of maternity and child welfare, services, the provisions of subsection (1) of this, section shall apply in relation to that organisation, and to health visitors and superintendents of welfare centres employed by those organisations as they apply in relation to statutory undertakers and to employees of those undertakers. The noble Lord said: This Amendment relates to a matter which was overlooked rather in the other House. It raises no question of principle or of controversy. If noble Lords will look at Clause 5, they will see that it empowers the local authority, where it makes an arrangement with a voluntary organisation which has been doing some of the work which is a statutory obligation on the local authority, to arrange with that voluntary organisation, when their officers are included in any scheme, to include them on the terms here prescribed. If noble Lords will look at subsection (5) of this clause they will see that in the other place the local authority were empowered, when they came to an arrangement with voluntary organisations which had been employing midwives, to arrange that the midwives so employed by voluntary organisations should be incorporated in the superannuation scheme as, and when, the local authority took over that organisation. The discharge of duties under the Midwives Act is a statutory obligation on the local authorities, and the voluntary organisation in this case is performing these duties on behalf of the local authority. That is the case with regard to midwives.

The case is identical with regard to officers employed in maternity and child welfare services. The officers on maternity and child welfare services were overlooked in the other House, and it is to remedy that omission that this Amendment is on the Paper. It is in the same terms as subsection (5), only it relates to health officers and others employed by infant welfare associations. These associations are working for the local authority, carrying out part of the statutory duty of the local authority, and gradually up and down the country these organisations are being taken over by the local authority. This is to provide that where that is the case those who have been doing the work for the voluntary organisation—work which has been in fact paid for by the local authority in the main—will be incorporated in the scheme, and on incorporation will not lose any of the benefits which might otherwise be lost to them because they had previously been employed by a voluntary organisation. It is to remedy this deficiency that this Amendment has been placed on the Paper. I am indebted to the noble Viscount, Lord Bertie of Thame, for pointing out that in the Amendment the word "make" should be used instead of "makes" as appears in the Amendment as printed, and I move it in that form.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 14, at end insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Addison.)


I should like to say one word in support of the noble Lord's Amendment. The noble Lord has explained the purpose clearly, and it is not my intention to deal with it to any extent. I only want to say that his Amendment receives a measure of support from this side of the House, and I hope the noble Viscount will be able to indicate his acceptance of it. It is a very necessary Amendment if the Bill is to be complete.


May I say at the outset that any provision designed to improve the lot of those who work in the employment of voluntary bodies as auxiliaries of the local authorities and thereby to increase the efficiency of the valuable services rendered by those bodies must, in principle, commend itself to those ultimately responsible for the health of the nation, and, I can confidently say, would naturally command the sympathy of my right honourable friend the Minister of Health. I am afraid, however, that, attractive as this Amendment may well appear to some noble Lords, I must ask the noble Lord not to press it at this stage of the Bill. The subsection as it stands was accepted by the Government as an Amendment in the House of Commons. It relates, as will be noticed, only to midwives employed by a voluntary organisation with whom the authority responsible for midwifery services have made arrangements under the Midwives Act of last year. The duties imposed on the local authority, and consequently the services required of these midwives, are definite and specific—they are to be, so to speak, "on call," as and when required, to attend women needing the midwifery service for which the local authority are in law responsible. Their salaries are such as may be determined by the agreement and, in effect, the local authority indirectly pay those agreed salaries through the voluntary organisation—an important point in the superannuation scheme. They are as nearly as may be in the same position as midwives directly employed by a local authority.

The position of health visitors doing maternity and child welfare work is analogous, but not identical. The financial arrangements between the authority and the voluntary body are not the same. Services are not similarly specified, salaries are not specifically controlled and subsidies are not so directly related to salaries. It was considerations of this kind which led the majority of the SelbyBigge Committee to reject suggestions designed to secure the same object as the Amendment before the House. The case of the midwives, which, I submit, can be clearly differentiated, was not, of course, before that Committee, who reported some years before the Midwives Act was passed. If an attempt were made to cover the case which the noble Lord seeks to cover, amendment of the Bill would logically have to be carried much further than he proposes. You could hardly differentiate between health visitors engaged on child welfare work and those similarly engaged on work in connection with the blind, the tuberculous and the mentally defective, as employees of voluntary bodies whose financial relations with local authorities are for the most part indistinguishable in principle from those of child welfare organisations.

I do not wish the noble Lord and those for whom he speaks to regard this as necessarily the last word on the matter for all time. My right honourable friend has undertaken to explore the possibilities in another matter affecting the superannuation of nurses and health visitors, to which the noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, alluded in the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill. The noble Earl had a vision of amending legislation. I certainly am not bold enough to say it may not be necessary on a complex subject of this kind. In any case my right honourable friend authorises me to say that he will explore this matter in conjunction with the other, and it may be that consultation with the local authorities and others concerned may throw a different light on the considerations which, as at present envisaged, compel me to ask that the Amendment should not be pressed.


In view of the statement of the noble Viscount I do not propose to press the Amendment, but I take it that the undertaking given by the Minister is one which will be fully applied to this as well as to the other matters to which he referred. I am well aware of the difficulties and the technicalities which are involved, but I am quite sure that with good will under an energetic Minister, such as we now have, they should be overcome. In those circumstances I shall not press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clauses 6 to 11 agreed to.

Clause 12:

Reckoning of contributing and non-contributing service, war service, and service of persons indirectly employed.

(3) In the case of a contributory employee who left the employment of a local authority in order to serve in His Majesty's forces or the forces of the Allied or Associated Powers during the late war, the period during which he so served shall be taken into account for the purposes of the last preceding subsection as if it had been a period of service within the meaning of this Act:

Provided that, in the case of an employee who, after the eleventh day of November, nineteen hundred and eighteen, voluntarily extended his term of service in the forces, no period of such service during any such extension shall be taken into account.


The first Amendment in my name on this clause is drafting. I can explain it if necessary. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 28, leave out from ("day") to ("any") in line 3o.—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The next Amendment in my name is also drafting. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 33, after ("1922") insert ("in relation to his said employment").—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT GAGE moved, in subsection (3), in the proviso, to leave out all words after "Provided that" and insert "no such service after the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and twenty, shall be taken into account." The noble Viscount said: This is an Amendment to which I referred on Second Reading, and it was also referred to on Third Reading in another place. It is designed to meet the point that certain municipal employees may not have been able to return to their municipal work after serving with the Forces at the Armistice. The clause as it stands would probably have covered the case of a man who was not demobilised until some later date, but the proviso would have prevented the reckoning for superannuation purposes of any time subsequent to that date in which the man continued to serve with the Forces as a result of voluntary extension of his services. It is felt that doubts might well arise as to the exact circumstances in which a man did continue in the Forces, and it might be difficult to establish whether his continuance was in fact an extension or not. Therefore we propose to put in a date and to remove the reference to the voluntary extension. The date selected is that which has been agreed by the Treasury for Civil Service purposes, and we think it a sufficient extension to meet all the cases that ought to be met. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 12, leave out from ("that") to end of subsection and insert ("no such service after the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and twenty, shall be taken into account").—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 13 to 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Teachers]:


The Amendment in my name to this clause is purely consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 20, line 32, leave out ("1935") and insert ("1937").—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 18 to 21 agreed to.

Clause 22 [Actuary's certificates and periodical valuation of superannuation fund]:


The Amendment down in my name to this clause is drafting. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 26, line 30, after ("shall") insert ("within three months after receiving the valuation and report").—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 22, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 23 and 24 agreed to.

Clause 25 [Adaptation to this Act of certain provisions of local Acts and of provisions of certain schemes]:


The Amendment which I move to this clause is drafting.

Amendment moved— Page 27, line 15, leave out ("or within such further period as the Minister may allow").(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 25, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 26 [Modification or replacement of local Act superannuation schemes]:


The Amendment down in my name to this clause is drafting. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 27, line 38, after ("section") insert ("and to the provisions of Part III of this Act relating to officers appointed in a temporary capacity").—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 26, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 27 to 30 agreed to.

Clause 31:

Reduction of superannuation allowance during re-employment and adjustment of rights thereafter.

31.—(1) If a person entitled to a superannuation allowance under Part I of this Act, other than an allowance payable to him in respect of service rendered without a disqualifying break of service as a designated employee and a contributory employee, proposes to accept further employment with any local authority, he shall inform that authority that he is so entitled and, if he enters their employment, shall forthwith give notice in writing that he is so employed to the authority from whom he receives the allowance.

VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved to add to subsection (1): and if he fails or wilfully neglects to give such notice he shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds or to imprisonment not exceeding three months.

The noble Viscount said: I cannot think it right that the clause should omit to state the penalty to be imposed. The penalty which I suggest in my Amendment is, I understand, from my noble friend, looked upon by himself and his advisers as somewhat savage, but if he has any alternative proposal to make should be glad to consider it. It does seem to me a little absurd to forbid a thing and then to have no penalty in regard to it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 32, line 17, at end insert the said words.—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


While it is true we do look upon the penalty suggested by the noble Viscount as a somewhat savage penalty, at the same time we do appreciate the point which my noble friend has raised. I would like to point out to him that this is by no means a solitary instance of omission in a measure of this kind of any specific penalty. I understand that it has been held by the Courts that where a Statute involving public interests (as this measure does) enjoins a duty on a person and that person wilfully fails to comply with it, he commits a Common Law misdemeanour, to which a penalty automatically attaches. It is unnecessary, therefore, to introduce a specific provision, such as the Amendment proposes. I would also like to point out that we do not think there is much likelihood in practice of the pension-paying authority remaining in ignorance of the pensioner's reappointment. Local authorities will doubtless find out—and can, if need be, be advised to do so, and indeed it is the intention of the Ministry to advise them to do so—information on the point from any applicant for appointment whose age is such that he may already be in receipt of a pension, and these authorities would naturally notify the pension-paying authority. I think that with that safeguard—the fact that it is a Common Law offence—the noble Lord will be satisfied.


I am satisfied with a great deal of what my noble friend has suggested, but on the question of likelihood, I think every likelihood in a Bill should be considered. As, however, persons who contravene this clause will be liable to some penalty I am quite satisfied and beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 31 agreed to.

Clauses 32 to 34 agreed to.

Clause 35 [Decision of questions, and appeals to the Minister]:


The next Amendment is a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 35, line 8, leave out ("or") and insert ("and").—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 35, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 36 [Schemes, rules and regulations]:


There is a drafting Amendment to this clause. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 35, line 27, at end insert: ("(3) The Minister may extend the time within which any scheme under this Act may be or is to be made or submitted.")—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 36, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 37 to 39 agreed to.

Clause 40:


40.—(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires— officer" means an employee as to whom either of the following conditions is satisfied, that is to say:—

  1. (a) that his duties are wholly or mainly administrative, professional or clerical; or
  2. (b) that his remuneration is at a rate greater than two hundred and fifty pounds 550 per annum and that he is not an employed contributor within the meaning of the National Health Insurance Act, 1936;

THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved, in the definition of "officer," to leave out "either" and insert "any," in order afterwards to add to that definition: or (c) directly and regularly employed on duties in any hospital or institution maintained by a local authority. The noble Earl said: The object of the two Amendments which stand in my name is to bring council servants as well as council officers into the compulsory superannuation scheme. As the Bill is drafted council officers come under the compulsory scheme whereas council servants come only under a permissive scheme, a scheme which in the view of the local authority it is desirable should be brought into force. In order to make the real object of the Amendment clear to your Lordships I am afraid I shall have to tell you the history of superannuation schemes as regards Poor Law officers or, as they are now, public assistance officers.

As far back as 1864 when the Poor Law was administered, as your Lordships know, by boards of guardians, an Act was passed dealing with both officers and servants. So many anomalies arose that in 1896 a compulsory scheme was set up on a 2 per cent. basis which applied not only to officers but to every wage-earning employee That worked very well until the Local Government Act of 1929 came into force and the boards of guardians were abolished. In the meantime, in 1922, an Act was passed which applied to the council officers and made it permissible for a superannuation scheme to be brought into force for both officers and servants. When the boards of guardians were clone away with public assistance officers and servants came under the 1922 Act, but an option was given them either to continue under the 1896 Act or to come under the 1922 Act in cases where it was applicable to them. Since the 1st April, 193o, employees of the council have not been eligible under the 1896 Act, and therefore they come under the 1922 Act, which applies to county council officers. The purpose of this Bill is to set up a compulsory scheme for county council officers, but it leaves the servants of the council with only a permissible scheme.

It seems to me that you will get two people doing identical jobs dealt with in two ways, one coming under the compulsory and one under the permissive scheme. A servant of the council who was under the board of guardians before 1930 would come under the compulsory scheme whereas any servant of the council who had joined the service since 1930 would come under the permissive scheme. That is an anomaly which should be done away with. To give an example, in the past nurses had to do all sorts of jobs which might have resulted in their being looked on as servants, but now owing to the emancipation of the nursing profession nurses do not have to do the rough jobs and orderlies do them. The orderly becomes a servant. I may take another example which I will term that of the "black squad." Those of your Lordships who know anything about ships will understand the men I refer to, the men who tend the furnaces below. They have to come up and clear away the refuse of the operating theatre. It seems to me that they run just as many risks as the people in the operating theatre, yet they do not come under the compulsory scheme. I very much hope that the Government, who lately have been sweetly reasonable towards Amendments in this House, may consider this Amendment favourably and if they cannot accept it now will promise that something will be done on the Report stage.

Amendment moved— Page 39, line 39, leave out ("either") and insert ("any").—(The Earl of Kinnoull.)


I hope that the Government are always reasonable, but I am afraid that I cannot accept this Amendment. I would like to remind the noble Earl that a similar Amendment was moved in another place and the mover expressed satisfaction with the Minister's reply. Apparently the noble Earl, although he belongs to the same Party as the honourable member in another place, is not satisfied. The object of the noble Earl's Amendment is to make the whole staff of any hospital or other municipal institution compulsorily superannuable. That is a fundamental alteration of the principles of the Bill, which limits the obligation imposed upon local authorities to the superannuation of whole-time officers. Although the Amendment is drafted in wide terms, embracing hospitals and any other municipal institution, I understand it is moved primarily on behalf of that body of municipal employees which corresponds to the old Poor Law staff of the board of guardians. These employees, as a whole, used to be compulsorily superannuable by virtue of the Poor Law Officers Superannuation Act, 1896. In fact, what the Amendment proposes is a complete reversal of the considered view of Parliament expressed in 1929 when, by the Local Government Act of that year, the Poor Law Officers Superannuation Act of 1896 was specifically repealed in its general application to the public assistance staff of the authorities who then displaced the guardians, though the position, as regards superannuation rights, of existing Poor Law employees to be transferred to the new authorities was, of course, safeguarded.

The Act of 1896 was a superannuation Act applicable to a particular service, quite distinct at that time from all other local government services and administered by a different set of authorities. But when the county and county borough councils became the public assistance authorities after the Act of 1929, it was no doubt recognised by Parliament that the persons who would be employed in their service in the performance of public assistance (or what had formerly been known as Poor Law) duties would not form either the largest or the most important part of their staff, and that, inasmuch as there was not in force any Statute which compelled them to superannuate the rest of their staff, it would be impossible to continue to require the compulsory superannuation of their public assistance staff. If the Amendment were made, it would mean that, in addition to whole-time officers, part-time officers and servants employed in any sort of hospital or institution—Poor Law, public health or of any other description—would be compulsorily superannuable. I have tried to show that we do not think there is any case for again making Poor Law employees as such, or any particular class of them, compulsorily superannuable, and we do not see that there is any case for singling out any other type of "institutional" employee for this privilege. Even if the argument based on the old position of Poor Law employees under the Act of 1896 were accepted as relevant, there would be no case for making a distinction within the category of Poor Law employees between those employed in institutions and outdoor staff—as, for instance, part-time relieving officers, district medical officers, and so forth, all of whom used to be compulsorily superannuable under the Act of 1896. I hope that the noble Earl is satisfied with that explanation in the same way as his colleague in another place was satisfied.


I am afraid I am not so accommodating as my colleague in another place. I am not at all satisfied. It is perfectly true that this Amendment, or an Amendment very similar, was moved in another place, but since then a deputation has been received by the Minister of Health of those for whom I speak—the National Union of County Officers—and I was hoping that, as a result, the Minister might have been more accommodating. The noble Viscount said with regard to the Local Government Act, 1929, that this was not envisaged. Many people, however, who were employed by councils took it more or less for granted that some Act envisaging compulsory superannuation for all wage-earning employees of councils was thought of at that time, and they thought that when this Bill was brought in it would envisage also the servants of councils. I think that is the general view held by a very large number of employees of councils. I understand that this particular Amendment will affect somewhere in the region of 200,000 people. If I am wrong, perhaps the noble Earl will correct me, but I am told that the number is perhaps 200,000. It should therefore have a big effect. I am sorry that the noble Viscount who speaks on behalf of the Government will not accept the Amendment. I have no intention of troubling your Lordships by pressing it to a Division, but I am quite prepared to have it negatived.


I should like to say, before the Question is put, that I do not think it is true that the Government ever gave any undertaking to employees engaged after the passing of the Local Government Act that they would be put into compulsory insurance. Perhaps the noble Earl is talking about those who were previously in compulsory insurance and, after the passing of the 1929 Act, were given the right to opt whether they would go on under the old terms of the 1896 Act or go into voluntary insurance under the new Act.


I do not say that the Government gave any undertaking; I merely said that I thought it was generally understood by county council officers and servants as intended.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 40 agreed to.

Clause 41 [Repeals and construction of references]:


This Amendment is drafting.

Amendment moved— Page 42, line 28, leave out lines 28 to 31.—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 41, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 42 agreed to.

First Schedule:


This Amendment is consequential.

Amendment moved— Page 43, line 32, leave out ("1935") and insert ("1937").—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Second Schedule:


The Amendments in my name to this Schedule are really drafting and consequential, but I can explain them if necessary. I beg to move.


With your Lordships' permission, I will put the Amendments en bloc. There are several of them.

Amendments moved—

Page 47, line 11, leave out from ("as") to the end of line 14 and insert ("is remuneration for duties corresponding to the duties in respect of which he was, immediately before the appointed day, subject to the Act of 1896;"

Page 47, line 17, leave out ("the said part of his remuneration") and insert ("so much of his remuneration as aforesaid")

Page 47, line 21, leave out ("the said part of his remuneration") and insert ("so much of his remuneration as aforesaid")

Page 51, line 6, after ("subsection") insert ("(3) of Section three and subsections (5) and")

Page 54, line 44, at end insert— ("4. Where the fund out of which the remuneration of a mental hospital employee was or is paid by the body under which he was or becomes such an employee is not the fund out of which superannuation allowances are paid to such employees, the foregoing provisions of this Part of this Schedule shall have effect subject to such modifications as may be prescribed."—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Second Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining Schedules agreed to.