HL Deb 09 March 1938 vol 108 cc28-30

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill looks rather complicated and technical, and amends a large number of Acts, but its purpose is a very simple one. There are a number of staffs of various public or quasi-public bodies enumerated in the Schedule to the Bill who are not civil servants and to whom therefore the Civil Service superannuation code embodied in the Superannuation Acts does not apply. They have always been pensioned under special Acts the intention of which has been to give them much the same terms as civil servants. Those special Acts are now in some respects out of date or defective, and the purpose of this Bill is to amend them so that the full Civil Service superannuation code may be applied to the staffs concerned. This is done by Clause 1 of the Bill, which gives the various authorities concerned, without derogation from their existing powers, any powers which they may at present lack to grant to their officers the full benefits of the Civil Service code.

The chief power at present lacking is that which was conferred on civil servants by Section 2 of the Superannuation Act, 1935, whereby subject to certain conditions a retiring civil servant can provide a pension (either at once or on his death) for his wife or other dependant by surrendering a part of his own pension. This is commonly known as a Civil Service allocation scheme. There are one or two other types of benefit which are at present unauthorised in some of the cases covered by this Bill. The most important are payment of gratuities to dependants of officers dying during service or shortly after retirement, and grants (otherwise than under the Workmen's Compensation Acts) to officers injured on duty or, in case of fatal injury, to their dependants. It is proposed to give retrospective effect to Clause 1 of the Bill, partly because death gratuities have regularly been paid to Metropolitan Police staffs under the Police Act, 1909, which is now found to be defective in that respect, and partly because certain features of the Civil Service code have been applied to lighthouse staffs with the sanction of the Beard of Trade, although not strictly authorised by Statute, on the understanding that the position would be regularised by legislation as soon as possible.

Clause 2 allows the distribution of small sums due on the death of an officer without requiring the claimants to produce probate or letters of administration. This, too, is a provision which applies to civil servants under their superannuation code. The clause is applied only in the case of staffs in Part I of the Schedule: the reason is that this power already exists in the two cases in Part II of the Schedule, namely, the Ecclesiastical Commission and Queen Anne's Bounty. The Bill, I think, is a useful small measure designed to confer on the staffs benefits which, in accordance with the intention of Parliament in the past, it is right that they should have, and I hope that your Lordships will approve it and grant it a Second Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Templemore.)

On Question, Bill read 2a and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.