HL Deb 30 June 1949 vol 163 cc617-37

3.5 p.m.

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

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Pakenham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF DROGHEDA in the Chair]

Clauses 1 to 25 agreed to.

Clause 26 [Avoidance of nominations]:

THE MINISTER OF CIVIL AVIATION (LORD PAKENHAM) moved to leave out subsection (4). The noble Lord said: I hope the Committee will allow me to speak to the first two Amendments standing in my name together. Noble Lords will remember that Part II of the Bill proposes a contributory scheme whereby civil servants can provide for dependants, other than widows and their own children, up to a maximum of three. Subsection (4) of Clause 26, which it is now proposed to omit, was designed to cover such a case as that of a woman civil servant who had nominated two or three children other than her own—the maximum, as I have said, being three—and had later married. The marriage of itself would not invalidate these nominations, as would be the result in the case of a man nor would the birth of a child by that marriage, unless her husband was incapable of providing for the child to that the child was dependent on her. But once she has a child of her own who is dependent on her—for example, on widowhood—then under subsection (3) of Clause 23, the existence of a dependent child of her own automatically invalidates the earlier nominations she had made.

The object of this Amendment, which gives effect to the original purposes of the clause is to make provision for the case where a civil servant is bona fide unaware of these consequences until death or retirement, when it is too late to correct the situation. The proposed new subsection to Clause 27 makes provision for such a case by allowing the Treasury in such circumstances to direct that the same results are to follow as if the nominator had taken immediate steps as soon as she had a dependant of her own, to nominate her own child and such of the other children as were within the quota of three. This Amendment is to correct a minor technical defect in the clause. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 20, line 36, leave out subsection (4).—(Lord Pakenham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 26, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 27 [Renominations of nominees under previous nominations which have become void]:


This is the Amendment which connects with the Amendment which we have just carried. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 21, line 9, at end insert— ("(2) Where a nomination validly made has become void at any time on the ground that a child of the nominator might then have been but was not a nominee of his and the nominator has died or retired without having made a new nomination, the Treasury may, if in the circumstances they think fit so to do, direct that the provisions of this Act shall have effect as if the nominator, immediately after the event by which the nomination was avoided, had nominated the person who was the nominee under the nomination (or, where more than one nomination was avoided by that event, such of those persons as may be specified in the direction) and had also nominated his child.")—(Lord Pakenham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 27, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 28 to 35 agreed to.

Clause 36 [Additions to pensions, etc., for service after retiring age in certain cases]:


This Amendment also corrects a technical defect in the clause, as it appeared hitherto. The intention of subsections (7) and (8) was to enable any person who had rendered service after the retiring age before the passing of the Act and who was in post on or after December 3, 1948, to count any such service. Your Lordships will observe that it makes provision for civil servants to count such service for pension if the retiring age was reached after December 3, 1948, but before the passing of the Act. There is at present a small gap. This Amendment remedies the anomaly and enables such service to count. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 30, line 28, leave out from ("Act") to ("the") in line 29.—(Lord Pakenham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 36, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 37 to 44 agreed to.

LORD SCHUSTER moved, after Clause 44, to insert the following new clause:

Provision for computing amount of superannuation to persons holding professional and other special offices.

"—(1) This section applies to employment in any such office or class of offices as the Treasury may by Order specify as being of such a nature that, for the due and efficient discharge of the duties thereof, such professional or other specialised qualifications or experience not ordinarily acquired in the civil service as may be specified in the Order are required, and that it is in the public interest that persons should be appointed thereto at an age exceeding that at which persons ordinarily become civil servants.

(2) When a person is admitted to the civil service with a certificate from the Civil Service Commissioners for the purpose of undertaking employment to which this section applies, the said certificate shall specify the number of years spent in acquiring such professional or other specialised qualifications or experience as aforesaid by that person while between the ages of twenty and forty years and before the date of such admission:

Provided that for the purposes of any such certificate no account shall be taken of any years in respect of which any such person at the date of his admission to the civil service is entitled under any superannuation scheme to a superannuation allowance or other money payment on attaining the appropriate age specified in that scheme.

(3) Subject to the provisions of this section, in computing the amount of any superannuation allowance, additional allowance or gratuity in the case of a civil servant who was recruited for employment to which this I section applies, there shall be reckoned in addition to the number of years which would, apart from this subsection, fall to be reckoned for any of the purposes aforesaid—

  1. (a) if he has attained the retiring age, the number of years specified in the said certificate from the Civil Service Commissioners; or
  2. (b) if he has not attained the retiring age, a proportion of that number varying with the number of years of his actual service:

Provided that this subsection shall not apply to any person in respect of whom the Treasury has directed that he shall be subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of section two of the Superannuation Act, 1946 (which enables the service of certain late entrants to the Civil Service to be reckoned at eight fifths of its actual length) and whose service would be of greater length, if reckoned in accordance with that subsection, than if reckoned in accordance with this subsection.

(4) The Treasury may make rules for securing that, in such circumstances and subject to such conditions as to proof of professional or other qualifications or experience and of such other matters as may be specified in the rules, the amount of any superannuation allowance, additional allowance or gratuity in the case of any person who at the date of the passing of this Act is a civil servant and employed in employment to which this section applies shall be computed in accordance with the provisions of subsection (3) of this section.

(5) Any order under this section may be revoked or varied by a subsequent order of the Treasury.

(6) The powers conferred by this section to make orders and rules shall be exercisable by statutory instrument."

The noble Lord said: I have for far too long been either an Officer or otherwise in this House not to feel a sense of great diffidence whenever I address it; and my diffidence on this occasion is increased by other circumstances, among them the fact that I am conscious of standing between the Committee and the resumption of the discussion on the Iron and Steel Bill. Another reason is that this matter to which I am drawing attention is a highly technical one, and can be dealt with only in technical language. I therefore fear that I am not likely to arouse or sustain your Lordships' interest. Lastly, I am told that it is of great importance that this Bill should receive the Royal Assent at the earliest moment possible. Every day that passes increases the risk that someone may be deprived of the benefit which he would have received if the Bill had passed. I fear that I can take no responsibility, however, for any delay that occurs if I succeed in in-clueing the Committee to approve and accept my Amendment. It is always open to the Government to insert a clause making the benefits retrospective, say, to the date of Second Reading. If the proposals for the benefits are meritorious, there is no real reason why the Government should not take that course.

I feel hound to move for these reasons, among others. This is an almost age-long controversy and this, though perhaps not the final, is a later stage in that controversy which has continued now for something like a hundred years. This may he our last chance for a long time to bring the matter before Parliament and to cause it to be debated. I have the support of the Law Society, with whose assistance this Amendment was prepared. I have the support of the Bar Council. I have the express support of the Royal Institute of British Architects and, though I am not entitled to vouch for it, I believe I have the support of the British Medical Association. Above all, apart from these supports, I have at heart the interests of the Service which I served for many years and in which I had every opportunity of observing how matters worked.

I must trouble your Lordships with a little technical detail and a little history. The first Superannuation Act was passed, I believe, in 1834. It is actually on the basis of the Act of 1859, passed just ninety years ago, that the present large field of legislation is based. The idea of the Act of 1859 on the whole has been adhered to since, though with many alterations, so that, for instance, a man who entered the Service at whatever age should, by the time he left it, have passed in it a certain number of years in accordance with which his pension should be reckoned, and that that number of years should be such as to give him what is sometimes called a two-thirds' pension on his retirement. Forty years was, and is still, the normal period for the purpose. The ordinary entrant into the administrative grades enters the Service practically as soon as, or very soon after, he comes down from the university. Therefore, the possible or probable retiring age being between sixty and sixty-five, he will complete his forty years and earn his full pension before the end of his service comes.

But the lawyer, the architect and the doctor, if they are to be properly chosen in respect of their possession of legal, architectural and medical qualifications, must necessarily enter later. The Treasury regulations lay down the age of between twenty-six and thirty-five years as being the normal age of entry for that kind of person. If you enter at thirty-five years of age and you are going to be retired at sixty years of age (which, I am sorry to say, is often the case now) you cannot earn a full pension or anything like it. Although people probably did not anticipate that the retiring age would have dropped from sixty-five to sixty, the framers of the Act of 1859 still had regard to that principle. They desired that these extraneous people (if I may call them so) should have the same opportunities as the administrative class of earning full pensions before retiring. Therefore, they inserted a provision enabling the Treasury to grant what we call "added years" to the years which the man had actually served when he left the Service. Of course, it was not intended that the Treasury should act capriciously in respect of particular cases, but that they should make orders in relation to certain classes of men—for instance, the people we now call legal assistants—granting seven, ten, or five years as attaching to the holding of that office, so that the lawyer, architect or doctor should have the same opportunity as the man in the administrative class had of earning a full and proper pension by the time he retired. For some reason which it is difficult to understand, that particular provision was always greatly disliked in certain directing quarters, and, ever since I can remember, the Treasury have always wished to get rid of it.

In 1888 the Ridley Commission recommended that it should go, and they joined with that recommendation this curious recommendation: Such a man, they said, having described the kind of person I have just mentioned, is better remunerated by sufficient salary, which, by an immediate charge, is likely to receive greater attention than a prospective addition to pension. On that argument, all I can do is to adopt an observation made by the Barlow Committee, to which I shall have to allude in a moment, who said: The reasons for which it was condemned are nowhere clearly stated and we are not satisfied that we have fully understood them. I certainly have not fully understood them, and I do not think that anybody else has either, because, in spite of that recommendation and the fact that subsequently "added years" have been taken away, special arrangements have still been made for special classes of people, which comes to much the same thing. By these "added years," numbers of legal officials have their pensions arranged so that, for example, in twenty-five years they can accumulate as much merit as they would have accumulated in forty years under the original plan, and so on.

I do not want to go into more technical detail than I can help. The object of the Amendment, therefore, is as I have just stated, and I do not think its merits require much argument. What I propose to do is to use arguments which have been stated by persons much more capable of judging than I am, and much more capable of putting what they have to say into words, and particularly the two Committees, one presided over by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, and the other presided over by Sir Alan Barlow. Sir Alan Barlow's Committee, which was the first of the two, was appointed in, I think, 1944, or it reported in 1944—I am not sure which it was—and it had to deal with this particular matter when considering the question of the legal departments generally. I have already quoted one sentence from their Report, but they go on to say: One at least of the reasons for the abolition of 'added years' does not hold good to-day, namely, that given by the Ridley Commission in 1888, who expressed the view that cases in which men entered the service after the normal recruiting age were better dealt with by increased remuneration than by increased pension. The cases of officers serving in the departments to which this report applies have not in fact been dealt with by that or any other method, and, in view of the effect of taxation … the method suggested in 1888 would clearly be unsuitable now. Then they make various recommendations for the improvement of salaries in the department, and they go on to say— Our other recommendations cannot be expected to produce the desired results unless substantial improvements are made in the pension conditions applicable to members of the legal civil service either by the re-introduction of a system of 'added years' or otherwise. When I say "the legal civil service" I hope your Lordships will remember that I am thinking about architects and doctors just as much as about legal people, and the arguments apply to them all. The Committee therefore went on to make certain recommendations, and guarding provisions which I have endeavoured to incorporate in my Amendment. Lastly they recommend: the raising of salaries to the scales shown in"— a particular column which they specify— and the provision of adequate pensions for legal civil servants.

I do not like using the names of civil servants in this House or anywhere else, either for praise or for blame, but in this case I am bound to mention the people who formed that Committee so that your Lordships can judge of the authority they had to make recommendations of this kind. That Committee was presided over by Sir Alan Barlow, who was then Second Secretary at the Treasury, and other members were Sir Granville Ram, who is Senior Treasury Counsel, Sir Frank Newsam, who was Deputy Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office and is now Permanent Under-Secretary, and Mr. S. H. Brown, who is a partner in the firm of Linklater and Paines which is probably known to your Lordships as a well-known firm of conveyancers and general solicitors in Lincoln's Inn. That is the first of the two Committees.

The other, one on which I very greatly rely—and I hope Lord Chorley will support me—made very similar proposals. I am sure he will be glad to hear his own words of wisdom. After dealing with this problem they say: Another problem is raised by the fact that certain classes of civil servants, that is doctors and lawyers, do not as a rule enter the service until they have had some postgraduate experience in other fields, and thus do not serve for long enough to qualify for maximum pension. Special arrangements have been made in exceptional cases, under Section 2 of the Superannuation Act, 1946,"— I will come to that later— to credit late entrants with 'added years' for superannuation purposes; we think those arrangements ought to be extended more widely. That is what my clause is designed to do. Unless you require, as I was going to say, Moses and the Prophets, I do not think I need add anything to what both those Committees have already recommended.

I have not yet heard nor has anybody else, any reasoned argument to the contrary. It is quite true that when this matter was debated in the House of Commons they, or the Committee, were told that they ought to wait and see how things worked under Section 2 of the Superannuation Act, 1946, which does, to some extent, but to a very distant extent, deal with this matter. If your Lordships will look at the Superannuation Act, 1946, of which I am afraid I must read the two relevant subsections, you will see there is very little reference to this particular question. It begins: If with respect to any person becoming a civil servant after attaining the age of forty years"— then something happens. As I have already told your Lordships, the normal entrance age for the people of whom I am talking is 26 to 35, and under that section they can obtain no advantage whatever, nor does it help recruitment in any way.

The Act also says: If with respect to any person becoming a civil servant between the ages of thirty-five and forty years the Treasury have directed that he shall be subject to the provisions of the last foregoing subsection, the provisions of the last foregoing subsection shall apply in his case accordingly. The knowledge that possibly the Treasury may make an order dealing with a person after he reaches the age of 35 again will not help to recruit people between the ages of 26 and 35. I think only five orders of this kind have ever been made and they cannot affect the particular class of person of whom I am thinking. There are other limiting provisions in the Act of 1946, but they are too technical for me to trouble your Lordships with them.

In those circumstances I wish to press the Government very hard indeed to meet me on this matter. When I was discussing it earlier, and before I came here, somebody said to me "What you want to do is to spend more money?" The last thing I want to do is to spend more money, above all on civil servants. But if we are to spend money, it should be spent so that it is likely to produce the best possible result. You do not produce the best possible result if you do not offer to entrants coming into the Civil Service such advantages as are likely to attract the best people for the purpose in view. The result may be very serious indeed. Some of these men when in the Civil Service will have to deal with matters of very great importance, socially and financially. The officers in the office of the Treasury Solicitor deal continuously with sums running into millions of pounds. It is very desirable indeed that those men should be of the highest possible quality. Ban these Committees have reported that people, of the highest quality cannot be obtained in present circumstances.

This service in the past has produced very distinguished civil servants. Looking back, I would mention such men as Lord Tring, who was the original Parliamentary Counsel, the late Lord Dysart, who many of us remember was Treasury Solicitor, and among those who fortunately are still alive although no longer in public service is Sir Maurice Gwynne. All these men received "added years" on entrance. They all lived laborious lives. They all made an immense contribution towards the administrative life of this country and to the Government in particular. Such men must be obtained if the work is to be done. I do not want to say anything unpleasant about His Majesty's Government or of anybody, but of late years undoubtedly legislation has greatly increased the number of legal problems as against the conditions fifty years ago, just as it has increased the number of problem; with regard to health, architecture and architectural planning; and, regrettable as it may be, unavoidably it has extended the Civil Service.

The sources from which entrants can be drawn, so far as the Bar and the solicitors' profession are concerned, are very limited, and, of course, there is great temptation to take just anyone who comes along. It is very desirable to find the kind of man who is prepared to work hard and to sacrifice his possible prospect at the Bar or in practice as a solicitor, the kind of man who is usually inspired to leave the Bar or leave the solicitors' profession because he wishes to make some more definite contribution towards the national life than is possible if he is carrying on an independent practice and is not engaged in public affairs. These are the people we want to attract. Both Committees have reported that they cannot be attracted in sufficient numbers without some arrangement like this. I earnestly press upon His Majesty's Government that such provision should be made, and I beg to move the Amendment.

Amendment moved— After Clause 44, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Schuster.)

3.32 p.m.


Before speaking on this Amendment may I remind your Lordships of the personal interest which I am under obligation to declare? I am a member of the National Whitley Council, Staff Side, the body which negotiated with His Majesty's Government the Bill which is now before the Committee. May I say how much I appreciate the kindly thought expressed by Lord Schuster in moving this Amendment? May I also congratulate him on the way in which he has put over a very difficult case? My noble friend and I do not find this a new doctrine to discuss because over twenty years ago we were both members of the National Whitley Council. We sat then, as now, facing each other, and we tackled this problem as one which, even then, had been outstanding over a long period of time. There can be no doubt of the validity of the case which has been made by the noble Lord or of the complete justification for a claim for added years. Over a long period, the National Whitley Council, Staff Side, have agitated for this and many other desirable reforms of the Superannuation Acts, and, in the result, have secured from Parliament a succession of amending Acts—the Acts of 1935 and 1946 being notable Acts which have improved Civil Service superannuation.

The Bill now before the Committee, and on which I had the privilege of addressing your Lordships when it was read a second time, is one which carries out the largest-scale improvements of Civil Service superannuation ever undertaken. In negotiations on this kind of thing, as one would expect, we did not always come out with everything that we had hoped to obtain. In the course of those negotiations we failed to secure for the Civil Service three important items. Added years, to which the noble Lord has referred in moving his Amendment were one, an additional amount of money for the gratuities of temporary staffs dismissed from the Civil Service was another, and more important than both of those together was the third—the counting of unestablished service for superannuation purposes. It was agreed that those who signed the agreement having failed to obtain those three items were at liberty to make use of their constitutional and democratic right to approach Members of both Houses of Parliament to try to secure alterations in the Bill during its passage through Parliament. As a result, in Standing Committee B of the other place there was a defeat of the Government on the major issue I have mentioned—that of counting unestablished service for superannuation purposes.

When the Bill came before the other House on Report, the Chancellor of the Exchequer resisted the change, and the decision of Standing Committee B was reversed. The Bill, therefore, went back into its original form, with none of the three additional items which I have mentioned embodied in it. That, naturally, was something which those of us who had been taking part in the agitation regretted. We realised, however, that we still had an agreement to which we were parties and that we had a magnificent Bill, though there are many more things which we shall ask the Government to introduce in due course, including the three items that I have mentioned. When the Bill came to this Chamber, I had to look at my own humble position, and to consider whether I would table an Amendment which I was not debarred from tabling by any undertaking to the Treasury. I also looked with great interest to see whether any other noble Lords, particularly from the Benches opposite, would move Amendments. But what we were conscious of was that anything which we did at any stage of the Bill's progress in this House—if I may say so candidly—would be nothing more than a gesture.

If we "propaganded" here by moving Amendments, and if we were fortunate enough to secure for them the approval of your Lordships, thereby bringing about defeat of the Government, those Amendments would have gone back to the other place. We should have had the same battle all over again, and eventually the result would have been the same. We had no reason to expect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had resisted the large cost of counting unestablished service for superannuation purposes, would give way on the second occasion. If this Amendment is carried now, much as l like it in principle and pleased as I should be to see it enacted, the truth is that, from the Civil Service point of view, the whole balance of events will be upset. Those who have been handling these discussions in the formative stage during the last eighteen months would be bound, if this Amendment were sent to the Commons, to want to suggest on the Report Stage these other Amendments that I have indicated, which are all important. We should have a battle on those and, eventually, there would probably be rejection of all of them in the other place on the grounds of their cost. To carry an Amendment of this kind and not to carry one embodying the major reform which we are seeking—that of counting unestablished service, a question which is causing great agitation in the Civil Service—would, in the opinion of many of us, be most unwise.

If we carried this very desirable Amendment all we should do would be to cause unnecessary delay in the passage of the Bill, which is something which we are anxious to avoid. It is no mere figure of speech to say that every day worthy men in His Majesty's Civil Service pass on without the benefits of the widows' pension and other benefits contained in this measure. May I remind the noble Lord, Lord Schuster, that there are one or two dear colleagues, in the Treasury and elsewhere, and known to both of us, who have passed on in recent weeks without recieving the benefits which will be conferred by this measure. Therefore, I have reached this conclusion. Though this Amendment is one which I should dearly like to see inserted in the Bill, though it does something which I shall hope to see both Houses of Parliament adopt and pass into law before I pass on, I think it is right now to urge my noble friend, having ventilated this matter so fully, to withdraw the Amendment so that the passage of the Bill may not be delayed.

3.40 p.m.


I desire to say just a few words in support of the Amendment which has been moved by my noble friend Lord Schuster. I venture to do so despite the persuasive advice which has been given to him by the noble Lord who has just sat down. I think I can put in the briefest aril simplest fashion the point which I want to make. If your Lordships will look at the Amendment you will see that it relates to a class of persons who al e professional and who have specialised qualifications which can be secured only outside the Civil Service and before they enter it. It is therefore only natural that they should enter the Service late. The class of such persons whom I know best are lawyers, but of coarse all those concerned are not exclusively lawyers. To the question: "Is there a class of persons whom it is desirable to have in the Civil Service with special qualifications secured outside?" the answer I give, with some emphasis, is, "Yes."

For some years—from 1914 to 1917— on the invitation of that very eminent and able civil servant, Sir Eyre Crowe, I advised the department which he set up on legal matters and spent some hours most days between 1914 and 1915 in contact with the Civil Service. The impression I derived then was that a lawyer in a department like that was absolutely, useless unless he had obtained his qualifications beforehand in practice and in experience of life. That is the only class to whom this provision applies. I am satisfied that to obtain such persons at the proper age and with proper qualifications we must have a provision like this. I have never heard of any other satisfactory way of doing it. I think it would be an economy and not an expenditure to pass this. With regard to the plea of the noble Lord who has just sat down, it really amounts to this: that because he cannot have the whole loaf, he will not give my noble friend this little bit of bread. I do not think your Lordships should assent to that proposition. It is an egalitarian doctrine, no doubt, but the conditions are different and the qualifications are different, and I think the House should provide for people with qualifications such as are the subject matter of this clause.


I do not want to prolong this discussion at this stage and at this time. It is unfortunate that it cannot be ventilated more fully because it is a very important matter. It would be an act of elementary justice to a very important body of people who enter the Civil Service later in life and who bring to it special qualifications which they have learned in their experience outside. I feel the House is indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Schuster, for raising this question, and I wish to express my complete sympathy with all that has been said in favour of some alteration, if it can be secured.


I do not intend to intervene at any length in this matter, on which I am afraid I am not qualified to express a view, but I feel sure that the Government will realise that the noble Lord, Lord Schuster, speaks on this subject with a very special authority, derived from a lifelong experience of it. I am sure that they, like us, have been impressed by the deep conviction with which he spoke. I imagine that it is not the intention of the noble Lord to press his Amendment to a Division for, as he knows, this is a question on which varying views are held in all Parties, but I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, when he comes to reply for the Government, even if he is not in a position to make any commitment for them—as I imagine may well be the case—will at any rate be able to assure the noble Lord that the Government will give further serious consideration to this matter in the light of what he said.


The noble Lord, Lord Schuster, began by saying that he was diffident about his capacity to address the Committee and hold its attention. I feel that if the noble Lord, with his remarkable grasp of fact and language, is to feel diffident, some of the rest of us should possibly quake at the knees. I hope that the noble Lord will never feel that he will not hold the attention of all members of the House capable of following a rational argument delivered by a great authority—and that means literally the whole House. I followed him not only with great care but with great interest. Of course, I will assent to the suggestion of the noble Marquess that I should ask the Government to look further into this matter, but it would be wrong for me to suggest that there is much, or indeed any, likelihood, so far as I know, of change of view. I say that, not because the noble Lord did not put his case with great force, but because this has been very carefully considered by the Government already. I cannot do more than say I will lay the noble Lord's remarks before my right honourable friend, but I am afraid I must not raise his hopes to any degree.

I think the noble Lord was again perhaps too modest in saying that he did not feel the merits of the case needed argument. I think they do need argument, from both sides, and it seems to me that he put the arguments of one side very clearly. He was answered, from a slightly different angle from the one which preoccupies me, by the noble Lord, Lord Crook, who made a very effective contribution from that angle. But perhaps I may state the reasons why the Government have not been able to adopt the suggestion of the noble Lord after all this consideration going back some years—indeed, in the view of the noble Lord, going back over a hundred years. As the noble Lord has explained, broadly speaking the object of the proposed new clause is to allow professional civil servants to count for pension the years during which they were acquiring their professional qualifications. Take the simple case of a solicitor who joins the Civil Service, shall we say, at the age of twenty-seven, after four years of experience as a solicitor. Under the noble Lord's proposition, he would count for pension the four years prior to his entering the Service. That is the point, put very briefly. It is intelligibly argued by the noble Lord that it is impossible for some of these civil servants who come in later to serve sufficiently long for a maximum pension unless they count their years of training. That is the case which the noble Lord stated and which was reinforced by a strong legal authority behind him.

This is not one of these cases where one sweeps aside the point and says there is nothing in it. I can appreciate the force of the argument, but one has to balance it against a great many other arguments. The noble Lord said that the last thing he wanted to do is to spend more money on the Civil Service. It is not the last thing I want to do; it is one of the first; but it is the last thing I am afraid I am able to do this afternoon. In that sense we come together. There is a strong case for doing still more, if we had the money, for all branches of the Government service, including the very important people whom the noble Lord has specially in mind.

Let me set out the arguments against this proposition, apart from the broad economic position of the country. Pension, like pay, is part of the remuneration for the work, and we see no reason why civil servants of this kind, in the normal course of events, should receive a pension for forty years' service if less than forty years have been served. Whatever people say about training for service, it cannot be regarded as the same as service, and we would be conferring a special advantage on these people if we treated training for service in that Way. Statistics on this matter are not easy to come by, but I would mention that the classes the noble Lord has in mind tend to get higher pay not only during their career but also at the time of their retirement, and it is at that time that pay is taken for calculation of pension. On the whole they tend to be rather higher paid than the average. Thirdly, in so far as special pension provisions are needed for late entrants, the Government view is that the existing powers given by Section 2 of the Superannuation Act, 1946, which deals with late entrants, are adequate. This Act, to which the noble Lord alluded, authorises the Treasury in the case of any individual—I stress the word "individual"; I am not now talking of an actual class—who enters the Service after the age of 35, to pension him, not on his actual service, but on his actual service multiplied by a maximum factor of eight-fifths, which I take it would be more generous in the case of such individuals than what the noble Lord has in mind. The object is to supply an incentive to a few professional men of high attainments, whose acquisition to the Civil Service is essential to the efficiency of a limited number of departments. I must make it plain that the Government do not feel that that Act could be, or should be, applied to whole categories; indeed, it could not be on a ratio of eight-fifths.

It is difficult to argue—though I do not want to lay too much stress on this —that the marginal difference in these cases between the pensions secured under the noble Lord's plan and the pensions provided by the Government would make the difference in late life between hardship and a reasonable standard, since in the majority of cases the new clause would tend merely to increase very slightly what are already adequate pensions. Finally, I would mention a small point—I agree that this could be corrected—which is that the clause as drafted by the noble Lord is technically defective, since it is based on the assumption that there is a normal age of recruitment to the Civil Service. As the noble Lord knows, there is no normal age for recruitment.


I do not accept that. I do not think any court would have difficulty in determining in a particular use what the normal age of recruitment is. Everybody knows what the normal age is.


I am sorry to have introduced the paint, if the noble Lord questions it.


I think that is playing with words. Everybody knows at what age people enter the administrative class. The ages are actually fixed by regulation. What the difficulty is in determining the normal age, I cannot imagine.


Recruitment varies from 16 to 24 years. I am advised that this alone makes the clause as drafted by the noble Lord unworkable.


I am quite prepared to alter the drafting of the clause in any way that is agreeable to the noble Lord. I am trying only to assert a principle. I endeavoured to put in as many guarding provisions as I could find for the sake of the Civil Service and the Commissioners. I am not in the least attached to the drafting of the clause. I am not much of a draftsman, and it is very difficult to draft a clause accurately.


I mentioned that as an additional point. It is the fifth objection, and I am ready to leave that out of the discussion. I thought it necessary to put on record that the clause as drafted by the noble Lord is unworkable. No one likes turning down any proposal which is commended with so much sweetness and authority as this has been by the noble Lord and his colleagues. No one likes doing anything at all which might seem in any way chilling to this most reputable clause in relation to entrants into the Civil Service. But the noble Lord, Lord Crook, has explained that, in the view of the Civil Service as a whole, there are other claims more pressing than these, and I have given three important reasons, at any rate, why the Government cannot accept the Amendment. I will certainly ask my colleagues to reconsider the matter but, as I said at the beginning, I am afraid I really cannot hold out any hope.


In courtesy to the noble Lord, and possibly in justice to myself, perhaps the Committee will bear with me if I reply. Running through the speech of the noble Lord there was this kind of thread: that we are trying to confer some benefit on some particular persons or class of persons. That is not the object of this clause. The object of this clause is to try to ensure that those persons who are recruited at the beginning, and enter with professional qualifications, are the best who can be found for the purpose. Of course, we cannot hope to recruit persons of such legal eminence—I will not mention any names—as some of those who sometimes sit on these Benches and on the Benches behind me. But we do hope, by holding out reasonable prospects, that we shall recruit the best people. Having recruited them, what we want is that they should be able to do their work in the way in which it is described in one of these Reports, where it says that the civil servant when he is doing his work ought not to be worrying himself about details of wretched, trivial finance, as to what will happen to him next and whether he is going to be ruined and have nothing to live upon. We are not trying to confer benefits upon people, but on the Service. It is for the sake of the Service, and that only, that we make these proposals. I entirely adopt what I think my noble friend Lord Roche said, that, in fact, improvements in the conditions of the recruitment of the legal Civil Service are likely to be highly remunerative to the State itself.

I would like to mention one further point which I think arises from the noble Lord's reply. If it does not, I hope he will pardon me. I attach great importance to the recruit being in the rather later than the earlier ages of the period of from 26 to 35 years. I do not believe we want a lawyer who is merely a man who has passed a good examination. What we want is the man who has come to know the law as an active, living thing, operating on men's minds, on their bodies and on their fortunes. That is equally true of a solicitor or a barrister. Therefore, if I were sitting on a Board—and I have sat on many of this kind—I would tend to select the older rather than the younger man, because I would prefer a man with knowledge gained from the world rather than the man with knowledge gained from books. I say that only because it adds to the point which I made, that we are trying to get the best men and are not hoping to give men we already have further advantages.

Meanwhile I am grateful to the noble Lord for his courtesy, for his kind observations about myself and for his patience and forbearance in listening to me. If I have the matter put to me as it has been put by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, I have no choice I cannot go on. In the circumstances, I would ask the leave of the Committee to withdraw this particular Amendment. I would, however, like to press on the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, how greatly we desire that the matter should be investigated. If I may venture to say so to my noble friend Lord Crook (we have been "enemies" for so many years, he will, I am sure, not mind my calling him that), I really cannot see why, because some great reform such as he desires cannot be carried out, this comparatively small reform, which is within an easy compass, can be implemented without great financial cost, and which speaks for itself on merits, cannot be carried out. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 45 to 52 agreed to.

LORD PAKENHAM moved, after Clause 52, to insert the following new clause:

Application to employees of Cable and Wireless, etc.

"…Section six of the Commonwealth Telegraphs Act. 1949 (which enables the Postmaster General to make regulations with respect to the pension rights of employees of Cable and Wireless Limited who enter the civil service of the State) shall have effect as if the references in paragraph (d) of subsection (2) of that section to the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1946, included references to this Act."

The noble Lord said: This new clause is required to extend the benefits of the Bill, in addition to those of the earlier Superannuation Acts, to the staff due to be transferred to the Civil Service when the Post Office take over Cable and Wireless. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 52 insert the said new clause. —(Lord Pakenham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Remaining clauses and Schedules agreed to.

House resumed.