In Committee on Finance. - Civil Service (Transferred Officers) Compensation Bill, 1929—Committee.

Thursday, 7 November 1929

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 32 No. 7

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Section 1 agreed to.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Section 2 formally confirms the agreement interpreting and supplementing Article X. of the Treaty, which is based on this Bill. As I indicated on the Money Resolution, we should like to have some definite declaration from the Minister for Finance as to whether that agreement is, in fact, based upon the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; whether we are to take it that the fact that he has entered into such an agreement with those who were parties to the appeal to the Judicial Committee is an indication that he does accept and feels himself bound by the decision. As I was saying, when the Minister was speaking in relation to this matter on the Second Stage I thought that he took rather an optimistic view of the present position of appeals to the Judicial Committee. He stated that the judgement which had been delivered in this case had occasioned such denunciations, even in the British Parliament, that the Judicial Committee has received a shock from which it will never recover. He went further and said that the result of the blunders committed has been to bring the question of appeals from this country to the Privy Council to an end. I should like to know whether we are to take that as a definite indication of the Government's future policy in this matter, because, strange as it may appear, there are people on the other side who do not think that the question of appeals to the Judicial Committee has been settled either by the statements which the Minister has made in this House or outside it or by the agreement which has now been entered into. For instance, I notice that in the House of Lords to-day Lord Danesfort has given notice that he will on Wednesday, 13th November, raise the question of the Free State Copyright Preservation Act and its bearing on appeals to the Privy Council. Therefore, as I said, this matter is not nearly so dead or so dormant as the Minister led the House to believe when speaking on the Second Stage.

It had been our intention, if we had been so permitted by the Chair, to introduce into the Bill a Preamble which would definitely clear away the ambiguity and doubt which now exist. That Preamble would have made it clear that in introducing the Bill the Minister was in no way questioning or accepting any disclaimer that the Supreme Court of Saorstát Eireann had not on the 1st day of April, 1929, in the case of Wigg and Cochrane finally determined the meaning and interpretation of Article X. of the Articles of Agreement, and that this Bill was being introduced altogether independently of any decision which the Judicial Committee had given in the matter. That is the position which we would like to see the Minister take up. It is the position which we had hoped to offer him an opportunity of taking up, but, unfortunately, in this matter the rules of order were against us. However, the Minister is not bound by the decision of the Chair, which I do not for one moment contest, that [969] a Preamble of the nature which I have indicated would be out of order, and he himself might even now, I think, by leave of the House, or upon the Report Stage, introduce such a Preamble to the Bill as would clarify the uncertain position. Unless, however, the Minister does indicate his willingness to introduce such a Preamble, or to agree to accept it, we on this side of the House will have to vote against the adoption of Section 2.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  Am I to take it that the Minister is absolutely averse to a declaration of this particular kind being put in the Bill? As Deputy MacEntee has said, it has only been suggested for the purpose of making his position clear as a responsible man who, having made a definite and important statement, honourably stands over it. Is the Minister averse to that action being taken? He undoubtedly could facilitate the House in so doing. We, unfortunately, are not in the position of being able to make clear, to those who will look at the records of this House for the purpose of finding whether our Ministers are men of their word or not, that the Minister for Finance in the Cumann na nGaedheal Government was intending to tell the truth when he made a certain statement and, having made it, was prepared to go through with it and see that it was the truth.

It is quite possible that this Bill does not, in fact, carry out the intention of the Minister. It is quite possible that in this Bill of interpretation in interpreting Article X. in precisely the opposite way to which our courts have decided it should be interpreted, that the Minister's intention is not being carried out. I am prepared to give him credit for that. The Bill may have been badly drafted. There may be lapses in it of one kind or another. It may not be clear in its purpose, and if the Minister wants to make good on that we are prepared to help him. The matter in a Bill, in a case of this kind, is something distinct from the intention of the Bill. If the intention of the Minister is to be [970] straight, then the matter of the Bill can be put right. But if the intention of the Minister is to be crooked, then the matter of this Bill fits in precisely with his intention.

I take it that when the responsible Minister of a Government, functioning willingly and consciously under the Treaty, said in relation to the decision of a court, which was contemplated in that Treaty, that its decisions did not concern him, that he was not interested—and these are very remarkable words—when he said that he meant that he was, in fact, repudiating the authority of that tribunal, or he might say that he only meant that he repudiated the authority of that tribunal when it did not agree with him. Is that the position he is taking up? Remember this is a Bill of interpretation. Its matter is entirely distinct from that. What is his interpretation? Is his interpretation intended to be the interpretation of the Saorstát High Courts? If it is, this Bill is a fraud.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I do not want to limit the Deputy if I can help it. But the Deputy up to the present is making a Second Reading speech. We are on Section 2 of the Bill, and while I recognise that it is the operative section of the Bill I think the Deputy is travelling too far.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  I do not want to. I am concerned to help the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I am not concerned with the Deputy's intention.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  I am very much concerned with the intention of the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I am not concerned with the intention of the Deputy or the Minister. For the moment I am concerned with keeping the Deputy in order.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  I quite agree. As I understand this particular section, it is a definite repudiation of the previous declarations of the Minister. That is sufficient reason to reject [971] this particular section. The operative matter of this section is repudiation of the authority which the Minister had previously claimed for the Saorstát High Courts. The matter of this particular operative section is an acknowledgement of the over-riding authority of the Privy Council in this matter, which the Minister had specifically repudiated. Now that may not be the intention of the Minister. This simply may be a foolish Bill instead of being a conscious, a frigid and calculated lie. It may only be a mistake. The Minister has the power unless he is forbidden by a higher authority than this Dáil to whom he submits this Bill, and to which in submitting it, he pretends to be submitting it to a sovereign authority, so to alter the Bill that it will make clear that whatever may be in the operative section of the Bill nothing in the operative section of the Bill is to be taken as a repudiation of the authority of the Saorstát High Courts or an acknowledgement of the overriding authority of the Privy Council over the Saorstát High Courts.

Why would he not do it? Because [972] he will not do it, and because he will not do that we must take it that the actual matter of this operative clause is his intention in the Bill; that he intends this Bill to be fraud; that he intends every Cumann na nGaedheal member who goes into the lobby to openly and consciously stand over a deliberate, cold and calculated lie.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  This is a Second Reading speech.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  He has an alternative. We want the Minister to find an honourable way out for this House and for himself, and unless he is prepared to find that honourable alternative it will be necessary for us to vote against this section.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I have already answered the points raised in my reply on Second Reading. I have nothing to add to what I said then upon this matter.

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  He has no answer to the charges.

Question put: That Section 2 stand part of the Bill.

Aird, William P.
Alton, Ernest Henry.
Anthony, Richard.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Blythe, Ernest.
Bourke, Séamus A.
Brennan, Michael.
Broderick, Henry.
Brodrick, Seán.
Carey, Edmund.
Cassidy, Archie J.
Cole, John James.
Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
Colohan, Hugh.
Conlon, Martin.
Cooper, Bryan Ricco.
Cosgrave, William T.
Craig, Sir James.
Crowley, James.
Davin, William.
Davis, Michael.
De Loughrey, Peter.
Doherty, Eugene.
Doyle, Edward.
Doyle, Peadar Seán.
Duggan, Edmund John.
Egan, Barry M.
Everett, James.
Fitzgerald-Kenney, James. [973]O'Hanlon, John F.
O'Higgins, Thomas.
O'Leary, Daniel.
O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.
O'Reilly, John J.
O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Rice, Vincent.
Good, John.
Gorey, Denis J.
Haslett, Alexander.
Hassett, John J.
Heffernan, Michael R.
Hennessy, Michael Joseph.
Hennessy, Thomas.
Hennigan, John.
Henry, Mark.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
Holohan, Richard.
Kelly, Patrick Michael.
Keogh, Myles.
Leonard, Patrick.
Lynch, Finian.
Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
McDonogh, Martin.
McFadden, Michael Og.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Mulcahy, Richard.
Murphy, James E.
Myles, James Sproule.
Nally, Martin Michael.
Nolan, John Thomas.
O'Connell, Richard.
O'Connell, Thomas J.
O'Connor, Bartholomew.
O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph. [974]Roddy, Martin.
Shaw, Patrick W.
Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
Thrift, William Edward.
Tierney, Michael.
Vaughan, Daniel.
White, Vincent Joseph.
Wolfe, George.

Aiken, Frank.
Allen, Denis.
Blaney, Neal.
Boland, Gerald.
Boland, Patrick.
Bourke, Daniel.
Brady, Seán.
Briscoe, Robert.
Buckley, Daniel.
Carney, Frank.
Colbert, James.
Cooney, Eamon.
Corkery, Dan.
Corry, Martin John.
Crowley, Fred Hugh.
Crowley, Tadhg.
Derrig, Thomas.
De Valera, Eamon.
Fahy, Frank.
Flinn, Hugo.
Fogarty, Andrew.
French, Seán.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Goulding, John.
Hayes, Seán.
Houlihan, Patrick.
Jordan, Stephen.
Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
Kent, William R.
Killilea, Mark.
Kilroy, Michael.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
Maguire, Ben.
MacEntee, Seán.
Moore, Séamus.
Mullins, Thomas.
O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
O'Kelly, Seán T.
O'Leary, William.
O'Reilly, Matthew.
O'Reilly, Thomas.
Powell, Thomas P.
Ryan, James.
Sexton, Martin.
Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).
Smith, Patrick.
Tubridy, John.
Walsh, Richard.
Ward, Francis C.

Motion declared carried.

Ordered: That Section 2 stand part of the Bill.

Sections 3 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We do not propose to divide the House on this section, but, as this is one of the principal operative sections in the Bill. we on this side of the House want to register our objection to it.

Question—“That Section 10 stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Section 11 agreed to.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We on this side of the House are not quite happy about this section. The conditions required in order to meet the compensation or the awards of the Board will have, in the first instance, to be provided out of moneys voted by the Oireachtas. Originally it had been our intention to amend that. We wish that the Oireachtas should only be directly responsible for awards granted on the basis of the Treasury minute of the 22nd March, 1922. That, I presume, would leave the Minister free to make some other arrangement than that here indicated with the British Treasury for the payment of any balances which might be due and awarded on the decision in the Wigg-Cochrane case. We submit, in view of the statement of the Minister that he has no objection to the British paying certain moneys in any way that they wish, and in view, as he said himself, “that we see no reason at all why we should obstruct, hinder or make difficult the action proposed to be taken by the British Government in paying that extra amount,” that such machinery should have been introduced into this Bill as would make it quite clear, over and above [975] the schedules, that the extra moneys were being paid by the British Government. As it appears to us at present, the first responsibility for paying the extra moneys is put upon the Exchequer of the Free State and not upon the British Government. If, at any time, the British saw fit to depart from, or to dishonour, the agreement embodied in the schedules this House would still be responsible for finding the moneys on the decision in the Wigg-Cochrane case. We on this side of the House are not prepared to accept that position.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  The Government of the Saorstát is the Government which now deals with those persons who were transferred to it as civil servants. It pays their pensions, and the only convenient system is that the one authority should pay all the pensions and receive the receipts, the receipts indicating that the person was still alive, and all that sort of thing. In the contingency that Deputy MacEntee mentioned, if the British for some reason at a future time dishonoured their agreement. then it would be quite easy for the Oireachtas to take the steps that would be necessary to relieve us of any liability, beyond the liability which is now fundamentally ours. It would be quite easy to pass an amending statute paying out no sums to these civil servants except the sums for which we ourselves were entirely responsible.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I can see the difficulty in the way of providing these extra moneys. For one thing, there is an objection on the ground of principle of having our citizens in receipt of moneys from another Government and paid direct. In view of what the Minister has said, that the responsibility is fundamentally ours, would he pledge himself, in the event of the British at any time in the future dishonouring the agreement included in the schedule of recouping to the Free State any extra money that may be payable by them in respect of awards based on the Wigg-Cochrane case in relation to [976] these cases, to introduce an amending Bill to bring this Act into accordance with the position which he himself first took up here when the decision in the Wigg-Cochrane case was announced?

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  If I were a Minister and had responsibility and that the British broke their agreement and refused to pay, I would certainly immediately introduce a Bill modifying this present Bill so that nothing would be paid except the amounts that were paid before.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We accept that.

Question—“That Section 12 stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Section 13 agreed to.

Professor Thrift: Information on Prof. William E. Thrift  Zoom on Prof. William E. Thrift  With regard to Section 14, I do not propose to move the amendment which stands in my name, but I would like to ask the Minister to make on the section such a statement as he can regarding allowances to civil servants under the Bill.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Coupled with that I would like the Minister to make a general statement with regard to civil servants. Possibly, we on this side of the House may misunderstand the full effect of this.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  The object of the section is, as I tried to point out on the Second Reading, to secure that the civil servant who has been transferred will not be prejudiced by reason of the transfer, and that he will continue to hold his office after transfer on the same terms and conditions as he held it before transfer. With reference to the amendment which was put down by Deputy Thrift, that does not mean that all allowances are to be stereotyped. For instance, travelling and subsistence allowances are relatable to facts which may change. That applies to hotel costs and things of that sort. The civil servant who has to travel and who was entitled to travelling and subsistence allowances is guaranteed that. In being guaranteed the same terms and conditions [977] as before he is guaranteed travelling and subsistence allowances, but he is not guaranteed these at the old rate. As a matter of fact, we have revised travelling and subsistence allowances, and should a fall in the cost of living occur to the extent of, say, 25 per cent. it is almost certain that there would again be a revision of travelling and subsistence allowances. I am clear in my own mind that when a civil servant is guaranteed the terms and conditions that he had previously he is guaranteed when he has to travel a fair subsistence allowance and travelling allowance. I do not think that civil servants who have been transferred have any reason to fear unfair treatment by this or any Government that may succeed it, but the fact exists that civil servants have expressed fears, and in order that these fears may be allayed the whole matter is put down here in as much detail as anybody could expect. There is nothing provided that the civil servants were not getting before, and there is nothing that indicates any view that was not already taken by the Wylie Committee.

The civil servant is guaranteed that he will continue to serve under the same terms and conditions as before. He is not guaranteed that he will be protected in case of misconduct, or anything of that nature. He is liable to dismissal if guilty of any misconduct, and transferred civil servants have been dismissed for misconduct, but if he gives good and efficient service he is given a guarantee that he will continue to serve on the same terms and conditions, including salary and superannuation rights, as before. The point has been put forward that though the civil servant is given the same salary as before he was transferred, he might be given work which it was not reasonable to expect him to do. It is here provided that if a civil servant is given work which is not analogous to the work he had been performing, or which is an unreasonable addition to his duties at the time of his transfer, he [978] is to be regarded as a man who is being discharged. That appears to be reasonable. Let us suppose, as an example in the nature of a caricature, that a man who is a clerical officer, in addition to doing his clerical duties, is asked to wash the corridors and the front steps every day, or something of that nature, that would be an unreasonable addition to his duties. What the section means is that if anything of that kind were done the civil servant could come before the Board, and, if the Board were satisfied, they could hold that he was being discharged, and he would be entitled to discharge terms. Similarly, if the Board holds that owing to changes in the conditions of his employment the position of such an officer has been materially altered to his detriment he can retire.

Again to take an example in the nature of a caricature, it might be possible for a Government, if unprincipled enough, to say, “We will give you the same conditions and hours of work and salary as before, but though you are a clerical officer you are to come in at 9 o'clock at night and go out at 5 in the morning.” If the Government were to do something so unreasonable as that, the man could go before the Board, and, I presume, the Board would take the view that he was entitled to discharge terms, and he could regard himself as being discharged and get conditions accordingly. To come to the terms of promotion, the object of the provision in regard to promotion is to make it perfectly clear that a man does not lose his right by accepting promotion. The Government might take the view that a transferred officer was entitled to all his rights as before so long as he remained, say, a clerical officer but that if he was promoted an executive officer he lost those rights, because he was no longer serving in the employment in which he had been transferred.

This section makes it clear that if a man were promoted to the position of, say, an executive officer and if his conditions of duties were then [979] unreasonably altered, the mere fact that he accepted promotion would not prevent him from being able to go before the Board and claim that he was entitled to discharge terms. It is indicated here that promotion means increase of salary or promotion in the ordinary course and not some promotion that really means an entirely new appointment. It seems to me that what is guaranteed here to transferred civil servants is entirely reasonable. They are guaranteed nothing that is unreasonable. While I myself do not believe that it is necessary that these guarantees should be given—I do not believe that any Government here would act unfairly—nevertheless, there is no harm in giving such guarantees.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I find myself unable to accept the position as outlined by the Minister for Finance, because my difficulty is that these civil servants have had seven years and were originally granted, I suppose by reference back to the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, seven years in which to decide whether they could safely entrust their future careers to the Government of Saorstát Eireann. They had seven years within which to make up their minds that they could be confident that they would be fairly treated by that Government. So far as I can see, the purpose of the clause is to extend the period more or less indefinitely. I do not think that we are entitled under the terms of the Treaty to do that. I think, in view of the experience which these officers have had and the manner in which they have been treated by the Executive Council, that there should not be any unreasonable uneasiness in their minds, and I do not think that we are entitled to go out of our way to deal with an irrational and unreasonable person. The fact that we are extending this permissive period, as it has been called, indefinitely is a concession which might ultimately react disadvantageously to the State as a whole.

There is no doubt that at some future date the whole Civil Service [980] system will have to be very searchingly examined, if only to satisfy the public mind on one or two matters. There is a general belief that the service is inefficient and unduly costly. If it is only to satisfy the general mass of taxpayers that such belief is not well founded there will have to be a very searching investigation into the whole Civil Service of the Saorstát. Suppose such investigation were carried out and, as a result, that certain recommendations were made which would affect every one of these transferred officers, what would be the position of the Executive Council of the day in regard to recommendations made by such a commission? It may be that fully ninety-five per cent. of civil servants would have secured vested interests under Section 14 and the day of reform would be put back indefinitely until even the young men in the Civil Service had become patriarchs before you could carry out substantial reforms, if such reforms were found to be necessary. I am not quite certain that civil servants as a whole are not being granted even further concessions by having the period of retirement extended.

So far as I can see, if these men under the original position had not retired within seven years they would have no rights under the Treaty to any extra consideration whatever, because there was nothing in the Treaty which bound the Government of the Saorstát to set up such Civil Service Commission as was contemplated by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. Therefore there would be no body, such as a Civil Service Committee, which would permit them to retire. Therefore there would be no body in consequence of whose permission to retire a civil servant would be entitled to have an extra period of ten years added to his actual service for the purpose of calculating a lump sum gratuity and an annual pension allowance. So far as I can see, and I have studied the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and the Treaty very carefully, the effect of Section 14 is to confer the benefits [981] and advantages of the Eighth Schedule of the Act of 1920 upon a large body of civil servants who, because of the fact that they did not within seven years exercise their right to retire under the Treaty would not be entitled to the rights under the Government of Ireland Act. That is a very serious matter, and I would like to have the position in that regard clarified very much more than it has been up to the present.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I do not know that there is anything more that I could add. These people were entitled to this treatment if they were subjected to an unreasonable addition to their duties or required to perform duties that were not analogous. Deputy MacEntee talks about the future and the way in which the hands of the Government would be tied. I am perfectly satisfied that if it were not perfectly clear now that men in the future would not be left without protection we would have at present a very large number of retirements from the Civil Service. I am, of course, aware that the striking out of this section, so long as the agreement and Section 8 of that agreement stand, would not carry us anywhere, but if we were to strike out any provisions protecting civil servants against unreasonable alterations or additions to their duties and requiring them to discharge duties that were not analogous to those which they discharged at the time of their transfer, there would be a great number of retirements from the Civil Service. Statements like that which Deputy MacEntee made would be taken much more seriously than perhaps they deserve to be taken. They would be taken in the way of a threat, whereas nothing in particular might happen even if Deputy MacEntee were on the front bench on this side of the House. They would, however, be taken seriously, and there would be retirements on a considerable scale. I am perfectly satisfied, even if we could remove any reference to these things from the agreement and from the Bill, that the position would be [982] that there would be substantial and immediate loss. I am not satisfied that there would be any gain at any time in the future. Deputy MacEntee stated that civil servants had seven years in which to decide whether they were safe or not. They might say that we had not Deputy MacEntee for seven years in the Dáil making this threat. You cannot say to people, who entered the service of another Government with certain prospects before them and who were transferred to us carrying certain rights, that they should be deprived of those particular rights by mere lapse of time. This simply gives a guarantee that fair treatment has not only been given to them up to the present, but that it will be continued to be given to them so long as their service lasts. Very much more, as I say, would be lost than could possibly be gained if we were to become free, as I do not think we could, to do anything at all we liked with transferred civil servants after any period from now on.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I am very diffident in following the Minister because it is quite obvious from the speech he has just made that no matter how one tries to approach a question like this, no matter how impartial and judicial one wishes to be, the Minister is sure to distort one's word.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I do not think you could say that.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I did not say anything in the discussion that could be construed as a threat. I carefully avoided anything which would indicate that we were pre-judging the position in regard to civil servants. Some of us have come in contact with civil servants in the course of our duties here and we have certainly found that they have been efficient and hard-working, possibly very much more efficient and working much harder than they would in private employment. We do say, however, that there is a certain impression abroad and that it may be found [983] necessary, even for the benefit and the advantage of the civil servants themselves, to have such an inquiry into the present administration as will satisfy the people of the country that the services are not being extravagantly or inefficiently administered. That is as far as I go, and we are not pre-judging the issue one way or another. So far as safeguards are concerned, if the attitude of civil servants towards the chief Opposition Party in the House is such as the Minister indicated, then I say that this Bill affords them no safeguards whatever. If we did intend to deal with civil servants unfairly or inequitably, or without due regard to their previous conditions and terms of service, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent us doing that. If it were brought in in order to reassure civil servants against such fears, there was no warrant for introducing the Bill beyond the fact that the Minister, for some reason or another, possibly because he yielded in the first instance to pressure which had been brought to bear on him from other sources, possibly outside the State, was compelled afterwards to capitulate. He yielded in order to get himself out of the difficulty in which he had placed himself and the Executive Council by the declarations he had made in the Press and elsewhere in regard to the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. When the body of civil servants found him yielding to the unwarranted and unjustifiable pressure brought to bear on him. they themselves brought pressure to bear on him and he, as on another occasion, capitulated. That is really what I believe is at the back of the section. If the Minister had been firm in the first instance, if he had stood firm in his declarations regarding the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, I believe that Section 14 would not have to be retained in the Bill. He yielded to blackmail in the first instance and he is yielding to it now again.

[984]Mr. Moore: Information on Séamus Moore  Zoom on Séamus Moore  Will the Minister not admit that there have been already scandalous retirements under this clause regarding analogous duties? Will he not admit that men of 40 years of age have been able to claim pensions of £400, simply on the plea that the duties allotted to them were not analogous to those they were performing already? If he says that there is going to be no change now, is that likely to prevail to the same extent in the future? Is it fair that any section of the community should be treated like that? It is not fair even to those who are getting pensions, because it has happened to a Deputy in this House that a civil servant is haunting, so to speak, his door, asking him is there any work he can get, as he feels so miserable from being idle—a man enjoying a pension that is more than the allowances to a Deputy, and a man younger in years considerably than the average Deputy. Is it right, I wonder, that the representatives of a not very wealthy community should be asked to sanction privileges of that kind for a particular class of people? I said on the Second Reading that I did not think it was fair to civil servants, and I still think it is not. We must take it that the provisions of the Bill will be explained all over the country. It is not at least going to make civil servants appreciated if it is felt that the Government has had to make such terms with them in order to secure their services. I think the Minister is unwise to press the section in its present form.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  The section does not materially alter the position. It only makes clear and explicit what was there. The civil servants were entitled to terms not less favourable than the terms of the Act of 1920. These had included the right to discharge terms when their duties were unreasonably altered. This section makes that clear in certain respects where it was not so explicit. Deputy MacEntee says that he made no threat. There is no doubt that he said very little on the point, but [985] what he did say is the sort of thing that would be taken as a veiled threat. I am absolutely clear about that. As I said, I do not want to be taken as putting it offensively when I say that undue weight would be attached to his words. They would be thought to imply a great deal that perhaps they did not imply. Undoubtedly the effect of words like that, if we had no provision in this Bill and if we were, in fact, by deleting it, casting doubts on the position, would be that we would have retirements, and, I think, retirements on a substantial scale, that would cost a great deal of money.

Deputy MacEntee said that if a Government got into power which was determined to treat civil servants very unfairly no Act would stop them. That is perfectly true, if you had a Government that was going to go all-out in the matter, but the protection that civil servants would have is not protection from big and sudden attacks on their rights, but from insidious, undermining attacks or from attacks on individuals of small classes, by imposing new duties on them or by serious alterations in their positions and rights. As a matter of fact, I think that is what a Government might do if a Government were going to be unfair—make one small alteration after another in the duties of civil servants. This section would prevent that. That is the sort of security that a civil servant has in a section like this. If the Government is going to attack these rights of the transferred officers, it must come out and repeal the section. It must decide to go the whole hog. It must decide on going the whole hog. Deputy Moore said something that I did not think was entirely relevant to this point about civil servants having retired and being sorry for it. That is so. But we are not really dealing with retirement cases, but we are dealing with discharged cases—not people who decided to go out when they got a chance of getting a pension——

[986]Mr. Moore: Information on Séamus Moore  Zoom on Séamus Moore  My point was that retirement should not be made easy; that it was not even good for the person getting the pension.

Mr. Blythe: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I think that the right of retiring was abused. I believe a great many people alleged they were retiring because of the change of Government when, in fact, they were retiring because of the opportunity they had of getting a pension. It was, in many ways, unfortunate for the State that this was so. A pensions bill was heaped up because this right was given to retire following a change of Government. That did heap up the pensions bill. In a great many cases people retired for that reason. We are not dealing with them now. We are dealing with cases where the Board will take the view that the man has been forced out, that he was suffering those unreasonable conditions; that, in fact, he is being discharged, and we are insuring that a man who might be forced out will be treated, if the Board believes he is being forced out, as being discharged. I believe there will be a very small number indeed of cases occurring under this. Very few people will be affected because, I assume, from the operations of the Wylie Committee, that reasonable changes, though they are to the disadvantage of the civil servants, will not be accepted as grounds for discharge. For instance, civil servants were required, shortly after I became Minister for Finance, to come in half an hour earlier in the morning. They went before the Wylie Committee and they were turned down. The view that the Wylie Committee took was that small alterations of one sort or another might be made. It did not mean that you could not touch the Civil Service. There had to be something that did substantially affect the position. I believe that very little will come of this at all. I could not give the Deputy the figures he asks. I am perfectly certain that if we could not have produced a Bill which was agreed to by the representatives of the transferred officers as this Bill was—they accepted all [987] sections of it—a very large number of retirements would have taken place before now — retirements which will not take place at all.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We will not divide against this section of the Bill.

Section 14 agreed to.

Sections 15, 16, 17, 18; the First and Second Schedules put and agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Amendment 2 to the Title is not in order.

Title agreed to.

Report Stage fixed for Wednesday, 13th November.


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