§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Jackson.)
SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL&c.) (Kirkcaldy,
said, he protested against a Bill of this character being read a second time, as had been done in this case, at 4 o'clock in the morning, when very few Members were present. He was not paid to sit up at such an unearthly hour, and he had not done so. The Bill had been blocked by two sets of Members. It had been blocked by those who wanted to get more out of the Treasury, and also by others who wished to prevent the Treasury giving too much. He was induced to block it, because he was afraid that the Government intended to yield to the blockers who wanted to get too much out of the Treasury. The concessions contained in the Amendments were dangerous 41 concessions. He thought that it was an extraordinary part of the Rules of this House that whereas every other Bill could be blocked, a Bill which gave away the money of the people, it may be for generations, could not be blocked. This Bill, he argued, was a good one when it was introduced, but had been spoiled by the Amendments which the Government accepted.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member is not entitled to go through the Amendments and discuss them seriatim until they have reached Committee.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, the observations he was about to make were of a general kind. The Amendments altered the character of the Bill entirely.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee).
§ Clause 1 (Grant of gratuity or allowance to injured civil servants) agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (Power to grant retiring allowance to persons removed).
In page 2, line 4, at end, add the following:—"Provided that the Treasury before making the grant shall consider any representation which the civil servant removed may have submitted to them."—(Mr. Jackson)
§ Question, "That the words proposed be there added," put, and agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 3 (Reckoning of temporary service); Clause 4 (Compassionate gratuity on retirement of person not entitled to superannuation); and Clause 5 (Provision against double pensions) agreed to.
§ Clause 6 (Regulations as to officers receiving half-pay or retired pay).
SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL&c.) (Kirkcaldy,
I rise for the purpose of expressing my great disappointment and surprise at the proposal which I understand is about to be made to omit this clause. I had entertained a great hope that the Bill as it stands would have been carried. The clause as it at present stands provides that—(a) The Treasury may frame rules as to the right to receive any sums granted by Parliament for the half-pay or retired pay of officers of her Majesty's naval and military forces or for any other payment to such officers on account 42 of past service; (b) and as to the acceptance of employment by officers who receive any part of such sums or have commuted the right to receive the same; and (c) as to the remuneration, whether by way of salary, superannuation allowance, or otherwise, to be received by the said officers for any such employment; and the Treasury may in such rules provide for the enforcement thereof by the forfeiture, suspension, or reduction of any such pay, payment or remuneration as aforesaid or of any commutation money.Now, it seems to me that that clause distinctly gives great power to the Treasury, and powers which the Treasury ought to have—namely, laying down the terms on which half-pay and retired pay are to be received by officers in the Military and Naval and other Services. In my opinion, rules of the character indicated by the clause as it stands are very much required in the interests of the Public Service. There is no expenditure thrown upon the ratepayers for which the country gets so little return. Indeed, it is a most extraordinary system, by which young men in the prime of life are retired on large pensions. I may mention the case of a military friend of my own, who, although under 40 years of age, and not having served for 20 years, has been retired at £400 a-year; and I take it that if this clause is omitted, such a case as that cannot be dealt with within the four corners of the Bill. The question is not whether it is expedient that these men should be retired; but what are the terms and conditions on which they are to be retired, and the terms ought to be such as to enable the country to get some benefit from their future services. I know that this is a very delicate question, and the officers who go away with a retired pension do not like to be placed under conditions which make it difficult for them to go where they like and to do what they like. I can only say that in my opinion it is most essential that the Treasury should have power to frame rules for the regulation of half-pay and retired pay on retirement.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
It is quite true, as the hon. Member has said, that, as the clause was originally drawn it might have been read and, in fact, was read by those concerned as giving the Treasury power to frame rules in regard to the receipt of their pay. Now, that was the intention of the Treasury. It 43 was intended that rules should be framed to regulate their employment and the conditions under which they should take service, and an alteration has been proposed in the wording for the purpose of giving effect to the original intention of the Treasury. With regard to the wording of Clause 6, in my humble judgment, it really does not affect the question very much, either one way or the other. What really affects the question, is the rules which are to be framed under the clause. The rules have been carefully considered. The hon. Member has had an opportunity of seeing those rules, and I hope there is nothing in them to lead the hon. Member to suppose that we are going to impose on the State an increased burden which is an unreasonable one. The rules have been framed with a view of making a concession to the officers—to enable them and to encourage them to take Colonial employment under the Home Government. With this explanation, I beg to move the omission of the clause, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will not press his opposition.
§ Amendment proposed, "To leave out the Clause"—(Mr. Jackson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
By the courtesy of the hon. Gentleman I have been allowed to see the rules, and as far as they go I have no complaint to make in regard to them. On the contrary, I think they are very good rules so far. What I do complain of is that they do not go far enough. I think that something of this kind is very much required indeed. I do not think we shall have efficient rules made in regard to the service of retired officers so long as the matter is allowed to remain in the hands of the Military and Naval Departments. It is necessary that some independent Department should step in and frame the rules.
§ Question put and negatived.
§ Clause 7 (Provision as to lunatics), and Clause 8 (Distribution of money not exceeding one hundred pounds without probate) agreed to.
§ Clause 9 (Decision of Treasury).
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
I have put down a Notice on the Paper to omit the clause; but I do not propose to move it, because I have 44 ascertained, what I did not know before, that there is a precedent for the clause, and that it exists in the Superannuation Act of 1879. At the same time, I still entertain a strong objection to the clause.
§ Clause agreed, to
§ Clause 10 (Laying of warrant and minutes before Parliament), Clause 11 (Definitions), and Clause 12 (Short titles) agreed, to.
§ Clause 13 (Repeal).
§ MR. JACKSON moved to omit certain words which gave power to make rules under the Bill, fixing the date from which the repeal of the Acts mentioned in the Schedule would operate; the effect of the omission being that the repeal would operate as from the passing of the Bill.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 9, to leave out from "Act," to "without," in line 10, put and agreed to.
§ Question, "That the words proposed stand part of the Clause," put and negatived.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
On the Motion of Mr. JACKSON, the following New Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill after Clause 5:—
(Regulation as to Officers receiving half-pay or retired pay, 33 and 34 Vic. c. 96.)
(1.) The Treasury may, within one month after the passing of this Act, frame rules as to the conditions on which any civil employment of profit under any public department as denned by this Act, or any employment of profit under the Government of any British possession, or any employment under the Government of any Foreign State may be accepted or held by any person who is in receipt of or has received any sum granted by Parliament for the pay, half-pay, or retired pay of Officers of Her Majesty's Naval or Land Forces, or otherwise for payment for past service in either of such Forces, or who has commuted the rights to receive the same, and as to the effect of such acceptance or holding on the same pay or sum, and the Treasury may in such rules provide for the enforcement thereof by the forfeiture, suspension, or reduction of any such pay or sum as aforesaid, or of any commutation money or remuneration for such employment.
(2.) Such rules shall also provide for the returns to be laid before Parliament of such
officers accepting employment as are affected by the rules, and shall come into operation at the date of the passing of this Act.
(3.) The rules shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament forthwith.
(4.) For the purposes of this section 'British possession' means any part of Her Majesty's Dominions out of the United Kingdom, and this section shall apply to Cyprus as if it were a British possession.
Mr. JACKSON moved to insert, after Clause 9, the following Clause:
Nothing in this Act shall be construed so as in any way to interfere with the rights existing at the passing of this Act of any civil servant then holding office.
§ New Clause (saving for existing interests,)—(Mr. Jackson,)—brought up, and read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
May I point out that this clause is almost identical with one—a very innocent looking clause—which has cost the Indian Government millions of money. The clause I refer to declared that nothing in the Act should be construed so as to interfere with the rights which existed at the time of the passing of the Act. This clause is almost identical, word for word. The effect of the clause was that while many new advantages were given to the officers, the whole organization of the Army was altered, and the officers, claiming the letter of the law, were able to add their old rights to an entirely new state of things, and consequently were able to receive a retiring pay enormously in excess of what was contemplated under either the old or the new law. As a matter of fact, a sort of ''sea-lawyer's" construction was put upon the clause. I am not at all sure that the clause the hon. Gentleman is now proposing to insert is not a very dangerous clause, and I wish to know -whether the words "rights existing" are strictly confined to legal rights? I believe that the practice of those who insist on the insertion of a clause of this kind is to insist upon rights which they may have had under the practice of the Office, but which are not strictly legal rights. What I am afraid of is that that practice may be made legal under the Bill, or that under a general clause of this kind civil servants may claim a great deal more than they are entitled to. They have done so already, until it 46 has almost become to be considered a semi-established practice. If the clause is to be inserted in the Bill, I would move to insert the word "legal" before the word "rights."
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR (Kincardine)
supported the clause, and expressed his regret that his hon. Friend had raised any question in regard to it.
§ SIR JOHN PULESTON (Devonport)
Surely my hon Friend (Sir George Campbell) does not seriously desire to deprive any civil servant of such rights as he had when he took office. The clause, I believe, has been proposed by the Secretary to the Treasury as a concession in deference to the views of the civil servants, and I am sure it cannot be the intention of my hon. Friend to do away with absolute rights which have been existing, and which belong to the civil servants. I hope my hon. Friend will not press the Amendment.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
I think I have no other alternative. I beg to move the insertion of the word "legal" before the word "rights."
§ Amendment proposed to the proposed New Clause, to insert the word "legal" before the word "rights."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'legal' be there inserted."
§ MR. JACKSON
I hope that the hon. Member will not press the Amendment. The object of the clause is to secure to existing civil servants the rights which they have acquired. It was never intended by this Bill to injure the existing rights of any individual. I am not able to distinguish very much between a man's rights and his legal rights; but I will say at once, frankly, that the Government accept this addition to the Bill with the distinct object of securing the existing civil servants the rights which they at present possess. As the Government have accepted the clause in that spirit, I hope the hon. Member will not insist upon his Amendment. He has referred to the case of India; but I may point out that the words inserted in that Act were much wider and covered a great deal more ground than any words it is proposed to insert in this Bill. The words in the India Bill were to the effect that the civil servants were 47 to be entitled to the like pay, pensions, allowances, and. privileges, and otherwise as if they had continued in the service of the Government. The Committee will therefore see that those words were much more extensive than those which are proposed to be inserted here, and such a clause, if inserted here, would very much extend the intention and meaning of the Bill. I hope the lion. Member will not press the Amendment. The clause is simply intended to carry out an undertaking which the Government considered themselves bound to give.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
I do not see why the Government should oppose the Amendment. There can be no difference between "rights" and "legal rights," unless it is intended to give to the civil servants something beyond their legal rights. I must say that the words of the clause, so far as they go, are just as wide as those of the Indian Act. In that case the civil servants not only get their existing rights, but all other rights—new rights and new privileges far beyond their old rights.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill.
§ On the Motion of Mr. JACKSON, the following Amendment made:—In page 6, line 33, to leave out "the whole Act so far as unrepealed," and. to insert "Sub-sections four, five, and six of Section six."
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.