HL Deb 15 July 1897 vol 51 cc138-42 (1.) The provisions of the Poor Law Officers' Superannuation Act 1896 shall apply to the visiting committee and to every officer of an asylum in like manner, as nearly as may be, as they apply to guardians and their officers and servants, with the following modifications:
  1. (a) A Secretary of State shall be substituted for the Local Government Board wherever the Local Government Board is referred to in the Poor Law Officers' Superannuation Act 1896.
  2. (b.) The period of three months from the commencement of this Act shall be the period within which any existing officer of an asylum may signify, in writing, to the visiting committee his intention not to avail himself of the provisions of this section. Any existing officer of an asylum who has given such notice as aforesaid shall remain subject to the provisions of Sections two hundred and eighty, two hundred and eighty-one, and two hundred and eighty-two of the principal Act, as if this Act had not been passed, and those provisions shall, for the purposes of this enactment, continue in force notwithstanding their repeal by this Act. Notwithstanding anything in this Act contained the provisions of the Poor Law Officers' Superannuation Act 1864, and the Acts amending the same, shall not apply to any existing officer of an asylum who has given such notice as aforesaid.

said he had been requested by the County Councils Association to suggest to the noble and learned Lord who had charge of the Bill whether this clause might not with advantage be omitted from the Bill. It did not appear to have essential connection with the remainder of the Bill, and the County Councils Association thought, and he confessed he thought with justice, that there were strong objections to the clause. This clause provided that the provisions of the Poor Law officers' Superannuation Act, 1896, should be applied to officers and employés in lunatic asylums, and the objection to this was that the nature of the employment of persons in lunatic asylums, in constant communication with lunatics, was such that the length of time required to entitle persons employed under Boards of Guardians to superannuation was not properly applicable to persons employed in lunatic asylums. Taus, he thought, was a very substantial objection. The present state of the law under the Act passed in 1890 was that the visiting committee of a lunatic asylum might, under the Lunacy Act, 1890, Section (280), grant to any officer or servant incapacitated by confirmed illness, age, or infirmity, whose service in the asylum had extended for 15 years, and who was not less than 50 years of age, such superannuation allowance, not exceeding two-thirds of his salary, as they think fit, subject, however, under Section (281), Sub-section (3), to the confirmation of the County Council. Therefore the discretion of the Lunatic Asylums Committee was controlled by the action of the County Council, and if they were to propose to, give an unnecessarily liberal superannuation allowance, the County Council would inquire into the circumstances, and, if not satisfied, refer the question back to the Lunatic Asylums Committee. At all events, they had the power to say "Yes" or "No" to the proposal. He did not believe the present law worked badly, and certainly it did not in the county with which he was connected, and he had not seen any reason alleged why it should be altered. No doubt, under the present law, officers in lunatic asylums had not an absolute right to pensions, but, as a matter of practice, he did not believe it was ever refused in a reasonable case by the committees of lunatic asylums. The objection of the County Councils Association was that persons in future employed in lunatic asylums would be put in a position of considerable disadvantage if the clause passed (the rights of present employés being saved), they would receive smaller superannuation allowances, and would be subjected to a two-per-cent reduction of their salaries. This objection supplied good reason why the proposal should be reconsidered. Another reason be might mention, and that was that the Poor Law Superannuation Act had not been received with unqualified approval throughout the country. It was said, and he believed with truth, that the calculation of the percentage to be paid by the officers was far from sufficient to protect the ratepayers from losses under the Act, and therefore, there would be objection to the extension of the Act to another body of officers employed under Borough and County Councils, the superannuation falling upon the rates. For these reasons he trusted that the noble and learned Lord would not press the clause. If necessary, the matter could be reconsidered at a future time. These reasons he advanced not on his own authority, but on behalf of the County Councils Association, which body had carefully considered the clause, and came to the unanimous conclusion that it ought to be omitted from the Bill.


had little to add to the appeal to the noble and learned Lord to omit the clause. It was objected that the pensions under the clause would be less liberal and in London the permissive system had worked very well. The scale was settled by a select Committee of the House after careful consideration. Under the present system a man receiving £62. 8s. 0d. a year would as a maximum rate of pension receive £44. 12s. 0d., but under the scheme proposed in the Bill he would get only £35 7s. 2d., and in addition to that he would he required to contribute two per cent. of his wages to the Superannuation Fund. Further than that so far as he could discover, under the clause a person who had not served for ten years and became incapacitated from ill health would have difficulty in obtaining an adequate pension. Of course lunacy work was of an especially trying and dangerous character and quite apart from the danger of occasional attacks from lunatics, there was exposure to weather and night duty. He trusted the noble and learned Lord would see his way to the omission of this clause, for if it remained in the Bill it would be very strongly opposed in the House and elsewhere. The opposition was partly on the ground that the rate of pensions would be on too liberal a scale.


said that the noble Earl (Earl Beauchamp) had notice of an Amendment to the clause and this would come before a Motion for its omission.


said, with reference to the Motion the noble Earl wished to make and the opinion expressed by the noble Earl who spoke first, that the details of the proposed scheme led hint to think very strongly that the pension scheme should be very carefully considered, but the time of the session would not allow of the preparation of an amended scale that would satisfy everybody, he hoped therefore that the clause would not be pressed.


left his Amendment entirely in the hands of the noble Earl. His only object in giving notice of the Amendment was to express the opinion which would be largely shared by noble Lords who were acquainted with the condition of affairs, that with the onerous and disagreeable duties they had to discharge these officers would not he fairly and adequately treated under the provisions in the Bill.


said the reference to the period of the Session was a cogent observation in relation to the threatened opposition to the clause, and when he introduced the Bill, he mentioned that if there were any great opposition to it, this clause would not be pressed. It was attacked from two conflicting points of view by those who thought the pensions would be of too liberal a scale, and on the other hand by those who thought it did not do sufficient justice to persons who worked in a very disagreeable and hard field of labour. Such being the condition of conflict, it was clear that the clauses dealing with superannuation came within the condition he had laid down. Of course an attempt to force them through might imperil clauses of the Bill to which there was no opposition and for which there was urgent necessity. Under the circumstances he yielded to the persuasions of noble Lords and especially after the intimation that the clause would be opposed in the House and elsewhere with great vigour. That was conclusive in the middle of July and so he proposed to drop these clauses. Indeed, he might say that although the clauses were put in because on both sides it was felt that something ought to be done, he was himself disposed to think that the subject would more naturally be dealt with in a separate Bill, and probably in the other House. He, therefore, the more willingly acceded to the suggestion, and all the clauses having reference to the pension fund would be dropped out of the Bill.


said he did not move Ins Amendment.

Clause 23 struck out.

Clauses 24 (Grant of allowance or gratuity in cases of injury) and 25 (Contribution to be paid into and allowances and gratuities to be paid out of county or borough fund) struck out.

Clause 26,—