Dáil Éireann - Volume 282 - 19 June, 1975

Excess Vote, 1972-73. - Vote 13: Superannuation and Retired Allowances.

Minister for Lands (Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick, Cavan): I move:

That a sum not exceeding £7,160,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1975, for pensions, superannuation, compensation (including workmen's compensation), and additional and other allowances and gratuities under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1963, and sundry other statutes; extrastatutory pensions, allowances and gratuities awarded by the Minister for the Public Service; fees to medical referees and occasional fees to doctors; compensation and other payments in respect of personal injuries; etc.

Mr. Colley: I should like to put it to the Minister that, as regards public service pensioners where parity was [1073] achieved some years ago, the consequences not only of the very high level of inflation but also of national pay agreements in the past year or two have resulted in a number of payments during one year, which was not the pattern in the past, and the net effect of this is that public service pensioners are much further back from parity than they were three years ago because of the arrangement whereby on 1st July every year, I think, pensions are brought into line with those which would be paid to somebody in the same grade retiring on that day. In the meantime there have been, perhaps, three or four different increases and the position of public service pensioners in regard to parity is now worse than it was three years ago. Would the Minister consider taking steps to ensure that, when there is an increase in civil service pay, at the same time the appropriate increase will take place in the pension rate for that grade?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): This matter is raised from time to time. As the Deputy knows, the position has been improved considerably.

Mr. Colley: That is my point. It is disimproving now.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The matter is certainly under consideration. I am sure the Deputy will have an opportunity of raising it in more detail on another occasion. I suggest he might do that when the Minister is present.

Mr. Colley: There is another matter which I raised before on a similar occasion. It is worth raising again, not that I think the Minister can here and now answer the question. If he pursues it he might be able to assist in resolving the problem. It is my experience, and that of a number of other people, that frequently there is an undue delay in the payment of pensions and lump sums to persons who retire from the public service. I know there are problems in calculating what is due and that other administrative problems can arise.

I have known people who were left [1074] for many months and sometimes for the best part of a year before they got a pension or a lump sum. I do not think this should happen. I do not think serving civil servants would accept the position if they were left without payment for the length of time pensioners have been left without payment. I am not saying this is due to malice, or anything like that. A very special effort ought to be made in the case of persons who have retired to ensure that they are not given the impression that nobody cares about them, especially to the extent of not bothering to pay them. I am urging the Minister on behalf of the Minister for Finance to do what he can to ensure that this kind of thing is cut down substantially.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I share the Deputy's concern that such delays are occurring. People who have reached retirement age should not be kept out of their lump sum or their retirement pension. This is bad psychologically and, from the practical point of view, they want the money. I am informed that, as recently as the 4th of this month, instructions were sent out by the Department of the Public Service to other Departments to see that such delays are eliminated.

Mr. Colley: I am very glad to hear that.

Vote put and agreed to.