§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he wished to put a question, of which he had given notice, namely, what arrangements had been made for the examination of clerks in the civil service by the Commission appointed for that purpose; what notice of such examination was given to each candidate; and what remuneration was proposed to be given for the probationary work performed by the candidates before they were permanently appointed? The House would recollect, that some time ago he had moved for a statement of the various examinations in the different public offices. That paper was laid upon the table of the House, and he shortly afterwards gave a notice of a Motion founded upon it, but was anticipated by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who appointed a Commission upon that subject. He (Mr. Milnes) had nothing to say against the Commissioners, and congratulated them upon the possession of a secretary who was not only a polished scholar, but also a man of great political wisdom. He, however, felt bound to complain when he found the Commission, without giving any public notice, had proceeded to act in a manner calculated to alarm the functionaries in all Public offices, and not at all calculated to lay a good foundation for the important work they had to perform. He had been informed that clerks who had already passed 308 a perfectly satisfactory examination had been since informed that they must undergo a fresh examination. He was certain that it was not the desire of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that any injustice should be done to any one, and therefore he ventured to hope that those persons now engaged in public offices who had already undergone examinations would not be exposed to the possibility of being deprived of their appointments by being called upon to submit to another examination, the nature of which they were totally unacquainted with, and of which no previous warning had been given to them. He hoped, also, that before the Commission established itself permanently, its regulations would be fully and distinctly published throughout the country. It was quite certain that no great scheme of examination would be satisfactory or successful if any ill-will, doubt, or jealousy were created by it. Clerks in public offices were selected from a class of persons whose means were usually limited, and to cause them any unnecessary trouble in preparing for an examination would inflict on them a great injustice. He therefore trusted the Government would impress upon the Commission the necessity of being careful in the preparation of their regulations. If there was to be a central Board in London, and every candidate for every small place in every part of the kingdom was to be required to come up to London at his own expense, to live there some time at his own cost, with the chance of being finally rejected, they would be inflicting a great injustice upon individuals without any corresponding advantage to the community at large. The other part of his question related to non-payment for probationary work. He found that it was the custom to take a clerk for a considerable period—extending from one to three months—and if at the end of that time he was found not to be qualified to remain in the office he was turned off without any remuneration for the work which he had performed. He thought it desirable the attention of the Government should be called to the subject, and therefore begged to put the question of which he had given notice.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, as soon as the Commissioners were appointed under the Order in Council, they sent circular letters to all the departments requesting that the particulars of 309 the examination required by each office should be sent to them, as also a list of all persons who had been appointed to offices since the date of the Order in Council. In consequence of that circular, answers were received from the civil departments, and some of the names returned were those of persons who had been appointed to offices since the issue of the Order in Council. It was, therefore, the duty of the Commissioners to take measures for examining into the fitness of those persons; and, accordingly, they communicated with those persons, and asked whether they desired any delay in order to prepare for the examination. No delay, however, was required, and an early day had been appointed for the examination to take place. With respect to the subjects of probation and of salaries, he would remark the Civil Service Commissioners had no control over the periods of probation or over salaries. The ordinary rule was, that a clerk received his salary after his appointment, and he was not aware of any instance having occurred of a clerk actually appointed who did not receive his salary, although he might finally be rejected. The period of probation was merely a period of conditional service, and salary was earned during that period as it was at any subsequent time. He had heard with satisfaction his right hon. Friend's admission of the fitness of the gentlemen appointed as Commissioners, and would only add that, in order to discharge their important functions with success and satisfaction, it was necessary that they should be certain of receiving the support of the House of Commons.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he wished to know whether he was to understand that persons appointed to office since the moment when the Order of Council happened to issue were called upon to undergo a second, or it might be a third, examination at the hands of the Commissioners, although they had undergone an examination which was considered satisfactory in the special departments to which they had been appointed.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, in reply, that the Order in Council made no mention of examinations conducted by the heads of departments before the appointment of the Commission. The functions of the Commissioners commenced from the date of the Order in Council, and it was their duty to act upon their instructions, and to examine all persons 310 appointed after the date of the Order in Council.