HC Deb 18 July 1856 vol 143 cc1045-8

Order for Committee read.


said, he would appeal to the Government not to proceed with the Bill. The evidence taken before the Committee to which the subject had been referred, and the Resolutions at which they had arrived, had not yet been laid before the House; and, under those circumstances, considering that the Bill affected the interests of a large number of public servants, it would hardly be right to proceed with the Bill during the present Session.


said, he hoped the Government would withdraw the Bill. It was not of so pressing a nature that it could not stand over until the next Session, and he believed that those who were affected by it would prefer that course. He would, therefore, appeal to the noble Lord opposite, who had so often conceded the point of not proceeding with Bills at that late period of the Session to withdraw the Bill for the present.


said, he also thought that the best course which the Government could take would be to withdraw the Bill.


said, as a Member of the Committee, he must appeal to the Government to withdraw the Bill. The civil servants, he was afraid, would be more dissatisfied with the Bill than they were with the existing state of things. It certainly was not pressing, and could be left till next Session without inconvenience.


said, he should also support the proposal for the withdrawal of the Bill.


said, he could not see what other course was left to the Government but to withdraw the Bill, as the evidence and the Report of the Committee were not before the House. If the subject was worth being sent to a Committee, it was worth being well considered, but at present the House was positively not in a position to pronounce an opinion upon the question.


said, that early in the Session he had obtained leave to introduce a Bill upon the subject of Superannuation in the Civil Service, and he had upon that occasion made a statement of the existing state of the law upon that subject. The Bill had, with the consent of the House, been referred to a Select Committee, which had received full powers not only to consider that measure, but also to investigate the entire system of superannuation in the civil service, it having been previously known to the House that great complaints had been made by members of the civil service in reference to that system. Those complaints had been principally directed against that provision in the existing law under which annual deductions were made from the salaries of all persons who had entered the civil service since the year 1829, those deductions being considered to be made with reference to the right of those persons to obtain a superannuation on the conditions prescribed by the Act. The Committee entered very fully into the investigation of that subject, and they had ultimately come to a conclusion upon it at variance with the principle on which the Bill as originally introduced was founded. They agreed to recommend the abolition of the annual deductions, but they at the same time recommended that the salaries of the existing civil service should be revised, with a view to reduce them to an amount corresponding with the annual abatements. There were, besides, some further alterations in the Bill, partly affecting the scale of remuneration, and partly affecting other subjects, so that the measure, as it came out of the Committee, differed in some very material respects from the measure as it had been proposed by him at the commencement of the Session. He felt fully the justice of the appeal made to him by many Members, that it would not be fair to the House to enter into a consideration of that question before they were put in possession of the very detailed evidence which had been taken before the Committee with respect to various parts of the subject, and more especially with respect to the question of the annual abatements from the salaries. He readily admitted that that subject materially affected not only the feelings of the members of the civil service, but also the efficiency of that service; because that efficiency would naturally be impaired by the prevalence of discontent among those members. He, therefore, felt that it would be improper on his part to force the consideration of the Bill at that moment on the House; and he thought it desirable that its discussion should be postponed till a future occasion. He should, however, observe, that as he had been aware that the Bill in its altered shape was by no means acceptable to many members of the civil service, he had thought it his duty, considering the extent to which it had been changed by the Committee, to lay it before the House in order that the House might have an opportunity, if it should be thought proper, of considering its provisions. He had felt himself called upon to act in some measure as the organ of the Committee which had altered the Bill; but as it appeared to be the wish of the House that the measure should not be proceeded with; at present, he would at once consent to its withdrawal, and he should conclude by moving that the Order for its committal be discharged.


said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman misunderstood one important recommendation of the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman said, the Committee had recommended that the salaries of the civil servants should be revised with a view to their reduction by an amount corresponding with the annual abatements. That was not, however, as he (Mr. S. Fitzgerald) understood the recommendation of the Committee. They had only recommended that the salaries should be revised, because they had not thought it desirable that the civil servants should at one swoop be made a present of some £70,000 or £80,000 a year. The Select Committee wished to have the salaries revised, but to have them revised with a due regard to the fair claims of the members of the service. The Bill had no doubt been altered in the Committee, but the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to have varied in his views upon the subject, and it was only by his casting vote that the Committee had agreed to change one of the provisions in the right hon. Gentleman's own measure.


said, that a difference of opinion between the Members of the Committee on such an important point was sufficient proof of the propriety of withdrawing the Bill. He wished, however, to make one suggestion to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His right hon. Friend was aware that the question, whether the deductions did not amount to a great deal more than was commensurate with the advantages given to the civil servants, had been before the Committee over; and over again, and had been referred by them to two eminent actuaries. Those gentlemen stated they had not sufficient materials for a decision, and in consequence of the view taken by the Committee they were directed not to proceed with their calculations. He would suggest, therefore, that as the Bill was postponed, those Gentlemen should prosecute their inquiry, and get at the truth of the question. The civil servants would then see how far their complaints were well founded.


said he begged to express his concurrence in the course taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in withdrawing the Bill; if they proceeded without having the evidence and Report before them, the Bill would appear to be the Report of the Committee, which it was not. He hoped measures would be taken as soon as possible to relieve the civil servants from the agitation and uncertainty in which they were placed in regard to a question of so much importance to them.


said, he wished to say a word as to the decision of the Committee with regard to the annual deduction. The Member of the Committee who-proposed the Resolution was decidedly of opinion that all the salaries should be reduced in proportion to the abatement, but he had used the words "revised, with a view to reduction," in order to enable the Government to deal with any case of particular hardship that might arise.

Order discharged.