§ Order for Committee read.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
, in moving that the House resolve itself into Committee on this Bill, said he thought it would save time if he gave some explanations as to its provisions. The measure had excited considerable interest in the country, and every time he came down to the House he had five or six hon. Members inquiring as to some point in the Bill while the petitions which had been presented in reference to it were very numerous, having last week been five times as 354 many as those on the subject of the Reform Bill. Some of the principles of the Bill were not very clearly understood. The Superannuation Act of 1834, which the present measure was proposed to amend, laid down a scale of retiring allowances to be granted to officers belonging to the departments named in the schedule attached to that Act; and it provided that the Treasury should have power to bring within the scope of that statute any department not included in the schedule. Acting on this authority the Treasury had placed several new departments within the operation of the Act. But the Act of 1834 also contained a clause requiring all officers who were to be entitled to its advantages to pay an abatement from their salaries of 5 per cent and 2½ per cent according to their class towards the expense of their own superannuation. Accordingly, when any public office was brought under the provisions of this statute, the employés were made liable to these deductions at the same time that they were permitted to receive the benefits of the measure. Therefore some hesitation was felt on the part of particular departments to placing themselves under the Act; and various important offices continued to be omitted from its operation for a considerable period, and no abatements were paid by their officers. When these persons retired the question arose whether they ought to receive any pension, and though, by the strict terms of the statute they were entitled to none, yet it was felt that it would be hard to deprive of any compensation men who had long served the public long and faithfully. Thus there grew up an irregular practice of granting superannuations to those who had no legal claim to them, and the whole system fell into no little confusion. The subject of abatements also attracted a large amount of attention from the Civil Service a few years ago. The question was taken up by hon. Members and by the newspapers, and the result was that the right hon. Member for Radnor (Sir George Lewis) brought in a Bill which was referred to a Select Committee of that House, who considered the matter and introduced several Amendments which were not accepted by the House. The Bill consequently did not pass, and the matter was then referred to a Royal Commission, upon whoso recommendations the Bill brought last Session by the late Government and the present Bill were substantially founded. The main point on which the present Bill differed 355 from the former Act was that the Act of 1834 gave superannuation allowances to those officers only who were comprehended within its schedule; whereas this Bill would extend them to all persons belonging to the public service. The abatements having been abolished, the ground of the distinction between one class of civil servants and another was swept away with them. The principle of this Bill was, that all officers belonging to the permanent Civil Service of the State should be entitled to superannuation, except those who were expressly provided for by Act of Parliament, as was the case with certain judicial and other functionaries. As the measure now stood, it proposed also to except all persons whose superannuation was provided for by Order in Council; but he had given notice of his intention to strike out the words "or Order in Council," which applied especially to the workmen in our dockyards. As to the workmen in dockyards, there were such varieties of them that the common phrase "workmen in dockyards" did not convey with sufficient clearness the meaning as to the persons thus designated. There were some who were and always had been entitled to superannuation under the old Act, and another class would be entitled to it under the Act of 1834; then there was the class affected by the scale of fortieths, and again the class of workmen paid superannuation allowances of £10, £24, and £30, according to the length of their services. With respect to these persons it was proposed to discontinue dealing with them under the Order in Council, to treat them as officers, and to grant them superannuation allowances. There was another class who, though permanently employed, had not been considered entitled to pensions, and who, if they fulfilled the requirements of the Bill, would be entitled, like all others permanently employed in the Civil Service, to the same scale of pensions. At that point he thought they must stop. There were other classes of persons employed in the dockyards, but they were not in the position of permanent servants, and it would not be acting in the spirit of the Bill to grant them superannuation allowances. There were other classes of officers whose cases had been specially brought forward. For instance, there were those employed in the Post Office, and probably there could not be a stronger case for showing the mischiefs under the system of 1834 than this. By looking at the schedules of 356 the Act of 1834 they would find that among the offices included in it was the Post Office; but the construction which, in practice had been put upon the Act was, that the right to superannuation was confined to the persons employed in the metropolitan Post Offices, while those who were in the country, although it might be at Manchester, Liverpool, or Birmingham, where the work was quite as heavy as at Dublin or Edinburgh, had no claim to it. Letter-carriers in London, too, received superannuation allowances; while those throughout the country, although equally in the service of the State, had no such advantage. The principle which would be applied to these classes of persons under this Bill was precisely the same as that according to which the dockyard labourers were to be dealt with. That was to say that all persons who were permanently employed in the service of the Post Office in such capacities as rendered it necessary for them to give up all other business and devote themselves wholly to the service of the State would receive superannuation allowances, and would receive them exactly upon the same principle and according to the same scale as clerks in the London Post Offices, or in any other department. As under this principle it would be necessary to exclude from the benefits of the Act all those persons who were only temporarily or partially employed, such as country postmasters who were also the keepers of shops, he had communicated with the Postmaster General upon the subject, and had received from him a letter in which he distinguished between the different classes of officers who were and who were not required to give up their employments. It was intended that, if this Bill passed, a minute should be founded upon that letter, which would accurately define the cases in which superannuation allowances would be paid. Another condition necessary to entitle persons to such allowances was that they should be paid out of Imperial funds; and therefore all persons paid out of county rates—such as prison, workhouse, and other Poor Law officers—would be excluded from the benefit of this Act. It might be very proper that there should be legislation in order to provide for the superannuation of those persons; but these cases could not be dealt with by this measure. The Bill would not apply to persons who were paid by fees. Such persons were not entitled to superannuation, because the principle 357 upon which that system rested was that in fixing a man's remuneration you considered how much he ought to have by way of salary, and how much by way of retiring allowance. And the difficulty with regard to persons paid by fees was that, although they were employed in the service of the State, and were, to a considerable extent, under its control, they generally held their offices partly at the will of other persons, and might be dismissed by them. Such was the case with regard to procurators fiscal in Scotland, and Judges' clerks in England, the former of whom held their offices at the pleasure of the sheriffs of counties, and the latter at that of the Judges. To give superannuation allowances in such cases would be opening the door to great abuses. He must apologise to the House for entering into such minute details, but he was speaking as much for the country as the House — there being such a number of persons who were anxious to know how they would be affected by the Bill. He had said enough, however, to show the main principle on which they proposed to define who were civil servants. He would now refer to another point of great interest. Some evenings ago a question was put to him by the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham as to what increase of expense would be caused by the provisions of this Bill. He was sorry to say that that must be so much a matter of conjecture that he felt it quite impossible to make any satisfactory statement with regard to it. There were three ways in which the expense of superannuations would be affected by the passing of this Bill. In the first place, there was the adoption of a new scale. The present scale was what was called a "jumping" one; it went by periods of seven years. That provided by this Bill was a "sliding" scale, advancing year by year by 60ths, It stopped at the same maximum, as at present existed— namely, two-thirds, or 40-60ths, of the salary; but under it a man would arrive somewhat earlier at his maximum allowance than he did at present. The scale was, however, so arranged that while it gave an advantage to those who had served long periods it diminished the allowances of those who had been engaged in the service of the State for shorter ones, He might say generally that up to his 24th year of service a man would receive more according to the scale of 1834 than according to this; while after that period of his service the case would be reversed. In 358 order, therefore, to determine how much the expense of superannuations would be increased by this Bill it was necessary to calculate after what periods of service civil servants were likely to retire. This could not well be settled by taking the average period after which they retired at present, because those who were now withdrawing from the public service generally received allowances according to the scale which was in force up to the year 1829, which was a more favourable one than that established by the Act of 1834. He therefore thought that, to ascertain the average rate at which persons retired now, and to make that the basis of calculation, would be an erroneous way of proceeding. But he might say generally that if the proposed scale were to apply to exactly the same class of persons as were included in the Act of 1834, and to them only, the difference in point of expense would be slight. The proposed scale, indeed, was in many respects better and more economical for the public than the existing one, because it would tend to discourage persons from leaving the public employment after a short period of service. There was another way in which the Bill might add to the expense of superannuation, and that was by bringing new classes of officers under the provisions of the Act. There again, however, he found it exceedingly difficult to come to any kind of conclusion. Upon being asked what classes and what number of officers would be brought under the Bill, the different departments replied by inquiring to what classes the Bill was intended to apply, and a difficulty arose as to who were and who were not to be included under the term "permanent civil servants of the State." He had been for some time engaged in discussing the question with representatives of the different Departments, but he was sorry to say they had not arrived at anything which could furnish a datum for saying what would be the addition under this head. Another difficulty was that a considerable number of officers, though not entitled to superannuation under the Act of 1834, did constantly receive pensions, and therefore to bring them under the provisions of the present Bill would not really increase the expense. There were only two or three great departments in which an increase by the addition of new classes of persons could take place, and it appeared from returns obtained from the Customs, which was one of them, that of the 2,000 officers belonging to that dc- 359 partment whom the present Bill would include in the superannuation system, a large proportion were persons who had been placed upon the permanent establishment after some years of temporary service, and who would therefore be entitled under the existing system to superannuation of one kind or another. The same was the case with regard to a considerable number of the dockyard people, and in point of fact the only department in which a great number of entirely new persons would be added was the Post Office. According to the original estimate of the Postmaster General, there were about 8,000 officers in that department who would be included under the Bill; but upon closer inquiry he had ascertained that a large number of those persons would not come under the definition of "Permanent Civil Servants of the State." There would also be a large addition from the dockyards, but not so large as might at first sight appear, because a considerable number of the dockyard officers who would nominally be now included for the first time, already received pensions. But there was a third way in which the Bill would, to some small extent, add to the expense by adding to the number of civil servants entitled to superannuation. One of the clauses gave permission to officers to retire at the age of sixty, and another made it compulsory so to retire at the age of sixty-five, unless they were specially asked to stay as being efficient servants. Upon inquiring at the different departments what number of officers would be required to resign on account of age, he was met by the same kind of counter-question instead of answer—namely, what classes of persons were intended to come under the provisions of the Bill. However, he had very recently been informed that the number would not exceed 190 or 200, although the Civil Service Commissioners, in returns presented some time ago, put it at 300. But the result of all their inquiries had convinced the Government of the necessity of limiting the operation of the Bill, and of laying down some more stringent rule than was afforded by the words "Permanent Civil Service of the State." They now thought it desirable that the new system of superannuation should not apply to any persons but those who were really bonâ fide civil servants, and were passed as such by the Civil Service Commissioners. He therefore intended to move the insertion of a clause, stating who were to be deemed civil ser- 360 vants. No person was to be deemed a civil servant unless he either held his appointment directly from the Crown, or was admitted with a certificate from the Commissioners. The condition of the Civil Service had occupied the serious attention of successive Governments, and, among other measures taken to improve it, a Commission had been appointed, the duties of which had been discharged with great ability by Sir Edward Ryan and Sir John Lefevre, the mere mention of whose names was a sufficient guarantee for the manner in which they had performed the office allotted to them. The main object was to introduce into the service a superior class of officers to those who had been frequently admitted into subordinate appointments, and also to obtain securities for the public that men would not be appointed either at too high an age, when they would have little service in them, or in a state of health which would render it probable that after a few years they would retire or be unable to do their duty. Almost all classes of persons admitted to the junior appointments were now required to pass an examination before the Civil Service Commissioners. The question of obtaining a certificate from the Commissioners was distinct from, though connected in some degree with, that of open competition, because the system was applicable to all kinds of admissions, and included not only literary but what were equally important, medical examinations. He believed, for his own part, that by adopting a system which seemed calculated not only to procure able and efficient officers, but to ensure them fair and equitable treatment, the House would do much to allay the present uncomfortable and excited state of the civil servants, and to permanently improve the condition of the Civil Service itself; and, although his statement with respect to the possible expense of the proposed scale of superannuation might appear unsatisfactory to some hon. Members, he would entreat the House to look at this subject in a broader point of view. What the country really wanted was not to save so many pounds, shillings, and pence in the superannuation of its civil servants, but an adequate supply of good, cheerful, and willing servants, and the adoption of measures which would enable those in its employment to retire at the proper time without a feeling of hardship. It was treated as a hardship that civil servants should be required to retire at sixty-five years of age. 361 Before 1829 there was a scale in operation, according to which, after a certain number of years' service—fifty for instance—the civil servants were entitled to a superannuation allowance equal to their full salaries. Subsequently, the scale was altered and no man could have a superannuation allowance for more than two thirds of his salary. The consequence was that at present men were unwilling to retire, because retirement involved the loss of one-third of their income. Steps, therefore, should be taken for the retirement of those who were past work, who, not falling in with the spirit of the times, were opposed to innovations, and who stood in the way of younger men with more spirit and emulation. This was the reason for adopting an arbitrary rule that at a certain age men should retire, unless, indeed, such as, being still efficient, might fairly be asked to stay. Having spoken with those acquainted with the feelings of the civil servants, he believed that this provision of the Bill would not be considered a hardship by them generally. It. might be said that this retirement at the age of sixty-five would throw a great deal of patronage into the hands of the Government, and that it might be used by those in power as a means of getting good places for themselves. But he could only say that the clause was introduced not at the instance of one Government or another, but upon the recommendation of the Royal Commission which had investigated the whole subject, and the great mass of offices were filled by the promotion of men from the junior ranks, so that there would be no opportunity in reality for anything like jobbing, for if the head of an office went, the next in succession took his place. With respect to another class of officers a case of suspicion might arise, he alluded to officers in higher situations, such as Commissioners of Customs and other more important appointments, which situations were filled by men who had not risen from the ranks, but who were taken from the outside and placed in their offices at once. Undoubtedly the men who filled these offices were generally able to continue in service beyond sixty-five years of age, as they did not involve as a necessity the requirements of too much labour and energy as the rest, and he should therefore propose an amendment to exclude all that class from retirement at sixty-five years of age, but he should require the retirement at that age of persons who entered 362 through the Civil Service Commissioners. He should be ready to give any further explanation in Committee.
§ Motion made and Question proposed "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, the House was in a singular position with regard to this Bill. It was read a second time at twelve o'clock at night, when no one was present; he took an objection, grounded upon the total ignorance in which the House was as to the increase of expense the Bill would cause; but he was told that in going into Committee pro formâ alterations would be made, and in that form it would come before the Committee. But what had happened? It had gone into Committee pro formâ, and its principles had been essentially altered, and he begged leave to say that all the constitutional safeguards of legislation had been lost; there had been no opportunity of discussing the principles of the Bill on the second reading, the main feature of the superannuation clause had been altered, for it had been extended not only to salaried civil servants, but to all those whose remuneration consisted of daily pay and wages. He did not think that a fairway of opening the question, for the House had a right to pass its opinion upon the question whether, in point of expediency and expense, it was desirable to increase the number of those entitled to superannuation. He objected also to the manner in which the rights of civil servants were defined. Every civil servant ought to be able to obtain at a glance a knowledge of his position as a public servant with reference to superannuation; but as the Bill stood he would have to wade through several Acts of Parliament before he could arrive at the information, for the section alluding to the subject contained references to no less than eight Acts of Parliament. The old and new law was so huddled up together that, in fact, none but an experienced lawyer could find out what the sections meant. This speech of the hon. Baronet, clear as it was in other respects, was rather obscure as to the question of what would be the additional expense that would fall on the public by the passing of this Bill, and this was a very serious question. The amount paid already yearly for pensions and superannuations was enormous —it amounted to a million and-a-half. As an approximation towards it, he would take the Civil Service salaries at £5,339,000, 363 and he inferred that the charge with regard to that sum imposed by the Bill would be £1,122,000 for superannuations. Add to that the £74,000 lost by abolishing the deductions from the salaries and the compensations consequent on the abolition of the Ecclesiastical Courts, find other compensations amounting towards £1,500,000. The Select Committee who sat on this question had recommended the repeal of such portions of existing Acts as provided for reductions from the salaries of the civil servants to form the superannuation fund, but they also recommended a revision of the salaries. The point he desired to impress on the House was this. Let that reduction be a by-gone thing. Let the civil servants have the benefit of it; but let the House not increase the scale of superannuation. His object was to do justice to the Civil Service, and certainly at the same time to the taxpayers. He said, therefore, by all means give them the advantage of a repeal of the tax, but adhere to the scale of 1834. He did not mean to argue for the infallibility of that scale, and if the jump every seven years were unwise, let it be altered. Let them not, however, increase the scale of superannuation. Under the Act of 1834 a person who had served thirty-eight years would be entitled to superannuation at the rate of £50 for every £100. How would the new scale work if it were adopted? Why, that every person who had served thirty-two years would be entitled to £53 for every £ 100, and when he had served thirty-eight years he would receive £63 for every £100. There could be no question that Parliament had wisely yielded the tax. It was too much, however, after having done that, to say that they would also increase the scale of superannuation. With regard to the number of persons who would be entitled to superannuation under the Bill, the House was at present utterly in the dark; he apprehended, however, that they would not fall short of 40,000. Indeed, now that the deduction was abolished, it was difficult to fix a limit. He begged to move as a Resolution, therefore,—That all deductions from salaries, in order to form a fund for superannuations, having been abolished, it is not expedient to add to the amount of public charge by an increase in the scale of superannuation.This was a modest and reasonable proposal, and he trusted it would receive the support of the House.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words ' all deductions from Salaries, in order to form a fund for Superannuations, having been abolished, it is not expedient to add to the amount of public charge by an increase in the scale of Superannuation,'
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, he did not propose to enter at any length into a discussion of the provisions of this Bill. He had listened with great interest to the very clear and most ingenuous statement of his hon. Friend the Secretary for the Treasury, but at the same time it appeared to him that the Bill raised some very serious questions for the consideration of the House. In the First place his hon. Friend made a large demand on the House when as financial Secretary he exhorted them to take a broad view in this matter, and so contrived his own invitations as to apply it to this point, and asked the House to enact a system of pensions on a new basis, without knowing what classes were to be included within the provisions of the measure, and without being aware of the extent of the burden about to be added to the already heavy burdens on the public finances. He knew that it was difficult even for a Government Department to obtain exact information on this subject; but he must impress on the House the absolute duty to have the best estimate which the Government could give, and not to proceed to adopt a new system without obtaining such an estimate from the Government as at all events it must be in their power to afford. He thought he saw from some parts of the statement of his hon. Friend, that the reason why they had not given an estimate at the present moment was, not that the subject was incapable of any estimate, but the communications between the Treasury and the different departments had not yet reached a stage of maturity to enable the Government to arrive at an estimate.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
explained that what he said was, that the communications were such as to render it improbable that any estimate could be given.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, he had merely stated the inference which he drew from what the hon. Gentleman had said, that 365 the communications between the Treasury and the various departments were not yet complete. He did not say that it was absolutely necessary to protest against going into Committee, but the case was not ripe for the House to pass finally a Bill through their hands until the communications were complete, and the calculations of the Government founded on those communications had been laid on the table. He was almost afraid that a love of uniformity had too much influenced the deliberations on the subject. The old system of pensions was founded on schedules, and the House was made clearly and distinctly aware of the nature of the steps which they were taking. This was a subject upon which it was eminently necessary the House should have full knowledge of that which they were about to do, because they were not enacting to day that which would take effect tomorrow, and of which to-morrow would give experience for correction the day after. They were enacting now that which would not take full effect for the next forty or fifty years, and they were now entering into a new set of engagements, every one of which, even if it reached over half a century or more, must be kept absolutely sacred, however onerous might be the consequences. This inherent difficulty in the case rendered it necessary that they should exhaust the means at their disposal to obtain a clear view of what they were about before they proceeded to give a final vote on this Bill. There was one illustration of his hon. Friend which confirmed his suspicions of a great tendency on the part of the hon. Gentleman to indulge in generous liberality. His hon. Friend spoke of the great anomaly which was at present exhibited in the Post-office Department, where it appeared London letter-carriers were entitled to superannuation and country letter-carriers were not, and, scandalized at this anomaly, his hon. Friend proposed to cure it by admitting he did not know how many thousand country letter-carriers to the benefits of superannuation. He did not say that the case of letter-carriers in very large towns was not strictly analogous, but be did say that there were very good reasons why a distinction should be drawn between the London and the country letter-carrier. The London letter-carrier was on his legs all day, and his duties absorbed his whole time; but in the country very often the letter-carrier spent an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening in the service of the Post Office, and was no 366 higher in quality than a common labourer. By giving him superannuation he would be placed on a footing entirely different from that of his class, and he would receive that for which be had by no means the same claims as the letter-carrier in London. He had been struck by the form of the clause which his hon. Friend proposed to introduce for the purpose of supplying a test upon which the Government might act. He thought the hon. Gentleman could hardly ask the House to adopt the clause that evening, because at present it was quite uncertain to what classes of persons the certificate of the Civil Service Commissioners extended. The system of the Commissioners was yet in its infancy, but be fully concurred in what his hon. Friend had said with reference to the services of those distinguished men, and he thought the House and the country owed a deep debt of gratitude to Sir J. Shaw Lefevre and Sir E. Ryan for the part they had taken in organizing the system. The very ambiguity of the clause confirmed him in the impression that his hon. Friend had as yet shown no sufficient cause for departing from the old principle upon which Superannuation Acts were constructed — of scheduling in the Acts themselves the classes of officers to whom they were intended to apply. When this question was examined and it was first decided by a Committee of that House that it was desirable to remit the deductions which had been levied under Act of Parliament from the salaries of the civil servants, the Committee recommended that the salaries of civil servants should undergo a revision generally corresponding to the deductions, and only a few years previously the House had been almost upon the point of adopting a vote for a general diminution of the salaries of civil servants, entirely irrespective of any relief they were to receive by a revision of these deductions, but the deductions having been remitted the revision of salaries appeared to have been entirely forgotten. He did not make any charge against any one, and he was perhaps wrong in saying it bad been forgotten, for he hoped it was still intended to carry that process into effect. But it might be said that the civil servants were very insufficiently and illiberally paid. But his hon. Friend had said that at this very hour, when the House was determining to remit these deductions, the Civil Service Commission were showing by the result of their examinations that the system of admission to the Civil Service had been ex- 367 tremely lax, and that no inconsiderable number of persons had been allowed to hold offices, and to receive salaries for the discharge of duties to which they were incompetent. Upon that ground, therefore, as well as upon others, he submitted that there was no case of injustice on the part of the civil service as a body. It could not be alleged, with the slightest colour of truth, that that service, as a body, was underpaid. Everything that the public had contracted to do for them had been rigorously and faithfully performed, and he asked, therefore, whether it was just to the people of England that, wholesale, without the slightest respect either to the merits of individuals or classes, or to the relations between the salary and the duty to be discharged, the House should proceed to remit the form of deductions, and to add in that manner to the public burdens, while at the same time it entirely ignored the corresponding recommendation of its Committee that with reference to this deduction a revision of the salaries should take place? He hoped to hear from the Government, first, some declaration as to the manner in which it was intended to proceed with regard to the classes of persons who ought to be included within the provisions of the Act; secondly, some promise that before the Bill was read a third time an estimate should be framed of the addition which was likely to accrue to the public expenditure; and thirdly, a statement whether it was intended that the remission of the reduction should be followed by a reconsideration of the rates of salary, or whether, on the other hand, it was meant that that remission of deductions should stand as a simple, sweeping, wholesale augmentation of the salaries of the civil service, entirely irrespective of the particular merits, duties, or features of the different cases.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he thought the House ought not the proceed with the Bill in the absence of an estimate of what the probable increased charge would be. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford had made some very proper observations, as he thought, upon the injustice of remitting the deductions without entering into the question of the salaries. There was no occupation in the country in which persons were employed so few hours per day, as in the Civil Service. They were supposed to work from ten in the morning until four in the afternoon; but a considerable portion of the morning was devoted to reading the newspaper, and talk- 368 ing over the events of the day. He did not know what would become of the mercantile and commercial interests of the country if they conducted their affairs in that manner. He believed it would do persons in public offices a great deal of good if they were employed for a longer period than they were at present.
said, from his own experience he could understand the difficulty which the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury felt in attempting to form any accurate estimate of what the additional cost of these new arrangements would be. It was his (Mr. Wilson's) duty, two years since, to bring under the consideration of the House what the ultimate result of a fair superannuation measure must be; because it was perfectly obvious to the Government of that day that the remission of deductions was only a part of a series of measures which must necessarily follow. He (Mr. Wilson) then made a statement of the ultimate additional cost that would be entailed upon the country by the proposed measure, and estimated it at £100,000 for the remission of abatements, and another £100,000 for the creation of additional pensions. He did not understand that the present Bill proposed any additional scale for superannuation. The scheme of the Government, like that proposed by the Treasury of that day, acting upon the recommendations of the Committee, was this—according to the Act of 1834, the pensions were regulated by periods of seven years, and a person was entitled, at the end of ten years and under fifteen years' service, to four-fifths of his annual allowance. The result of the Bill would be to give effect to the practice which had hitherto prevailed in awarding pensions under former Acts of apportioning the pensions to the exact number of years of service. As he understood the question, the Government did not propose to increase the scale of compensation to be given. The only effect, therefore, as far as regards those who were formerly paid under the 40th scale would be to give them a Parliamentary title to their compensation, instead of the title to be derived from an Order in Council merely. With regard to Post-office servants, those only were now entitled to compensation who were in the offices at London, Dublin, and Edinburgh; but he confessed he could not see upon what principle of justice clerks employed at Liverpool, Bristol, or Glasgow, should not equally be en- 369 titled to the same privileges. Then came the question, where was the line to be drawn? Was the sore to be always open, and was the discontent among the civil servants of the Crown to become chronic? They might depend upon it that so long as one class of public servants were precluded from privileges which others with no higher claims upon the Crown enjoyed, so long would there be discontent and agitation. What, he asked, would be the condition of affairs if the whole body of civil servants were arrayed against the Crown, and what sort of discipline could be expected in such a state of things? His advice to the House, therefore, was to settle the question upon a broad principle which every one could understand, and which would be just to all. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had misunderstood the proposal of the Secretary of the Treasury. The hon. Gentleman very properly laid down this distinction, that where a person was permanently, solely, and exclusively devoted to the public service, he was a public officer, and ought to receive a pension. Therefore, in the case mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman of a Post-office runner, who was employed for an hour or two in the day, and then returned to his shoe-making or other trade, the Bill would not apply. He believed that the best way to promote content would be to establish uniformity. The whole class of persons to be included in this scheme were now in the receipt of but small salaries, but when it was said that 700 or 800 persons would be brought under the operation of the Bill, that number would not be the measure of those who would become chargeable on the country. He regretted to say that a very large portion of the public servants died or disappeared before the time for superannuation arrived. On the whole, he did not believe that the operation of the Bill would add more than 12 or 13 per cent on that which was now paid, or increase the charge more than £100,000.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, that although an economist, and anxious to save the public money, he was bound at the same time to be just, and therefore he should support the Bill. The higher servants of the Crown were able to provide for their old age out of their salaries, but the lower class could not do so, and if they were permanent servants it was the duty of the State to do that for them which they could not do for themselves. In the great towns the Post-office runners were upon 370 their legs all day, and were entitled to the same consideration as the same class of public servants in London. An increase of 12 per cent in the present charge for superannuation would be, in his opinion, cheaply purchased by the goodwill and increased efficiency which would thereby be obtained.
§ SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, he had opposed the Motion of the noble Lord now Secretary for Ireland, (Lord Naas), for getting rid of the old system of making no deductions from the salaries of public servants, and he did his best to persuade the House that it would be unwise and most expensive to adopt that step. The House, however, contrary to the opinion of the Government of the day and the Committee, was pleased to get rid of the system. The question was settled, and he had no desire to re-open it; but that was really the source and spring of the expenditure proposed by the present Bill. This Act was the corollary of the former one. The only question, then, was how much they had to pay. By the old scale a discretion was allowed to the Treasury within certain limits to give the good servant a larger, and the indifferent servant a smaller superannuation. By the present system that discretion was a good deal removed, and upon the whole he preferred the new plan to the old. With regard to those who were now introduced to the benefit of the Superannuation Fund for the first time, let him put the question to the House in this way:—They had now a higher class of public servants, they bad increased their salaries 5 per cent, and they proposed to give them a better scale of retiring allowances and certain other advantages. That being so, he asked on what principle they could possibly refuse to consider the case of a workman in the dockyard, who was less able to provide for old age, some small increase in his superannuation allowance, when the clerk who paid him his wages had his allowance increased. Such a system would be productive of nothing but discontent and dissatisfaction. So long as the system of deduction was continued, they had a fair answer; but now when all classes were put upon the same footing, the pensions must be placed upon the same equal scale. He objected to that clause in the Bill which required the retirement of an officer at the age of sixty-five, but not on money grounds. He would, therefore, reserve his objections to that clause for the Committee. He en- 371 treated the House most earnestly to settle the question. No one hardly knew how much inconvenience and dissatisfaction had been caused by the matter remaining in its present unsettled state. There was a great deal of canvassing, not of the House, but of the Members, which he very much disapproved of. He had not been troubled very much in that way himself, but he knew that others had been, and whatever the House did it could not do worse than leave the matter unsettled. It had only two courses open to it, either to revert to the old system or go on. It could not revert to the old system, and so its only course was to go on, even though it might have to pay somewhat dearly for its whistle.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he was ready to accept the consequences of the decision that the abatements should be abolished, and that the distinction which the payment of those abatements previously made between the class of public servants entitled to superannuation allowances by reason of their being subject to such abatements and the class of officers not entitled to superannuation allowances by reason of not being subject to such deductions should be done away with. But he was not prepared to go beyond that principle. He could see no reason why the principle which the hon. Baronet embodied in his Resolution should not be carried out—namely, that no increase should be made in the scale of superannuations now fixed by law. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Treasury was in error when he stated that the late Government had introduced a Bill altering the scale of superannuations last Session, or since the time when abatements were abolished. The Bill which he introduced upon the subject was introduced previous to the decision of the House with respect to the abolition of the system of abatement. He (Sir George Lewis) felt himself quite at liberty to vote against the scale of superannuation proposed by the present Bill; but he approved that scale in so far as it converted the septennial division into an annual payment; though he saw no reason why the scale of allowance fixed by the present law should be increased. No reason had been assigned for any substantial increase in the existing scale. With regard to the introduction of a new class of officers entitled to superannuation pensions, he admitted it was desirable that an intelligible rule should be laid down; but what he con- 372 fessed somewhat alarmed him was the number of officers on the establishment of the Post Office, who, it was said, were to participate in the allowance. The Secretary for the Treasury had, on the estimates made by the Post-office authorities, stated the number to be about 8,000, who would thus, for the first time, he entitled to superannuation allowances; but he added that on investigation, the number might be reduced. The House ought to consider carefully how they admitted the whole of the Post-office service to the benefit of the superannuation allowance. With respect to the clerks employed in the Post Offices in large towns in the country—such as Liverpool and others—he thought they ought to stand on precisely the same footing as the clerks in the General Post Office. He could see no good reason, however, why Postmasters in country Post Offices, who did not devote their whole time to the public duties, and to whom the keeping a Post Office was more of an advantage than otherwise, should be admitted to the benefits of the superannuation allowance. There was another large class of persons in country Post Offices whom he should be extremely reluctant to bring within the provisions of this Bill. The country letter-carriers in general received about the wages of a day labourer. It was a vocation much sought after in the country, as the duties were less laborious than the usual work. Besides, they occasionally obtained perquisites which made a considerable addition to their earnings. They were not a class considered to belong to the permanent Civil Service, and there would be no difficulty in finding persons to do the duty for the wages given, without the right to a pension. he did not understand whether it was intended to bring them within this Bill as entitled to pensions. He should vote for going into Committee if he were assured that the Bill would not entail any substantial increase in the scale of pensions.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I do not think the effect of the Bill will be substantially to increase the scale of pensions; and I do not think that the Motion of the hon. Member for Evesham is founded on substantial evidence. No doubt there may be, in a certain sense, some slight increase in the superannuations under this Bill; but the increase has not been occasioned by any wish of increasing the salaries. The scale in the Bill is the scale recommended by a Committee 373 of the House, and also recommended by the Royal Commission, and the reason that there is some slight increase in some portions is, that that scale has been framed in order to obtain the annual progression which was considered desirable; and, indeed, generally speaking, this Bill only legalizes what was before the practice of the Treasury—and which was the remedial practice of the Treasury—in order to counteract the evil effects of the scale that then obtained. It has been urged in the course of to-night's discussion that the communications between the Treasury and the officers and classes comprised in this Bill have not been completed; but I think that my hon. Friend the Secretary of the Treasury was entirely misunderstood by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford when he made that allegation, because it was not stated by my hon. Friend that the communications between the Treasury and the other public offices have not been completed. They have been completed, and we have established a principle which is to guide us in the management of all the cases that come under our notice, namely, that those who receive the privilege—if I may so call it— of superannuation shall pass under the examination of the Civil Service Commission. And I must remind the hon. Baronet that we have a complete check over the various classes to which he has adverted, because it is for the Treasury to decide what cases shall come under the Civil Service Commission. The hon. Baronet who proposed the Amendment has endeavoured to alarm the House by dwelling upon the large number of persons who, he says, will come under the influence of this Bill if it passes into an Act; and he has remarked that the House, which has been accustomed always to consider that the number of civil servants was 16,000 will find them to be 40,000. Now, it is possible that a number of persons amounting to 40,000, or approximating to that number, may ultimately come under this Bill, if it shall be passed; but the fact is that it is not an increase from 16,000 to 40,000, but that between 16,000 and 30,000 are included in this Act who were before in the enjoyment of superannuations by other means, and, in fact, the real increase under this Bill cannot be estimated at a higher figure than between 6,000 and 8,000 persons, those persons being subject to the Treasury control to which I have adverted, and which, I think, will be a substanial check to any abuse. So far, therefore, as regards the principle 374 urged by the hon. Baronet, I must say that, in the spirit of the case, there is no increase —no substantial increase in the scale of superannuation. What we have done is — we have reduced the minimum and accelerated the maximum, so that a person who enters the service and completes the time—namely forty years—I hope there are few such — would not, under these regulations, receive a greater amount of public money than under the old system. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) has said that before this discussion terminates he expects from the Government information on three points— first, the class of persons whom we propose to bring under this Act; secondly, whether we intend to revise the public salaries; and thirdly, he wishes to have an estimate of what will be the increase of charge if this Bill passes. With regard to the first point —the class of persons who will come under this Act—I will say at once that all those who are included in the original schedule of the existing Act, all added since, such as Poor Law Commissioners and others, and all those who have become entitled to be added, will come under the provisions of this Act, also those classes mentioned in this debate—namely, those employed in the dockyards and the Post Office. As to the second point, whether it is the intention of Government to institute a revision of the salaries, I would beg to refer to the opinion given on that subject by the Royal Commissioners. The Royal Commissioners were of opinion that such revision would be impracticable, and they gave their reason for their conclusions. Our opinion agrees with that of the Royal Commissioners, and we do not think that it is expedient, taking a general view of all the circumstances connected with the question, that a general revision of the salaries should take place. I need hardly touch upon the third point, the increase of the amount of charge if the Bill passes—because the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Wilson) has given his opinion to the House, an opinion founded on experience, and entitled to be regarded as of authority on this point. I would say that I believe the estimate of the hon. Gentleman is well founded; but I believe the expenditure would be rather under that figure than not. And if that is the case, can the House hesitate to pass a Bill of this kind, which I think is founded on principles of policy and justice, which has been recommended, and fairly recommended, by the public, and which after a long dis- 375 cussion appears to receive the approbation of the House. I do not know whether the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham intends to divide on his Amendment; but I think his Motion is not well grounded, and I should feel it my duty to oppose it.
§ Question put "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 131; Noes 29; Majority 102.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ House in Committee.
§ Clause 1.
§ MR. GROGAN
said, he wished to move the omission of the words "in an established capacity," because they had created great doubt and difficulty as to their exact meaning and application. It was supposed, and not without some reason, that if those words were not omitted from the Bill a certain class of civil servants in the largo departments—the Customs, for instance— would not be entitled to any superannuation unless they had been ten years in the service The class of persons here referred to were the supernumerary civil servants. These gentlemen, in many cases, devoted their whole time to the service of the country, and they ought to be admitted to the benefits of the measure. When the Committee considered that the Bill would not extend to any one who was not employed for ten years, they would, he thought, come to the conclusion that a supernumerary employed for that length of time ought to have a superannuation allowance. The words he proposed to expunge were not in the old Act, and why they should have been inserted in this Bill he did not know. He hoped the Committee would agree to his Motion.
§ SIR DENHAM NORREYS
said, he wished to ask the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury the meaning of the words "in an established service," because he had had the honour of being entrusted with a petition signed by 800 persons, who claimed to be placed on the same footing as other public servants? The petitioners were a useful body of men, namely, the process-servers of Ireland. He did not desire to extend the operation of this Bill, which he considered one of the most discreditable ever introduced by any Government; but, as hon. Members seemed to take it as an accomplished fact, he thought it but fair that the claims of all classes should be brought before the Committee and the Government.
§ MR. BRISCOE
said, he would suggest that in bringing up the Report a schedule should be attached to the Bill, showing the civil servants who were entitled to superannuations.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
replied that those who were called supernumerary clerks were in fact to all intents and purposes established clerks, and had an organization of their own, and they would certainly come under the provisions of this Bill. With regard to the process-servers in Ireland, the case was quite different; they did not require the same qualifications for the discharge of their duties as civil servants in the public establishments; neither was the same strictness required in their case á regarded age and the length of service as in the case of the civil servants, and therefore they would not come under the provisions of this Bill. As to the Ordnance Offices he could hardly give an answer, but he did not see at that moment why the Bill would not include them.
§ SIR DENHAM NORREYS
complained of the hardship that was inflicted upon numbers of the constabulary who had been discharged from their service in Ireland without any compensation or superannuation, while officials who were discharged from the Poor Law Board were superannuated. On these grounds he objected to the discretionary power of the Treasury in cases of this kind.
said, he rose to draw attention to the case of the artificers employed in the steam factories in the dockyards, and he wished to ask whether it would not be worth the while of the Government to consider if it would not be desirable to place them on a footing which would secure their permanent services.
said, that the whole scope of the Bill was to diminish as much as possible the discretion of the Treasury. With regard to the statement of the gallant Member, he might explain that the artificers to whom he referred were a fluctuating body. They were attached to the steam factories, and they were in no way bound to the Government.
§ ALDERMAN SALOMONS
said, he considered that those skilled labourers who were employed in the construction of the steam navy, and were, although not on the establishment, permanently employed in the 377 dockyards, should be placed on the same footing as shipwrights.
SIR FREDERICK SMITH
said, he hoped the hired men would be included in the provisions of the Bill. They were almost permanently employed, and did the same work as the established men.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
remarked that the men alluded to would, by the provisions of the Bill, come within its scope, only that the Treasury would exercise a discretion in deciding whether they had had fixed and established employment.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he wished to know if it were intended that the men should undergo an examination by the Civil Service Commissioners?
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, he thought it but proper that the Treasury should have the discretion referred to, but he understood from the Bill that if a man had served twenty-nine years and was then discharged for a time, but afterwards brought back and retained in the service for seventeen years more, his superannuation would be calculated for the seventeen years only. That would, he considered, be a great injustice.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, the words were not his but those of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Devon-port, but he did not think there was any difficulty in understanding them. With regard to the question of his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) in reference to the examination of the men by the Civil Service Commissioners, he had to state that it would be necessary for the men to obtain from the Commissioners certificates as to their age, the state of their health, and other such matters as were elements in the calculation of their superannuation.
remarked, that the words "established capacity" were perfectly intelligible to every person acquainted with the public departments.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, that the clause considered only the status of those at present in the public service, and not that of those who might hereafter join it.
§ MR. GROGAN
observed, that he was so satisfied with the explanation of his hon. Friend the Secretary of the Treasury, Sir Stafford Northcote, that he would withdraw his Amendment. His reason for moving the omission of the words was that they created a great deal of uncertainty among the civil servants. He would, however, still urge the claims of the engrossing clerks in the Scotch Land Office.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR DENHAM NORREYS
said, he would then move an Amendment to the effect that no person be entitled to superannuation allowance, except granted in respect of any office mentioned in the schedule to this Act annexed, "except as hereinafter mentioned."
§ SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, the same rule ought to apply to all the establishments. As there must he decision somewhere, it ought to be exercised by the Treasury.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 2.
§ MR. G. CLIVE
moved the following Amendment—line 20, after "service" insert "and also an allowance of one-sixtieth for each three years' service of all persons who entered into the service of the State between the 30th day of September, 1829, and the 1st day of July, 1857, and who had paid the abatement on their salaries deducted by virtue of the Act 4 & 5 Will. IV."
§ MR. GREER
moved an Amendment, protecting the interests of the class—a very limited one—of public servants who had entered between 1829 and 1834. They wore not numerous, and an attention to their claims would not seriously affect the Bill. What be proposed was, that their retiring allowances should be fixed at the rate which was current at the period at which they entered office.
declared that the 379 Amendment could not be put, as being-identical with one which had already been disposed of.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he must again beg to ask whether the effect of the clause would be to inflict any additional charge on the public?
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he had already stated that it was impossible to estimate the expense which this clause would impose upon the public.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 3.
remarked, that under it persons who had arrived at the age of sixty-five, though they might be hale and hearty, were obliged to retire, which might be a great loss to them.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 3 was also agreed to.
§ Clause 4.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
asked how far this clause would affect the present state of the law, which limited the number of pensions payable to Under Secretaries of State?
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, his attention had not been called to this point, but provision should be made for it, in order that the limitation now imposed by statute might not be altered.
§ Clauses agreed to, as were also Clauses 5 and 6.
§ Clause 7.
§ SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, he would propose the omission of certain words to prevent persons who had served their full time in Government Offices from being placed in a worse position, with respect to their superannuation allowance, than those persons who had been discharged in consequence of a reduction of the establishment.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 4, lines 7 and 8, to leave out the words "if ten years were added to the number of years which he may have actually served."
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 161; Noes 88: Majority 73.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
said, he would propose to omit the words two-thirds, and to insert three-fourths in the clause, with a view of providing for meritorious cases, in which a greater proportion of the salary as a retiring allowance, might be deserved, 380 and giving the Treasury a discretion to that amount.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 8.
§ SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, he wished for some explanation on this clause. It related to the heads of departments who had nobody above them to certify as to their having served with diligence and fidelity. He objected to the Treasury having the power of granting a retiring allowance to the heads of departments, who they might declare had not served them with diligence and fidelity.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that the two next clauses referred to the case of a full grant of superannuation allowance. In the case of a subordinate officer it would be competent to the head of the department to make the necessary certificate, but in the case of the head of a department, of course he could not certify to himself, and therefore the regulation had been made that the Treasury should certify to the fact.
§ Clause withdrawn.
§ Clauses 9 and 10 agreed to.
§ Clause 11.
§ SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, that it appeared to him this clause gave an official power to retire after sixty years' service, whether he was capable or not. Such a course seemed very objectionable.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, the provision of the existing law was that the Government should not be able to grant a superannuation allowance to any official under sixty-five years of age, unless he was physically disabled. The present clause merely altered that to sixty years.
§ SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, he was sorry to be so troublesome, but he thought a public servant had no right to say he was sixty-five years of age, and therefore, would claim his retiring allowance. He wished to know whether this clause gave power to an official at sixty years of age to say he would claim a retiring allowance?
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
explained that under the existing law a public servant had power to retire after sixty-five years of age, but if he retired under those 381 years, unless he could produce a medical certificate, he could not obtain a superannuation allowance. The result was that the Treasury was met by medical certificates which they were compelled to look upon with an eye of indulgence—sometimes importing no more than that the applicant had a severe cold, and upon this certificate superannuation was often granted upon insufficient grounds. The result of the proposed clause would be that civil servants would be enabled to retire at sixty instead of at sixty-five.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he could not see that any valid objection had been brought forward to the existing state of things, and if a division took place he should vote against the proposed change.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that this Bill would bring under the provision of the Superannuation Act a large body of officers who were not at present within its provisions—many of whom would not be under the immediate observation of the Treasury. The effect of the Bill generally was to increase the burden upon the public, and to benefit the public service. If the Committee acknowledged the right or understood claim of every public officer to retire at sixty, the difference would be that a considerable addition would be made to the public expenditure, and a corresponding advantage would accrue to the service. Now, he did not feel satisfied that any sufficient case had been made out, and he should therefore move that the words "sixty-five" he substituted for "sixty" in the clause.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 5, after "sixty," to insert "five."
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he had some difficulty in meeting the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman, because the wording of this clause was connected with that of the 15th clause, to which the Committee had not yet arrived. But the general scope of the Bill was this: it was thought desirable that persons who had fairly discharged their duties should leave the service with good will. It would now be necessary to retire at sixty-five, and, as a compensation for this, it was thought right to permit public servants to retire at sixty. Younger men would be permitted to enter the service than formerly, namely, at years varying from eighteen to twenty-five, thus taking the average at twenty; and they would be permitted, if they wished, to retire at sixty; and it must be allowed that forty years of the best part of a man's life 382 was an ample period of public service to deserve a pension. It was thought desirable not to retain unwilling or incapable servants; and at the same time it must be remembered that by retiring at sixty they gave up one third of their income.
observed that the House allowed Members of the House to be exempt from serving on Committees at the age of sixty.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
observed that it was contemplated under this Act to admit no one into the civil service over the age of twenty-five; the average of persons entering the service would thus be of the age of twenty, and the present term of service was considered practically to amount to forty years. In France, members of the civil service were allowed to retire at fifty-five. He trusted the Committee would agree to the clause.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that under the proposed arrangement forty years' service would be secured to the public before the retiring pension came into force. He did not think we ought to mete out a less measure of liberality than that given in the French civil service, which was admitted to be a very good one.
said, he thought the Committee appeared to be of opinion that the charge upon the country would be much greater than it would be found in reality. He did not share in that apprehension.
§ MR. MALINS
said, he should oppose the Amendment, and put it to the Committee whether they would prevent a public servant from enjoying the only five years of his life which it might be in his power to pass in comfort.
§ Question put, "That the word 'five' be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:— Ayes 100; Noes 156: Majority 56.
§ Clause agreed to, as was Clause 12.
§ Clause 13.
MR. SERJEANT DEASY
proposed an alteration, in order to exempt persons from the necessity of retiring from public offices, at the age of sixty-five, who had been appointed in a certain manner.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, 383 he was willing to strike out the words "life and good behaviour," and to insert, "And not being an officer included within the terms of any order or warrant made by the Commissioners of the Treasury under the provisions of section 4 of this Act." The intention of the clause was that retirement should be compulsory at the age of sixty-five; but it was not intended that this provision should affect persons ordinarily employed until a later period of life, and who accepted office at a comparatively late age.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ Clause postponed.
§ Clauses 14 to 20 inclusive, were then agreed to.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he had a clause to add, that no person should be deemed to be in the civil service of the State, or entitled to superannuation allowance, unless he held his appointment direct from the Crown, or had his salary provided out of the Imperial funds.
§ Clause postponed.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report progress.