§ MR. PEASE
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether it is true that by an Order in Council dated the 19th August, 1871, the pay of temporary writers in Her Majesty's Civil Service was placed on a different footing to that on which it existed up to that date; and, if so, whether it is a fact that there are temporary writers now attached to the Civil Service Establishments, who, having entered the service before the 19th August, 1871, have in consequence of this Order been reduced in pay, or deprived of those advantages in pay which were held out to them as inducements for entering the service?
§ MR. BOWRING
said, that when the House was in Committee of Supply he stated that the pay of certain writers had been reduced in the manner indicated in the Question of the hon. Member for Durham. The Chancellor of the Exchequer then denied that such was the case, and he now wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman, Whether he has since made further inquiries on the subject, and whether the statement he (Mr. Bowring) then made is not strictly accurate?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that when it was determined to introduce competition into the Civil Service, it became necessary to look up the whole subject of the employment of temporary writers, which was found to be in no little confusion, because they found this to be the state of the case—that the writers were differently treated under different Departments; that they received different rates of pay and different notices of discontinuance of their services, and that they had different holidays. They might be divided for convenience into three classes. The first, which was the largest class, consisted of writers who were obtained from law stationers, and who received a payment, some portion of which no doubt was paid to the law stationers by way of commission for getting them the employment. There were other writers employed at different rates of pay by the hour in different offices; and besides them there were a set of writers, by far the most important class as regarded 430 this question, who were employed on a system of increment, gradually increasing, with a considerable period of notice, as much as three months, before their services could be dispensed with. Moreover, in cases where they had served five years, they were entitled to a certain gratuity if their services were not any longer required. This state of things was dealt with by an Order in Council in 1871. It was very necessary that it should be dealt with, because, in the first place, there was great danger that as they had blocked up the entrance to the higher parts of the Civil Service by competition, there would be a great rush of writers into the lower outlets of the service; and, in the second place, there was great danger that these writers, who were receiving salaries calculated on an increasing increment, and with certain rates of payment in case of dismissal, should become a sort of secondary Civil Service, and obtain interests almost as permanent as those in the Civil Service itself. The way in which the Government proposed to deal with that state of things was this—they had placed all future writers entirely under the Civil Service Commissioners, who would examine them, and see that they were qualified for the duties of a writer—that was, to write, to copy, and to spell well, with a little arithmetic, and then, whenever a department wanted a writer, it sent to the Civil Service Commissioners for him. The rate of pay was fixed at 10d. an hour, and that was certainly somewhat lower than that hitherto given. The law stationers received 1s. an hour for each man; but, this being mere mechanical work, he apprehended that there could be no doubt the Government were justified, and were bound, in justice to the public, to obtain it as cheaply as they could. The other part of the subject was much more difficult; that was, those writers who were receiving increment, because they had been a sort of imitation or repetition of the Civil Service. He held it to be absolutely necessary to put an end to it; and the Order in Council stopped the increments from the period of the first Order in Council in 1870, and it might be said, therefore, to have prevented the increase of their salaries that would otherwise have taken place. The case of these persons was well worthy of consideration, and he had a plan in his mind for affording them some redress of a not 431 illiberal character, which he hoped would be laid on the Table in a few days.
, who also had a Notice of a Question upon the same subject on the Paper, said that while demurring entirely from the statement which the right hon. Gentleman had made with regard to the position of the writers, he wished to ask him whether their liberties, as regarded leave, had not been curtailed, and whether during this year he would re-consider that part of the subject, and grant them the holidays they had formerly enjoyed?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had not the least objection to give them any amount of holidays they liked to take, but during holidays of course they would not be paid. To do otherwise would be to do the very thing he was most anxious not to do, for he did not desire to admit that they had any permanent status or claim on the public whatever. All these things savoured of the Civil Service, and they should be obliged to make a heavy pecuniary sacrifice to get rid of what had already been done in this direction; and they could not be too careful in restricting these writers to the simple relation of persons hired for a short occasion, whose services might be put an and to when they were no longer necessary.
gave Notice that on Class 3 of the Civil Service Estimates he should call attention generally to this subject, and show the House how the matter really stood in regard to these writers.