HC Deb 10 June 1872 vol 211 cc1507-9

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether any determination has yet been arrived at in respect to the various recommendations made by the Diplomatic Committee last year, which relate to the system of examinations for admission to the junior grades, the scale of remuneration of the junior servants of the service, and to certain pecuniary advantages which it was proposed to secure on special proof of specified qualifications, as also to the recommendations that the gentlemen now in the service who entered it before existing arrangements took effect for giving commissions to second and third secretaries should be entitled to reckon towards their pensions, when they retire, all the period of their service as Attachés without a commission, deducting four years from that period, and that, subject to the Secretary of State's approbation, it be allowable for Chiefs of Missions who have not taken their allotted leave in any one year to unite such leave with that of the following year, without incurring a reduction of salary during the period of such united leave?


, in reply, said, that as regarded the first part of the Question—What change would be made in the system of examinations for admission to the junior grades of the Diplomatic Service? he begged to state that candidates who had taken a University degree, or who had been at a public school up to their 18th year, would be required to pass only such examination as would prove that they had a correct knowledge of French grammar, could converse fluently in that language on ordinary topics, could translate accurately from English into French, and vice versâ, and could satisfy the examiner of their proficiency in handwriting and précis writing. With respect to the second part of the Question—Would the scale of remuneration of the junior members of the service be altered, and would certain pecuniary advantages be secured to them on special proof of specified qualifications? he had to state that the period of unpaid duty would be reduced to two years, whereof six months would be spent in the Foreign Office and 18 months abroad. At the end of two years they would receive commissions as Third Secretaries, with a salary of £150 a-year, and if, on examination, they showed a competent knowledge of public law, they would, as Third Secretaries, receive an additional £100 per annum; on promotion to be Second Secretary they would receive a minimum salary of £300 a-year, increasing by £15 a-year till it reached £450 a-year. The minimum salary of a Secretary of Legation would be £500 a-year. Any Secretary of Legation or of Embassy, Second or Third Secretary or attaché, who should possess a competent knowledge, colloquial or otherwise of the Russian, Turkish, Persian, Japanese, or Chinese language while serving at any mission where such language was vernacular, would receive a special allowance of £100 a-year over and above any other allowance he might be in receipt of. The third part of the Question was—Would those who entered the service before the present arrangements for giving commissions to Second and Third Secretaries took effect be allowed to reckon towards their pensions the period of their service as attachés with four years' deduction? To that he must say no; they would not be allowed to count such time, as no such benefit was promised on their entrance into the service. In reply to the fourth part of the Question—Would Chiefs of Missions be allowed, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, to unite the leave of one year with that of the next without incurring a deduction of salary? he had to observe that the Secretary of State was not prepared to allow that alteration, as it was not considered advisable to establish a system which would sanction the absence of heads of Missions for four consecutive months from their posts every second year, thus depriving the country for so long a time of the advantage which British interests would derive from the weight and authority attaching to heads of Missions. He would further observe that the new regulations he had mentioned had not yet come into practice, and were at present only prospective.