HC Deb 16 July 1878 vol 241 cc1679-85

(Sir Henry Selwin-lbbetson, Colonel Stanley, Mr. William Henry Smith.)


[Progress 12th July.]

Clause 2 (Limitation of amount of gratuity).


in again proposing as an Amendment, in page 2, line 22, to leave out the words "with the possibility of further promotion, "said, he hoped the Government would be able to tell the House what conclusion they had come to with regard to the Amendment. He found he was under a misapprehension in supposing that the Government intended to dismiss the supplementary clerks, and that they intended to keep them on, though the clerks might wish to retire under the superannuation. He was at a loss to know why these clerks were not allowed the same privilege as others as regarded superannuation. They had been a long time in the Office, they had to perform duties which required the greatest knowledge and capacity, and they had been in receipt of exceedingly small salaries for a great number of years. They could obtain no further promotion, and the Government simply wanted to retain them in the Office on account of their capacity for work. Under the circumstances, they either ought to be put on the same footing as the other clerks, and obtain promotion, or they ought to be allowed to retire under the provisions of the Superannuation Act. He had received a letter from one of these gentlemen, who said— I must confess to being thoroughly disheartened and disgusted. As a body, we feel ourselves to have been for years past absolutely and entirely ignored. What I desire is to be allowed to take my hard-earned pittance and go. That was a gentleman who had been in the Office for over 20 years, and his experience was the same as that of many others. His salary, as was the case in all supplementary clerkships, was exceedingly low, and as to retiring allowance, he really did not know what he would have when he did retire. At present the Government did not propose to retire them, but to keep them on at a miserable rate of pay, and without any prospect of promotion.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 22, to leave out the words "with the possibility of further promotion."—(Mr. Parnell.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."


said, that he had gone into the case of these gentlemen very carefully; but he must remind the Committee that the first complaint which was made about the supplementary clerks was that they were about to be retired invidiously. Now, as he understood the hon. Member who had stated their cause, their complaint was that they were not at liberty to avail themselves of the provisions of the Bill. Now, he must remind the Committee that this was a Bill for making extra grants to certain clerks for the purpose of retirement, and not to give extra pay to those who remained. It was not proposed in any way to interfere with the supplementary clerks, and it was not considered necessary in the interests of the Public Service compulsorily to retire any of them. Consequently, it would not be in the public interest or in the interest of economy that these gentlemen should be brought up in connection with a measure by which it was proposed to give gratuities to those clerks who were compulsorily retired. He found it his duty, therefore, having carefully examined the matter, and having found that the engagement under which these gentlemen consented to serve had not been detrimental to their interests, to say that he did not consider it his duty to assent to the Amendment.


said, it was now proposed to superannuate a certain number of persons whose services were not worth retaining; and, at the same time, the Government were going to impose upon those whom they did wish to retain a different system of superannuation. While they were going to give gratuities to those officers whom they did not wish to retain, they refused them to those public officers who had deserved most at their hands. That was the principle of the measure, and it was a most extraordinary one. If it were to be the practice in the Public Service to give those who were undeserving more inducements to leave, than to those who were deserving to remain, he thought that those who had deserved well of the Public Service were treated very badly.


considered the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) to be perfectly correct, and that the Government selected a number of the most inefficient clerks in the Establishment for the purpose of retiring them compulsorily. They gave them the gratuities they were entitled to under the Superannuation Act, and, at the same time, they kept the supplementary clerks in the Service, because they had the most knowledge and the most capacity, and would not give them the benefit of the Act.

Question put.

The Committee divided: —Ayes 51; Noes 17: Majority 34.—(Div. List, No. 221.)

MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY moved, as an Amendment, to add to the end of the clause the words— Provided, That in the case of clerks who have served in a class the maximum of which exceeds £400, such clerks shall be considered to have served in a qualifying class in respect of that portion of their service during which they have received a salary exceeding £400 per annum. The explanation of his Amendment was as follows:—Persons who were entitled under the 2nd clause were those who had served in a qualifying class. Now, there were a certain number of men in these Offices, who, up to a certain time, had belonged to a class, the maximum of which only came up to £300; they were afterwards raised to the second class, the maximum of which was £500; and the result of their promotion in reference to that Bill was that they could only claim in respect of the period during which their salary was £300, and could make no claim for the time when it was £500. The disparity between the two arose from the fact that a junior class was created in 1870 of men beginning at £100 a-year, while the men in the older class had begun at only £90 a-year. The new men got an increase of £10 a-year, while the old men only got an increase of £15 in 10 years. He understood that the entire cost of the change he proposed to make would not be more than from £2,000 to £3,000.


said, that by the hon. Member's courtesy, he had had an opportunity of thoroughly examining into his scheme; but he found that he was unable to accept it. He would only remark that the cost, he was sorry to say, could not be brought within the dimensions stated by the hon. Member; and, so far from it being only £1,000 or £2,000, it would be a matter of £12,000, which fact placed it in a somewhat different light, when the economic claims of the scheme were considered. But that was not all. These gentlemen, by being in a higher class, found themselves debarred from some of the advantages which attached to those in the £400 class.


said, if that were the case, he did not see how the Amendment could be pressed.


said, he was not aware it would have involved so large a sum as £12,000. He asked to be allowed to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


wished to say a word about the general policy of the clause. He knew something about the subject, having given great attention to the retiring scheme. The clause embodied to a very great extent the principle of the Bill. The effect of the clause would be to induce clerks to retire at the end of 20 years' service, and that would be to bring about, on a larger scale, what existed in the Army. The effect would be that the clerk got no benefit, and the country got no benefit. The middle classes only got the benefit at the expense of the working men and artizans. He objected to the system altogether, as he believed it was simply multiplying cases of men drawing public money and doing nothing for it, and he believed it was an exceedingly bad scheme.


said, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was entirely mistaken as to the bearing of the Bill. The Bill was only to be in effect till 1880–18 months longer. It was only to effect a necessary reduction in the Service, both in the Admiralty and the War Office, and to produce a very desirable economy. It would not be an immediate economy, but would come into effect in 10 years' time, when there would be a corresponding increase of efficiency. It was necessary that they should remove a number of gentlemen who were far superior to the work they had to do, and replace them by men who were more fitted for it.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 (Certificate of retirement from service) agreed to.

Clause 4 (Gratuities to be in addition to ordinary superannuation allowance).


in moving, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 43, to leave out "one-half," and insert "two-thirds," explained that the Superannuation Act of 1859 provided a scale of retiring allowances and pensions in accordance with the number of years' service. A man was to have an allowance of ten-sixtieths if he had served for 10 years, and the allowance went on increasing by a sixtieth each year. Now, the Government proposed to give a gratuity in addition to the retiring allowance. As this was a case of compulsory retirement upon a very large scale, he thought it would be only fair to give all the clerks who were to be retired compulsorily two-thirds of the salaries they were receiving, instead of one-half. He did not know what the effect of it would be upon the financial arrangements of the Government, but he did not think it would be very serious. It would have a very good effect upon the clerks, who would look with much more favour on the Bill than here to fore.


regretted very much that the Government seemed always to be refusing Amendments proposed by hon. Members opposite. But if the Committee would reflect upon the terms offered by the Bill, they would see that they were very liberal. The compensation of two-thirds was the amount received after a full term, of service. If a man had served for 30 years, he would receive thirty-sixtieths; whereas, if a man had served for only 20 years, by the action of the Bill, if he were compulsorily retired, he would also receive thirty-sixtieths.


said, that his point was that whereas a man with a large salary would get two-thirds, one with a small salary would only have one-half.


thought the case might be met by substituting three-fifths for two-thirds. He thought the hon. Gentleman would find that it was quite right to have the power of making a large allowance.


regretted that the Government could not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Meath. The fact was, that the Bill was a very large extension of the present arrangements, and if it was intended to weight it more heavily than it was at present, it must break down. Looking at the salaries of the clerks, and at the terms proposed under the Bill, he thought it was most liberal.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the third time To-morrow.


stated, that on the third reading, he proposed to move an Amendment increasing the sum of £400 to £420. That would have the effect of including some gentlemen who were going to retire and who would otherwise be excluded from the Bill.