HC Deb 06 June 1878 vol 240 cc1313-6

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


Order for Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, many changes had been made in the Admiralty Office and in the War Office—amalgamations of offices to a considerable extent had been made, and the result as years went on was that the number of officers in those Departments was in excess of the requirements of the country. In the interests of the Public Service, therefore, it had been suggested that a reduction of the number of officers would produce very good results. The efficiency of the officers would be promoted, and officers not so highly paid would be introduced whose powers would be more in accordance with the mechanical work to be performed. For that purpose, it had been found desirable to introduce the present Bill to provide for the retirement of the present officers.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson.)


asked, on what previous occasions a similar course had been taken for increasing the facilities for retirement?


said, that a special Bill had been introduced because the circumstances were most unusual. Under the Superannuation Act, the custom was to allow gentlemen to choose their own time to retire; but, in a large re-organization, that custom was injurious both to the Service and to individuals.


inquired, as to the amount of reduction to be affected under the proposed scheme?


said, the evidence before the Treasury went to show that the reduction in both the Departments concerned would be a distinct saving to the Exchequer.


said, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had exactly answered the Question raised by his hon. Friend (Sir Charles W. Dilke)—namely, why exceptional facilities were to be given for retirement in the present instance?


said, the case was peculiar. A large re-organization was being effected in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee presided over by the right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair). They involved a division of clerks into two classes, upper and lower, and a diminution in the number of upper clerks. In large offices, like the Admiralty and War Departments, such a change could not be made piecemeal. It could have been done by the Treasury under the Superannuation Act, which enabled them to make certain provisions for superannuation allowances; but when the matter came under their consideration, the Treasury felt that it would not be right to exercise that power on so large a scale without consulting Parliament, because it might lead to abuse hereafter. The immediate saving at the War Office would be £14,000 a-year, and, ultimately, much more. The immediate saving at the Admiralty would be £10,000 a-year, and, ultimately, £14,000 a-year.


feared that this subversion of the Superannuation Act would involve injustice to clerks, who ought to have a reasonable time—more than 10 days—to decide what they would do, and who ought to be told what they would be relinquishing, and what the future establishment was to be.


said, that so far from the Bill inflicting hardship, it would obviate hardships which might result from the necessity of insisting on the provisions of the Superannuation Act. In the War Office the re-arrangement was being carried out by a Committee, and the names of those whose services it was desirable to retain would be submitted to the Secretary of State. A certain time would be allowed gentlemen to anticipate the operation of the scheme if they preferred to do so; but when that time had elapsed, the Committee would be compelled to commence their painful labours. He failed to see how it would be possible to ascertain and state with precision what future position might be relinquished by gentlemen who chose to retire. He thought the Bill represented the whole equity of the case, and that, in opposing the Bill, hon. Members would injure rather than assist the public servants whose cause they might be inclined to espouse. He regretted that any public servants should be compelled to retire at a time when they thought themselves fit for further work; but the question was one which ought to be decided on the responsibility of the heads of the Departments in which the officials were engaged.


said, that as far as the Navy was concerned, there were already a considerable number of volunteers for retirement, so satisfied were the officials with the terms offered to them.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday next.