HC Deb 06 March 1882 vol 267 cc177-9

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Whether, in introducing the new warehousing scheme for the Customs, the Government intend to abolish the existing clerical establishments, and to offer the clerks situations as officers of the Outdoor Department; whether the acceptance of those situations will involve longer hours of attendance than those the clerks have hitherto been required to give; whether the pay and prospects of clerks placed on the new outdoor classification would not be inferior to their pay and prospects on the clerical classifications; and, what course the Government propose to take with respect to clerks who may be unable or unwilling to accept a transfer to the Outdoor Department?


also asked, Whether the Government propose to use the full powers, conferred by Clause 7 of the Superannuation Act of 1859, to grant two-thirds of their salary and emoluments to Customs clerks disestablished by the proposed changes in the warehousing system; also, what steps the Government have taken to find suitable employment in other branches of the Civil Service for the Customs clerks, whose situations are to be abolished by the new warehousing scheme?


also asked, Whether it is proposed by the Treasury to insist upon the clerks in the warehousing departments of the Customs either accepting employment in the Outdoor Department or retiring upon pensions; and, whether a sufficient number of Indoor situations could not be found for clerks unable to accept the Outdoor employment, if fair terms of retirement were offered to the whole of the Customs' service?


Sir, it may save the time of the House that I should answer the Questions of the two hon. Members for Mid Surrey at the same time as that of the noble Lord. The Treasury is endeavouring to effect the important object of the entire assimilation of the warehousing systems of the two Revenue Departments with as little injury as possible to any of the individuals concerned. With this object they have directed the Board of Customs, as a preliminary, to take steps for ascertaining which of the clerks in the Warehousing Departments of the Customs would desire to retire upon the ordinary abolition terms of Section 7 of the Superannuation Act of 1859, and which of them would desire to be transferred to the Outdoor Service. The offers of retirement will have to be considered, subject to the condition that they are reconcilable with the good of the service and with due regard to economy. I may here observe that although, under the new system, the duties of the Warehousing Department, now performed at the Custom House, will be performed at the warehouses, those duties will continue to be largely of a clerical character. Many of the present clerks will, therefore, be well fitted for the clerical work in the Outdoor Service which will be required under the new system. Personal allowances will be made to officers so transferred when the salaries of their new posts are less than those of which they are now in receipt. The Government has, moreover, not lost sight of the possibility of allowing room to be made in other departments of the Customs for warehousing clerks displaced by the change, provided that clerks of corresponding rank in those departments are willing to take the terms of retirement offered to the warehousing clerks. By these various means it is hoped to provide for the great majority of the clerks in question; and, until we have learned how far they are efficacious, it is not desirable to consider the question of finding employment in other Departments of the Civil Service. In reply to the second part of the Question of the noble Lord, I have to state that the hours of attendance will, in fact, begin somewhat earlier than is now required, but that the same attendance might, as far as terms of service go, be required now; and, as regards the third part, so far as relates to the prospects, it would be difficult to say whether the gain or the loss would, on the whole, be the greater.