HC Deb 25 February 1886 vol 302 cc1257-61

(6.) £3,000, Superannuation and Retired Allowances.


What has become of the Vote before this, for South Africa and St. Helena? Why is it that no notice has been taken of it?


It will be taken on Monday instead of to-night, in order that the discussion upon it may not interfere with the Crofters' Bill.


Upon this Vote I wish to express my hope that the whole question with regard to pensions in the Public Service will receive strict attention at the hands of the Committee and Her Majesty's Government. The Committee will be aware that this sum of £3,000 is an addition to the total sum of £460,710 asked for in the original Estimate of 1885–6 for Superannuation and Retired Allowances in this Class; but, in addition to these figures, a very large sum is voted every year and charged upon the Consolidated Fund, amounting to several millions sterling; and I am quite certain that, unless some serious effort is made to check the con- tinual increase of the charge for pensions, there will be great public dissatisfaction. I may, in fact, say that there is very great public dissatisfaction already. The other evening, hon. Members will recollect, I appealed to my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. H. H. Fowler) on the Vote with regard to the new Office formed for the Secretary for Scotland. I suggested that it was extremely desirable that, in every case where it was possible, those gentlemen already on pension who are not past the age of efficient work should be drafted into the Public Service, with a view to effect a saving of pension. We are continually placing men on pension, with the view of re-organizing the Departments of the Public Service; but when these re-organizations in the Public Service have taken place, I have found that the economy which has resulted from it to the public is very difficult to see, although the cause of public economy has been invariably alleged as a reason for bringing forward the measure. Now, since I called attention to this subject, two nights ago, I have received letters in connection with it, and I know that there are at this present time many gentlemen who have been forced to accept pensions—men who are now in the prime of life, and who are anxious to got public employment, but have no chance of obtaining it. It has been suggested to me, and I have myself brought the subject under the notice of the Treasury, that it would be very desirable if a list of all those gentlemen who are placed on pension and who are still able to render public service should be kept; and that, if possible, such list should also indicate the names of those who will be willing to give their services to the State in fulfilment of public duty. It would be desirable also that all appointments, so far as possible, should be accompanied with this condition—that any gentleman entering the Public Service should place himself at the disposal of the Government, to this extent, at least, that if he is placed on pension he will be liable to be brought again into the Public Service for the discharge of such duties as, in the judgment of the Government, he may be able to perform. But now there is a continual difficulty with regard to the men put on pension, who decline to go back to the Public Service, because they were only appointed for particular duties. But, leaving these gentlemen out of the question, it seems to me that it is extremely desirable that some system should be adopted by means of which some saving of expenditure in pensions might be made—that is to say, by the employment of suitable persons who may be retired under peculiar circumstances, but who are still able to serve the public. I am bound to say, however, that I believe the servants of the Crown are very much indisposed to facilitate any arrangement which would again bring into the Service gentlemen who may be retired on pension, because it is quite clear that when there is a vacancy in any Office there is a chance of promotion, which would be done away with, to a greater or less extent, if some outsider were admitted. The servants of the Crown, to a large extent, seem to think that the Public Service exists for their benefit, and they are always to be found supporting measures which tend to the increase of public charges; but I hope we are approaching the time when the public, through their Representatives in this House, will show these gentlemen that they are appointed by the public and exist for the Public Service, and that unless some change is brought about in this matter, there will not alone be great dissatisfaction, but, perhaps, an end of their interest altogether. If this enormous Pension List goes on increasing as it has done for many years past, looking at its enormous total, looking at the fact that Democracy is a greater power in this House than it was, and that it will probably be greater hereafter, I verily believe that there will be such stern measures taken by the public that individual interests may not be regarded in quite so favourable a manner as some gentlemen may desire. I think, therefore, in the interest of the Crown, that the attention of the Government and the assistance of the Government should be directed at once to this question, and I hope we shall be informed how far some impression can be made upon the Pension List with the view of reducing this very serious charge. The CHAIRMAN: I have not interrupted the hon. Member for Burnley in the course his remarks have taken in consequence of what I believe to be a very lax practice. I think the clear rule is that the discussion on a Supplemen- tary Vote should be confined to the specific items contained therein, and that the general principle should not be entered upon except for the purpose of illustration.


I concur, Mr. Courtney, with your view that no general principle should be discussed on a Supplementary Estimate, and shall, of course, act upon it in dealing with the Vote before the Committee. I find, in the details of the Vote under A for Superannuation Allowances, a specific charge for £1,000 on account of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, in addition to the original Estimate. I wish to know what that charge is for—and I ask if there has been any re-arrangement in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, owing to which some person in the prime of life has been retired; or has there been an unexpected breakdown of some important member of the High Court of Justice for whom it is necessary to provide a pension?


Mr. Courtney, after the remarks you have just made I shall not transgress your ruling by entering upon the general subject raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands); but, perhaps, I may be allowed to say that I entirely sympathize with him, and will exercise any power I may possess to carry out the object in view. With regard to the Question asked by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), I have given particular attention to the Estimates for this matter. My hon. Friend will understand that they are not in the Estimates of the year, but that they consist of unexpected claims which have come before Parliament in a Supplementary Estimate. There has been no re-organization of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice. I may say that two of the oldest officers of the Court of Chancery have retired this year, which explains the charge of £1,000 for superannuation allowances. The two gentlemen referred to, I believe, have been known to me in the Public Service for more years than I care to remember. As I said, they have now retired after a life-long service under the ordinary Rules, and they are, therefore, entitled to pensions.

(7.) £612, Pauper Lunatics, Scotland.