HC Deb 07 April 1887 vol 313 cc691-2
MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the Board of Inland Revenue have submitted to the Treasury a scheme for the revision of the Legacy Duty Office at Somerset House, which will involve the compulsory retirement of a number of clerks who are in the prime of life; and, if so, whether he will undertake to postpone the consideration of any scheme which will further unnecessarily burden the Pension List, until the Royal Commission on the Civil Service shall have had an opportunity of inquiring into and reporting upon the constitution, &c, of the Board of Inland Revenue, and of the Departments under its control; and, whether, in the case of offices where work has fallen off, or where, on other grounds, it may be necessary to reduce numbers, he will consider the advisability of doing this by transferring the supernumerary clerks to other Departments, rather than by adding to the Pension List?


, in reply, said, that by a reprehensible act of disloyalty, such as rarely occurred in that extremely well-managed and satisfactory Department, the Inland Revenue, the existence of a plan for the re-organization of the Legacy Duty Office had been revealed to the hon. Member. The plan was still in an inchoate stage, and was not yet decided upon; and he was surprised to learn that it had been already divulged before any official steps had been taken with regard to it. He was unable to say, from personal knowledge, whether any of the clerks who were to be compulsorily retired were in the prime of life or not; but, with scarcely an exception, they had all seen over 30 years' service. He should at no time consent to any scheme which would unnecessarily burden the Pension List, for he was quite as alive as the hon. Member, or anyone else, to the danger of increasing that list. He could not undertake to defer any reforms in the Civil Service Departments till the Commission had reported, for that Commis- sion had a vast amount of work before it; and if there were any reforms that could be carried out for the benefit of the Public Service before it reported, he could not undertake to delay such reform. As to the last part of the Question, he should always consider whether it would not be better to transfer officers who had still good work in them than to place them on the Pension List.

MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman would take any stops to ascertain how the secret was divulged?


said, he would undertake the painful task of considering whether any steps should be taken in the matter; but he would say, meanwhile, that it would be more satisfactory if hon. Members to whom such revelations were made would themselves point out to the persons making them the injury they inflicted on the Public Service, and the likelihood thereby of defeating the necessary reforms.


observed, that he had not the slightest idea that it was an official secret that was divulged, else he should probably not have asked a Question on the subject.


asked, whether it was the practice of the Treasury, or whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer could adduce a single instance in which the Treasury had prevented an increase in the Pension List by adopting the principle of interchangeability of clerks?


replied that he could not answer the Question off-hand. No doubt it would be a more satisfactory mode of proceeding to give employment to clerks rather than pensions. The hon. Member would be aware that when clerks were pensioned they were not the most efficient in the Service.