HC Deb 12 March 1888 vol 323 cc843-4

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether between 1859 and 1870, about 1,300 workmen were entered at Enfield and in the arsenal at Woolwich; whether, on the recommendation of the War Department, the Treasury, under the Superannuation Act of 1873, did, on the 4th of March, 1874, declare by Schedule that 829 of these workmen were entitled to the benefit of "The Superannuation Act, 1859," but omitted the remainder of such workmen in consequence of a War Office Circular dated the 17th of December, 1861; whether General Dixon, the Superintendent at Enfield, has expressed his belief that such Circular was not made known to the workmen, nor even sent to Enfield, until 12 years after its date; whether, at Woolwich Arsenal Carriage Department, the said Circular was omitted from the bound book of Circulars and from the Index, but has been pasted therein subsequently; whether, in the printed Rules and Regulations under which workmen were engaged at Woolwich between 1861 and 1870, nothing is mentioned of the Circular of 1861, and that it was act until 1870 that any indication of its effect for the first time appeared; whether, on behalf of the men omitted from the Schedule, it is solemnly asserted that they did not know of any Circular of 1861 until 1870, and that they are prepared to testify upon oath to that effect; whether Her Majesty's Government will grant an inquiry by any Committee of this House, or by any other independent method, into this serious allegation of non-publication; and, whether, if notification to the workmen be not proved previously to 1870, the War Department will recommend to the Treasury that the said workmen (entered before the 4th June, 1870) be admitted to their just rights under the Act of 1873, as in other Government Departments?

THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

Without pledging myself to exact numbers, no doubt many thousand workmen were entered at Enfield and Woolwich between 1859 and 1870. In answer to the second Question, when the Treasury in March, 1874, declared 790 of these men entitled to the benefit of the Superannuation Act of 1859, their Lordships admitted all the claims which had been submitted to them. In answer to the third Question, there is no record in the War Office of any such statement as that referred to in the Question haying been made by Colonel Dixon. In answer to the fourth Question, the Circular of December, 1861, governed the cases of men appointed up to its date, and is not in the book of circulars; but the Circular of August, 1861, which is the regulation applicable to all subsequent appointments and which governs the cases referred to in these Questions, is in its place both in the bound book and in the index. In answer to the fifth Question, there were no such printed Rules and Regulations under which workmen were engaged in the Royal Laboratory until 1870, nor in the Royal Carriage Department until 1872. There were such Rules in the Royal Gun Factories from 1860, but they contained no reference to superannuations. In answer to the sixth Question, the men now claiming do make the assertion referred to. The claims advocated by my hon. and gallant Friend have been fully investigated by successive Secretaries of State, and all agreed that the applicants had no just claim against the public; but I notice that my hon. and gallant Friend will have an opportunity shortly of raising the question in this House.