HC Deb 26 November 1888 vol 331 cc134-6
SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he has taken, or proposes to take, steps to deal with the question of allowing permanent Civil Servants, entitled to pensions, to hold places of profit outside the Government service, in the direction recommended by the Royal Commission on Civil Establishments, Second Report, paragraphs 98 and 100; whether, meantime, anything has been done to abate abuses of this kind, in contravention of previous rulings of the Treasury, when the holders of important offices are Directors of many Companies which hold meetings in the day time, and when Directorships are held by higher officers whose example may guide their juniors; whether the Comptroller of the Treasury and the Receiver General of Inland Revenue still hold the Directorships attributed to them in the Directory of Directors—namely Sir Rivers Wilson, Director of the Alliance Assurance Company; Sir Alfred Slade, Director of the Union Steamship Company and Director of the Cadogan Estate Company; whether the opinion of the latter case expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year was brought to Sir Alfred Slade's notice, and whether it had any effect; whether the Treasury has yet solved the question raised by their letter to the Home Office, of April 6, 1878, quoted by the Royal Commissioners, as follows:— The mention of the whole time, however' involves a definition of office hours, which, of course, this extra sort of service tends to limit to the extremest point; and, whether the practice enforced by Her Majesty's present Government is that a permanent Civil Servant is bound to give his whole available time to the State whenever required, or is only bound to render a certain number of hours' service and entitled to make money in other ways in all the rest of his time?


, in reply, said, that the Government had not yet had time to come to any Cabinet decision on the very important recommendation of the Royal Commission on Civil Establishments with regard to the question of allowing permanent Civil Servants, entitled to pensions, to hold places of profit outside the Government service; but, in the meantime, the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were about to issue a Circular to Heads of Departments begging them to intimate to those serving under them that, pending the final decision on this matter by Her Majesty's Government, they should not accept any public Directorships. It was true that, as stated in the Question, the Comptroller of the National Debt Office and the Receiver General of the Inland Revenue still held the Directorships attributed to them—namely, Sir Rivers Wilson in the Alliance Assurance Company, and Sir Alfred Slade in the Union Steamship Company and in the Cadogan Estate Company—but he must demur to any two members of the Civil Service being specially selected for mention in this way while others were in precisely the same position. The reference to Sir Rivers Wilson was peculiarly unfair, as he consulted the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day nine years ago, and obtained his sanction to accepting this Directorship. With regard to the general question, he was still of opinion that it was undesirable that gentlemen high in the Civil Service should hold these Directorships; but it ought to be borne in mind that the case with regard to all members of the Civil Service was not the same. There was a class whose regular hours were from 10 to 4 o'clock or 5 o'clock; and it would clearly be wrong to prohibit members of this class from devoting their evenings to other work which would not prejudice the service of the State. Other members of the Civil Service who filled responsible positions did not consider themselves bound to any particular number of hours, and when it was necessary they worked till 7 or 8 o'clock. It was, therefore, difficult to lay clown any absolute rule on this point.


further asked if it was not the fact that the existing Rules of the Civil Service demanded from officials entitled to a pension their whole time; and whether the gentlemen he had referred to could be, therefore, entitled to pensions?


said, the answer to that Question would necessitate a definition of what "whole time" was. That was very difficult. In the case of the two responsible officials named, their attendance, as Directors, twice a week, might well be set off against the large number of additional hours they gave at other times. Still, he must repeat that his own opinion was distinctly in the direction of prohibiting members of the Civil Service, especially those in responsible positions, from accepting Directorships in Public Companies.