§ BARON DE ROTHSCHILD (Bucks,) Aylesbury
I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether it is a fact that in 1881 the clerks of the Central Telegraph Office with 18 years' service and receiving £160 per annum (the then maximum of the senior class) were considered by the late Mr. Fawcett to be suffering a grievance, and were consequently placed upon a newly made class rising to £190 per annum; whether clerks at present with 18 years' service are now, and have been for the past two years, receiving only £140 per annum, and with apparently no prospect of further promotion; and what is the cause of this difference of treatment of two bodies of officers?
§ *THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. H. C. RAIKES,) Cambridge University
The raising of the scale of pay of the senior telegraphists of the Central Telegraph Office in 1881 was part of a general scheme for improving the position of telegraphists all over the country. The question was not affected by the number of years any particular officers had served, but had reference to the character of the duties performed by the members of the various classes. There are telegraphists of the first class in the Central Telegraph 1711 Office with 18 years' service who are now and have been for the past two years receiving £140 per annum, the maximum pay of the class. There are no vacancies in the class above—i.e., the class of senior telegraphists, and these officers cannot, therefore, at present be promoted. Both bodies of officers benefited in point of pay by the general scheme of 1881, and they are in no different position as regards promotion, as they have both to wait for vacancies in the class above them.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether it is the case that, in the settlement made in 1881 of the scales of pay of officials in the Telegraph Service, the maximum pay of assistant superintendents in London was £270, whilst the maximum pay of the corresponding class in Glasgow, Liverpool, and Manchester, known as "clerks," was £190, a difference between London and the Provinces of £80 per annum; whether, since 1881, the maximum pay of assistant superintendents in London has been raised from £270 to £300, whilst no corresponding rise has been granted to the "clerks" in Glasgow, Liverpool, and Manchester; and, whether he will favourably consider the claims of the "clerks" in Glasgow, Liverpool, and Manchester, to a rise in their pay?
§ *MR. RAIKES
The figures given by the hon. Member are stated in the Estimates and are correct so far as they go, but I cannot admit the accuracy of the comparison which he makes, as I explained to the House a few days ago.
§ MR. CALDWELL
Is it not a fact that the settlement of 1881 has been in many important particulars disturbed?
§ *MR. RAIKES
The settlement of 1881 was not one of the laws of the Medes and Persians: it is subject to revision from time to time, but good cause must be shown for the alteration.