HC Deb 04 March 1890 vol 341 cc1770-1

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state the intentions of Her Majesty's Government as regards the proposals of the Ridley Commission, as set forth in their Second Report, presented in August 1888, in connection with the Higher Division of the Civil Service; and when the Superannuation Bill will be laid upon the Table, the interests of the Service having suffered by the prolonged anxiety occasioned in the various Public Departments owing to the uncertainty as to the steps that may be taken to give effect to the proposals referred to?


I am afraid it is impossible, within the limits of an answer to a question, to state in more deatil than was done in the Treasury Minute of August 10 last what our intentions are with reference to the recommendations of the Royal Commission in connection with the Higher Division of the Civil Service. I am, however, engaged upon a Treasury Minute on the subject, which can be framed with comparative facility as regards future entrants, but presents many difficulties as regards existing Civil Servants. The Royal Commission recommended that the hours of attendance should in future be seven, and stated that— In the case of the Higher Division, we do not think that it necessarily follows that a requirement of seven hours' attendance should involve increased pay. The Treasury Minute of August prescribed compensation on a certain scale and within certain limits for the extra hour. The Higher Division clerks plead that the compensation is not sufficient, and that the limits should be extended. The Royal Commission recommended a scale of salary rising from £200 to £1,000; the Treasury accepted this scale as a maximum, hut decided in their Minute to retain the various existing scales within this maximum, in accordance, I believe, with the views of the Royal Commission. The Higher Division clerks urge that the scale proposed by the Commission should be generally adopted The Commission strongly recommended a reduction of the numbers of the Higher Division. The clerks urge that this reduction should be carried out with due regard to the reasonable prospects of promotion of existing Civil servants. It is obvious that the demands of the Higher Division, if generally conceded, would result in a considerable augmentation of expenditure in direct contradiction to the economical intentions of the Royal Commission. The Treasury is endeavouring, however, in correspondence with the other Departments, to carry out the reduction of the Higher Division in the spirit of the Royal Commission Report, but without undue harshness being inflicted on existing clerks. The hon. Member will see that it is no easy matter to find an equitable solution of these difficulties; and that the fixing of the future establishment of the Higher Division, involving as it does minute inquiries into the constitution of the several Departments and frequent conferences and consultations with the permanent heads, requires much time. As regards the second question, I am unable to state the precise time when the Superannuation Bill will be introduced; but, speaking broadly, it will proceed upon the lines of the Bill introduced last year.