HC Deb 09 March 1891 vol 351 cc477-9
EARL COMPTON (York, W.R., Barnsley)

I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether any temporary clerks have recently been appointed to the Savings Bank Department who have not passed any Civil Service examination, and who do not hold certificates from the Civil Service Commissioners; whether such appointments have been sanctioned by the Treasury, and on what condition; whether there are candidates who have passed the Second Division examination still waiting for appointments; and whether any application has been made to the Treasury for permanent Second Division officers to fill these appointments in the Savings Bank Department; and, if not, whether he is able to give the reason why non-certificated clerks have been temporarily appointed in preference to properly certificated clerks? I beg further to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the 150 clerks from other Government Departments, who are employed on overtime in the Post Office Savings Bank after their official hours in other offices, owing to the working day of Savings Bank clerks having been limited to 10 hours, have access to the ledgers containing the depositors' accounts; and whether these clerks are required to make the statutory declaration as to secrecy, and to find the sureties which are required from other Savings Bank clerks; and, if not, whether precaution is taken in the interests of the public to guard against disclosures on the part of temporary clerks who are employed after ordinary office hours? I have also to ask the Postmaster General when his intention, as stated on the 2nd of March, to add 50 male officers to the minor staff of the Savings Bank Department, will be carried out?


It will I think be convenient to include in one answer the replies to the three questions of the noble Lord. In order to diminish the pressure of work in the Savings Bank, I obtained the sanction of the Treasury to place on special duty a temporary force of over 150 officers, who are now at work there. This force is composed of about 130 clerks belonging to other offices, and holding Civil Service certificates, of 8 certificated Second Division clerks lent by the Civil Service Commissioners, and of 15 non-certificated assistants, for whose employment I obtained special Treasury authority. I have no knowledge whether there are any other candidates who have passed the Civil Service Examination and are waiting for appointments. I have not yet come to a decision as to the number of clerks to be permanently added to the Establishment, but, having regard to the recent conduct of a considerable portion of the Second Division Staff, I am not at present disposed to add any recruits to that section of the Establishment. My answer to the first portion of the second question is in the affirmative. The Statutory Declaration to which the noble Lord refers does not mention the word secrecy, and is not very relevant to Savings Bank work, but there is a clause in the Savings Bank Act of 1861 which forbids all officers of the Postmaster General engaged in Savings Bank business to disclose the name of any depositor or the amount deposited or withdrawn except to the Postmaster General and his officers. I have not thought it necessary to ask the provisional force to find sureties during their temporary employment; but they are carefully supervised, and I have no reason to doubt that they will comply with the terms of the Act which I have quoted. In reply to the last question, I am making the additions required as rapidly as possibly. Fourteen additional messengers have already been placed on duty, and the female sorters will be obtained as quickly as possible.

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