HC Deb 16 June 1892 vol 5 cc1275-7
DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury will he explain why the Board of Customs gave no previous notice to the candidates attending the recent examination for the position of first-class examining officer what subjects would be obligatory, what standard of efficiency they would require, or what value was attached in marks to each paper or question; and whether any value was given by the Board of Customs to the official characters previously earned by the candidates in the discharge of their duties?


All the subjects at such examinations, which are of a practical nature, are obligatory, and, therefore, no notice to this effect was necessary. It has not been the practice, nor do the Board of Customs think it desirable, to announce the standard of efficiency required or the number of marks to be assigned to each paper or question. Special inquiry was made as to the official character of each candidate, and none but candidates approved by the Board were permitted to be examined.


I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether a knowledge of gauging was obligatory at the recent examination for the position of first-class examining officer, and, if so, will he explain why officers who had no practical acquaintance with this duty were successful, and passed over the heads of senior practical gangers; and how many officers were admitted as having "approved" characters for promotion to the examination, wherein all the subjects were obligatory, who from their first appointment to the second class of examining officers had only performed two or three out of the four kinds of duty on which they were examined; and why the Board did not have the officers examined during the day, but required that they should present themselves after performing their day's work, a course which acted with severity against officers employed during the very inclement weather in January gauging in the open air, and how may this be remedied in future?


Gauging was an obligatory subject, and of the officers who were successful all but one possessed a practical knowledge of it. The appointment of this officer—who passed the written portion of the examination—to the first class on probation was postponed until he had been instructed practically and was reported to be an efficient gauger. In approving officers for examination the Board had to consider only the character which they bore in the Service; their fitness for promotion in other respects was to be tested by the examination. Being a test examination, it was necessary that it should be in all cases on the same day and on the same papers, and the time of day was fixed after full conference with the practical officers of the Department, who were in direct touch with the subordinate officers.


I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the system of awarding marks at the recent examination for the position of first-class examining officer of Customs, which may have acted detrimentally to at least one experienced senior officer, whether it can be arranged that this officer, who passed the necessary qualifying standard in each subject, will receive his due promotion in the grade?


I do not admit that the system was unfair to any candidate, and I see no reason for treating exceptionally the case to which the hon. Member refers. The case has been carefully considered, and the Board of Customs have every desire to deal impartially with every officer.