§ MR. MONTAGU (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, at the recent test examination for forty vacancies on the grade of First Class Examining Officers of Customs the usual Civil Service method of calculating the marks on the aggregate was adopted, thus giving each candidate the full benefit of the total marks gained, or whether a very high maximum was made obligatory in each branch of practical knowledge, thereby contributing to the anomalous result of successful candidates obtaining less marks than unsuccessful candidates; whether the system of awarding marks has operated to the detriment of the senior experienced officers and the promotion of a large number of junior officers, whom the Board of Customs have since found it necessary to place on three months' probation, to acquire a knowledge of those practical duties which should have formed the subject of the examination; and whether there is any objection to the publication of the marks awarded at the examination?
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
At the recent test examination for promotion from the second to the first class of Examining Officers in the Customs, the five subjects in which the candidates were examined were all of a practical nature, and the Commissioners of Customs required that candidates to be successful should qualify in each of the five subjects, a knowledge of all of which is necessary to enable them to fill efficiently the position of Examining Officer, first class. The qualifying number of marks fixed by the Commissioners of Customs was three-fifths of the maximum number in each of the five subjects, together with an aggregate of two-thirds of the total maximum obtainable. Successful candidates have in some cases obtained a number of marks less in the aggregate than unsuccessful candidates who failed in one or more of the subjects. The system of awarding marks has not operated to the detriment of the senior experienced officers, inasmuch as only one officer who qualified in all the subjects failed to obtain the aggregate number of marks. The whole of the successful candidates, without reference to their position in the examination or their service and previous experience, were placed on probation for three months. It is not the practice, either in the Customs or Inland Revenue Departments, to publish the marks awarded to candidates, successful or unsuccessful, at Departmental examinations, and the Board of Customs do not recommend any departure from this practice.