§ MR. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India with regard to his recent statement that the number of officers of the Indian Telegraph Depart- 630 ment had been raised to 86, and that for exceptional reasons the number of the staff had fallen to. 76, but steps are now being taken to raise them to 86, whether the Secretary of State is aware that in the last three years five officers have died and 21 have retired; whether these retirements occurred under the special provisions made in 1887, and were foreseen and provided for; and, if so, how; whether it is true that, out of a sanctioned strength of 84, there are only 74 officers in the Service, and of this number 16 or 17 are either absent on leave or about to take leave; that in three years six officers have joined from Cooper's Hill, three others have been transferred from the Indo-European Telegraph Department, and three upper subordinates have been promoted, while only two officers are now under provision from Cooper's Hill; whether, owing to the increase of work in the Department, the Government of India, before the hot season has set in, has intimated that no more leave can be granted; and whether it has been represented to the Secretary of State that there is danger of a breakdown among the officers owing to the extra work imposed on them?
§ *THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Mr. G. RUSSELL,) North Beds.
The number of deaths, according to (he latest information, is six; of retirements, 19. The retirements were provided for in the reorganisation scheme of 1887, the annual number of appointments from Cooper's Hill being raised from two to three. The strength of the Department is 74 at present, of whom 11 are known to be on leave. The facts are correctly stated by the hon. Member except that, with the view of bringing the staff up to its full strength, the annual recruitment both in this country (as already mentioned) and in India has been increased. It has been necessary to refuse leave to officers of the Department; and to relieve the tension we are appointing five temporary officers from this country. The answer to the last question is, "No"; but the necessity of recruiting up to the full strength of the Department as soon as possible has been urged by the Government of India and is fully recognised by the Secretary of State.