HC Deb 27 April 1896 vol 39 cc1714-5

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, with regard to the circular which has been posted in several provincial post offices in England, inviting applications from telegraph clerks to perform temporary duty at offices in the north of Scotland on an allowance of 3s. per day, will he explain why a departure has been made from the usual practice of obtaining these relief clerks from offices in Scotland, who have hitherto been paid 5s. a day for this duty?


I understand that some of the surveyors of the Post Office have issued a notice, which has been posted in several provincial offices, and in regard to the latter part of the Question I beg to say that it is not the usual practice, either in Scotland, or elsewhere in the United Kingdom, at offices where there is a pressure of work in consequence of the influx of visitors, to provide temporary assistance exclusively by means of established officers. Nor is there any regulation to pay such an officer when sent a subsistence allowance of as much as 5s. a day. The rate varies from 2s to 5s. a day, according to the nature of the town to which he is sent, and to the length of his stay. In many cases, however, both in Scotland and elsewhere, the necessary relief has been afforded, not by the employment of established officers, but by sending unestablished persons, viz.: assistants, who receive, when thus employed, considerably less than the established officers. Assistants are largely employed on this duty, and experience has proved that they are glad to go for the terms offered. In the northern district of Scotland where there are but very few large towns some inconvenience was experienced last year by the withdrawal of assistants from their own offices to other offices where pressure was felt; and, consequently, an alteration of practice was arranged for. As an experiment, the plan is being tried of inviting applications to act as relief-clerks from established officers who, though fit for work, are regarded by the Post Office medical officers as likely to benefit by change of air. To such officers a subsistence allowance has been offered at the rate of one guinea a week in addition to their wages throughout the period of their stay. This allowance is regarded as sufficient.