HC Deb 09 June 1896 vol 41 cc721-2

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, whether it is the intention of the Government to give any, and if so what, effect to the unanimous Resolution of the House recommending the increased employment of discharged soldiers of good character in Government offices?

* Mr. HANBURY (in the absence of the FIRST LORD of the TREASURY)

The hon. Member will understand the difficulty of finding employment for retired soldiers and sailors in the clerical branches of the Civil Service, in which the standard of education is necessarily high. The lowest clerical grade, that of abstractors recruited from the ranks of men copyists, is now a vanishing class, and it is to be replaced by a class recruited by limited competition among the boy clerks and boy copyists of the service after their compulsory retirement at the age of 20. As regards the second division and other competitive appointments, members of the military and naval services are already allowed to deduct from their actual age any time during which they have served towards pension, and are thereby qualified to compete at a much later age than the ordinary public. If they are to be qualified to rise to the higher posts I do not think it would be for the public advantage to admit them without their passing the usual examination. As regards messengers, porters, and the like the case is different, and arrangements have already been made for reserving to Army and Navy pensioners a large number of places of this class in the Treasury and its subordinate Departments. The total number of such vacancies which have occurred between September 1, 1887, and April 30, 1896, is 1,498, of which 717 have been filled by persons who had served either in the Army or the Navy. Quite recently I have arranged that in selecting persons for appointment to a new class to be established in the Customs Service, entitled Customs watchers, the preference is to be given to men who have served in the Army, Navy, or police. As regards the Post Office, the question of employing men of this description is being considered by the Committee which is now inquiring into that Department, and any recommendations made by the Committee will be carefully considered by the Government. Furthermore, there are large numbers of retired soldiers and sailors who have been selected as warders in the prisons service or are employed in the Admiralty yards and the manufacturing establishments of the War Department. Finally, I may add that the Government have just increased the annual grant to the National Association for Employment of Reserve Soldiers, etc., from £250 to £500, and have sanctioned an annual grant of £50 to the Army and Navy Pensioners' Employment Society.