HC Deb 11 June 1896 vol 41 cc845-6

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General—(1) will he explain why 11 male telegraphists, who originally entered the Post Office service on the understanding that they would be appointed to vacancies as they arose, and, after having been trained in the school of telegraphy, have been employed in the Belfast Post Office for a period varying from two to three years pending their being placed on the regular establishment as vacancies should arise, were last year for the first time asked to sign a document acknowledging that they had no claim on the Department for employment; and, if so, what the reason for this requirement is; (2) whether it is the case that, in consequence of the Report of a Departmental Commission, a number of females have been admitted to the school of telegraphy, and are being trained to fill the vacancies which the male employees would otherwise have been appointed to; (3) whether these female telegraphists are required to sign a similar document to that referred to; and (4) whether, in view of the fact that the men referred to entered the service before the Report in question, and with a reasonable expectation of being permanently employed, and that their adoption of the employment of telegraphist has made it difficult for them to now obtain other employment, provision will be made for them as vacancies arise before any new comers are appointed?


The telegraph learners referred to were asked to sign the document after admission to employment because, owing to an oversight on the part of the local authorities at Belfast, they had not been asked to do so on first admission to the telegraph school. It is a stringent rule of the Department that all learners should in the first instance sign an acknowledgment that they have no claim on the Department for employment; and, although no document was signed in this case, the Postmaster General is assured, as was stated in the House on the 23rd April last, that the learners in question were admitted to the school on the usual condition that their admission as learners gave them no claim on the Department for appointment to the Establishment or for fixed employment in any capacity. It is the case that a certain number of women are being trained for service in the telegraph branch at Belfast. According to rule, they are required to sign the document referred to. As regards the last part of the hon. Member's Question it has already been stated in the House that the youths have been offered and have refused employment on the postal side of the office at Belfast; and I must repeat what I said in the House on 23rd April, viz.—that the Postmaster General does not feel justified in making exceptional arrangements to retain in the service candidates who are not ready to accept such work as the Department has to offer them.