HC Deb 24 March 1896 vol 39 cc47-8
MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, whether any appointment has yet been made to the position of Collector of Customs under the provisions of the Treasury Minute dated 24th March 1891; and, if not, whether he can state why this provision of the Minute has not been carried into effect?


The hon. Member doubtless refers to the following sentence in the Treasury Minute of 24th March 1891:— The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary agree with the Board, who will in future promote Surveyors to be Collectors, when the public interest allows. No promotion of the kind has been made since the date of the Minute. In connection with this I may say that there is reason to think that the passage in question has given rise to somewhat exaggerated expectations on the part of the Outdoor Department of the Customs. From the nature of the case it is not possible that the promotion of a Surveyor to a Collectorship can be a matter of frequent, still less of regular, occurrence. The initial salary of a Surveyor is £350 per annum, from which it results that there are not more than 30 Collectorships that would tempt a Surveyor, even in his first year as Surveyor. As he advances in emolument (and a glance at the Estimates will show what good prospects he has) the number, of course, diminishes. But these 30 Collectorships constitute the places to which the Collectors and Superintendents below the £350 class, some 60 in number, have to look for promotion. Many of these men have made considerable sacrifice of immediate emoluments in order to enter that line of service, and, looking to all the circumstances, there is no question that, personal qualifications apart, an Officer already in the Collectors' line has a stronger claim on the higher Collector-ships than an Officer of the Outdoor Department. On these facts it is clear that the promotion of a Surveyor cannot be a frequent occurrence, and must be dependent solely on personal fitness, not on class claims. The Minute of March 1891 in fact did not do more than confirm and announce the intention not to revert to the system which had obtained until a short time previously, and under which Surveyors were practically ineligible for promotion to the rank of Collector.