HC Deb 03 May 1898 vol 57 cc160-1

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he has received the petition, dated October last, of the naval pensioners employed as extra men in the Water Guard Department of the Custom House, a copy of which has been sent him, and which was originally addressed to the Commissioners of Customs; whether it is a fact that the petitioners when engaged were told that they would be allowed to serve till the age of 65, and whether all other extra men who served prior to 1896 have this privilege; and whether he can see his way to granting the prayer of the petitioners that at the age of 60 they should be allowed to remain on land duty at a lower scale of pay until the age of 65?


The petition referred to was dealt with by the Commissioners of Customs, to whom it was addressed, and was not submitted to the Treasury. It was signed by 34 extra men employed on rowing and other water guard duties on the river in the Port of London, nine of them being naval pensioners. The rule directing the removal of these men from the list of water guard extra men at the age of 60 was laid down by Treasury Minute in June, 1894; and 60 is a fair limit of age to which to retain men whose duties require them to row boats among the crowded shipping of the Thames in all states of tide and weather. I am not aware that these men were told when they were engaged that their services would be retained until the age of 65; and certainly no one had authority to tell them so. The other extra men referred to are, I think, those who entered the body of Customs watchers on its formation in May, 1896, and who were allowed—if their services were required and they were fit for work—to remain until 65. But all watchers who have been engaged since that date have to retire at 60; and the Commissioners of Customs were unable to agree to the retention of the water guard extra men after 60, either on water guard or landing duty. The memorialists were so informed.