1. "That a sum, not exceeding £5,552,885, be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the salaries and expenses of the Post Office Services, the expenses of Post Office Savings Banks, and Government annuities and insurances, and the collection of the Post Office revenue.
§ MR. CRILLY (Mayo, N.)
I desire to offer a protest against the treatment meted out to competent Irish officials in the General Post Office in Dublin. I think nobody in this House will deny that these civil servants who have spent a great many years in the service are very capable officers. We find that men in the Dublin Post Office who have been attached to the staff for the greater part of their official lives are denied, when vacancies arise, admittance to the higher offices in that department. I know myself that there is a very great deal of dissatisfaction existing in the Post Office at Dublin at the present time on account of the persistent way in which these Irish officials are denied admission to the higher offices in the Dublin Post 285 Office. Those hon. Members who have been in this House for years, and who have watched the way in which these higher offices in Ireland are filled up when they become vacant, know that a vicious system of promotion exists in all the Civil Service departments of Ireland, and we have in the Post Office in Dublin a concrete example of the system to which I have referred. Let me point out to the House that since 1892 many English officials have been brought over to Ireland to fill these offices at the expense of Irish servants who have been in the Post Office for many years. Since the beginning of 1892 ten English officials have been appointed to situations in the General Post Office in Dublin which carry salaries varying from £350 to £1,200 per annum. Under this condition of affairs I think Irishmen have a egitimate right to complain, and certainly the officials of the Dublin Post Office have a right to vehemently protest against this unfair and ungenerous treatment to which they have been subjected during a long course of years. I understand from what I can gather that an important position in the Dublin Post Office is about to become vacant, and it is a situation carrying with it a very high salary. I trust that when this case arises the old policy will be reversed, and that the Postmaster-General will see his way to reward some Irish official with this position, so that Irish officials in this department in Ireland may have an incentive to do their duty zealously and faithfully. I have not much hope that the system will be changed all of a sudden, but I cannot allow the Report stage of this Vote to be taken without offering the protest which I now make. Vote agreed to.2. "That a Sum, not exceeding £570,915, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Expenses of the Post office Packet Service.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
I desire to call the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury, while the Post Office Steam Packet Vote is under the consideration of the House, to the rate of wages paid to the men on board the steamships which are under contract with Her Majesty's Government. For some considerable time I have been urging complaints with regard to the wages paid by the companies 286 who tender for the Post Office Packet Service. There is the Peninsular and Oriental Company, with regard to which I have endeavoured to force the President of the Board of Trade to do his duty in reference to the men employed in this service, but up to the present time my efforts have been fruitless. I now venture to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman who has charge of this packet service to see if he will endeavour to make some alteration in regard to this question. There was a resolution passed in this House in 1891 which stipulated that in all contracts between ship-owners and others for Government work the tabulated rate of wages should be paid. I contend that the Peninsular and Oriental Company do not pay a fair rate of wages to their sailors and firemen on board their ships. In addition to this, the Peninsular and Oriental Company are breaking the law with regard to the provision of accommodation for seamen. The law says that each seaman employed on board ship shall have 72 cubic feet of accommodation, but this company do not provide that for their seamen. It is the old story, and no doubt the right hon, Gentleman by this time will be quite tired of listening to the same old story, but I shall keep on repeating it until the Government Department see that the law is carried out as it ought to be. The right hon. Gentleman has an opportunity of enforcing the law by giving notice to the Peninsular and Oriental Company that, unless they are prepared to give their seamen the proper amount of accommodation which they ought to have, the company will not get any contracts from the Government. It is in the power of the right hon. Gentleman to do that, and I trust he will take that course. In addition to that, I would like him also to say that the seamen shall receive a fair rate of wages. We are told that they are paid the rate of wages which are current in India; but the contracts are not made in India, but in this country, and I contend that according to the fair wages resolution this company ought to pay the rate of wages which is current in this country. I wish to enter my protest against the manner in which this particular company has carried on its business. The manner in which this company—which receives some £400,000 from the Government for carrying mails, and other subsidies, every year—carries on its business is very un- 287 fair to traders, for they carry cargo at a much less rate from the Continent to this country than they do from this country to the Continent, and there is a difference in some cases of about 25 per cent. Now the Government encourage this company, which is unfair both to traders and seamen, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to see if something cannot be done to remedy this state of things. I do not intend to detain the House any longer, but I do hope that the appeal which I have made will have some effect.
Vote agreed to.3. "That a sum, not exceeding £2,338,390, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Working Expenses of the Post Office Telegraph Service.4. "That a sum, not exceeding £496,600, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Customs Department.