§ MR. HARRY SAMUEL (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, whether, in view of the Report of the Committee appointed last year to inquire into the alleged grievances of the Customs boatmen, he can now state whether he can make any, and, if so, what, improvements in the present system and in the status of the men employed.
*THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (MR. HAYES FISHER, Fulham)
Yes, Sir. The Board of Customs have submitted proposals to the Treasury which will effect a marked improvement in the position of the boatmen. These proposals I have decided to sanction practically as formulated. They include an addition to the staff of one Chief Preventive Officer and thirty Preventive Officers, Upper Section: a reduction of eight in the Preventive Officers, Lower Section, and a reduction of 133 in the number of established boatmen, and sixteen in the number of watchers. These alterations involve a considerable increase in the proportion of the higher to the lower clashes. They will also facilitate the general adoption (so far as possible) of 110 the eight hours day. In addition, a system of star allowances (equivalent to good conduct stripes) will be introduced, the allowances now given for re-rummaging being abolished. Each "star" will carry with it an extra allowance of £2 10s. per annum. A boatman will be eligible for one star after ten years service, for two stars after fifteen years service, and for three stars after twenty years service. Thus the possible maximum of his scale will be increased by £7 10s. Additional benefits will be conferred upon other portions of the Waterguard Service which I need not specify at present.
The House will be glad to learn that the cost of these concessions will be counterbalanced by economies resulting from improved methods of rummaging ships. A general order containing a formal announcement of the alterations will shortly be issued by the Board of Customs.