HC Deb 15 April 1907 vol 172 cc574-5
MR. BOWERMAN (Deptford)

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that Customs watchers were paid at the rate of 8d. per hour for overtime work prior to the reorganisation of their class in 1896, and that 6d. per hour for overtime work is being paid to a certain number of watchers who perform duties identical with those who are paid at the higher rate; whether he is aware that the rate of 8d. per hour was paid to the outdoor officers employed on the lockers' duties now performed by the watchers; that 8d. per hour is the overtime rate paid in the Post Office and other Government Departments to men receiving the same wages as Customs watchers, viz., 24s. per week; and whether he will consider the advisability of introducing a uniform rate of 8d. per hour for all overtime attendance given by Customs watchers.

(Answered by Mr. Runciman.) The class of Customs watchers was instituted, not reorganised, in 1896. The rate of overtime pay allowed to permanent labourers (the first appointees to the watcher class) was 8d. an hour, but they were not entitled to overtime pay until after a service of seventy-two hours in a week. The rate of overtime pay for watchers is 6d. an hour, but it is allowed after a service of forty-eight hours in a week. A certain number of watchers appointed to the post from that of permanent labourer in 1900 were, however allowed to retain their old rate of overtime when employed at merchants' expense, but their number is decreasing and they will in time disappear. The overtime rate of 8d. an hour was formerly paid to outdoor officers who performed when required, the lockers' duties now assigned to watchers, but when the outdoor officers' duties were divided between assistants and watchers the overtime rates were fixed for the former at 1s. per hour as against 6d. for the watcher class. It is only in London that watchers are paid at the fixed rate of 24s. per week. At the out-ports (including Tilbury, Gravesend, and Queenborough) the rate is 21s. per week, one-fourth of the total number of watchers being allowed to proceed to 24s. by annual increments of 1s. per week. The Board of Customs do not recommend the introduction of a uniform rate of 8d. an hour for overtime in the case of watchers.