§ MR. STEADMAN (Finsbury, Central)
To ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that complaints have been made before a Committee of this House with reference to the fact that qualified learners in the telegraph service were awaiting appointments for long periods, and that the officials stated the delay was due to the decrease of telegraph work; whether ex-soldiers and ex-sailors, not having passed a competitive examination and who are still attending the School of Telegraphy, Central Telegraph Offices, at certain hours in order to complete their knowledge of telegraphy, have been given preferential appointments; and, if so, whether he will explain the reasons for this action.
§ MR. STEADMAN
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fact that, on Wednesday, 1st August, he received a deputation, consisting in part of Members of this House, for the purpose of dealing with, the employment of ex-soldiers and ex-sailors in the Civil Service, who were informed that any extension of the opportunities at present being given in the postal service was doubtful, he will say whether, since that period, vacancies in the postal telegraph service have been filled by ex-soldiers, and a corresponding number of appointments previously filled by youths entering through open competition has lapsed; and whether he still intends to develop the system of compelling the sons of the working classes to become soldiers before being able to secure permanent established appointments in the State employ.
§ (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) I will answer these Questions together. There has been no increase during the last ten years in the proportion of vacancies in Post Office employment filled by 1297 ex-soldiers under agreement with the War Office; and I have certainly not in any way extended the system. Certain vacancies in the telegraph service have recently been filled by ex-soldiers, but a corresponding number of vacancies for postmen are set free to be filled by ex-telegraph messengers. The employment of the soldier telegraphists in question will not prejudice the interests of any learners, whether in the Central Telegraph Office or elsewhere.