HC Deb 09 May 1907 vol 174 cc341-3
MR. HAYDEN (Roscommon, S.)

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury what circumstances necessitated the issuing of Circular Letter 37/1886 compelling outdoor officers of Customs to serve for two years, exclusive of probation, before being allowed to attend any other Civil Service examination; why the terms of this circular letter were made retrospective, so as to include officers who joined during 1885 and the early portion of 1886; whether a grade, inferior in pay and prospects to that of examining officer, was created in 1886, which had the effect of practically stopping promotion to the rank of second-class examining officers until 1891; whether the regulations, showing the terms of service and prospects, issued by the Civil Service Commissioners to candidates who presented themselves for examination for the position of outdoor officer of Customs in May, 1885, and January, 1886, contained any reference to the effect the recent warehousing changes might have on the prospects of any future entrants into the service, or differed in any material respect from those issued to candidates for a similar position in 1882 and 1883, by which these officers might have been more able to forecast their prospects than those who joined in 1882 and 1883; and will he explain why the fact of their having entered in 1885 and 1886, considering they had to serve twelve to thirteen years before receiving £90 per annum, and that in the first year of their service the conditions under which they entered were twice altered to their detriment, be made a pretext for reducing the compensation for retardation of promotion; and whether, in the circumstances, he would reconsider the case of these officers and grant them the same allowance as that already granted to officers who joined under the same conditions during 1882 and 1883.

(Answered by Mr. Runciman.) I will take the points raised by the hon. Member in the order in which they occur in his Question. (1) The reason for issuing the circular letter referred to was, as stated therein, the inconvenience caused to the Department by officers entering it merely with a view of quitting it as soon as possible. (2) This reason made it advisable to apply the restriction which was made by the circular to all officers then in the service. (3) The grade in question, viz., that of assistant examining officer, was created in 1886, but the effect was fully considered in the inquiry which led to the Treasury Minute of 24th March, 1891. (4) The Regulations issued by the Civil Service Commissioners to candidates for the position of outdoor officer in 1885 and 1886 were in the same form as in previous years, and did not contain any information as to the effect of changes in the Department on the prospects of promotion open to such candidates. On such points candidates seeking appointments in the public service must satisfy themselves, if at all, by private inquiries as to the Department offering the best prospects. (5) The compensation allowances referred to were granted in consideration, not of the two alterations mentioned in the Question, but of the retardation in promotion caused by the introduction of the new warehousing system in 1882 and 1883. (6) The changes resulting from the new system had been completed by 1885; so that officers then entering the Department were in a better position to forecast their prospects than those who entered in 1882 and 1883, and have less claim to compensation.