§ Revenue Departments.
§ 1. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £260,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1908, for the Salaries and Expenses of, the Post Office, including Telegraphs."
§ *THE POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. SYDNEY BUXTON,) Tower Hamlets, Poplar
I have to justify the Supplementary Estimate in the present year and still more to what it will lead in future years. The particular Supplementary Estimate is really a matter to which I need not refer. It affects certain proposals of what is called the Hobhouse Committee, but 1056 in most cases they are only matters in which payments have to be made at once, at the beginning of the month instead of at the end. What I think the House is really interested in is the future of this matter and the total expenditure which will be incurred in consequence of the Report of the Parliamentary Committee and the mode in which I propose to adopt that Report. I think it is necessary for me to trace the history of this matter. I regret, as every member of the Committee does, that the Chairman of the Committee, who took such immense trouble over it and had the matter so much at his fingers' ends, is unfortunately prevented from being with us, which makes it more difficult for me to carry out the task which I have before me. When I came into office the position was this. There had been previous inquiries into Post Office servants' wages, some conducted by Committees and some by the Postmaster-General. In every case I think the Post Office servants themselves condemned in advance these inquiries, and the last attempt to deal with the matter by means of a Business Committee has really rather a curious history. That Committee was appointed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, and the staff at that time objected to the appointment of the Committee, to its personnel and to its reference. Then the Committee reported, and my predecessor, Lord Stanley, no doubt for reasons which he thought fully justified his own action, objected to the action of the Committee in regard, I think, to the method in which they carried out their proceedings—namely, that they had not carried out their reference, and that they had exceeded it. Thus, the last inquiry we have had was repudiated in advance by the staff, and after the report, by the Government. That, of course, left the matter in a very difficult and unsatisfactory position. I found also on examining into it that for the last sixteen years or so, the staff—the Post Office servants of the operative class—had publicly declared that a tribunal of the character of a Parliamentary Committee and an inquiry of that nature, would alone be to them satisfactory and conclusive. I found, also, that a large majority of Members in all quarters 1057 of the House had pledged themselves to support the appointment of a Parliamentary Committee. I was not one of them. When I became Postmaster-General my record was immediately looked up by the staff, and I was glad to find that I had an absolutely blank record and had never voted on any postal subject, and that I thus had a free hand in regard to these matters. It appeared to me that the demand for a further inquiry by a Parliamentary Committee was, under all the circumstances of the case, a reasonable one. It was alleged that the staff were underpaid, and that being so, I think the argument for an inquiry was a strong one. Every Member of the House of Commons is quite willing to believe in the impartiality and justice of its own Committees, and therefore there appeared to be an opportunity of selecting a tribunal which would be satisfactory to both Parties, which could thrash the matter out and arrive at a satisfactory conclusion in the end. That being so, I proposed to my colleagues in the Government the appointment of such a Committee; and appointed it at a very early stage, in order that no time should be lost in carrying it out. The appointment of the Committee was received with universal gratification by all interested. Its composition was considered satisfactory. It was of a very representative character, representing all sections in the House, and the terms of reference were wide and were acceptable. As far as the Department is concerned, my desire was that they should describe to the Committee their position, and the policy and action of the Department (not necessarily my own), not in a hostile spirit, but with fairness and moderation; and I think it was recognised by the staff that the evidence given by the Secretary and by others was given with moderation and fairness and certainly with great lucidity. On the other hand, I desired that the staff should be given every facility for preparing and presenting their case, and I do not think any information was refused which would assist them in so doing. No less than 114 witnesses gave evidence for the staff, and I think gratification was expressed for the care, impartiality and thoroughness with which the Committee discharged 1058 their long and arduous duties. After an exhaustive inquiry of some eighteen months, the Committee reported in the terms which the House have before them in the Blue-book. The Report is that of the Committee as a whole. In such a Committee as that no one member is necessarily bound to every item, or proposition, or paragraph in the Report. They were a Committee of the House of Commons desiring to arrive at a common conclusion and to present a unanimous Report. They did, I understand, have many private meetings, like many Committees I myself have been on, at which they had discussions and even divisions which do not appear on the records of the Committee, but which had a great deal to do in bringing them to the harmonious conclusion stated in their Report. Therefore, so far as the Committee are concerned, I think I may say that it is a Report, with the qualification I have stated, of a Committee of the House of Commons. There is no use disguising the fact that when the Report was issued in some quarters it gave rise to considerable disappointment. I never knew a body appointed for the purpose of dealing with a question of salaries which did not give disappointment in some quarter. No one in this unlovely world does get what he desires, or, at all events, he does not get what he thinks he deserves, and, therefore, it was only human nature that those affected in this matter should be disappointed with the conclusions which the Committee came to. I should like to say this. It is not for me to advise or admonish the staff in regard to the attitude which they should assume towards the Report of the Parliamentary Committee. There was this great difference between this inquiry by a Committee of the House of Commons, and that which was made by what is called the Tweedmouth Committee, and that which was made by the Bradford Committee. In each of these cases the men had stated beforehand that they would not be bound by the decision come to as the result of the inquiry. In the case of the Parliamentary Committee it was a tribunal of their own choosing. When I placed the matter of the appointment of the Committee before the Cabinet I was clearly 1059 under the impression, and I left my colleagues under the impression, that I was proposing the appointment of a tribunal whose conclusions would be considered, taken broadly, as binding. And, further, so far as I am concerned. I intended in the circumstances of the appointment to accept the Committee's findings whatever those findings might be. And I think I may state equally confidently, without fear of contradiction, that that was the view held by the Post Office staff as a whole, and that the Committee was accepted by them in the spirit in which it was given. I do not think that hon. Members who undertook to support the proposal for the appointment of the Committee would have done so unless they thought that the staff would accept the decision of such a Committee. When I speak of the acceptance of the Report of the Committee I do not mean that it was to carry with it acceptance of the terms for all time to come. In regard to these matters naturally a time comes when changes must be made. The findings of a Committee would be of such a cast-iron nature, that when anomalies arise or when it appears that improved conditions can be carried out from time to time the Report of the Committee would prevent these improvements being carried out by the Postmaster-General. But, generally and broadly, I think we may take it that the general desire expressed at the time the Committee was appointed was that the conclusions to which it would come would practically be accepted. I confess that it is clear to me that if the decision of a Committee of that nature, appointed under these circumstances, is not to be accepted substantially as the verdict, especially by those who have asked for the tribunal, it is a very difficult thing to know how we are to extend these matters of inquiry. There is at present a demand for inquiries, especially in connection with the Civil Service; and generally boards of arbitration are asked in various quarters. But as I said, this is for the staff more than for myself. As regards my position as Postmaster-General my duty appeared to me a plain and clear one, and it was also the opinion of the Treasury. It was, broadly speaking, that I should accept 1060 the recommendations of the Committee in full where their recommendations were explicit and definite in regard to the remuneration of Post Office servants. I have been urged as apparently the decision of the Committee will not lead to contentment and satisfactory results to ignore the Report of the Committee and save the money for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is not my view at all. My primary reason for the appointment of the Committee was that any Government ought to be a good employer of labour, and that, if it could be shown that the conditions of employment in the Post Office fell short of the standard of a good employer, that standard should be brought up to a proper level. I was not prepared, however, much as I might deplore the way in which the Report was received, to withhold improvements in the conditions of the service recommended by the Parliamentary Committee for attaining that object. I think it will be equally clear to the House that under the circumstances of the appointment of the Committee I should not retry the case—a case which had by general consent been referred to a Parliamentary Committee for decision. It was also clear that if I could not retry the whole case, I could not here and there retry portions of it, and alter the decision of the Committee. I have been asked from various quarters—I think by almost every section of the staff—to retry, not necessarily the whole case, but to take their particular class and to consider their particular point. It appeared to me that that was an impossible position for me to take up—that it would be impossible for me to agree to new proposals in one case and to refuse to agree to them in another. It would be impossible to consider the desires of one class and decline to consider the desires of others. Really, that would have amounted to a retrial by myself of the whole case, and that I was not prepared to do nor do I think it would have been a proper course to pursue with reference to the House and to the Parliamentary Committee. My position was that I accepted the Report of the Committee, and that I would try to carry it out to the fullest possible extent. Then came the question 1061 of interpretation. There were certain definite scales proposed.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that almost every section of the staff asked him to re-investigate the Report.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
What I said, or, at all eve its, meant, was that in regard to the recommendations of the Committee there were certain points on which nearly every section of the staff thought that something better should have been recommended in their case, and my position was that if I had accepted that view in one case, I could not refuse it in another. That appeared to me to be an untenable position. I think the right position was to base myself on the recommendations of the Committee as a whole and not attempt to re-try the case in whole or in parts. Then came the question of interpretation. There were definite scales in the recommendations of the Committee which were sufficiently clear to enable one to interpret them with the greatest ease and to the fullest possible extent. Here also in regard to interpretation there could be no question as to the right course for me to pursue. When I had accepted the recommendations of the Committee, the only course open to me was to put them in force in the way the Committee intended and desired. To have accepted them and then, as I have been urged to do, to have interpreted them in a way the Committee did not intend would have been tantamount to upsetting their decision by indirect means. This might have been popular, but I do not think that would have been a straight-forward or honest course for me to pursue. It appeared to me that the recommendations of the Committee should be interpreted in the way the Committee desired. Apart from the actual scale of remuneration, and where I have been able in these matters to act freely, I have taken a liberal view, and I have endeavoured to improve the conditions of labour in the Post Office. There were one or two special points in regard to the matter to which my attention was specially drawn. The Committee recommended that each officer 1062 should be raised to the minimum, or "age pay" of his class, i.e, the minimum in those cases where there was no scale and in the others the "age pay" up to twenty-two years in the case of postmen and twenty-one years in other cases, and that that should take place at once. That has been done, and also everyone over that age who was not getting the age pay has already been raised to that point in the scale of his particular class. They also conceded what is called the technical increment. I understand that their desire was to encourage ability and intelligence. The old technical increment of 2s. 4d. did not extend beyond the maximum. The Committee recommended that the technical allowance should extend above the maximum. They added, however, that the examination should be a searching, not a perfunctory, test of the technical or professional knowledge of the telegraphists. The matter is a difficult one, but I have done my best to arrive at what would be in the nature of a practical and searching test which will at the same time not exclude the telegraphist of intelligence who really desires to improve his position. Both the examination and the manipulative test are in the nature of experiments. We shall see by the light of experience whether the experiment is satisfactory or not, and whether the test had been fixed too high or too low. What I desire to do is, as intended by the Committee, both by examination and manipulative test to reward the ability of the telegraphist of intelligence who desires to improve his position. The next point, classification, is a question of interpretation, and is more difficult and more complicated than that with which I have just dealt. In regard to London the matter was simple enough. The Committee recommended that the old four zones of wages should be reduced to three to depend on the cost of living. The result which came out was, from the London postman's point of view, very satisfactory. It was found from the Board of Trade Return that the cost of living in London as compared with other parts of the kingdom, was high, and in nearly every case the men went up. In only one or two cases is the scale put down in London, and that is because, as shown 1063 by the Board of Trade Return, the cost of living in those parts is lower than in other districts of the London area. There is one very important point in all cases of classification that I wish to make perfectly clear, and that is that where a man's office is put up a class—that is to say, where there is an increase in the maximum—he goes to that maximum without question. But where his district is put down a class, he himself is not affected at all—he goes up to his old maximum. It is only the new entrants to a class that are affected by the new classification. I now come to the question of the classification of provincial postmen. I ought to explain first, that before the revision came into force there was one system of classification of postmen largely founded on the cost of living, and a totally different classification, of sorting clerks and telegraphists founded on units of work, and a third classification for the supervising classes. The Committee recommended, I presume for simplicity, that all these classifications in the provinces should be combined into one, and the seven classes reduced to five to form a fresh and unified classification. The recommendations of the Committee will be found in Paragraphs 258 and 341 of the Report. They say: "It is both desirable and possible to have a satisfactory classification of the various towns and districts in the United Kingdom for the purpose of assigning to each its proper scale of wages," and they recommend that any classification should be based on the volume of work done as ascertained by the Post Office authorities, plus the cost of living as ascertained by the Board of Trade. They propose this rearrangement of the sorting clerk classes and further a reclassification of the postmen's classes on the same basis. Any classification putting together two classifications which are now dissimilar, must necessarily affect a considerable number of places. There must inevitably be a good deal of going up and a good deal of going down in regard to certain towns. The Committee fully recognised this themselves. In going into the matter carefully, it appeared to me, however, that if I carried out the recommendations of the Committee literally, and without elasticity, there 1064 would, in the lower classes, be some hardship to a very large number of future postmen who would have to go down in their classification by being assimilated to the classes of sorting clerks and telegraphists. I, therefore, with the consent of the Treasury, came to the conclusion that while the first three classes could be dealt with similarly, the last two must be dealt with differently, and that there must be a classification of the postmen on a different basis. But it is quite obvious that whatever classification is taken, founded partly on the volume of work and partly on the cost of living, it is necessary that there should be a considerable re-arrangement of classes and towns, increases and decreases. I am glad to know as far as we have been able to reclassify—although I have not yet got all the information—that a considerably larger number of these places will go up in their class, and therefore get an increase, than will have to come down. Let me repeat, wherever there is a change, if it is adverse, it does not affect the maximum of present officers, whereas, if it is advantageous, they will get all the benefit of it by going to the higher maximum. I had the advantage in regard to other points of discussing them with representatives of the men and on several of them my views were modified by these discussions. I hope that in many respects, as, for instance, in regard to stripes, trips, risk allowances, increments, writing duties, substitution, Sunday labour, half holiday and other matters of that description, I was able largely to meet their views. In regard to these matters I have, however, had to consult the Treasury, as the amended proposals in regard to classification will involve a very considerable charge on the Estimates. I must say that the Treasury has met me in a liberal way, where, in regard to this und in other ways I was able to show that a too strict interpretation of the recommendations of the Committee would involve some hardship. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire asked me at Question time to explain what the actual result would be on the postal service as a whole of the recommendations of the Committee if these were adopted. I do not think that he would wish me to go very minutely into the matter, because it is largely 1065 technical; but I will give in broad outline the general results which will ensue after the recommendations of the Committee are carried out in the main. As I have already, said it is not my business either to defend or to criticise the findings of the Committee. My business has been to adopt them in regard to questions of remuneration. But I think that too much attention has been drawn to, and too much stress laid on the scales themselves proposed by the Committee, and not enough attention has been attached to the very great improvement in other ways which will be conferred on the Post Office service by the recommendations of the Committee. Some perhaps do not get much meal, they all get malt; and in some cases both meal and malt. The conditions of the service has been considerably improved, and at the same time the scale of remuneration in many cases has been raised, and the two things must be taken together in order to appreciate what the result will be on the service as a whole. Next year, 1908–9, the increased expenditure which will fall on the taxpayers in consequence of the recommendations of the Committee will amount to something like £470,000 or £480,000. That amount will increase as years go on, and the ultimate cost will reach between £600,000 and £700,000 a year, rather nearer the latter figure than the former. It is only fair to say also that it is only two and a half years since in another way the Post Office servants also received a very large pecuniary benefit. They are now receiving under the Stanley Revision some £270,000 additional a year, and will eventually receive in future years £370,000. They are now going to have the benefit of a second revision following upon the Hobhouse Committee, and taking these two revisions together, the Post Office servants will benefit in the coming year to the extent of three-quarters of a million and to the extent of a million in future years. I think the House will agree that that is no inconsiderable sum to increase the wages of Post Office officials by in three years.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I am afraid I cannot recollect the figures of the percentage 1066 on our full expenditure if that is what the hon. Member means.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I am sorry I have not the figures, but I will let the hon. Member know. Then I want to point out with regard to the scheme recommended by the Committee that the scale is increased in some cases at both the top and the bottom. But I am sure, after reading the Report of the Committee and studying their recommendations, that what they were chiefly impressed with was, that those who receive the lowest wage in the Post Office are those who deserve most consideration, and were those who ought to receive larger increases in proportion to the others. They evidently thought, and I very cordially agree with them in the general principle, that there is not in the Post Office in the lower scales a proper living wage, and what they have done, and I think it will be a great benefit to this branch of the postal service, is that while they have not increased in many instances the maximum sum where they thought the maximum sum was sufficient, they have in so many cases at twenty one years, twenty - two years, or later given an appreciable increase of the amount that the man or woman is receiving at that age—an age at which the increase they recommend will be of the greatest possible advantage. That seems to me to be the general principle upon which they acted and I have carried out their recommendations. But I should like, if the House would allow me, just to take one class and show what will be the actual result of the recommendations of the Committee with regard to it. I will take the postman as an illustration, because he comes more under our eye than any other branch of the service, and everybody desires that he should be well treated and receive a proper wage. In the lower grade the maximum wages of 18s. and 20s. have been raised to the maximum of 21s., and they have also raised in some cases the minimum wage of the lowest scale of wages. Let me say this, we are sometimes told that this scale, or the other scale is too low 1067 and that it does not represent the fixed wage received by others. That is perfectly true, but no scale wage will ever at its lowest point equal the fixed wage which is settled and will not be increased. That is obvious; you cannot have it both ways. These men in the Postal Service have a low wage to begin with; gradually they reach the higher level, and this process of advancement is different from the case of the ordinary labouring man, who has to be content with a fixed wage when he is young as well as when he is old. Further, the House in regard to many of these cases must not take this scale of minimum wages as being all these men really gain from their State service. The postman, I am glad to think, has many advantages in other respects, and I think you may put it broadly that the man who has a wage of 18s. or 20s. a week at twenty-one years of age is really receiving what is roughly speaking equivalent to 24s. Above twenty-one the man on the lowest scale who is receiving 21s. as a maximum by the time he has risen to the maximum in stripes, uniform, and other ways, will be really earning over 30s. a week in cash and privileges. I do not think that is quite appreciated when people talk of scales of wages, and of the-recommendations of the Committee. The net increase during next year, the immediate increase for the London, provincial and assistant postmen, which will follow from the recommendations of the Committee will be £80,000 a year. In addition to that the Committee recommended that the stripe period should be reduced after the first five years from five to four years. At present the postman has to serve five years for every stripe for which he gets 1s. a week, but the Committee recommend that in future that period shall be reduced from five to four years. In connection with that matter the Postman's Federation asked me to make the proposal retrospective. That is to go back so that every five years a man has served in the past shall be reduced to four in counting for stripes. After consulting the Treasury we did not think the recommendations of the Committee, which obviously provide for the future and not for the past, could be put into force 1068 with a retrospective increase. But I am glad to say I obtained the assent of the Treasury to this, that instead of the new system coming into operation as these other changes do from 1st January, it shall come into force from the last period at which a man obtained his stripe, so that he will not have to wait for a period of five years. Thus if a man has served four years since his last stripe he will get his fresh stripe from January 1st. If he has served for more than four years he will carry on the additional time towards the next four years. The ultimate result of the stripe addition for the postman will be about £30,000, but there are other branches of servants who will receive it, and the whole total will be £33,000. The proposal to which I have just referred with the Treasury will bring into operation this year nearly half that sum. In addition to this, postal servants benefit in other ways, but I do not think the Committee will desire me to go through each class in detail, and I really must apologise for detaining it at this length, but I think they will see that it is necessary. There are two classes, however, about which I should like to say a word. The one is the question of the women, of whom there are a very large number employed in the Post Office, and I believe that many of them are active "suffragettes." I am glad to think that the Committee recognise that the women in the service of the State are not sufficiently paid at the bottom of the scale or at the top of the scale, and they have made recommendations which will involve very considerable increases in the pay of the women, amounting to many thousands a year. I think that will be an increase to which everybody wilt give their blessing. While the Committee made appropriate recommendations in regard to this class of workers, it must also be remembered with regard to the classes as a whole, that the supervising officers are receiving in a large number of cases very considerable increases of their salaries. Of course, that is not only of immediate advantage to those who are holding these positions, but it is also an increase in regard to the positions on promotion of those who are below them, so that the increases given to the supervising 1069 officers may be added to the benefits which, are given by the Committee to other classes of the postal service. Then in addition to the actual increase to which I have referred, there are a large number of proposals made by the Committee which will go very much in the direction of improving the conditions of service. They are some of them rather technical questions and refer to such things as trip and risk allowances, the question of Sundays, and of substitutes, and so forth. My right hon. friend the Member for East Worcestershire will understand these terms, but I am afraid that to most members of the Committee they will not convey much. But at all events all these are practically cash additions to the recommendations of the Committee in regard to the question of scale. The Committee recommend this change, with which I also cordially agree, that no assistant postman shall remain an assistant postman in the future for more than two years without being offered an established appointment. This will also apply to learners, and no learner will be a learner for more than two years without being offered an established appointment. That will put an end to what has occasionally happened in the past to these assistant postmen and learners in having their service spread over some of the best years of their lives without being able to obtain an established appointment.
§ MR AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman says they will not be allowed to remain more than this time without being offered these appointments. Does that mean that if a permanent appointment is not offered to these officials, say because there are no appointments open, they will be dismissed.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
No, I mean exactly the opposite. What I meant was this, that in the future every assistant postman and every learner will be offered at the end of his two years, if not previously, an established appointment. Perhaps I ought to add this, it will not be possible always to offer that appointment to a learner 1070 or an assistant postman in his own office, and if an offer is made to them elsewhere and is refused, our liability will be discharged, but the intention is that at the end of two years, if not before, the offer of an established appointment shall be made. Then there is another question in regard to which I entirely agree with the Committee. It is their recommendation in regard to casual and auxiliary labour in the Post Office. I should like to say of the casual and auxiliary labour in the Post Office that without any reflection on them, I do not think that it is a right system that a Public Department should have as much casual and auxiliary labour as we have had in the past. It is, however, a very difficult problem how best to reduce it, because establishment appointments cannot be created beyond what are sufficient for the service. The Department desires to reduce auxiliary labour to the lowest point; but it cannot abolish it altogether. As to Bank Holidays, anyone who works on Bank Holidays at all will be given a day off at some other time. The remuneration for night work will be increased, because in future it will be reckoned from eight o'clock instead of from ten. The attendances of postmen will be improved. Overtime ought to be carefully watched and checked, though, thanks to the public, it cannot be abolished altogether, owing to the irregularity of the pressure in the postal service. As to the insanitary condition of some of the post offices, the Post Office is not the only Department concerned in the question, but the recommendation of the Committee will strengthen the hands of both departments. The other class to which I desire to refer is the engineering branch of the postal service. As a result of the Committee's recommendations—and no doubt largely due to the presence on the Committee of the two Labour Members—the wages of both skilled and unskilled labour will be pat on a basis on which they have never stood before. These wages, in my opinion, have not been up to the outside standard. I have myself often thought that, while the Fair Wages Resolution was being enforced, and was very useful to bring contractors up to the proper rate, some branches of the Government Service were taking the mote out of the eyes of the contractors, while 1071 forgetting the beam in their own. In the whole of the engineering department the immediate advance of wages and salaries will amount to no less than £70,000 a year, and the hours, in some cases, will be improved. As to the general position, many of the recommendations of the Committee are in a direction in which the Department has always endeavoured to go; but the necessary money or opportunity has not always been forthcoming. I have a very difficult and delicate task in carrying out this revision, and I must ask great indulgence while I am trying to fulfil the duties laid on me by the Report of the Committee. I have always stated and have endeavoured to act on the view that a Government Department should be a good employer of labour. I do not think that the Post Office service asked to be treated as a privileged class; but there are three privileges which they do enjoy—a minimum wage, security and continuity of employment, and pensions for old age. The Committee was appointed to see how far in other respects the service conditions fell short of the proper standard. The Committee has made certain recommendations, and those I accept, and it is for the House to say whether they endorse their recommendations and mine. We all recognise and much appreciate the heavy labour thrown on the Committee, and the efficient way in which an irksome, disagreeable, and thankless task has been discharged. In endorsing the findings of that Committee, I ask the House not to grudge the large sum necessary for such improvements in the conditions of a very efficient and deserving body of public servants.
§ *MR. CLAUDE HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
expressed his desire, before dealing with the various points of the speech of the Postmaster-General, to thank him for the unwavering courtesy he had always shown to those connected with the Committee and all those who had had to approach him on the various details of his various departments. He shared also the regret of many hon. Gentlemen at the enforced absence of the Chairman of the Committee, who spared no pains in drafting the Report of the Committee, which was in truth his own Report. With that preface he ventured to say 1072 that every Member of the Committee would agree, as the right hon. Gentleman had stated, that it was only right that the State should be a model employer of labour. He believed three main principles should be strictly observed. First of all, every man and woman employed ought to be in receipt of a fair living wage, and every man when he had reached an age when he might be supposed to have a family to maintain should be earning sufficient to support them in comfort and decency. In the next place, the hours of labour should be such as not to endanger the health or impair the energies of the workers. Lastly, the conditions under which the work was done should be at least as favourable to the health and comfort of the employees as those of the best conducted factory or workshop. Those who read the Report of the Committee and the evidence taken before it would be satisfied that in the past the Post Office had failed to fulfil perfectly any of these conditions. It had in certain cases fallen very far short of a much lower standard. The wages, especially of the younger men and women, had been often grossly inadequate at some of the offices, and the sanitary arrangements of a good many had been such as no private employer would have dared to tolerate in view of the existence of the Factory and Health Acts. Coming to the scales of pay laid down by the Committee and adopted by the right hon. Gentleman, he desired to say, first of all, that they were all aware of the fact that the scale as applied by the right hon. Gentleman had created a deal of disappointment among the postal officials, who would have liked the change to have been more drastic. In that they had his sympathy, because he believed that if the improvement had been greater the settlement would have been more permanent. At the same time he did not share the views of those who believed that he and those who thought with him should have refused to acquiesce in the Report because the scale of pay had not been raised to a higher standard. Not to have agreed to the Chairman's Report would have been to prevent its being unanimous, and it would have deprived it of the authority which unanimity would give it, and 1073 resulted in the Committee's work being whittled away, and the Report shelved by the reactionary influences to be found in every organisation. Although the Report fell short of the demands of many of the employees one must recognise that it marked a great step ahead and placed the staff in a better position than they were before. The Report involved a considerable sum of money, and he believed the House as a whole would support the view of the Committee that they were right in concentrating their attention upon increasing the minimum rather than increasing the maximum of wages. He had heard with great pleasure the announcement that the Postmaster-General had adopted the scale whereby the position of female sorters and telegraphists would be substantially improved. They had been grossly underpaid. The right hon. Gentleman in his statement had rather led them to believe that his adoption of the revision would apply to all the existing staff; but unless he was greatly misinformed, there were many sections of the postal servants to whom that revision would not apply, and to whom it would be a dead letter. There were, for instance, certain classes in the Engineers' Department, in regard to which the conditions set forth in the revision would only apply to new entrants. That was not the intention of the Committee. From first to last in drafting the Report the vital principle in the minds of the Committee was that every postal servant should benefit from the recommendations contained in the Report. He would ask the Postmaster-General if in the revision he found any hardships not to give a pedantic interpretation to the language of the Report, but to give it a wide and generous interpretation, and one which would be sure to convey the obvious intention of the Committee. There were one or two cases which seemed to him inexplicable, and could not be justified by the Report of the Committee. In the case of the telegraphists, for example, he would quote two instances with which he was familiar personally—he referred to the case of the Lombard Street and Threadneedle Street Post Offices. Telegraphists at Threadneedle Street Post Office would receive 65s. a week, while 1074 those at the Lombard Street Post Office, which was only just across the road, would receive 63s. a week. If that were so the Government in this instance were repeating exactly the iniquities of which complaint had been made. The men in both those post offices passed exactly the same examinations and belonged to the same grade—whatever official hair splitting and technique might declare—and they got into either of these offices, if he might say so, by a mere fluke. It was merely a question of different buildings in which the same work was being performed. It seemed to him all the more indefensible seeing that the telegraphists at the Central Office received 65s. plus technical allowance, whilst the cable room staff were recreated from the Central Office staff. He hoped the Postmaster-General, before this debate concluded, would give them some further information and a satisfactory assurance on this point. And now with regard to the technical test. The Committee after due consideration, reported that the old technical test was perfunctory and should be revised. But it seemed to him that the authorities at St. Martin's-le-Grand had gone from one extreme to another because they were now imposing a new test, and one unresonably severe. He desired the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this matter forthwith because the test seemed to be absurdly high.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
May I point out that these tests refer only to officers working particular instruments to which they have been accustomed.
§ *MR. CLAUDE HAY
said he gathered from what the right hon. Gentleman had said that the trouble to which he had referred would not arise in the future. The technical test question seemed to him to be giving a good deal of trouble and was causing a considerable amount of irritation, and that was why he was anxious that it should be dealt with without any further delay.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
If the hon. Member will only read the figures given in the Report he will see that that is not necessary, as it is not causing either trouble or irritation.
§ *MR. CLAUDE HAY
said he was very glad the Postmaster-General had been able to remove a misapprehension. He would now proceed to deal with those details in the Committee's recommendation which the Postmaster-General did not propose to carry out. First of all, there was the case of the sorters employed on night duty. It seemed to him very undesirable that the same man should be employed on night duty for more than four weeks at a stretch. From whom did the objection to this reform recommended by the Committee come? Did it come from the men now employed permanently on night duty, or from others who were not permanently employed? If from the latter he did not think the objection had much weight.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
The recommendation about night duty, I may point out, did not commend itself to those who were specially interested in that work, and the association representing the sorters actually asked me I not to carry it out. Of course, as the sorters themselves did not desire it carried out I was very glad to meet their wishes in the matter.
§ *MR. CLAUDE HAY
said he was pleased to receive that information, and he only wanted to know the reason why.
§ *MR. CLAUDE HAY
said that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the telegraphists and sorters preferred the present system was directly in conflict with much of the evidence given before the Committee. He was, however, quite satisfied from one point of view, and that was that the weekly half-holiday would be granted "where the staff desired it." He thought the Committee should be assured that there could be no possibility of official or departmental pressure being put upon the men; they should be absolutely free agents in the matter.
§ *MR. CLAUDE HAY
said the Postmaster-General had referred to a matter-in which he took a very keen interest, and he had passed very lightly over it. The subject he alluded to was in Paragraphs 54 and 62, viz., the relations between the Post Office and the Office of Works. He thought his colleagues would bear him out when he said that the Committee were strongly of opinion that all the work now done by the Office of Works for the Post Office should be taken from the Office of Works and put under the Postmaster-General; or, in other words, that the Postmaster-General should be master in his own house and be able to run his own business; without having to go cap in hand to another Department. It was against common sense that such an arrangement should be allowed to continue when they remembered that the Post Office, next to the Army and Navy, employed a far larger number of men than any other Department of the State. The evidence before the Committee showed disgraceful delay by the Office of Works in carrying out the most ordinary repairs necessary for the minimum of comfort of any of the staff and repairs which were absolutely necessary if the first principles of health as affecting those employed were to be observed. He knew the difficulties of the situation, and he was aware how the Treasury would put every obstacle in the way as well as the Office of Works, but nevertheless he advised his right hon. friend to pluck up his courage and if he brought about this reform his regime would be marked not only by many of the advantages which he had already cited, but by the fact that he would be the man who had made himself master in his own house. The Postmaster-General had also skimmed over the question of medical inspection, upon which he asked him to give them a little more information. In Paragraphs 47 and 48 of their Report the Committee did not mince words as to their view of the Chief Medical Officer, and he did not hesitate to say that the impression left upon his mind was that that officer had not been doing his duty to the extent which they might reasonably expect, and that much of the discontent of the staff, and many of the complaints made were due to this officer's negligence. He 1077 regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not announced that he had taken in hand the drastic reorganisation of the Department. He was also very much surprised to see that simultaneously with the Report of the Committee upon this point, this particular official's salary had been raised by another £250 per annum. It would probably be said that this increase came about in the ordinary course of things, and independently altogether of any view expressed by the Committee or the Postmaster-General. Perhaps he would be allowed to refer now to one or two questions which the Committee by its terms of reference were not able fully to consider, but with which they dealt in their Report. In the first place, there was the all important question of civil rights. In that connection he could only speak for himself, because the Committee had declined by the casting vote of the Chairman to adopt his view. The Amendment he moved in Committee "would have conferred civil rights upon the postal staff where they were at present denied to them. He could not for the life of him see why those engaged in Post Office work, with perhaps the exception of certain high officials, should not enjoy the same civil rights as any other body of citizens. Why a man who pushed a red cart or basket on which the letters E.R. were painted was denied civil rights and the man who pushed the same vehicle with the name of some firm upon it was allowed to exercise those rights he could not understand. It could not be alleged that those two classes of employees stood in a different position. He sincerely hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give this matter his earnest attention and at the earliest possible moment lay proposals before Parliament on the subject. He did not think the matter could be lightly dimissed by saying that the Postmaster General was precluded from taking action upon it because there were certain rules which governed the whole of the Civil Service. The Committee declined to go into individual grievances, but it was quite clear from what came before them that the present system of dealing with individual grievances was most unsatisfactory. He was quite confident 1078 after all that was said before the Committee and in face of the evidence, direct and indirect, that it was absolutely necessary there should be some tribunal which could deal with individual grievances, and revise from time to time the conditions of Government employment in the Post Office. This brought him to the question of a permanent Board of Arbitration for the settlement of disputes between the State and its servants. The present moment seemed highly propitious for the Government to make proposals on this subject, because it was only quite recently that the President of the Board of Trade had been able to avert a very serious industrial dispute in connection with the railway industry of this country. They ought to bear in mind that the Government were really in a very serious position when they denied to their own servants those rights which the railway companies conferred on their employees. He regretted that a strike had taken place, but it was no use shutting their eyes to the fact.
That is hardly a matter which ought to be dealt with on the Supplementary Estimates. We are now dealing with the money voted in the Supplementary Estimates and not with the general policy, which can only be properly discussed upon the presentation of the ordinary Estimates.
§ *MR. CLAUDE HAY
said he welcomed the assurance from the Chair that they would have an opportunity to discuss this Report when the ordinary Estimates came up. He sincerely hoped that between now and the time when the Estimates were presented the inconsistencies in the interpretation of the Select Committee's Report, and the larger matters not touched upon by the revision, would receive the earnest and special attention of the Postmaster-General, so that they might have some permanent settlement of this Post Office trouble, and gain thereby not only the object the Government had in view in appointing this Select Committee, but also the maintenance amongst the staff of that efficiency upon which they prided themselves. He sincerely hoped they would see this year a settlement which would set at 1079 rest once and for ever the immense trouble which this subject had caused in the past. If the Postmaster-General did this, he was sure he would receive the warmest support from all parts of the House.
§ MR. JOHN WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)
said he was delighted to hear that the Postmaster-General was not going to place any obstacles in the way of the suggested amendments in regard to the working conditions of postal servants recommended by the Committee. He had been given to understand that previously a great deal of the trouble and difficulty had been caused by Post Office officials preventing the Postmasters by persuasion or by power, or by some occult power they possessed, from doing the things they wished to do for the purpose of removing grievances from this class of people. It was quite clear that if this charge had been possible and well founded against previous Postmasters-General, on this occasion they had a Minister who intended to carry out to the letter the recommendations of the Committee. He had been, very much struck by an observation which fell from the last speaker upon this subject. The hon. Member for Hoxton started by declaring that he thought the Post Office Committee ought to have made far more drastic proposals with regard to the remuneration of postal servants. He had not the slightest doubt considering the state of parties in this House, and the Party that had to control and be responsible for the finances of the country, and the management of the Post Office, no matter what drastic proposals had been suggested they would have been supported by the hon. Member for Hoxton. The value of that support could be best appreciated by two incidents which occurred in the House that day. The hon. Member had just dwelt upon the necessity of granting civil rights to the whole of the postal servants. He desired to point out that he was compelled in a very early part of the proceedings on the Committee to move a drastic resolution in reference to this subject, but later on the hon. Member for Hoxton moved another resolution which was not quite so drastic dealing with the same point. Only that very morning 1080 the hon. Member for Hoxton was questioning the Postmater-General, begging him to deprive certain sections of the postal service of their civil rights—
§ *MR. CLAUDE HAY
begged the hon. Member's pardon; he never said anything of the sort. The hon. Member was entirely misrepresenting what he said and the object of his question. What he desired was to get the same civil rights for others, and the same rights which the Socialists now enjoyed.
§ MR. JOHN WARD
said the proper course for the hon. Member was to have endeavoured to obtain the same rights for the others, instead of attempting to deprive those who had already secured those rights. This subject of civil rights was an extremely important one and he held definite views upon it. He could not see why any officer of the State could not do just what he chose in his own time so long as the performing of his duty as a citizen did not prevent him doing his duty to his own Department of the State. He had never been able to ascertain the reason for this course of action, and the evidence given before the Committee had not in the least altered his opinion upon it. He agreed that the Committee had a very formidable task before it. He did not suppose they had satisfied everybody, and personally he never went on the Committee with the idea of satisfying any body but himself. He had given his careful attention to the evidence which he, as a Member of the Committee, was called upon to consider, and conscientiously the Committee had done their best and had given the best advice they could to the House upon a very difficult and intricate subject. He knew enough of labour negotiations himself to know that it was very rarely indeed that there was not a considerable minority who afterwards blamed the majority for not having demanded more. But the Committee were not aiming at finality; their aim was to do the best they could for the workmen of the Department and especially those in the lower grades, and in that he thought they had been successful. The Committee tried to do their best for the workpeople of the Department. When the House came to understand the 1081 number of employees whose interests were involved they would see what a difficult matter it was. There were about 80,000 males, 10,970 female servants, 17,000 boy messengers, 16,400 auxiliary postmen, and 22,000 sub-postmasters. He thought the Committee had succeeded in doing something, though it might not be everything that was expected by the officials and officers of the Department. The most difficult part of the whole controversy was the method the Postmaster-General was going to employ for the purpose of putting the recommendations of the Committee into practice. The Committee discovered that there seemed to be no general method of deciding the classification and payment for certain towns and districts. All kinds of suggestions were made as to the correct method of deciding the matter, and eventually the Committee decided upon two main principles to decide what the status of a town or district should be. The first was the volume of work in a district, and the second was the cost of living. He did not know how the Post Office decided the volume of work—how it counted up its units of works or anything of that kind. That was a matter entirely within the purview of the Postmaster-General and his permanent officers. So much depended upon the proper classification of towns and districts in the bringing of contentment to the Department that, if he were the Postmaster-General, he would not hurry this phase of the subject. He would give every opportunity for every possible consideration and objection with regard to any classification that might be made, because, perhaps, while the Postmaster-General would declare his own Department infallible, he (Mr. Ward) felt certain that all the Departments of the Government might not be equally infallible. For instance, figures with reference to rents in certain localities were put before the Committee for the purpose of guiding them in deciding this very important point. He took the town that he was personally acquainted with, Stoke-on-Trent, to see how far the information as to the cost of living, and especially of house accommodation was concerned, as he thought it would enable him to get a fair criterion of what the information was worth regarding places that he knew 1082 nothing about. It was said that in Stoke-on-Trent they could get four-roomed houses at from 3s. 9d. to 4s. 3d. a week. All he could say was that he would not ask any postal servant of any grade to live in a house at Stoke on 3s. 9d. a week. The thing was utterly absurd to anyone who knew the district. Therefore he would not hurry on that part of the business. He would not alter the maximum in any degree until he was positively certain that this information was beyond dispute and that every interest had been properly considered. The Postmaster-General had made no reference to a very important subject. He-had told them that the classification would be made—it might be in the making to-day—but he had not told them anything as to the length of time that the present classification was to be observed. Hon. Members would quite understand that the industrial circumstances of a locality changed every four or five years. The whole character of a district according to the influx of population or the state of a particular business sometimes entirely changed. The Postmaster-General should not aim at setting up a classification to-day that was going to last for ever. There ought to be some periodical re-examination of the classification, and he thought the period at the outside ought not to be more than three, four, or five years, so that the Postmaster-General might have such data and such information at his disposal as would enable him to deal fairly with all these multifarious interests. He did not plead for his own locality alone. The Postmaster - General ought to decide on general grounds. Members would know whether a man really came there to represent the interests of the nation as a whole, or just his own locality. By his own recommendation his district's maximum was reduced a considerable amount, and he was sure, he would be violently attacked for that reason, but that did not alter his opinion that the cost of living in a district and the volume of work in the Department should be the deciding factors in deciding the classification, of the officers in a town or district. Therefore he particularly wanted that inquired into, Yesterday he received a communication from one of the postal servants' organisations, and he understood 1083 other hon. Members had received a similar communication. It was as follows—DEAR SIR,—A Supplementary Estimate will come on for discussion on Thursday. May I ask you to be in your place on that day. The Hobhouse Committee raised every existing scale of pay of postmen, but left the allocation of the pay to the Department. The result is that the Department instead of raising the wages of the men has actually reduced them in many places.That statement required some explanation. It appeared on the face of it as if the Hobhouse Committee and the, Post Office between them had deliberately decreased the wages of some men working in the Department. That statement was entirely untrue. The Committee had declared that under no circumstances must their recommendation deprive any officer at present in the employment of the Post Office of a single advantage he possessed to-day, and reduce him either in status or wages or classification or in any way whatever; hence where this classification might reduce the maximum of a district those who had joined before the maximum was finally fixed would receive the maximum under which they joined; so that they had not reduced the wages of a single man in the Department. Therefore some explanation of that document was necessary, because he should object to doing anything that would reduce the wages of workpeople. He was rather apt to do the opposite if he could.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said that, so far as he could, he had made it perfectly clear in his speech that no existing officer under any circumstances would be prejudiced in his maximum by the classification.
§ MR. JOHN WARD
said there was one other side of the subject which he would like the House to be acquainted with. Most hon. Members would agree that so far as the working conditions and the established workers in the Post Office were concerned the Hobhouse Committee had given thorough attention to them. But there were a considerable number of workers working indirectly for the Department in regard to whom the Committee by the terms of reference had no 1084 right of inquiry at all. For instance, the 22,000 sub-postmasters employed nearly 50,000 assistants. He hoped the House appreciated that. They had no information as to the wages or working conditions of these assistants. The principle of indirect employment was very bad, and it ought to be avoided on every possible occasion. He did not know what the Postmaster-General advised in reference to that subject, but he was sorry to say the right hon. Gentleman seemed inclined to extend the principle of indirect employment rather than otherwise. The hon. Member for West Bradford put a Question to-day in reference to private wires for Press service, and he was sorry to think that the Postmaster-General had suggested that newspaper proprietors might league themselves together for the purpose of monopolising wires on those lines, when they might have their own operators, which would, of course, naturally result in neither the House nor the Department having any control over those operators and in deciding either their rates of pay or the conditions of their work. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say in his Answer that the system had been in existence for a number of years in reference to a number of newspapers, and that that was his only excuse for extending it. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would thoroughly consider the subject and pause before he consented to anything which would extend the system of indirect labour in his Department, In conclusion, he did not think he would have consented to act as a member of the Committee if he had been an old Member and had understood the ropes; and he did not think he would take on another such job. However, he had served his apprenticeship on this occasion. The Committee had done the best they could under the circumstances, and though they might not have satisfied all the different grades of employees in the Department they had done their best to deal fairly as between all classes.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
called the attention of the Postmaster-General to complaints which had been made by members of the Post Office service in Ireland with reference 1085 to the proceedings of the Committee. He did not know whether the hon. Member for Stoke who gave such very valuable service to the Committee could throw any light on the matter; but it was alleged by the Post Office clerks in Ireland that they were prevented putting their case fully and fairly before the Committee. In the first place, he believed that the number of witnesses they desired to call was curtailed very much, and that they were unable to bring before the Committee the evidence of a certain class of witnesses which it would have been very desirable for the Committee to have heard. For instance, they were unable to bring forward any evidence on behalf of the travelling Post Office officials, and, therefore, a great deal in connection with their case was entirely untouched. Nobody was in a position to give the evidence necessary in that regard except some of those who were actually engaged in the travelling Post Office work. Another complaint was that the evidence which they had prepared and submitted was entirely interfered with—not by the Chairman of the Committee, whose absence from the House that day everybody regretted—but by the secretary or some other authority. He believed the representatives of the Irish Post Office officials sent in a carefully prepared copy of the evidence they had prepared.
I do not think we can discuss on this Supplementary Estimate the action of the Committee in regard to evidence. That must come on on next year's Estimates. But the hon. Member will be in order in referring to any hardship which these people think they are suffering from by the actual recommendations made by the Postmaster-General.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
, with great respect to the Chairman's ruling, submitted that as they were now asked by the Postmaster-General to endorse and accept the findings of the Committee, he was entitled to show reason why at least some of the Post Office officials had expressed their disinclination to be satisfied with those findings 1086 The reason was that they were unable to place their case fully and fairly before the Committee. While fully recognising the sincere desire of every Member of the Committee to carry out the inquiry entrusted to them in an impartial manner, those officials were not satisfied that they were able to place their case fully and fairly before the Committee. He submitted to the Postmaster-General that that was an extremely unsatisfactory and undesirable state of affairs. He was not himself in a position to offer an opinion on the subject.
§ MR. JOHN WARD
said that as the chairman of the Committee was absent he would like to say that so far from interfering with any evidence, the utmost limit, within reason, was given for every kind of evidence to be submitted.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he would not pursue that matter further. He could assure the hon. Member for Stoke that it was entirely without his knowledge that the evidence offered from Dublin was interfered with and was not tendered at the time. He submitted that it was extremely undesirable and disappointing in a matter of this kind to find that there was dissatisfaction with the Report and the recommendations of the Committee on the part of a large section of Post Office officials. The right hon. Gentleman would not deny that the Post Office servants in Ireland were to a great extent cut off from the governing body of the Post Office in London, and they were entitled to have as much consideration given to their views as any Post Office servants in this country. The fact remained that the object of the Committee was to remove the grievances of which Post Office servants complained, and that dissatisfication continued amongst a great number of the officials in Ireland; and he feared that so far as they were concerned the good results they hoped for from the labours of the Committee would not be found. He hoped, when the Chairman of the Committee returned to the House, to take the opportunity of 1087 placing before him privately the views of these Irish Post Office officials, and from what he knew of that hon. Gentleman he was sure that he would take the trouble to inquire into the statement he would lay before him, and in all probability would have some explanation to make which he, and those whom he represented, would consider satisfactory. On the general question the Postmaster-General was to be heartily congratulated upon the fact that he was identified with what was obviously a very sincere desire on the part of the authorities to better the position of the Post Office officials. The large amount which he asked the Committee to vote for the Post Office servants would be readily granted by hon. Members in all quarters of the House. Nobody denied that, for a long period in many ways the Post Office officials had not received the consideration to which their labours entitled them. Probably there was no branch of the public service more entitled to consideration than the Post Office servants; and it was always with a light and ready heart that he voted the money for the Post Office service. He hated voting money for the Army and Navy. But in spite of the extra Vote an enormous number of postal servants would receive no benefit whatever. That was an unsatisfactory thing. He agreed with the Postmaster-General that those officials who were affected by the change had some reason to be satisfied; but it was undoubtedly the fact that a very large number of perhaps the most deserving and most hard-working servants would not have their position improved at all, at least for a very longtime, according to the arrangements which had been placed by the Postmaster-General before the Committee. That was a very unfortunate thing. He believed that if the Postmaster-General had seen his way to recognise that all the servants in the Post Office and the Telegraph Office were entitled to some increase of their remuneration and had made a larger demand on the House he would not have had the slightest trouble in getting the Vote through. He was the more sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not take that view, because he knew perfectly well that, however much it might be desired, the proposals of the 1088 Government at the present time would not settle the question. He could only speak for Ireland in regard to the matter, and he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Post Office servants of Ireland had no liking or anxiety for continued agitation, as it might be called, in this matter. They were sincerely anxious to be placed on a footing which would be satisfactory and end the struggle once and for all. He was informed, however, by some of the associations representing the workers in Ireland, that these proposals would not satisfy them. He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman had gone into the matter sufficiently largely. What he had done was good so far as it went, but it left a large number of the most deserving officials in the Post Office in Ireland and in this country, entirely unimproved in regard to their position. He asked the right hon. Gentleman before he finally—and, of course, the final settlement of this matter did not rest with the Committee or with the Hob-house Committee but with the Department—came to a decision to go very thoroughly into the matter and to endeavour to see whether it would not be possible to make a change which would be beneficially felt all round, and not one which would leave a large number of the least paid and the most worked of the officials still under the impression that they had a grievance. What was the position of the Post Office in Dublin? Up to the present time, he did not know that they had any record whatever of the volume of work which passed through the Post Office of the city of Dublin. A great deal would depend upon that for the workers, as far as he could make out under the regulations; and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to say what the exact position of the Post Office in the city of Dublin would be and the volume of work which passed through it.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I will answer that at once by saying that Dublin is in the first class, and will have the maximum scale.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
was very glad the right hon. Gentleman had made that statement, and he presumed he 1089 had made it based upon the volume of work which passed through the Dublin Post Office.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said that, so far as he knew, that statement had never been made before. He could only say that while he was very glad that the Hobhouse Committee was appointed, and while he was rejoiced that the recommendations that they made were being carried out to improve the position of a hard-worked body of public servants, he hoped that the question would be dealt with, detail by detail, and in a manner which would remove all dissatisfaction. The right hon. Gentleman said it was impossible to satisfy the claims of any body of people when it came to a question of salary. He did not know that he was disposed to agree entirely with that, because he believed that the public servants of the country asked for nothing but a fair wage, and that their demands were not extravagant and might be satisfied by wise and moderate concessions. He appealed to the Postmaster-General, at any rate, not to be influenced by that section of public opinion which was manifested sometimes in this House, which seemed to think that public servants were not entitled to agitate for their rights or to express their opinions. He was aware, and every Member of this House must be aware, that a great deal of prejudice had been raised against Post Office officials because they had banded themselves together to demand their rights. They were in his judgment perfectly at liberty to do so, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not be influenced by any action they had taken in this matter.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)
I have, I suppose, like every other Member of this House, received a communication from the Postal and Telegraph Servants Association complaining of the decision at which the Committee has arrived, and at the action which the Postmaster-General has taken; but I do Mot rise to press this complaint upon the right hon. Gentleman, because I am quite certain of this, that 1090 an individual Member of this House, without access to information which only the Postmaster-General has at his command, without the power to have the whole facts of the case before him and to see every side of the question, is quite unable to form an intelligent and a trustworthy judgment upon these questions, often of a very technical character, and always of a very detailed nature. I have much too great a sense of responsibility, having held office in the Post Office itself and in other Government Departments, to desire to render the right hon. Gentleman's task one whit more difficult than it inevitably is, or to take advantage of the freedom of opposition to press claims upon him which I myself in his position might be unwilling to grant. I am not, therefore, going to say anything which will embarrass the right hon. Gentleman, and certainly nothing which will alter the character of this debate, happily contrasting, as I think, with some previous discussions on similar subjects, for on this occasion there has been no disposition in any part of the House, as far as I have heard the discussion, and I have only been away for a few minutes, to try to turn any sort of Party or personal capital out of the debate, or to use—for that is what it comes to—the purse of the taxpayers to pay the private debts of a Member of Parliament. But I want for a few moments to call the attention of the Committee to the position in which we are placed. The right hon. Gentleman said that he did not regard it as his duty to defend or criticise the action of the Committee upstairs; he considered that it was his duty merely to adopt their proposals. I must enter a caveat as to that view of a Minister's responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman may very fairly say that, having appointed this Committee, he considers it right to adopt their conclusions, but if he adopts their conclusions he is bound to defend them. He cannot thrust the Ministerial responsibility from himself to the Committee; from the moment that he adopts their findings they become his decisions; he must take the responsibility for them, and he must defend them. I do not imagine that really there is much difference between us on the subject. It is perhaps nothing 1091 more thin the use of an ambiguous phrase on the part of the right hon. Gentleman rather than any desire to disclaim his responsibility. But I enter a protest and say that what a Minister does whenever he accepts advice from other people he becomes responsible for. He becomes responsible for the action which he takes upon that advice, and he cannot divest himself of that responsibility in appointing this Committee and in bringing forward this Vote in order to carry out in full their recommendations. The right hon. Gentleman desired, as many of his predecessors desired before him, to settle this question—not finally, for, of course, wages must vary from time to time, but to provide an enduring settlement of the long - outstanding agitation and grievances, and, above all, to adopt in full the recommendations of a tribunal which would carry weight with all parties. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had always held that the State should be a model employer of labour. I think I agree with him, but the words "model employer of labour" are a little ambiguous. If it means better than anyone else in the country I should differ from him.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I thought he said model, but if he means by good employers that the State should be in the front rank of employers of labour, I do not think there is a Member of this House who would challenge that decision; and although I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, that the more that is voted for the public service the more I am pleased, or that their demands are never unreasonable, or that every one who is a Civil servant ought to receive some benefit from the hands of the Government at the present time, I am at one, I believe, with every member of the Committee that the State should pay to those whom it employs what the best private employer would pay in similar circumstances. But we ought not to pay more. We certainly ought not to be in advance of everybody else, and we ought not to be behind the best that is done—in that sense we ought to be 1092 amongst the best. We ought not to pay, however, more than the best, because that is to tax all those who are not members of the Civil Service in order to give members of the Civil Service a privileged position; and although I agree that they should get as good a position as they can obtain in similar employment with private people, I do not desire that the public service should be made a special and privileged class and receive advantages at the hands of men much worse off than themselves more than they could hope to get from private employers. In saying these things, for which I almost apologise to the Committee, because I am repeating what are almost platitudes, I believe I am stating what are the rules which everyone in this House wishes to follow in matters of this kind. The real question is, how are we, as a House, to apply those rules? The right hon. Gentleman said that he hoped by the Vote which he put upon the Paper to-day and by the expansion of that Vote which will follow in subsequent years to close the agitation in the postal service; that we should have adopted the proposals of a tribunal by which all were bound and which everyone, taxpayer and workman alike, would recognise as being a decision that must command every respect as being that of a well-informed, impartial body, possessed of the full evidence of the facts of the case. After listening to the discussion to-day the right hon. Gentleman can no longer indulge that hope; indeed, he himself has shown that he has been disappointed in his opening speech, for he said that from almost every section of the Civil Service concerned he had had representations protesting against some part of the proposals which he has made. I cannot, Sir, under your ruling, and I regret that the Rules of the House impose upon you the necessity of that ruling, go into any suggestions for another tribunal, but I take this opportunity in a discussion without Party feeling and without warmth to express my earnest conviction that we have not yet arrived at a satisfactory method of settling this question; that we have not yet discovered a tribunal which commands the respect of all concerned, taxpayers and employees alike, because we have not yet discovered 1093 a tribunal which public opinion regards as either competent or impartial. I wish to add my tribute to what has been said as to the labours of the Committee. Although I disapproved of the whole proceeding I think you could not have had a Committee, which would have devoted itself more to this matter or taken more pains to arrive at a proper solution. I cannot myself follow all their recommendations for and against, nor do I think if they had sat for another fifteen days they could have come to any other conclusion. I do not think you could have got a Committee to do the work better, but I noted that the hon. Member for Stoke who sat upon that Committee and who with his colleagues gave endless time to this matter, said that if he had had more experience of this House he would not have joined the Committee, and he did not think we should ever see him on such a Committee again. I venture to call the attention of the Committee to that statement of an hon. Member not unfriendly to the Civil servants and not unwilling to give his services to this House. I commend the judgment on a Committee of this kind to the Committee. I cannot discuss the details of the Committee, but I hope to take the earliest opportunity possible of raising this question and of making a suggestion which I hope the Government will consider, not as regards the Post Office only, but also other branches of the Civil Service. I will make that suggestion in a non-Party spirit and I will beg the House and the Government to consider it in the same way for we could do no greater service to the Civil servants of the country or to this House than to remove the question of the payment of Civil servants from the arena of Party strife.—
§ *SIR FRANCIS EDWARDS (Radnor)
said that if the Postmaster-General could find an impartial tribunal to deal with the question of wages and the conditions of employment of the Post Office officials or any Government officials he would render to the State a service the value of which could hardly be estimated. The great difficulty in this matter had been to find a tribunal that would satisfy all concerned and do justice to the public. He had heard the proposal 1094 of the right hon. Gentleman opposite with great interest, because such a tribunal would only be too satisfactory to this House. He himself was one of those who sat on this Committee in company with the hon. Member for Hoxton, and when that hon. Gentleman was speaking it would have puzzled anybody to have known from the remarks he made that he had been a member of the Committee. The hon. Gentleman referred to the difference in the pay of the employees in the Thread-needle Street and the Lombard Street Offices. That difference and its cause were well known to the Committee. The officials employed in the Lombard Street Office were what were known as counter clerks, and came in a different category to those employed at Thread-needle Street. They came from the Central Telegraph Office which was the largest of the kind in the whole world, and where the clerks served under different conditions. The staff in that office was being reduced, and the opportunities of promotion lessened; but the advantages they were losing were being made up by means of this extra pay. The ground covered by the Committee was very varied and the Committee claimed that they acted fully up to the terms of their reference. They had made a pains-taking effort to do substantial justice to all concerned. The Postmaster-General had made so clear a statement as to what had been the result of the recommendations that there was very little in the matter of detail with which he need trouble the House. The Committee had improved the conditions of the service all through. Their recommendations gave a distinct advance in pay to all the officials in the Post Office. He did not say that they were great advances individually in any instances, but it had to be remembered that the Committee of 1906 did not stand alone in dealing with the pay of the Post Office officials and servants. That question was dealt with by Mr. Fawcett in 1881, by Mr. Raikes in 1891, by the Tweedmouth Commission in 1897, and by Lord Stanley in 1905. All those revisions taken together had given an increase of pay amounting to £1,500,000. He knew 1095 they had been blamed for what they had done, for he saw the official publications of the staff, but he was glad to see that one called the Postmaster had in its November issue done them some justice. The scale so far as they were considering it, and he believed the Committee was unanimous on this point, was as a whole satisfactory so far as the maximum was concerned. Complaints had been made that there had been no advance in the maximum scale for seventeen years, and that during that period the "work had increased and prices had risen. But although it was quite true the work had increased in individual offices he did not know that the work of each individual had increased. As to the rise in prices, he did not think that people in employment outside Government offices had been able to use the rise in prices as a lever to obtain higher wages. Nor did the Board of Trade Returns for 1905 justify the argument of the rise in prices. The hon. Member for Stoke had referred to this matter, and he was glad the hon. Member had brought the matter forward because the bases of the Committee's recommendations were the actual volume of work and the cost of living. After all, rent was not the largest item. Food was the largest and that had not increased very largely in price. But the scale was not considered satisfactory so far as the minimum was concerned, and the Committee were greatly indebted to the hon. Members for Stockport and for Stoke for the assistance they gave in this matter. The minimum scale recommended by the Committee gave increases where they were most needed. They gave them in the first few years after entrance into the service. He thought the rise which the Committee had given in the minimum scale had given very real relief to those entering the service. Further matters had been referred to by the Postmaster-General. One of those, which the Postmaster-General referred to, and was known as the technical increment, was now increased to 3s. a week, and carried beyond the maximum. Then under the old scale a man who entered the service when he was over the age of twenty-one entered it at the pay of a man who entered 1096 at nineteen, namely, 20s. a week. But in future such a man would receive the pay of a mea of 21 years, namely, 26s. a week. It was his opinion that the wages and conditions of service compared not unfavourably with those that obtained in outside employment. He knew that view was not held by the staff. They were disappointed, and had expressed their disappointment vigorously. He was sorry for their disappointment, but in dealing with so vast a concern as the Post Office, with thousands of employees, it was not unnatural that the decision come to should have left some amount of disappointment. The real trouble they had to face was that the Postal Department had grown so rapidly and extended so much as to create complications and inequalities which had all the appearance of grievances. If they were to deal de novo with the whole matter, they would aim at simplicity and regularity, but it was absolutely impossible now owing to the complexity and number of classes in the postal service. The Committee had two main considerations to bear in mind. On the one hand they had to give a fair and sympathetic hearing to the grievances the staff complained of. Some of the grievances showed proper ground for redress. But they had to bear in mind also that the Committee were responsible to the public, and that there was a difference between the State and a private employer. He quite agreed that they all desired that the public service should give to those employed in it the best conditions and advantages which could be obtained from a model employer. At the same time it was only right and proper to say that the State should not take advantage of what was practically a monopoly to pay wages and to establish conditions of labour which would be in any way unjust to the public at large, or to private employers. The Hobhouse Committee had had a very difficult task to perform, and might claim that on the whole it had given substantial advantages to the men, and redressed many grievances which were justly complained of.
§ *SIR C. HILL (Shrewsbury)
wished as a member of the Committee to express 1097 the great satisfaction which he felt at the Postmaster-General's intention to carry out the recommendations which they had submitted. The terms of reference did not allow of their considering the whole reorganisation of the service. All they were called upon to do was to consider the position of Post Office servants as compared with those of other employees of large firms. Personally he thought the conditions of service of the employees of the Government were very largely in their favour, so largely that they carried a very strong preponderance of advantage in their behalf. The very fact that a body of servants could come before that House with their grievances differentiated their position from that of all other employees. He did not know what would happen if the employees of big firms were to say they were entitled to bring their grievances before the House of Commons. He supposed the employers would decline to listen to them. They would have only to refer to one head of their department, and on him would depend entirely whether they continued in his service or left it. But any employee of the Government could, by bringing his case before his Member, ensure its being brought before Parliament, and there were many questions of that kind which were certain to have full consideration from the House. That was a very strong argument in favour of the conditions of service under the Government which gave Post Office servants an advantage over many other branches of service. The great leniency which was always shown in Government Departments in dealing with any cases which required consideration was a very strong argument in favour of Post Office servants. He knew it had always been supposed, and many servants of the Post Office considered that they had grievances and were not able to bring their cases before their employers, and that if they could come face to face with them they would be better treated, and would be able to represent their case more favourably than they could at present. But he did not feel that that was so. It was very uncertain whether, when brought face to face with their employers, they would gain very 1098 much by it. The Committee had tried to be as impartial as possible, and as far as he could observe all its members had served without any personal bias, and with a wish to do the best they could for the body of servants. They had tried in fact to get up to the motto of one of the organs of the Post Office servants, to be "just without fear." He claimed on behalf of the Committee that they were so, and whatever faults might be found in their recommendations they had an honest wish to hold the scales level between the public and a very efficient and useful body of public servants. He thought they really did a very great deal for the service not only in the way of giving them their wages but in various other ways. What they had endeavoured to do was to remove all the smaller grievances—the pin-pricks of the service—as well as add substantially to the wages. They had actually improved the conditions with regard to their sick leave, night duty, and Bank Holidays. The question of medical attendance they had also settled in a way to give satisfaction to the Post Office employees. Men who under the old system could not claim the attendance of any doctor in the circle in which they worked, could now get a medical certificate from the doctor nearest their own homes. That was itself a very great boon. Then they had dwelt very largely upon questions of sanitary inspection, which was a great advantage to the health of the staff. They had insisted also upon rapidity of building work, and that when works were required which would give greater facilities to the staff they should be carried out more quickly. They had also dealt with the question of secret reports. That was a burning question on which Post Office servants felt they were not always fairly treated. They found there was really no grievance, and that the so - called secret reports were practically reports on the position of the men, which were absolutely necessary. In regard to wages they had substantially improved the position of the men. He hoped the Report would be carried through without any dissentient voice, and though it would add largely to 1099 future Estimates he was sure there were very few who would grudge the advantage which would come from the decisions of the Committee to a most deserving body of public servants.
§ *MR. WARDLE (Stockport)
said he supposed the Select Committee on the postal service was on its trial. It was true there was still some dissatisfaction with the Report expressed throughout the various branches of the service. He had listened with some degree of curiosity to the right hon. Gentleman who had himself been Postmaster-General, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer as to what he had to say. It was true no Committee of that House, probably no committee appointed outside the House, could entirely satisfy any body either of public servants or workmen of any description. He did not think that was a matter of regret entirely. But when the right hon. Gentleman laid his proposals before the House with regard to civil servants they on that side would scrutinise them with a friendly but also a critical eye. The difficulty with regard to all branches of the Civil Service was that there was no entirely similar employment outside and if they were going to erect a standard of wages and conditions in the Civil Service similar to those outside, they would find themselves in a difficulty at once. The hon. Member for Clare had made certain charges against the Committee with regard to not accepting evidence.
§ *MR. WARDLE
said that so far as the conditions of the men who worked on the travelling Post Office between Ireland and England were concerned the chairman of the Committee himself travelled with the Post Office in order to see the actual working. He accepted without any reservation the attitude of the Postmaster-General to this Report. The Report was the result of a large amount of careful consideration by a Committee composed of all sections of the House. Each Party was represented on it, and although they had arrived at a decision mainly by consent, and although some of those decisions 1100 were not entirely approved of by the whole of the members of the Committee, yet on the whole they might say it was the established opinion of the Committee. There were certain conditions inherent in the Civil Service which were quite different from outside employment. There were prohibitions as well as privileges, and the question of the privileges must be set against the prohibitions. Permanent employment also carried with it these prohibitions. Civil rights had been denied to Civil servants because of their employment. It had been felt in the past to be right to deny that privilege. In his opinion such denial ought not any longer to obtain. The political pressure which these various associations—
I am sorry to stop the hon. Member, but here again he is discussing a wide question of policy which does not arise on the Supplementary Estimates.
§ *MR. WARDLE
said there were certain disciplinary measures which arose out of permanent employment such as punishment, fines, deferment of increment, and deferment of promotion, with all of which the Committee had had to deal. It was their object in dealing with this to see that the staff which was in a permanent position had proper opportunities of bringing its grievances to the Department. With regard to the question of wages, which after all was the main question which arose on the Report, they had sought to improve the position of the men below the age of twenty-five. It was that which induced them to fix the age pay in the case of the indoor staff at twenty-one and that of the outdoor staff at twenty-two. This improved the position of every class in the service. The question whether they had given every individual person some advantage or other was of course another matter altogether, but this particular provision improved the position of every class throughout the service, and gave the improvement at the time it was most needed, when the men needed to save with the object of getting married. They had also improved the maximum rates in the case of postmen, of the female staff and the engineering staff generally. It was intended that this should 1101 reach practically every member of these classes. Their intention was that almost all the postmen and the female and engineering staffs should practically get a rise on their maximum. It might not have been a big rise, but it was intended that they should all get it. He was glad that, taking it on the whole, the Report had been received by the Postmaster-General and the Department with satisfaction. The right hon. Gentleman had accepted and decided to work to the Report, and although there were some questions of interpretation on which he should differ, he welcomed the decision. The question of the classification of towns was the most important part of the Report that was left, and if there was any great amount of dissatisfaction after the Report was put in force it would be because of this re-classification. The Committee had drawn up certain scales of pay which were intended to improve the position of postmen throughout the United Kingdom, and they had swept away the ridiculous anomaly that Ireland was to be paid at lower rates than the rest of the United Kingdom. If this classification was not satisfactory there would be a great amount of discontent. The Postmaster-General had just issued a circular which had got to the staff in various parts of the country. He regretted in one way that it was not issued even earlier. It had already had the effect of bringing telegrams to many Members of the House, and messages pointing out the particular district which was going to be adversely affected by this new classification. The real reason for this difference had been explained largely by the Postmaster-General, but there were one or two things which he had omitted. Previous to the Report there were seven classes of sorting clerks and telegraphists in the country, and there were seven classes of postmen, but these classes did not synchronise. They were not uniform, and the object of the Committee was to bring a uniform set of classes and reduce them from seven to five. The new classification indicated by the Postmaster-General in the circular had had, so far as he could see, the extraordinary effect of entirely subverting the intentions of the Committee. It had increased or was increasing in many places the maximum of the sorting clerks 1102 and telegraphists, and it was reducing the maximum of the postmen in those places. It had been said that it would not affect the present individuals who were working in these particular places. He agreed that it would not, but no one liked to see the status of his office reduced unless there was sufficient ground for its being done. The recommendation of the Committee was that the volume of work plus the cost of living should be the basis upon which these places should be classified. Personally, he had protested against this method being adopted, but he was overruled; but he could see the difficulties that were going to arise then, and they were now having experience of what those difficulties were. The volume of work had been adopted as the criterion of indoor work, but it was no criterion for outdoor work at all. The question of how many units of work passed through the office did not settle how much work the postman did. It might be said that the original classification was better, and he agreed that it would have been better not to have interfered than to make a mess of it. He found that out of seventeen units of work in the Post Office classification there were only three that had any reference whatever to outside work at all. But the difficulty was greater than that. If they took the volume of work and the cost of living, how were they going to get a common denominator? What emphasis were they going to put upon the cost of living and what upon the work? He agreed that it would have been very much better indeed for the Postmaster-General to hold his hand for some time with regard to this new classification. The anomalies which were being produced already were very great. A new kind of criteria must be established before any satisfactory results could be arrived at. What were the anomalies? Let them take Woolwich, which was on the borders of London. It was actually being reduced for the future, and new entrants for postmen were only to go up to 27s. a week. They went up to 30s. before. Over the border in Blackheath they went up to 33s. Such an anomaly as that produced by this result surely condemned the method as it had been put in force at present. There were many other anomalies. He found that at 1103 Skipton the probability was that the sorting clerks and telegraphists would go up 8s. and the postmen come down 2s. on the maximum. The remedy in the Woolwich case was comparatively easy. Woolwich was part of London and ought to be paid on the London scale. The defect of the new system was that it did not give postmen the advance intended. It reduced the maximum of future entrants and mortgaged the future to pay for the present. They found from the Postmaster-General's circular that London postmen were to receive an estimated immediate advance during the present year of £46,500 a year. That was very good, but the ultimate advance was only to be £28,700, so that there was actually to be a saving on the postmens' wages, and the future was to pay for the present. It might be said that this did not affect the present staff. He thought it was better that the matter should be settled so far as they could settle it once and for all at the present time. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would pay particular attention to the matter of reclassification, because if he did not he himself could foresee a future agitation, greater than the past had ever known. It had been said that nobody would suffer. There was a sense in which some of them would suffer. The idea of the Committee was that all the scales of the postmen should be advanced a shilling a week at their maximum. Those who did not get that shilling by comparison with those who did would suffer. It would be said that they anticipated that the modifications of the recommendations of the Committee would be considerable. He agreed, but they did not anticipate and they never intended that the maximum wages of the postmen in these particular towns should be reduced. When the Committee framed the scales they did it with the idea that postmen with 26s. maximum should get 27s. They expected that in a few odd cases possibly that might not be done, but they never anticipated the wholesale reductions of the maxima which apparently were to be effected under the reclassification. He wanted to make this particular point clear, because he was sure that the results of this Report would have no effect in satisfying the postal service throughout 1104 the country if these reductions were carried out. This was the most important question which had been raised on the Estimates that day. He was very pleased that the right hon. Gentleman had recognised the trade union. There were many things in the Report not yet clear, and they would have to be settled between the right hon. Gentleman and the representatives of the staff. He trusted that those representatives would take full advantage of their opportunities of settling matters in that direction. There were only two other points to which he desired to refer. The Committee had been blamed because it did not undertake the immense task of recommending the reorganisation of the Post Office on certain lines. He had read in the newspapers that such reorganisation was to be a plank in the programme in the future. He did not think it was within the terms of reference that the Committee should undertake such a task. The reorganisation of the Department would involve considerable work, and he was glad that the Committee of which he was a member had not to undertake it. He thought the most important reform with regard to the Post Office which could be adopted would be not only to cut the ties which bound it to the Office of Works but also the ties which bound it to the Treasury. The Post Office ought to be a business department run on business lines, having its own personnel and paying its own staff, and then if it made any profit let it be handed over to the Treasury. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would seriously consider the question of the reclassification and keep it over as long as he could until all the factors in the problem had been carefully thought oat, for he did not think they had yet been considered sufficiently.
§ *MR. McCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
congratulated the Postmaster-General in this age of economy on the success he had achieved in laying the scheme before the Committee. It was a scheme which on this Estimate, meant an increased expenditure of £250,000, next year it would be £500,000, and ultimately £750,000. He thought that was a tribute to the Committee, and the reasonable recommendations they had made. He wished to get 1105 an explanation from the Postmaster-General on a particular point. He could not understand the principle on which the allocation with regard to the maximum salary of telegraphists had been fixed. The right hon. Gentleman had said that afternoon that he had taken into account the cost of living and the volume of work. The telegraphists at the Central Office got an increase of 3s. a week. There was a readjustment of the maxima of telegraphists in every class with one exception, and that exception included the class which found its location in Edinburgh. Therefore, he spoke with some knowledge of the grievances which were felt in certain parts of England and Scotland, but more particularly in Edinburgh, having regard to the cost of living. This class of civil servant had had no increase in maximum wage since 1890, and the cost of living had considerably increased since then. He would specially bring to the notice of the Postmaster-General the fact that according to the Board of Trade Report the cost of living in London was only 2 per cent. higher than the cost of living in Edinburgh. Wages in this class in Edinburgh as compared with London were lower to the extent of £24 a year, being a difference of 16 per cent. He was sure that the work performed in each office was the same. Having regard to these percentages as to the cost of living, he could not understand how the volume of work could make this difference in their maximum salary. He hoped that this was one of the questions which the right hon. Gentleman would leave over, and that while wishing to conform to the recommendations of the Committee, he would leave it open to himself to consider what appeared to him to be a necessary revision. He hoped, at least, that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give an explanation as to how this discrepancy had arisen.
§ MR. PIKE PEASE (Darlington)
understood from the Report of the Committee that in almost every case the maximum wage had been increased and the conditions improved. But there were some places where both the maximum and minimum had been reduced. In his own constituency there was a great 1106 deal of disappointment, and not without cause, because when comparisons were made with places such as Manchester and York it was clearly shown that in dear-living places such as he represented the maximum should be increased. He had received a letter from the postal employees at Darlington emphatically protesting against the findings of the Committee. Everybody on the Opposition side always appreciated the courtesy of the Postmaster-General, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would look into the matter and see if something could not be done. He was sure everybody appreciated the great services rendered by the Committee, and felt that they had not received adequate thanks for their arduous labours.
§ *MR. WOOD (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
supported the appeal of his hon. friends the Member for Stockport, the Member for East Edinburgh and others, namely, that the Postmaster-General would take into very careful consideration the question of the classification of towns. He believed this question affected a great many large towns, in both England and Scotland, and, in particular, it affected the town which he had the honour to represent. He understood that it was intended to increase the maximum of telegraphists in London by 3s. per week, making it 65s. The maximum of the telegraphists in Glasgow who were doing similar work was to be left at the figure at which it had stood for eighteen years, namely, 56s. per week. There was, therefore, a difference of 16 per cent. On the principle laid down by the Committee, the salary should depend on the amount of work and the cost of living. He agreed with the hon. Member for Stockport that the first criterion was open to criticism. No doubt there was some justice in applying the criterion as to the cost of living. The question of work did not arise in this case. The work to be done in Glasgow was precisely the same as in London. He found from the Board of Trade Return that in regard to the principal commodities there was very little difference between prices in London and in Glasgow. There was a difference in the matter of house rent in favour of Glasgow. But according to the Board of Trade Return the combined figure showed a 1107 difference of only 6 per cent. in favour of Glasgow as compared with London. That certainly did not warrant a difference of 16 per cent. in wages. They all recognised the Postmaster-General's desire to bring about equality in this matter, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would respond to the appeal which had been made by so many Members that he should reconsider the question of the classification of the different towns.
§ *MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)
said he had listened to the debate with mixed feelings. If anybody imagined that all the Post Office employees of the country would rejoice at the findings of the Committee, he was mistaken. The hon. Member for Stoke had said that if the classification was not satisfactory there would be trouble and he desired also to say a few words on that point. The Postmaster-General had stated that the Government ought to be a good employer, and he wanted to show that if the recommendations of the Committee as to classification were carried out the Government was going to be far from a good employer. In Sunderland the minimum wage was going to be reduced from 19s. a week to 17s., and the maximum from 28s. to 25s. per week. They had been told that this was to be brought about by taking the amount of work performed and the cost of living in particular towns. He had gone very carefully into the Board of Trade Report on the cost of living, and he could not find any vestige of justification for the extreme treatment meted out to the Post Office servants in the town of Sunderland. According to the Board of Trade Return in this town, which was noted for what was known as its cottage properties, they were told that a one-roomed tenement house could be got for from 1s. 6d. to 2s.; a two-roomed house from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. per week; a three-roomed house for from 3s. 6d. to 5s.; and a four-roomed house from 5s. to 7s.; and a five-roomed house for 8s. per week. Yet in the same Board of Trade Report on which the Return as to house rents was based it was stated that in the poorest area of the town, where the corporation had built working-class tenements, they had to pay for a two-roomed house from 1108 3s. 9d. to 4s.; for a three-roomed house from 4s. 9d. to 5s. On the figures first quoted the Postal Department based their calculation of cost of living. The dwellings which the Corporation of Sunderland had built were let at a loss every year, and if they had desired to obtain a revenue from the property the rents would have been considerably higher than at the present time. He had had a letter that day from Sunderland, which stated that thirteen Post Office servants paid rents from 5s. 3d. to 6s. 10½d. for a three-roomed house, and fourteen paid from 6s. 4½d. to 9s. 3d. for a four roomed house, and two-roomed houses were rented at 4s. 6d. to 5s. 3d. by postmen. Therefore under the head of rents, the Report of the Board of Trade was misleading and ought not to be put forward as a justification for reducing the classification of the Post Office employees in Sunderland. He would like to know from whom the reporter to the Board of Trade got his information? Had he ever taken the trouble to look at the houses? As to cost of living in Sunderland, it was stated by the Board of Trade Report that it was on the whole a little lower than in London—94 per cent. as against 100 per cent. But what was the difference in wages to be? In Sunderland a minimum of 17s. and a maximum of 25s. per week as against about 31s. rising to 35s. in London. In other words, the cost of living in Sunderland was only, on their own showing, 6 per. cent, lower than in London, while the wages to be paid in London were much above those to be paid in Sunderland. Then it was stated that if coal was excluded the cost of living in Sunderland was equal to the cost of living of Post Office employees in London, yet, as he had said, the wages of the latter were much ahead of Sunderland. He insisted that there was no justification whatever for the Postmaster General taking the extreme step he had done in regard to classification in Sunderland. His argument was that if the Committee were so far wrong in regard to their findings in the case of Sunderland, they were similarly wrong in regard to other parts of the country. At any rate, he could see no reason why the Committee should arrive at the conclusion that living in a town twelve miles distant from Sunderland should cost 5s. per week 1109 more for the same class of employees. To say that living was higher in York, Derby, Norwich, Carlisle, and Bath than in Sunderland was absurd in the extreme. As to the payment on the unit system, he would take Devonport, which "was an Army and Navy town, where the money orders dealt with must be very large. A money order counted there as ten units as against one for a letter. There were only periodic states of pressure and tie work was dealt with by a staff working overtime. It was not fair to include such work for the purposes of comparison with such a town as Sunderland, and the same applied to any garrison town or naval station, which, apart from those circumstances, might be important, and the work was more regular. He was not going to advise the employees in Sunderland to accept for a single moment the findings of the Committee under any possible consideration. Those findings were absolutely incorrect, and they ought not to take such a large sum of money per week from the men of Sunderland. More equal wages ought to be paid. Talk of paying a Post Office employee from 17s. to 25s. a week; why, an ordinary labourer was paid 6d. per hour in Sunderland, or 25s. a week, without any responsibility whatever! In that town the tram conductors were paid 28s. 3d. per week, and yet it was held that the Post Office was an ideal service! He appealed to the Postmaster-General that before finally adopting this classification system he should consider the matter again very seriously. If the right hon. Gentleman analysed the figures on which the Report was based he would find that there was no justification for taking the extreme step he had done as to Sunderland.
§ *MR. SEAVERNS (Lambeth, Brixton)
said he did not propose to enter into the vexed question of classification, nor to pass any criticism on the Postmaster-General, who had rightly described his task in interpreting the Report of the Committee as a most difficult and delicate one. The right hon. Gentleman was on reasonably safe ground when he pointed out that the Committee had been set up after a long continued and most vociferous demand on the part of the Post Office employees of the country. 1110 He, however, would press on the right hon. Gentleman that a Committee dealing with an enormous variety of topics and a great number of postal and telegraph employees, must in the nature of things bring in a Report in which there would be some inaccuracies, some anomalies, and some inconsistencies. He suggested to the right hon. Gentleman, and he trusted he would he supported by the House, that a liberal interpretation should be given to that Report, so that hon. Members might have a reasonable and fair prospect of arriving at a final settlement of this difficult matter. There were two points which he wished to press upon the right hon. Gentleman's attention. The first had reference to the technical equipment of telegraphists. As he understood it, the form of test now required was first class in magnetism, and second class in telegraphy. The Committee recommended a "searching test "as a proof of technical efficiency, but the test which was adopted was not one set up by them, but by a Secretarial Committee of the Post Office, and it required first class in magnetism, first class in telegraphy, and first class in telephony, which was a very high and critical test indeed. He was informed that the manipulation test was so severe that more than 90 per cent. of the telegraphists could not pass it.
§ *MR. SEAVERNS
said he was glad his right hon. friend entertained that view, and, of course, he accepted what he said, but the information put before him by gentlemen who he thought were technical experts in the matter was that the test was one which could not be passed by an enormous majority of those who were now engaged in the telegraphic service. He would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to deal with that point either now or in his remarks later, because those for whom he was speaking were not desirous of being carping or critical, or unjust in the criticisms which they might pass upon the Report or the right hon. Gentleman's interpretation of it. He might further remind the right hon. Gentleman, if he would allow him that a deputation waited upon him representing those interested, and they went away with a strong impression 1111 on their minds that the right hon. Gentleman so far as existing employees—telegraphists now in the employ of the Post Office—were concerned, would not require them to pass a more difficult test than that which was now imposed. He would further point out that while he entirely accepted the right hon. Gentleman's ground that he was bound to follow the recommendations of the Hobhouse Committee, this was not a question of accepting those recommendations, but purely one of how they should be interpreted, and the details of the way in which they should be carried out. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give them some assurance on that point. The second point he had to raise was that there had been an increase given in the maximum of the telegraphists in the Central Office, London, but that increase did not apply to the telegraphists in the district offices in London. He was dealing only with London because he was particularly interested in it. He should like to ask whether the telegraphists engaged in the district offices did not pass the same examinations, were not required to live up to precisely the same standard of efficiency; did they not have the same hours of work; were they not put under the same conditions of employment, and did they not have to bear the same cost of living. That was an anomaly which he ventured to say was one of the very gross and glaring anomalies of the Report. It did not surprise him, because it seemed to him that a Report dealing with so vast a subject must necessarily contain some anomalies and inconsistencies. He would appeal to his right hon. friend to give some reply also on this point, otherwise a great injustice would be done to a great body of deserving men.
§ *MR. STAVELEY-HILL (Staffordshire, Kingswinford)
said he did not desire to detain the House for more than a few moments, but he wished to press the right hon. Gentleman for some answer to the representations which had been made to him with regard to the different towns in Great Britain with reference to telegraphists. They had heard that a rise of 3s. a week had been given to the telegraphists in the London Central Office, and the Select Committee, 1112 whose arduous labours had now finished, had made some recommendations with regard to the provinces; but they had neglected six very large towns, Edinburgh, Dublin, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, In those towns these unfortunate people still remained at the same maximum which was given to them in, and which had been in existence since, 1890. They had heard a good deal about the cost of living, and he was not disposed to enter into the question as to the difference between the cost of living in any one of these towns and London, but it was apparent that a telegraphist living in a town such as Birmingham, which had heavy rates, where there were few houses in the immediate vicinity of the Post Office, and when he had to go and live outside the town and make the travelling expenses to and from his work part of his daily living, was, in that respect, sometimes very much worse off than his brethren in London. The Select Committee stated that the reason why they gave this 3s. to London telegraphists was to compensate them for slowness in promotion as compared with other employees in the Post Office. But that applied equally well to the provinces as to London. At the present moment he believed there were 82, and in the current year there would be 100, telegraphists who had served for twenty years in the Post Office at Birmingham who would have to remain at 56s. instead of getting the rise which their more fortunate brethren in London would obtain. Might he ask the right hon. Gentleman to compare that with the rate of wage paid by the great cable companies, who had no monopoly, who had to pay a dividend to their shareholders and run the risk of competition? He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give these points his consideration. The Postmaster-General should remember that the Committee recommended an increase of £52 a year to the junior engineer clerks, which was to take in and include the cost of living, and he asked why should the telegraphist be excluded. There was one other point he would refer to in regard to the classification. There was a town of considerable importance in the Midlands—Wolverhampton—which he did not 1113 find mentioned in the classification at all. There in a large and growing town these persons had to serve for 48s. a week, and were not so well off even as the first people he had mentioned in Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman was not bound hand and foot by the Report of the Committee so that he could not consider the matter in detail, and he trusted that he would give the consideration which it deserved to the case of these deserving persons to whom he had referred.
§ *MR. VIVIAN (Birkenhead)
said his speech would be a very brief one, but he desired to emphasise one point which had been put with regard to the classification. He would only put the case of the town which he represented, which was quite natural, because he knew it best. Birkenhead adjoins Liverpool and it was strange therefore that the postmen of Birkenhead by this classification should be reduced 3s. below Liverpool.
§ *MR. VIVIAN
said he quite understood about the existing postmen, but at any rate the standard would be lowered by 3s.
§ *MR. VIVIAN
said there was no difference at all between the cost of living in Birkenhead and in Liverpool; indeed, he thought it could be proved that as far as certain things were concerned they could be obtained more cheaply in Liverpool. It seemed to him that the Committee had endeavoured to do an impossible thing, and that was to get a general rule which would fit all circumstances, with the result that they had got all these inequalities. He pressed the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the matter. This rule to solve all the difficulties was not one which worked equitably in different towns. It did not work equitably in Birkenhead, where they would have this strange condition of things. A postman working at Liverpool might live at Birkenhead and he would have the higher standard, but a postman working at Birkenhead might live at Liverpool and he would 1114 have the lower standard. The fact was that it was for most economic purposes one town. It was not two towns, and it was impossible for men working in the postal department of the two places in this way to meet each other day by day and to settle down to the inequality he referred to. He did not join in any threat on behalf of the postmen, because he believed that if their principles were pressed constitutionally and reasonably the right hon. Gentleman and those who worked with him would discover some method of getting over those exceptions to the general rule which the Committee had tried to work out under this scheme.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I think I may as well deal with the points which have been already raised, although I shall be glad to answer further questions if they are asked. I will deal with the question of my hon. friend the Member for Brixton, who did not, I think, hear my opening remarks, because I dealt very fully with the subject he referred to from his point of view, namely, a technical allowance. The Committee recommended that there should be a searching test which should be a bona fide test of ability. This obviously means that the present examination, which is an easy one should be made much stiffer than it is. This is not a question upon which I can pronounce an opinion, having no technical knowledge of how far the examination test which we have proposed is fair and reasonable. My own view is that those telegraphists who are anxious and desire to show their ability and to put their back into their work should be able to pass the test. I am advised that of the present telegraphists a very considerable number can pass this test, but it is a matter of experiment both in regard to the examination and the nature of the test, and I shall keep it under my attention and if I find it is too high I shall certainly consider the question of lowering it.
§ *MR. SEAVERNS
inquired whether the right hon. Gentleman would consider that men of forty or fifty years who had been fifteen or twenty years in the service lost some of the elasticity of youth.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I am afraid the hon. Gentleman was not attending to what I was saying. The question is how many men will pass. My hon. friend said only 10 per cent. I have no desire to impose such a test as that. I will take the whole matter under my observation and see that it is properly carried out. But I desire to make this clear, that we accept the recommendation of the Committee that the test shall be a real test of the technical knowledge of telegraphy. Then my hon. friend asked as to the position of the country telegraphists as apart from those in the Central Telegraph Office. All I can say with regard to the various questions raised by my hon. friends behind me and opposite, in this regard, is that I must found myself on the recommendations of the Committee on this point. They had evidence before them on the question. They considered it very carefully and made definite recommendations. In regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Brixton this is the decision of the Committee, paragraph 227—Taking into consideration the fact that the nature of the work and the hours of duty are less onerous for male counter clerks and telegraphists in the Metropolitan area than they are for telegraphists in the Central Telegraph Office your Committee are of opinion that the present maximum for counter clerks and telegraphists is adequate.That is definite, and we are acting on that recommendation. The same applies to the case of the large towns to which my attention has been drawn. The Committee took evidence on the point. At paragraph 247 they say—Evidence was tendered to your Committee on behalf of the staff at the six largest offices, and also on behalf of the other offices" divided and "amalgamated" by the Postal Telegraph Clerks' Association, by the United Kingdom Postal Clerks' Association, and by the Association of Irish Post Office Clerks.And with that before them, and the evidence given by the Central Telegraph Office, they came to this conclusion, that taking into consideration the facts of the conditions of service in the Central Telegraph Office the scale of payment for officers entering the class of established telegraphist at the Central Telegraph Office should be a scale which raises their maximum pay by 3s. a week. I take it that one of the chief reasons why 1116 they made that increase was that they proceeded to reduce the number of superior places in the Central Telegraph Office. An hon. Gentleman opposite said that the chances of promotion were no better in some of the large towns than they were in the Central Telegraph Office. It was on that, as I understand their Report, that the Committee largely based their proposals for increase, because in paragraph 420 they say—The number of supervising posts already existing in connection with the Central Telegraph Office is excessive and they should in future be strictly limited in numbers and should consist only of specially efficient men selected by stringent tests for both supervising and other duties.So I take it, judging the Report as a whole, they came to the conclusion, after looking at the whole of the facts, to increase the pay in the Central Telegraph Office and not in the large towns. I am bound to accept the recommendation of the Committee on this point. This is one of the questions to which I referred in my opening remarks. Various classes come to me on one point and another, and if I go beyond the recommendations of the Committee in one matter I cannot refuse to reopen them in another, which would involve the reopening of the whole question. Under the circumstances I found myself on the facts and conclusions arrived at. To those conclusions I adhere.
§ *MR. McCRAE
Am I to understand that the reason for this difference in the Central Telegraph Office was not the cost of living or the conditions of work, but because there is not now the chance of promotion in the Central Telegraph Office?
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
The Committee came to the conclusion that the duties in the Central Telegraph Office were more onerous in their nature than those in the large towns, and at the same time they were reducing the chance of promotion, and for that reason, I take it, they gave this increase in the one case and not in the other. A great deal has been said about the reclassification. Reclassification is bound to lead to a considerable amount of change in the position of particular towns; and cases where it has resulted in reduction in certain towns 1117 have been brought to my attention in this House. I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Stockport say he himself did not agree with the principle of reclassification; but the Committee in paragraphs 258 and 341 recommended it in most specific and definite terms, and their recommendations I have endeavoured to carry out. The reclassification recommended by the Committee, as I understand, is intended to be on the same basis for the different grades concerned. They take as the basis the units of work plus the cost of living in the various towns. I have no knowledge of the cost of living in any town except such information as is supplied by the Returns of the Board of Trade. But if in any particular place the Board of Trade can be persuaded that they have made a mistake, and they inform me that the cost of living there is either higher or lower than they had stated it to be, that is a case which I should be willing at once to take into consideration in dealing with the classification. My hon. friend the Member for Stoke suggested that when the classification was carried out there should be a revision from time to time. With that I agree. But whether it should be at stated periods or at various times is a matter for consideration. The whole thing is that classification should be determined by the volume of work and cost of living, and if it is shown at any time that the classification no longer corresponds to the facts, then it should be revised.
§ MR. JOHN WARD
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would fix a time when reclassification should take place.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I hope the hon. Gentleman will not press me as to a particular time now. I think the hon. Member said something about four years, but I see no reason for revision at any particular, definite' time, It might be better that it should be less than four years, or sporadic rather than systematic. I should like to consider that. So far as I am concerned I have accepted the definite proposals of the Committee in regard to classification. At present we have several different classifications for different purposes; and if we are going to simplify; those classifications obviously' the effect must 1118 be adverse as well as beneficial. You cannot have unification without some transference from one class to another. I wish to make that quite clear, because I think there has been some misunderstanding about what is taking place. But in this question of classification I can only take as regards the cost of living I the Board of Trade Returns, and as regards the application of these Returns to the volume of work, the proposals of the Committee. There were one or two questions raised by other hon. Members, but I do not think they are matters which I need discuss. There was one of great importance to me, but it is a somewhat delicate question. It is that of the relations between the Post Office and the Treasury, It is a very large question, and one some; what delicate for me to discuss. Naturally, anyone who has fetters upon him would like to have them struck off. That is as far as I can go with the question.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I think I indicated in my opening statement that that is a matter in which I should probably coincide with the views of the Committee.
§ MR. CLAUDE HAY
asked if he might remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Committee made very definite and specific recommendations with regard to the Office of Works. Did he propose to carry them out?
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I said they are recommendations to which we have not yet practically agreed, not having had an-opportunity of really considering them, but they are matters to which the various Departments will give consideration with a view to meeting the recommendations of the Select Committee as far as we can. There may be points, of course, on which hon. Members dissent from the recommendations, and possibly from the method with which I have applied them, but I think it is quite clear there is no Party feeling in the question. I think we all feel that in asking the Committee to vote such a large sum there should be practical unanimity.
§ MR. JAMES O'CONNOR (Wicklow, W.)
said he wished to draw attention to some recommendations which appeared to have been overlooked. The Select Committee thought that casual labour and the number of auxiliary postmen ought to be restricted, and gradually reduced. The Postmaster-General had made a passing reference to the question, and said it was a very difficult problem. He could not see that there would be any difficulty about a problem of this kind; and, after all, what were Governments for but to solve difficult problems? If the Postmaster-General would only make up his mind to try and solve it, he had very little doubt that he would succeed in doing so. The Committee made an urgent recommendation that the Postmaster-General should pay particular attention to the position of auxiliary postmen in Ireland, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman had taken no notice of it.
§ MR. JAMES O'CONNOR
asked if the right hon. Gentleman had any intention of taking any notice of the recommendation. He did not think he had stated anything to that effect.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
Yes, I did. What I said was that my object was to reduce auxiliary labour as much as possible. I cannot reduce it altogether, because of the difficulty of arranging duties Otherwise, I am entirely in agreement with my hon. friend.
§ MR. JAMES O'CONNOR
said he understood that the right hon. Gentleman would like to reduce it, but he asked him if he could not commence to make an effort to do so. He had not heard anyone during the debate make the slightest reference to this auxiliary postman, who appeared to be an outlaw in the service and regarded as a mere cypher. He wished to know if the Postmaster-General had any intention of carrying out the urgent recommendations of the Committee in this matter. In Ireland the position of the auxiliary postman was a very miserable one. He was paid about 4d. per hour, and had to walk from ten to fifteen miles a day in 1120 all weathers. Very few of them, he understood, reached 8s. per week. That was really a sweating system. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Government should be a model employer, but that was not a model system of employment which compelled a man to walk from ten to twenty miles a day for hardly 8s. per week. That was not how a good private employer would treat his servants. The Committee mentioned the inclusion of the postal servants in the Workmen's Compensation Act. He wanted to know whether that was the reason the sick pay of auxiliary postmen had been reduced by half. For some years ex-telegraph messengers had been used as auxiliaries. How was it that the Department, after using these telegraph messengers for years and turning them into auxiliary postmen, got rid of them? Was there any better way of swelling the ranks of the unemployed than such treatment? What was to become of these ex-telegraph boys who had been serving as auxiliary postmen? They had no trade or occupation that they could rely upon, and their chances of getting employment were very few. He thought their case ought to be looked into with a view to providing them with some employment in a Government Department. Then the stripe system was a very bad one. It was a clumsy device, and it seemed to him to create a false idea as to the amount of the maximum wages obtainable by postmen. The Postmaster-General's statement appeared to him to be quite illusory, and he thought if he looked into the matter he would find that the benefit of the slight alteration was intended for the men who were not yet in the service, and that those who had been in it for many years would get no benefit at all. On the contrary, some of the older postmen would be losers by the new arrangement. If the Postmaster-General was reasonable and logical he would make the stripe system retrospective. He thought it was not unreasonable to ask him to resort to the Tweedmouth system and establish retrospective conditions. If the right hon. gentleman was in sympathy with the auxiliary postmen he had a simple method of improving their lot. He could gradually provide an establishment for them. That was the point he wished to press upon him. He hoped he would not overlook the recommendations 1121 of the Commissioners with regard to these men.
§ *MR. WILES (Islington, S.)
said that everybody seemed to have appreciated the tremendous labours which the Hobhouse Committee had undertaken; but he thought he would be able to point out a few more inequalities in their Report. Considering the immense mass of workers and the intricacies and ramifications of the postal departments, this ought not to be very difficult. The hon. Member for Stockport had stated that the maximum of every class had been increased, or rather that nearly every class had been increased.
§ *MR. WARDLE
said he did not say that the maximum of every class had been increased. What he did say was that the conditions in regard to a certain part of their scale had been changed.
§ *MR. WILES
said that at any rate some hon. Members had stated distinctly that the maximum had been increased in nearly every class in the postal service. He desired some further consideration to be given to the postal porters—a class who were almost entirely employed in London and who came under Zone I. He might mention that nearly all the postal porters were old Army or Navy men. They had their minimum increased from 23s. to 25s. and he was pleased to notice that they had now a now avenue opened to them in something like eighty additional Lobby appointments. What he wished to point out was that their maximum had not been touched at all. In the evidence which the postal porters put forward before the Committee, perhaps they made rather a large claim, because they asked to be raised by two annual increments to 40s. per week. Nearly all the other classes had been increased as regards their maximum, many of them during the last twenty-five years, but it was a fact that the postal porters had received no increase in their maximum since the Departmental Committee of 1882. Up to that time their maximum was 27s. per week, and they were then raised to 30s. per week. Since the year 1882 many reasons could be advanced in favour of the claim which they put forward for a further rise in their wages. In the first place rents and rates in London and its suburbs had gone up, and the 1122 standard of living and the necessities of Londoners generally were now much greater than they were twenty-six years ago. It should not be overlooked that postal porters were obliged to live near their work. He believed that there were something like 750 of these men employed at Mount Pleasant, 350 were employed at the General Post Office, and the remaining 300 or 400 were scattered about the district offices. Not only had the cost of living and housing increased as affecting these men, but their responsibilities and their duties were much greater than they used to be. It was well known that they now had much more important work to do, and considerable changes in their duties and responsibilities had occurred during the last ten years. Originally their work as porters simply consisted of transferring the mails in bulk, but now they had to perform certain extra duties such as stamping and assisting the sorters, and they often were entrusted with large amounts of money and other valuable posted matter in the vans which were under their charge. He hoped the Postmaster-General would consider the claims of the postal porters, and see if it was not possible to put them in a better position with regard to their maximum pay. There was one other matter he would like to refer to, and that was the "trip allowance," which was dealt with on page 67 of the new circular which had been recently issued. The trip allowance for a postman travelling in a railway mail van for a long distance which necessitated his taking lodgings and sleeping out and taking his meals away from home, was 3s. for the shortest distance. There was another class of servants who travelled in the same van, and that class, for some reason or other, was allowed 4s. Now, it was almost impossible really to classify these men who had to travel in the mail van together, and he hoped the Postmaster-General would see the advisability of giving all the men who travelled together in the same mail van the same amount of trip allowance. He noticed that on page 47 of the Report the Committee had the case of postmen's Christmas boxes before them. He did not think anybody had up to the present mentioned this matter in the debate. Personally, he very much regretted that the Hobhouse Committee, who he expected would have reported unanimously against what he 1123 considered was a most objectionable practice, recommended that the system of Christmas boxes should be allowed to go on. He felt that Christmas boxes were not only a tax on the public, but, in his opinion, it was a practice which lowered the dignity of British Civil servants to have their salaries made up by "touting" round at a particular time of the year asking for gratuities. He had hoped that this practice, would have been altered, and he still had confidence that the Postmaster-General during his term of office would be able to deal with this important question, of doing away altogether with what he considered the most objectionable system of Christmas boxes, which were looked upon as part of wages. There was just one other point which he would like to touch upon, and it was the question of civil rights, which came before the Committee, and was dealt with on page 2 of the Report.
Order, order! I must point out to the hon. Member that the question of civil rights as affecting the postal service cannot be discussed under this Supplementary Vote.
§ *MR. WILES
said he had heard several hon. Members mention the question of civil rights, and in one case an hon. Member was called to order, and in the other case he was permitted to make a few remarks about the subject when the Chairman was presiding. He hoped that on the general Vote for the Post Office he would have an opportunity of discussing the question of civil rights. He would conclude his remarks by asking the Postmaster-General to be good enough to consider the matters he had put before him, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would see his way during the revision to adjust these inequalities.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (Liverpool, West Derby)
said he had had the advantage of listening to speeches made in the debate by the Postmaster-General, and Members could not express themselves too gratefully for the extreme courtesy with which he had dealt with all the observations which had been made on both sides of the House, as well as for the ability with which he had consistently discharged the duties of his office. Perhaps he might be allowed to express the sense of obligation the country was under to 1124 the Committee who had spent so much time and taken so much trouble in connection with the investigation of the very difficult subject with which they were now dealing. His hon. friend the Member for the Hoxton Division, had given an illustration of some of the absurdities which would result from the adoption of this Report, and one of them was this. There were some men working under the Post Office in the Lombard Street Post Office who were receiving a maximum of 62s. a week, whereas other men working under similar conditions, and doing the same work in Threadneedle Street Post Office were receiving a maximum of 3s. a week more, simply because they happened to be working on the Central Office staff. He was aware that this point had been called into question, but he understood that there was not the slightest doubt that anomalies like this had been created by adopting the Report. Equally, there was not the slightest doubt that whatever the Report had been, and whatever the Postmaster-General attempted to do in connection with his arrangements, a number of anomalies would inevitably be left. They could not make any alteration in any one particular case without creating a series of monopolies over the whole service, in regard to which some servants would be justly entitled to complain. Some of them complained because their wages were not increased, and others complained because somebody else had got an increase and they had not, and so this state of things went on. He thought there were two serious points to which strong exception ought to be taken which arose out of the Report and out of what the Postmaster-General proposed to do. In respect to these points, he proposed after the explanation which the Postmaster-General had given to more a reduction of the Vote by £100, because there was no other way of testing the feeling of the Committee. His first point was this. The Select Committee had limited the benefits of the new-arrangements to the new comers. His opinion was that the Committee intended that the benefits which they were advising should be conferred upon the existing staff, and he felt quite sure that that was what they had in their mind. They were not dealing with the question of the state of affairs that might arise 1125 twenty years hence, or the state of affairs that might be expected to arise in two or three years time. What he understood the Committee was appointed for was distinctly to deal with the existing staff, but what had happened? He thought the public would be very much surprised to hear that the existing staff were to be entirely cut out and passed over, and would have to finish the rest of their service under existing circumstances, and under grievances which they had so long complained of, whilst the new comers who entered the service were to be the happy people who would be benefited by the increases which were suggested in this Vote. He believed it was a fact that no one in the Postal Telegraph Service to-day, over the age of twenty-one years, on the present staff, would be improved in his position. If that was the case, it seemed to him that not only the Committee which had gone into these points and made recommendations upon them, and told them what they considered was the right thing to do, but the whole country would be grossly deceived with regard to this matter. His other point was that, in addition to London, there were fourteen large and important towns in England, including such places as Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, and other large towns, in which the telegraphists were to have no improvement whatever in, their rate of pay. This referred not merely to the present telegraphists but also to those who would be employed in the future. He had been listening for some hours to the speeches made by hon. Members, and they all appeared to him to confirm the statement that the intention of the Committee was to give a substantial and decent increase in wages to practically every grade in the service. There was, however, one grade which they had left out altogether, and that was the telegraphists in fourteen large towns in the United Kingdom. What made this anomaly more striking was that while they had ignored the telegraphists in those fourteen large towns, they had increased the maximum wages of the telegraphists at the Central Office, London. He did not suppose that there was throughout the country a single telegraph operator who would complain that the telegraphists in London at the Central Office were going to get 3s. a week more; but the 1126 anomaly was leaving the town scale of wages below the level of other places. The pay was 9s. a week lower for telegraphists in the provinces than at the Central Office, London. That difference was not accounted for by the difference in the cost of living, and it certainly was not-accounted for by the extra work that a man in London did as compared with similar work done in Manchester. He did not think there was any satisfactory reason for a difference of 9s. a week in the pay of telegraphists in London and Birmingham. He strongly held that the existing staff were quite as much entitled to benefit by the proposals they were discussing as posterity, and he hoped the scale would be revised. On these grounds whilst thanking the Postmaster-General for his courtesy, he begged to move the reduction of this vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £259,900, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Watson Rutherford).
§ MR. LONSDALE (Armagh Mid.)
said he had no desire to detain the Committee for more than a moment or two, but he wished to draw directly the attention of the Postmaster-General to the case of the city of Armagh in reference to the new scheme of classification which had been adopted there. He understood that in the city of Armagh the Armagh Post Office had been placed in Class 5, which was the lowest rank existing in the United Kingdom. He ventured to think that that was not in accord with the dignity of the city which was, after all, the ecclesiastical metropolis of Ireland. Such a proposal on the part of the Post Office detracted very much from the importance of Armagh as a commercial city. He understood that this revising of the Armagh Post Office and reducing it to the lowest class had an important bearing upon the position and prospects upon the officials employed there.
§ *MR. LONSDALE
said with all due respect he ventured to say that it was not a sub-office. The officials employed in the Armagh Post Office would not derive any benefit from the £500,000 which the new scale of remuneration was estimated 1127 to cost, and therefore he hoped that the Postmaster - General would take this matter into his consideration. He wished to point out that Armagh was one of the most important provincial offices in Ireland. Besides being engaged in the general postal work of the locality, it was also an Inland Revenue centre for the distribution of Inland Revenue stamps and the performance of work connected with the Court of Probate. He ventured to think that it was a great hardship that the men employed in this important office should be shut out from all participation in the benefits which were being conferred under the new scheme.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said it was impossible for him to keep the names of all Post Offices in his head, but he thought the hon. Member was mistaken in assuming that it was necessarily going to be placed under Class 5.
§ MR. LONSDALE
said he was in a position to state that the officials of the Armagh Post Office were under the impression that the right hon. Gentleman had definitely decided to place them under Class 5.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I do not think that is so, and I am pretty clear in my mind about it. That office is, I think, in suspense as regards the postmen.
§ MR. LONSDALE
said that if the Armagh Post Office was in suspense it was all the more important that he should deal with the matter, and deal with the great importance of this particular office. As he had already stated it was the ecclesiastical metropolis of Ireland, a very important military centre, and also a most important commercial centre, and surely it would be a very great hardship to inflict upon this important and ancient city the indignity of being placed upon the very lowest rank in connection with the Post Office. He desired to point out that there were men employed in that office who had received no increase of wages for the last ten years. Complaints had been made to him that the staff employed there had been put off from all participation in the advantages offered by this new scheme. He gathered from the circular which had been issued by the Post Office to the Post Office Staff that, to use the Postmaster-General's 1128 own words, "He is not at present able to complete his inquiries into the case of the smaller class." He would like the right hon. Gentleman to inform the Committee whether a definite conclusion had been arrived at with regard to the position of the Armagh Post Office, and whether it was going to be the subject of reconsideration. He would be very glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that the matter had not yet been definitely settled.
§ MR. LONSDALE
said that Armagh was an important commercial city of great historical interest, and it was the centre of a very important district which was really entitled to be placed in a higher position than it would occupy if placed under Class 5. This, to him, was a very important question, and he hoped the Postmaster General would favourably consider what he had said.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I think I am correct in saying that Armagh is in suspense as regards the postmen. I have no doubt, as the hon. Member has stated, that Armagh is an important town, and I will see that the case is considered. I will look into the matter, and I think I may safely say that nothing as yet has been definitely decided.
§ MR. SEDDON (Lancashire, Newton)
said he would like to know definitely what the attitude of the Post Office was in regard to the statement that the benefits were being confined to new comers. Some of them believed that the increases were only prospective, that the present staff were to be penalised because they were on the staff, and that those who were coming on in the future would get all the benefits. Would the Pos master-General give the Committee a definite statement that those already on the staff were not going to be excluded from the increases in wages If that point were cleared up, a good deal of opposition to the Report of the Committee would be removed. If, on the other hand, it was true that the present staff were to be 1129 penalised simply because they were on the staff, it was a gross injustice, and for that reason he would be obliged to support the Motion to reduce the Vote.
§ MR. R. DUNCAN (Lanarkshire, Govan)
said the Postmaster-General undoubtedly possessed a quality which entitled him to respect, that of modesty, but it was a quality which might easily be too conspicuous in the head of a great public department. In this and in other matters he paid too great deference to the decisions of others, instead of exercising his own power and judgment. Doubtless the Committee's Report was a well-digested one, but it was open to question in several respects, and was not above amendment. In these days when we were threatened with great extensions of State service, it was well to keep in mind one marked distinction between State service and private employment. The servant of the State as a rule aimed at a steady and permanent career, with a steady, if slow, improvement in his conditions of service. In private enterprise, on the other hand, employers and employed were in one boat, depending for prosperity on the encouragement of the public outside, through voluntary purchase of their pro ducts. Reductions in private enterprises were sometimes necessary, and willingly undertaken by all the workers, to bring back the tide of work and prosperity. The State worker was in a different position, and to submit him to a reduction in pay or status, was likely to take the heart out of him as a worker. For these reasons he thought some of the proposals unfortunate. He also desired to record his opinion that the increases recommended for the central staff should be extended to the great provincial towns, otherwise there would be a difference between them which justice did not warrant.
§ MR. T. DAVIES (Fulham)
called the attention of the Postmaster-General to the position of the factory employees who were engaged on piecework. He did not gather from the Report that the Committee definitely recommended that piecework should be done away with. There were workers of experience in the factory who sometimes did not earn more than eight shillings a 1130 week. Of course, they sometimes earned a good deal more, but he thought that no one in the Government service who had to live in London should be paid only eight shillings a week. It would not be allowed in any private service. There ought to be a minimum which pieceworkers should draw every week, whatever it might be. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would look into this particular matter. He desired also to call attention to the question of medical attendance, and to the grievance which was felt by men who lived more than throe miles away from the medical officer of the district to which they were attached. The Committee recommended that the medical area should be the area in which the men lived. Medical attendance was not required in the office during the day, because a man would do his best to pull through his work and get home. In the middle of the night, or next day, he might want medical attendance. He might then find that he was six or seven miles away from the medical officer. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to consider this matter with the view to some better arrangement being made.
§ *MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
appealed to the Committee to allow the discussion on this Vote to close. He would give his careful attention to the matters which had been brought to his notice by hon. Members.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
remarked that the Opposition would be neglecting their duty if they did not criticise the Vote. He pointed out that although the addition asked for to salaries and wages for Post Office establishments in England for the new year was £190,000 and for Scotland £47,000, only £22,000 was put down for Ireland. He had expected the Nationalists to draw attention to this matter, but they had not done so. Whenever there was any wrong to Ireland to be righted they were always absent.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."1131
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 200, Noes 47. (Division List No. 18.)1051
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Gill, A. H.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Cleland, J. W.||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew. W.)|
|Agnew, George William||Clough, William||Glendinning, R. C.|
|Alden, Percy||Clynes, J. R.||Glover, Thomas|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gooch, George Peabody|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst)||Grant, Conic|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Cowan, W. H.||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Cox, Harold||Gulland, John W.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Crombie, John William||Hall, Frederick|
|Barker, John||Crossley, William J.||Halpin, J.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Cullinan, J.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Barnard, E. B.||Curran, Peter Francis||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Beale, W. P.||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Devlin, Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Belloc, Hiliare Joseph Peter R.||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Bennett, E. N.||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N)||Henry, Charles S.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'r)||Dillon, John||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Dobson, Thomas W.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Black, Arthur W.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Boland, John||Duckworth, James||Hogan, Michael|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Brace, William||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Hudson, Walter|
|Branch, James||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Bright, J. A.||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Elibank, Master of||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Erskine, David G||Jackson, R. S.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Essex, R. W.||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Burke, E. Haviland.||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Jenkins, J.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Everett, R. Lacey||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Fenwick, Charles||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Ferens, T. R.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Flynn, James Christopher||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Cameron, Robert||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jowett, F. W.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Joyce, Michael|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Fuller, John Michael F.||Kavanagh, Walter M.|
|Chance, Frederick William||Fullerton, Hugh||Kearley Hudson E.|
|Kekewich, Sir George||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Kelley, George D.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Kettle, Thomas Michael||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Snowden, P.|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Laidlaw, Robert||O'Grady, J.||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Lambert, George||O'Malley, William||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Lamont, Norman||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Partington, Oswald||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Perks, Robert William||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)||Summerbell, T.|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pollard, Dr.||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Power, Patrick Joseph||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen. E.)|
|Lough, Thomas||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Lupton, Arnold||Pullar, Sir Robert||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Radford, G. H.||Thorne, William|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Rainy, A. Rolland||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Raphael, Herbert H.||Toulmin, George|
|Mackarness, Frederic C.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')||Verney, F. W.|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Reddy, M.||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Vivian, Henry|
|MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wadsworth, J.|
|M'Callum, John M.||Rees, J. D.||Walker H. De R. (Leicester)|
|M'Crae, George||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th||Walsh, Stephen|
|M'Kean, John||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Walters, John Tudor|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Richardson, A.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Ridsdale, E. A.||Ward, W. Dudley (South'mpton)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Roberts, Charles' H. (Lincoln)||Wardle, George J.|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Waring, Walter|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Marnham, F. J.||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee)||Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmann'n|
|Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'd||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Massie, J.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Meagher, Michael||Robinson, S.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Menzies, Walter||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Roche, John (Galway, East)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Montagu, E. S.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Mooney, J. J.||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Rose, Charles Day||Wiles, Thomas|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rowlands, J.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Muldoon, John||Runciman, Walter||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Williamson, A.|
|Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Murray, James||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Myer, Horatio||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Napier, T. B.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)||Seddon, J.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Nicholls, George||Seely, Colonel||Wodehouse, Lord|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Shackleton, David James||Wood T. M'Kinnon|
|Nolan, Joseph||Shaw, Charles Edw, (Stafford)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Nuttall, Harry||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey.||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A. (Wore.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers.|
|Banner, John S. Harmood.||Clive, Percy Archer||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Faber, George Denison (York)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Courthope, G. Loyd||Fell, Arthur|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Gardner, Ernest|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Craik, Sir Henry||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Cross, Alexander||Guinness, Walter Edward|
|Haddock, George B.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Magnus, Sir Philip||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Starkey, John R.|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Morpeth, Viscount||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh)|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Percy, Earl||Thomson, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark)|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W.||Ratcliff, Major R. F.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham||Ronaldshay, Earl of||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir. Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Forster.|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin S.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
Question put, and agreed to.
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Gulland, John W.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Agnew, George William||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Hall, Frederick||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Allen Charles P. (Stroud)||Halpin, J.||Partington, Oswald|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Baker Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Harmsworth Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Hart-Davis, T.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Pollard, Dr.|
|Barker, John||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Barnard, E. B.||Hayden, John Patrick||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Hemmerde, Edward George||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Radford, G. H.|
|Beale, W. P.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Henry, Charles S.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Bell, Richard||Higham, John Sharp||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Hodge, John||Reddy, M.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Hogan, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Holt, Rehard Dinning||Redmond, William Clare)|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Branch, James||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Richardson, A.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hyde, Clarendon||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Brunner, J. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Jackson, R. S.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Robertson, Sir G Scott (Bradford|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jones, William Carnarvonshire||Robinson, S.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Joyce, Michael||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Kearley, Hudson E.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Kekewich, Sir George||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Kettle, Thomas Michael||Rose, Charles Day|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Sears, J. E.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Laidlaw, Robert||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Clough, William||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Shackleton, David James|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Sheehan, Daniel, Daniel|
|Collins, Sir W. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Lough, Thomas||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Corbett, C. H (Sussex, E. Gr'nst'd||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Cox, Harold||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.||Thompson, J. W. H (Somerset, E|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||M'Callum, John M.||Tillett, Louis John|
|Crossley, William J.||M'Crae, George||Torrance, Sir. A. M.|
|Cullinan, J.||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Toulmin, George|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||M'Killop, W.||Vivian, Henry|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||M'Micking, Major G.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Maddison, Frederick||Walsh, Stephen|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Massie, J.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Meagher, Michael||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent|
|Dillon, John||Menzies, Walter||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Micklem, Nathaniel||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Duckworth, James||Montagu, E. S.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Duffy, William J.||Mooney, J. J.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Edwards Clement (Denbigh)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Erskine, David C.||Muldoon, John||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Essex, R. W.||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Myer, Horatio||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nicholls, George||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Nicholson, Charles N (Doncast'r||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Nolan, Joseph|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Nuttall, Harry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES— Mr. J. A. Pease and Mr. Whitley.|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid|
|Gooch, George Peabody||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Forster, Henry William||M'Arthur, Charles|
|Bethell, Sir J. H (Essex, Romf'rd||Gill, A. H.||O'Grady, J.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Glover, Thomas||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Guinness, Walter Edward||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hamilton, Marquess of||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hills, J. W.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Seddon, J.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hudson, Walter||Summerbell, T.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hunt, Rowland||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Jenkins, J.||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Craig, Capt. James (Down, F.).||Jowett, F. W.||Wiles, Thomas.|
|Cross, Alexander||Kelley, George D.|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Dalyrmple, Viscount||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.— Mr. T. L. Corbett and Mr. Fell.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
§ Question put accordingly, "That a sum, not exceeding £259,900, be granted for the said Service."1134
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 11; Noes, 195. (Division List No. 19.)1135
|Cleland, J. W.||Hunt, Rowland||Wiles, Thomas|
|Cross, Alexander||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||M'Arthur, Charles||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Mr. Watson Rutherford and Mr. Seddon.|
|Hills, J. W.||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool. Walton|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Agnew, George William||Cawley, Sir Frederick||Gill, A. H.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Glover, Thomas|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Clough, William||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Gooch, George Peabody|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Grant, Corrie|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Guinness, Walter Edward|
|Barker, John||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Gulland, John W.|
|Barnard, E. B.||Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Hall, Frederick|
|Barnes, G. N.||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Cory, Sir Clifford John||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Beale, W. P.||Courthope, G. Loyd||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Cox, Harold||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Bell, Richard||Cremer, Sir William Randal||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Crossley, William J.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Bennett, E. N.||Curran, Peter Francis||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Dalrymple, Viscount||Henry, Charles S.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H (Essex, Romf'rd||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Bethell, T. R, (Essex, Maldon)||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hodge, John|
|Branch, James||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Horridge, Thomas Gardiner|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Duckworth, James||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Brodie, H. C.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Hudson, Walter|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Erskine, David C.||Jackson, R. S.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Essex, R. W.||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Everett, R. Lacey.||Jenkins, J.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Fenwick, Charles||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Ferens, T. R.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Fullerton, Hugh||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Jowett, F. W.||O'Grady, J.||Snowden, P.|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Partington, Oswald||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Kelley, George D.||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Pollard, Dr.||Summerbell, T.|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Taylor John W. (Durham)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Radford, G. H.||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Raphael, Herbert H.||Toulmin, George|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wadsworth, J.|
|Lough, Thomas||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Walsh, Stephen|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent|
|Macdonald, J. M (Falkirk B'ghs||Richardson, A.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampt'n|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Ridsdale, E. A.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Watt, Henry A.|
|M'Crae, George||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||White, Luke (York. E. R.)|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd||Wilson, Hon. G. G. Hull, W.)|
|Maddison, Frederick||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Massie, J.||Robinson, S.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Menzies, Walter||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Montagu, E. S.||Rose, Charles Day||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Sears, J. E.|
|Myer, Horatio||Seaverns, J. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. J. A. Pease and Mr. Whiteley.|
|Nicholls, George||Shackleton, David James|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.)|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Nuttall, Harry||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
Original Question put, and agreed to.