HC Deb 16 July 1912 vol 41 cc213-4

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, at an interview with Customs and Excise officers in May last, he stated that officers of the amalgamated service would be called upon to perform certain duties in connection with the National Insurance Act; whether he is aware that the official National Insurance Act instructions to officers of Customs and Excise have been issued in the Customs branch only to officers of less than six years' service; whether he will cause copies of the instructions to be issued to all officers who desire to make themselves acquainted with the duties under the Act they may be called upon to perform; and whether it is by his authority that the work under the Act has been appropriated by the Excise branch of the amalgamated service to the exclusion of the Customs branch?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. It is not contemplated that all officers of the amalgamated Customs and Excise service should be employed on insurance duties. In many cases it will not be possible for men to combine these duties with their ordinary work. The Board of Customs and Excise have, however, directed that copies of the instructions shall be supplied to all officers of the amalgamated service, so that if they are called upon to take up the insurance work they may be properly prepared. I am informed that the statement in the second paragraph of the question is incorrect. The distribution of copies is still in progress, and will very shortly be completed. It is not the fact that duties under the Act have been assigned to the Excise branch of the amalgamated service to the exclusion of the Customs branch. On the contrary, a considerable number of men in the Customs branch are being employed on insurance duties.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, at any rate in some large centres such as Sheffield, these officers are greatly overworked during the last few years, and will he consider whether it is absolutely necessary to put more duties upon them?


I agree they have been worked very hard in the last few years, but there have been considerable additions to the staff, and I am not aware they have been overworked recently.