HC Deb 12 July 1923 vol 166 cc1550-3
9. Captain O'GRADY

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has further considered the question of transferring the Yorkshire regional office from Leeds to Newcastle; whether, in view of the volume of work in the Yorkshire region, he will postpone the amalgamation for 12 months; whether, in the event of the transfer taking place, the travelling expenses of the permanent civil servants employed in the Yorkshire region, plus the cost of removal of furniture, etc., will be borne by the Ministry; and, if so, will the same privilege be extended to such officers of the temporary staff as may be transferred to Newcastle from Leeds?


I have given this matter the most careful consideration, and I regret that I do not see my way to accept the hon. Member's suggestion to defer the amalgamation. The removal expenses of the permanent staff and those members of the temporary staff whose special qualifications make their services essential at Newcastle-on-Tyne, will be borne by the Ministry. I should not be justified in agreeing that the removal expenses should be paid by the State in the case of staff whose transfer to another part of the Ministry is an alternative to discharge.


How soon does my right hon. Friend propose to carry out this change?


I cannot say the exact date, but in the autumn, I understand.


Before he does so, I hope he will consider any representations which may be made from the locality.


I shall be most happy to consider any representations.

Captain O'GRADY

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider it fair to pay the expenses of, say, an officer like General Kelley, £175 a year and £1,000 service pension, and yet these poor temporary men have to pay their own expenses?


If it is considered essential in the public service that anyone should be moved, their expenses would be paid. I have dealt with the point several times.

10. Mr. LOWTH

asked the Minister of Pensions whether in the Registry at Ministry headquarters there are 13 supervisory officers and 86 clerks; and will he explain why it is necessary to have one supervisor for seven clerks?


The number of higher officers in the Central Registry has been reduced from 13 to 12. Of these, two are the chief clerk and his deputy, whose duties involve the general supervision of the other Registries throughout the Ministry, in addition to the control of the Central Registry. The duties of the remainder are not confined solely to supervision, but involve the performance of superior clerical duties also.

11. Mr. LOWTH

asked the Minister of Pensions what sum has been or will be paid in travelling expenses and subsistence allowances for the regional directors who have attended recent conferences in this House; and why the estimate for travelling expenses, headquarters staff, has been increased from £4,500 in the year 1922–23 to £7,000 for the year 1923–24?


The amount paid as travelling expenses and subsistence allowance, in respect of the regional directors' attendance at the conference on the 16th May last, was £7 10s. 11d. No additional expenses for travelling and subsistence was incurred in respect of the conference on the 3rd instant, as this conference was arranged for a date on which the regional directors would be at Ministry headquarters in connection with other matters, and their return was not delayed in consequence of their attendance at the conference. The increase in the estimate, referred to in the last part of the question, arises from the transfer from regional to headquarters expenditure of the travelling expenses of certain staff. I may point out that the provision for regional travelling expenses has been reduced from £33,000 to £27,000.

16. Mr. EDE

asked the Minister of Pensions what items are included under incidental expenses, B1, of the Ministry Vote; and what is the reason for the increase in the sum estimated under this heading for Ministry headquarters from £17,200 in the year 1922–23 to £82,000 for the year 1923–24?


As the answer is a long one, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


Is there any short explanation that can be given of the increase from £17,000 to £82,000 on this item?


I think the hon. Member had better see the reply in full.

Following is the answer:

The items for which provision is made under "incidental expenses" include, inter alia, fees to registrars of births and deaths, charges for carriage of stationery, advertisements (e.g., publication of arrangements for the making of final awards), and payments to agents abroad for work in connection with the payment and administration of pensions of pensioners resident without Great Britain, the greater part of the provision being in respect of the latter item. The increase from £17,200 to £82,000 arises mainly in respect of these payments to agents abroad, it having become necessary to provide a large additional sum under this heading in respect of services rendered by the Post Office of the Irish Free State and a further large additional sum in respect of commission payments to other agents. A small amount was provided in this respect for the year 1922–23 in view of the delay which was being experiened in obtaining and clearing the accounts of agents abroad, but measures having been taken to expedite the rendering and clearance of such accounts, it became necessary to provide a much larger sum for the year 1923–24.

17. Mr. EDE

asked the Minister of Pensions what surgical or medical duties are performed by the seven principal medical officers attached to Ministry headquarters with salaries ranging from £1,300 to £1,800 a year; and whether any and, if so, how many of the 21 deputy commissioners of medical services with salaries of £725 to £1,125 a year are engaged on administrative duties?


There are now only six principal medical officers at the headquarters of the Ministry as it has been found possible to amalgamate two sections of the work and terminate the appointment of one of these officers. The duties of five of these officers and of nine of the 21 deputy commissioners at headquarters, though in general of an administrative character, are such as could only be carried out by medical men, including, as they do, the provision of treatment, control of medical staff, organisation of medical boards, provision and inspection of hospital accommodation and equipment, and many other duties calling for specialised medical knowledge. The other principal medical officer and the remaining 12 deputy commissioners at headquarters are not employed on administrative work, but are advising medically upon cases presenting special difficulty.