HC Deb 16 July 1923 vol 166 cc1850-1

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the inadequate salaries which are being paid to the staff at the Imperial Institute who, though on a par with civil servants employed in Government offices, are paid on a lower scale, which is not subject to regular increments; whether he is aware that the majority of the staff are in receipt of salaries of less than £200 per annum; whether the two-thirds of the Civil Service war bonus, which was paid since 1921, has now been reduced to one-half bonus for all ranks alike, whereby actual privation is being occasioned to many, especially among the lower paid officials, no graduation being allowed; and what action he proposes to take to remedy the grievances complained of, which are urgent and pressing?


I am aware that the funds at the disposal of the Institute, which have been reduced by the withdrawal of overseas contributions, do not permit of the payment of salaries on the scale which the Executive Council would desire; and further, that the council have judged it necessary, in accordance with the terms of the agreement with the staff to reduce the rate of bonus payment of which, by that agreement, depends on the income of the Institute being sufficient for the purpose. I am well aware of the difficulty in which this places the staff, but I fear that it will not be easy to make any satisfactory arrangements so long as the future of the Institute is in its present state of uncertainty, and I shall therefore use my best endeavours to obtain from the contributory Governments a definite decision as to its future as soon as may be. I should add that it is unlikely that any definite decision will be obtained until the Imperial Economic Conference has taken place.


Does not my hon. Friend think it desirable, in view of the admittedly inadequate salaries being paid, that the Colonial Office should temporarily pay these gentlemen, who are in the position of civil servants, an adequate rate of pay? Does he not see the disadvantages of reducing the bonus by a 50 per cent. cut, seeing that the more highly paid are reduced by only some 7 per cent. and the more lowly paid by 22 per cent?


The Colonial Office has not any money to dispose of. It is a direct Vote of the Overseas Dominions and the Treasury, which is limited in amount in the Estimates before Parliament. Therefore, I cannot pay money to these people, though I thoroughly agree that the present pay of the staff of the Imperial Institute, owing to the withdrawal of contributions, is unsatisfactory.


Will the hon. Gentleman be prepared to give the same consideration to, and use the same influence on behalf of the workmen, who have been cut down to what is not a proper living wage? I mean the working-men staff.


When I referred to the staff I included the wage-earning staff as well as the salaried staff.

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