HC Deb 21 March 1923 vol 161 cc2534-6

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that unestablished writers, that is, ex-boy writers and boy writers, employed in His Majesty's dockyards and naval establishments who entered after 4th August, 1914, are required to pass a qualifying examination before they can be placed on the established list, and that those failing to qualify are to be discharged; that hitherto these writers have been regarded as members of the permanent staff, and precluded from competing in either of the two examinations already held for the absorption of temporary staffs in the clerical class (male); that boy writers and ex-boy writers were obliged to pass a Civil Service examination to obtain entry into the dockyard, no such competition having been originally held for the admission of the temporary staff; that, having entered direct from school and since specialised in Government work, they are handicapped if forced to seek employment outside the Service; that the majority have completed from six to eight years' efficient service, many having been for some years employed on duties ordinarily performed by established third-grade clerks in pre-War days; whether he is aware that the decision is regarded as unfair; and, seeing that such boy writers and ex-boy writers as were eligible were released by the Admiralty and served in the War, whether he can see his way to reconsider the decision that has been arrived at?


As the reply is somewhat long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


Is the reply favourable or not?


I would rather not summarise it.

The reply is as follows:

The question of the position of un-established writers who were entered by normal Civil Service examination as boy writer after the 4th August, 1914, has been the subject of very careful consideration and of discussion with the Treasury. The Regulations under which such boys were entered provided that successful candidates would be eligible, subject to the existence of vacancies and to their being recommended, for promotion without further examination to the post of hired writer, and that unless so promoted they would be discharged on attaining the age of 20 years. Those who became hired writers were eligible after seven years' service as such to compete at a written examination for establishment as third grade clerk. Under the recent reorganisation of the Departmental Clerical Class, the class of hired writer ceases to exist, and the contention that officers who were eligible for appointment as hired writer are entitled to appointment without examination to the Departmental Clerical Class is not admitted. There are also objections to the claim that these officers should be established without examination on grounds applicable to the Government service generally. Following upon the recommendations of the Reorganisation Committee and of the Temporary Staffs Sub-Committee of the National Whitley Council, the establishment under Clause VII of the Order in Council of the 10th January, 1910, of unestablished officers has been limited to persons employed prior to the 4th August, 1914, upon work of a permanent nature. Moreover, the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, who determine general questions of this nature, state that they are unable to ignore the pledges given on behalf of the Government to ex-service men or to agree that the youths-in question should be established without written examination whilst efficient ex-service and possibly disabled men are required to qualify at a written competitive examination as a condition prior to establishment. It has further been decided that the legitimate claims of the boy writers in question would be met by requiring them to qualify at a competition or competitions for the Admiralty Department Clerical Class, at which not only candidates from this class, but also ex-service men who have been employed as temporary clerks in Admiralty Service should also be eligible to compete, and details of the scheme are now under consideration.