HC Deb 10 May 1923 vol 163 cc2534-41
1. Captain BERKELEY

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in the proposed fusion of the East and West Midland regions and the establishment of the headquarters of the new combined area at Birmingham, the staff will be paid on the present Birmingham scale; and whether the staff transferred from Nottingham will be maintained in their existing grades and paid thereafter on the Birmingham scale?

The MINISTER of PENSIONS (Major Tryon)

The pay of officers transferred from one town to another for which a different pay scale is in operation is governed by Treasury regulations which are common to the Government service. Under these regulations the staff employed in Birmingham will be paid on the Birmingham scale. Subject to the requirements of the work, the transferred staff will retain their existing grades, and those transferred without change of rank will carry their existing pay or enter at the minimum of the appropriate Birmingham scale, whichever is the higher.


Is it the fact that the employés of the Nottingham pensions office have been circularised to say that they may have to forfeit their present grading and enter the Birmingham office at a lower grading, and, if that is so, will the right hon. Gentleman give instructions that that circular should be withdrawn?


No, Sir, it will not be withdrawn. It does not seem to be in any way at variance with the answer I have just given.


asked the Minister of Pensions what was the number of area offices that the Departmental Committee recommended should be established; how many were set up in the year 1922; how many there are in existence; and how many it is proposed to close at an early date?

16. Mr. MUIR

asked the Minister of Pension's what was the original number of area offices and sub-offices regarded as essential for local administration purposes when the new organisation under the War Pensions Act, 1921, was initiated; how many of these offices have been closed altogether, or had their functions curtailed; and what is the number estimated as ultimately necessary for meeting the needs of ex-service men?


The Departmental Committee did not recommend any particular number of area offices, but merely that the number of local areas for which war pension committees should be appointed should be limited to a maximum of 450. In giving effect to this recommendation, my predecessor has been guided by the advice of a small committee comprising representatives of local committees and ex-service men who had previously served on the Departmental Committee; and, after local representatives had been consulted, 166 area offices and 496 sub-offices were established during the year 1922. With the consistent decline in the volume of the Ministry's work, it has not been found necessary to maintain at the present time more than 161 area offices and 383 sub-offices. The number of offices will only be reduced further as and when the volume of local work clearly ceases to justify the retention of particular offices or sub-offices.


asked the Minister of Pensions what is the number of officers at one time in the service of his Department, and receiving a salary of £250 per annum or above, whose appointments were terminated either because they were in possession of private means or because they refused to disclose their private means; whether the same Regulation applied to regional directors and other principal officers in receipt of a service pension of £800 and more, and, if not, will he state the reason for the differentiation in procedure between officers with £300 a year and more with £800 a year or more?


The reply to the first part of the question is 20, and to the second part in the affirmative. In the interests of the public service, which must always be the chief consideration, exceptions are necessary in the case of certain officers, in receipt of service pension, who are specially suited to the posts they occupy. I may add that the Lytton Committee approved this principle.


Does the Department contend that there are no efficient persons for this work except those who are in receipt of pensions of £800 a year and over?


It is obvious that no one will contend that that is the case, but it is also true that constantly to change men who have been selected for merit, and who are getting accustomed to the work will be greatly to the disadvantage of the pensioners.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the point of the question is not whether certain people have got accustomed to the work, but that he might have found people capable of learning the work and not in receipt of a pension?


asked the Minister of Pensions what is the name and salary of the principal officers in each region other than the regional director; whether some of these officers are permanent civil servants and some temporary civil servants; whether any of the temporary civil servants receive a lower salary than the permanent civil servants doing similar duties; and, if so, will he state the reason for the variation in salary?


As the answer is a lengthy one, I am circulating it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The following is the answer:

Region. Commissioner of Medical Services. Inclusive Salary. Regional Awards Officer. Salary or scale plus bonus. Regional Finance Officer. Salary or scale plus bonus. Regional Organisation Officer. Inclusive salary.
£ £ £ £
Scotland Dr. H. Richardson 1,300 Major G. S. M. Hutchinson. 550 J. F. Robband 550 A. Macdonald 635
Northern Dr. C. R. Stewart 1,300 Captain H. Crisp 550 F. Warburton* 550-20-700. Capt. O. Jones, M.B.E. 600
North-Western Dr. A. H. Williams 1,300 W. C. Letts* 550-20-700. S. Barlow 550 Capt. R. H. Webb 685
Yorkshire Dr. F. G. McM. Simpson 1,300† J. P. Sykes, M.B.E.* 550-20-700. P. G. Grimble* 550-20-700. J. A. Scougal 635
Wales Dr. W. B. Edwards, C.B.E. 1,300‡ P. Hogbin 550 P. A. Hirst* 550 G. T. Davies 600
West Midlands Dr. A. W. Moore, O.B.E. 1,300 H. H. Rix* 550 G. J. N. Rogers* 550 L. W. Keppel 600
East Midlands Dr. A. B. Ward, D.S.O. 1,300 W. Henderson* 550 W. E. Flint* 550
South-Western Dr. J. Young 1,300 Captain E. B. Towse 550 F. D. Bickford* 550 A. H. G. Williams 600
London Dr. F. R. Hill, C.B.E. 1,325 A. C. Dodd* 550-20-700. S. Aldridge, O.B.E.* 550-20-700. G. Wills-Taylor 800
Ulster Dr. A. E. Knight, D.S.O., M.C. 1,200‡ T. W. Casey 440 (inclusive). A. V. McCullough* 400-15-500.
Ireland—South Dr. H. S. Sugars, D.S.O., M.C. 1,125 E. W. Hall* 400-15-500. Vacant
* Permanent Civil Servants. † Temporarily Acting as Regional Director. ‡ Also holds the post of Regional Director.

As regards the third part of the question, the hon. Member will observe that the temporary officers receive the same salaries as certain of the permanent civil servants employed on similar duties. The lower rates obtaining in Ireland are due to the smaller volume of work in the two Irish regions.


asked the Minister of Pensions whether it is the policy of the Ministry to pursue the principle of amalgamating pensions officers in the County of Durham; and, if so, whether he will consider the question of reimbursing pensioners the extra expense to which they will be put in travelling longer distances for the purpose of interviewing chief area officers?


The War Pensions Committees concerned have been invited to express their views upon proposals to amalgamate the staffs of certain area offices in Durham County. When replies have been received from the committees the proposals will be further considered, and I can assure the hon. Member that no change will be made which would adversely affect the interest of pensioners. When the staff of two areas is combined one of the area offices becomes a sub-office which is placed in charge of a district officer. The facilities for pensioners to interview a responsible officer are, therefore, not affected.


Does the right hon. Gentleman contend that, by the amalgamation of these offices, there will not be extra expense involved on the claimant or pensioner?


No; the substitution of a whole-time sub-office for the area office makes no difference to the men who come to the office because the office in any case is open all the time.

22. Mr. F. ROBERTS

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he can state the reason for the dismissal of Mr. Percy H. Jones from the service of the Ministry of Pensions, Birmingham area; whether the action taken was due to any misunderstanding; and whether, seeing that Jones holds a certificate as to efficiency and good conduct, steps can be taken to ensure early reinstatement?


Mr. Jones was warned in November last for conduct subversive of discipline which, notwithstanding that warning, was continued. He was accordingly given one week's notice of the termination of his employment. There was no misunderstanding and I regret I am unable to agree to his reinstatement. Mr. Jones asked urgently for a certificate of service in December last and a testimonial was issued in error by an official unacquainted with all the circumstances.


Has the right hon. Gentleman seen a copy of the certificate which was issued to this man?


I do not think I have seen the certificate, but I have informed the House that the certificate was issued in error.


Will the right hon. Gentleman ask for a complete return, and give personal investigation to it?


I shall be glad to inquire into any case to which the hon. Member wishes to call my attention.


asked the Minister of Pensions what is the number of established permanent officials of the rank of principal clerk and above employed in each of the following departments at the headquarters of the Ministry: secretariat, awards, local administration, finance (including accounts), issue office, and establishments; and what was the number of officers of similar rank employed in these branches on 1st January, 1919?


As the answer comprises a number of figures, I am circulating it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The particulars desired are as follow:—

May, 1st Jan.,
1923. 1919.
Secretariat 6 5
Awards 12 5
Local administration 2 1
Finance (including accounts) 15 3
Issue Office 8 1
Establishment 3 1

The principal assistant secretary in charge of establishments and his two assistants and the financial assistant secretary and his two assistants form part of the secretariat. They have been excluded from the figures shown for the secretariat above, but are included under their respective separate headings. I would call the hon. Member's attention to the fact that the earlier figures represent the higher staff employed prior to the general demobilisation of the Forces." In the same period the number of beneficiaries has increased by more than 50 per cent.

25. Mr. RITSON

asked the Minister of Pensions whether the population of the northern region and the number of cases dealt with in that region are greater than those of the other region in Great Britain in which the duties of regional director and commissioner of medical services are combined; and, if not, will he state why a regional director was recently appointed to the northern region at a salary of £875 per annum?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. I may add that I contemplate increasing the area of responsibility of the regional director of the northern region.

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