§ 12. Mr. COMPTON
asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware of the conditions under which his Departmental staff work in the General Post Office buildings, Spring Gardens, Manchester, of the lack of proper office accommodation, the delay and inconvenience caused to pensioners, and the public generally obliged to visit the premises on business; whether he is aware that those desirous of interviewing officials are placed behind barbed wire entanglements; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this state of affairs?
There has been difficulty in obtaining suitable accommodation for the Ministry's staff in Manchester, and my attention has been drawn to deficiencies in the accommodation provided in the area office premises, which will be remedied as far as possible. The barbed wire referred to by the hon. Member is placed at the top of high partitions separating the Ministry's office from the Post Office, to prevent unauthorised entrance. I am in communication with my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works with a view to obtaining better accommodation as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. COMPTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman take into consideration the provision of better accommodation for females, such as widows, who have delicate interviews with officials? Is not 1960 something necessary that is different from the present arrangement, under which interviews take place in front of the general staff of the Department?
That point shall certainly be considered. I hope that we shall come to adequate arrangements with my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works.
§ 20. Mr. HOGGE
asked the Minister of Pensions whether a large reduction of the medical staff of the Ministry is in contemplation; if so, on whose recommendation will such reduction be made; and whether he will consider withholding such reduction until the proposed Departmental Committee has considered the same and reported?
Owing to the inevitable reduction of the work of my Department, there is necessarily a corresponding decrease in the medical staff required. I am not contemplating any special reductions in the medical staff.
25. Lieut.-Colonel WATTS - MORGAN
asked the Minister of Pensions what reduction of staff, if any, has taken place at the headquarters of the Ministry in London from 1st July to 31st December, 1923; and what was the total number of staff employed at that date?
The staff of the headquarters branches in London, including Pension Issue Office, was reduced during the half year ended 31st December, 1923, by 811. The total number employed on that date was 6,126.
I am afraid I cannot answer that question now, but I will be pleased to supply the information.
26. Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN
asked the Minister of Pensions the number of medical men employed at the Ministry headquarters in all grades in December, 1923; how many of them are over 60 years of age; and how many of them were engaged actually in the various theatres of war on active service?
The number of medical men employed at Ministry headquarters on 31st December last in all grades was 31, of whom three are over 1961 60 years of age. 29 of these officers served during the War, 23 of them having served overseas.
§ 33. Earl WINTERTON
asked the Minister of Pensions whether the small percentage of male officials at the Ministry of Pensions who are not ex-service men were prevented from serving in His Majesty's forces during the War by reason of age or disability, or if any were excused service on the ground of their conscientious objections to such services?
The officials referred to were either over age or medically rejected for enlistment or were exempted from military service by Committees appointed by the War Cabinet to review exemptions granted by Government Departments. There are no conscientious objectors amongst them.
§ Earl WINTERTON
May I ask whether, in view of the strong feeling on this subject among ex-service men and their dependants, the right hon. Gentleman will give an undertaking that he intends to continue the policy of his predecessor, and that is, rigidly to exclude from his office all conscientious objectors?
§ Mr. HUDSON
Before an answer is given, will the right hon. Gentleman take into account that several conscientious objectors have been sent to this House by the electorate? [HON MEMBERS: Shame!]
§ Earl WINTERTON
Perhaps I did not make my question quite clear. I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it would be possible for him to make an announcement that the policy at present in force was going to be continued. Do I understand you rule that out of Order, Sir?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That has nothing to do with the question on the Paper. I think that notice should be given of a question on policy.
§ 34. Sir HARRY BRITTAIN
asked the Minister of Pensions the number of staff employed by his Department at the Issue Office at Acton, together with the number employed by any other Department in the 1962 same building; and how those numbers, respectively, compare with the number of employés at the Pensions Issue Office a year ago?
The number of staff now employed by my Department in the Acton premises is 3,498, as compared with 4,802 in February, 1923. I have no information as to the staff employed by other Departments at Acton.