HC Deb 06 March 1924 vol 170 cc1573-5
70. Mr. HOGGE

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that a disabled ex-service man, Major Barnard, was recently dismissed from the Directorate of Civil Aviation; that this officer had served satisfactorily in this Department since its inception; and that an officer with Departmental service only was retained, although this officer had not the same length of service In the directorate, and although he had at one time left the Air Ministry and been re-engaged; will he say whether this officer was in the interval employed with the same firm as the present Director of Civil Aviation; and why the order of discharge, as laid down in the Lytton Report, has on this and several other occasions been ignored in his Department?


Lieut.-Commander Bernard, a pensioned officer of the Royal Navy, was employed by the Air Ministry at a salary of £875 (in addition to pension) in a post requiring knowledge of navigation; the post was abolished and Lieut.-Commander Bernard became redundant. No other appointment of anything like the same value to which Commander Bernard could be appointed was available, but he was told what posts were available, and he agreed that he had not the necessary qualifications to fill them. The appointment referred to in the third part of the question, i.e., that of personal assistant, was not regarded as suitable for Lieut.-Commander Bernard. I may add that no complaint about his treatment has been received from this officer, who left the Department in November last. My hon. Friend will thus see that in the circumstances no question of order of discharge arose. I may add that the order of discharge recommended by the Lytton Report is followed in the Air Ministry wherever practicable, but that order contemplates staff engaged upon similar work who are readily interchangeable.


Why is it that when a disabled man is dismissed from a poet, it immediately becomes redundant?


It was done in the sacred name of economy and re-organisation.

71 and 72. Mr. HOGGE

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air (1) why, seeing that the work of the contracts and supplies branch of his Department has been carried out since its inception very largely by temporary officials and has been thoroughly satisfactory, it has now been decided to replace these ex-service men by permanent civil servants, without first offering these posts to the present holders;

(2) whether it has been decided to replace ex-service men serving in the Directorate of Contracts by permanent officers; when it is intended to issue notices to such ex-service men; and whether, in view of the fact that such replacements will only be made in order to provide an avenue of promotion for executive officers elsewhere, and is not in accordance with the spirit of the Lytton Report or with the numerous pledges given to ex-service men by successive Governments, and repeated by the Prime Minister before the recent General Election, he will reconsider the matter?


It was decided in 1922 by the then Government, as part of a re-organisation of the Air Ministry, to amalgamate the old Directorate of Aircraft Supplies (which was a remanent of war organisation taken over by the Air Ministry from the Ministry of Munitions) with the Contracts Department and to unify contract supply methods through a homogeneous staff similar in character to that to which contract work is entrusted in the Admiralty and the War Office. This change was accepted by the late Government and inaugurated on 1st January, 1923, and the staff of the Directorate has been graded as executive, under the terms of the re-organisation of the Civil Service agreed to between the official and staff sides of the National Whitley Council in February, 1920. It follows that vacancies occurring in the ordinary course in the amalgamated contracts Department must be filled from the executive grade. Of the members of the temporary staff transferred from the Aircraft Supplies Directorate in January, 1923, who have not voluntarily vacated their appointments and who are still in the employ of the Air Ministry, some have already been offered posts in other branches, and special consideration is being and will be given to the cases of the remainder. If the temporary staff in question have gained the impression that they will be summarily discharged in order that they may be replaced by established civil servants, they are mistaken.


I would suggest to the Under-Secretary that an answer of that length should be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


I want to ask if the net result of that long answer means that the disabled ex-service man is squeezed out again?


No, Sir, not at all, and the men have no cause to fear any action of that sort.