§ 8. Major COLFOX
asked the Minister of Pensions to what cause is due the reduction announced by him to have 2517 taken place under the present Government in the proportion of ex-service men to non ex-service men employed in the more highly salaried posts in his Ministry?
The position is that suggested by the hon. and gallant Member in his supplementary question of the 6th instant. Neither I myself nor my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is an ex-service man.
§ Major COLFOX
May I ask the Home Secretary, as representing the Leader of the House, whether he is aware that thousands of ex-service pensioners throughout this country bitterly resent the appointment of a man with the record of the Parliamentary Secretary to administer their pensions?
§ 9. Mr. J. HARRIS
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that of the 25 promotions made to substantive rank and 19 to acting rank only one in the former class and seven in the latter class wore ex-service men; will he see that ex-service men are accorded special preference; and why nearly all the higher posts in this Ministry are held by non-service personnel?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, merit is the chief factor governing promotions, but, where the conditions were equal, preference would be given to the ex-service man. The majority of the higher-established posts in the Ministry are held by civil servants with long service who were above military age or were compulsorily retained in the interests of public administration, whereas the men released for military service were, as a rule, younger and had shorter Civil Service experience.
§ Mr. HARRIS
May we take it that, in the event of vacancies occurring in the higher posts, other things being equal, preference will be given to ex-service men?
§ 23. Sir HARRY BRITTAIN
asked the Minister of Pensions whether, seeing that the removal expenses of permanent civil servants are borne by the State, he can 2518 secure the same advantages to all ex-service men in his Department now under notice of dismissal if alternative employment be found for them?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. William Graham)
I have been asked to reply. I would refer to the answer which I gave on the 26th February to the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle West (Captain Ramage).
§ 24. Sir H. BRITTAIN
asked the Minister of Pensions what alternative employment, if any, has been offered to the 193 ex-service men who are under notice of discharge expiring, for the greater part, at the end of this month?
§ 22. Lieut.-Colonel Sir JOSEPH NALL
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware of the hardship now being inflicted on many disabled men by discharging them from his Department; whether he can give an assurance that efficient clerks who are disabled men will be retained in preference to women; and, if so, will he cancel notices now pending?
The question of offering alternative employment to the ex-service men now under notice, and in particular to those of them who are disabled, is still under consideration. Apart from the question of a change in working hours which, if adopted, will relieve the situation for the time being, I hope to arrive at a solution of this problem which will commend itself to all sections of the staff affected. At my request representatives of the staff associations concerned are now discussing the possibility of reconciling their conflicting claims.
§ Sir H. BRITTAIN
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman now promise that these ex-service men, if proved efficient, shall be retained in the service? The uncertainty is an absolute nightmare to them.
I should prefer not to say anything further, in view of the consultations which are taking place with the organisations concerned.
§ Major COLFOX
Is it the policy of the Ministry of Pensions to reduce the proportion of ex-service men employed in the Ministry, particularly in the higher grades?