HC Deb 10 April 1928 vol 162 cc1145-71

I desire to call the attention of the House to another subject, which is of very special interest to hon. Members sitting in all parts of the House, namely, the appointment of ex-service men to posts in His Majesty's Civil Service, and the question of the initial rate of salary for ex-temporary clerks holding permanent posts in the Civil Service. Since I put on the Paper the Motion which stands in my name, various announcements have been made by His Majesty's Government in this House as to the course which they propose to adopt in regard to this matter, and I should like to take this opportunity of saying how much the announcements which have been made have been welcomed in every part of the House as indicating a general desire on the part of the Treasury to consider particularly these hard cases. The Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday, 27th March, in answer to a question put by the hon. and gallant Member for the Newbury Division of Berkshire. (Brigadier-General Clifton Brown), intimated the appointment of a Committee to report to what extent practical effect has been given to the Lytton Committee's recommendations in the various Government Departments. I understand that this Committee is to be limited in the scope of its reference, and will not be able to deal with the question of initial pay. In view, however, of the very deep interest which is being taken in this matter, I hope it may be possible for my right hon. Friend, in his reply, to indicate the exact scope of the remit which will be made to this particular Committee, and also whether it will be able to deal with the other recommendations of the Lytton Com- mittee, including the question of substitution, and the question of the permanent appointments to the executive, administrative, and clerical classes. I understand and hope that it will be possible for the Committee to deal with all the other recommendations raised by the Lytton Committee's Report. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will, if he can, indicate to us the personnel of that Committee, as we are anxious to know as soon as possible who are going to undertake this important work. On the 29th March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made the further announcement of the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the present standard of remuneration and other conditions of employment of the various classes of State servants employed in the Civil Service as well as in the three fighting Services. In reply to several supplementary questions put then, and questions also put in this House yesterday, he has indicated that this Committee will be competent to real with the question of the initial pay, and that he was prepared to consider what steps could be taken in order to put this question in the forefront of their consideration. Those who arc interested specially in this matter are very anxious indeed that there should be no unnecessary delay in dealing with this very urgent question, because it affects a number of men and women who at the present moment are suffering a severe pinch, and who are presently in the greatest straits by the low scale of pay which they receive. I welcome very much the action of the Government in proposing these Committees. It absolves me from the necessity of dealing in detail with the merits of the whole of this case, because I am glad to think, in appointing the Committee, the Government themselves recognise that not only is there a primâ facie case for inquiry, but that there are hardships to be redressed with which they are anxious themselves to deal. I think I may say, without exaggeration, that every individual who has been concerned with the consideration of this matter has admitted the hardships which have arisen. The late Financial Secretaries to the Treasury agreed and the present Financial Secretary, I am quite sure, also agrees that there is hero a case not only for consideration but for immediate action, in order to remove the admitted grievances which exist. The second Com- mittee which has been announced, and on which Sir Alan Anderson, I suppose, will be the leading Member, will, I understand, have to undertake a very wide field of inquiry. The remit to this Committee will include, I understand, the whole standard of remuneration and other conditions of employment in the various classes employed in the four principal Services of the Crown.

That is a very wide inquiry, which will necessitate a very long investigation, and it is on account of the urgency of the special case which we make that I venture to urge on the right hon. Gentleman that he might give us sonic definite undertaking that this particular question will be dealt with immediately. I say "immediately," because unless this matter be treated at once, there will be undoubtedly severe hardship and injustice felt, and continued to be felt until this matter is settled. I would like to point out that this is not a matter affecting only the unfortunate men and women who are so situated, but it is felt as a hardship and a grievance by other members of the staff who are not themselves directly involved in this particular scale of pay, but who are feeling so severely the situation of their colleagues that they themselves have come forward to supply a special fund to meet I heir need. I hope it will he possible for the right hon. Gentleman to indicate to us that this Second Committee which has been appointed, as I understand, to deal with this, along with other questions, will be in a position to sit down immediately and consider the evidence and the views of those who are concerned in the question of the initial pay, and that we shall have from them an interim report which will deal with this particularly urgent question, so that we shall be in a position to feel that this grievance and hardship shall be first dealt with and settled before the wider scope of the inquiry is embarked upon. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think that unreasonable. I am not suggesting he should dictate in any way to the distinguished gentlemen who have undertaken this very onerous duty, but I do suggest it is quite within the power of the Government themselves to draw attention to the urgency of this problem, and to put it before them in such a form that it will be regarded as coming in the forefront of their inquiry.

If they feel a difficulty, with regard to that, there are other alternatives. The Government, I suggest, might see their way to have a small ad hoc Committee or a Select Committee, to deal with this very urgent problem separately, if they think it is going to interfere with the work of the larger Committee. If, on the other hand, they are prepared to put this question in the forefront of the larger Committee's work, and if we receive an assurance that this question will be not only considered but settled within a very early period, then I think we shall be grateful to the Government for giving us such an undertaking, and I am quite sure there will be many onside this House who will recognise that in so doing they are taking a step which will do them credit, and which will satisfy not only hon. Members sitting on these Benches but a very large number of hon. Members who sit behind the Government, and are very much interested in this question.

8.0 P.M.

The case of these particular Civil Servants is, as the House well knows, a particularly distressing and an urgent one. I am not going into all the details on this occasion, because my right hon. Friend, I understand, has agreed that it deserves the earliest consideration, but may I just remind the House of one or two facts which bear upon the actual urgency of the problem? The question which has arisen is due, as the House well knows, to the situation created during the War. It is due to the fact that recruiting was suspended for the Civil Service during the War, and that subsequently a very large number of ex-service men and women were taken on as temporary clerks to do the work in the Civil Service without being established. Then came the period when establishment had to be considered, and many of these men and women of considerable experience, men and women of all ages, a large proportion between 30 and 40 and as old as 50 and 55, all of them having experience of this particular kind of work, were by a process of examination weeded nut, and many received appointments on the permanent establishment. The real urgency of the situation arises in connection with the actual amount of the initial pay on which they entered the permanent service. There is no dispute between my right hon. Friend and those who are interesting themselves in this case as regards the particular figures, as these are well known, but I would like to remind the House, with regard to the low rate of pay, that a large proportion entered at a basic figure which, along with the bonus added to it, made it almost impossible for these men, many of whom have families, to live. A great many came in at a basic salary of £80 a year, which, plus £64 bonus, works out at £144 per year, or £2 15s. 4d. per week. Grade 2 was £90 plus £72 bonus or £3 2s. per week; and Grade 1 was £100 plus £76, or £176, or £3 8s. per week. There are various grades of clerks who had a salary slightly smaller than the salaries I have mentioned. In all these cases, there has been very real hardship among these men, many of whom were drawing a much larger Sum as temporary clerks.

I want, particularly, to urge upon the hon. Gentleman that in this matter we are satisfied that he and those who know the work these men and women are performing, who know that they are undertaking duties of very great responsibility, are aware that they are no; receiving anything like adequate remuneration for their work, and that they are sitting beside other men who came in before them and who are drawing much higher rates of pay. They are employed in something like 70 different Departments. They are doing important work both in the clerical and executive classes. They are employed in the Ministry of Health, where they are engaged in the auditing of the accounts of local government authorities, and in other branches they are doing work in connection with Income Tax, assessing income Tax and dealing with abatements, anal with the quinquennial valuation which is at present being carried out in regard to property. In many other particulars, they have been rendering very real service to the country at a rate of pay which does not represent anything like what they are entitled to or what they were drawing as temporary clerks. I suggest that these men—who have come in at this low rate of salary equivalent to what boys of 18 and 20 under the ordinary established pay would be drawing—should have to submit to such serious hardships and reductions at the present moment is a matter which calls for immediate consideration. Speaking as a Scottish Member I would point out that there is a large number of these entrants in Scotland. Some of my Scottish colleagues are interested in this matter, and we desire to have the Scottish cases considered along with those in England and Wales.

I feel in this matter that I am really trying to push an open door. As my right hon. Friend knows perfectly well we are anxious to do everything in our power to encourage the Government to go as far as they possibly can in this matter. We think the case we are making here is on behalf of a most deserving class of civil servants, most of them ex-service men, and they are certainly the poorest paid of all. We base our case on the real hardship which is admitted on all hands and proved by the clearest evidence. Not least—and this point I am sure will appeal most strongly to the right hon. Gentleman—among our civil servants—the finest Civil Service in the world—we have men who are in such a state of destitution as to the means of supporting their families that there is a feeling of dissatisfaction and unrest which reacts on the Service as a whole. The Government will receive the gratitude of all if they can remove this reproach on the Civil Service and make it unnecessary for the other members of that Service to combine together to raise their means of livelihood. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, who I am sure will do all that he can to assist, to make it perfectly clear, not only to us in the House, but to all who are interested in the matter that this inquiry will immediately deal with the most urgent cases of all, the cases or the Lytton entrants, and that a report will be presented which will enable their case to be satisfactorily dealt with. I hope, when this inquiry takes place, that we may have an assurance that those interested in the question, the members of the staff themselves, will have an opportunity to put their case as members of the staff, and that the humblest member will have an opportunity of putting his case forward and having it sympathetically considered.


I desire to associate myself with the matter raised by the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar), and to say that it is one of very great importtance to a very large number of public servants, who look on this House of Commons as the representative of the public who employ them, to remedy the injustices under which they suffer, as far as it is within our power to do. We cannot, of course, do it ourselves, but we can, at any rate, see that any inquiry which is set afoot is kept within the purview of the House of Commons itself. It is, however, with very great regret that I have noticed the new Committee which has been set up and which is to be charged with the responsibility of making this particular form of inquiry into the starting pay of the Lytton entrants. Only a few days ago we had the Chancellor of the Exchequer informing the House that, in order to look into the case of the application of the Lytton Report, he had decided to set up a Committee of Members of this House, a proposal with which, I think, everybody here will agree, but why it should be considered necessary to delegate another section of that inquiry to a Committee of three members who bear no responsibility to this House I cannot for the life of me tell. They are charged with a task that I am certain they cannot adequately discharge in five or possibly 10 years. They are charged with the task of inquiring into the standard of remuneration and into the conditions of employment of every class of State servant, including the fighting services. I would like to know how it is possible for a Committee of three to undertake a task of that kind and be able to report within a time that can command the confidence of the people whose interests are affected by the inquiry.

The action of the Treasury in regard to those two Committees has aroused a very grave suspicion and unrest among civil servants generally, and I join in the appeal that the hon. Member for East Fife has made that the Government will at this stage reconsider their decision, and give this task of inquiring into the rates of pay of the Lytton entrants to a body which is governed by this House. I think his proposal of a small ad hoc Committee chosen from the Members of this House is the best form of inquiry we could have. It would enable the Committee to be representatives; it would inspire confidence among those whose interests it would have to consider. It would be able to work rapidly; it would be able to report quickly, and the Members would have the satisfaction of knowing that in the criticism which the action of the Government has aroused in all parts of the country, they have at any rate done something to discharge their obligations as representatives of the public in seeing that the.employés of the public are treated fairly and well. I know something about committees of inquiry. I am entitled to speak for one section of public servants whose interests for many years were governed by Select Committees of this House. Even under the best circumstances, a committee of inquiry is bound to last for months. It is bound to lead to a great deal of discussion and the taking of evidence, the examination of cases that are presented, and under the best circumstances they cannot work quickly. A Committee of Inquiry such as the Anderson Committee must necessarily be, is, I suggest to the Financial Secretary, quite incompetent owing to its constitution, and the difficulty, surrounding it to inquire quickly and adequately into the task given to it.

Why has it been considered necessary to appoint a Committee from outside the House of Commons, and a Committee that is not representative? When you appoint two bankers and a large employer to investigate a question of the wages of men who are getting a week and upwards —most not much above £2—you cannot expect the men who receive such wages to have confidence in a Committee drawn wholly from the employer class. The Benches here, and hon. Members on my left, are entitled to expect a Committee that will be of a more representative character. I for one must enter my protest against the composition of the Committee announced by the Chancellor last Thursday, under circumstances which did the Government no credit. The announcement of that Committee was made under conditions which induced one to believe that the Government knew nothing about it. The Departments that will be very largely concerned evidently knew nothing about it. It. was a Treasury move, and in the view of many of us, a view designed to make more difficult the position of large bodies of public servants who have pressing grievances and desire them to be examined at the earliest possible moment.

We are entitled to ask the Treasury to do something to expediate the inquiry. I listened carefully to the appeals made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week. Although his reply was not discouraging, certainly there was nothing very definite about his answers. I hope the Financial Secretary will, at any rate, enable us to give some comfort to these men who are in dire distress, and whose economic circumstances are such that no Member of this House can justify such to his constituents. I trust we shall be able to tell the men that the House of Commons is not afraid to have their case examined by a body drawn from the House itself. If, however, the Government have made up their minds that that cannot be, if this small Committee must be given the task, then I appeal to them, at any rate, that at the expense of keeping other people waiting, that the first definite duty the Committee should be called upon to undertake is to make this examination. Unless something of the kind is done there will be a suspicion that the Government are prepared to defend the scales of pay that have been given to these men for whom our appeal is made.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, if he were to examine the scales, would hesitate to justify them. Certainly I know he would not think of justifying them before his constituents. I could not before mine, and I do not believe any Member, in whatever quarter of the House he sits, can feel much satisfaction when he is shown that large numbers of public servants are actually feeling acute economic distress although they are rendering full-time service to the Government of the day. That there is distress there can be no question because it is necessary for the men who are a little better off to have to chili together weekly in order to keep these other men from going on the Poor Law. Surely that shows a primâ facie case, not for inquiry by three employers and bankers, but by the House of Commons itself, and by a Committee on which these benches here are entitled to have representation. I trust the, Financial Secretary will tell us in his reply whether the Government do recognise the seriousness of the ease. If a deaf ear is turned to the appeals we make, I can assure him it cannot possibly he the last of the question, but that, the House of Commons itself will have, appeals from these public servants from time to time until the Government are prepared to deal with the matter.

It is no reflection upon the personal character of those appointed on the Anderson Committee to say we can have no confidence in it, but the Committee is an inappropriate one—that is the term to use. It is not capable of tackling the question. If the Government have hardened their hearts and our appeal for a Select Committee is unheeded, I hope they will cause this Committee, which ultimately must deal with the matter, to regard this task as the most pressing within their terms of reference. Nothing loss than that will give the least bit of satisfaction to any section of the House, certainly not to a body of civil servants, many of whom I would remind the House fought for their country, and have come back to be told practically that the Government have forgotten the promises made. In this matter we cannot point: to private employers. The responsibility is that of the Government, and we, as representing constituencies, are responsible if anything in the nature of injustice is allowed to remain upon anybody of public servants. We cannot abuse other people for it. We must take the blame to ourselves. I trust that in the House we shall always jealously regard our rights, as welt as regard it as a privilege to look after the interests, of those whom we employ as public servants. I trust, if the Financial Secretary cannot remit this matter to the Select Committee, whose names have not yet been announced, that he will give us a small ad hoc Committee of the House to deal with the matter.

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Major Boyd-Carpenter)

I hope the House will forgive me for intervening so early, but I do so because in all sincerity I suggest to the House, and to those hon. Members keenly interested in this very vexed and vexatious question, the fact that possibly some measure of harm might be done to the wishes of hon. Members which may or may not be fulfilled, by what would necessarily follow a very prolonged Debate upon this subject. It would be almost impossible to any of us being human beings, to prevent seine measure of detailed criticism, and perhaps a little acerbity of manner by going into such questions as those involved in the discussion. Honestly I am sure the House, will agree with me that that is the last thing we should desire in a question of this character.

I am grateful indeed to the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar) for the kindly way in which he has made his remarks. I am still more grateful to him that he did not press in any great detail certain suggestions and criticisms which have been open to any hon. Member of this House to make, but which might have opened up avenues of discussion which would have militated against the fulfilment of our wishes.

The hon. Member asked about the Committee to be appointed which was to inquire how far the recommendations of the Lytton Committee had been carried out, and what its personnel would be. It will be a Committee of Members of this House. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not had the opportunity or the time to select or appoint those Members. I am afraid my hon. Friend (Mr. Middleton) may regard that as unsatisfactory, but I think he will agree, and I believe the House generally will agree, that the appointment of a Committee of this character is not such an easy matter. This Committee has to be drawn from all sections of opinion, and a certain amount of time is required in order to get the consent of hon. Members to serve on the Committee. Reference has been made to the Anderson Committee. I was very sorry the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Middleton) criticised that Committee. I do not say harshly, but shall I say in a critical way. The Committee which has been set up will not only be called upon to consider, but it will be suggested to them that they should consider at their earliest possible moment, the question of the Lytton entrants.

It would be quite impossible to suggest to an independent Committee, or to issue instructions, that they shall the moment they sit and open their proceedings, consider in detail one particular aspect of a question. If such an instruction were issued it would destroy the very meaning of what is known as an independent Committee, and it could not be done. If such a thing were done I am sure it would be criticised in every quarter of the House, and its independence would be destroyed. The hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar) asked if we could give an assurance that representatives of the ex-service men would be called before the Committee. Again, I am sure the hon. Member will quite appreciate that it would be impossible for the Government to say that the Committee should or should not call before them any particular body of individuals. That must he left for the Committee to decide once it is set up, and they will have to decide who they shall call before them to give evidence, and they will also have to decide what evidence they require to be submitted. I cannot conceive, under circumstances as they exist to-day, when this question of the Lytton entrants is primarily in our minds, that this Committee would not be most anxious to summon before them representatives of the very people whose cases they are considering.


Would it not be possible to have a small ad hoc Committee to deal with this question?


I do not think it would. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has already told the House that he is going to make the suggestion that this Committee should consider this very question at the earliest possible moment, and I think that ought to meet the case. The hon. Member for Carlisle said that the Committee suggested was unrepresentative. I think the hon. Member will recognise the fact that among the many Committees set up to inquire into a variety of subjects a very large proportion of them are composed of independent gentlemen not Members of this House and for very good reasons. That must be obvious to all of us and particularly to those who are keenly interested in these cases. It is obvious that whatever the merits or the demerits of the claim put forward might be, arguments might be used for or against those claims and there would be less possibility of an independent judgment from those who arc vitally affected by the decisions they would be called upon to take in judging the merits of these cases. Therefore although this Committee may be called unrepresentative it is composed of men whose integrity is unimpeachable. One Member of this Committee is General Sir Herbert Lawrence and another is Sir Peter Rylands, and I do not think their names will be called into question.


Sir Peter Rylands is a member of the Federation of British Industries, and that body is an enemy of the working classes.


I do not agree with the hon. Member. Another member of the Committee is Sir Alan Anderson, whose services are well known in another capacity and whose integrity cannot be impeached.


I hope that the hon. Member will allow me to say that I did not impeach his integrity, but I challenged him on the ground of the class to which he belongs.


I am not using the word integrity from the point of view of personal dishonesty, but rather from the point of view of these gentlemen judging a question on its merits. I think the criticisms made as to the composition of the Committee are really not justifiable. The hon. Member for Carlisle says it is an inappropriate Committee, but I do not agree with him, and I think it is an appropriate Committee. It will have a balanced judgment and will consider all matters free from controversy, prejudice or pressure.


It cannot judge the question from the point of view of the hungry man.


I hope the hon. Member for Carlisle will not bring in little suggestions that might make the Debate acrimonious. There are many other classes to consider besides the Lytton entrants. The matter which the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar) has raised is after all the substance of the matter. This Committee is to inquire into the question of the initial pay of the Lytton entrants. That has been definitely stated to be one of the subjects which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will suggest for the early consideration of the Committee, and if that is done surely the position of hon. Members opposite will be met.




Then you do not want consideration.


Not from you.


We want it now.


This subject will take a certain amount of time for consideration. All we can do is to impress upon the Committee that at the earliest possible moment consideration shall be given to it and we cannot do more than that. I do not wish to go into some of the questions that have been raised by the hon. Member for Carlisle, but I do wish to emphasize this fact. My two predecessors in this office are both themselves ex-service men, and they would be the last people in the world to have any antipathy or antagonism to the claim of these people. Both of them considered this question. It is not for me to say what my opinion is as regards their judgment; but the whole question is now to he reopened and reconsidered by this Committees, and we should be doing an ill to the cause which is at the heart of many of us if we did anything to prejudice that discussion and consideration at the present moment. I am sure I shall he forgiven for saying one word on behalf of the Department which I have the honour to represent. Some people have said that it is the Treasury that, is hostile, but I can assure the House that the very great hardship involved in this question has been very much present in the minds of the permanent officials of the Treasury. Nothing would have pleased them more than to have been able long ago to have met that hardship, but surely hon. Gentlemen opposite must recognise that even an earnest desire to meet and get rid of a hardship, however obvious it may be to us all, does not complete the question. Other issues of a very difficult character are involved. Most of us, if it were merely a question of putting our hands into our own pockets to help someone, would gladly do it, hut, when you are faced with the fact that, by helping to try to relieve one hardship, you are, perhaps, equally inflicting hardship on another section of the community, then, obviously, it becomes a problem which of itself is a hard one to he called upon to solve, and there is no genuine-hearted man in this House or outside who would not, when faced with that contingency, hesitate somewhat to know what the decision should be.


Help the helpless.


My hon. Friend can speak later if he likes, but, perhaps, he will now allow me to continue. This is genuinely one of the problems of to-day, and this Committee which has been set up will take all the considerations into account. I could give, but I do not want to do so, answers to some of the suggestions made by the hon. Member for Carlisle. I do not want to go into details of controversy upon this matter, because I am sure it would only end in a further acrimonious discussion, and I would in all sincerity deprecate that. I can only say that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that he will suggest to this Committee that they should consider at the earliest moment this particular question, which is, after all, the pregnant question before us. If the House wilt accept the assurance of my right hon. Friend, and if they will allow me, as a very humble Member of the Government, to say that I individually am just as much interested in seeing a suspension of controversy and a solution of this problem, I am sure the House will be doing no wrong to the cause of those people by accepting the recommendations of the Government and not pressing for any further measure such as a Select Committee. I assure the House that it is not true to suggest that those in high authority at the Treasury are hostile or antipathetic to these claims. It is not correct to assume that, because they are the guardians of the nation's purse, and rightly so, therefore they are not animated by the sincerest desire to meet these cases. After all, however, they are the guardians of the nation's purse, and they have to consider how far, by any action they may take, they may be impairing the smaller comforts of other classes of the community. That, really, has been and must always be the problem with the Treasury.


Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer has considered sending this matter to the Select Committee which has already been appointed to deal with the Lytton case?


The Committee to deal with the Lytton case has not been appointed, but a Committee has been promised to inquire into how far the recommendations of the Lytton Committee have been observed. There is this other Committee, the Anderson Committee, which has been set up for the deliberate purpose of inquiring into, among other things, the specific case of the Lytton entrants, and, surely, when the hon. Member suggests, as he did, that this might go on for a long time, a Committee of three is a surer means of arriving at a speedy decision than a large Committee of 20 or 30. One knows, in private life, that a Committee of three can generally get through their work and come to a decision much sooner than an overstocked Committee of 20 or 30. I appeal to the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar), and to the House, not to press for a Select Committee. I am sure that the Anderson Committee which has been set up will take into consideration speedily and soon all those matters that are in his mind and our own, and I am convinced that, unbiassed by any prejudice, independent in judgment, sincere in their desire to meet and solve a vexatious problem, they will have far greater opportunities of giving something, shall I say, of a consolatory nature to those who are anxious to see the problem solved, while the setting up of a Select Committee of a larger and more numerous character would in itself not result in a speedier decision. I venture to suggest, with great respect to the House, that what has already been said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer will meet the case, and result in a speedier decision, and, though I cannot foretell, nor can anyone in this House, what the recommendations of that Committee will be, at any rate, they will be called upon to decide upon this vexed question at the earliest possible moment.


I am extremely sorry to have to get up after the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman representing the Treasury on the Front Bench this evening, but he has not met the particular point that we who have been working on this matter for some considerable time, and are very anxious about, desire to put forward. It is a very simple point. The question whether the Committee that has been appointed to go into the whole question of the pay of the Civil Service is the best kind of Committee, or whether the Select Committee that is about to be appointed should by its terms of reference be enabled to deal with this question of the starting pay of the Lytton entrants, is not really the matter we are pressing upon the representatives of the Treasury. The question that we really want to get at is: Does His Majesty's Government realise the feeling in this House, the feeling among the civil servants who are concerned, and the feeling in the country generally, as to the urgency of a solution of this problem? It has been admitted on all sides of the House to be probably the finest Civil Service in the world. It has been suggested by the hon. Member for Carlisle that we are looking upon this from the point of view of employers, and we do not want it to go forth to the world that the British Government, employing the finest body of men and women in the world, are the worst employers and the worst payers in the world. That is really the problem.

We are not satisfied with the speech we have just heard. We know perfectly well that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is speaking under a disadvantage. He is not the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. The right hon. Gentleman is undoubtedly engaged in preparing the Budget, which is, of course, understandable, and therefore the hon. and gallant Gentleman is speaking on behalf of someone else and cannot tell us exactly what he would do if he were the person who had the final decision. But the point we should like him to take to the right bon. Gentleman is this. We have in this House a very strong Committee of Members, consisting of representatives of every party and every section in the House, who are pledged in speech and in writing to see that justice is done to these men at the earliest possible moment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, anticipating a series of attacks upon the Government on this matter, has promised to set up a Select Committee to inquire into the workings and the carrying out of the recommendations which were made by a Committee presided over by the Earl of Lytton during the course of the last Parliament, and one of the matters that that Committee was concerned with was the pay of ex-service members of the Civil Service, and I should like to emphasise what has already been said by the Mover of the Motion and by the hon. Member for Carlisle, that it might be very much better that this question of the starting pay of Lytton entrants should be included in the terms of reference to the Select Committee which is about to he set up. After all, we are rather likely to have two Committees of a totally different nature overlapping in their work. Surely the Committee that is to be set up to inquire into the carrying out of the Lytton Report must inevitably deal with the pay of these men. As far as I understand the matter, I cannot see how they are going to avoid it. And if we have another Committee inquiring into the wider question of the pay of the whole of the Civil Service they also must inquire into the pay of these men, and we are quite likely to have two overlapping reports, one suggesting one thing and another something totally different.

But these are really matters of detail which are not so urgent as the one thing that we desire to press upon the Government with all the force and all the emphasis at our command, and that is the urgency of the matter. Some of us who have been working in connection with various associations which are organised to look after the interests of various sections of the Civil Service have been astonished and ashamed to know of the benevolent funds which have been necessary to be set up to assist men who are working for the greatest Empire the world has ever known, as we have heard stated more than once to-night, and to keep them from the workhouse or from selling up their homes. It may be that some of these statements are exaggerated. Urgent inquiry can soon put that right. If we can get men who are representative of the body of men for whom we speak that question can be examined in all its aspects. But the one thing that is essential is that if these statements, which we believe are true, then the sooner that is put an end to the better for the credit of the Government and of the country as a whole. I should like to emphasise the main points which we wish to bring forward. Without going into any other aspect of the case we say that the right hon. Gentleman when he gives his Terms of Reference to both these Committees, the one which is to be charged with this question of examining and inquiring into the starting pay of what are known as the Lytton Entrants—for the life of me I cannot see why the right hon. Gentleman cannot give an instruction to a Committee he is setting up, but if he cannot give an instruction can he give a very strong suggestion that of all the aspects of the case of the Civil Service that they have got fully to inquire into, this is the one aspect which is vitally urgent and which must be reported upon at the earliest moment? I urge the hon. and gallant Gentleman to use all the powers of persuasion that he has—and we all know he has many—upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he reports this Debate to him. Many Members who sit behind him are pledged to vote against their own Government on this matter if it is put to the Vote. The feeling is strong that the matter is urgent, and we want something more definite than the vague assurances we have received this evening.


I should like from this side of the House to reinforce the argument of the hon. Member who has just spoken, but I cannot go so far as to say I am prepared to vote against the Government, because I hope I have some sense of political perspective. I think there is a very real grievance here, and I hope my hon. and gallant Friend—I had not the advantage of hearing his speech—will go as far as he possibly can in the way of showing the Anderson Committee what ought to be done. These ex-service men who were temporarily employed had a chance of going in for the examination, and those who thought they could get through naturally seized the opportunity in order to get security of tenure. I have seen some of the papers, and they were very difficult. When they succeeded in the examination, in many cases their salary was reduced at once. They have been told they have got security of tenure, and when they attain the age of 60 they will be given a pension. That, of course, is a very gratifying thing, but it is no satisfaction to a man who cannot pay his butcher's bill now. If a man is 29 or 30 years of age, has a wife and a couple of children, and has served his country in the War, it is hard that, on succeeding in that examination, he should be asked to accept a salary which was intended for an unmarried boy of 18. I feel convinced that this is a real grievance, and I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will be able, if not to give an explicit instruction, at any rate to show the Committee that it will be consonant with the view of the Government to come to a conclusion such as has been indicated by the hon. Member opposite.


I hesitate to take any part at all in the discussion after the appeal which has been made from different quarters for a decision favourable to this request, and I should not have said a word at this stage but for the fact that, since the reply which was given by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, I have had an opportunity of consulting those who are responsible for bringing this case to the Government, and while I cannot commit them in any way. I think it is fair at least that this request should be known. The hon. and gallant. Gentleman's reply came to this, that he could not give a specific instruction to the Anderson Committee on the ground that that would be detracting from its independence. In the second place, while he thought that no doubt the people responsible for presenting the case of the Lytton entrants would be heard in evidence before the Committee, that was a matter which must be left to the judgment of the men appointed. On these two points there was no specific assurance of the kind which we are entitled to expect when a very urgent case is at stake. Many hon. Members in all parts of the House have served on committees of different kinds, and I think we shall agree that there has probably not been a committee set up in recent times which has had a wider reference in many ways or one covering a more extensive field than the Anderson Committee. As a matter of ordinary practice on these committees hon. Members will know that some time is taken with surveying the ground and ascertaining the kind of evidence they are going to call, and the procedure which they intend to follow. That will be the procedure of the Anderson Committee in regard to its first meeting and, for all we know, of subsequent meetings. It is fair to suggest that even if we get far more speed than the hon. Gentlemen has been inclined to suggest, some time will be occupied: it may be a month or two or more. During that time, thousands of men and women will be living under conditions very grievous and difficult, on the salaries and wages which they are now being paid. But for considerations of that kind I should have been inclined to agree with the reply that has been given.

9.0 P.M.

I come now to the specific request which it is fair that we should make to the Government. There is no denying the urgency of this case. I do not think that requires argument. Is it unreasonable to ask the Government to request the Anderson Committee before they survey the ground of their general reference to undertake consideration of the case of the Lytton entrants, that that shall be done before anything else is considered, and that that inquiry should proceed forthwith? The Financial Secretary's reply did not amount to a request to the Anderson Committee; it would be nothing more than a Government suggestion. I and other hon. Members who have served on numerous committees and have taken part in their work know that very often in the midst of that work we get definite requests from the Government for a reply on specific points, which do not in any way interfere with our independence, and which in many cases contribute to the efficiency of our discharging the task on which we have been engaged. Surely, having regard to the nature of this case, the Government should ask the Anderson Committee to consider this matter first of all, and to present a report. On the second and last point, there seems to be some doubt as to whether the people mainly responsible for presenting this case, namely, the associations, are to be called in evidence before the committee. I agree that it would be very difficult to settle this case by the Anderson Committee or any other committee without hearing the parties to the dispute, but I am bound to keep in mind what very often happens on an important committee of this kind. Unless there is a very definite request that certain evidence should be called, it often happens that the committee is inundated at the outset with requests that evidence should be heard from all kinds of parties, organisations and individual members of the community. The committee is compelled to make a selection of the evidence which they will call, and unless priority is given in this case, and unless we have some definite request and not merely a suggestion, that the case of the Lytton entrants shall be heard, we are going to leave this discussion to-night without the kind of guarantee to which these people are definitely entitled. I think that it is reasonable to ask the Financial Secretary that without any prejudice to future action, he should consent to this course. We are for the moment in this Debate waiving, as I think, the much stronger and better request for an ad hoc com- mittee. We are not stressing that at, the moment, but we do ask that the people affected in this matter should be called personally to give evidence, because it is a case which is very urgent and which demands the immediate consideration of this House.


I join with the last speaker in urging upon the Government the consideration of the two special points, and the concession of these requests. Much as my party loyalty would ho strained, I will strain it if necessary to go into the division lobby on this question. After 17 years in this House, and with a long official life, I am too much acquainted with the methods of Departmental officials not to know what these vague statements mean. I am not imputing to any Member of the Front Bench any desire to act otherwise than perfectly bonâ fide, but I know that the heads of bureaucratic Departments very often rule the Ministers, and I do not propose to leave myself in the hands of these bureaucrats. Therefore, I invite the Financial Secretary to consider again, before he turns down these two most reasonable requests. The first is that there should be a definite assurance that this, question of the Lytton entrants should be considered promptly. Those of us who represent areas around London know perfectly well that there is a very strong ease in their favour.

You may say that when a man becomes a permanent civil servant you are entitled to say to him: "We cannot give you as a permanency the pay which we are giving to you temporarily." On the other hand, there is a marked difference between the pay of a temporary ex-service civil servant and the pay of £80 which has been offered to him when he passes his examination and is put on the establishment. It is monstrous to suppose for a moment that a man getting towards 30 years of age, with possibly a wife and two children, or maybe more, should be required to live upon what is given to a boy clerk. It cannot be justified. It is not human, and, what is more, say what you like about the work being the same, the man of upwards of 20, unless he is a scallywag and does not intend to work, is by reason of his worldly experience better able to do the work than a boy fresh from school. In him you do have a better and a more attuned man doing the work, than a novice who comes straight from school.

You cannot justify giving that sum to these men. Therefore I do hope that before this matter reaches a crisis this opportunity will be taken to give to the House assurances of a definite character that this question shall be considered at once, and that we shall have evidence that the association of these men shall be at liberty to put their reference before the Anderson Committee. The allegations, made, I believe, with perfect sincerity and without exaggeration in a large number of these cases, do show that it is necessary to pin down definitely those who are behind the Ministers to consider these two points without delay.


I rise because I have been brought into very close contact with many of the members of the Civil Service who are the unfortunate victims of the circumstances of their entry into the permanent Civil Service. During the recent by-election, in which the hon. and gallant Member's predecessor was the candidate in my constituency, the question affecting these ex-service civil servants was brought prominently to the fore, and it is no exaggeration to say that it was the publicity which the civil servants themselves secured, together with such assistance as we could render them as to the treatment to which they had been subjected by the Treasury, that was responsible for a very definite wave of indignation throughout the whole of Liverpool with regard to the treatment of these ex-service men. I am sure that nothing which I shall say will incline the Anderson Committee to deal less justly with these particular claims, but it is because the representative of the Treasury has told the House that it is not within his competence to include within the terms of reference to this Committee some instruction as to how they shall formulate their inquiry, and obtain the necessary evidence, that we are anxious that at least they shall give some indication to the Anderson Committee of the very strong feeling that exists and the opinions which we hold with regard to their very bad treatment and what we consider to be a very bad example to private employers.

This is no party question, and as a young Member of the House f am delighted to find that on such a public and national question there should be an almost unanimous opinion with regard to the necessity for removing at an early date the injustice that exists. Take the case of not only those in London, but the civil servants to whom we are referring who are in Liverpool. There was an ex-officer in Liverpool who desired to become a worthy servant of the Crown in the Civil Service, who succeeded in passing the examination, and because he was successful in becoming a member of the permanent staff found that, in addition to having to exist on a miserable wage, he was compelled to refund the difference between the money which he had received as a temporary civil servant and the money which he was actually getting, which was less, when he became a permanent civil servant, and out of £2 7s. a week this ex-officer had to pay something like 7s. a week travelling expenses, and to maintain a wife and three children and obtain his own meals in town, in order that he could be one of the respectable Civil Service, which, after all, even if they be poor, are a pride to the country, and I feel it is not becoming the dignity of the House or of our public service that our employés should be reduced to a state in which they become mendicants or have to secure financial assistance from their fellows and other people in order that they may maintain a degree of respectability.

They cannot give that loyal service that we so readily expect from our civil servants unless we as their employers are prepared to give them a decent standard of existence. Only a few days ago one of the Ministers answered a question with regard to the number of persons who had re-registered on the King's Roll. At this particular moment, if it is desired that the employers of this country should employ ex-service men at a decent standard rate of pay, the Government itself at least has no excuse for departing from what we have always endeavoured to believe was an established principle of government, The Financial Secretary to the Treasury has said that he is particularly anxious to see that justice is done to these men. I am prepared to accept that statement, but I am afraid that the record of the Government during the past two or three months is hardly in keeping with the sentiments that are expressed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I may refer to a letter which was sent from the Treasury on the 2nd February last by the hon. and gallant Gentleman's predecessor. In the last paragraph of that letter we find that the former Financial Secretary said: I am aware that some of the men concerned find it difficult to make ends meet, but I am forced to the conclusion, comparing the conditions of their employment as a whole with those prevailing outside, that an increase of the present rate could not in existing circumstances be justified, and I agree with my predecessor that in this matter we who are administering not our own, but public funds cannot mete out justice as we should like. If that was the personal expression of the former Financial Secretary, and as Major Hills is an hon. and gallant Gentleman, and we are as much entitled to accept his word as to accept the word of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who is now Financial Secretary, I suggest that this House ought by every possible means of expression convey to the Anderson Committee, whatever its progress and policy may be, that we are anxious that something should be done effectively and quickly that will remove an injustice that is generally admitted both inside and out-

side this House. We find that however fine the words uttered on behalf of these men they butter no parsnips. The wives and children of these men are suffering every week. If we could have an assurance from the Treasury Bench that in this connection they will give us an earnest of their sincerity by promising to make retrospective to the 2nd February, or some date from which these people can reasonably consider they have been unjustly treated, any increase that may be recommended by this Committee or any other Committee, if we could have some such assurance, the loyalty of our ex-service civil servants would not be strained as it is strained now, and, however difficult it may be to meet our financial commitments in doing justice to the ex-service men, let this House and the Government at least set an example that will be followed very shortly by employers throughout the country.

Question put, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair.

The House divided: Ayes, 138; Noes, 145.

Division No. 77.] AYES. [9.17 p.m.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East) Ford, Patrick Johnston Margesson, H. D. R.
Apsley, Lord Forestier-Walker, L. Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.
Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence Furness, G. J. Milne, J. S. Wardlaw
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Galbraith. J. F. W. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Garland, C. S. Molloy, Major L. G. S.
Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague Gray, Harold (Cambridge) Molson, Major John Elsdale
Barnett, Major Richard W. Greenwood, William (Stockport) Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C
Barnston, Major Harry Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Morden, Col. W. Grant
Bril, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizcs) Hall. Lieut.Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Moreing, Captain Alger[...] H
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Halstead. Major D. Nall, Major Joseph
Berry. Sir George Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham) Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Harvey, Major S. E. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Hawke. John Anthony Parker, Owen (Kettering)
Brass, Captain W. Henn, Sir Sydney H. Pennefather. De Fonblanque
Briggs, Harold Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Penny, Frederick George
Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham) Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Perring, William George
Brown, J. w. (Middlesbrough, E.) Herbert, S. (Scarborough) Privett, F. J.
Bruton, Sir James Hewett, Sir J. P. Raeburn, Sir William H.
Buckingham, Sir H. Hilder, Lieut-Colonel Frank Raine, W.
Buckley, Lieut. Colonel A. Hiley, Sir Ernest Rankin, Captain James Stuart
Butcher, Sir John George Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Rentoul, G. S.
Cadogan, Major Edward Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.
Cassels, J. D. Hopkins, John W. W. Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
Cautley. Henry Strother Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Houfton, John Plowright Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K. Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Hudson, Capt. A Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Hume, G. H. Ruggles-Brise, Major E.
Clayton, G. C. Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Jophcott, A. R. Russell, William (Bolton)
Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul Russell-Wells. Sir Sydney
Cope, Major William Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff. South) King, Captain Henry Douglas Shepperson, E. W.
Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South) Lamb, J. Q. Simpson-Hinchcliffe, W. A.
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Lloyd-Greame. Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Skelton, A. N.
Davies, Thomas (Clrencester) Lorimer, H. D. Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)
Dawson, sir Philip Lort-Williams, J. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark) Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon) Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.
Erskine-Bolst, Captain C. Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Stockton, Sir Edwin Forsyth
Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury) Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.
Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H. Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Thompson, Luke (Sunderland) Watts, Dr. T, (Man., Withington) Yerburgh, R. D. T.
Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South) Wells, S. R.
Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Winterton. Earl TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Tubbs, S. W. Wise, Frederick Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel Gibbs.
Turton, Edmund Russborough Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Wallace, Captain E.
Adams, D. Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill) Rees, Sir Beddoe
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Herriotts, J. Riley, Ben
Attlee, C. R. Hirst, G. H. Ritson, J.
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Irving, Dan Roberts, C. H. (Derby)
Batey, Joseph Jarrett, G. W. S. Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)
Bon wick, A. Jenkins, W, (Glamorgan, Neath) Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Bowdler, W. A. John, William (Rhondda, West) Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Johnston, Thomas (Stirling) Royce, William Stapleton
Broad, F. A. Junes, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Salter, Dr. A.
Bromfield, William Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Scrymgeour, E.
Brotherton, J. Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnoch)
Buchanan, G. Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon) Shinwell, Emanuel
Burgess, S. Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Burnle, Major J. (Bootle) Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M. Simpson, J. Hope
Buxton, Charles (Accrington) Kenyon, Barnet Sitch, Charles H.
Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Kirkwood, D. Smith, T. (Pontefract)
Cairns, John Lansbury, George Snell, Harry
Cape, Thomas Lawson, John James Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S)
Chappie, W. A. Leach, W. Stephen, Campbell
Charleton, H. C. Lee, F. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley) Strauss, Edward Anthony
Darbishire, C. W. Linfield, F. C. Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Davison, J. E. (Smethwick) Lowth, T. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Duncan, C. Lunn, William Thornton, M.
Ede, James Chuter Mac Donald, J. R. (Aberavon) Turner, Ben
Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Warne, G. H.
England, Lieut.-Colonel A. March, S. Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Entwistle. Major C. F. Marshall, Sir Arthur H. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.) Middleton, G. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Evans, Ernest (Cardigan) Millar, J. D. Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Fairbairn, R. R. Morel, E. D. Weir, L. M.
Foot, Isaac Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Welsh, J. C.
George, Major G. L. (Pembroke) Murray, John (Leeds, West) Westwood, J.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western) Wheatley, J.
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D, L. (Exeter) White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Gray, Frank (Oxford) Nichol, Robert White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)
Greenall, T. Nield, Sir Herbert Whiteley, W.
Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.) Oliver, George Harold Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Coins) Paling, W. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Parker, H. (Hanley) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Groves, T. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Grundy, T. W. Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry Wood. Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Pattinson, S. (Horncastle) Wright, W.
Hall, f (York. W. R., Normanton) Phillipps, Vivian Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Ponsonby, Arthur
Hancock, John George Potts, John S. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hardie, George D. Pringle, W. M. R. Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Morgan
Hayday, Arthur Rae, Sir Henry N. Jones.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.