§ 24. Mr. E. BROWN
asked the Minister of Health how many members of his staff have been placed on overtime since 1st March, 1928?
Since 1st March, 74 members of the staff have been placed on overtime in various branches of my Department to deal with special and urgent work. 31 of these officers have already reverted to normal hours and the remaining 43 will similarly revert at the end of the present month.
§ 25 and 26. Mr. BROWN
asked the Minister of Health (1) why notices terminating the employment of 124 ex-service temporary clerks have been issued in his Department while members of his staff are continually being placed on overtime;
(2) how many members of his staff had their leave curtailed during 1927 in order to keep the work entailed by the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1925, on an up-to-date basis; whether such leave outstanding will be granted this year; and, if so, whether he will consider cancelling the notices issued to ex-service temporary clerks in order to cope with the arrears of work in his Department?
§ 32. Major OWEN
asked the Minister of Health whether, seeing that in spite of an abnormal amount of overtime, the work in regard to the administration of the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1925, is still much in arrears, he will reconsider the question of dispensing with any of the staffs at present employed by the Ministry of Health, excepting the officers engaged on loan from other Departments?
1,242 members of the staff had their leave curtailed during 1927 in order to deal with the abnormally large number of claims to Old Age Pension accruing as from 2nd January, 1928. Any leave outstanding will be granted during the current year and sufficient staff will be retained to enable this 548 to be done. The number of Old Age Pension claims received since 2nd January largely exceeded the estimate and the staff engaged on that work had therefore, much to my regret, to be employed on overtime. This overtime ceased on 5th March and I do not anticipate any necessity for resuming it. The need for it could not be obviated by the engagement or retention of officers without a special degree of skill in the work. The prospective volume of work for the current year would not afford any justification for cancelling the notices given, but in view of the present position of the work, I have decided to postpone the operation of the notices for a short time.
§ Mr. R. MORRISON
Does that answer mean that the only section of the right hon. Gentleman's Department in which overtime is worked is the Pensions Department, and that there has not been any overtime in any other Department?
No, that would not be quite correct. There has been some overtime in other sections as well.
§ 33. Major OWEN
asked the Minister of Health, seeing that the pledge given to the women temporary staffs states specifically that if new entrants to the Civil Service cause the displacement, in due course, of women temporary staffs, recourse shall be had by dismissing the least efficient of the temporary staffs, why he has issued notices terminating the employment of 124 ex-service temporary clerks and refused to issue any such notices to the women temporary staff employed in his Department?
The pledge to which the hon. and gallant Member refers was an undertaking that for a period of 12 months, from 1st January, 1928, no efficient temporary woman clerk who has since 1st January, 1926, or earlier, been continuously employed in any headquarter establishment shall be discharged from that establishment to make room for a successful candidate from any open competition for the Established Writing Assistant or Clerical Class (Women) held after 1st January, 1926. This undertaking has no bearing on the issues raised in the latter part of the question.
§ 27 and 29. Major OWEN (for Mr. FENBY)
asked the Minister of Health (1) whether, in view of the many appeals based on hardship grounds which have 549 been received by the Ministry of Health establishment officers from ex-service temporary clerks under notice terminating their employment, he has considered cancelling such notices and issuing notices to such women temporary clerks who are not employed in his Department on hardship grounds, in order that the pledges given to the ex-service staff by His Majesty's Government may be carried into effect;
(2) as he has issued notices terminating the employment of 124 ex-service temporary clerks in his Department on the lines indicated in the Lytton Report, why he has not carried out the recommendation that temporary women staff shall be dismissed before ex-service men?
The work upon which the temporary women staff are employed is of the class described by the Lytton Committee as specially appropriate to women, and, therefore, as ordinarily non-substitutable by men. The notices with have been given are consequently strictly in accordance with the recommendations of that Committee.
§ 28. Major OWEN (for Mr. FENBY)
asked the Minister of Health how much longer he estimates that the work of the Central Index Committee will continue?
The Central Index Committee, which ceased to hold office on 4th April, 1927, was responsible for recording the title of insured persons to medical benefit and transmitting to insurance committees notifications affecting the title to such benefit. This work, which is an essential part of the machinery for the administration of medical benefit, is now being carried out in a modified form by the permanent staff of my Department, assisted temporarily by a portion of the staff previously under the control of the Central Index Committee. I am not in a position at the present time to state how long it will be before the work can be done in the ordinary course by Departmental staff, but the temporary staff has already been reduced by about one-third.
It would take rather too long to deal with that point 550 in the answer to a question but I will send the hon. Member particulars.