HC Deb 27 July 1937 vol 326 cc2850-2
48. Mr. Gordon Macdonald

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now in a position to state his decision as to the instituting of an inquiry into the request to reckon the temporary service of civil servants for pensionable purposes?

Sir J. Simon

Questions affecting the placing of ex-service men in temporary employment in the Government service on the pensionable establishment, particularly in regard to those employed as temporary clerks, were exhaustively examined by the Lytton and Southborough Committees, and more recently by the Royal Commission on the Civil Service. They were, moreover, the subject of an agreement between the Treasury and the Association of Ex-Service Civil Servants which was concluded on the express terms that it was an agreed final settlement of the claims to permanent employment in the Civil Service of ex-service men then temporarily employed. As a result the vast majority of the ex-service clerks temporarily employed for any length of time have been placed on the pensionable establishment. The agreement involved acceptance of the conditions of establishment in force at that time, namely, that it was subject to an age limit of 50 and that unestablished service did not reckon for pension. These conditions must be regarded as final for those established prior to or in pursuance of the agreement. Any relaxation of these conditions for temporary clerks established at a later date must remain consistent with these conditions and with general Civil Service practice. Relaxations up to this limit have in fact been conceded. I have reviewed the whole matter on its merits and feel bound to uphold the essential distinction between established and unestablished service—a distinction which lies at the base of the determination of pension rights for all branches of the Civil Service. In these circumstances I have come to the conclusion that no useful purpose would be served by yet another inquiry.

Mr. Macdonald

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that such a decision means a very severe hardship on thousands of people with long service in the Civil Service?

Sir J. Simon

I can assure the hon. Member that I have looked into the matter myself with every desire to consider the difficulties of it—and there are difficulties—and I really have no doubt that a further inquiry would serve no useful purpose.

Mr. Holdsworth

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very strong feeling among Members on all sides of the House with regard to this question? Would he be prepared, if necessary, to receive a representative deputation of Members as to the necessity of setting up a further inquiry?

Sir J. Simon

I said earlier on that it would have to be considered carefully whether a further inquiry should he instituted. No doubt the application for such an inquiry was made to me because I was newly come to the Treasury. I have looked into the matter myself, and find myself in complete agreement with the views taken by my predecessor that there is no justification for a new inquiry.

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

As the right hon. Gentleman is so sure of the justice of his case, surely he would not risk anything by submitting it to the judgment of an impartial committee, especially as the organisation which represents these men has said that it will abide by the judgment of such a committee?

Sir J. Simon

At the time of the previous inquiry an undertaking was given that the organisation would accept the conclusion. I am afraid that in those circumstances I do not think it desirable to have a new inquiry.

Mr. Mathers

Have not the conditions changed in view of the later generosity to Ministers, judges and Members of Parliament, and can there not be a like generosity extended to civil servants?