33. Mr. Alexander
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that an award of the Industrial Court in 1936 for an increase in salary to clerical staffs has been withheld from operation in the case of some members of the staffs of the armament supply and victually departments of the Admiralty; that, in justification, it has been stated that about one-half of the staffs of these departments are inefficient; and will he make a full statement on the matter?
The practical effect of the award referred to was to fuse third grade clerks with second grade clerks, and when making the award the Court stated:A clerk whose present salary is above the efficiency bar in the scales awarded (i.e., £230) shall not proceed beyond the existing maximum until the Department in which such clerk is serving has certified that he or she is competent to discharge the highest duties now performed by second and third grade clerks.The withholding of the certificate referred to did not mean that the clerk concerned was inefficient, but merely that, as stated by the Court, he or she was not competent to perform the highest duties performed by the grades in question. The terms of the certificate were modified last November by agreement with the Civil Service Clerical Association, and a further review of every case was ordered with the result that the number who have been refused their certificate amounts to only 8 per cent of the total in all Admiralty Departments. These numbers are subject to a further review in six months' time.
Is the First Lord aware that in the case of the armament supply department mentioned in the question, 36 out of 68 of the clerical staff have been refused the application of the award, and that in the victualling department, 15 out of 22 have been refused, more than half in each case; and does he think that it can be substantiated that that very large proportion of these important staffs at this time are inefficient for the application of the award?
No, Sir, the later figures have now been reduced to 23 per cent., and it is hoped that when they are again reviewed they will be reduced still further. I would appeal that no suggestion should be made—it was certainly plain from the Court's statement that there was no such suggestion—that the clerks in this department are inefficient. Now that two grades have been combined certain clerks are not fully competent to fulfil higher duties.
I do not think that we have gathered together misfits. I am not aware of the exact position in the other Departments, but I think they have also had difficulties.
Is it not clear that the First Lord should give personal consideration to this matter and see that some measure of justice is meted out in the Admiralty, as in every other Department?