HC Deb 21 February 1939 vol 344 cc198-9
48. Mr. Cocks

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that under Treasury regulations certain classes of civil servants, including county court bailiffs, are reserved for ex-members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police, already in receipt of long-service pensions; whether he will state which these classes are, and the number of such positions so filled; under what authority these regulations were made, and when they were first put into operation; and whether, in view of the present widespread unemployment he will consider the advisability of amending this practice so that Government posts of a character which might be filled by unemployed men, should not in future be reserved exclusively for men already drawing pensions sufficient to live upon?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Simon)

It is, and has for many years past been, the policy of His Majesty's Government to give to ex-regular sailors, soldiers and airmen a preference for certain types of Civil Service employment for which they have suitable qualifications. The preference is not normally in favour of the long service pensioner as such. There are, however, a few grades in which Departments have found it desirable to reserve appointments for, or give a further preference to, those ex-regulars who have served the full term of years enabling them to earn a pension. I regret that I am unable to furnish the detailed information desired by the hon. Member, but examples, apart from county court bailiffs, are watchers in the Customs Service and pensioner clerks under the Admiralty. There are no general Treasury regulations on the point, and I see no justification for suggesting to the Departments concerned that they should change their practice.

Mr. Cocks

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a considerable amount of feeling in the country, especially among members of the British Legion, that a change should be made in this way, and that some of the posts might be given to people who are unemployed and not drawing a pension?

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that pensions are, in fact, deferred pay, and therefore, constitute savings of the individual, and will he see that nothing is done to penalise any class of the community by reason of their savings?

Mr. E. J. Williams

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that some persons are entitled to have a single income before other persons have a double income?

Sir J. Simon

I think the present arrangement is working reasonably satisfactorily. I must say I have not had my attention drawn to specific complaints. If the hon. Gentleman opposite has a case in mind, no doubt he will let me know.