HC Deb 17 February 1949 vol 461 cc1340-1
49. Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that in the recent open competition for the appointment of principals in the home Civil Service there were some 4,000 applicants for 50 posts and that each applicant had to pay a fee of £1 for the registration of his name with the Civil Service Commissioners; and if he will discontinue the payment of such fees in future.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer given on the 8th February to the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) and the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys). The reply to the second part of the Question is, "No."

Lieut.-Commander Hutchison

Is it not extortionate to demand £1 just for registering a name?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

When the hon. and gallant Gentleman's party was in power it was a good deal more. It was then £8.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the answers to which he referred were highly unsatisfactory, and that there is very strong feeling indeed among the numerous applicants from each of whom £1 was extorted and the great majority of whom were never even interviewed?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

This was a special competition and the Civil Service Commission had to do something to keep down the number of applicants. Actually, 14,000 people wrote in for the forms, although only 4,000 in fact applied.

Mr. Churchill

Why is it necessary to charge £4,000 merely for this purpose?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

In order, as I said, to keep the number of applications down. Normally, except where the examination is written, even this fee is not charged, but here the Civil Service Commissioners had to charge a fee in order to keep the applications down to those who were in earnest and were serious in their desire to seek a post of this kind. I would also inform the right hon. Gentleman that the posts which were advertised carried salaries of well over £1,000.

Mr. De la Bère

It is a thoroughly bad principle.

Brigadier Medlicoft

Would not the object have been achieved by asking for a larger deposit which could be returned to unsuccessful applicants.

Hon. Members


Mr. Glenvil Hall

I imagined that the answer was quite obvious and I had no desire to humiliate the hon. and gallant Gentleman. If the fee was returnable to unsuccessful candidates, anyone would apply. The fee would not deter anybody.

Mr. Chetwynd

Has my right hon. Friend any evidence that any person who is genuinely anxious to take the examination has been debarred by the fee?

Mr. Erroll

Is not this another case of rationing by the purse?