§ (The Viscount Cranbrook.)
§ (NO. 176.) SECOND READING.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ VISCOUNT BURY
, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, that his noble Friend now at the head 855 of the Indian Office, and who was lately at the War Office (Viscount Cranbrook), had taken the question of Promotion and Retirement into his consideration. The result was that the present Bill was introduced into the House of Commons, and it dealt both with the War and the Admiralty Departments. In the House of Commons no alteration of any moment was made in it. The Bill dealt with the compulsory retirement of officers. It had been acknowledged in the House of Commons, and he thought it would be acknowledged in their Lordships' House, that it provided liberal compensation for those who should compulsorily retire—as liberal as was consistent with a due regard to public economy and the interests of the Public Service. As the matter had been fully debated in "another place," he would content himself with simply moving the second reading.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a" —(The Viscount Bury.)
§ LORD TRURO
was very glad that there was to be a reduction in the expenses of the War Department; but he would like to know if that reduction was to be accompanied by an increase in delay? He did not merely refer to the delay which took place in regard to the Regular Army, but to that in reference to the Volunteer Service. Everyone must admit that these officers should be adequately remunerated, and while he rejoiced that steps had been taken in the direction of reform, he hoped that a diminution in the staff would not result in further delays.
§ VISCOUNT CARDWELL
said, he did not know that any improvement could be effected in the principle of the Bill, which he hoped would be read a second time.
§ LORD HAMMOND
said, that the effect of this measure, as he understood it, would be a considerable reduction in the existing staff of clerks, and probably an increase in the number of copyists and writers. He was not sufficiently acquainted with the nature of the business transacted in these Offices, or with the principle on which it was conducted, to be able to form an opinion as to the expediency of the proposed changes. After what had recently occurred, he did not think anyone would recommend the introduction into the Foreign Office— 856 with which he was acquainted—of a lower class of clerks. He was not prepared to discuss the general principles of the Bill; but he was glad to take that opportunity of calling their Lordships' attention to the case of copyists and writers in the Public Service. They must be all more or less educated, they must be regular and punctual in attendance, orderly and industrious in their conduct, and decently attired, and being thus qualified, could they be considered to be sufficiently paid by the pittance of 10d. an hour, earning thus about 5s. a-day, or less than the earnings of an ordinary mechanic? They had nothing to look forward to; they had no assured tenure of office, for they might be discharged any day; they had no expectation of improved position or increased pay; they had no provision to look to if incapacitated by sickness or by age—in short, they had no encouragement whatever for fidelity or industry. He trusted that their Lordships would agree with him that the class of public servants to whom he alluded might with justice be more liberally dealt with, more especially as without them the Public Service in many Offices, under the present system, would be brought to a standstill.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
stated, that what had been said about writers did not apply to the War Office. As to the complaint about delay, he thought the War Office had more cases to deal with than any other Department. There must be some delay, because they had to deal with men all over the world. There was no real delay in working the Department. It was worked with efficiency and regularity. Every case had to be thoroughly inquired into. Everybody connected with it had to be consulted. He hoped their Lordships would give a second reading to the Bill, which was intended to improve the Department and diminish the expenses.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Tuesday next.