HL Deb 06 August 1940 vol 117 cc140-1

5.58 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the second question standing in my name.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether, in the present emergency, Ministers in charge of Government Departments are empowered to supersede or dismiss civil servants incapable or incompetent for the discharge of their war duties, and whether any modification of the rules governing appointment, promotion and dismissal in the Civil Service has been made since the commencement of the war.]


My Lords, civil servants hold their positions at the pleasure of the Crown and Ministers and heads of Departments have at all times the power to remove members of their staff who are incapable of discharging their duties efficiently or are otherwise unsatisfactory. There has been no change in this position since the commencement of the war. I would, however, refer the noble Lord to the Prime Minister's message of July 4 in which he said that His Majesty's servants in high places should not hesitate, if necessary, to remove any officers or officials who are found to be consciously exercising a disturbing or depressing influence and whose talk is calculated to spread alarm and despondency.

Modifications in the rules governing appointment and promotion have been necessary to meet war-time conditions, and to safeguard the interests of existing and potential civil servants who are absent with the Forces. Appointment to the establishment by open written competitive examination is suspended, and vacancies are filled by temporary appointments through the machinery of the Ministry of Labour and National Service. Promotions are made only in an acting capacity, and the promoted officer is liable to revert to his previous post at any time. It has, moreover, been ruled that civil servants registered as conscientious objectors by a tribunal unconditionally or on condition that they remain in their civil service employment will, for the war period, be barred from consideration for promotion.