§ Captain MURRAY
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many surveyors in Excise collectors' offices, who were late first-class principal clerks, have retired since his statement to a deputation of Customs and Excise officials on 3rd May last, that the process of reducing the number of surveyors in consequence of amalgamation would be suspended; how many of the posts rendered vacant have been filled by promotion; and from what source is it intended to fill existing vacancies?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Seven surveyors, formerly principal clerks, first class, have retired since the date named. Under the scheme of amalgamation, provisional arrangements have been made for providing for the work which these particular officials performed, but the number1192W of the surveyorships on the establishment as a whole is being maintained in accordance with my statement.
§ Captain MURRAY
asked (1) how many of the Excise second class principal clerks, who were reduced to the rank of officer under the Hobhouse Report, had qualified for and obtained promotion by passing the board's examination; how many years had they occupied the position of principal clerk; what are their present ages; will they be subjected to a second examination before regaining the supervising grade; if so, will they be placed in competition with men who are much their junior; (2) whether any other grade in the Excise Department, except second-class principal clerk, has been reduced in rank under the Hobhouse Report; whether there is any precedent in the Excise Department for reduction in rank except for marked inefficiency or gross misconduct; and, seeing that there has always been an understanding that efficient Civil servants of good character were not subject to reduction in rank, whether he will take into consideration the effect of the reduction of these officials upon their character and capacity; (3) what would be the extra cost to the Department during the next four years if the second-class principal clerks reduced in rank under the Hobhouse Report were reinstated in the surveying or supervising grade?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Twenty-three of the officers referred to were promoted to the rank of principal clerk, second class, as the result of examination. Their service in that grade up to the date of its abolition varied from seven years nine months to ten years ten months, and their present age varied from fifty-two years two months to fifty-nine years three months. As I explained in my reply to a question put by the Noble Lord the Member for Londonderry City on 28th November, 1911, the case of these clerks was fully considered by the Amalgamation Committee, and there has been no reduction in rank such as these questions imply. Reductions in rank for misconduct, etc., to which my hon. Friend refers, always carry censure and reduction of salary. These clerks, on the other hand, have been granted the right, subject to efficiency, to progress to £400 a year, the highest possible salary attainable by them in their former organisation. I may add that the clerks themselves stated their claims to me at considerable length at a deputation 1193W which I received a year ago, and in my reply of last May I announced certain concessions which, in my opinion, adequately met any grievance they might feel. I cannot see that any useful purpose would be served by calculating the hypothetical cost of promoting them to the altogether higher salary and responsibilities of the new surveying grade. The conditions of their admission to the surveying grade are laid down in paragraph 158 of the Report of the Amalgamation Committee.