HC Deb 14 August 1919 vol 119 cc1643-4W

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the so called opening for ex-soldiers in the Customs and Excise, and that in Liverpool there are a number of ex-Service men who have been studying for months, in order to submit themselves to the examinations for these positions in the Customs and Excise, and that now all their applications are found to be ineffectual because they were not at school up to the age of seventeen years; whether he is aware that there was an interim scheme which did not require this condition and under which these men were eligible, but that this interim scheme has been dropped and a reconstruction scheme substituted, and that such reconstruction scheme states that, if a man has been in a Government office from the age of fifteen years and two months, he need not have been at school until seventeen ; and whether he can see his way to allow these men to present themselves for the examination which they have been led to believe they were eligible for, in order that injustice may not be done to ex-soldiers who have put in five months' hard study in order to qualify?


The interim scheme of appointment for posits as officers of Customs and Excise was a temporary measure adopted to give some immediate assistance to the Department pending the holding of a competitive selection under the Reconstruction Regulations. The scheme provided for a limited number of vacancies to be filled on z purely tempor- ary basis, the candidates so appointed being required to pass a qualifying examination six months after taking up duty, instead of before selection. Under this scheme seventy-two officers were selected out of 1,500 applicants; the scheme was then closed. The unsuccessful candidates, were informed that they might apply for appointment under the Reconstruction Scheme, and full instructions were sent to them in regard to the conditions of candidature under that scheme. These conditions included the requirement in regard to systematic and continuous education up to the age of seventeen, which was set out in the Regulations issued when the scheme was first announced, and I cannot accept responsibility for any action taken by candidates who started studying for the competition without examining the conditions prescribed. The Regulations have now been amended so as to provide that the requirement as to full time education up to the age of seventeen shall be waived where the candidate entered the Forces at an earlier age, if his full time education continued up to the time of his joining the Forces; but having regard to the fact that there are only about 200 vacancies for these posts and some 5,000,000 potential candidates, no further modification could be agreed to without making the heavy-task of the Selection Board impossible.