HC Deb 22 October 1919 vol 120 cc48-51W

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is considering the advisability of issuing a Treasury Minute to all Government Departments pointing out the urgent necessity in the interests of economy of reducing all Government staffs to the pre-war level and calling for a monthly return to show how this design has been accomplished?


The urgent necessity of reducing staffs as rapidly as possible has been repeatedly impressed on Government Departments by the War Cabinet and the Treasury. Returns of variations in the numbers of Departmental staffs are presented to Parliament each month.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the staffs employed by the Board of Inland Revenue on the 11th November, 1918, show an increase of 1,205 over the number employed on the 1st August, 1914, and that the figures given on the 31st March, 1919, show a further increase of 1,485; and whether this increase is being maintained or whether he has been able to impress upon this Department his views upon national economy?


The facts are as stated, but in the same period the revenue for the collection of which the Board of Inland Revenue is responsible has risen from £88,000,000 to £702,000,000. The increase of staff is more than justified by this immense increase of work, and I anticipate a further increase rather than a decrease to cope with it. In 1913/14 the cost of the staff was 2.25 per cent,. of the revenue collected. To-day it is only 63 per cent. Any reduction of the trained staff would cost the country far more in loss of revenue than would be saved in salaries.


asked the Food Controller whether he can state the number of his staff employed on the 11th November, 1918, for purely statistical work; and whether there has been any reduction in the staff since that date?


The staff of the Ministry (including the Royal Commission on the Wheat Supply) engaged on purely statistical work on 11th November, 1918, consisted of forty-six administrative officers and 193 subordinate clerks. The numbers at present are twenty-two administrative officers and seventy-three subordinate clerks. The reduction therefore amounts to 60 per cent.


asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the numbers given for his total staff on 11th November, 1918, show an increase over the pre-war figures, and that those given for 31st March, 1919, show a still further increase; and if it is possible to reduce the staff to a pre-war level?


I am aware of the figures quoted by my hon. Friend. The increase is almost entirely due to the growth of the work connected with the administra- tion of the law relating to aliens. To deal with this work efficiently it has been necessary to increase considerably both the outdoor staff of inspectors and also the clerical staff at headquarters. Subject to this increase, which is likely to be permanent, the staff of the Home Office will soon be reduced approximately to its prewar level.


asked the Minister of Health as representing the National Health Insurance Commissioners, whether he will state the total number of persons employed by his Department in the United Kingdom on 31st March, 1919; and whether any reductions have been made in these staffs since that date?


I am sending the hon. Gentleman a copy of Command Paper 276, which gives the figures as on 31st March, 1919. It has not been possible to make any reduction in the staffs of the Department referred to since that date.


asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the clerical staff of his Department on the 11th November, 1918, numbered 197,315, and on 31st March, 1919, 200,487; and what reductions have been made since that date?


The figures quoted cover the whole staff of the Post Office, excluding only the workmen and labourers employed in the engineering department and in the Past Office Factories. The corresponding figure for toe 1st October is 214,732, the increase being accounted for chiefly by the restoration or improvement of public services suspended or curtailed during the War and by increase of Post Office business.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller what staff is now employed by his Department; whether he is able to forecast substantial reductions in the near future; and, if so, when and to what extent?

Colonel L. WILSON

The total number of persons employed by the Ministry at, home and abroad on 16th October was 1,869 as compared with 2,062 on 31st July, and 3,387 on 31st December last. The staff is being steadily reduced, but there remains a very large amount of financial clearing up to be done while the executive work depends upon the heads of other Government Departments. It is not pos- sible, therefore, at the present time to make any definite statement as to the dates on which drastic reductions can be made.

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