HC Deb 02 December 1920 vol 135 cc1472-4W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture whether the Minister of Agriculture has seen a memorandum prepared by 27 associations interested in the fisheries in January, 1920, and is aware of the general desire of the fishing industry that the fisheries division should be placed in charge of a permanent Secretary for Fisheries with the right of direct access to the Minister and to the Treasury; whether he proposes to accede to that wish; if not, why not; whether he is aware that the industry is anxious to guard against any interference by agricultural officers in the finance and administration of fisheries, and desires especially to see the handling of the Fisheries Estimates entrusted to officers who are in direct touch with fishery problems; whether this result could forthwith be attained by administrative order without increasing the Estimates; whether he is aware that the industry in the memorandum referred to urged that the remuneration of research workers should approximate to that of the executive branch; whether he will state the number of scientific officers which it is proposed to entertain in the fisheries division, and the rates of remuneration to be offered in the various grades; whether he is aware of the urgent necessity of attracting men of first-class calibre to marine research, and that such men are unlikely to be attracted to the public service by prospects which compare unfavourably with those held out by other branches of the Civil Service, or in the universities, or in independent scientific institutions; how the remuneration fixed for the scientific staff of the fisheries division does in fact compare with that of research workers in agriculture and with Civil Service rates, how many appointments are vacant, and how many appli- cants have been attracted by the remuneration offered; whether it is desirable and necessary to pay scientific workers the same rates as prevail in the Civil Service; and whether, if need be, this result could be attained by reducing the number of appointments and increasing the salaries?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With reference to the second, third, fourth and fifth parts of the question, the recent re-organisation of the Fisheries Department, of which my hon. Friend is aware, was intended to give effect to the wishes of the various branches of the industry (with the general aims of which the Minister is in sympathy), so far as is compatible with the system of financial control demanded by the Treasury in the public interest and with the broad requirements of economical administration. With reference to the sixth, seventh and eighth parts of the question, the Treasury have recently sanctioned the following scientific staff for the Fisheries Department:

Salary (exclusive of war bonus).
1 Director £1,000
2 Principal Naturalists £650–25–750 (1 rising to £800.)
5 Naturalists £450–20–600
13 Assistant Naturalists (4 temporary.) £200–15–400

New entrants to the grade of assistant naturalist will pass through a maximum period of two years' probation, during which their salary will be £300, inclusive of war bonus. The Minister is most anxious to attract first-class men to the scientific staff of the Fisheries Division, and hopes that the salaries mentioned above will achieve the desired result. A comparison of the salaries with those offered in other Government Departments, in universities and independent scientific institutions, is rendered difficult by the variations of grades, responsibilities, and conditions of work. The number of scientific officers, permanent and temporary, now employed in the Fisheries Department is 16, five of whom are probationers with salaries of £300 a year, inclusive of War bonus. Further vacancies will shortly be advertised.

The tenth and eleventh parts of the question should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

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