HC Deb 25 February 1920 vol 125 cc1727-8W

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will reconsider the claims of telegraphists who have served as Royal Engineer telegraphists to have their time in the latter Service reckoned for superannuation allowance; whether such service is, in fact, service in the Post Office in the capacity of a civil servant; whether the total sum required to grant the claims of these civil servants would not exceed £1,000 per annum: whether many of the men concerned were induced to join the Royal Engineer telegraph section by official assurances, subsequently withdrawn, that time served in that section would count as Post Office service; and whether, in view of the fact that the failure to fulfil those assurances is regarded as a breach of faith to those civil servants who relied upon them, he will now represent to the Treasury that the claims referred to ought to be allowed?


Though the service was, in the main, spent under civilian conditions and under civilian control, it was, in fact, military service, and the men were in receipt of military pay and allowances. There is no legal power, therefore, to reckon it for civil pension, and I am informed that no official assurances that it should so reckon have ever been given.

The cost of granting the claims of the Post Office telegraphists in question would not greatly exceed £1,000 per annum, but it would be impossible to confine the legislation, which would be a necessary preliminary to granting these claims, to this particular class, and the cost of allowing military service generally to count for civil pension, to which there are grave objections, would be immeasurably greater. I see no prospect that the decision of the Treasury, which was reached after the most careful consideration, will be reversed.