HC Deb 13 July 1922 vol 156 cc1470-1W
Captain BOWYER

asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) if he is aware that certain highly-qualified technical officers, some of them disabled, were recently offered new appointments at reduced rates of pay in his Department, and that, having accepted such appointments, only a few days elapsed before they received notices of discharge; what is the reason for this action;

(2) if he is aware that new contracts have recently been forced upon technical officers in his Department; that the officers concerned were given no opportunity of considering the terms of such new contracts before they came into operation; that the letters conveying the new terms of appointment were only received after the expiry of the existing contracts; and that repeated requests had previously been made by all the staff associations concerned that the new terms should be communicated in sufficient time for proper consideration, such requests having been consistently ignored by the establishment branch; and what is the reason for such treatment of highly qualified technical officers?

Captain GUEST

; In accordance with a Treasury decision to review the salaries of temporary staff, on inclusive rates of pay, notice of termination expiring on the 4th June, 1922, was issued to the Air Ministry staff concerned in March, as a necessary preliminary to this review. Those to whom these notices were sent were informed that new appointments on revised rates of pay would be offered to them as from the 5th June, but, owing to the large number of cases involved, to the fact that revision was made on an individual basis, to the difficulties which arose in the re-assessment of the salaries, and to the prolonged efforts which were made to obtain the best possible terms for the staff concerned, it was not until the 2nd June that it was found possible to despatch the letters stating the new rates of pay; and the fact that the Whitsun holidays intervened resulted in some of the officers not seeing their letters until the morning of the 6th June.

Meanwhile, for reasons of economy, a reduction of staff had become necessary. This had to be effected from among the temporary staff whose salaries were being reviewed as stated above, and affected 15 persons. In consequence of an undertaking given to the staff, advantage was not taken of the three months' notice of termination so as to discharge immediately on the 4th June those with whose services it was decided to dispense, but a fresh three months' notice was issued to each officer selected for reduction. This notice followed the letter stating the revised rates of pay by only a brief interval, but, as already indicated, it was known to all those concerned that notice given to effect reduction of pay and notice to effect discharge would be separate processes and that the completion of the reduction of pay did not preclude discharge.