HC Deb 12 July 1923 vol 166 cc1597-9W

asked the Minister of Pensions what will be the cost of the Officers' Friend Branch at the Ministry headquarters for the current financial year; and whether, as there is an officers' friend attached to each region, it is necessary to retain this branch?


I would refer the hon. Member to page 27 of the Estimates for Civil Services (Class VI), where the estimated cost is shown as £3,576. The officers' friends attached to the regions are not able entirely to cover the whole field of the work and supplementation is, therefore, necessary in the shape of an Officers' Friend Branch at headquarters. I can assure the hon. Member that I am keeping the necessity for continuing the branch at headquarters under review, and it will be maintained no longer than is necessary.


asked the Minister of Pensions whether the estimated cost of the awards division at the Ministry headquarters for the current year is £169,693; what class of awards is dealt with in this division; whether this division makes the awards for the London region; and when it is proposed to decentralise all awards to the regions?


The total of £169,693, mentioned in the hon. Member's question, includes a sum of £79,500 for the staff employed in connexion with all questions of pension to officers and their dependants and a sum of £50,500 in respect of staff employed on foreign and Colonial cases the Central Index, etc. The remainder is the cost of the headquarters awards staff, whose functions comprise the general supervision and inspection of awards work and the determining of difficult questions submitted to headquarters from the regions. I am not prepared to adopt the hon. Member's suggestion that this division should be at once abolished, but I am glad to note his interest in administrative economy and reduction of staff. Men's awards are dealt with in the London region as in the other regions.


asked the Minister of Pensions whether, seeing that in the secretariat there is a secretary, two principal assistant secretaries, two assistant secretaries, one deputy-assistant secretary, six principals, five assistant principals, two staff officers, five section heads, and five higher grade clerks supervising 23 permanent and seven temporary clerks, he will consider a reduction in the number of the higher grade staff in this section, and submit to the Treasury that the economy thus effected would enable the Special Grants Committee to continue the sickness grants to widows and children, and at the same time reduce the annual charge for the Ministry?


As I informed the late hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Cairns) on the 19th and 26th April last in replies to which I would refer the hon. Member, the functions of the secretariat are the direction of policy under the Minister and the general supervision and control of the Ministry machine, namely, the control of the methods of work and the organisation of nearly 23,000 persons in numerous offices and institutions throughout Great Britain and Ireland. The hon. Member will readily recognise that there is a relatively small proportion of work in this office which is appropriate to subordinate staff, and while I am glad to think that I can rely on his support in the efforts which I am continually making to reduce the costs of administration by terminating the employment of surplus staff and in other possible ways, I regret that I do not see my way at present to make any reduction in the higher posts in the office in question.


asked the Minister of Pensions if the temporary salaried officials in the Ministry of Pensions receive the same treatment as permanent officials in respect of annual and sick leave; if they receive the same remuneration for similar work; and, if not, will he give the reasons?


The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the negative. The annual and sick leave privileges of the permanent officials are governed by Order in Council or other Regulations applicable to the Civil Service generally, and their scales of pay are ordinarily arranged to provide for the grant of annual increments over a long period of years. The rates of pay and other conditions of service of temporary officials are adapted to the temporary nature of their employment.