Oral Answers to Questions — Ordnance Survey (Staff).

– in the House of Commons on 30th March 1920.

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Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

(by Private Notice) asked the Parliamentary Secretary whether it is a fact that 68 members of the staff of the Ordnance Survey employed at Southampton are under notice to leave to-morrow, though they are re-established civil servants, whether most of the said 68 are within 2 years and one is within 7 weeks of reaching the special allowance age of 60, when they become automatically entitled to an allowance amounting to one year, or one-and-a-half years' salary, which they lose if they are discharged?

Sir A. BOSCAWEN:

In consequence of recommendations made by the Committee on Retrenchment and the Select Committee on National Expenditure, the Government decided to increase the period of revision of the Ordnance Survey maps in order to effect economy in the cost of the Survey. This decision necessitated a reduction in the establishment of Ordnance Survey, and accordingly it has become necessary to discharge those pensionable civil assistants who are over the age of 58 and who are not indispensable, in addition to a number of temporary employees. I regret the necessity for this action, but it has been most carefully considered and cannot now be reopened. I may add that the discharges have already been postponed for a period of three months from the 31st December, 1019. The actual reduction in the establishment is 176, but, in order to minimise the hardship, we have managed, by a system of absorption, to reduce the actual discharges to 90.

Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

Will these men who are over 58 get the pro rata allowance which they would have automatically got if they had been 60, and is it seriously proposed, in the case of the one man who is within seven weeks of being automatically entitled to an addition of one or one-and-a-half years' salary, that he should be discharged now and be deprived of that allowance?

Sir A. BOSCAWEN:

I understand the position to be this. They will lose the gratuity they would have got if they had remained on till 60, but on the other hand they get a pension which is actuarially as good as the pension plus the gratuity which they would otherwise have.

Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

If it can be conclusively shown that the pension of these men would not actuarially be as good as if they had remained till 60 and got pension plus allowance, will it be made good to them actuarially on the basis of being discharged at 60?

Sir A. BOSCAWEN:

I have given the hon. Member all the information I have been able to get at very short notice, but I can undertake to say that matter shall be carefully considered.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

May I ask the Leader of the House whether the Government will refrain as a point of policy from endeavouring to economise by curtailing the just claims of an unorganised section of the community?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

That, as stated by the hon. Member, sounds easy to answer, but I should like to know more of the details.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

These men are not organised trade unionists, they have no means of bringing pressure to bear on the Government, and their cases are very unfortunate and very hard. Will the Government refrain at least from saying in the House that this is a system of economy?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

It is not so simple as the hon. Member (Mr. Billing) says. In the first place, I myself received a deputation of the men who are concerned in this question. I can assure the hon. Member that the Government in cases of this kind will have every regard, and more, which would be shown by a good employer.