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General Register And Record Office Of Shipping And Seamen—Third Class Clerks

Volume 217: debated on Monday 14 July 1873

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asked the President of the Board of Trade, If the annual leave of a portion of the third class of established clerks in the General Register and Record Office of Shipping and Seamen has been reduced from thirty-six to twenty-four days; and, if so, whether the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen did not endeavour by threat of dismissal to prevent the said clerks from memorialising the President of the Board of Trade against the reduction of their leave?

Sir, I might reply that it was true that no clerks have had their leave reduced, and that there have been no threats of dismissal; but I will reply more fully. The clerks referred to by the noble Lord were temporary clerks on weekly wages without fixity of tenure; they had no claim to increased pay on the ground of seniority or length of service; they were not entitled to superannuation or to any compensation on leaving or on being discharged with a week's notice from their office. On the occasion of the office being recently re-organized to meet the new state of things in the Civil Service, these temporary clerks were placed on the establishment, as an act of grace, on the recommendation of the Registrar General, who took unusual trouble in looking after the interests of the temporary clerks, and it is to him they are solely indebted for having their services retained and for being placed on the permanent establishment. As temporary clerks they were allowed three weeks' leave of absence during the year; they are now allowed four weeks in common with all clerks appointed to the Board of Trade and its subordinate departments, under Scheme II. of the Order in Council of June, 1870. The Registrar General did not endeavour by threat of dismissal to prevent the clerks from memorializing me against the reduction of their leave. What he did do was to forcibly point out the impropriety of their protesting against a formal official Minute, issued by the Board of Trade for regulating the leave of clerks, and requesting that such a Minute should be rescinded to meet their views. The action taken by the Registrar General throughout this case has entirely met with my approval, and I have informed the clerks in question, that if they are dissatisfied with the arrangements made they had better at once resign their appointments.