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Government Departments

Volume 148: debated on Tuesday 8 November 1921

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether considerably over 5,000 ex-service men temporarily employed in Government offices have been removed from the pay roll since 1st June, many of them being disabled; whether further discharge notices to ex-service men in Government offices are in contemplation; whether many conscientious objectors have been reinstated; if so, what number; whether about 12,000 women are employed by the Pensions Ministry alone; what was the aggregate charge for overtime in Government offices for the three months ending 30th September last; and whether approximately 500,000 ex-service men are now registered as unemployed?

I have been asked to reply. With regard to the first, second and third parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to my answer of October 20th; with regard to the fourth part, I would refer him to the answer given on 24th October by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions to the hon. and gallant Member for Hertford (Rear-Admiral Sueter). The aggregate expenditure on overtime in Government offices, excluding the Post Office, for which details are not available, amounted in the three months ending 30th September to £198,120, about 2 per cent. of the corresponding salary bill. Of this sum£162,631 was in respect of the Ministry of Labour and the Departments of Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise, the balance of £35,489 being distributed amongst approximately 80 Departments.In the Ministry of Labour the expenditure on overtime was due in part to a lack of accommodation, in part to the fact that certain duties, particularly those connected with financial operations, had to be performed by experienced officers; and in part to the necessity for concentrating on certain days of the week the work connected with the computation and payment of unemployment benefit. In the Department of Inland Revenue a lack of accommodation and the impossibility of delegating many of the more responsible duties connected with the work of the tax inspectorate to untrained staff were the main causes of this expenditure, whilst in the Department of Customs and Excise a large proportion of the sum in question was in the nature of special duty pay (i.e. on Sundays, etc.) to members of the permanent outdoor staff. The remainder was due to the Department having been entrusted during this period with certain temporary duties in regard to which it was not possible in all cases to decide at once whether it would prove practicable to engage additional staff.In the case of no other Department, so far as can be ascertained, could the expenditure on overtime have been reduced by the employment of additional temporary staff. The number of ex-service men on the live registers of the Employment Exchanges in Great Britain and Ireland on the 30th September last was 397,000, of whom but a very small proportion were clerks.