asked the Minister of National Insurance how many employees of the former approved societies, who are now employed by his Department, have been required, or will during the next twelve months be required, to work at places out of daily reach from their existing homes; and why.
Transfers of station are an inevitable incident of service in a large Department with a local office network, as a result of promotions, retirements and experience of local work loads. A number of such transfers have already been made and others will continue to be necessary. These transfers include certain former employees of approved societies in common with established staff recruited from other sources. I regret that the total numbers affected are not available but out of a group of 52 officers in one region recently given notice of transfer only 17 were from approved societies. All such transfers are carried out under a priority system agreed with the staff associations and every possible consideration is given to individual circumstances.
Is not the real reason for these transfers that the Minister grossly miscalculated the distribution of manpower required for his Department? Will not this cause great hardship among the people affected?
No, Sir. There was no gross miscalculation. If it is a miscalculation of 52 over 1,000 offices, that is not a bad record. The arrangements made have been agreed by the staff. There will have to be transfers. The hon. Gentleman will not suggest that we should keep staff where there is no work for them. These arrangements are made in complete understanding with the staff associations.
Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect the categorical assurances he gave during the passing of the National Insurance Act that the officials of the approved societies would as far as possible be absorbed and given every consideration? [HON. MEMBERS: "They are!"] Does he consider that this type of consideration is fulfilling his earlier pledge?
I gave an assurance that they would be absorbed in the new Ministry, and they have been. I gave an undertaking, which I have carried out, that as far as possible their new work would be as near their present homes as possible. One of the difficulties is that our scheme of administration is far more decentralised than was the old system, and that inevitably involves some transfers.