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Conversion of
writers into
clerks under
Order in

Council of
February 1876.

The Secretary, Treasury, to the Civil Service Commissioners. 22nd February 1876.

MY LORD AND GENTLEMEN,

In reply to your letter of the 19th inst., I am directed by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to state that it appears to my Lords to rest with the heads of departments to set in motion the 12th clause of the Order in Council of the 12th inst. as they may severally see fit.

The advancement of writers appears to my Lords to be only a part of the reorganisation of the offices in which they may happen to be serving, and to be authorised by the Order in Council in those cases only where the heads of the same offices think it advisable.

The course which you indicate for passing such writers as may be selected for transfer to the Lower Division of established clerks under the 12th clause appears to my Lords to be such as it would be proper to adopt.

I am, &c.

The Secretary, Civil Service Commission, to the Secretary, Treasury. 27th January 1877.

SIR,

Order in which

I AM directed by the Civil Service Commissioners to acknowledge Lower Division the receipt of your letter of the 3rd instant, transmitting for their clerks are to be observations copy of a letter from the Commissioner of Valuation, Ireland, in which he asks that A. B. and C. D., who have recently passed the examination as boy clerks of the lower division, may be assigned to his office.

selected for duty.

In reply, I am in the first place to explain for the information of the Lords of the Treasury that these boys obtained respectively the second and the sixth places in the competition held in June last for 20 boy clerkships of the lower division, and that, application having been made by the Education Office, London, for 15 clerks of this class, these two were selected for duty in that Department. By an omission since supplied, they were at first led to suppose that they had been assigned to the Education Office, Dublin, where no vacancies existed. The Commissioners had not at the time, nor have they yet, received any application for boy clerks from the Valuation Office.

Up to this point these cases have been dealt with in exact accordance with the "general rule" laid down in clause 9 of the Order in Council of 12th February 1876, the selections having been made strictly according to the order of the names on the list. But the questions now arise, whether that rule is intended to be absolute, except as excepted in the clause itself, and, if not, whether, and to what extent, the particular circumstances justify a departure from it; and as the same questions have arisen, and will no doubt again arise, in other similar cases, the Commissioners avail themselves of the present opportunity of stating for their Lordships' information the principles which they think ought to govern the decision of them.

The 9th clause of the Order stands as follows: "From these lists "(i.e. from lists of the competitors made out in the order of merit) the "Civil Service Commissioners, on the application of departments "having vacancies, may supply, on probation, the requisite clerks, "whether for permanent or temporary duty. Selections shall, as a general rule, be made by the Civil Service Commissioners according

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"to the order of the names on the lists; but the Civil Service Commis- Order in which "sioners may select any clerk who, in his examination, has shown Lower Division "special qualifications for any particular subject among those included clerks are to be selected for " in Regulation II., if special application for such a clerk be made by duty. any department."

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It need hardly be observed that the task of administering the "general rule" here laid down would be comparatively easy if it were to be treated as subject to no exception other than the one which is expressly provided. But as the language of the Order is not perfectly clear on the point, the Commissioners have felt it their duty to consider what course is likely to be best for the interests of the public service; and being of opinion that the interests of the public service require that some discretion, such as is usually implied by the term "general rule,” should be admitted in this case, they have thought it right to act upon that opinion.

The cases in which questions may arise divide themselves into the following classes :

(1.) Where the head of a Department, having a vacancy, asks that a particular candidate may be assigned to it.

(2.) Where a candidate desires to be assigned to an appointment which does not fall to him in his turn, or to decline an appointment which does fall to him.

(3.) Where special circumstances, independent of the expressed wish of either Department or candidate, point to a special assign

ment.

Under the first head, assuming the request to be based on official grounds, such as the familiarity of a particular candidate with the business of the Department, the Commissioners think that some departure from the prescribed order of selection may properly be allowed; provided that no other Department having, by reason of priority of application, a prior claim, is thereby left without a clerk, and that no other candidate, having a higher place on the list, is left without an appointment. They think it possible, indeed, that special cases may arise in which it may be right to dispense even with these provisoes.

Under the second head, as the Order does not appear to contemplate any right of choice on the part of the candidates, the Commissioners do not consider that they would be justified in paying regard to any wish that an individual candidate might express for a particular appointment; or, which would amount to the same thing, in permitting him to decline successively the appointments offered to him in his turn until there came one which he was desirous to accept. Nor, indeed, do they think that any candidate ought to be allowed to decline an offered appointment except for very grave cause, in which category they would not reckon considerations as to the nature of the appointment offered, its emoluments, present or prospective, or, in the case of men clerks assigned for permanent duty, the locality in which it is to be exercised.

The only cases in which the Commissioners are at present disposed to think that it may be desirable to permit a man clerk to postpone permanent employment are those in which a candidate, having come in under the impression that he would not be called upon for immediate service (an impression derived, perhaps, from clause 6 of the Order, which speaks of providing for the vacancies of six months, or from clause 8, which contemplates the possibility of a clerk's remaining unemployed for over five years), may have accepted an engagement from which he cannot free himself at short notice without serious inconvenience to himself or to others. But the Commissioners do not anticipate that

Order in which any serious difficulties are likely to arise in dealing with cases of this Lower Division character. clerks are to be selected for

duty.

The case of boy clerks under this head stands in one respect on a different footing from that of men. Having regard to the early age at which these boys are selected, to the very low rate of their pay, and to the necessarily temporary nature of their employment, which must terminate when they reach 19, it does not appear desirable to force them, on pain of being removed from the list, to accept appointments at a great distance from their residence; for instance, to require a boy of 15 to leave his home and his friends in Ireland or Scotland and come to London to serve at a salary of 14s. a week. In such cases therefore the Commissioners are prepared to give weight to any representations which may be made to them similar to that which is contained in the letter of Mr. E. F., a copy of which is hereto appended.

The only case which has yet arisen under the third of the heads above mentioned is one in which two boy clerks had to be supplied for temporary duty, not expected to be of long duration, in an office in Edinburgh. On that occasion the Commissioners so far departed from the natural order of selection as to choose the first two candidates who were resident in Edinburgh: and they would have thought it right, having regard to the temporary character of the employment, to follow the same course if the requisition had been for men clerks instead of for boys.

Reverting now to the two particular cases to which your letter refers, the Commissioners find that there is nothing in the principles above set forth to prevent their complying with the request of the Commissioner of Valuation so far as concerns A. B. They are willing, on the grounds stated, that he should decline the employment offered to him in London; and as he will stand first on the list of boy clerks resident in Dublin, they will at once assign him to the Valuation Office on receiving a formal demand from that Department for a boy clerk.

C. D. is differently situated, as there will be other boy clerks above him on the list waiting for employment in Dublin. And though it is stated that he has some special knowledge of the business of the Department as regards "calculating areas of land, prices per acre, &c.," the Commissioners do not consider that this constitutes a sufficient ground for giving him an appointment to the exclusion of those who have a prior claim. On the other hand, having been permitted on the same ground as A. B. to decline the appointment offered to him in London, he will be quite at liberty, so far as the Commissioners are concerned, to continue serving in the Valuation Office as boy writer until he is selected for service as boy clerk in Dublin; and if circumstances should hereafter enable the Commissioners, consistently with the principles of procedure described in this letter, to assign him to a boy clerkship in the same office, they will have pleasure in doing so.

I am, &c.

MILITARY EXAMINATIONS.

The Secretary, Civil Service Commission, to the Secretary, Admiralty.

SIR,

January 10, 1876.

I AM directed by the Civil Service Commissioners to acknowledge Qualifications the receipt of your letter of the 3rd inst. requesting them to furnish for commissions a certificate of competency for Mr. -, who has been nominated for a in the Royal direct commission in the Royal Marines in virtue of the examinations Marines. which he passed in July and December 1874, for admission to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.

Before replying to it the Commissioners would be glad to be informed what meaning is to be attached to the words "qualified competitor" as used in the third line of the enclosed notice, i.e., whether they mean a candidate who has passed the "preliminary examination" prescribed by paragraph 11 of the Regulations respecting examinations for first appointments in the army, or a candidate who has passed the "qualifying examination" described in paragraph 22 of the Regulations.

A copy of the Regulations is enclosed for convenience of reference.*
I am, &c.

ENCLOSURE.

Extract from Notice above referred to.

"His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief is happy to have it in his power to announce that the Lords of the Admiralty have intimated that they will be prepared to offer to the qualified competitors in order of merit, at the Army Entrance Examination which is now in progress, a certain number of immediate commissions in the Corps of Royal Marines Light Infantry, the pay of which is the same as in the line."

The Secretary, Admiralty, to the Secretary, Civil Service Commission.

13th January 1876.

SIR,
In reply to your letter of the 10th inst., requesting a definition of
the words "qualified competitor" as applied to the army candidates
offered direct commissions in the Royal Marines, I am commanded by
my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to inform you that they
consider a "qualified competitor" to be one who has passed the quali-
fying examination described in paragraph 22 of the enclosed Regulations
for First Appointments to the Army, and not one who has merely passed
the preliminary examination referred to in paragraph 11.†

* See p. 242.

I am, &c.

† It has since been arranged that all qualified candidates, according_to_their position in order of merit on the list, in the competitions for admission to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, [or the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich,] shall be eligible for admission to the Royal Marine Light Infantry [or the Royal Marine Artillery]. See p. 589.

Preliminary examination.

New regulations for examinations for

the Royal Military College.

The Director-General of Military Education, to the Secretary, Civil
Service Commission.

(Extract.)

SIR,

*

With respect to the proposal regarding the preliminary test examination being held on a separate occasion, and simultaneously in London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, at the option of candidates, previous to the general or further examination, I am directed to inform you that His Royal Highness has no objection to the same taking place as a tentative measure, and thinks that the first examination should be held in 1877, before the period fixed for the Midsummer examination; a notification thereof being published for the information of candidates, in sufficient time to enable them to prepare themselves for the said test examination; the Civil Service Commissioners being good enough to state when such notice should be promulgated.

23rd September 1876.

*

The Secretary, Civil Service Commission, to the Director-General of
Military Education.
7th December 1876.

SIR,

THE attention of the Civil Service Commissioners has been drawn to a General Order (No. 88) by His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, approving new regulations to come into force on the 1st inst., respecting examinations for admission to the Royal Military College.*

In requesting you to express to His Royal Highness their readiness to give effect to these regulations so far as they bear upon the proceedings of this Board, the Commissioners desire me to bring to your notice the following points with the view of obviating any possible misunderstanding respecting them :

(1.) Although it is no longer required that all candidates should be passed by a medical board before proceeding to examination by this Commission, the Commissioners will nevertheless understand, unless otherwise informed, that a medical examination is to be held before the literary examination, and will arrange the "time-table "accordingly.

(2.) In pursuance of Regulation 16, the Commissioners will not consider a candidate as disqualified by failure in geometrical drawing, provided that he has previously passed in this and the other subjects of the preliminary examination.

(3.) By Regulation 22, geometrical drawing is made obligatory in the case of university candidates; but the Commissioners do not understand this regulation, though of more recent date, as overriding your letter of the 8th ultimo, by which the adoption of this rule was postponed until the examination of July 1877.

(4.) By the 15th (2) of these regulations, as well as by some of those previously issued, the preliminary examination in foreign languages is limited to "a translation from the language and grammatical questions," whereas in the similar regulation originally laid down the word “a” does not occur. The Commissioners only notice this discrepancy for the purpose of observing that they presume the insertion of this word was not intended to debar them from their usual practice of putting before a candidate two passages for translation, and judging of his proficiency by the manner in which he acquits himself in the two taken together.

* See p. 591.

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