§ Mr. Dawson
rose to move for a copy of the appointment or appointments of William M'Causland and Robert Long, as joint Secretaries of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland; or, if appointed verbally, the date and terms of the appointments; the ages of the respective parties at the time of their appointment; the total amount of the emoluments of the office of Secretary since their appointment; by whom the same have been beneficially received, and in what proportions; and the number of days in every week in which such Secretaries have been employed in the duties of their office, distinguishing the attendance of each. He said, that the object of the present Motion was, to ascertain whether the Lord Chancellor of Ireland had acted legally in appointing two officers jointly to fill the office of Secretary. It had been his intention to content himself with moving for the present return, without making any comments on the subject, until he learned, from the reports in the newspapers, that the notice which he had given of the Motion had drawn from the Lord Chancellor of Ireland some injudicious observations, which he could not help feeling as insulting to himself.
rose to order. He conceived that no Member had a right to found a justification for his deviating from the course which he had originally chalked out upon a report of a speech delivered in another place to which it was not regular even to allude, and more particularly when the object of that deviation was to make a charge against an individual who was not present to defend himself. If the hon. Gentleman had any charge to make, there was an abundance of ways in which he might bring it forward, and, at the same time, afford an opportunity to the noble person whom it affected, of meeting it; but no opposition being intended to the present Motion by the Government, he thought that the hon. Member would be guilty of a breach of order, if he should make any statement now, in consequence of observations made in another place.
§ Mr. Dawson
had heard the right hon. Gentleman's criticism with a great deal of surprise, and was not at all convinced that the course he was pursuing was disorderly. He had stated, that he would have moved for the present return without making a single observation, had it not been for a speech which he had seen reported in the newspapers, and attributed to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He did not say where that speech was made; but, in consequence of the notice which he had given, of moving for the present return, certain observations had been called from the Lord Chancellor of Ireland in the other House of Parliament.
§ The Speaker
said, that nothing was more clear than that any allusion to what occurred in the other House of Parliament was disorderly.
§ Mr. Dawson
would content himself then with remarking, that he had observed in the newspapers observations, which he would read, and he would leave it to the House to conjecture where they were made. He was sure that, when he read them, no Gentleman of proper feeling would object to the course which he intended to pursue. They were these—"Lord Plunkett said, that observations which were quite unfounded had gone forth respecting the emoluments of his office as Chancellor of Ireland, and respecting the emoluments of some members of his family, and notice of a motion in reference to those emoluments had been made in another place; his object, then, in making the Motion which he should submit to their Lordships for certain returns was, to enable him to meet those calumnies, and, by God's blessing, he would expose and refute them." The noble and learned Lord seemed to be aware, that if he did refute them, it must be, as he himself said, by the interposition of Providence; for, so far as he had hitherto endeavoured, by means of his own, he had signally failed. In making this Motion, he wished to ascertain the legality of the Lord Chancellor's appointing two persons to fill the office of Secretary. That there were two persons now filling that office, and participating in the emoluments, seemed to him to be proved by this, that when he (Mr. Dawson) had applied, early in the Session for certain papers relating to the Court of Chancery in Ireland, the returns were signed by "William M'Causland and Robert Long," not as Secretary and Assistant-secretary, but as joint Secretaries. Since that time, circulars had been 1208 sent to the Lords-lieutenant of Counties in Ireland, signed "Robert Long." Now, he had been given to understand, that Mr. M'Causland was the Secretary to the Chancellor, and that Mr. Long acted only as that gentleman's assistant. Early in the Session, he had complained that excessive fees were demanded for the renewal of the Magistrates' Commissions; and after many debates, 12s. out of the sum originally exacted (2l. 13s. 6d.) were given up, being the amount of the fees taken on account of the Chancellor's purse-bearer, train-bearer, and hall-porter; but the Secretaries preserved the remaining 2l. 1s. 6d., which had been taken on their account. The sense of the House, and the opinion of the country had been expressed, in a marked manner, respecting the conduct of the Irish Lord Chancellor towards the Master of the Rolls; the country, in fact, was ringing with expressions of disapprobation from one end to the other—when these paltry fees, amounting to 12s. out of 2l. 13s. 6d., were tardily wrung from the greedy officers. If those two persons, Mr. M'Causland and Mr. Long, were jointly Secretaries of the Chancellor, he would say that Lord Plunkett had done an illegal act in their appointment. The Act of Parliament gave him power only to appoint one Secretary. In the 4th George 4th, cap. 61, the officers of the Court of Chancery in Ireland were particularly stated, and their fees were set down in the schedule to that Act. It might be said that the Chancellor had a right to appoint an assistant Secretary, but no such officer was known to the law. Under Lord Lifford, Earl Clare, Lord Ponsonby, Lord Manners, and Sir Anthony Hart, no such person was known. But if Mr. Long was merely a clerk in the office of the Chancellor's Secretary, and was not actually one of the joint Secretaries, by special appointment of the Chancellor, was it not treating the Lords-Lieutenants of the counties with little deference, when official circulars were addressed to them signed by a clerk in that office, instead of being signed by the Secretary himself? It appeared that when the Lord Chancellor appointed Mr. M'Causland, that gentleman was but nineteen years of age, and was residing in England as a student at the Bar, from whence he was called to fill this office. Several members of the Chancery Bar being aware of this, formally requested of the Lord Chancellor that Mr. Long might continue to act as his Lordship's Secretary, on account of the inexperience 1209 of the former gentleman. But what did Lord Plunkett? In appearance he assented to their proposition, but in reality he appointed the young and inexperienced Mr. M'Causland his Secretary, with Mr. Long, the competent and experienced person, as the assistant of the gentleman, with a salary of 500l. a year. Was that a proper exercise of the patronage of that high judicial officer? The public were in that way compelled to pay about 2,000l. a year to Mr. M'Causland, who could not do the business, and 500l. a year to Mr. Long, who did it. If the business, then, could be done effectually for 500l. a year, why were the public saddled with the additional 2,000l.? The country was dissatisfied, and justly dissatisfied, with the way in which the Lord Chancellor of Ireland had exercised his patronage. The public of Ireland were disgusted at the manner in which the business of the Court of Chancery was done. When Sir Anthony Hart was removed from that Court, he (Mr. Dawson) said, that he was an able Judge, and that the public were satisfied with the manner in which he had fulfilled his duties, and therefore he ought to be continued in office, which would have prevented the country being burthened with a retiring pension of 4,500l. a year on his account. But it was then replied, that the office of Chancellor of Ireland was a political office; and that as Sir Anthony Hart was not of the politics of the new Ministry, it was necessary to remove him. The consequence, however, of that assertion was, that since the 1st of March last year the political Lord Chancellor, who was appointed in the room of Sir Anthony Hart, had been absent from his Court six months—or the entire of two Terms, Trinity and Hilary. He had deputed a person to do his duty in his absence; and whom did the House suppose to be the person on whom he had fixed as his deputy? The House would hear with surprise, that it was the same Master of the Rolls whose claims to have an opportunity of establishing his rights were met by the same Lord Chancellor in such a way as the House had already heard. In the absence of the political Judge from his Court, during the last Hilary and Trinity Terms, the whole of the heavy and important business of the Court of Chancery was imposed upon the Master of the Rolls? How was the Chancellor employed in the meantime? Indeed, the conduct of Lord Plunkett, as the political Chancellor, had not been such as to raise his character. The language 1210 which he (Mr. Dawson) had read, as stated to have been uttered by that noble and learned Lord in another place, was such as might more befittingly seem to come from Billingsgate. When mention had been made of the number of the learned Lord's relations, who held lucrative offices, the learned Lord, if correctly reported, made observations, and used language which could only excite disgust in the minds of every gentleman in the country. Since then, however, he had been favoured with an account of the situations which the Lord Chancellor and his family held, and of the sums which they drew from the public. He was not now going to speak, as the noble Lord had spoken, from newspaper reports, but from a statement which had been sent to him by a gentleman whom he considered to be of the highest authority. That statement was a curiosity in the annals of patronage, showing the offices which were held by the family of the gentleman at present Lord Chancellor of Ireland. They were as follow:—The Lord Chancellor (Plunkett) with a salary of 8,000l.The Hon. P. Plunkett, his Lordship's Purse-bearer, 800l.The Hon. P. Plunkett again, as Secretary of Bankrupts, 900l.The Hon. P. Plunkett again, as Counsel to the Chief Remembrancer, 300l.The Hon. D. Plunkett, as Prothonotary to the Court of Common Pleas, 1,500l.The Hon. D. Plunkett again, as Examiner to the Court of Common Pleas, 100l." [For, (said Mr. Dawson), nothing is too little for these gentlemen.]There were, besides, under these gentlemen three general clerks with a salary of 500l. each; principal assistant of Common Pleas relating to judgments, 500l.; second assistant, 200l.; third assistant, 500l.; and clerk of the pleading in the affidavit office, 400l.; with other clerks whose united salaries amounted to 1,000l.; in all, 4,100l.The Hon. John Plunkett, as Commissioner of Inquiry as to the fees of the Courts of Justice, had 1,200l.The same Hon. J. Plunkett, as Assistant-Barrister, 700l.The same, as Crown Council in the Munster Circuit, 800l.The same, as Council to the Police, 300l.The Hon. and Rev. T. Plunkett, as Dean of Down, had 2,500l.The Hon. and Rev. W. Plunkett, as Vicar of Bray (a very appropriate title, by-the-bye), 800l.Mr. W. M'Causland, jun. the Lord Chancellor's Secretary, 2,000l.Mr. Long, 500l.1211Mr. W. M'Causland, sen., brother-in-law of the Lord Chancellor, and father of the young gentleman who held the office of Secretary (as Law Agent to Charitable bequests, 1,500l.Mr. W. J. M'Causland, another son of the last-named gentleman, Secretary to the Schools on the foundation of Erasmus Smith, 500l.Mr. James M'Causland, Solicitor of the Hibernian School, 100l., and Solicitor for Benches of the Society in King's Inn, 200l.Adding to those one or two other offices, the statement which he (Mr. Dawson) had received, made the emoluments of that ill-paid family appear to be about 27,850l. By these figures it appeared, that being a political Lord Chancellor, was a pretty lucrative sort of an appointment; and then if he considered the consistency of the noble and learned Lord's political life, he must say he had turned it to good account. He had been Attorney-General to Lord Grenville, and retired from office in consequence of being foiled in an attempt to remove some of the disabilities under which the Catholics then laboured. He then became Attorney-General under Lord Liverpool, who was the bitterest enemy of the Catholics. He was then offered the office of Master of the Rolls by Mr. Canning, who was the deadliest enemy of Reform, and whose last words were "No reform;" and the noble and learned person concluded by becoming Lord Chancellor under the noble Lord opposite, whose motto was "Reform, and nothing but Reform." There was an advantage in being a political Chancellor. When Lord Plunkett was asked why he did not decline acting as judge in his own cause, his answer was, "I am a political Chancellor." When this noble and learned individual should read a report of what he had that night said of him, he might perhaps bestow upon him some of the abuse and sarcasms for which he was so remarkable; but he regarded that not. He had stuck to the truth, and, strong in the honesty and justice of his cause, he might exclaim with Brutus—There is no terror, Cassias, in thy threats;For I am arm'd so strong in honesty,That they pass by me as the idle windWhich I respect not.He should conclude, by moving for the papers he had mentioned at the beginning of his speech.
§ Mr. Crampton
rose for the purpose of protesting against the statements contained in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and for the purpose of informing the House that nothing could 1212 be more inaccurate than the information—the anonymous information—
§ Mr. Crampton
Whether it was anonymous or not, he could not help saying, that, in the whole course of his life, he never heard a grosser mis-statement of law and of facts, than that which proceeded from the right hon. Gentleman. He had told the House, that the Lord Chancellor for Ireland, instead of attending to his duty in the Court of Chancery, had been spending his time in England, and occupying his attention with politics. He had told the House, that during last Hilary Term, the duties of the noble and learned Lord had been discharged by the Master of the Rolls for Ireland—of whose judicial talents it would be impossible for any one to speak too highly. But what was the fact? It was anything but in accordance with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Never had he been more untruly informed, than when he made the statement which the House had just heard respecting the conduct of the Lord Chancellor. He was himself a practitioner in the Court of Chancery, and, without disparaging any of the predecessors of the noble Lord, he must say, that not a man who attended that Court would hesitate to bear testimony to the fact, that never had its duties been discharged with more talent, diligence, or dispatch, than they had been by the noble and learned Lord whose conduct had been that night brought under discussion. Never had those duties been discharged with more satisfaction to the suitors and to the Bar, than since the acceptance of the Chancellorship of Ireland by the noble and learned Lord who now held the Seals. The discontent which existed, if there could be said to be any discontent, arose from the cry of a disappointed party, and not from any real dissatisfaction on the part of the people at large. As to the statement, that the noble and learned Lord was absent during any part of Hilary Term, there could not be a grosser error. He was not absent from Ireland during any part of Hilary Term—neither was he absent from the Sittings after Term—he did not leave a single cause unheard. What, then, became of the information of the anonymous informant of the right hon. Gentleman? In the former year his conduct was precisely similar: he did not leave the Court of Chancery until all the causes were disposed of. Hence, then, he should be fully justified in saying, 1213 that the absence of the Lord Chancellor did not impose any increased duties upon the Master of the Rolls. He confessed he could not but wish that the right hon. Gentleman, instead of possessing a seat in that House, had a seat in another place, and had brought forward his Motion there, that he might have received an explicit and satisfactory answer, which his speech deserved, and which he (Mr. Crampton) felt himself inadequate to give. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman brought forward the present Motion reluctantly, and from a sense of duty solely; and, therefore, he the more regretted that it was not in another place, that the question was to be discussed. There was not a single point of the right hon. Gentleman's statement which was not either unsound in law or utterly without foundation in fact; and all that he had heard respecting the appointments of the Secretary to the Court of Chancery was just as true as the rest. It had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman, that there had been no instance of the appointment of Assistant-Secretaries of the Court of Chancery.
§ Mr. Crampton
was perfectly willing to be corrected; but it happened, in this instance, that the correction related to a matter of no importance. Such was not, however, the fact, for Lord Manners had appointed a Mr. Lockwood to the office of his Secretary, at a salary of between 3,000l. and 4,000l. a-year, while all the duty of the office was transacted by an assistant, for a salary of 340l.; when Lord Manners retired, he was followed by Mr. Lockwood, and Sir Anthony Hart appointed Mr. Long, who retained his office as Secretary, until Sir Anthony Hart retired, when the present Lord Chancellor appointed Mr. M'Causland, therefore, he had only followed the example set by his predecessors. The right hon. Gentleman, among other misrepresentations and exaggerations, had stated, that the salary enjoyed by Mr. M'Causland was 2,500l. This he assured him was not the fact. It only amounted to 2,200l. In respect to that gentleman's age, however, he had not exaggerated, for he had represented it to be nineteen, when, in fact, it was twenty-three. He (Mr. Crampton) had opportunities of judging of that gentleman's competence for the office, and he had no hesitation in saying he was as competent for it as any individual with whom he had ever met. He had attended to its duties most sedulously and anxiously, and 1214 had given very general satisfaction to all the persons engaged in the practice of that Court. With respect to any observations which the right hon. Gentleman had made respecting the conduct of the Lord Chancellor, he would venture to say, that he had derived no information whatever respecting him from Mr. Long, for he was sure that that individual felt deeply indebted to the Lord Chancellor for his kindness in retaining him in the office. Mr. Long was not, he assured the House, retained in that office as Joint-Secretary. He was considered in such a light from his having expressed a wish, on being appointed Assistant Secretary, that, as he had before filled the office of Secretary, and was unwilling to descend from the rank of that office, he might have the name of Joint-Secretary with Mr. M'Causland. With this wish Lord Plunkett (in kindness, at the recommendation also of Sir Anthony Hart) complied, and he felt convinced that nothing but party feeling had induced the right hon. Gentleman to make an accusation against that noble Lord for so doing. As to the alleged violation of an Act of Parliament, if there was no Act violated but the 4th of George 4th, he maintained, that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman was nugatory; for that Act solely applied to the regulation of the fees to be charged by officers then in existence, but in no way established the illegality of a joint appointment to any office. In that same Act of Parliament, the fees of "the Registrar of the Court of Chancery" were regulated, when it was well known at the time that there were two Joint-Registrars. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to a letter addressed by the Lord Chancellor's Secretary to the gentleman who had taken out Commissions of the Peace, acquainting them that certain portions of the fees had been abolished, and on this letter had founded an attack on his noble friend for not having ordered all the fees to be abolished. Now, to explain this, it was only necessary to mention, that the letter alluded to was written in pursuance of a Treasury minute, which only directed the reimbursement of a portion of the fees. But, if the right hon. Gentleman had gone a little further, he might have stated to the House, that a letter had been written by those Gentlemen, in pursuance of a second Treasury minute, announcing further reimbursements of the fees originally charged on the taking out of Commissions of the Peace. Much had been said in accusation 1215 of Lord Plunkett respecting his disposal of certain situations among members of his own family. The right hon. Gentleman had read from a paper, which appeared to him to be the gist of vulgar speeches made at vulgar places, assisted by extracts from comments of newspapers, at the head of which was the name of Lord Plunkett as the receiver of public money to the amount of 8,000l. a-year. Had the right hon. Gentleman been instigated by any spirit of fairness, instead of being spurred on by politically hostile motives, he would have stated to the House, that Lord Plunkett was the first Irish Chancellor whose salary was but 8,000l. a-year, every one of his predecessors in that office having received 10,000l. a-year The total amount of public money received by Lord Plunkett and his family—was stated to be 27,850l. a-year; but he begged to remind the House, that in this sum was included the salaries of almost every clerk in the office of the Deputy Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas. He would conclude by expressing his opinion, that the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, impugning the conduct of Lord Plunkett since his accession to the Seals, were alike odious and unworthy of their author. He had, however, he trusted, removed any impression which they might have created.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
maintained that the statement brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dawson), respecting the large sums alleged to be received by Lord Chancellor Plunkett's family out of the public purse had been greatly exaggerated. Such was the case with respect to the appointment of Mr. M'Causland, one of the offices which he held having been given him before Lord Plunkett became Chancellor. As to the laugh which had been raised at the expense of the vicar of Bray, that reverend gentleman only received 230l., instead of 800l., as had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman. Lord Plunkett had, undoubtedly, appointed several of his family to offices, but they were fully competent to perform the duties imposed upon them; and as the public must have persons to perform such duties, the persons who now filled those places being connected with the Lord Chancellor was no injury to the country. As to the charge which had been made against Lord Plunkett for neglecting the duties of his own high office, he would content himself with repelling it in the strongest manner, and with declaring that 1216 those duties had been performed by the Lord Chancellor to the entire satisfaction of the Bar of Ireland. As he had also only followed the usual custom in the appointment of his Secretary, he should take the liberty of moving, as an amendment to the Motion before the House, for similar returns with respect to Richard Lockwood, Esq., as Secretary to Lord Chancellor Manners, and Robert Long, Esq., as Secretary to Lord Chancellor Hart.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
said, that there could be no graver question for the consideration of the House than that of the absence of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland from the duties of his high office; and his right hon. friend had not brought it forward except on authority sufficiently valid to justify the course he had taken. From what had been advanced, however, by his hon. and learned friend opposite (Mr. Crampton), he was bound to believe that there was a mistake on some side, and, until there had been further inquiry he would suspend his judgment. He begged to ask his hon. and learned friend, whether he meant to say that the Lord Chancellor had heard all the causes of his Court, without imposing any burthen on the Master of the Rolls?
§ Sir Edward Sugden
Then, as there were two conflicting statements, both originating in respectable sources, he would repeat that it was requisite that the circumstances should be inquired into. He would say for his right hon. friend that he had the best ground for advancing his statement, and, in a similar situation, he should have felt it his duty to have adopted a similar course. His hon. and learned friend had declared, that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland had not been absent from his court or neglected his duty.
§ Mr. Crampton
I said that the Lord Chancellor was present in his court, and had disposed of all the causes during Hilary Term in which he has been charged with being absent, but I did not say that he had never been absent.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
declared that he had been labouring under the greatest delusion on this point, for he had understood his hon. and learned friend to say that the Chancellor had never been absent from his Court. No question had been asked concerning attendance in Trinity Term.
§ Mr. Crampton
had not spoken as to Trinity term last year. Indeed, he rather 1217 thought that the Chancellor had not been in attendance during the whole of that Term; but he could say that his business had not been discharged by the Master of the Rolls, or any other Judge, but had been actually performed by himself.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
continued of the opinion he had already expressed, that the matter must lie over for further investigation, when he should be extremely astonished if he found the authority on which his right hon. friend had proceeded altogether incorrect. To proceed to another point, he must say, that the longer he lived the more cause he saw for regretting the mixing up political with judicial functions. He did not advance this invidiously as to any particular Chancellor. Respecting the office of Secretary, he would maintain, that no inexperienced person could be deemed capable of filling it, and he submitted to the House whether so young a man as Mr. M'Causland ought to have received the appointment. He was said to be now twenty-three years of age, therefore, as he had been appointed upwards of a-year, he could only have been just of age at that time. He was further said to have been at the time a law-student in this country; and consequently, he must have been wholly without knowledge of the duties he was appointed to perform; and he (Sir Edward Sugden) could take upon himself to declare, that to perform the duties of Secretary to a Lord Chancellor efficiently, required considerable knowledge of the practice of the Court. He did not presume to doubt the young man's abilities, but to give an appointment under such circumstances, with a salary of 1,700l. a-year, while it was deemed necessary to associate with the youth so appointed, a person of experience, at a salary of 500l.a-year, was, to say the least of it, setting a precedent by which monstrous abuses might be defended. If the latter sum were an adequate allowance for a competent officer, he could not perceive any propriety in mulcting the public for the payment of a supernumerary. Another objection to the appointment of those Joint Secretaries was, that it created an impediment to the transaction of the business of the Master of the Rolls' Office, who could not have the attendance of a Secretary in his own Court; he was, therefore, fully of opinion that the matter required further investigation.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
was surprised at the new light that had suddenly broken in upon the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and he 1218 should like to learn how long it was, since they had begun to distinguish the evil resulting from the appointment of a political Chancellor. He should be glad to be informed why, if they sanctioned this appointment in others, they should make such a run against one who had been formerly their colleague, and of whose talents they had received the benefit, though he was now so systematically attacked both in that House and elsewhere. He must complain of the mode of attack that had been resorted to on the present occasion. It was certainly rather unfair to introduce the question of the Lord Chancellor's absence and the neglect of his duty in a minor motion, and without due notice. New light had also dawned upon hon. Gentlemen as to the holding of a number of offices by a single family. He could refer to an instance of the kind, which it was singular had escaped the research of hon. Members, but to which he would direct their attention, as being fully as deserving of remark as the one that had been submitted to the House to-night. The example to which he was about to advert was not based upon newspaper reports, but upon a report of a Committee of the House of Commons. This Committee had been appointed in 1802, for the purpose of inquiring into what offices were filled by Members of the House. It appeared from the return that no less than six profitable legal offices were filled by the hon. William Henry John Scott. Here, then, was the only son of a Chancellor holding no less than six offices, while the case brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman showed merely that some provision had been made during different Administrations for the numerous family of the Chancellor for Ireland. No doubt, had there in the instance which he cited been six sons, thirty-six offices would have been distributed among them. With such a record open to his inspection, he could not help feeling astonished that his right hon. friend had thought proper to reserve his virtuous indignation for the devoted head of the present Chancellor for Ireland.
§ Mr. George Bankes
said, that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite had no reference to the present question, and the right hon. Gentleman ought to have blushed, when he enumerated the offices of Mr. Scott, two of which he was well aware were in reversion, and never had been enjoyed by that Gentleman. He regretted the allusion had been made, as it 1219 was calculated to give pain, and was on the present occasion both uncalled for and unnecessary. With respect to the appointment of the Joint Secretaries, the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Solicitor General for Ireland, had entirely failed in answering that charge. It was shown, indeed, that previous Lord Chancellors had Assistant Secretaries, hut, it was Lord Plunkett who had set the precedent of appointing Joint Secretaries, one of whom it was notorious was incompetent to perform the duties at the date of the appointment, on account of his age and want of experience; and this circumstance coupled with what appeared on a late occasion respecting the Master of the Rolls' Secretary, did not add to the reputation of Lord Plunkett. It showed him to he at least greedy in heaping places upon his family, and this charge could not be got over by pointing to other persons who had been guilty of the same practices.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, that the triumph had been claimed by the hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House, for the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Solicitor General for Ireland, but he certainly thought no triumph could be claimed for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of the Treasury, unless it was a triumph to fall into great inconsistencies. He complained that the Earl of Eldon should have been thus attacked in his absence, for nobody could deny it was that noble Lord who had been alluded to. He complained of this the more, because the attack had been made by those who had accused his right hon. friend of attacking Lord Plunkett in his absence. He should follow the example of the hon. and learned member for St. Mawes, by not offering any opinion on the subject until further information was laid before the House. He, however, could not omit this opportunity of expressing his hope that the friends of the Master of the Rolls in Ireland would again bring the question, as to his right to appoint a Secretary, before the House—a question out of which Lord Plunkett had escaped only by the support of four persons who were his political adherents.
§ Sir Frederick Trench
said, he would not advert to the point whether Lord Plunkett's family received 20,000l. a-year, or Lord Grey's family 60,000l. a-year; nor did he mean to quarrel with the Lord Chancellor for appointing his own friends to office; but he had seen it stated that Lord Plunkett having refused to suffer the question to be 1220 tried, relative to the appointment of the Master of the Rolls' Secretary, and a compromise having been offered him, had accepted it, on condition that the Gentleman who was connected with him should continue in office. This seemed to him to give a peculiar feature to the case, and he roust observe that that noble Lord appeared to him to be influenced too much by feelings neither high-minded nor patriotic; he had indeed, behaved in a manner not calculated to add dignity to the high judicial office which he held.
§ Mr. Dawson
observed, that the statements which he had made were on the authority of a gentleman of high name in Ireland, and whose character was sufficient to induce him (Mr. Dawson) to use the information which had been given him. He was prepared to show, by a reference to dates, that put of the last twelve months, during which Lord Plunkett had held the seals of Ireland, he had been six months of that period absent from his Court in Ireland, and in this country, leaving a weight and pressure of business upon a high functionary to so great an extent as to lead to remonstrance which had been met by the noble Lord in no very courteous manner. He should prove this fact fully before Parliament at a future and more fitting opportunity. He differed on the law of the case as laid down by the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland with respect to the right of appointing two Secretaries, and he denied that there had ever been an instance of Joint Secretaries to the Chancellor. With respect to the recrimination with which he had been met, it was not the system to be adopted on meeting an important question, and he would tell the hon. Gentlemen sitting behind the Treasury Bench, who had been sent into the House to attempt to cleanse what they were pleased to designate the Augean stable, and were so loud in their cries of Reform, and in the cheers with which they had received the remarks from their side of the House, that they had their constituents to answer to for their vote on this question, and he doubted much whether they would be able to justify their votes on the present occasion, even the hon. member for Sussex, who was fast asleep.
§ Lord George Lennox
rose to order. He denied having been asleep, but had listened to the debate—even the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down—and who had no right to accuse him of want of attention in the discharge of his duties to his constituents, whom he should 1221 be able to meet without any aid from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Crampton
maintained the statement he had before made, that the Lord Chancellor had fully performed the duties of his office, which had remained untouched by anything that had yet been said; and, he had no doubt, if the right hon. Gentleman returned to the charge as he had threatened, that his statement would be fully met and replied to.
§ Motion, with the Amendment, agreed to.