§ Mr. F. Baring
rose for the purpose of bringing before the House the case of Mr. Hoskins. He said, that this gentleman had been dismissed from his office, as he thought, in a manner harsh and unjustifiable; and, before he detailed the facts, he would say a word or two on the nature of the tenure of offices in the public service. There were very few who did not hold their offices at the pleasure of the Crown, and the Crown had a perfect right to dismiss any of its officers on due cause; that power he would be the last to dispute, but the pleasure of the Crown was one thing, and mere fancy, or political prejudice and feeling in the heads of departments, was another. The prerogative of dismissal had been placed in the hands of the Crown for the benefit of the public service, and, but for the sake of that service, the Crown was not supposed to exercise it; if a dismissal took place, it must be supposed to have proceeded on some grounds which would justify that course to the public and to the House of Commons. The higher offices of state were parliamentary offices, the retention of which depended upon the change of political parties. These were exceptions to the rule, but in general public servants in the employment of the Government, were not removable upon political grounds. Having said thus much, he would now proceed to a statement of the facts of this particular case. In July, 1831, by the death of a gentleman of the name of Greetham, two situations at Portsmouth became vacant: one of these was the office of agent to the Solicitor to the Admiralty, and to this place, the son of Mr. Greetham was appointed by Mr. Jones, the solicitor of the Admiralty, in whose appointment the situation was; the other situation was that of deputy Judge-advocate. The 1301 right hon. Baronet, now at the head of the Home Department, was then First Lord of the Admiralty, and in the whole of the transaction he (Mr. Baring) was now bringing under the notice of the House, he was bound to admit that his right hon. Friend had conducted himself most unexceptionably. The question arose in 1831 how the office of deputy Judge-advocate at Portsmouth was to be filled. Mr. Greetham had been paid partly by a salary, and partly by so much a day for the time he was employed. The right hon. Baronet was of opinion that the office of deputy Judge advocate was not necessary, and he accordingly abolished the office and its salary. Still it was necessary that the business at Portsmouth should be done, and it was determined that a person should officiate as deputy Judge-advocate, and should be appointed for that purpose. The duties of the officiating Judge-advocate were to be precisely the same as those of the deputy Judge-advocate, only he would receive no permanent salary. Sir James Macdonald brought forward the name of Mr. Hoskins, as a fit person to discharge the duties, and he could bear witness to the pains the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) took to ascertain the merits and capabilities of the individual. Mr. Hoskins was perfectly well qualified for the situation. Were not the Speaker in the Chair, he might, he believed, appeal to him confidently upon that point. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had not failed duly to inform himself without reference to political opinions of Mr. Hoskin's capability, His late colleague, Mr. Carter, from his personal knowledge and legal habits, was of all men most capable of forming an accurate estimate, and he had borne ample testimony to the claims and merits of Mr. Hoskins. The evidence of Mr. Carter on the subject was the less exceptionable, because he was personally desirous of promoting the claims of another party. Undoubtedly, Mr. Hoskins was exceedingly anxious, not for the additional salary, but for the rank of the office of deputy Judge-advocate, on two grounds, one of which was, that it had always been looked op to in his profession as a fair object of ambition, He, therefore, made an application for the purpose, but it was refused by the right hon. Baronet. Another reason was, that some of the friends of Mr. Hoskins apprehended that if he, who was at liberal, were appointed deputy Judge-advocate, advantage might at some 1302 time be taken of the change in the name of the office, in order to remove him, on a change of Government. In answer to that fear, when stated to the right hon. Baronet, he said, "So long as Mr. Hoskins discharges his duties properly, he need fear no dismissal," Unfortunately, the friends of Mr. Hoskins had prognosticated but too truly, in January, 1843, without the slightest previous notice, that gentleman received a letter from Sir John Barrow, as Secretary to the Admiralty, couched in the following terms:—Sir, I am commanded by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acquaint you that they have appointed Mr. G. Lambert Greetham to succeed you in officiating as deputy Judge-advocate in trials by court-martial. I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
§ "JOHN BARROW."
During the whole period that Mr. Hoskins had discharged the duties of his office, not the slightest dissatisfaction had been expressed, and several officers who had presided at courts martial had declared that Mr. Hoskins had conducted himself most efficiently. In his letter in reply to the official announcement of Sir John Barrow, Mr. Hoskins Said, that he felt it due to his professional reputation respectfully to inquire whether his removal from his office had been occasioned by any dissatisfaction in reference either to the discharge of his public duties, or to any Other part of his conduct while officiating as Deputy Judge-Advocate. His inquiry was applicable not merely to the performance of his official duties, but to the whole of his conduct, and the answer he had received was, that no cause of complaint whatever existed, but that the Lords of the Admiralty did not consider the situation he held one for life, but merely to be held during her Majesty's pleasure. There was, in fact, no situation in any of the public departments to which the same answer would not apply, and he was at a loss to divine for what cause Mr. Hoskina had been re moved. A degree of secresy prevailed in the borough of Portsmouth upon the subject, but the opinion of the great majority of the inhabitants was decidedly in favour of Mr. Hoskins, and the belief was, that he had been dismissed because he was a Whig, and that Mr. Greetham had been appointed because he was a Tory, and because he was the brother-in-law of Sir Lucius Curtis, who had considerable influence, and had been the chairman of Sir
George Cockburn's election committee. He should really be glad to know what were the true grounds of the removal of Mr. Hoskins, of whose character he would now speak with the same sincerity as if he were giving evidence in a court of justice. He was a man of high professional know ledge, of singular ability, of the strictest honour, and his private character was without stain. So high was the estimate formed of him in Portsmouth, that when a recent election of mayor took place, and for two days considerable difficulty was found in procuring a majority for either party, the name of Mr. Hoskins was mentioned, and he was at once voted into that important office. He still held it to his own pecuniary loss, and to the injury of his business. He had recently heard some ground stated as the reasons for the removal of Mr. Hoskins, but he could hardly give credit to them. It was said that the present Lords of the Admiralty had thought proper to re-create the office which the right hon. Baronet in 1831 had abolished, and that Mr. Greetham had been appointed deputy judge advocate; it was further to be urged, as he understood, that the nomination of Mr. Hoskins was only temporary, and that, in fact, while he officiated, the office was in abeyance. If such were to be the defence, at least the right hon. baronet (Sir James Graham) could not concur in it. He must be well aware that the intention was not to make Mr. Hoskins a mere stop-gap, for the right hon. Baronet had said that Mr. Hoskins need not fear removal, as long as he properly discharged the duties of the office. If it were to be said that the Lords of the Admiralty had appointed Mr. Greetham to a new situation, the answer was, that he had been appointed to the very situation which Mr. Hoskins had so long filled. If such an arrangement were in contemplation, it was somewhat surprising that Mr. Hoskins had no notice of it, and that he was not previously informed, that in consequence of the revival of the office of deputy judge advocate, his services would be dispensed with. On the 9th of January, 1843, courts martial were held, and in what capacity did Mr. Greetham appear before them? Precisely in the capacity of Mr. Hoskins; and to show that such was the fact, he need only say that the warrants were signed by the presiding officer. At what time, then, was the new change of office made? When did the Admiralty discover the ne-
cessity of re-creating the office which had now been conferred upon Mr. Greetham? He had hitherto argued the question merely as if a common clerk in the Treasury, Excise, or Customs, had been summarily dismissed; but if there was one officer more than another who ought not to be dismissed without good cause assigned, it was a person placed in the situation of Mr. Hoskins. The judge-advocate on naval courts martial had frequently to perform the part of a judge, and he was called upon, in his instructions from the Admiralty, not merely to deliver his opinion, if asked, but to give his opinion whenever he thought it necessary, on the legality of the evidence, or on any other part of the proceeding. Thus he was frequently the adviser of the court, and his appointment had something in it of a judicial character. He did not mean to insinuate that the Admiralty had made the change with any view of rendering the office less independent; he believed they only were anxious to provide for a political friend, but as a general question, he begged the House to consider what might be the effect, if the person who was the adviser of the court was understood to hold his office merely at the will and pleasure of the Admiralty, and might be at once turned out of office, without mercy or consideration. It was too much to expect that a man so circumstanced would show any stern independence of the Admiralty on any occasion when it might be required. Great injustice had been done to a most competent, honourable, and worthy man, and it was, necessary that some sufficient cause should be assigned for a course so unprecedented. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving as an amendment to the motion for a committee of supply—
That there be laid before this House, copy of any letter from the commander-in-chief at Portsmouth, dated the 18th day of August, 1831, appointing Mr. Hoskins to officiate as Deputy Judge-Advocate at that port, together with a letter containing the directions of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty referred to therein.
§ Sir G. Staunton
seconded the motion. It was unnecessary for him, after the speech of the right hon. Mover, to address any lengthened observations to the House; he would content himself with expressing his entire concurrence in the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman. He could not sit down, however, without taking this opportunity of bearing his testimony to the high character, perfect integrity, and im- 1305 partiality with which, it was admitted on all hands, Mr. Hoskins had performed the duties, both of that office from which he had been dismissed in a manner so unexampled, and the office of mayor, to which he had been elected, under unusual circumstances, by the unanimous vote of his fellow-citizens. He should have supposed that Mr. Hoskins, from his moderation in politics and his popularity even amongst his opponents, would have been the last person to meet with this mark of, at least, implied censure.
§ Mr. Sidney Herbert
thanked the right hon. Gentleman for his offer to postpone the discussion, if it would be in any measure annoying to the gallant Admiral (Sir George Cockburn); but there was nothing that could be annoying to him. The simplest and best method for him to take, to put the House into possession of the motives of Admiralty, was to state the facts of the case in a short and clear manner. The House was probably aware, that by an act passed in the reign of George 2nd, the proceedings on courts-martial were regulated. By this act, in the absence of the deputy judge-advocate, it was the duty of the court-martial to proceed to elect some person pro hac vice to fill the office. The custom on foreign stations and of late years, had been to select the Admiral's secretary, or if not the secretary, an intelligent purser, or if not a purser, the most intelligent person whose services they could command. Up to the year 1832, as had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman, Mr. Moses Greetham was deputy judge advocate at Portsmouth. On his death his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department declined to fill up the appointment. Among the many changes which were made at that time, he abolished the office, and wrote to Mr. Hoskins, stating that he would be recommended by the Admiralty to officiate as deputy-judge advocate. Under this arrangement, Mr. Hoskins was elected, by the different courts-martial held at Portsmouth, to officiate in each case, pro hac vice. He was appointed so far as his right hon. Friend had a right to appoint, but the courts'-martial had a perfect right to confirm the appointment or not. At the trial of Captain Toup Nicholas for the loss of her Majesty's ship, Vindictive, Sir Edward Owen, seeing Mr. Hoskins present at the court martial, asked why he was present, and then desired him to retire, when the court-martial proceeded to his 1306 election. It had been usual at each court-martial to nominate Mr. Hoskins; but in one instance, the court nominated Mr. Greetham, as they had a perfect right to nominate the deputy judge-advocate. During the course of the last winter, it was thought advisable by the Board of Admiralty to send a deputy judge-advocate to act on a court-martial to a foreign station. On sending for Mr. Jones, the solicitor to the Admiralty, however, the board found that there was no such person as a deputy judge-advocate, or any one they could send. He was able, most fortunately, to depose to what took place at the board, having been present at their conversation. It naturally struck the Admiralty that this want was extremely inconvenient in their proceedings, and that it was not quite right to place the Admiralty in the false position of recommending a person to officiate as deputy judge-advocate who might be refused by the court-martial. They thought it the duty of the Admiralty, therefore, to secure for the public the services of a gentleman who was notoriously and eminently worthy of the office. The last thing he would think of doing would be to discharge Mr. Hoskins. He admitted every word that the right hon. Gentleman had said as to his qualifications and character. He understood that Mr. Hoskins was a person of high standing and reputation; and the more freely he admitted the excellent character of Mr. Hoskins, the less suspicion would there be that he or the board entertained any ill-feeling towards Mr. Hoskins himself. Mr. Hoskins, as had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman, had, on his original appointment, or rather on the receipt of a promise that he should be recommended to courts-martial for their appointment, addressed a memorial to the Board of Admiralty complaining of his not being appointed regularly as deputy judge-advocate, in which he had called the attention of the board very clearly, and as he (Mr. Herbert) thought very convincingly, to the inconvenience of not having a deputy judge-advocate, as he conceived, and asked, on account of the public service, to be put upon the footing of a deputy judge-advocate, stating that he was willing to take the office without receiving any salary; that proposal was not, however, accepted by the Board of Admiralty. Mr. Hoskins, however, in his memorial, stated strong reasons for the appointment of such an officer, in which he agreed. After the 1307 conversation at the Board of Admiralty to which he had alluded, it was determined that the office should be re-established. Mr. Jones, the solicitor, was consulted as to who was the most proper person to fill the situation. Mr. Hoskins filled no situation under the Admiralty; indeed, he held no situation except that to which he might be elected by the courts martial. Mr. Hoskins' claim, therefore, would be that for eleven years he had officiated as deputy judge-advocate and had borne a high character, whilst Mr. Greetham's claims would be that many years before Mr. Hoskins officiated he did, in consequence of the age or illness of his father, perform the duties for him. Mr. Greet ham had been appointed by Mr. Jones, the solicitor to the Admiralty, not because of any personal feeling, but in consequence of the confidence he had in him, who, as agent to the solicitor for the Admiralty, had had to solve questions on law points raised before the courts-martial. The right hon. Gentleman had prefaced his speech with some sound constitutional doctrine as to the removal of officers of the Crown, with the view of applying them to this case. He (Mr. S. Herbert) fully coincided in the right hon. Gentleman's views, but the right hon. gentlemen would admit that the Board of Admiralty, who were responsible for disposing of the patronage of the Crown, had the right to appoint such persons as they might think most fit. It was supposed that the appointment was made to assist a political supporter, but the proposal to Mr. Greetham was, whether he would accept the office of deputy judge-advocate without a salary; and his reply was that he would take the office without a salary. [Mr. F. T. Baring: Not without any remuneration, I suppose] He offered to take the office without salary. Of course he would have the same remuneration as the officiating deputy, but there would be no additional expense to the country, or burden on the public. A letter was written to Mr. Greetham on the 22d December, 1842, asking whether he would accept the office of deputy judge advocate, and he had answered that he would. That was the state of the case. It was decided by the Board of Admiralty that for the good of the public service the office should be re-established, it was found to be inconvenient to be without this officer; it was decided that the office should be re-established without salary, it was proposed upon those terms to Mr. Greet- 1308 ham, and he accepted it without salary. He thought, therefore, that the appointment of Mr. Greetham would not be objected to. He came now to a part of the case into which he could not enter without feeling much difficulty. On the 22d of December the proposal was made to Mr. Greetham. He was cognizant of the whole proceeding, and he could give his assurance to the House that there was no intention on the part of the Board of Admiralty to act politically, and that no mention was made of politics in any way whatever in that conversation. He was present, and now repeated the conversation: he was speaking in an assembly of gentlemen, and he was speaking on his own authority, when he said that there was no question raised as to politics. This, he believed, that political considerations would not have induced the Government to supersede Mr. Hoskins. A few days after this, on the 31st of December, a letter was written to that gentleman. For that letter he was himself responsible, as secretary to the Admiralty. He thought it better, when an error had been committed, frankly to avow it. He had left town, with the matter as he had just stated it, and then, in perfect ignorance of the nature of the transaction. Sir John Barrow, who evidently thought that Mr. Hoskins was deputy judge-advocate, and was to be superseded, wrote the letter, On his return to London he was informed of the letter written by Mr. Hoskins, requesting an explanation. He thereupon caused a regular warrant to be made out, by which Mr. Greetham was regularly appointed deputy judge-advocate, and the letters written in error were cancelled. The date of the warrant he had not got, but it was subsequent to the correspondence and the letters written in complete ignorance of the facts of the case, and indeed in direct contradiction of the facts of the case, and of the intentions of the Board of Admiralty. It was thought necessary to have a deputy judge-advocate that he might be sent to any place. If Mr. Greetham had resided at Plymouth, instead of Portsmouth, he might doubtless have been appointed without complaint. Mr. Greetham had been represented to the Board as a most qualified person, and he resided at Portsmouth, which, being nearer to London, and with easier communication, was thought to be a preferable place to Plymouth for the residence of such an officer; and he had already the confidence of the Board of Admiralty, acting as agent 1309 for the solicitor to the Board. He hoped, therefore, the House would be satisfied, although the letters were written in ignorance of the facts, and written in error; and he regretted, any seeming want of courtesy in conveying to Mr. Hoskins the intention of the Admiralty to make the change—that he had taken the earliest opportunity of correcting the error. So far from having displaced this gentleman from office to substitute another of different political opinions, or that to provide for a supporter they had created the place, the Board of Admiralty had found that public inconvenience had resulted from the want of this officer; they were acting as they thought right, and for the best interests of the service; they re-established the office, and they did not turn any one out of office, because Mr. Hoskins held no office. The gentleman who had been put into the office so re-established had been recommended to the Board of Admiralty as eminently qualified for the duty of the office, and he had claims upon the Admiralty long prior to the time when Mr. Hoskins was permitted to officiate as deputy judge-advocate. He trusted that the House would now be satisfied with the motives of the Admiralty in the course they had pursued; certainly there was great misapprehensions in the three letters which had been referred to, and they were written in error. The whole of the papers which the right hon. Gentleman wished, and the whole of the correspondence in the possession of the Admiralty, showing the history of the case, he was perfectly welcome to, and they should be laid upon the Table of the House.
§ Mr. Charles Wood
would not insinuate an opinion as to whether Mr. Hoskins was fitter than Mr. Greetham, or Mr. Greetham fitter than Mr. Hoskins to fill this office. There might, perhaps, be some slight advantage in re-establishing the office of deputy judge-advocate; but for the last eleven years the business had been conducted at Portsmouth, as far as he knew without complaint; it was at this moment conducted at Plymouth by a person officiating as deputy judge-advocate, and his right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham) had, doubtless, changed the system at Portsmouth, because for many years back the service at Plymouth had been so well conducted. It was always so conducted on foreign stations. Therefore, when his hon. Friend opposite said that it was necessary to re-establish the 1310 office, he did not say that there was not some reason for it; but he must observe that the public service had been conducted practically without the slightest difficulty; and when without notice to the individual, or any special ground for condemnation, there was a removal, he must say that towards that individual the transaction was unjust. His hon. Friend in giving them the history of the case, had mentioned a conversation in which there was no mention of politics, and hon. Members on that (the opposition) side of the House cheered. He assured his hon. Friend that all they meant by this cheer was that they never supposed, at the moment of this conversation, that it was openly stated that Mr. Greetham was the brother-in-law of the chairman of Sir George Cockburn's committee, or that Mr. Hoskins had been active on the part of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Baring). His hon. Friend, however, would hardly induce the House to believe that the politics of both gentlemen were not perfectly well known, although they were not mentioned at the board, or that political bias was not effectual on that account. His hon. Friend had said that Sir John Barrow supposed that Mr. Hoskins was to be superseded in the office of deputy judge-advocate. The letter, however, showed the very reverse. The whole statement of his hon. Friend was founded on the supposition that Mr. Hoskins was not a deputy judge-advocate, and therefore could not be turned out. Nothing could be so precise as the letter of Sir John Barrow to Mr. Hoskins on this point: it said that another person was appointed to "succeed him as officiating deputy judge-advocate." If it had been necessary to appoint Mr. Greetham deputy judge-advocate, and he had been so appointed, the communication to Mr. Hoskins would naturally have been a statement that the board had thought such an officer necessary. There was no such statement in the letter of Mr. Hoskins. It did not say that. Mr. Greetham was appointed deputy judge-advocate, but that he was to succeed to Mr. Hoskins in officiating as deputy judge-advocate, and nine or ten days afterwards they found him officiating in that capacity, but not holding an appointment as deputy judge-advocate. From the correspondence, he was inclined to think that the Admiralty finding they had made a mistake, thought they should make a better case if they appointed a deputy judge-advocate. Did it ever occur to the Board of Admiralty to ask Mr. Hoskins 1311 whether he would like to accept the office of deputy judge-advocate with the same pay? Would not this have been a fairer way of treating an officer who had satisfactorily discharged his duty for eleven years, and towards a public servant liable to no reproach? It would have been fairer towards Mr. Hoskins, and would not have increased the cost to the service. It was believed in Portsmouth that the change had been made from political motives, and he must say that the facts, as they had been brought before the House, would bear out that belief. It was true in point of form that Mr. Hoskins was appointed pro hac vice. He was perfectly aware that one court-martial could appoint and another not; but this was a technical objection, which he did not think of much value. Did not courts-martial both at home and on foreign stations invariably appoint the officiating deputy judge-advocate recommended by the commander-in-chief. During the last eleven years the commander-in-chief had practically appointed Mr. Hoskins to be officiating deputy judge-advocate at Porstmouth. Upon what terms was he first appointed—or in the confusion of terms, perhaps, he ought to say named? The commander-in-chief at Portsmouth, Sir Thomas Foley, wrote to him, stating that he had received the direction of the Admiralty to employ him as officiating deputy judge-advocate, and adding, "whenever a court-martial is assembled, I shall call upon you." But there were certain duties to be performed before the court-martial assembled. In practice, it was impossible that a court-martial could proceed without some preliminary proceedings by the person who would afterwards be the officiating judge-advocate and by Admiralty order Mr. Hoskins was paid for such services, which were rendered previous to his appointment by each court-martial. However good, therefore, his hon. Friend's objection might be technically, it was practically not worth much. Would his hon. Friend contend that the technical point of Mr. Hoskins being appointed pro hoc vice deprived him of the equitable right of being appointed by the Admiralty? When Mr. Hoskins was named, his right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham) assured him that no change of Government would deprive him of the equitable right, and that he might consider his appointment permanent. The technical objection did not go one iota towards removing the equitable claim. No ground was shown for depriving 1312 Mr. Hoskins of his appointment. It was only for the House to draw its own inference of what the motives for the change might be; he (Mr. C. Wood) had a strong suspicion that they were political motives, and that a wish to provide for a person whose political opinions agreed with the Government had been a ruling motive. There had been no necessity for changing Mr. Hoskins. He (Mr. C. Wood) had filled the same office as his hon. Friend; he had been Secretary of the Admiralty; and he had also held another office, more connected with the political disposition of favours, and he must say, that he hardly knew of an instance in which political bias had interfered with the performance of his duty to a public servant.
§ Sir Charles Napier
said, that it was extremely disagreeable, when two hon. Gentlemen were pitted against each other, if one had been, and the other was secretary to a department, for they were sure to let the cat out of the bag. He was sorry to find that it had fallen to the lot of his hon. Friend, the Secretary of the Admiralty, to defend the appointment, because his hon. Friend was too honest a man to defend it well, and a worse defence than his, when a notorious job had been done, he had never heard. His hon. Friend said, that Sir Edward Owen, sitting upon a court-martial on the trial of Captain Troup Nicholas, went up and asked Mr. Hoskins what he did there, although he might naturally have expected to see him in his usual place. Now, he would ask whether this was not a sort of a feeler put out by the Admiralty, to let Mr. Hoskins know that he might be turned out one of these fine days, when it might suit the Admiralty to appoint his successor. It was done in a very excellent manner—he had never known anything done better. His hon. Friend (Mr. C. Wood) had said rightly, that the officiating deputy judge-advocate was invariably recommended by the Commander-in-chief; and that, before a court-martial could take place, evidence must be summoned by the person who was to be afterwards appointed officiating deputy judge-advocate. Did they suppose that the members of courts-martial, who were always too happy to do as the admiralty wished, would have objected to Mr. Hoskins, who had been officiating deputy judge-advocate for eleven years before? He believed, that more courts-martial took place abroad than in this 1313 country. He had been in the service forty-three years, and he had never seen any difficulty, nor had he heard of any deputy judge-advocate being sent abroad to officiate. He therefore thought that upon that point his hon. Friend's justification must fall to the ground. Then they were told that Mr. Moses Greetham's son had frequently officiated for his father: he might have done so during illness; he had, however, sat on some courts-martial with the gallant Captain, the Member for Aberdeen (Captain Gordon), and he did not recollect one instance in which Mr. Moses Greetham did not act. This was not the first case of the kind which had occurred since the present Government had come into office. It would be fresh in the minds of hon. Gentlemen that in the course of the last Session of Parliament, the hon. Member for Brighton (Captain Pechell) had mentioned the case of a purser at Cork, a Whig, who had been superseded from a situation which he held, upon a suggestion that a naval officer was best fitted for the discharge of its duties, and a lieutenant appointed. At the same time, the Board of Admiralty superseded a captain who held an office at Deal, and put a clerk into his place, not in the navy, but who had served at the admiralty. With regard to the present case, he viewed it as an undoubted job, and he thought that the board of admiralty would have shown more discretion if they had been contented to carry out their views in a more reasonable and decent manner.
observed, that the date of the letter which was written to Mr. Greetham, asking him whether he would accept the office of deputy judge-advocate, was sufficient to prove that the second letter must have been written in error. According to the act of Parliament, the Board of Admiralty had no power to appoint any other individual to officiate at a court-martial except the judge-advocate or his deputy. By a clause in the 22nd George 2nd, it was distinctly stated, that in the absence of the judge-advocate and his deputy, the court-martial should have full power to name any person they might think fit. Finding that inconvenience had arisen from there being no deputy judge-advocate, the admiralty thought it necessary that such an appointment should take place, and considering that Mr. Moses Greetham, the father of this gentleman, 1314 had filled the office for thirty-five years, and that this gentleman had officiated during his absence from illness, they thought his claim as strong as that of any other person. It must have been inconvenient for the chief magistrate of such a town as Portsmouth, like Mr. Hoskins, to be ordered to a distance to attend a court-martial.
§ Captain Rous
said, that the ground of this motion was a suggestion that the present Government had been guilty of jobbing. How was it, he begged to ask, that when, some time ago, an officer was sent home from a foreign station, having just escaped a court-martial, because he happened to make a liberal speech at a dinner in favour of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) who was then standing for the county of Hants, he should be immediately appointed to a new command? There was no place in the United Kingdom, he believed, in which more jobbing had taken place than Portsmouth, especially during the last ten years. Every situation in the Customs and Excise had been filled by the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman, who had brought forward this motion. With regard to the present case, he maintained that the situation held by Mr. Hoskins had been in abeyance, and he believed that the appointment of Mr. Greetham had given the highest satisfaction to all the old officers of the navy.
§ Captain Pechell
declared, that a more monstrous job than the dismissal of Mr. Hoskins, and the appointment of Mr. Greetham, had never been perpetrated.
begged to ask a question. He had heard it suggested, that Mr. Greetham had been appointed deputy judge-advocate, because such an officer might be wanted to go abroad. Was this the real cause of Mr. Greetham's appointment?
§ Mr. S. Herbert
said, that Mr. Greetham had been appointed, when it was found that there was no such officer as a deputy judge-advocate in existence if he should be required to go abroad.
would venture to say, that in his experience of forty-three years he had never known of an instance of a judge-advocate being sent abroad.
§ Viscount Palmerston
begged most sin- 1315 cerely to congratulate the Government that they felt so satisfied at the defence made by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty that no other member of the Government thought it necessary to address any observations to the House. He would describe things as they were, and there never was a clearer case than the present of an officer being dismissed from his situation, and another appointed in his stead, solely for political reasons—of the dismissal of one man, because in political principles he was favourable to the party in opposition—of the appointment of another because he was an active partisan of the party in power. The principle of selection on account of political opinions, was one, he thought, which might fairly and reasonably be adopted in all cases where the officer in reference to whom it was applied could be considered to be in confidential connection with the Government; but in cases of officers who held situations of a judicial or executive character merely, that principle was never acted upon. Cases might be mentioned in the executive departments of the Government, where persons high even in the confidential employment of the Government were not changed upon a change of Administration, clerks who were in situations which necessarily rendered them the depositaries of secrets, and who were entrusted with the daily administration of the Government, were not discharged or retained in their office with reference to what might be their political opinions. Even in the department over which he had had the honour of presiding, namely the diplomatic service, the same rule prevailed, and although the persons who discharged the duties of the more important embassies were usually changed upon a change of Government at home, yet it seldom happened, except in special cases, that even the Ministers Plenipotentiary were changed, and the officers of lower rank were never removed on such grounds. He thought that the same rule ought to prevail in cases like the present, and that no reason of mere political bias ought to prevail, to induce the Government to exercise the power of removal which was unquestionably vested in them. He must say that the defence which had been set up in this case by the hon. Secretary to the Admiralty, was more honourable to his candour, by reason of its failure than it was advantageous to the Go- 1316 vernment in relation to the transaction under discussion. First, it was said that it was necessary to have as deputy judge-advocate at Portsmouth, a person who might, if necessary, be sent abroad; and that because Mr. Hoskins happened to be mayor of Portsmouth this year, he could not be employed in any service which would call for his absence from England. He had no doubt that if the option had been put to Mr. Hoskins, and the necessity of the case had been pointed out to him, he would willingly have resigned the temporary honours of his mayoralty for the more permanent advantage of the office which he had hitherto held. But was Mr. Greetham a person who was available for foreign service? Did he hold no other office which tied him down to Portsmouth? He was not mayor undoubtedly, nor was it likely that the choice of his fellow-townsmen would ever impose the duties of that office upon him, but it appeared that he held three offices of considerable importance, namely, those of agent for the Ordnance, of agent for the Customs, and of agent for the Admiralty, the duties of each of which were connected locally with Portsmouth. If these three offices were of such a character as to leave Mr. Greetham available for employment abroad, in the situation to which he had been appointed in suppression of Mr. Hoskins, he thought that the House would agree with him that the Admiralty, and the Customs, and the Ordnance might well be spared the expense of appointing such agents at all. Then it was said that there had been a mistake made by Sir John Barrow. That Gentleman, however, had been long at the Admiralty. There was no man engaged in the public service more generally accurate than he, and he was a man who had a peculiar faculty of making himself fully informed on questions which called for his attention. It was said, that it was originally intended to substitute for this officer elected on each occasion, by each court-martial, a permanent officer appointed by the Crown; and that being the case, it was intended to appoint a person who was thought fitter for it than Mr. Hoskins—not in a professional point of view, because the hon. Secretary to the Admiralty, fully admitted the high professional merits of Mr. Hoskins, and by some process of reasoning, which he could not follow, seemed to have arrived at the conclusion, that the higher the 1317 professional character of that gentleman was, the stronger were the reasons for depriving him of his office. But with regard to the appointment held by Mr. Hoskins, it was said, that that was not an appointment of the Government at all, for that the officiating deputy judge-advocate was elected by each court-martial. But taking this to be so, and trying the question by analogy, how, he asked, were the bishops appointed? There was no appointment more universally understood to be in the discretion of the Crown than the appointment of a bishop, but it was made by means of a permission to elect given to the chapter by the Crown, and yet he supposed they would not be told the responsibility of such an appointment did not rest with the Government, merely because, in point of fact it had technically been made by the chapter, who had been authorised by the Crown to make the election. He would take another case—that of a knight of the garter. The knights of the garter were elected by ballot; yes, actually by ballot. The course of election was this: The knights were assembled in chapter, each knight wrote secretly on a piece of paper the name of the individual whom he wished to be elected, and the carefully folding up the paper so written upon, gave it mysteriously to the proper officer of the Order; all the papers being thus collected, and being examined by that officer, it invariably happened that the person designated by the Crown was declared unanimously elected to the vacancy. But any one would be laughed at who said that the Crown had nothing to do with the election. The mere technical fact, therefore, in the present case, that the deputy judge-advocate was elected in each particular case by the court-martial, was no proof whatever that the appointment of officiating deputy judge-advocate was not conferred by, and held at the pleasure of the Admiralty. But referring to the letters of Sir J. Barrow, it was clear from them that the Board of Admiralty deliberately and advisedly intended to remove Mr. Hoskins from some situation from which they conceived they possessed the power to remove him, or in which they believed they could retain him if they had chosen to do so. If this were not so, surely, when Sir John Barrow replied to Mr. Hoskins's remonstrance, he would have explained that the Board of Admi- 1318 ralty were not the persons who made the appointment, but that it was made by the election of the courts-martial. Instead of saying as he did that the appointment was held during the pleasure of the board, he must say, that at all events, he thought that the letters which were written were devoid of that courtesy which the circumstances of the case required, and that something should have been done to soothe the wounded feelings of Mr. Hoskins, and to show that his removal did not imply any disadvantageous opinion of the manner in which he had performed his duties. With regard to the denial of the hon. Secretary to the Admiralty, that the political opinions either of Mr. Hoskins or Mr. Greet ham were discussed at the meeting of the Board at which the latter was appointed, he gave the hon. Gentleman full credit for the truth of his statement. Such a discussion would have been wholly supererogatory. As well might the right hon. Baronet opposite have discussed with the First Lord of the Admiralty the political opinions of the hon. Gentleman himself, before he offered him the situation which he now held as a Member of her Majesty's Government. The political opinions of the hon. Gentlemen were too well known to require to be discussed, and those of Mr. Hoskins and Mr. Greetham were just as notorious to the Board of Admiralty. Looking at the facts of the particular case now before the House, he thought that any man who could put two and two together, could come to no other conclusion than that the appointment was the result of preference for a political partizan. The hon. Member for Westminster (Captain Rous) had remarked on the course taken by the late Board of Admiralty in reference to a gallant Officer who had supported him (Viscount Palmerston) in his election for South Hants; and it was said that that Board had in that case indulged in a preference for a political partizan. With regard to that officer, he begged to say that that officer well deserved by his professional merits the promotion he had obtained. He did not mean to say, that the late Board of Admiralty had not shown a proper degree of favour for their friends— it was very natural that they should, all Governments of course do so; what he objected to was the shewing favour to friends, but the wreaking of vengeance on 1319 opponents. The expulsion of one officer from a situation which he held, for the sake of promoting another. But with reference to the conduct of the late Board of Admiralty in such matters he would state the fact, that at the same election for South Hants, at which he was a candidate, another naval officer had been most active in opposing him, and was almost the only person at that election the warmth of whose zeal might have justified criticism as to the manner in which he displayed it; but that officer, nevertheless, obtained a ship a few months after the election was over. He had just professional claims to employment, and the First Lord of the Admiralty did not think that his activity at the election ought to be any bar to those claims; and if he (Lord Palmeston) had had any voice in the matter he should have been ashamed of himself if he had interposed any objection. It appeared to him, that in the present case, there was no defence whatever. It would have been better for the Government, instead of raising such a defence, to have said, "We find that the people of Portsmouth, in spite of the influence which the dockyards might be supposed to give us, continue to support the late Chancellor of the Exchequer — we are, therefore, determined to bring all our force to bear on the voters, and we have thought fit to place this office in the hands of a friend, rather than to leave it in those of an opponent." He hoped that the notice which had been taken of the case in that House, and the honourable testimony which had been borne on all sides to the respectability and professional fitness of Mr. Hoskins, would be satisfactory to the feelings of that gentleman and his friends, and that the irregularity which had been committed in this instance would be the less likely to recur, in consequence of what had fallen from hon. Members in the course of this discussion.
§ Mr. B. Escott
was surprised, knowing the cause of the present motion, that its advocates should have been soft enough to make the exhibition they had that night. The inference he drew from it was, that the preferment must be very valuable, and the jobs very rich, the loss of which was made so much noise about.
§ Sir R. Peel
said that, not being a Hampshire man, he felt some apology was due for taking part in the debate after the length to which it had already extended. 1320 His hon. Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty was willing to give the papers, and the whole transaction would appear when they were produced, and if there should appear to be any parliamentary ground to call the attention of the House to the matter, the right hon. Gentleman could then do so. He rose, however, for the purpose of observing that he thought that the noble Lord had put something like an unfair interpretation on some part of the transaction. As for the letter of Sir John Barrow to Mr. Hoskins, he admitted that, on the first reading of the letter, it did imply some expression of disapprobation towards Mr. Hoskins; but his hon. Friend had distinctly stated that this was not the case, and had expressed his regret that, in the communication to Mr. Hoskins, there was an apparent harshness which was not intended. He was sure that his hon. Friend would not have written so, and he thought nothing could be more fair than the course taken by his hon. Friend in acting differently, as he did, from Sir John Barrow. The noble Lord had referred to the letters of Sir J. Barrow, written on the 31st of December and on the 3rd of January, which, on the face of them, stated that Mr. Greetham was to succeed to the performance of the duties of deputy judge-advocate at Portsmouth. The noble Lord, however, should recollect the letter of a prior date, which implied that, under the new arrangement, Mr. Greetham had been selected to fill the office of deputy judge-advocate. The communication was dated the 28th of December, and stated that the writer of it had been directed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to ask whether the acceptance of the office of deputy judge-advocate at Portsmouth, without a salary, would be acceptable to Mr. Greetham? The letter showed that the situation always contemplated was the appointment of a deputy judge-advocate under certain new arrangements. The hon. Member for Halifax had himself admitted that much might be urged in favour of certain new arrangements respecting that office. [Mr. C. Wood had not said a word to justify the removal of Mr. Hoskins.] The hon. Gentleman went so far as to say that advantage might be derived from the re-construction of the duties of this office, but observed that on its re-construction it might have been offered to Mr. Hoskins. Now supposing that this re-construction. 1321 took place, the question arose as to whether Mr. Hoskins or Mr. Greetham had the prior claim or right to the appointment. Much no doubt might be urged in favour of Mr. Hoskins, in consequence of the manner in which he had hitherto performed the duties of the office, and it had been admitted on all hands that his conduct had been unexceptionable: Mr. Greetham, however, was not merely known as a political partizan, for Mr. Greetham's father had been deputy judge-advocate at Portsmouth for thirty-five years, and Mr. Greetham, jun., had often acted for his father when he was disqualified by age from taking so active a part as he formerly did. At that time the abilities of Mr. Greetham, jun., were fully admitted, and when a vacancy occurred in the office by the death of his father, he was acting as agent at Portsmouth for Mr. Jones, as solicitor for the Admiralty. Now, in the vacancy that then occurred, and Mr. Greetham having so often officiated for his father, had he not a sort of hereditary claim to the appointment. When it was thought advisable by the Board of Admiralty to reconstruct the office, he was far from saying that Mr. Hoskins had not fair claims on their consideration, but the Board considered that Mr. Greetham also had claims, and they could not forget the services of the father. He concurred in the general principle laid down by the noble Lord as to offices held during pleasure, that good conduct during the holding of the offices gave claims for the continuance in them. This was in conformity with the general practice of the Government; and he believed that no Administration had acted more in stronger conformity to the principle than the present Government. He believed that as few changes in office, held during pleasure, when it was considered that employment gave a claim, had taken place as under any other Government. With regard to the office over which the noble Lord presided, namely, the Foreign Office, the noble Lord must admit that as few changes as possible had taken place. He could not conceive a stronger case—not of deputy judge-advocate—than of the diplomatic service of the country, and there was no department of the state in which there was a better opportunity of securing or obtaining political friends, than in connection with diplomacy, and he would venture 1322 to assert that in the diplomatic arrangement of the present Government, they had gone as far to show a regard to the claims of former service as any previous Government. He would not make a comparison with the conduct of the previous or any other Administration. The noble Lord said that the Government was entitled to have confidence in those whom they employed, and, admitting this, he would call upon the noble Lord to show an instance in which, as regarded the diplomatic men of the present Government, the claims of service were not attended to, independently of personal politics.
§ Mr. Labouchere
did not feel disposed to deny that, in the general distribution of the patronage at the disposal of the Government, the present Administration had acted fairly as regarded the diplomatic service; he did not think that it was too much to say, that they had only acted in conformity with the practice of the Government which went before them. He did not think that the charge could be brought against his noble Friend that, in the disposal of the patronage of his office, he had treated with harshness political opponents whom he found employed when he accepted office. He was sure that if the matter was strictly examined, that hon. Gentlemen opposite would not throw out such a charge. He was sure that the House could not have heard the speech of the right hon. Baronet without coming to the conclusion that this change would never have taken place in this office, if he had been consulted. He was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman's qualified defence of the change that had been made, but he should have blushed had it been otherwise. He was surprised to hear the hon. the Secretary of the Admiralty say, that in the letter of Sir John Barrow that officer did not express the opinions of the Board of Admiralty. It was long since that he was a Member of that Board, where he sat as a junior Lord, at the time that it was presided over by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Dorchester, and certainly he must say, that that department under the right hon. Baronet's control was admirably managed. Now he knew sufficiently of the constitution of the Board of Admiralty at that time to know, that a Secretary of the Admiralty would rather have cut off his hand than have sent such a letter without the sanction of the 1323 head of the Board. He could not conceive a worse defence of the Board of Admiralty, than that a letter should pass which, in tone and temper, was directly opposed to the feelings of the Board. He could not help thinking that the present was a most injurious attempt to cow the electors of Portsmouth. At that place, the Government influence was naturally strong, and therefore political patronage should be exercised with peculiar delicacy.
§ Mr. F. T. Baring
said, that he would withdraw the motion on the understanding that the papers were to be produced.
§ Motion withdrawn. Main question put.