HC Deb 21 April 1846 vol 85 cc794-807

rose to bring before the House the case of a second Assistant Poor Law Commissioner who, within a short period, had been deprived of his appointment without any reason being assigned for such a measure, and under circumstances of injustice which required explanation. He, of course, expected to be met by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Graham) with the objection formerly urged on a similar occasion, that the Poor Law Commissioners were empowered to remove the Assistant Commissioners at their discretion. He had all along been aware that the Poor Law Commissioners possessed this power; but the Act of Parliament under which they were appointed provided certain securities for the just and proper exercise of that power; and he must now call upon the House to consider whether, in the case he was about to submit to them, the securities so provided by the Poor Law Amendment Act had not been trampled upon and disregarded? The Poor Law Commissioners were empowered to act only as a board; for the formation of a constitutional board the attendance of at least two Commissioners was required; and, further, the board was not complete without the presence of the secretary, its recording officer. The Poor Law Amendment Act also specially required that a faithful minute should be kept of every proceeding of the Commissioners; and it was provided that, for further security, these minutes should be submitted at least once a year to the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The fourth section of that Act ran thus:— The said Commissioners shall make a record of their proceedings, in which shall be entered in writing a reference to every letter received, whence, its date, the date of its reception, and the subject to which it relates, and a minute of every letter written or order given by the said Commissioners, whether in answer to such letters received or otherwise, with the date of the same, and a minute of the opinion of each of the members of the board of Commissioners, in case they should finally differ in opinion upon any order to be given or other proceeding of the board; and such record shall be submitted to one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries once in every year, or as often as he shall require the same. He (Mr. Christie) was about to ask for the production of all minutes and correspondence relative to Mr. Day's resignation, and the appointment of Colonel Wade as his successor. Mr. Day had applied for those minutes, both to the Poor Law Commissioners and to the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham); but he had not succeeded in obtaining them. It was true that reasons had been assigned, both by the Commissioners and the right hon. Baronet, for requiring Mr. Day to resign his appointment; but before he sat down he would show that those alleged reasons were most inconsistent. Those reasons being utterly unsatisfactory to Mr. Day, he had applied to the Commissioners for the minute on which the call for his resignation was based; but the only reply he could get from the Commissioners was an evasion of his request; while from the right hon. Home Secretary he merely obtained an acknowledgment of the receipt of his letter. At the time when Mr. Day was requested to send in his resignation, he had been an Assistant Poor Law Commissioner for eight years. Long before the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act, Mr. Day had paid special attention to the working of the Poor Law; he had been for some years in the commission of the peace for Sussex; and as a magistrate for that county he had watched with particular interest the operation of the laws relating to the relief of the poor. When the preliminary Commission of Inquiry into the Poor Law was appointed, Mr. Day gave that Commission the benefit of his experience, and furnished them with a report, the value of which they acknowledged, and which was printed in the appendix to their report. After the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act, and the constitution of the Commission at Somerset House, Mr. Day, who on the formation of the Uckfield union, in which he resided, had been appointed vice-chairman of the board of guardians, continued to give the Commissioners the advantage of his assistance. He made frequent communications to them; and the value of his assistance was proved by the fact that when, towards the close of 1835, it was determined to appoint six additional Assistant Poor Law Commissioners, Mr. Day, without any solicitation on his part, was asked by Mr. Lefevre, then a Poor Law Commissioner, whether he would accept one of the appointments thus placed at their disposal? He believed that, at that time, the applications for Assistant Poor Law Commissionerships were excessively numerous, and that from a large number of candidates for the appointments—some of them persons of ability and distinction —Mr. Day was the first person selected as an additional Assistant Commissioner. After some consideration Mr. Day accepted the appointment, and for a period of eight years he continued zealously and faithfully to discharge the arduous duties of his office; his conduct elicited frequent expressions of approbation from his superiors. During the whole period he asked for leave of absence for only eight weeks, and he never received the slightest hint that his conduct was viewed with disapprobation by the Commissioners, or even a suggestion as to the discharge of his duty. Indeed, the only instance of any fault being found with Mr. Day during that period was towards the close of his connexion with the Commission, when he received a communication requesting him to write in a larger character. In August, 1843, Mr. Day, while attending a board of guardians in Wales, in the neighbourhood of Lord Cawdor's seat, met with an accident by which his leg was broken. He was in consequence laid up for a period of five weeks; but before the end of September he resumed the performance of his duties, and had almost forgotten the accident, when, on the 13th of January, 1844—five months after the occurrence—he was reminded of it by the following communication from the Poor Law Commissioners:—

"Poor Law Office, Jan. 12, 1844.

"My dear Sir—The present state of Wales and the adjoining counties has obliged the Commissioners most anxiously to consider the arrangements now existing in that district, with reference to the administration of the Poor Law; and we have been unable to avoid coming to the conclusion that the utmost activity on the part of the Assistant Commissioner in giving his attendance at the meetings of the boards of guardians, and in personally inspecting the several workhouses frequently, is indispensable to the proper management of the district. Acting upon this conviction, when you unfortunately met with the accident on the 19th of August, the Commissioners immediately requested Mr. Weale to proceed to Wales, where he remained seven weeks, his own district being left during that period without superintendence, although standing greatly in need of it. We are precluded by the Act of the Session before last from appointing any supernumerary, or additional Assistant Commissioners; and we have no means at our disposal for supplying the want of that active superintendence which is at all times necessary, but is more particularly and urgently so at the present moment in Wales. We regret exceedingly to learn that your bodily health is not such as to enable you to make the requisite exertions, and we can see no escape from the embarrassments in which we are placed, but by frankly stating what we think the public service requires, and to suggest your resignation, as affording the only means for enabling the Commissioners to supply the present deficiency, and to provide for the active superintendence of the district in its present very critical state, A communication of this nature cannot be otherwise than painful to my Colleagues and myself. We can only assure you that it is founded entirely on a sense of public duty, and in this light we trust that you will receive it.—I remain, dear Sir, very faithfully yours,


Allusion was made in this communication to the circumstance of Mr. Weale's having been sent into Wales, and to the inconvenience which had been thereby occasioned. But it appeared from a return which had been presented to the House, on the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln (Colonel Sibthorp), that during the time Mr. Day was prevented from attending to his duties, two of the Assistant Commissioners were absent from duty on leave. Mr. Day did not resume his duties till the 25th of September; and it appeared from the return to which he referred that Mr. Clements had leave to the 23rd of September, and Sir John Walsham till the 25th of the same month. If, therefore, any inconvenience had resulted from Mr. Day's inability to discharge his duties, it might have been obviated by the recall of one of those gentlemen. The Commissioners intimated, in the letter he had just read, that they considered Mr. Day incapable of the exertion requisite for the efficient performance of his duty; but they had addressed no inquiry whatever to Mr. Day as to the state of his health. Indeed, Mr. Day had every reason to believe that the Commissioners were satisfied he was recovering from his accident, for on the 18th of November, 1843, he received a letter from Mr. Lewis, containing the following passages:— I am glad that you are able to resume your work without difficulty, though I fear that you will feel the effects of your accident for some time to come. I am much obliged to you for your inquiries about my health. I think I have certainly received considerable benefit from six weeks of Leamington waters and Dr. Jephson. It appeared from this note that, during part of the time Mr. Day was laid up, Mr. Lewis had himself been suffering from indisposition, and had on that account been absent from his duty. To Mr. Nicholls's letter Mr. Day sent the following reply:— Bangor, Jan. 14, 1844. My dear Sir—In consequence of there being two days' letters waiting for me here, I have only just received your communication of the day before yesterday. It has both surprised and pained me. It has been communicated at a time when, for all practical purposes, I have nearly recovered, my only ailment being the remaining weakness in my leg, which still obliges me to use crutches; but as far as my 'bodily health' and the power of travelling is concerned, I am as well as ever. I may add, that had I acted upon the recommendation which was urged upon me, to ask leave of absence during the last quarter, for the purpose of effectually attending to the cure of my leg, I believe I long since should have been perfectly efficient; but I felt that under the circumstances I ought not to leave my district, and consequently abstained from doing so. Your own orders confined me to South Wales, as long as the disturbances lasted, which prevented my visiting a large portion of my district; and the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry appeared to me to render it desirable that I should remain in the neighbourhood of their sittings, in order to explain any points which might appear equivocal or unsatisfactory. Those circumstances will account for the limited sphere of my movements of late, much more than my accident; and in point of fact I have pursued this course, without any intimation to the contrary from yourselves, deeming it to be to the interest of the Commission, and to my own personal loss, as my horses have been, to a considerable extent, an uncompensated expense. Putting aside the five weeks when I was confined at Lord Cawdor's, I will merely add that from some time in June till after Christmas I have been (I believe, for I have not my diaries with me) only fourteen days in my own house. If, then, the question depend upon the power of locomotion, I trust that the Commissioners will reconsider their determination. If it proceed upon the conviction of my own unfitness for the situation in other respects, I have, of course, only to acquiesce. Mr. Day then proceeded to detail the services he had rendered to the Poor Law Commissioners; but with that part of the letter he would not trouble the House. Mr. Day wrote again and again to the Commissioners, requesting to be informed of the real reason of his dismissal; but he was unable to obtain any answer beyond general expressions that they were actuated by a strong sense of public duty, and that the course they had taken was rendered necessary by the exigencies of the public service, mingled with lavish professions of great personal respect for himself, and disclaimers of any dissatisfaction with his conduct. Mr. Day felt that the decision of the Commissioners could not rest entirely upon the reason they assigned—that the state of his health disqualified him for the discharge of his duties; and he concluded that some imputation of blame attached to him, with regard to which they would give him no information. The period selected for Mr. Day's dismissal was at the close of the Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate the disturbances in South Wales. That Commission received a great deal of evidence; but their proceedings were conducted with closed doors, and Mr. Day had no means of knowing whether any of the evidence adduced before them referred to his conduct or character. After applying to the Poor Law Commissioners again and again, begging them to acquaint him with their reasons for his dismissal, Mr. Day wrote to them, stating that he could only attribute their conduct to representations made to the Commissioners of Inquiry in Wales, and communicated by them to the right hon. Home Secretary, or the Poor Law Commissioners. In order to show the painful injustice of this treatment of an old, efficient, and long-tried public officer, he (Mr. Christie) would read to the House a letter addressed to Mr. Lewis by Mr. Day almost immediately on receiving intimation that his resignation was required. This was a private letter, to which Mr. Day never received any answer:—

"Bangor, Jan. 14, 1844.

"My dear Sir—Mr. Nicholls's letter has surprised me so much that I am entirely at a loss what course to take. To ask of you to divulge the private reasons which may have operated against me, I feel would scarcely be consistent with our relative situations; but at the same time, to require a resignation, because one has been incapacitated, without inquiry whether the incapacity is likely to remain, is so contrary to the usual course, that I confess I can hardly bring myself to believe that my accident is the real cause of this proceeding. If there be anything else, and you think you can consistently inform me of it, I need hardly say the obligation I shall feel. I should like at least to know my weak point, and to undeceive myself, painful though it may be. I cannot, however, but confess that having altered all my previous arrangements with reference to the commission, the unexpected deprivation of this appointment cannot but operate very severely upon me. It is only within this week past that I have placed one of my sons with a solicitor, the principal object of which will be defeated if I remove back to Sussex.—I remain, &c.


"As Mr. Nicholls has put the question upon the state of my 'bodily health,' I think, in justice to myself, I may say, that on a recent occasion I entered the board room at 10 o'clock A.M., and did not leave it till 7 P.M.; and that this week just ended I went over to a board of guardians twenty-six miles, arrived there at their time of commencing business, stayed the whole of the business, and returned in the evening."

Mr. Day also wrote to Mr. Frankland Lewis, chairman of the South Wales Commission, asking if he could throw any light on the conduct of the Commissioners; and the following was an extract from Mr. Lewis's reply:— My dear Sir—I have been much pained at reading your letter, as it exhibits an uneasy state of mind which I am sincerely sorry that anything should make you suffer. I can truly assure you that your name has never been mentioned in the presence of Sir James Graham in my hearing; that I heard with surprise of your removal, which whatever may be the cause of it, or whatever may be the arrangements which have led to it, has in no degree originated with, or been in the slightest degree influenced by anything said or done by me.…. You have always my good opinion and wishes. In another letter, dated the 27th of January, Mr. F. Lewis said— I have never heard your removal alluded to, nor had I the slightest reason to imagine it had been contemplated until I was told it was done. When so told I made no comment. The only thing that occurred to me was, that you had had a long dose of it; longer, I imagined, than you could have looked to when we asked for your assistance. These letters negatived the possibility of Mr. Day's removal having taken place in consequence of any representations of the Commissioners of Inquiry in South Wales. Being unable to obtain any satisfactory explanation from the Commissioners, Mr. Day wrote to the right hon. Home Secretary (Sir J. Graham), enclosing copies of the letters he had addressed to the Poor Law Commissioners; and the following was the reply he received from the right hon. Gentleman:—

"Whitehall, 25th January, 1844.

"Sir—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23rd inst. I have to regret that you should be placed in the circumstances which you describe; but I beg to inform you that the Poor Law Commissioners alone exercise the power of appointing, or ceasing to employ, their assistants. I do not interfere. A reduction of their establishment has been rendered imperative: I have conferred with them on the subject; they have selected you in the exercise of their own discretion, and I am not disposed to think it unsound. At the same time, I must remark that your ceasing to be an Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, in these circumstances, casts no stain on your character; it is in consequence of reduction; fault has not been imputed to you.—I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant,

"J. R. G. GRAHAM."

Mr. Nicholls rested Mr. Day's dismissal on the ground of his accident, which was alleged to incapacitate him for active exertions; while the right hon. Baronet, in the letter he had just read, justified it by the imperative necessity which existed for reducing the number of Assistant Commissioners. Mr. Day shortly afterwards wrote to Mr. Nicholls, asking which of the other Assistant Commissioners would take his district, in consequence of the new arrangements which he expected to be made upon this reduction in the number of Assistant Commissioners; and what was his astonishment, when, on the 6th of February, within a fortnight after he heard from the right hon. Gentleman to the effect that he had been called on to resign because of a reduction taking place in the number of Assistant Commissioners, he was informed by Mr. Nicholls that the establishment was not to be reduced at all, but that the Poor Law Commissioners intended to appoint a new Assistant Commissioner in his place. Mr. Nicholls wrote the following answer to Mr. Day:—

"My dear Sir—I hasten to reply to your letter of yesterday. Colonel Wade will succeed you in Wales; and I recommend you to write to him respecting your house. You may direct to him at the Adjutant General's Office, Dublin. With respect to the time, we expect that Colonel Wade will be able to enter upon his duties early in the ensuing quarter, and we, of course, should wish you to remain in charge of your district until then, if this should suit your convenience.…. I remain, my dear Sir, very truly yours,

"William Day, Esq." "GEORGE NICHOLLS.

Notwithstanding what was written by the Poor Law Commissioner, it certainly appeared, as Colonel Wade was appointed to succeed Mr. Day, that the prolongation of the services of the latter was required rather to suit Colonel Wade's convenience than Mr. Day's; and notwithstanding Mr. Day's state of health, and the critical circumstances of the district, Mr. Day was continued as Assistant Commissioner in the same district for nearly two months after the letter requesting him to resign was written. Mr. Day sent in his resignation on the 31st of March; on the 5th of April Colonel Napier was gazetted Deputy Adjutant General of Ireland vice Colonel Wade; and on the 18th of April Colonel Wade succeeded as Assistant Poor Law Commissioner; but from the 31st of March till the 18th of April, this district, in critical circumstances, was left without an Assistant Poor Law Commissioner. He had no intention to speak with the slightest disrespect of Colonel Wade, who was not responsible for these proceedings. He knew that Colonel Wade was a most distinguished and meritorious officer; but without any disrespect or imputation towards Colonel Wade, he thought he might say, that if one were to consider the comparative efficiency of the two, Mr. Day and Colonel Wade (against the former of whom no charge was made, but that he had the misfortune to break his leg, while the other was an old officer, a lieutenant-colonel at the battle of Waterloo), there would be no difficulty in concluding that Mr. Day's efficiency was the superior. The right hon. Gentleman having stated that no fault was imputed to Mr. Day, it would not be neces- sary for him (Mr. Christie) to enter into a vindication of that gentleman's character. If it were necessary, there were ample materials for doing so; but after what the right hon. Gentleman had stated, Mr. Day was not placed upon his defence; it was for the Poor Law Commissioners and the right hon. Gentleman to defend themselves. It was for them to reconcile the contradictory reasons assigned for Mr. Day's dismissal; and it was for the right hon. Gentleman to say how Mr. Day's dismissal on the alleged ground of a reduction being about to take place in the establishment, was consistent with the fact of a new Assistant Commissioner being fixed on to succeed him, and with the circumstance that from that time to this, no reduction in the number of Assistant Commissioners had taken place, but that shortly after, even a material increase had been made in the Poor Law Commission by the appointment of a fourth Chief Commissioner, Mr. Twisleton, who had been sent to Ireland. He would read an extract from another letter written by Mr. Day:— It will be unnecessary for me to detail the facts connected with my dismissal, for they are sufficiently explained in the correspondence which is annexed; but I may add, that, in addition to those communications, I addressed a private letter to one of the Commissioners asking for their reasons, but to which no answer was returned. I pass now to the consideration of the manner in which these gentlemen have carried their purposes into execution. In the language of Junius, 'they have treated me as if I had neither sense to feel nor spirit to resent.' They select for the period of my removal the close of the inquiries of the Commission for South Wales. They thereby cause the inevitable inference that my conduct there had not been proof against a searching and personal investigation. In the first instance, they allege my accident at Lord Cawdor's as their reason, without the common justice of inquiring as to my progress towards recovery; and when the fact of the resumption of my duties compels the abandonment of that ground, they fall back upon the vague generalities of public service and public duty. They tell me that I am unable to give that active superintendence which admits of no delay, and yet they request me to remain in charge of the district, if it suit my convenience, for nearly another quarter of a year. They rely upon the 'very critical state' of South Wales at that moment, as 'particularly and urgently' requiring the presence of an Assistant Commissioner; and yet, upon communicating with them as to my movements, they direct me to proceed to North Wales. Finally, when they have never known me in private life, even for a single hour, they insult me with professions of 'private' respect, that the antithesis of official contempt may be more strongly marked. But in efficiency is negatived by the very duration of my service; it is contradicted by the unsolicited and repeated renewal of my commission. Will, then, the public believe that I am dismissed with- out a cause?—will they deem such conduct towards a public servant, if he have done his duty, possible?—or, will they not rather entertain the suspicion of some graver and heavier charge, which, in compassion, the Commissioners have suppressed? Now, my Lord Duke, if my place were wanted, it might have been taken from me in a more open, in a more generous manner. Not even the cold compliment for former services is vouchsafed; but a devotion of eight years is abruptly terminated, and I am discarded without even the forms of regret. They dared not to be just, for they would have, then, condemned themselves. It is for the Commissioners to assign their reasons, where 'fault is not imputed'—it is for Sir James Graham to reconcile 'reduction' with the appointment of a successor even before my place is vacant. He had given notice of his intention to move for the production of correspondence on this matter, and also a reference of Mr. Day's case to the Committee on the Andover Union. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) would object to the latter part of the Motion, on the ground that there was no connexion between the two cases. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman was not prepared with any elaborate arguments on this part of the question; because, though he (Mr. Christie) thought that there would be no impropriety in referring Mr. Day's case to the Committee on the Andover Union, yet it was to him comparatively indifferent whether the case was referred to that or to another tribunal. The circumstances attending the dismissals of Mr. Parker and Mr. Day were certainly very similar. In both cases there was every reason to believe that there was an absence of the minutes required by the Act of Parliament. If there had existed any minutes they would have heard of them in Mr. Parker's case before the present time; for that gentleman had applied to the Poor Law Commissioners, and to the right hon. Baronet opposite, repeatedly, and from neither party had he been able to obtain them. Both gentlemen had been dismissed under circumstances exposing them to injurious imputations, and in neither case had the Poor Law Commissioners had the justice or generosity to take any steps to relieve them from those unjust imputations. The circumstances of the two cases were very similar; but Mr. Day's dismissal was some time antecedent to Mr. Parker's. Up to this time there had been no public discussion about Mr. Day's case; and when Mr. Parker's case came to be considered at Somerset-house, what if it had been said there (though he did not know that it was said), "Mr. Day's case did us no harm; so we may treat Mr. Parker with like injustice." It was comparatively indifferent to him whether Mr. Day's case was referred to the Committee on the Andover Union or not; for it was his belief that with these two cases before the public, and with the other facts which were in the possession of the public with respect to the proceedings of the Poor Law Commissioners, that it would be quite impossible for that House again to vote the salary for those Commissioners without having first instituted an inquiry into their general mode of administering the Poor Law Amendment Act. The House was probably aware of the mode in which the Rochdale board of guardians were enabled to justify their disobedience of a sealed order of the Poor Law Commissioners in the Court of Queen's Bench, and of the evidence which was expected to be elicited as to the mode in which the Poor Law Commissioners transacted their business. After every endeavour to escape examination—after the plea of privilege on the part of the Commissioners, and after that plea was overruled—after every imaginable fencing on the part of the Commissioners in the shape of questions put by counsel, they were at last obliged, when a clerk called to prove the fact was about to be put into the witness-box, to admit that the sealed order, after being signed by Sir E. Head, was carried by a messenger into Hertfordshire, to Mr. Lewis, for the purpose of receiving his signature there. He believed, that if a Committee were appointed to inquire into the general mode of administering the Act, there would be no difficulty in proving that the proceedings of the Poor Law Commissioners were uniformly and entirely in disregard of the provisions in the Poor Law Act, by which it was attempted to invest them with responsibility. Two Commissioners were obliged to be present to constitute a board; but he believed that the Commissioners did nothing as a board; and in the Rochdale case it was proved that the sealed order was signed by one Commissioner at Somerset house, and sent to Hertfordshire for the signature of another. He believed, also, that the Secretary, whose business it was to make the minutes, was entirely dispensed with as a recording officer. Such a state of things constituted a cause of regret to the warmest friends of the principles of the New Poor Law, among whom he reckoned himself. He was a warm friend of the princi- ples of the New Poor Law; and he wished it to be understood that his present Motion was not directed against the New Poor Law, but against the Poor Law Commissioners, who by their mode of proceeding were imperilling the very existence of the New Poor Law. He would now submit his Motion to the House; and whatever might be its result, he felt sure that the statement he had made with respect to Mr. Day's case would convince every fair and impartial man that Mr. Day had been treated with great injustice by the Poor Law Commissioners. He believed that the public would draw this inference from Mr. Day's and Mr. Parker's cases, that no Assistant Commissioner or officer of the Poor Law Commissioners was at present safe from the arbitrary mode in which those Commissioners exercised their power, and which might have the effect of perilling the existence of the Poor Law Act itself. The hon. and learned Member concluded by moving for— Copies of all Correspondence between William Day, esquire, late Assistant Commissioner of Poor Laws, and the Poor Law Commissioners, and the Secretary for the Home Department, relative to his involuntary resignation of his Assistant Poor Law Commissionership; and of all Minutes relative to Mr. Day's resignation, and to the appointment of Colonel Wade as his successor. Also, that it be an instruction to the Select Committee on the Andovor Union to inquire into all the circumstances under which Mr. Day was called upon to resign his office of Assistant Poor Law Commissioner.


said, that if the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just addressed the House anticipated from him an elaborate argument in reply, he could assure him that he was much mistaken. Had the hon. Gentleman taken the trouble to have communicated with him (Sir J. Graham) before addressing the House, he should have at once informed him that he had no intention whatever of opposing the present Motion. On a former occasion he had endeavoured to impress upon the House that it would not be possible for the Poor Law Commissioners to discharge the important functions entrusted to them, if they had not the unfettered liberty both of choosing and changing at pleasure their Assistant Commissioners, who represented them in many important particulars, and for whose acts they were responsible. He had endeavoured also on the same occasion to impress upon the House the great inconvenience which must necessarily arise from instituting an inquiry such as was now moved for. The House, however, differed from him upon that occasion; and in the case of Mr. Parker they had thought fit to institute an inquiry. He could not see any distinction between the two cases; and as the House, after a full discussion, had decided in that case by a large majority that an inquiry should take place, he did not think it necessary upon the present occasion to re-state the arguments which he then employed; and he would at once say that he was prepared to agree to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman; he was quite willing that all the papers should be produced, and that the case of the dismissal of Mr. Day should be submitted for investigation to the Committee on the Andover Union. The hon. and learned Gentleman had dwelt at some length upon certain proceedings of the Commissioners in the Rochdale case, which had nothing whatever to do with the present Motion. A point of law had arisen in that case, and he believed it had been admitted that in a matter of form the Commissioners had been in error. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in seeking for inquiry, had thought right to condemn the parties accused beforehand — he stated that he believed the Poor Law Commissioners were generally in error, and that they systematically set at open defiance the Act of Parliament under which they acted. Whether that were so or not, remained to be proved. But the hon. Gentleman, himself a lawyer, added that the proceedings of the Poor Law Commissioners, as a board, could not be legal except in the presence of their secretary. It did so happen that many of their most important acts had been performed in the absence of their secretary; and with all due deference to the opinion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he must say that he believed the legality of those acts was perfectly unimpeachable. As it was not his intention to oppose the present Motion, it was unnecessary for him to touch at all upon the question of Mr. Day's dismissal. He would only say that it was one thing not to impute blame, and another to feel that very delicate and difficult undertakings might require a peculiar treatment. On that, however, he would not enter; nor would he attempt to try the relative merits of Mr. Day and Colonel Wade. It was for the executive, charged with the responsibility of the choice of its officers, to try questions of that description; but he believed that no partiality whatever had been shown, either in favour of Colonel Wade, who was wholly unknown to him, or in opposition to Mr. Day, with whom he was equally unacquainted. He could only say solemnly, with reference to the part which he had himself taken, that he had not been guided in the slightest degree by favour or affection. The sole and single object which he had ever had in view, had been to the best of his judgment to promote the public service in the management of matters requiring the utmost prudence and despatch.


reminded the right hon. Baronet that he had given no explanation of the letter which he had written.


I have no hesitation in saying that at the time I wrote that letter I did contemplate the necessity of a reduction in the establishment.

Motion agreed to.

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