§ MR. BLAND
said, he wished to ask the hon. Secretary of the Treasury whether, notwithstanding the Treasury minute of the 10th of May last, wherein the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were stated to have considered the office theretofore held by Mr. Kennedy vacant, and notwithstanding Mr. Kennedy's own letter mentioning himself as having been dismissed from such 1976 office as from May last, he (Mr. Kennedy) had continued to draw the salary in respect of such office; and if so, up to what title and for what services?
§ MR. WILSON
said, that he had that day made inquiry into the subject of the hon. Member's question, and that he had found the facts of the case to be as follows:—When the minute of the 10th of May had been passed, Mr. Kennedy had written a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, mentioning that he considered the minute tantamount to a dismissal from his office, and that it became the duty of the Lords of the Treasury to determine what course they should take under the circumstances. A notice of Motion for a Select Committee upon the subject of the management of Woods and Forests had at the time stood upon the paper in the name of the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond). The Government had not felt that they would be justified in at once filling up the vacancy in the face of the proposed inquiry. Two or three months had elapsed before that inquiry had taken place, and other circumstances had since that time taken place which prevented the situation from being filled up, up to the present moment. In order to provide for the proper discharge of the duties of the department in the interim, the Government had been advised not to revoke the appointment of Mr. Kennedy, until a patent should be drawn up nominating his successor. A formal dismissal of Mr. Kennedy, therefore, had not appeared to the Government to be the proper course to pursue. Another difficulty had also arisen in the matter, in connection with the Act of Parliament under the operation of which the office was held. That Act ordered two Commissioners of Woods and Forests to be appointed; but it gave the power to the Lords of the Treasury to allocate to each of those two Commissioners whatever portion of the duties of the office they deemed desirable. The Act, however, did not empower the Treasury to order that the whole of the duties should he discharged by any one Commissioner. The Government had, therefore, been unable for two reasons to abolish Mr. Kennedy's office in May last. The consequence had been, that although that gentleman had practically ceased to perform the duties of his office, yet, upon the allocation of the duties of the department, the manor of Lyndhurst, to which no real duties were attached, had been left in his name, as one of the Commissioners of 1977 Woods and Forests, all the other duties connected with that department having been allocated to the other Commissioner. The consequence of that state of things had been that Mr. Kennedy's patent had remained up to the present in existence, and that gentleman was therefore undoubtedly entitled by law to claim his salary. That salary had been so received by him up to the very last quarter-day.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, he would now move for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the cause and justification of the removal of the right hon. Thomas Francis Kennedy from the office of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues of the Crown. He thought it would have been much better if the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Treasury had postponed his reply to the question which had just been put to him until he (Sir J. Shelley) had placed before the House the whole of the circumstances relating to the case. Mr. Kennedy complained not so much of his removal from the office which he had filled as of his having been declared guilty of want of veracity, integrity, and honour, and it was therefore incumbent upon the House to give him an opportunity of vindicating himself from the aspersions which had been cast upon him. Why that gentleman had been allowed to draw a salary of 1,200l. a year for the administration of the manor of Lyndhurst, which produced the country exactly 4l. per annum, was a question which perhaps more nearly concerned the Chancellor of the Exchequer as guardian of the public purse than any one else; but, considering this as the case of an old public servant who laboured under grave imputations, and who was not in that House to defend himself, they would perhaps permit him (Sir J. Shelley) to trespass upon them at some length while he endeavoured to place the circumstances connected with the transaction clearly before them. In the first place he would explain how it was that so long a time had been suffered to elapse before the attention of the House had been called to the subject. Mr. Kennedy's removal took place on the 24th of April, 1854, but previous to that removal a notice had been put upon the books of the House by the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) of his intention to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the management and condition of the Crown forests in England, with a view of scertaining the responsibility of the Com- 1978 missioners, and whether it would be to the interest of the country that some of the smaller forests should be sold. Now, although for some reason or other that Committee considered itself precluded from going into the case of Mr. Kennedy's dismissal, yet he thought there would have been very little chance of his obtaining a second Committee upon a subject so closely connected with the question of Woods and Forests while that Committee was sitting. That Committee was appointed in no friendly spirit towards Mr. Kennedy, and we find that one of the members of that Committee was Mr. Chichester Fortescue, one of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, with whom Mr. Kennedy has had this controversy. The hon. Gentleman's Committee, however, proceeded with its labours and heard a vast deal of evidence, but did not make its Report until the 17th of July, and at that late period of the Session, and in the state of public business, he felt it was perfectly hopeless for him to attempt to bring the matter forward with any prospect of enlisting the attention of the House. He, therefore, acting by the advice of those with whom he consulted, gave notice of his intention to move for a Committee early in the present Session. He confessed when he gave that notice he thought that, unless the public service absolutely required it, the vacancy occasioned by the removal of Mr. Kennedy would not have been filled up; and for some time he was confirmed in his opinion by the conduct of the Government, until it transpired that a most extraordinary proposition had been made, which was no less than to fill up the vacancy by the appointment of Colonel Romilly, the brother-in-law of Mr. Kennedy, and a gentleman with whom he lived on terms of the greatest friendship. He did not know whether the object of that proposition was to stave off inquiry, but, at all events, Colonel Romilly rejected it. No further attempt was made towards filling up the office till about a week before the meeting of Parliament in December, when an announcement appeared in the newspapers that Lord Courtenay was to be appointed a Commissioner of Woods and Forests, and was to be succeeded as Secretary to the Poor Law Board by Mr. Hayward, a Queen's counsel, and one of the same party to which the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer belonged. In consequence of that announcement he (Sir J. Shelley) immediately gave notice to the noble Lord the Member for the City of 1979 London (Lord J. Russell) that he intended to ask whether, notwithstanding the notices of Motion given in both Houses for Committees of inquiry, it was the intention of the Government to appoint Lord Courtenay to the office of Commissioner of Woods and Forests, and whether, if so, the salary of the Secretary of the Poor Law Board being 1,500l. a year, and that of a Commissioner of Woods and Forests only 1,200l., any promise or expectation had been held out to Lord Courtenay that the salary should be increased. An hon. Member opposite, who had given notice of a similar question with regard to Mr. Hayward, owing to the absence from the House of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, made his inquiry first, and was answered by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board, who said that Lord Courtenay had hot resigned his office, and consequently no such appointment had been made. He (Sir J. Shelley) would have been content with that answer, but the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury came to him, and said that, as the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was not in the House, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was anxious to answer his (Sir J. Shelley's) question. To oblige the right hon. Gentleman he therefore put his question, slightly varied in terms, whether there was any intention to appoint any one to the office of Commissioner of Woods and Forests, and, if so, would the Government adjourn it so as to give him an opportunity of founding a Motion on the subject? The right hon. Gentleman, in reply, did what he was rather apt to do, lectured him (Sir J. Shelley), remarking that a custom had sprung up of making insinuations and accusations under the guise of asking questions, and that the question then asked was a prominent instance. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the Government would give no information, and that if he (Sir J. Shelley) had any Motion to make, he had better do so at once, a course creating a laugh at his expense, although the right hon. Gentleman was well aware that no business of that kind was to be entered into during the short Session before Christmas. Lord Courtenay, however, had made no secret of his appointment, and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), in conversation two days after the notice of Motion had been given, said he had no objection to make to the matter being brought before Parliament, but the awkward part a the notice was, that since the Motion 1980 had been made, there would be great difficulty in filling up the appointment until Parliament had had an opportunity of considering the subject. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Totally incorrect.] He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman's memory should differ from his upon a matter to the correctness of which he (Sir J. Shelley) was prepared to swear. He would remind the House of a Committee appointed in 1848, at the instance of Lord Duncan, when it was declared that the department of Woods and Forests was a regular preserve of jobbery. To meet the unfavourable evidence given before that Committee, the Government felt it necessary to do something, and accordingly gave instructions to Mr. Clutton, who was not then Surveyor of the Forests, to make a report, which he did, in accordance with those instructions, but taking no notice of the fact that, instead of being productive, the forests had cost the country year by year a large sum of money. The noble Lord then at the head of the Government (Lord J. Russell) felt it necessary to obviate the evils complained of to appoint a man, able, zealous, and superior to jobbery, to watch over that department. At that time Mr. Kennedy was Paymaster of the Civil Service in Ireland, and had been so for ten years, during which period he had earned the greatest credit for his zealous services. In a Treasury minute of the 30th of March, 1847, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer paid a tribute to the valuable services of Mr. Kennedy as Paymaster for Civil Services in Ireland, and it was then recommended that his salary should be increased from 1,000l. to 1,200l., and that recommendation was carried into effect. Subsequently Mr. Kennedy received the appointment of Commissioner of Woods and Forests, at the same amount of salary, and although he knew the difficulties he would have to contend against, he felt that, as he had succeeded in the discharge of his duties in Ireland in such a manner as to receive the commendation of the Government, he might reasonably hope for success in the performance of the duties of the new position in which he was placed, and also that he might hope to introduce improvements into that department. Mr. Kennedy accordingly entered upon the duties of his new office with those expectations, but it appeared from his own evidence, given before the Select Committee appointed on the Motion of the hon. Member for West Surrey, that he found that, from the first, difficulties were 1981 thrown in his way from the circumstance of positions being held in that department by persons who were entirely unacquainted with rural affairs. He felt that, being determined that the report which it was his duty to submit to Parliament should be an accurate report, it was necessary before proceeding to carry out improvements in the Forests to put the office in London in a proper state, and from his determination to make a full report commenced the unpleasantness which existed between Mr. Kennedy and the Treasury. Subsequently, and in order that he might be satisfied that the report presented to Parliament was a correct one, he resolved upon a personal inspection of some of the forests, and the first inspected by him was Chopwell Wood, in the county of Durham, the condition of which had been represented as hopeless. Mr. Kennedy came to a contrary conclusion, and as he felt that the Treasury would not be convinced by his opinions alone, he directed a Mr. Brown to inspect that Crown property. The Treasury bad objected to the employment of Mr. Brown, inasmuch as he had not been appointed by them; and, as he gave opinions contrary to that entertained on forest management by the deputy surveyors of the Royal forests, he was declared to be a more Scotch gardener, who knew nothing about his business. The House would decide whether that was the case or not when he mentioned to the House that an arboricultural society had been established in Edinburgh, and that Mr. Brown had been appointed president of that society. A letter, it appeared, had been written from the Treasury, finding great fault with Mr. Kennedy for employing Mr. Brown in the inspection of Chopwell Forest, although the report of Mr. Brown, singular to say, had been acted on by that department. In consequence of the censure passed upon him, Mr. Kennedy wrote a letter to their Lordships, justifying his employment of Mr. Brown contrary to official etiquette, and before he had authority to do so from the Government, and observing that the course he had pursued in this instance had not been objected to by their Lordships in any instance except in respect to the Royal forests. He (Sir J. Shelley) believed that if the Committee he asked for were appointed, Mr. Kennedy would be proved to have been engaged with great singleness of purpose in an attempt to perform his duty and improve the state of the property with the control over which he was intrusted. 1982 He came now to the dispute between Mr. Brown and Mr. Higinbothom, deputy surveyor of the Alice Holt Forest, and who had filled that appointment for sixteen years. Mr. Higinbothom was a surgeon and apothecary at Pilltown in Ireland—a good name for a doctor, by the by—who had attended the family of Lord Duncannon, and that noble Lord, as first Commissioner of Woods and Forests, taking the first opportunity of placing him in a good berth, had appointed him to the deputy surveyorship of Alice Holt Forest. Mr. Brown was sent by Mr. Kennedy, in 1852, to make an inspection of the forest, and he found great fault with this medical gentleman's management. In 1853 his report was sent to Mr. Higinbothom, who returned an indignant answer to it, in which statements were made upon the truth of which the whole case depended. This was certainly one of the most trumpery cases that had ever led to great results, for it entirely arose out of a dispute as to how many trees stood upon an acre. The answer of Mr. Higinbothom was a most able paper, and as up to that time he had been unable to produce anything like a clever report, a suspicion was raised that he had been assisted by another person. Mr. Brown's report contained a complaint of the mode of thinning which had been adopted, in consequence of which, he said, there were in some instances too few and in others too many trees per acre in many parts of the forest; the answer of Mr. Higinbothom contradicted the statement as to the average number of trees per acre, but said nothing about any thinnings having taken place in the forest since the report had been made. Mr. Kennedy, however, found that between the time of the inspection in 1852, and the answer of Mr. Higinbothom in 1853, a large quantity of bark had been taken from the forest by the removal of a number of young trees. Upon making this discovery Mr. Kennedy certainly acted through his zeal for the public service in an injudicious manner, looking at the terms which he was on with the Secretary of the Treasury; for he wrote to the Treasury those letters which were the cause of his dismissal. His first letter was dated the 23rd, and his second the 26th of January. Mr. Kennedy was supposed to have rather exceeded the bounds of propriety in his comments on the conduct of Mr. Higinbothom, and he (Sir J. Shelley) had no intention to keep anything back, but to state the case fully. In the letter 1983 of the 26th of January, after pointing out that Mr. Higinbothom had suppressed the fact of thinnings having been made between the date of his report and Mr. Brown's inspection, Mr. Kennedy observed—Where, then, is the truth of Mr. Higinbothom's contradiction founded? On a suppression of an all-important fact, quite of sufficient magnitude to account for the whole difference between Mr. Brown's assertion and Mr. Higinbothom's contradiction. Mr. Higinbothom's contradiction is at once utterly discredited and set aside by the simple statement of these circumstances, and it is no longer possible to place the slightest reliance on any statement which he makes.And towards the end of the letter these passages occurred—It is not my intention to advert to those parts of Mr. Higinbothom's report which consist of controversial opinion and discussion, because where I find an entire absence of fidelity in the statement of facts, I will not stoop to reason or to discuss. I consider Mr. Higinbothom to have made a daring attempt to impose upon me, and to blast the reputation of Mr. Brown; and it seems to me that the attempt must recoil upon himself; and that he must eventually find it to have been a most perilous proceeding… I entirely acquit Mr. Clutton of having any participation in such statements as have been made; and, although Mr. Higinbothom identifies himself with Mr. Clutton's opinions in forest management, there is no blame to be attached to a difference of opinion, while there can be but one opinion with respect to statements, purporting to be facts, but which are the reverse of facts, and which are intended to deceive in one quarter and to destroy character in another.He could quite fancy that when Mr. Kennedy sent that report to the Treasury the hon. Secretary was not displeased at perceiving the indiscreet terms which were used. The reason alleged for Mr. Kennedy's dismissal was not the true reason. He was dismissed because he had displayed too much activity and too much zeal to suit certain Members of the Government, and he could not be induced to do anything which he did not consider to be right. Mr. Secretary Wilson, on the 1st of February, despatched a note to that gentleman, informing him that he was directed by their Lordships to desire that he would furnish Mr. Higinbothom with a copy of his letter of the 26th ultimo, in order that he might have an opportunity of furnishing such explanations as he might think fit. No opportunity was afforded Mr. Kennedy of withdrawing the expressions to which exception was taken. On the 18th of February Mr. Kennedy wrote again to the Lords of the Treasury, and used these words— 1984If I felt that I had done injustice to Mr. Higinbothom, no one would be more ready than myself to acknowledge it, and to state both to your Lordships and to Mr. Higinbothom that I regretted that I should have done so; but I am unable to satisfy myself that any such case has arisen, and, therefore, I shall proceed to state, as briefly as I can, some of the grounds on which I formed the opinions which I still entertain. I consider that Mr. Higinbothom's report of the 29th of December was eminently calculated to deceive and mislead me, or any one who should peruse it. It did deceive and mislead me, and it is impossible for me now to say that that impression is removed from my mind by all that Mr. Higinbothom has stated in his paper of the 14th of February.It was stated that this was a reiteration of the offensive words contained in the letter of the 26th of January, but he (Sir J. Shelley) interpreted the meaning to be simply this—that Mr. Higinbothom had admitted the suppression of a fact, and Mr. Kennedy could not acquit him of having intentionally concealed it. Nothing occurred after that for a considerable period. Mr. Kennedy never thought he was implicated in the matter, but, being anxious that some conclusion should be come to, he wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the 2nd of March a letter in which, after stating his opinion that the subject could not be allowed to rest where it was, on the decidedly conflicting statements of Mr. Brown and Mr. Higinbothom, and that Mr. Brown earnestly requested there might be afforded to him an opportunity of proving on the ground the facts stated by him in his report before an impartial and competent tribunal, he proposed that such a tribunal should be constituted of three gentlemen, to be chosen from a list of twelve, whose names he inclosed, and which included those of Sir Joseph Paxton and Professor Lindley. That, in his (Sir J. Shelley's) opinion, was a very fair proposition, and it would have been well if the Treasury had acceded to it; but, instead of their doing so, Mr. Kennedy received a letter from Mr. Wilson on the 2nd of March, stating that, as both Mr. Brown and Mr. Higinbothom had been afforded full opportunity of making statements in support of their assertions, and as the same observation applied to the charges brought by him (Mr. Kennedy) against the former gentleman, their Lordships must consider the correspondence closed. They agreed that the question had assumed a shape affecting the personal credit of the parties concerned, and that all matters of opinion and speculation should be set aside, in order that a judgment might 1985 be formed upon the facts in dispute; but, as their Lordships had already taken steps with a view to such a course, they did not think it necessary to make any observation with reference to the tribunal Mr. Kennedy had suggested. Mr. Kennedy again wrote to the Treasury on the 23rd of March, which elicited a reply of a most extraordinary nature. In that letter their Lordships expressed their opinion that no communication should take place between Mr. Brown and Mr. Higinbothom and the referees, except what might be necessary to explain their reports, and they desired that neither of those gentlemen might be present in the forest while the investigation was going on, unless sent for, for fear of personal altercation or collision between the parties. It was curious to see how the peace propensity of the then First Lord of the Treasury seemed to have descended through all the grades of the Ministry till it reached the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury. Their Lordships of the Treasury no doubt had heard that when Greek met Greek then came the tug of war, and doubtless they thought if surveyor met surveyor the result might be something awful. He would remind the House of a passage in the Rejected Addresses somewhat applicable to this case—Did none attempt, before he fell,To succour one they lov'd so well?Yes. Higginbothom did aspire;His Fireman's soul was all on fire.What are they 'feard on? Fools! 'od rot em!'Were the last words of Higginbothom.A sad catastrophe having occurred in the case of the Higinbothom referred to in the poem, their Lordships possibly apprehended that an equally sad fate might befall this pet of the forest should he come into collision with his adversary. Mr. Brown had reason to complain that he was not made acquainted with the evidence taken behind his back, and with having no means of defending himself. The ground which he (Sir J. Shelley) took was, that great injustice had been done both to Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Brown in condemning them upon evidence given in secret and in their absence. In a letter of the 31st of March the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury mentioned the persons to whom the matter was to be referred—Mr. Murton, Mr. Mathews, and Mr. Menzies. To the first two persons there appeared to be no objection, but as the question was a dispute between deputy surveyors of the Royal forests, it was right to expect that the Treasury 1986 would have been careful to select the fittest persons to inquire into the matter. Now, Mr. Menzies was a deputy surveyor of the Royal forest of Windsor. He had been a subordinate officer under Mr. Kennedy, and was holding office at the time under the Hon. C. Gore, the other Commissioner. He was not, therefore, assuredly, a fit person to be appointed a referee in a case of this nature. Besides this, in the office over Mr. Menzies were to be found the son and son-in-law of Mr. Higinbothom, upon whom he was to be called to adjudicate. The reason given for the appointment of Mr. Menzies was because, "in the investigation of facts regarding the age and condition of the trees in Alice Holt Forest, questions might arise in which experience connected with the management of a Royal forest, so far as it might depend on the laws affecting that description of property and the objects for which the Crown plantations are maintained, might be useful." That appeared to be a most ridiculous reason for appointing such a person to judge of a disputed matter, which turned entirely upon matters of fact only, such as the number of trees actually standing on the acre. But, nevertheless, this deputy surveyor, who was said to be independent, with no sympathy with those who considered Mr. Brown a nuisance, and Mr. Kennedy a greater still, was appointed; and the House will, I hope, agree with me in thinking a referee so appointed, coming to a decision upon evidence taken in the absence of the parties interested, cannot be considered of much value. Upon turning to the evidence taken before the Committee of the hon. Member for West Surrey, the House would find that Mr. Arbuthnot, the Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, had suggested the appointment of Mr. Menzies, because, in a visit over Windsor Forest he had found that person an intelligent man, who had read Mr. Brown's book, and was inclined, as a fellow-Scotchman, to agree with him. If that person was selected because he was inclined to favour Mr. Brown, then by a parity of reasoning the appointment was not fair towards Mr. Higinbothom. He would next refer to the report which was said to be so decisive against Mr. Kennedy. It should be remembered that there were two points under consideration—the dispute between Mr. Higinbothom and Mr. Brown respecting the matter of fact as to the number of trees to an acre, and the 1987 dispute between Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Higinbothom as to what was in the mind of the latter when he suppressed or did not mention the fact that thinnings had taken place. Upon this last question these referees, however good managers of woodland, were certainly not proper persons to be appointed as judges in a case like this. Mr. Menzies could hardly be qualified to judge of Mr. Kennedy's conduct, but if the House should grant the Committee for which he (Sir J. Shelley) asked, he would defy any one to prove that Mr. Kennedy had been actuated by other motives than the sincerest desire to benefit the public service, and that the Government should have been very careful in selecting a tribunal to try the conduct of a person of Mr. Kennedy's age and long public service, and to which questions affecting his honour and veracity were to be referred. Mr. Kennedy, in his letter of the 26th of January, 1854, charged Mr. Higinbothom with misleading and deceiving him, and there was an admission by that person that there had been certain thinnings. He contended that the case attempted to be established by the minute of the 31st of March, 1854, was not strong enough to implicate Mr. Kennedy with the deputy surveyors, who were persons of a lower standard in society to himself. But the Treasury had mixed them up all together, and it was therefore a case on which they ought to have been most careful not to come to any conclusion, unless they were sure that the evidence was above all suspicion. He would now refer to the letter of dismissal addressed by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer to Mr. Kennedy on the report to which he had referred being received. But, before doing so, he thought it right to observe that the Treasury never gave Mr. Kennedy the slightest opportunity of answering that report; but, within twenty-four hours after its receipt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer wrote to him a letter of dismissal. It struck him that the object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not to give Mr. Kennedy a chance of meeting the charges contained in the report, but at once to clinch him by a letter of dismissal within twenty-four hours after the report had been received. In fact, Mr. Kennedy was to them a nuisance; they had long looked for an occasion to get rid of him, and they did not give him the least particle of fair play. The letter written by the right hon. Gentleman was a remarkable specimen of polite dis- 1988 missal. The right hon. Gentleman was a perfect master of the art of speaking, and he (Sir J. Shelley) had been frequently charmed with his eloquence, but he found from experience that whenever a peculiarly bland smile stole over the countenance of the right hon. Gentleman, he was about to hit the hardest. The letter of the right hon. Gentleman to Mr. Kennedy was dated April 29, 1854, and began in the most affectionate manner:—"My dear Sir"—[Laughter]—so ran the letter, "You will before this time have received an official letter dated the 27th instant, relating to the disputes between Mr. Brown and Mr. Higinbothom." The letter then went on to state that the Treasury had been for a long time aware that from the first disagreements had prevailed between Mr. Kennedy and many of the officers in his department, and concluded by informing him that it was impossible the department could remain in Mr. Kennedy's hands with advantage to the Crown and the public. One thing that surprised him was, that in writing that letter the right hon. Gentleman should not have been careful to avoid stating anything which was capable of contradiction; but he (Sir J. Shelley) was prepared to show that the disagreements between Mr. Kennedy and the subordinate officers of the forests had arisen alone, from his determination to do his duty to the public, and that in this he had not met with just support from the authorities at the Treasury. It had been attempted to be shown that the letter was not a dismissal, but it was clearly a hint to Mr. Kennedy to walk down stairs rather than wait to be kicked down. Mr. Kennedy, in acknowledging the receipt of that letter, stated that he understood it as a dismissal from the public service, and the next step he took was to write to Lord Aberdeen, stating the circumstances which had occurred, and entering his indignant protest against the course which had been adopted towards him, and demanding, as a matter of justice to himself, as having been for a very long period a public servant, that a strict and impartial inquiry before a Committee of this House should be openly conducted into the management of the department with which he had been connected. For five days it was not considered fitting by Lord Aberdeen to answer that letter, and in the meantime the Motion of the hon. Member for West Surrey for a Committee of Inquiry stood upon the books. In the interval a petition from Mr. Ken- 1989 nedy was presented by an hon. Member to that House. On the 9th of May, Lord Aberdeen wrote to Mr. Kennedy, stating that there was no objection on his part to granting an inquiry, but, as the matter had been brought before the House of Commons by the petition which Mr. Kennedy had placed in the hands of an independent Member, he was precluded from taking any steps in the affair, but that when the question was brought forward the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be in his place to give any explanation which might be deemed necessary. Mr. Kennedy acknowledged the receipt of that communication; and, to show that even among the Members of the Government there was some doubt as to the meaning of the letter of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer—although he could not understand how any doubt could exist upon the subject—Sir Charles Trevelyan wrote, transmitting to Mr. Kennedy, by command of their Lordships, their minute of the 10th instant, in which it was assumed that Mr. Kennedy had retired from his office. That gentleman was in the receipt of his salary up to the last quarter, although from the period of his dismissal he had only the management of a manor which brought in a net sum of 4l. a year. Mr. Kennedy replied to the Treasury that his ceasing to hold office was not in consequence of his retirement; he expressed regret at some expressions he had used, and asked for a full and impartial inquiry into the cause of his dismissal, and into his whole conduct in office. To this letter he got no answer; and on the 23rd of May he again wrote, asking for an answer to his former letter. That answer came, and it was to the effect that it had been considered advisable that the conclusion at which the Lords of the Treasury had arrived, that Mr. Kennedy could no longer retain office, should be communicated to him in a private letter by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, with regard to any further inquiry, an objection was entertained to any but an ordinary Parliamentary inquiry. The letter proceeded to state that their Lordships would be reluctant to refuse any investigation which Mr. Kennedy might think necessary for his vindication; but Mr. Kennedy having intrusted a petition to the House of Commons to an independent Member, their Lordships would be ready to justify the proceedings they had taken in the House. As it appeared the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken the step referred to without 1990 the knowledge of the Earl of Aberdeen, it struck Mr. Kennedy that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell) might be equally ignorant of it, and therefore he addressed a letter to that noble Lord, asking to be allowed to clear his character from the unjust imputations cast on it through the medium of an investigation before a tribunal of high-minded gentlemen, to he selected as a Committee of the House of Commons. To that letter the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) sent a reply, dated 10th of June, 1854, in which he stated that the circumstances were only partially known to him which had led to Mr. Kennedy's separation from the public service; that Mr. Kennedy's high character for integrity and honour, his long and useful career in the service of the Crown, and his zeal for the reform of abuses, made it a matter of deep concern to him that Mr. Kennedy was no longer charged with the department hitherto intrusted to him; but, as he (Lord John Russell) had not at that moment a seat in the House of Commons, he could give no opinion with regard to a Parliamentary inquiry, but, if re-elected, would be ready to communicate with any Member who might move for a Committee on the painful subject. He would now refer to the proceedings of the Committee of the hon. Member for West Surrey on the Crown Forests, which for some reason or other felt precluded from going into Mr. Kennedy's case; but it was clear that no inquiry into the management of the forests could be complete without Mr. Kennedy's evidence. To that Committee the hon. Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Wilson) was added as a Member by the Government as soon as it appeared that Mr. Kennedy was to be examined, though it appeared to him that that hon. Member was the last man who ought to have acted as a judge on that Committee; and he (Sir J. Shelley) had accordingly protested against the appointment. He, however, gave the hon. Member the greatest possible credit for the ability he displayed in making out a case for himself, and yet he could not prevent the Committee from coming to a Resolution which he (Sir J. Shelley) thought favourable to Mr. Kennedy. In the draught report of the Chairman of the Committee the two following paragraphs, numbered 9 and 10, appeared—9. "The late Commissioner, Mr. Kennedy, seems to have made a proper distinction between sums expended in gathering in the crop of timber 1991 and bark, opening drains, &c., and such as were expended in planting, the latter being capital replacing stock sold. He likewise took efficient measures for repressing the abuse of carrying off the surface of the soil under pretence of cutting turf for fuel, which is said to have taken place to the extent of 5,000,000 turves per annum, destroying 100 acres; and in general he seems to have evinced much zeal in the execution of his office.10. "It is to be regretted that he sent a stranger of very limited experience to examine and report upon the state of the forest, without apprising either the Treasury or the local surveyors—a measure which, as it implied a censure on their conduct, was sure to excite unpleasant feelings, and generate hostility against anything that he might recommend; but your Committee are convinced that it requires no less energy, activity, and vigilance, than were displayed by Mr. Kennedy to insure the proper management of the forests, and to suppress abuses as they arise.Paragraph 9 was negatived by the casting vote of the hon. Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Wilson), there being four votes for it, and five against; and paragraph 10 was negatived without a division, but the following paragraph was nevertheless added to the Report—Although the Committee consider that it is not within their order of reference, still they consider it due to Mr. Kennedy to state that, though his proceedings may be open to objection, he has evinced much zeal, energy, and vigilance, in the execution of his office.He had to apologise to the House for having detained them so long, but he entreated them to remember that he had undertaken the defence of a gentleman who was not in the House to defend himself, who had been held up to public scorn as one who was in the receipt of money for which he discharged no duties, who had been made the subject of most unfounded charges—charges which he had been given no fair opportunity to refute—and who now claimed a hearing before a Committee of that House as the best mode of establishing his reputation in the eyes of the country. He (Sir J. Shelley) undertook to prove that Mr. Kennedy had been actuated throughout his public career by the purest motives, by great integrity, and zeal for the public service, and he asked the House to do justice to an old well-tried public servant.
Motion made, and Question proposed—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and consider the grounds and justification of the removal of the right hon. Thomas Francis Kennedy from the Office of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues of the Crown.
said, as this was a question in which the hon. Member who had just resumed his seat had thought fit 1992 to impugn his conduct, while in office, in one of the most important functions belonging to a Minister, it was not his intention to give any vote upon the Motion when the House went to a division. He would leave it in the hands of the House, but he thought it his duty to contribute, as far as it was in his power to do so, to the knowledge of the House on the subject by taking part in the discussion; and he was induced to do this the more because, as they might guess from the speech of the hon. Member, the subject was one that went over a considerable space. He must, first of all, remark that the subject occupied the pages of several blue books, and he must say he was struck by the remarkable absence of those blue books in the house on the present occasion. He saw in the hands of hon. Members information of a lighter description—namely, a tract or pamphlet in which Mr. Kennedy, as he had a perfect right to do, had stated his case to the world; but he was afraid that the subject was one on which hon. Members would be called upon to act with rather imperfect information. The hon. Member for Westminster had apologised to the House for the length of his speech, and yet he could not say that he had employed to the best advantage the time he had used; for if he would favour him (Mr. Gladstone) with his attention he would point out one or two omissions which he had made of a much more remarkable character than any of the allegations with which he had interspersed his oration. But, before going further, he would quote certain words which had been used in the course of his speech by the hon. Gentleman. He said—The cause for which he (Mr. Kennedy) was dismissed was only made an excuse for his dismissal. The real cause was his being too active and too zealous for certain Members of the Government.These were the actual words of the hon. Member, and it might be in his power to save the House the infliction of a speech from him (Mr. Gladstone), and, perhaps, from some other Members also, if he would confer upon him this favour—let him reduce to writing the charges he had made against him, let him lay these charges on the table of the House, and promise to prove them, and he would grant at once that the hon. Gentleman had placed himself on a sound footing before the House. He would have made tangible and intelligible charges against him for his conduct 1993 as a Minister of the Crown, and he (Mr. Gladstone) would spare the House the infliction of listening to the remarks he was prepared to make, and would at once consent to the appointment of a Committee. Did the hon. Member agree to do so? And would he stand by his word?
said, he now found that the hon. Gentleman did not stand by his words. He would read them again—The cause for which Mr. Kennedy was dismissed was only made an excuse for his dismissal. The real cause was his being too active and too zealous for certain Members of the Government.Did the hon. Member, who said he appeared there on behalf of public justice, abide by his words, or did he not?
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, he had certainly been informed of a conversation which passed between Mr. Kennedy and the right hon. Gentleman in the presence of the Secretary to the Treasury, in which Mr. Kennedy informed the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, up to a certain time, Mr. Wilson, the Secretary to the Treasury, had been favourable and friendly towards him, but that he had stated to him he could not act as he was doing, because persons of influence in the Government and out of the Government, in Parliament and out of Parliament, had come to him and expressed their disapprobation of his conduct.
said, he begged the House to observe that the hon. Gentleman had given him no answer to his question. He wished to know whether or not the hon. Member would abide by the words he had used in his speech, and he put him off with an account of a conversation got at second-hand from Mr. Wilson.
said, he begged pardon—from Mr. Kennedy. Now, his answer to the hon. Gentleman was, that Mr. Kennedy was not dismissed by the Secretary of the Treasury. He (Mr. Gladstone) was the man who was then responsible to the House of Commons for the management of the Crown estates; and though his hon. Friend (Mr. Wilson) was one of the most upright, most able, and most indefatigable men he ever had the good fortune to know in the public service, yet he was not the man who dismissed Mr. Kennedy. He (Mr. Gladstone) 1994 was not reduced so low—not a being altogether so degraded and so unfit for the discharge of his duty—as that he should be guilty of so monstrous a breach of good faith on a subject relating to the dismissal of a gentleman of unquestioned honour such as Mr. Kennedy was—or that he should delegate to another the task of dismissing that gentleman, and allow him to be turned out upon the world, without having himself examined into the case and made himself responsible for the act. He would not again ask the hon. Member if he stood by his words, but he was able to say that the hon. Gentleman was not prepared to support the allegations which he had so rashly made in his speech. So far as his hon. Friend (Mr. Wilson) was concerned that Gentleman would probably be able to give a challenge to the hon. Member similar to that which he had made, and all he would say was, that he wished him a better deliverance from that challenge than he had now exhibited in the face of the House of Commons. If the hon. Member would make an intelligible charge against him as a Minister of the Crown, that would be a good ground for granting a Committee; but, in the shape in which the question came before the House, and when the hon. Member was found to shrink from taking that plain course, he felt himself called upon to state to the House the reasons why he felt bound to oppose the proposal which the hon. Gentleman had submitted. He must first, however, state to the House that there could not be a grosser mistake than the supposition under which the hon. Gentleman seemed to labour that Mr. Kennedy was dismissed for matters affecting his veracity, his integrity, and his honour. The hon. Gentleman seemed to have overlooked the manner in which these expressions came into the correspondence. If he looked into the report, he would find that it was Mr. Kennedy who spoke of the inquiry generally, and it was with reference to matters of fact alone that the credit of Mr. Brown and Mr. Higinbothom was called into question. The assumption of the hon. Member in this respect was totally baseless. Not one word had been said by Members of the Government from which Mr. Kennedy could imagine that his honour or veracity were attacked, and therefore he (Mr. Gladstone) begged the House to understand that the question before it was not as to that gentleman's having been dismissed on the score of want of honour, veracity, or integrity. Then, again, 1995 it was not the fact that Mr. Kennedy had been dismissed on account of matters of opinion connected with his management of the Woods and Forests; and Mr. Kennedy had made a strange and unfortunate mistake on that point in his letter to Lord Aberdeen. It would have been very difficult, indeed, to suppose that where the zeal of a man was admitted, as it was in the case of this gentleman, matters of opinion as to the mode of management could render it necessary for the Minister to dismiss him. At the same time he was bound to say, that he was not prepared to accede to all that was said as to Mr. Kennedy's management of the Woods and Forests. On the contrary, he was disposed to place confidence in the report made by the three gentlemen employed by the Treasury to inform them as to the facts, but who were in no sense employed as umpires between the Government and Mr. Kennedy, as the hon. Baronet appeared to imagine. The report stated that—A great mistake has been made in taking so much old timber in the last few years, when the price was low, and the timber could be purchased at lower rates from other sources. The plea has been, that much of the timber had arrived at maturity, and would deteriorate in value. This also is a mistake; wood which arrives at maturity in two or three centuries would suffer no deterioration for forty or fifty years.He was bound to say that the system of management of Mr. Kennedy, in deriving from the Woods and Forests a greater amount of profit than they would yield, was less beneficial than a course which would have made better provision for the future. It was not, however, on account of his management that Mr. Kennedy was dismissed. Then, however, the hon. Member appeared to think he had discovered an irregularity in respect to the dismissal of Mr. Kennedy, because that gentleman was told he was dismissed by Her Majesty's Government. Now, he (Mr. Gladstone) was the person whose duty it was to form a conclusive opinion upon the case. It was the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and of no one else, to render an account in that House as to the custody and the expenditure of the public revenues, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was also responsible as to the care of these estates, the expenses connected with them, and the proceeds derived from them. What had taken place was this:—He had communicated to Mr. Kennedy the conclusion at which he had arrived; Mr. Kennedy made his appeal to Lord Aberdeen; and Lord 1996 Aberdeen, having made himself acquainted with the facts of the case, concurred in the minute of dismissal. The hon. Member, if he followed the course of public affairs, would find that, when a department responsible for certain business arrived at a conclusion upon matters connected with that business, the usual, nay, the invariable mode of expression was to say that Her Majesty's Government had decided upon the case. To suppose that the whole Cabinet could have read all these blue books was absurd, and it would have been hypocrisy and folly to have carried the matter there, but there was not the slightest irregularity in the course really taken. The hon. Member did not think it necessary to suppose that any man on the face of the earth had a love of justice except himself, or that any other man except Mr. Kennedy had suffered injustice, and he seemed to imagine that the Government was actuated by some ferocious prejudice against Mr. Kennedy because that gentleman was too zealous in the public service. Now he (Mr. Gladstone) had committed many errors in the course of his public life, but he would appeal confidently to both sides of the House, and ask them whether it had been the besetting sin of his career in office to show a want of zeal for the public service? In this instance, he was ashamed to say that his prejudices, at first, had been rather in favour of Mr. Kennedy. When he had gone to the Treasury, the first thing he had heard of that department was that Mr. Kennedy had declared himself a great reformer, stating that he found many abuses existing, and that that gentleman was at war on the part of the public with the whole troop of deputy surveyors. To that statement he was ashamed to say he had given rather too ready credence, and, if he had to make an apology to any one, it was not to Mr. Kennedy, but to those gentlemen the deputy surveyors. He had, however, failed to elicit from the hon. Member the nature of his charge against him, and he must say that, having listened to the hon. Member throughout a speech not of extreme brevity, he could not distinctly gather what it was with which he was charged. The hon. Member, he supposed, did not mean that there was corruption in this proceeding for which he (Mr. Gladstone) was personally responsible. Did he mean that there was irregularity? But he had shown that the course taken was adopted upon the advice of two Ministers of the Crown, who were the only 1997 two connected with the department who are responsible by law, and who are responsible for the acts of Mr. Kennedy to Parliament. There was, then, no irregularity about the proceeding. Was there any precipitancy? It appeared to him that what the hon. Member meant to charge him with was an error in judgment. If, then, the hon. Baronet meant to charge him simply with an error of judgment, he must ask whether it was the practice of the House of Commons to grant Select Committees in order to examine into cases of dismissal of this character, or whether it was convenient to the public service that the House should adopt such a practice? He must beg attention to what appeared to him to be the thread of the hon. Gentleman's speech. The hon. Gentleman throughout his speech had argued this case as if the Treasury and Mr. Kennedy stood upon a par in the face of the House, and he complained that political officers should interfere with persons who held their offices by a permanent tenure. Now, if the House and the Legislature had chosen to give to Mr. Kennedy an independent tenure of his office, Mr. Kennedy would have had to answer for himself to the House, according to the stipulations and provisions of the law. But the fact was that Mr Kennedy was not responsible to the House of Commons. The Treasury—that was, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Secretary to the Treasury in a secondary sense, as assistant to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—were responsible to that House. If anything wrong had occurred in the management of the forests, the parties to be blamed were undoubtedly the Ministers of the Crown, or at least the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It never seemed to have occurred to the hon. Baronet to inquire what was the tenure upon which Mr. Kennedy held his office. By the 1st section of the Act 14 & 15 Vict. c. 42, passed in 1850, it was provided that certain persons then in office should be continued in office, and that it should be lawful for Her Majesty, on the death, resignation, or removal of such persons from their respective offices, by warrant, under the sign manual, to appoint certain other persons to such offices during Her Majesty's pleasure. The 7th section of the Act provided that the Commissioners of the Treasury should appoint all the subordinate officers of the department, and the 32nd section enacted that the Commissioners of the Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues should observe, per- 1998 form, and fulfil all and singular the orders, instructions, and directions which from time to time might be made and given to them by the Commissioners of the Treasury. The Commissioners of the Treasury, therefore, appointed the officers, and the subordinate officers, and the Commissioners were, from time to time, to issue the directions according to which the officers appointed were to act. This constituted a full Parliamentary responsibility. The Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as representing the Treasury in that House, had to answer to the House for the mismanagement of Mr. Kennedy. The Treasury had no right to say, "Mr. Kennedy did this, or Mr. Kennedy did that." The answer would be, "Is Mr. Kennedy still in office? Does not the law give you the power to dismiss him? If you disapprove his acts you are bound to remove him." Did the hon. Baronet think, if the House appointed a Committee, and such Committee reported their opinion that Mr. Kennedy was perfectly trustworthy, that he (Mr. Gladstone), with the law before him, and believing in his conscience that Mr Kennedy was unfit for his office, could have accepted the judgment of the Committee instead of acting upon his own judgment? If he had done so, and had pleaded the sentence of the Committee, the answer would have been, "The law says who is to put Mr. Kennedy in office and who is to remove him from office, and the law has given that power to the Ministers of the Crown, and not to a Committee of the House of Commons." He (Mr. Gladstone) thought the hon. Baronet had not endeavoured to ascertain what had been the practice of the House of Commons in these matters. His (Mr. Gladstone's) doctrine was, that it was impossible to maintain the responsibility of a Minister for an office, if he was to be told who was to fill that office; and the effect of this Motion, if it were adopted, would be entirely to destroy the responsibility of Ministers of the Crown and the discipline of the Civil Service. The hon. Baronet had likewise said that he stood forward tonight in the cause of public justice, but he (Mr. Gladstone) must say he thought no man could have inflicted greater hardship or injustice upon an individual than the hon. Baronet had inflicted upon Mr. Kennedy. He (Mr. Gladstone) found that the practice of the House had been uniformly to decline inquiring into the removal of public servants, when that removal had taken place according to law, and ac- 1999 cording to the apparently conscientious judgment of those who, by law, were made responsible for the conduct of such public servants. It was true there was one apparent case to the contrary, which occurred in the last years of the past and during the earlier years of the present century. That was the case of Mr. Palmer, who was dismissed from an office in connection with the General Post Office, and whose case was inquired into by a Committee of the House of Commons. Mr. Palmer had submitted to the Government a plan for establishing mail coaches upon a new system, and became a contractor with the Government upon a large scale. One part of Palmer's contract was, that he should hold a situation in the Post Office, in order that he might have authority in the department, a salary being attached to such office, and, as he contended that his contract had been broken, and brought an action, the subject was referred to a Select Committee. That was, however, a case entirely different from the present, for Mr. Palmer brought an action against the Government for remuneration, to which he considered himself entitled. He (Mr. Gladstone) would now mention to the House two cases, but on the other side, which had happened more recently, and to one of which he had himself been a party. The first was the case, not of the dismissal of a man from office, but of an attempt to force the appointment of a man to office. It was the case of Sir John Claridge, who had been a Judge in one of the Indian Presidencies, but who had been removed by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Committee, however, in removing Sir John Claridge, declared that considerations of policy and expediency were the main grounds of his removal, and that there was nothing to prevent his reappointment. Having been appealed to by Sir John Claridge as a constituent, and regarding the case as one of great hardship, he (Mr. Gladstone) moved in that House an Address to the Crown, praying Her Majesty to confer upon Sir John Claridge another appointment. Lord Broughton, who was then President of the Indian Board, replied that he could not see how the House of Commons could interfere in the matter, and asked—Have you any precedent for such a proceeding? If the House addresses the Crown for the appointment of Sir John Claridge, and the Crown confers upon him an appointment, who will be responsible for the appointment to the House?He (Mr. Gladstone) and the House felt the 2000 force of that appeal, and he, therefore, withdrew his Motion. The other case that he would mention was that of a person of the name of Rolls, a Custom House officer, who had been employed as a landing-waiter, and he (Mr. Gladstone) held that in dealing with the case of a high officer they must observe substantially the same rules as in the case of a low officer. He protested with all his soul against the doctrine, that they were to have one mode of proceeding for the man who was a Privy Councillor, who had political influence, and who bore an aristocratic name, and a person in a less influential position. He regretted that the House should have been doomed to hear the miserable jokes of the hon. Member for Westminster upon the name of Mr. Higinbothom, together with his quotation of comic verses, which did credit to the author who wrote them, but great discredit to the hon. Gentleman in the manner in which he had repeated them. He had certainly been ashamed to hear the remarks of the hon. Gentleman, and, even if the name of Mr. Higinbothom were not so euphonous as that of Mr. Kennedy, he claimed that, in regard to depriving a man of his salary, his good name, and fair character, the same set of rules should be laid down and adopted equally in all cases, and that the influence of ridicule should not be used to deprive a man of the justice to which he was entitled. However, to return to the case of Mr. Rolls: he was a landing-waiter, and was dismissed by the Board of Customs, because some persons connected with trade had endeavoured to seduce his virtue as a Custom House officer. The solicitation was refused, but as the fact was not made known by Mr. Rolls to the Board of Customs, they dismissed him. In 1842 a Crown Commission was appointed, of which Lord Granville Somerset was the head, to examine into the Custom House frauds. The Commissioners examined a number of witnesses, among whom was Rolls, who laid his case before the Commissioners, by whom it was reported to the Crown, with a recommendation to reinstate him in the office he had previously held. The Board of Customs resisted the reappointment, and a Motion was made in that House in 1844 for a Select Committee. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) expressed sympathy for Rolls, but objected to the Motion; and the House, under the leadership of Sir Robert Peel, refused to entertain the ques- 2001 tion. He might add that, subsequently, the Board of Customs, by an act of their own, reinstated Mr. Rolls in his situation, and that he had since shown himself to be one of the most able and distinguished officers they possessed, having been chosen in 1851 to conduct the arrangements connected with the reception of foreign goods for the Exhibition. Now, with respect to the appointment of a Committee, he did not pretend to set any limit to the right of that House to inquire. In the year 1784 it was declared by a Resolution of the House of Commons—That it is constitutional and agreeable to usage for the House of Commons to declare their sense and opinion respecting the exercise of any discretionary power which, whether by Act of Parliament or otherwise, is vested in any body of men whatever for the public service.The hon. Member for Westminster might morely desire to set up his judgment against that which he (Mr. Gladstone) had thought proper to exercise, and to say that an error of judgment had been committed; but he (Mr. Gladstone) would then say to the House that if they were prepared to reprove errors of judgment, they would themselves become responsible for the whole of the service, and it would be better to abolish the Treasury bench altogether. But in this case much more was done. The most odious charges of favour and preference were brought against the House of Commons. This was not the first case of dismissal with which he had been concerned. Every year it had been his painful duty to dismiss officers, but he had never dismissed a Privy Councillor before—a gentleman belonging to a political club and of high connections—or probably he might have heard of it. Unless they were prepared to deal out equal justice and review the judgment of a Minister uniformly and without respect to persons, he ventured respectfully to tell the House that in agreeing to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman they would be entering upon a most dangerous course. With great respect to the hon. Member for Westminster, he thought the hon. Gentleman might be called a dangerous man. It would become hon. Gentlemen, especially those who happened to be in office, to think twice before entering into conversation with the hon. Member during a ride in the park. Things might pass, and very innocently pass, in that conversation, which it would not be altogether agreeable to have produced in the House of Commons; and he would tell the 2002 hon. Gentleman who had come there to give instruction, but who, unless he (Mr. Gladstone) was much mistaken, would get instruction before the debate concluded, that he would do well to be careful how he reported conversations. As to the conversation itself, there was one condition which he would positively make—namely, that when the conversation was reported, it should be reported as it took place, and not as it did not take place. The hon. Gentleman said that he (Mr. Gladstone) had made a certain speech on that occasion, and that he (Sir J. Shelley) was ready to make his affidavit to the effect of that speech. Now, if he had thought the hon. Gentleman a rash man at the beginning of his speech, when he had made the violent charges against him (Mr. Gladstone) in which he had indulged, he was really astonished to find the hon. Gentleman so readily prepared to make his affidavit upon this conversation. If he were not ashamed to take such a course, he (Mr. Gladstone) might take an affidavit upon his side. But, at any rate, he would tell the hon. Gentleman that he was wrong, and not only would he tell him that he was wrong, but he thought he would be able to show the hon. Gentleman that he was wrong. It was very probable that, even in serious matters, something which might occur might escape his (Mr. Gladstone's) recollection, for his memory was only weak, but, weak as it was, it was strong enough to retain this conversation. Certainly he had been sufficiently warned of the sort of company he was in to enable him to stamp upon the fibres of his brain the conversation which occurred. The hon. Member said that what he (Mr. Gladstone) had stated was that the consequence of the Motion would be the holding open of the office until the Motion was made.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, that what the right hon. Gentleman really said was this—that in consequence of his (Sir J. Shelley's) Motion there would be a difficulty in filling up the appointment.
said, he was obliged to the hon. Gentleman for the correction. The hon. Gentleman's version of the conversation was, that in the month of July he (Mr. Gladstone) told the hon. Gentleman that, in consequence of a certain Motion which had been given for an inquiry into the case of Mr. Kennedy, it would be a very difficult matter for the Government to make an appointment to the office. Now, he would appeal to any Member of that 2003 House who had had the experience of office whether such a thing was not ridiculous and untrue upon the face of it?—whether any man who knew his duty would say that because one of 654 Gentlemen in the House of Commons, even although it might be the wisest, as had happened on this occasion—because such a man had thought fit to give notice of a Motion for inquiry, was it likely that a Member of the Government should say he would keep an office vacant for six months? No one could suppose that such an answer would have been given. But he would tell the House the answer which he did give to the hon. Member. It was this—and he repeated it now without the slightest hesitation—"I am sorry you have given notice of a Committee about Mr. Kennedy, because, while that notice respecting him is on the books, it would be very difficult for the Government to place Mr. Kennedy in any other appointment in the public service." He was deeply grieved to be compelled, through the ill-judging friendship of the hon. Gentleman, to say a word against Mr. Kennedy, but he was unable to take upon himself the responsibility of Mr. Kennedy's proceedings in the office he then held, although there were many offices in which the government of men was not involved, but in which honesty, regularity, and ability were required, that Mr. Kennedy was well qualified to fill; but if such an appointment had been made when the Motion was on the paper it would have been construed in an improper manner. He must now make some reference to the merits of the case, and he denied that any case of irregularity or hasty action on the part of the Treasury had been made out which should induce the House to grant this Committee. The reasons why Mr. Kennedy was dismissed were—first, because he, as a Minister of the Crown, after his experience of Mr. Kennedy's views of public duty, would not be responsible for that gentleman's proceedings; but he was bound to say that, even had he been prepared to do so, the circumstances which had occurred in Mr. Kennedy's department were such that they were necessarily destructive of all credit and authority attaching to that gentleman, so that it had become a public necessity that he should be removed from that department, because he could not serve the public with credit therein. That was his second reason. His third was, that inferior servants, placed under Mr. Kennedy, 2004 not resident in London, despite their plebeian names, had a right to be treated with justice. He (Mr. Gladstone) was the protector of the characters of these men as much as of Mr. Kennedy. He had accordingly addressed a letter to Mr. Kennedy in the courteous terms generally used upon such occasions, not stating all that he thought upon the subject, so as not to wound his feelings, but conveying to him in the mildest manner that his case had been the subject of the most earnest and careful deliberation by the Government, and that the conclusion at which they had arrived rendered necessary his retirement from the office he held. The hon. Baronet had thought proper to ridicule that letter, but if he had adopted a more formal style, would not the hon. Baronet have censured him for being harsh and insulting? The names of two individuals, Mr. Brown and Mr. Higinbothom, were closely connected with this question, and the case of the latter gentleman was the immediate occasion of Mr. Kennedy's dismissal. He could hardly say, however, that it was the principal occasion; because he had come to the conclusion, quite irrespective of that case, that it would be necessary to remove Mr. Kennedy on account of matters affecting his administration, into which he would not now enter. He had no personal interest in Mr. Higinbothom, but as a public servant that gentleman was entitled to be protected so long as he continued in his office. If Mr. Kennedy was not capable of dealing with his subordinates on principles of equity and fairness, he was unfit to serve the public. In his charitable mood of construing Mr. Kennedy's letter, the hon. Baronet entirely misapprehended the facts, and founded upon his misapprehension an inference that the Government were eagerly watching an opportunity to trip up Mr. Kennedy. A correspondence had been going on for a considerable time between Mr. Higinbothom, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Kennedy, and, on the 23rd of January, the latter gentleman acquainted the Treasury that he had obtained most important knowledge, on which he should, probably, feel it his duty to make an official statement. On the 26th of January that official statement came, and it certainly contained no indications of hasty proceeding. It was said no opportunity was given Mr. Kennedy of withdrawing those harsh expressions; but he should show the hon. Baronet, though his sight was not so acute as he could wish, that, on the contrary, many opportunities 2005 were afforded for retracting those harsh expressions, if he had so pleased. It was not, however, for a more hasty word here and there that Mr. Kennedy was dismissed, but on account of the whole proceeding involved in writing that letter, and the frame of mind in which it was written. In his anxiety to be as concise as possible the hon. Baronet did not mention that the letter contained an announcement on the part of Mr. Kennedy of his intention to dismiss Mr. Higinbothom. Mr. Kennedy, in his letter to the Lords of the Treasury, said—I can entertain no doubt as to the course which it will eventually become my duty to pursue, as regards Mr. Higinbothom, founded on the facts which are at present known to myself, altogether independent of the statements which may be made by Mr. Brown, but which will, no doubt, augment the number and decisive character of the facts connected with this subject.The House would recollect that this gentleman was not living under the same roof as Mr. Kennedy, and had not the advantage of living on the spot to meet any misrepresentation to which he might be subject. When Mr. Kennedy announced the foregone conclusion as to the dismissal of Mr. Higinbothom, had he heard Mr. Higinbothom? No; he never heard Mr. Higinbothom at all. Mr. Higinbothom was in total and absolute ignorance that such a statement as that of Mr. Kennedy had ever been written. Without communicating with the person whom it so seriously affected, Mr. Kennedy sent it up to his superiors in office to poison their minds against Mr. Higinbothom. The hon. Gentleman said the Treasury gave Mr. Kennedy no opportunity to retract. The first measure of the Lords of the Treasury was to direct Mr. Kennedy to send a copy of his letter to Mr. Higinbothom, and, on the 6th of February, Mr. Higinbothom made the following answer to that communication—Sir,—I must express my regret that, before communicating to the Lords of the Treasury such serious imputations against my veracity as are contained in your report of the 26th ultimo, you did not state to me the doubts that had arisen in your mind. I beg leave respectfully to observe, if you had done so, I should have been enabled to show that, from a misconception of some important facts, you had been led to form erroneous conclusions, and I should, have no doubt, have satisfied you that there is no ground whatever for the grave charges you have brought against me.Was it possible for a man to have a more winning inducement to retract? Whether 2006 he was a doctor in Pilltown he (Mr. Gladstone) did not care a rush, but he said Mr. Higinbothom with admirable temper passed over, by a general reference, charges to which the harshest words in the dictionary would justifiably apply, and assured the person by whom those charges were made that he was able to convince him there were no grounds for his misstatements. He was sorry to say that appeal extracted no response whatever from Mr. Kennedy. On the 14th of February Mr. Higinbothom sent in a full defence upon the charges, and not only a full defence to every point contained in the letter of the 26th of January, but supported, he might almost say usque ad nauseam, with a multitude of affidavits, which Mr. Higinbothom had the prudence and foresight to obtain. Did the receipt of that defence give Mr. Kennedy no opportunity to retract? Alas! in vain was it attempted, and on the 14th of February Mr. Higinbothom, having failed in his appeals, sent another letter, every phrase of which he would not say was proper, but which ended thus—In conclusion, permit me most respectfully to remind you that, among the injurious expressions which you have officially placed upon record in your report to the Lords of the Treasury (which document, I may add, you have requested may be printed), the terms 'deceptive,' 'fraudulent and untrue,' 'unscrupulous,' and 'the reverse of facts,' have been applied to statements which I have proved to be perfectly accurate. You have also made a distinct intimation to their Lordships that 'it is no longer possible to place the slightest reliance on any statement' which I make; that I have been guilty of a 'suppression of facts,' and that I have made a 'daring attempt to impose upon you.' These statements, you will allow me to observe, were submitted to their Lordships without my being afforded any opportunity of explanation on any points on which you might have misapprehended my former report. I have to add that I must request you to convey to the Lords of the Treasury an expression of my deep gratitude for having afforded me the present opportunity of refuting the charges which have been brought against me, charges which I must now respectfully request that you will withdraw.Was that not an opportunity to retract? After the most conclusive statement, backed by affidavits, Mr. Higinbothom entreated Mr. Kennedy to withdraw those charges, and the answer of Mr. Kennedy was a determined and deliberate adherence to the text of his statement. In this letter Mr. Kennedy said that he would proceed to state some of the grounds on which he had formed his opinions, and which he still entertained. The hon. Baronet could not after this say that no opportunity had been 2007 afforded to Mr. Kennedy of retracting or explaining what he had said, for he would neither do so after the first or second appeal had been made to him. On the 28th of February, Mr. Higinbothom sent a further answer, and Mr. Kennedy, on the 2nd March, wrote to the Treasury, and though he expressed his opinion that a further inquiry ought to be instituted, yet he did not express any regret, or withdraw any expression or announce any change of his intention from that contained in his letter relative to the dismissal of Mr. Higinbothom from his situation and his livelihood. On the 7th of March his (Mr. Gladstone's) hon. Friend (Mr. Wilson) wrote that the Treasury had taken steps to obtain a judgment upon the facts; and on the 22nd of the same month a minute directing the reference was made. On the 15th of April a report from the gentlemen who acted as a jury in the collection of facts came in, and on the 25th, Mr. Kennedy, during the whole of this time having failed to avail himself of an opportunity to take off a shade from the darkness of his charges, or to express the faintest suspicion of the propriety of his conduct, was informed that it would be necessary to remove him from the office which he held. On the 2nd of May, Mr. Kennedy wrote to Lord Aberdeen, but he did not even then express any regret; so far from that, he said he entered his indignant protest against the manner in which he had been treated. There certainly was an expression of regret on the part of Mr. Kennedy, but it came through a channel that was not available —it was contained in his petition to that House on the 8th of May. Notwithstanding all this, the hon. Baronet had said that Mr. Kennedy immediately felt regret at his hasty expressions—but where was there any evidence of this? The hon. Baronet should have brought forward facts to support that which was so material to his case, and not have drawn wholly on his imagination. The hon. Baronet had not only committed errors on behalf of Mr. Kennedy, but he had made still more remarkable and glaring misquotations when making out his case against Mr. Higinbothom. When Mr. Kennedy wrote his extraordinary letter, unparalleled in the history of official relations, had he any primâ facie grounds for saying that Mr. Higinbothom had been guilty of the suppression of material facts which had tended to mislead? In order to prove this, the hon. Baronet made this quotation from the report of the 2008 referees with the view of showing the correctness of Mr. Brown's statement with reference to the Glenbervie inclosure—Mr. Kennedy charges Mr. Higinbothom, in this instance, with suppressing the fact that the inclosure was thinned in 1853. Mr. Higinbothom here admits that about twelve or fourteen acres of that part of this inclosure to which his averages of 100 trees to the acre applied were thinned in 1853, but denies that such thinning could have affected the question between him and Mr. Brown as to averages. This inclosure is divided also by Mr. Brown into two divisions; the first where the land is 'good loam and dry,' and the second where the land is 'inferior and naturally damp.' It is to the first of these divisions Mr. Higinbothom's averages are intended to apply: of this division we have ascertained that a detached portion of about fourteen acres was thinned in 1853, but, on a close inspection, we are led to the conclusion that the large portion remaining unthinned presents a fair average of what the whole was on Mr. Brown's first visit.But the hon. Baronet stopped at the word "visit," after which there was only a comma, whereas the report continued—Which opinion is corroborated by the second report of Mr. Brown, where he, notwithstanding the thinning of 1853, increases his average number of trees and decreases his average diameter.Then, again, as to whether Mr. Higinbothom was guilty of surpressing material facts, the referees in their report said—It may be inferred, from what we have already stated in the foregoing particular instances, that we consider the average number of trees standing on the acre as represented by Mr. Higinbothom in his report of December, 1853, was not in any material degree affected by the operation of thinning, which took place between the date of his report and the previous report of Mr. Brown. We agree that, in all such cases as these, no facts whatever should be suppressed, but we are decidedly of opinion that a practical man could not have been misled by the suppression in these cases, and we therefore believe that, while Mr. Higinbothom's silence on this point might well call for inquiry by Mr. Kennedy, such suppression ought not to be characterised as 'culpable.' We ourselves should not have been misled; and the circumstance that Mr. Brown, in his second report, has generally increased his average number of trees, and decreased his average diameter, comes in proof that Mr. Higinbothom's general averages had not been either reduced in number or increased in size by such partial thinnings.He came to the conclusion, therefore, that the conduct of Mr. Higinbothom was free from blame. He was not an imprudent intermeddler in matters with which he had no concern, nor was the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Treasury. He was obliged to go into it, and, although his proceedings might have been imperfect from failure of knowledge, he proceeded honestly and in a straightforward manner. 2009 He might have been charged with ungenerous conduct if Mr. Kennedy had had no opportunities of reconsideration; but he had shown to the House that that gentleman had abundance of such opportunities; he had shown them how he had treated the requisitions from the Treasury, and that the first expression of regret which had escaped his lips was after the intention of removing him had been communicated to him. He wished it to be understood that those at the head of departments could not play tricks in this way, making light of the honour, the feelings, and the character of those under them, and if on a review of the proceedings of any one he was found unfit for government, it was an absolute necessity that he should be removed. Even had Mr. Kennedy retracted his words, the case would have been an extremely difficult one, because, when a superior in office had, in a certain degree, committed himself, a disposition to revoke his error did not render him fit to continue a superior. How was it possible that, in the face of such extraordinary transactions as those in respect to Mr. Higinbothom, he could have maintained his credit and authority? The case of Mr. Brown also involved circumstances which rendered the removal of Mr. Kennedy almost imperative; but at that late hour, and considering the length of time he had already occupied them, he would not go into the details. One point, however, he must notice. The hon. Baronet said he had been governed by prejudice. He did not know whether the hon. Baronet thought that prejudice was original, or had been instilled into him by the serpent, the Secretary of the Treasury, or whether that serpent had had it instilled into him by some other serpent; but both his hon. Friend the Secretary of the Treasury and himself had acted entirely from their own knowledge and belief, and had suffered no one to prejudice them in the matter. He was accused of having appointed Mr. Brown, while he was labouring under imputations affecting his character and veracity, deputy surveyor of Dean Forest. What would the House think when he informed them that he made that appointment solely at the instance of Mr. Kennedy himself? He (Mr. Gladstone) felt the difficulty of that appointment. It was made under the deepest sense of responsibility, but it was made solely on the representation and to prevent the dismissal of Mr. Kennedy. With respect to that gentleman himself, not a step had been taken 2010 but what had the fullest concurrence of Lord Aberdeen, or which had not been the subject of the closest examination; and, whether he were in office or out of office, no consideration upon earth would induce him to recede from the course adopted, for by so doing he should consider he would be acting with the greatest injustice towards those humble persons who had not only failed to enlist the sympathy of the hon. Baronet, but had formed the unoffending objects at which to launch the shafts of his ridicule. An observation had been made on the course adopted of communicating the intention of his removal from office to Mr. Kennedy in a private letter. Why was that done? Simply that if it were possible any door could be left open of which Mr. Kennedy or his friends might avail themselves to offer explanations or express regret, it might be done. But no such means offered themselves, and upon a full consideration of the case, in his judgment, Mr. Kennedy was found to be unfit for the government of men, and, although without a very lengthened inquiry it would be impossible for the House to investigate all the facts upon which that judgment was founded, he thought it had heard enough to convince them that it was a sound one. Mr. Kennedy had never dissented from the report, but, on the contrary, he made not the slightest difficulty as to the dismissal of Mr. Brown. It was too late now for the hon. Gentleman to say there should be another discussion of the subject. He (Mr. Gladstone) objected to the Motion as entirely contrary to Parliamentary usage, and also as injurious to the public service; he objected that no primâ facie ground for it had been established for the proposed Committee. As to the last miserable charge—that of disliking a man for doing his public duty—that he did not feel called upon to notice. His last objection was, that the hon. Gentleman had not had matter enough or courage enough to give the Motion a real shape. The Committee was asked for, not to inquire into charges, but to make charges. He had dwelt in countries where the mode of conducting judicial proceedings was different from that pursued in this country—he meant the south of Italy. In England they inquired if the charge against a man was true, but there the object was to find out what charges could be made against a man. He did not mean to compare a Committee of that House to a judicial proceeding, but still it was a serious matter. No 2011 man could remain in office while subject to inquiries of this kind. The Motion asserted nothing. It was a Motion that men in office were unworthy and unable to choose their own instruments. So far as he himself was concerned, he was content to leave the matter to the House, convinced that it would do nought but what was just and proper. The House had heard the statements of the hon. Baronet and of himself, and was capable of arriving at a right and sound judgment. For himself, he should leave the matter in the hands of the House, confident that it would fully appreciate the merits of the statements it had heard. [The right hon. Gentleman immediately quitted the House.]
said, that it was never easy to answer a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. That task—a difficult one at all times—became doubly difficult in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman. He hoped, however, that if he should unintentionally misrepresent the words of the right hon. Gentleman, that some of those hon. Members who, during the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, had expressed their agreement with the opinions therein set forth, would at once interpose to correct him. He must, in the first instance, premise, that he had no private or peculiar information on the case in dispute, but, on the other hand, he might claim to stand between the two parties as one entirely unprejudiced. Of Mr. Kennedy he knew nothing. He readily admitted the great talents and high character of the right hon. Gentleman who last addressed them, but he thought that the right hon. Gentleman, in his reply, had trusted to the weight of his character and talents to overbear something like a deficiency of evidence. The charge did not seem to him to be one of a personal nature against the right hon. Gentleman, but against a public department. That department had committed a grievous injustice against an individual. He had said that it was not a charge against the character of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. But the right hon. Gentleman, after the statement of the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Shelley)—which did not err from want of candour—turned round, and, without giving a moment for consideration, asked the hon. Baronet if he meant to accuse him of corruption or dishonesty; for that, if the hon. Baronet did and would reduce the charge to writing, he (the right hon. Gentleman) would 2012 consent to the Committee. Now, he apprehended that the simple answer to that challenge was, that the hon. Baronet never intended to make, and never did make, any charge of improper motives against the right hon. Gentleman. The inconsistency of the right hon. Gentleman's answer had struck others besides himself. The right hon. Gentleman said he was willing to grant a Committee to clear his own character, but when the question was morely one with reference to Mr. Kennedy's character he would oppose the appointment of a Committee. He was sure that on neither side the House was there an inclination to do the right hon. Gentleman injustice; but it did not follow, because his motives were above suspicion, that, therefore, he was entitled to lay claim to infallibility and irresponsibility. The right hon. Gentleman had denied that any appeal lay from his decision in the case of an error of judgment. That meant, that the character of a public servant might be injured—his means of subsistence taken away from him—his power of public usefulness destroyed in a moment—without any appeal to any tribunal whatever. That was a claim which clearly ought not to be maintained, and could not, in his opinion, be made good. Let it be considered by analogy with some other branch of the public service. Take the example of the army or the navy. When, in speaking of any Government or administrative body, you wanted to describe it as despotic in the highest degree, you called it a "military despotism"—you said it had its subjects as absolutely under command as the crew of a man-of-war. But what was the case in these necessarily despotic professions? Why, not the humblest officer—he did not say not an admiral nor a captain, but not the youngest lieutenant, or midshipman, or ensign, could be dismissed without sentence of a court-martial. Yet the right hon. Gentleman claimed the right to remove a public servant of long standing and high position without any formal inquiry whatever. That was applying to the Civil Service a principle infinitely more despotic than any which prevailed in the army or navy. Let them recollect the importance of the civil administration—that it divided the power of the Government with the Legislature—that a vast variety of the most important questions must in effect be decided by it—and then consider the result of such a doctrine as that propounded by the 2013 right hon. Gentleman—namely, that every man in that service must be under the absolute and irresponsible control of the heads of the departments. That was a power which no man ought to claim, with which no man ought to be intrusted, and he would add, which no man, having a sense of self-respect, would submit to. If it were given and acted on, the result would be to make all who exercised it tyrants, and all who submitted to it slaves. But, after all, the right hon. Gentleman said that there was an appeal, if any Member would get up and undertake to prove—that which was not only difficult, but next to impossible to prove —that the removal had taken place from corrupt motives. But the position was utterly untenable and inconsistent. If the appeal to Parliament were unconstitutional, why admit it in any case; if not, why limit it to that special class of cases? The right hon. Gentleman alarmed them with the threat, that, the precedent once admitted, appeals would become frequent. He did not know whether they would become frequent or not, but if the exercise of such a power as that claimed was common in the Civil Service, then the more frequent appeals were the better. The charges upon which Mr. Kennedy was understood to have been removed were patent and notorious. They were—whether right or wrong—valid or invalid—before the public. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, had argued that Mr. Kennedy's dismissal of Brown and Higinbothom was only one out of many reasons that determined the Government to remove Mr. Kennedy. Suppose such a statement as that had been made either by Mr. Kennedy or Mr. Brown against those whose part the right hon. Gentleman had taken. Suppose Messrs. Kennedy and Brown had said that it was quite true that they had complained of Higinbothom on certain specified grounds, but that they had other grounds of complaint—other charges—which they would not press, the knowledge of which they would keep to themselves, but which, if the Government knew (which they did not) would make them dismiss those persons. If such an argument had been used by Mr. Kennedy or those who defended him, then he believed that no man would have been more forward than the right hon. Gentleman himself to denounce its injustice. But that was precisely the plea of the right hon. Gentleman himself 2014 when he sought to disparage the character of Mr. Kennedy. The case before them might be stated in a few words. It had been acknowledged that in the office of Woods and Forests great mismanagement had existed. Into that office Mr. Kennedy had been placed by the noble Lord the Member for the City (Lord J. Russell), with the express purpose of carrying out there the thorough reform which was needed. The very nature of the task was enough to make Mr. Kennedy unpopular in his department. Of course, Mr. Kennedy's statement to the effect that he found himself opposed and thwarted on all sides was ex parte, but still it was probable. Mr. Kennedy was compelled to choose a subordinate to assist him, and he chose a friend of his own, Mr. Brown, who of course would share in his unpopularity. Mr. Brown got into a quarrel with Mr. Higinbothom, who had been previously employed in the department; and, in touching on this part of the case the right hon. Gentleman had certainly resorted to something like clap-trap by talking of this last-named individual as a plebeian. No doubt it was wrong that any man should be exempted from the censure that he deserved because of his social position; but, in addressing a popular audience in this age and country, any injustice that might be done on this score was likely to arise in the opposite way from that at which the right hon. Gentleman had hinted. It was a very common thing for a man who was accused, and even justly accused before a court of law to make capital out of his insignificance, and thus to excite commiseration in his own behalf. But to return to the facts of this case. Mr. Higinbothom made a statement which bore on the face of it resemblance to a fraud, although it might not actually have been a fraud. Mr. Brown, however, believed it to be such, and Mr. Kennedy appeared to have concurred in the same opinion. It was not enough to prove that Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Brown were wrong in their opinion—it ought to be shown that they had no fair or probable grounds for the conclusion they came to as to the transaction. Unless that were shown (and no attempt had even been made to prove it), it must be acknowledged that the offence of Mr. Kennedy amounted to nothing more than an error of judgment, and, according to the right hon. Gentleman, while an error of judgment in a Minister of the Crown was 2015 so venial and trifling a fault as not to be worth investigating, yet in a permanent official, not represented in any way in that House, it was assumed at once to be so grave and material an offence as to justify his dismissal. In this he thought there was something like bias shown by the right hon. Gentleman. The fault found with Mr. Kennedy by the right hon. Gentleman was, that, having formed an opinion with regard to the conduct and character of Mr. Higinbothom, he had not been deterred, by fear of consequences, from expressing it, from holding fast to it, from repeating it when its justice was disputed, but, on the contrary, had stated his grounds for holding it, and courted and demanded inquiry. He could not help thinking, however, that if Mr. Kennedy had retracted it would have gone very little better with him; and certainly—though, perhaps, such a course would not have justified his dismissal—it would have fairly laid him open to severe censure. Would it not in that case have been said, "Here is a man so reckless about what he says, that he makes a charge one day and retracts it the next—is he fit to hold office?" But when Mr. Kennedy repeated and adhered to his assertions, then his persistence was blamed as obstinacy. Next came the question—the Treasury having granted an inquiry—how and by whom it should be conducted, and this appeared to be the turning point of the case. In the first place, contrary to all rules of justice, though the meanest prisoner had a right to challenge the jury, Mr. Kennedy was brought to trial without having an opportunity of knowing who the jury were, or, to use his own language—Their Lordships seems to have considered it becoming to nominate the jury and send my case for trial before it, not morely without my acquiescence, but without informing me of their intention until it was executed; and thus a Privy Councillor and a head of a department was, without notice, brought to trial on a question, stated to be one affecting his veracity, his integrity, and his honour, before a jury nominated by those with whom he had recently been engaged in warm disputes.When he was made acquainted with the tribunal appointed to try him, there were two of the names on it to which he had no objection to make, but to the third name—Mr. Menzies—he did object, because he had formerly been a subordinate of his own, and was then engaged in another branch of the same department, having for his immediate superior the son-in- 2016 law of Mr. Higinbothom. This inquiry, therefore, was ordered to take place before a tribunal, the names of the members of which had not previously been made known to the accused—before a tribunal, too, to which neither of the parties had access; it was a trial of an official superior by an official subordinate, and by a subordinate, moreover, who was placed in circumstances which were likely to give him a bias. He ventured to say that before a court so constituted a common pickpocket would not be tried. The right hon. Gentleman, however, said there was nothing irregular in this, that it was morely following the course of official routine. This might exonerate the right hon. Gentleman personally, but it did not alter the circumstances of the case. Nay, it formed a further ground for the investigation demanded, since it appeared that the injustice complained of was not accidental, but systematic. He was not aware whether cases of this sort were common in the Civil Service, but it must be remembered that there were 16,000 persons in that service; and if this were the manner in which justice was administered to those persons, he ventured to say that there was nothing in Russia more despotic. Even if Mr. Kennedy were guilty to the full extent, he had not had a fair trial; it was impossible for any one to place confidence in such a tribunal as had been described; no court of law was open to him for redress, he had no other tribunal to resort to but that House, and he thought they would be neglecting what was due to the public service and to the country at large if they refused to listen to his appeal.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, he knew as little, and perhaps less, of the rules of the Civil Service than the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn; but he was certain of this, that if in the civil, naval, or military services, the heads of departments were not to be responsible for their servants, all government was impossible. He objected to this Motion on two grounds—first, because it interfered with the Executive Government; and secondly, because it tended to usurp for the House of Commons the power of the Executive; and introduced a personal debate which he and other Members, he doubted not, would gladly avoid. The hon. Baronet (Sir J. Shelley) had alluded so much to the Committee he (Mr. Drummond) had moved for last year, that it became necessary that he should give a 2017 short history of the circumstances relating to it. It happened to come to his knowledge that Mr. Kennedy entertained very transcendental notions with regard to the management of the Crown Forests, as, indeed, was pretty evident from the blue books; and he hoped there was no hon. Gentleman present who intended to vote on this question without having read through all these blue books. Evidently the noble Lord whit had just sat down had not gone through them carefully, or he would not have made some of the statements which had fallen from him, and without having done so he certainly was not competent to form a correct judgment on the subject. Having heard, however, that Mr. Kennedy was about to introduce some extraordinary changes into the management of the Crown Forests, he moved for some returns, expecting to get a small paper, but, to his great astonishment, there came as great a blue book as ever issued from Lord Duncan's Committee, and, on speaking to the Secretary for the Treasury on the subject, he was informed that was not one-half of the return if he meant to have all Mr. Kennedy had written on tile subject. "Oh! let us have all that Mr. Kennedy has written by all means," was his reply, and accordingly it was given. If those blue books were read through, it would be found that so far from the beginning of this matter being the question between Mr. Brown and Mr. Higinbothom, it, in fact, began by Mr. Kennedy's introducing Mr. Brown into his office for the purpose of overthrowing all the establishment of the Woods and Forests. The abuses found out by Lord Duncan's Committee had no reference to the question before the House. The hon. Baronet had objected to the names of his (Mr. Drummond's) Committee. Now as he found that Mr. Kennedy knew nothing about timber, and that by his own confession, for he had spent years in Ireland, and was born in Ayrshire, where no trees grew, therefore he (Mr. Drummond) had consulted Gentlemen on both sides of the House, and selected names of those whom it was considered knew something of woodland statistics; and he chose Lord Edward Howard, Colonel Clifford, Mr. Vernon Smith, Mr. Compton, Lord Harry Vane, Lord Shelburne, Mr. Denison, Sir William Heathcote, Mr. Tollemache, and others, who were all acquainted with the management of woods; and then he asked, as was but proper, for some Member of the Government to be appointed, and 2018 Mr. Chichester Fortescue was selected, for whom Mr. Wilson was afterwards substituted. It might have appeared to some persons that it would have been better to get some Manchester manufacturers, or railroad directors; but he thought it was better to have persons who knew something about winds on a question of this nature. It was found that among the first plans of Mr. Kennedy was to send to India, for a quantity of Deodara seeds, for planting a new species of wood, hut which did not succeed. Then, there was the case of Mr. Minchin, the deputy surveyor of the Forest of Dean. He (Mr. Drummond) remembered when that forest was in a lawless and a very had state. and Mr. Minchin, by good management, had quite altered the state of things. Now that gentleman had been treated in so de-haut-en-bas a way that he had been obliged to resign. With regard to Mr. Higinbothom and his management of the forests in his (Mr. Drummond's) neighbourhood, although he was a Liberal, and all his friends Liberals too—he opposed him (Mr. Drummond)—yet he would say that several gentlemen who had inspected that part of the forests were of opinion that there could be no better management of them than Mr. Higinbothom's. The conduct of Mr. Kennedy, however, towards that gentleman was most unjust. It was not from any dispute with Mr. Brown that that gentleman met with ill-treatment. Mr. Kennedy took upon himself to form an opinion of the conduct of Mr. Higinbothom, and charged him with making fabrications in his accounts, and of being a man unworthy of trust. Hon. Members had expressed an anxiety to do justice to an absent man, meaning Mr. Kennedy, but when they supported that gentleman's conduct towards Mr. Higinbothom he thought the appeal of those hon. Members came with a very bad grace indeed. It bad been said that Lord Duncan's Committee was the origin of this quarrel, but he denied it. What was Mr. Kennedy's knowledge of the forests, and what was the cause of his appointment? The wicked world said that it was the result of a family cabal, and that Mr. Kennedy owed his appointment to his connection with the Whigs. All he could say was, that Mr. Higinbothom had served well in his office, and nowhere were woods better managed. With Mr. Kennedy he (Mr. Drummond) had no acquaintance, until he had called on him and claimed him as an old schoolfellow; and although 2019 he believed him to be a man zealous in the public service, he did not think he was fit to control men as good as himself, and who did not like unjust charges thrown in their teeth.
§ MR. MALINS
said, he did not think it was any disparagement to Mr. Kennedy to be connected with the Whigs, if his marriage with the daughter of the late Sir Samuel Romilly was supposed to constitute that connection. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) appeared very indignant at the manner in which the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Shelley) had brought forward this question; but he (Mr. Malins) thought it had been introduced in a spirit of moderation and fairness. It was his opinion that throughout the whole of this transaction the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had acted in a hasty, unfeeling, and most inconsiderate manner towards a public servant of long standing. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that unless this arbitrary power of summarily dismissing subordinate servants were vested in the responsible Ministers of the Crown, the public service could not be carried on. All he could say was, that if that were to be the condition in which the subordinate servants of the Crown were to be placed—if every man holding office was liable to be dismissed at any moment by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—then, for his part, he should never be ambitious to hold office in the service of his country. But the right hon. Gentleman seemed conscious that he was treading on tender ground, and appeared to feel that any Minister's exercising such a power would not be tolerated by the House, because he had evidently taken some pains to impress upon the House that the dismissal of Mr. Kennedy was not his individual act, but that it was the joint act of two Ministers of the Crown; and he endeavoured to make the House understand that the Earl of Aberdeen, who was then Prime Minister, had concurred in the dismissal of Mr. Kennedy. But what said the great corrector of errors—dates? The letter of dismissal was dated the 29th of April, 1854. Mr. Kennedy, finding himself at the age of sixty-five years, and after thirty years' public service, dismissed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer by his letter of the 29th of April, on the 2nd of May (three days after his letter of dismissal) wrote to the Earl of Aberdeen. The Earl of Aberdeen answered Mr. Kennedy on the 9th of May, and the best evidence of the extent to which the Earl of 2020 Aberdeen participated in the dismissal of Mr. Kennedy was to be collected from that letter. It appeared by the letter written by the Earl of Aberdeen himself, that at the time the right hon. Gentleman dismissed Mr. Kennedy he knew nothing of the circumstances of the case, and had not been consulted on the subject. It was in vain for the right hon. Gentleman to endeavour to persuade the House of Commons that he had the concurrence of another Minister in that transaction. He knew that the multifarious engagements of the right hon. Gentleman might have made it difficult for him to consult the Earl of Aberdeen upon the subject; but he felt bound to express his firm conviction that the right hon. Gentleman, much as he admired his abilities, had, upon his own showing, been guilty of a most rash, and, he must add, unfeeling act in his treatment of Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy had published a pamphlet, in which, according to the right hon. Gentleman, he complained that his dismissal was an attack upon his integrity, his veracity, and his honour. The right hon. Gentleman denied that that dismissal was any attack upon the veracity, honour, or integrity of Mr. Kennedy; and then he also stated that he had not been dismissed on account of his management of the Royal Woods and Forests. If such were the case, he wanted to know then for what Mr. Kennedy had been dismissed. It seemed to him that the cause could only be the letter written by him on the 26th of January, 1854. Now, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) and the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) had stated that no one could form an opinion upon this question who had not read the blue books; but he would at once confess that he had not read those blue books, but from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman alone he considered that he was fully able to form his opinion. It appeared from that speech, that the reasons for the dismissal of Mr. Kennedy resolved themselves into the letter of the 26th of January; and he would remind the House that, although perhaps the right hon. Gentleman might not have had the opportunity of communicating with the Earl of Aberdeen on the subject, he had sat by the side of another Minister of the Crown (Lord J. Russell) night after night, in that House, between the writing of that letter and the dismissal of Mr. Kennedy. Now, it appeared to him that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was the Minister with whom 2021 the right hon. Gentleman might have consulted with the greatest propriety, as it was to that noble Lord that Mr. Kennedy owed his appointment; but it seemed that the right hot Gentleman among his faults included the fault of a too strong reliance on his own judgment, and that unaided—except, indeed, by the hon. Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Wilson)—he took upon himself the responsibility of dismissing Mr. Kennedy without consulting the Earl of Aberdeen or any other high official. That the right hon. Gentleman did not consult the noble Lord on the subject was evident from the letter addressed by that noble Lord to Mr. Kennedy on the 9th of June. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), in that letter, stated that it was with much regret that he contemplated the circumstances, with which he was only partially acquainted, which had led to Mr. Kennedy's separation from the public service, and, after passing a high eulogium upon that gentleman's public career, he proceeded to state that, as at that time he had no seat in the House of Commons, he could not say what course he should adopt if any inquiry into the case should be pressed for; but he added that, in the event of his being re-elected, he should be most happy to communicate upon the course which he should pursue with any hon. Member who might move for a Committee of Inquiry into that painful subject. It was clear, therefore, that neither the Earl of Aberdeen, then at the head of the Government, nor the noble Lord (Lid John Russell), the head of the Government in that House, had been consulted in the affair; and he was consequently driven to the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman, unaided by any advice, except, as he had said before, that of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Treasury—between whom and Mr. Kennedy, from seine cause or other, ill feeling appeared to exist—had dismissed that gentleman from the position which he had held. He himself was personally unacquainted with Mr. Kennedy, but when he saw a gentleman, who had for so long a period meritoriously served the public, summarily dismissed, he thought that some inquiry ought to be instituted. It was well known that, when Mr. Kennedy was appointed by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell) to the office of Commissioner of Woods and Forests, the woods and forests were in a very bad condition. There had been a loss 2022 to the nation of about 6,000l. per annum previous to Mr. Kennedy's management, and after his appointment he raised the net income in 1853 to 36,259l. That was a proof that Mr. Kennedy was a valuable public servant. It had been truly stated by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) that, if the principles enounced by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer in respect to this matter were to prevail, there would not exist in Russia a greater despotism than would be found in this country. According to the right hon. Gentleman's account, Mr. Kennedy was nothing more than the mere servant at will to the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day, and liable to be summarily dismissed by him, and he also maintained that the practice of that House did not warrant any inquiry like the one proposed into the dismissal of public servants. But the Earl of Aberdeen appeared to differ from the right hon. Gentleman, for the noble Lord in Ids letter said that he could not inquire into the matter because it was now before Parliament. He (Mr. Matins) trusted that, despite such special pleading, Parliament, seeing that an net of injustice had been committed, would not suffer oppression to be practised towards an individual by an arbitrary Minister, however eloquent or talented that Minister might be, who cautiously abstained from consulting his colleague, to whom Mr. Kennedy owed his appointment, but only took counsel from a subordinate, between whom and Mr. Kennedy there appeared to be some ill feeling. With respect to the particular subject which led to Mr. Kennedy's dismissal, he was ready, for the sake of argument, to admit that there was something harsh in Mr. Kennedy's conduct to Mr. Higinbothom, though there could be no doubt that Mr. Kennedy acted under a sense of public duty only. But why did not the late Chancellor of the Exchequer have nil interview with Mr. Kennedy, and then he might have pointed out that he (Mr. Kennedy) had written too harshly, and might have advised him to withdraw the letter in question? This was a case in which it appeared to him that a public servant had been unworthily treated, and he trusted, for time sake of justice, that the House would deem that it was one imperatively calling for inquiry.
said, he thought it necessary, as he had the honour to hold the office of Chief Commissioner of the Woods and Forests in 1850, to say a few 2023 words respecting the matter before the House. It was shortly after that period that the vacancy took place to which Mr. Kennedy was appointed. On that vacancy occurring he had a conversation with his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) respecting it, and told him it was most important to name to that place some person who was well qualified to manage the business of a public office, who would be zealous and energetic in preventing abuses, and who would not scruple to look into everything that would lead to a thorough reform of the office. His noble Friend asked him if he could recommend any such person, and he said he could not. His Lordship took some days to consider, and then named Mr. Kennedy as the only person he could find fitted for the purpose, and stated the very high character Mr. Kennedy had earned for himself in Ireland. In 1850 the Bill was passed for dividing the offices, and therefore he had only seen Mr. Kennedy in his office for a very few months. The office of Works was separated from the office of Woods and Forests and Land Revenues, and Mr. Kennedy was left at the head of the Woods and Forests and Land Revenues. He believed that Mr. Kennedy, from what he saw of him, was most zealous and well-intentioned in the desire to correct all the evils of the department. He had many conversations with him, and he showed himself very desirous of doing all he could; but he must say at the same time that in some things he was not very judicious in what he He must make that statement in justification of what had been said by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Kennedy was' very well-intentioned, and very honest and earnest in his desire to do what was best for the public, but he was in an office totally different from what he had to deal with before. In that office, which was one of very great difficulty, requiring a system of management perhaps different from that of any other, having to deal with people from different parts of the country, both English and Scotch, and to control the management of property of a very peculiar character, he (Lord Seymour) did not think Mr. Kennedy had shown the judgment which he had hoped he would show in the management of that office. Therefore he thought afterwards that the selection was not a very fortunate one, but as regarded Mr. Kennedy personally, he considered that he was honest and sincere in his desire to do all that he could. Some of the de- 2024 puty surveyors were really deserving of public approbation, and amongst that class was Mr. Minchin, to whom the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) had referred. That gentleman was dismissed, and it might have been time for him to retire, but there was a mode of inducing persons who had been a long time public servants to retire without any harshness. The revenues of the forests for one year had been referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman who last addressed them as a proof of the exertions made by Mr. Kennedy, but they formed no real test by which to judge. Any person who knew anything of timber must also know that such a test was fallacious, because timber was not a crop that grew up in one year and was cut down in the next. The fact was, that the Committee over which Lord Duncan presided recommended that the timber should be cut that had been kept too long. It had been kept from the desire of the Government that in time of peace, while timber was cheap, the timber should be preserved in the Royal Forests. With regard to the appointment of the proposed Committee, he must say he was surprised at the arguments used by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. If they once allowed the principle to be adopted, that every one of the 16,000 officials in the public service who might be dismissed was to have his case discussed in that House, their whole time would be occupied with such inquiries. And what would be the effect on the public departments? Who would then dare to dismiss a public servant? Unless he had a very good case indeed, he would be a strong-minded man who would dismiss an official, knowing that he would be compelled to come down to that House and defend his deed. What was the very argument they heard most frequently urged against the Government at this time? It was that they had not courage to dismiss people; and the House might depend upon it, that, if Committees of Inquiry were to be appointed in cases like the present, few persons would be disposed to dismiss Government officials. There were many public servants against whom, perhaps, a strong case could not be made out, but who were known to those at the head of the offices in which they were employed as incompetent to the right discharge of their duties, and there might he a desire to dismiss them; but was this likely to be done when the result might be a strong attack 2025 in that House, perhaps a party attack, which would be in the highest degree inconvenient to the Government? If a man was dismissed for some private motive—to make way for a friend of the person having the appointment—to get political power, or to remove a political enemy, then that would be a fair case for inquiry; but no such grounds could be pleaded in the present instance. It was quite clear that the language and conduct of Mr. Kennedy were intemperate. It was clear, also, that the conduct of Mr. Higinbothom was faulty, and he ought to have made a humble apology for the communication which he had sent. There had been, he also considered, intemperate conduct on the part of the Treasury. He thought the jury was not a good selection, but, though there might have been mistakes on the part of the Treasury, the matter would not be remedied by appointing a Committee of that House. He did not regret, however, that this debate had taken place, One useful result of it was, that it was made obvious that no one accused Mr. Kennedy of anything discreditable to his character. On the contrary, every one had spoken of his good intentions and zeal, and the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had explained away those words with regard to veracity which were no doubt very offensive to any honourable mind. He hoped, in conclusion, that the hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Shelley) would not press his Motion to a division.
§ MR. STRUTT
said, he wished to state that the point on which Mr. Kennedy and his friends bad felt most strongly was the imputation which, in their opinion, was thrown on his honour by the Treasury minute, by his dismissal, and by the mode of that dismissal. In the investigation which took place it was stated that the veracity, honour, and integrity of the parties concerned was involved; and, when the three gentlemen made their report to the Treasury, the result was that Mr. Kennedy was dismissed. It necessarily followed that Mr. Kennedy and his friends looked on the result of that inquiry as an imputation on his honour. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated expressly that, with respect to Mr. Kennedy's honour and veracity, the fullest reparation had been offered to his friends. Now, he was authorised by the friends of Mr. Kennedy to state that, in their opinion, no such reparation had been offered, and 2026 that, if it had, probably the course which was now taken would have been avoided. The noble Lord (Lord Seymour) said Committees of that House should not be appointed to inquire into light cases; but the question was, whether this was one of those light cases with regard to which inquiry should be refused? In his opinion this was not a light and unnecessary case, and therefore, it the matter were pressed to a division, he should give his vote in favour of the Motion.
§ MR. WILSON
said, that, after the personal allusions made to him in the course of this debate, he considered that it was incumbent on him to offer a few remarks before the House went to a division. In the first place, he would observe upon the allegation that Mr. Kennedy had been charged by the Treasury with a want of veracity, integrity, and honour. Now, on his own behalf, and on that of every Member of the Government with whom he had communicated, being perfectly acquainted also, not only with the public, but private correspondence which had taken place between the Government and the friends of Mr. Kennedy, he begged to state in the most explicit manner that no charge of that kind had been made, but that, on the contrary, any such charge had been distinctly disavowed. The grounds of justification for the discharge of Mr. Kennedy resolved themselves into this—that that, gentleman had not the temper, had not the manner, had not the power of so governing the large establishment intrusted to his charge as to conduce to the public advantage; beyond that no one had ever pressed any charge against him. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Malins) had insinuated that the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been poisoned by imputations cast upon Mr. Kennedy by him (Mr. Wilson), but all who knew the right hon. Gentleman would know that he possessed too great habits of industry and too great conscientiousness to allow himself to be influenced by the opinions of any other person when the character of an individual was at stake. So far, however, from his (Mr. Wilson's) mind being biassed against Mr. Kennedy, the fact was, that, when he went to die Treasury, he bad gone there with every feeling in favour of that gentleman, and during the whole of the discussion, though it was his duty to hold the balance evenly, at the Treasury, between a gentleman holding the high office 2027 of Mr. Kennedy and his subordinates, he must distinctly state that, from the first, until within two months of the decision to which the Government arrived, he (Mr. Wilson) believed that Mr. Brown and Mr. Kennedy were right and that the other side was wrong, and for this reason—that until then he had only the reports of Mr. Brown and the letters of Mr. Kennedy before him. He never doubted the facts on which Mr. Brown's reports were based, and regarded him as a man of intelligence and ability, who understood his business. Those reports arrived in March, April, and May, and he (Mr. Wilson) read every paper through, and felt disposed to act on them. In one instance he did reverse the decision of the late Government in support of Mr. Kennedy, and of the recommendations of Mr, Brown; but when the larger question came to be discussed, was he (Mr. Wilson) to be blamed that, having a proposition before him from Mr. Brown to reverse the whole order of things in a property which, as we were told, would in a few years be worth millions of money, he took the precaution of inquiring the opinion of the recognised authorities, who should advise the Treasury? His first step was to refer Mr. Brown's reports to Mr. Clutton, who concurred in many respects with them; but where Mr. Clutton differed with Mr. Brown, his own (Mr. Wilson's) impression, which he stated to his colleagues in the Treasury, was in favour of Mr. Brown. On the 21st of December, however, came a letter from Sir James Campbell, representing that the facts as set forth in Mr. Brown's reports were wrong from beginning to end. He had felt it necessary upon this to inquire into the facts. After the receipt of Sir James Campbell's letter his impression was still in favour of Mr. Brown; but then, on the 4th of January, came Mr. Higinbothom's letter, which was exactly to the same purport as that written by Sir James Campbell, and stated that the report submitted to the Treasury by Mr. Brown in March had not been seen by them until October. He did not disavow his responsibility in this case, but his sole object had been to effect a fair adjudication between the contending parties, and he defied any one who had read the blue books, instead of pamphlets containing ex parte statements, to point out a single sentence in any of the replies of the Treasury from which it could be inferred that any bias existed towards one side or the other. When the corre- 2028 spondence was completed, he came to the conclusion that the only course which he could pursue—and Mr. Kennedy appeared to have arrived at a similar conclusion—was to find a suitable tribunal, who might decide upon matters of fact alone. The Treasury having decided upon adopting that course, Mr. Kennedy suggested that three gentlemen should be appointed, to whom none of the reports had been referred, and who were entirely unconnected with any of the parties to the transactions, and he forwarded a list of twelve names from which he proposed that the tribunal should be selected. The first two names in the list were those of gentlemen of very high reputation, but it so happened that sonic of the reports had previously been referred to those gentlemen; and he (Mr. Wilson) thought, therefore, that it would have been highly imprudent and unjust towards those individuals if they had been appointed to adjudicate upon the question. He believed that Mr. Kennedy, as he had himself stated, did not know any of the gentlemen named in the list which, he (Mr. Wilson) understood, had been handed to Mr. Kennedy by Mr. Brown; but it appeared that three of the gentlemen on the list had been upon terms of friendship or intimacy with Mr. Brown, and their appointment would, of course, have been objectionable. Inquiries were made with respect to the other gentlemen whose names were included in the list, and it was found that, although they were individuals of very high character, they had had no experience with respect to forests. He (Mr. Wilson) proposed the appointment of Mr. Josiah Parkes, whose judgment in matters of drainage was well known; but as that gentleman had had some dispute with Mr. Kennedy about the drainage of the Phoenix Park, in Dublin, it was found impossible that he could undertake the duty. He (Mr. Wilson) mentioned this circumstance to show his anxiety to appoint an independent tribunal. With regard to the three gentlemen who were finally appointed, he (Mr. Wilson) could only say that he endeavoured to select men whom he deemed best qualified for the duty; they were entirely unknown to him; and he believed them to be gentlemen of the highest honour, integrity, and ability. The Treasury were bound to look to the subordinate officers whose interests were at stake. High officials could generally get some influential friend 2029 to take up their cause, but the inferiors had only the Treasury to protect them. Since the present Board of the Treasury was constituted they had had many difficulties to contend with in the reorganisation of the Customs and other offices, and he thought their conduct showed they were not actuated by the motives attributed to them by the hon. Baronet (Sir Shelley). Whatever censure was to be attached to the transaction, a great portion belonged to himself. It would be impossible to carry on the work of Government if the House were to assume a right to review every transaction of this kind, although if a primâ facie case of injustice was made out it ought not to be overlooked. He could say for himself, and he believed for every Member of the Government, that there was not on their part the slightest feeling against Mr. Kennedy; but that, on the contrary, if there had been any feeling at all, it had been in his favour, on the ground that they believed he was conscientiously discharging a very difficult duty. But, however zealous a man might be in the performance of a duty, zeal did not always secure discretion, and without discretion zeal sometimes was rather a fault than a virtue in a public officer. He must, before he sat down, express his regret at the light and frivolous manner in which the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Shelley) had treated the responsibility of the Government with reference to matters of this kind. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) had complained that the inquiry had been conducted before a tribunal whose names were unknown to Mr. Kennedy, but it would be found in the instructions given to the referees that they were directed to transmit a copy of the minute to Mr. Kennedy for Ids information and guidance. The names were communicated to Mr. Kennedy; be was present when the parties received their instructions, and no word of objection was raised to the proceeding until. after Mr. Kennedy's dismissal.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, it was stated that the honour, the veracity, and the integrity of Mr. Kennedy had not been impugned. He (Mr. Whiteside) would, however, read the minute referred to in the manly speech of the right hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Strutt), and the House would judge for themselves. [The hon. Member then read the passage in question, which was to the effect that the 2030 case, as between Mr. Higinbothom and Mr. Brown, and Mr. Higinbothom and Mr. Kennedy, had assumed proportions, as matters of fact, "involving the veracity, integrity, and honour of the parties."] He (Mr. Whiteside) had only known Mr. Kennedy for two days, and he was bound to say that Mr. Kennedy had stated to him the imputation on the part of the Treasury it was which had stung him to the quick in the matter. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer said it had been resolved to rest the question on the issue of the trial, Mr. Brown and Mr. Kennedy, however, had required one, and were refused; and yet the right hon. Gentleman called upon a body of English gentlemen to say that the decision of the Treasury ought to be respected.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he could quite understand that those persons who were interested by friendship and long acquaintance with Mr. Kennedy were anxious to bring forward a discussion in that House for the purpose of vindicating his character from any aspersions which they might conceive to have been cast upon it with regard to his honour, integrity, and veracity. He was sure, however, that no one who knew Mr. Kennedy would for one instant impute to him anything which could reflect upon his honour, his veracity, or his character. What had passed in this discussion ought to be satisfactory upon those points, and lie hoped that those who had brought on the debate would feel that Mr. Kennedy came out of it with his character and honour clear from all imputation. He thought the hon. Member for Westminster (Sir J. Shelley) ought to he content with the result of the discussion, and he would recommend the House to consider seriously the consequences which might ensue from the establishment of such a precedent as that now sought to be established. It would in his (Lord Palmerston's) opinion strike at the very foundation of the Civil Service of the country. It would reduce that Civil Service to a state of anarchy, and would cause the greatest public inconvenience. He could well understand that if a Minister of the Crown had appointed a person whom Parliament thought unfit for the appointment, that question might be a fit subject for the House to inquire into, because the House, as the guardian of the public interests, was entitled to interpose to prevent the appointment of an improper 2031 person to discharge important public duties. But he contended that, at the same time, a discretion must be left in the hands of servants of the Crown as to removing from office those whom they thought incompetent for the duties they were called upon to discharge. There were many reasons which might render a person unfit for a particular situation which it would be impossible to state with that detail and force to satisfy a Committee, but which might still be reasons of such force as to induce the Minister responsible for the appointment to remove an officer from the situation he held. There was no person who spent any time in the public service to whom it did not happen that he had some time or other to remove an officer, though from no motives which might cast a reflection upon the integrity, honour, or moral character of the officer removed. If the House were to establish as a precedent that any man removed from a situation was to appeal to his friends in the House of Commons and obtain a verdict as to the propriety of his removal, there would be an end of all discipline in the service of the State.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
in reply, said, that all Mr. Kennedy desired was to have his honour and character cleared from the accusation and slur which had been cast upon it by the Treasury Minute. The noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) said, there was no intention of impugning the honour or integrity of Mr. Kennedy, yet, while that Minute existed, it would continue to be read when the words of the noble Lord were forgotten. If the noble Lord would give him (Sir J. Shelley) a promise or an assurance that the Minute to which he referred would be rescinded, and another introduced, showing that there was no intention to cast any reflection upon the honour and integrity of Mr. Kennedy, he would not press the motion to a division.
§ MR. WILSON
said, that the words "honour, veracity, and integrity" occurred in the Treasury Minute containing the instructions to the referees, and were applied to the transactions between all the parties.
§ MR. WILSON
said, in the sense in which they were used, Mr. Kennedy was certainly included. The words did not occur either in the letter of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or in any subsequent Minute.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I do not know how the object of my hon. Friend is technically to be accomplished; but I apprehend that that which now stands on the record cannot be offensive, and I have no objection whatever to state that I will engage that there shall he placed on record in the Treasury a full acknowledgment that Mr. Kennedy's honour stands perfectly unimpeached.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, as Mr. Kennedy's object would be attained by such an acknowledgment, he would not press his Motion to a division.
§ Motion by leave withdrawn.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter before one o'clock.