HC Deb 04 July 1856 vol 143 cc333-6

said, he now rose to call the attention of the House to the case of the late paymasters of constabulary in Ireland, and to the compensation allowed to them on the abolition of their office. The office had been created in 1836, when eighteen paymasters were appointed at salaries of £200 a year each, and a considerable expense was incurred by the gentlemen appointed, as the regulations required they should reside in the respective counties to which they were appointed. Their offices were, however, abolished in 1851, by which means a considerable saving was effected to the public revenue; but as they had been led to expect that their situations would be permanent, and as, moreover, they were removed for reasons wholly irrespective of their own conduct or fitness, it was obvious that they were entitled to liberal treatment at the hands of the Government. In 1850, when the abolition of these offices was in contemplation, a correspondence on the subject of the claims of their occupants passed between the Irish Government, the Lords of the Treasury, and Lord Clarendon, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and that noble Lord had recommended that they should be liberally dealt with. Sir Duncan M'Gregor also had recommended that the gentlemen so situated should get £100 a year each. The recommendation of Lord Clarendon, however, through Sir Thomas Redington, then Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, was that they should get, in proportion to their former salaries and length of service, the sums respectively of £150, £120, and £100, per annum each. The sums given to them nevertheless were—those officers who had served fourteen years and a half £42 per annum, instead of £150; and those who had served ten years £36 per annum; while those who had served less than six years got no annual payment, but were paid gratuities respectively of £104, £77, £63, £51, £34, and, as if the Treasury meant to try every possible scale, the last got nothing at all. That was not the way in which the Government had dealt with the Irish Poor Law Inspectors at the commencement of last Session, for those gentlemen had got £400, £330, and £200 a year, upon salaries of £700, £500, and £300, their services ranging from three to fifteen years. There was a provision in the Act of 1851, abolishing the office of paymaster of the Irish Constabulary to the effect that the retirement should be regulated by the Superannuation Act of 1834; and in that Act there was also a power given to the Treasury to award compensation even beyond the scale laid down in the Act. He was surprised that the Treasury should, in this case, not have exercised the power given by that Act in a manner more favourable to claims of those gentlemen whose diligence and good service had been so highly commended by the Irish Government in the correspondence which took place on the subject. Again, in reference to the retirement of four gentlemen who had held office under the Metropolitan Board of Health, the Government had proposed, and the House had granted, allowances to two of them who had served eleven years, and whose salaries were £1,000 a year each, of £800 a year each, and to two who had served nine years £500 a year each. There was abundant authority in the cases he had referred to, and in the Estimates, to prove that persons whose claims were not stronger than were the claims of the parties for whom he pleaded had obtained compensation. He only asked the House to apply to those gentlemen, without being unmindful of the public service, the same principle as had been applied to so many other similar cases. He hoped Government would, under the circumstances, give an assurance that they would reconsider their decision, and not conceive themselves bound by what had taken place.


said, he thought the case of the paymasters of constabulary was exceedingly hard, and showed the absolute necessity of administrative reform. It was impossible that the civil service of the country could be conducted in a satisfactory manner unless all classes of employés felt that if it were found necessary to abolish the offices which they held, they would be dealt with upon the same principle. When the office of paymasters of constabulary was established the appointments were regarded as permanent; while the office of Poor Law Inspectors, which was subsequently established, was regarded as merely temporary. The office of paymasters of constabulary had been abolished, and the number of Poor Law Inspectors had been considerably diminished; but those who had held what had been regarded as permanent offices did not receive as compensation more than one-sixtieth or one-seventieth of their salaries, while Mr. Dillon, who had been only three years a Poor-Law Inspector, at £500 a year, had retired upon half his salary. He considered that such inequality of treatment in the case of public servants could by no means be justified.


said, it was not in his power to hold out any hope that the Treasury, as at present constituted, would reverse the decision which had already been given upon the subject, and he thought great public inconvenience would arise if one Board of Treasury were to reverse the decisions of their predecessors without very good reasons. In 1848 provision was made to enable this class of officers to take a pension on retiring, and the option was given them of placing themselves under the operation of the Act by which the pension was provided. Those individuals whose case was now before the House distinctly refused to be placed under the provisions of the Act, but two years afterwards those offices were abolished, and the Treasury then agreed to give them such compensation as they were fairly entitled to. It was rather too much for those gentlemen, after having refused to avail themselves of the provision for a pension, to come forward now and complain that they had not received greater consideration. He trusted the House would support the Treasury in this instance on a matter which affected the expenditure of the public money.


said, the noble Lord treated the question as one of superannuation, whereas the question was one of compensation for the abolition of their offices. It was true that in 1841 those gentlemen applied to be put on the superannuation fund and were then refused, but seven years afterwards the offer was certainly made to them, but coupled with such conditions as to induce them to decline it.