HC Deb 14 July 1857 vol 146 cc1503-5

1834.—Miles maintained, 13,191; cost of maintenance, £320,645; cost of superintendence, £16,976—5;middot;29 per cent.

1854.—Miles maintained, 36,703; cost of maintenance, £410,689; cost of superintendence, £17,895—4;middot;19 per cent.

He would submit that the remuneration of those surveyors who rendered such important services ought to be adequate. Their remuneration was, however, limited by Act of Parliament to a sum not exceeding £300 per annum. When their incidental expenses were deducted, their remuneration was little more than £200 a year. As to the assistant surveyors, the Act of Parliament provided that their salary should be only £50, although in their discretion they exercised duties of a varied and different character as would appear from the following facts:—In Antrim, 12 for 1,900 miles of road; Meath 1 for 1,700; Galway, for 957; Louth, 3 for 400. No system founded upon any one principle seemed to be adopted in reference to those assistant surveyors. In 1842 the Commission was appointed, of which his right hon. Friend Sir John Young was Chairman, and which collected a vast deal of information in reference to the grand jury system. That Commission recommended, as an improvement upon the existing system, that each county should be divided into districts; and that, instead of one surveyor, each county should have a certain number of competent surveyors, and that the assistant surveyors should be altogether abolished. He was not convinced that such a measure would be an improvement. By an inquiry of the kind for which he now moved, he thought it was possible, by an examination of a few competent witnesses, that a Committee would be enabled to arrive at such a conclusion as would form the basis of a measure for the improvement of the grand jury system, in the important matter of the supervision of the County Courts. There was another point he wished to notice; that was, the preliminary examination that was considered requisite. Although he was bound to say that the officers appointed were efficient and useful men, yet he was of opinion that the system of examination followed was not as satisfactory as could be desired. He thought the system of competitive examination peculiarly applicable to a case of this kind. He was an advocate for publicity as regards the examination papers, and the number of works which each candidate might obtain. By a system of competitive examination they would be opening the offices to an educated class above the lowest class, and they would be also giving a stimulus to an advantageous and a useful system of education.


seconded the Motion.


said, he thought that the present grand jury system was so bad it would be impossible to improve it. The mode of examination of surveyors was disgraceful, and they were miserably paid, considering that they had the superintendence of the outlay of large sums of money in Ireland, and the importance of the duties they had to perform. He should accordingly support the Motion.


said, he also must condemn the present system of surveyors, and he thought that it was worthy of consideration whether by granting them higher salaries they could not have the duties much better performed.


said, that there was great dissatisfaction felt at the mode of examination that was carried on. The Commissioners, it was stated, had in many instances appointed their own private friends. The people demanded that those examinations should take place publicly, that due notice of them should be given, and that the names of candidates, successful and otherwise, with the names of the examiners should be published. He thought also that no examiners ought to be permitted to examine their own pupils.


remarked, that he concurred in the Motion for a Committee as far as it went; but he thought that the question was surrounded with more difficulty than they imagined.


said, he readily concurred in the Motion of his hon. Friend, with whom he quite agreed that the subject was one of great importance, and that an inquiry of the nature proposed would be a useful—he might almost say an indispensable—preliminary to any attempt at reforming the grand jury system of Ireland. He also agreed with his hon. Friend (Mr. Grogan) upon the question of remuneration, and believed that it would be sound economy for each country to obtain a first-rate man, and have his undivided services. Further, he admitted that it would be a desirable thing that the parties who were examined should not be examined by those with whom they had been private pupils. He hoped, however, that his hon. Friend would take care and keep the Committee within the order of reference, because if they went beyond that it would be impossible for them to conclude the matter this Session, and the result would be, that he should not have the advantage of their Report to assist him in the recess in maturing a measure that would be satisfactory either to the country or himself.

Motion agreed to. Select Committee appointed, "to inquire into the duties, functions, and mode of remuneration of County and District Surveyors and Assistant Surveyors, in Ireland, and also as to the best mode of examination to be henceforth adopted in reference to such Officers, with a view to establish a system of competition, and secure to the public the services of the best qualified candidates.