HC Deb 04 March 1859 vol 152 cc1281-2

said, he wished to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether it is the fact that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland has recently appointed Mr. Charles Henry James, an Officer in the "Ayrshire Rifles," one of the two official assignees of the Court of Bankruptcy and Insolvency in Ireland; and, if so, whether the Attorney General can inform the House what are the qualifications of Mr. James for this office, and what is the amount of the salary or emoluments? He had no personal knowledge of the gentleman in question. He believed that he was a highly respectable person, and that his father was a commercial gentleman also of great re spectability. He felt, however, that it was highly important that the office in question should be filled by a person who, by previous training and acquirements, had acquired some practical knowledge of commercial affairs. By the 59th section of the Bankruptcy Act of 1857 it was provided that when any vacancy occurred in the office of official assignee it should be lawful for the Lord Chancellor from time to time to appoint a competent person, being a merchant, broker, or accountant, to fill the same. Now, this was unquestionably very plain language, and might easily be understood by any one. He was not aware, however, that Mr. James possessed any commercial information. He (Mr. Beamish) believed Mr. James was about thirty years of age. He found that he entered the "Ayrshire Rifles" in the year 1856; in 1857 he became paymaster of that regiment, and in February, 1859, he found him acting again as paymaster. He had no personal or political interest in the inquiry, and merely wished to be satin fled as to Mr. James's qualifications.


said, that it was quite unnecessary for the hon. Gentleman to have disclaimed having any personal or political object in asking this question; there never was any personal or political object in making such inquiries. He was glad that die hon. Gentleman had put this question, because it enabled him to explain the circumstances under which the Lord Chancellor of Ireland lied made this, the only one of his appointments to which the smallest exception hail been taken. Mr. James was appointed because he was the fittest man to fill the vacant office; as was fully explained in the following letter which he (Mr. Whiteside) had received from the Lord Chancellor:— By the Bankruptcy Act the person to be appointed official assignee must be a 'merchant, broker, or accountant.' When the place became vacant, as the duty devolved on me to appoint, I received the testimonials of several applicants, and then made proper inquiries from eminent commercial men. Mr. James has been for some years a partner with his respected father, and for many years trained in mercantile pursuits, and thoroughly accustomed to business. He was for a few months the paymaster of a militia regiment, and I believe his accounts were as exact as military discipline could require. Mr. Henry Roe, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ireland, waited on me personally to recommend Mr. James as in every way qualified for the office of assignee. Mr. George Roe, of Nutley, wrote of him in the very highest terms as one whose appointment would be most satisfactory; Mr. Jameson also, Mr. W. Watson, and others of the most eminent and respectable commercial men. I did not know Mr. James personally, and he had no claim on me but this, that the testimonies as to his high personal character, exact habits, and experience in accounts and mercantile business, placed him at the head of the list as, in my judgment, the best man I could appoint to the office. I believe the emoluments arc above £600 a year, but I cannot speak with exactness on this. He (Mr. Whiteside) might add that the Lord Chancellor had never seen Mr. James until the place became vacant. Under these circumstances he thought that the hon. Gentleman might be satisfied that this appointment was one which would be creditable to the person who had made it, and advantageous to the public service.